The Elrod Firm


Marital Assets and Medicaid

James, My friend’s wife just had to have her husband admitted to a nursing home and she was told that she would need to spend down all of the accounts including her 401K. That can’t be right? Her husband’s name isn’t even on those accounts! – Roger

Roger, this question is rooted in Medicaid qualification. When someone is going into a nursing facility the family has a few options to pay for the care. They private pay out of pocket, use an existing long-term policy or they may seek help from Medicaid to cover the cost.

Applicants applying for Medicaid cannot have more than $2,000 of assets attributable to themselves. Much of what we do in an initial strategy session is help determine what will be considered an asset by DHS.  Most commonly I see assets like money in checking and savings, investments, retirement funds and even cash value of life insurance policies.  

 When that applicant is a single person, determining what makes up their assets is a pretty easy determination. We take the above-mentioned assets and tally them up. Once totaled we know how far that applicant is from the DHS threshold of $2,000.

If we have a married client that asset pool becomes more expansive. Assets of the applicant will include those of his or her spouse. Even though assets maybe held individually by the spouse not going into the nursing home.

So, your friend was told correctly, her IRA, or 401k will be considered in determining the assets for her husband’s Medicaid application.

The great new is that she doesn’t have to spend those savings like she was informed. The DHS rules have many provisions which give the well spouse an opportunity to save those assets and still get coverage for the other spouse. With a bit of planning and strategy we can help your friend save her retirement savings. I urge you to have her, or anyone with circumstances like this, to call today and set up a no-charge strategy session to find out how we can help with this issue. To learn more, check out our website,

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