If your spouse requires nursing home care, it’s not only an emotionally difficult situation but also a legally complex matter. You naturally want to procure the best possible care and attention for your loved one, but the fact that Medicaid will likely play a role tends to make the process that much more challenging. If you find yourself in this difficult situation, the Medicaid snapshot date could play an important role in how your efforts should proceed, and having an experienced North Carolina Medicaid planning attorney on your side is well advised.
It is important to note that Medicaid’s snapshot date is only relevant for married couples when one of them is applying for Medicaid’s long-term care, and it amounts to the date on which Medicaid takes a financial picture – or snapshot – of your financial assets. For legal purposes, including Medicaid, all your assets are jointly owned if you are married, and this snapshot date is used by Medicaid to determine the financial assets that you – as the community spouse – will be allowed to retain when your spouse enters the nursing home facility (or begins receiving long-term care at home). The goal behind the Medicaid snapshot date’s implementation is twofold:
The Medicaid snapshot day in your case is the first day on which your spouse is consistently institutionalized for a minimum of 30 days (without returning home), which means the first day that they enter a nursing home facility for long-term care. Institutionalized in this context means that your spouse becomes a resident in a nursing home, begins to receive in-home care, or is in the hospital for care. This snapshot date applies to the first time your spouse experiences institutionalization of this duration. Your loved one’s Medicaid snapshot date can play a critical role in your estate planning efforts and your ability to cover their expenses moving forward, which means that it deserves your careful consideration from the outset.
If your spouse needs nursing home care, obtaining the best care you can is your first priority, but the cost can be overwhelming – and can obliterate the estate planning you’ve carefully engaged in to date. There are, however, financial moves you can make to help ensure that you can afford the care your loved one requires – while protecting your assets and estate planning efforts. When you take your spouse’s Medicaid snapshot date into consideration ahead of time, which means carefully considering when their first 30 days of living in the facility will begin, you have more control over how your assets will be affected.
Generally, it takes a considerable amount of time to find the right nursing home facility and to install your loved one as a residence within it. If you let the chips fall where they may – with no prior planning – you can expect to spend down more of your marital assets than if you put in the effort to protect them within the parameters of the law as it pertains to Medicaid in North Carolina. When you actively control your spouse’s Medicaid snapshot date, you can allow yourself the time necessary to proactively protect your assets while securing the quality care your spouse requires. One estate planning tool that is often employed in these efforts is a simple revocable living trust that is implemented on a temporary basis, and that can be used in tandem with other spend-down options.
As the community spouse, you can keep up to about $110,000 in assets when your spouse enters nursing home care, but these assets cannot simply be transferred into your name alone in the state of North Carolina (although some other states do allow such action to be taken). By carefully coordinating a revocable living trust and your spouse’s Medicaid snapshot date, you can help to protect your assets and estate plan while ensuring your spouse receives the quality care required to continue living their life to the fullest.
Obtaining the Medicaid benefits to which your spouse is entitled can be exceptionally challenging, but an experienced North Carolina Medicaid planning attorney has the skill and legal insight to help you balance your spouse’s Medicaid coverage with your estate planning goals. Learn more by contacting us for a free consultation today.