Can our joint property and property that I inherit, be taken from me if my husband goes toa nursing home?

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Can our joint property and property that I inherit, be taken from me if my husband goes toa nursing home?

Can our joint property, house and vehicles, be taken from me to pay for my husband’s nursing home care should the need arise? Can property I stand to inherit from my mom, but used for his care? Can my husband take my inheritance and sell or do whatever he wants? Would it be considered joint property even though it will have my name on the deed? He is retired military, but never took his VA physical upon retirement – a stroke in 2004. Can Medicaid require we sell the house we own jointly for his care and/or my inherited 50 acres in Texas. In other words, will I end up homeless?

Asked on March 5, 2011 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I can tell that you are very nervous about all of this and you are wise to inquire before the matter gets out of control.  But you need to go and speak with an elder law attorney that also does estate planning in your area.  Medicaid has a lien on the property in your husband's estate and this is what I have found regarding their right to community assets:

"The Medicaid law provides special protections for the spouse of a nursing home resident to make sure she has the minimum support needed to continue to live in the community. The so-called "spousal protections" work this way: if the Medicaid applicant is married, the countable assets of both the community spouse and the institutionalized spouse are totaled as of the date of "institutionalization," the day on which the ill spouse enters either a hospital or a long-term care facility in which he or she then stays for at least 30 days. (This is sometimes called the "snapshot" date because Medicaid is taking a picture of the couple's assets as of this date.) In general, the community spouse may keep one half of the couple's total "countable" assets up to a maximum of $109,560 (in 2011). Called the "community spouse resource allowance," this is the most that a state may allow a community spouse to retain without a hearing or a court order. The least that a state may allow a community spouse to retain is $21,912 (in 2011)."

Now, generally speaking separate assets - such as inherited property - remains separate as long as you did not do anything to make it marital.  If you use it to care for your spouse that is your business but it can take on that appearance from the outside.  So go and see an attorney because the specifics here matter.  Good luck.


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