In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson, Illinois and Missouri Elder Law attorney, discusses how state laws affect Medicaid for married couples, and how an attorney can help with your planning.
Hi, I am Wes Coulson from Dent-Coulson Elder Law, with offices in O’Fallon Illinois and in the Westport area in St. Louis, and this is your Elder Law Minute. Today, I want to talk about the question of when one spouse of a married couple goes into a nursing home, how much in assets and income can the other spouse keep? Now, I’ll tell you what – This is maybe a good time to for me to tell you that looking up information on the internet can be very misleading, because the things that tend to be on the top of the page are the things that are national, and in this case if you look at this, you’re going to be (around here) very mislead because the rules significantly different in Illinois and Missouri. And, those significant differences when we’re helping someone with planning make a world of difference in how we’re going about it in order to get the best results.
Let’s talk first about assets. In Illinois, since 2012, so I’m giving now 2019 figures, the amount assets that the community spouse can keep of what are called “countable assets,” things that they don’t let you keep otherwise, is $109,560 worth. That’s how much everybody automatically gets. But in Missouri, they have what’s known as a division of assets process. They look the couple’s assets as of the first date of continuous institutionalization, which might be a prior hospitalization if somebody didn’t come home first, of the spouse in the nursing home, and the other spouse gets to keep half of that within a minimum range, again for 2019, of $25,284 and $126,420. Part of the planning is to see what we can do to get them at or close to the maximum.
When it comes to income, the community spouse in Illinois gets again, a fixed amount: $2739. In Missouri it can vary between a low of $2058 and a high of $3161. So again, an opportunity for planning in Missouri to try and get up closer to that maximum. In either state, if that spouse, the community spouse, doesn’t have that much income, they get to keep part of the income of the spouse in the nursing home. Now, another question on income is, “Well, what if that community spouse has more income than the allowance?” Another big difference there in Illinois, that community spouse is required to contribute a portion (comes out to around 12%) of their income if it’s over $2739 to the cost of the care of the spouse in the nursing home. In Missouri, that spouse is not required to contribute income. Again, big implications for how we go about planning.
So, you know, we start with the numbers. People think they’ve got the numbers (and) that’s the end of the story. From a planning perspective, that’s the starting point for the analysis. Moral of the story – If you are a married couple and one of you needs nursing home care, you really need to come see us because the result that we can get you, in most instances, is going to be incredibly much better than it would be without planning.
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Dent-Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Dent-Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618) 632-7000 or (314) 567-9292, or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.