Am I Legally Responsible for My New Spouse’s Long-Term Care Costs?

 In Long-Term Care Planning

Question:

I’m a resident of the state of Florida, and recently married (3 months ag0). In the event my husband needs to enter a nursing home and exhausts all his financial resources, would I be liable to pay his nursing home expenses? This is my 3rd marriage and his second. We’ve never co-mingled our assets. Mine are in my name only and his are in his name. Would my refusal to pay for his expenses make him ineligible for medicaid when he runs out of money. Also would medicaid sue me in order for me to pay for his expenses?  If we divorced, while he was in the facility, would I still be liable?

Answer:

The short answer is yes, if your husband runs out of his own money, Medicaid will not kick in until you have spent down your own assets (other than your home) to about $120,000. You can read an explanation of these rules here.

However, there’s a little-known strategy that could well work in your case. Referred to as “spousal refusal” or “just-say-no,” it permits you to refuse to cooperate with hour husband’s application for benefits. Then, as long as he signs his right to spousal support over to the state, his application for benefits is supposed to be evaluated without regard to your assets. Then, in theory, the state could sue you for spousal support, but this rarely happens. You can read more about this strategy here.

I’d also recommend consulting with a Florida elder law attorney to learn how these rules are applied there. You can find a qualified elder law attorney at www.elderlawanswers.com.

Finally, yes you can divorce your husband as a last resort.

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