Asset Preservation When Already in a Nursing Home--Purchasing Exempt Items

January 24, 2011

This edition of the Koldin Report E-Newsletter begins a series of newsletters reviewing asset preservation options when you are already in a nursing home. All prior newsletters are saved on our website by clicking here.

Under the Medicaid law in New York State, a single person in a nursing home is entitled to retain $13,800 of family resources. When there is a married couple, the at-home spouse is entitled to keep one-half of the couple's life savings, with a minimum of $74,820 and a maximum of $109,560.

All life savings over these figures must be spent toward the cost of care before Medicaid eligibility can be established to pay for the cost of care. However, as part of this "spend-down", you are permitted to purchase and/or keep certain exempt items.

Therefore, one important asset preservation option is to purchase these items while you still have the funds. Once your life savings has been spent toward the cost of care, you cannot get it back to purchase exempt items.

The family home is an exempt asset for the at-home spouse. If the at-home spouse is living in an apartment, he/she may want to consider purchasing a home or condominium. The at-home spouse could also sell his/her current home and purchase a more expensive home with the excess life savings.

The at-home spouse's life savings can also be used to make home improvements. If you need a new roof and furnace, now may be the time to purchase them.

The Medicaid Applicant can pay for certain funeral expenses not only for the Medicaid applicant and spouse, but also for their children and spouses of children.

One automobile is exempt for either a single person or for a married couple. You can also trade in your current car and purchase a new one. While you still have your life savings, it may be a good time to purchase a new car.

A second automobile can be exempt as well if you can demonstrate a medical need such as a handicapped accessible van.

Future editions of the Koldin E-newsletter will continue to explore other asset preservation options when you are already in a nursing home.

Applying for Medicaid is a very challenging time for both the applicant and the family. Substantial assets can be lost if you do not know your legal rights and if you do not have an attorney who can review your options and advocate for your rights. Purchasing exempt items is only one of many options for you to consider. The Koldin Law Center, P.C. closely monitors the medicaid laws and court cases to make certain our clients are well-informed of their options. The Koldin Law Center, P.C. reviews many different asset preservation options with our clients. There is no fee for the initial consultation.

Many people are misinformed that once they are in a nursing home, it is too late to protect any of your life savings. It is never too late. There is something you can do.