A fellow elder law attorney shared the following story with me.
Henry was 75, healthy and retired. He had $600,000 in a revocable living trust for himself, his children and grandchildren. His wife Betsy had passed away and when he met Lydia he never imagined romance might bloom again. It did and Henry and Lydia, who had no assets of her own, were married.
Henry hadn’t counted on the effect the Medicaid rules would have on his funds when Lydia was unexpectedly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He contacted Medicaid to begin the application process for Lydia and discovered that he would have to “spend down” his trust from $600,000 to about $113,000 before Lydia would receive any government benefits. He was devastated.
Henry wanted to live simply and save his money for his children. He asked his attorney if there was anything he could do and was shocked to learn the brutal truth—to protect part of his financial legacy, he had to divorce Lydia!
Divorce would solve one of Henry’s problems in that his assets, at least the portion the divorce court let him keep, would not be “available” to Lydia so she should quickly qualify for Medicaid. But Henry loves Lydia and hates the idea of divorce. Nothing will destroy his spiritual bond with her or prevent him from purchasing things for her that Medicaid won’t provide, but it’s still not the same.
The emotional pain of being forced to choose between divorce and impoverishment is a cruel plight that takes the joy out of life for many elders. Single elders involved in a committed relationship and considering marriage should carefully weigh the financial impact that long term care might have on their finances. Whether married or single, now is the time to schedule an appointment with us to learn what can be done to protect your estate. Call Vikki at 405-843-6100 today to schedule your complimentary consultation!
Parman & Easterday