Under New York State law, a spouse is considered a legally responsible relative which means that you are financially responsible for the support and care of your institutionalized spouse.  Absent any planning, you will likely be required to privately pay for the cost of the nursing home which could exceed $15,000 per month.  To minimize this financial catastrophe, one should consider Medicaid eligibility using the planning technique commonly referred to as “spousal refusal”.

Spousal refusal is where an institutionalized spouse transfers his assets to a well spouse followed by the well spouse signing a statement, refusing to use those assets for the institutionalized spouse’s care.  If done properly, Medicaid will view the institutionalized spouse as having no assets, thereby rendering him eligible for Medicaid to cover the cost of the nursing home.

Even though Medicaid will cover the cost of the nursing home, Medicaid does have the right to demand that the well spouse may contribute to the cost of the nursing home as a legally responsible relative.  This policy is implemented differently throughout each County in New York.

Salvatore Di Costanzo is a local elder law, estate planning and special needs planning attorney who can be reached at 914-925-1010 or by e-mail me at smd@mfd-law.com.  You can also visit his practice specific website at www.plantodayfortomorrow.com

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