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Selling a Home When One Spouse is in a Nursing Home

02.03.2021 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Selling a home when one spouse is in a nursing home

Selling a home is stressful for people at any age, but selling a home when one spouse is living in long-term care presents additional considerations, that, if overlooked, can be costly.  

When one spouse is receiving Medical Assistance to help pay for long-term care costs, the home is not considered an available asset so long as the other spouse is living in it.  When the spouse living in the home decides to sell the home so he/she can move into an apartment, assisted living, or elsewhere, this can create significant problems as the proceeds could be considered an available asset to be used to pay for care costs.  This means that the spouse receiving Medical Assistance may be ineligible for benefits.  

For example, Rita and Joe are an elderly couple. Rita has been living in a nursing home and receiving Medical Assistance for the last five years.  Her husband Joe owns the house, a car, and $50,000. He has been living in their home but now needs to move into an assisted living facility due to his own medical conditions.  The home had been considered an excluded asset so long as he lived in it, but once he sells it, it’s a different story.

When Joe moves out and sells the house, the amount received is now considered available for Medical Assistance eligibility purposes.  Joe can keep $130, 380 as the community spouse. If the proceeds from selling the home and other assets exceed $130,380, Rita could be kicked off of her Medical Assistance. Joe would then be responsible for her long-term care costs at private pay rates of $8,000 per month (or more, depending upon the facility and level of care).  

Without adequate planning, this could result in a disastrous situation where Joe’s assets are quickly dissipated to pay for both Rita’s care and his own assisted living expenses. 

It is important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who understands Medical Assistance rules.  The attorney can identify potential eligibility issues and provide strategies for how to address them.  The elder law attorneys at Henningson & Snoxell frequently advise families with Medical Assistance eligibility questions. Contact us today with your Medical Assistance questions.

Rachell L. Henning

As an associate at Henningson & Snoxell, Rachell Henning brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to her practice as an elder law attorney.  From an early age, Rachell has been dedicated to assisting elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities to live their lives to the fullest.

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