News & Resources: Blog

A Second Marriage’s Potential Costs

Published: February 9, 2023

It’s unlikely that people who marry for the second time (or more) are thinking about losing assets to fund their spouse’s serious illness. But that could happen. Costs for long-term care have been rising significantly for years and continue to grow. Studies show that 70% of Americans will need some form of long-term care, which can last for three years or longer.

Paying for Long-Term Care While Protecting Assets

If one spouse becomes ill, the assets of both spouses are, by and large, required to be spent on the ill spouse’s care before Medicaid benefits become available. This could be a big problem, especially if the money that the healthy spouse had saved for their children’s inheritances goes to pay for the ill spouse’s care instead.

With careful planning, this need not happen. Making financial arrangements in advance can protect the estates of both spouses to ensure they can retain the assets they brought with them to the marriage.

Medicaid Community Spouse Resource Allowance

Medicaid rules allow the healthy spouse to keep an allowance of a certain amount for their benefit. This is known as the Medicaid Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA). But many find that the CSRA is too small to permit the healthy spouse to maintain their standard of living, pay for their retirement, and still have something for their children to inherit.

Any planning or shifting of assets must be done very carefully and only after consulting with an attorney experienced with Medicaid planning. Medicaid heavily penalizes transfers of assets made as gifts.

Medicaid Planning

Assets can be protected, though, by using strategies that are permitted by the Medicaid rules. Some, or all, of the healthy spouse’s assets could buy a Medicaid-compliant annuity. This would provide an income stream for the healthy spouse that will not be deemed available to pay for the ill spouse’s care.

In turn, the assets of the ill spouse could be transferred to people they trust, such as a trustee, an agent for financial affairs, a family member, or a beneficiary. That kind of transfer may be subject to a penalty, depending on when the transfer is made and when long-term care benefits are received. Planning well in advance, at least five years, helps mitigate Medicaid penalties.

There are also long-term care insurance products available to cover the costs of long-term care services, which everyone should consider when newly married and while they are still reasonably young and healthy.

The best strategy of all, though, is to consult an attorney experienced with Medicaid as soon as possible. The sooner you start planning, the more options you have and the more money you can save. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn how we can help you prepare for your future.

Our law firm is dedicated to informing you of issues affecting seniors who may be experiencing declining health. We help you and your loved ones prepare for potential long-term medical expenses and the need to transition to in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care.

This article offers a summary of aspects of estate planning and elder law. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, you should contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

CLIENT Testimonial

Scott Bloom Law Estate Planning Diagram

Sometimes after a loved one passes away, the family learns of things they were unaware of while the loved one was living. This was the case for one of our clients, Sam, after his father Tom Jr. passed away. Sam was always under the impression that the home he had grown up in, and that his father had lived in until his death, was owned by Tom Jr. To say it came as a surprise that it was indeed Sam’s grandfather, Tom Sr., who was the actual owner of the home, is an understatement. 

Apparently, when Tom Sr. had passed away nearly 40 years ago, there was no proper estate plan established. Now, Sam would need to open his grandfather’s estate, resolve tax issues that were never addressed, and then go through the legal process to make the home a part of his father’s estate. At first, Sam believed that the entire process would be easy enough for him to handle on his own. However, after digging a little deeper, he quickly realized he would need the help of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.

Sam reached out to Scott Bloom Law and we developed a game plan for moving forward. We began by probating Tom Jr.’s will and, after some time, we were able to settle the estates of both Tom Sr. and Tom Jr. While it was no fault of Sam, this is a great example of the importance of having an Estate Plan in place. No one wants to leave their families in precarious situations after they pass. The long-term purpose of setting up an Estate Plan today is to preserve as much of your wealth as possible for the intended beneficiaries and retaining a capable attorney can help ensure all of your wishes are met.

At Scott Bloom Law, we are a team of advocates who care, always fighting for what’s best for our clients and their families. With knowledge, experience, and compassion, we strive to find solutions that make the aging process as emotionally and financially easy as possible. Visit us at scottbloomlaw.com or call 215-364-1111, to talk to find out more.

- Case Study: Estate Administration

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CLIENT Testimonial

This question is asked all the time: “Wouldn't it be easier to get a will off the internet, transfer my land when I die, and put my children on my bank account?” It’s just not a good idea. For the plan to work as you would want it to, it should account for plenty of complications. A good plan should protect your spouse and your children from the loss of valuable government benefits if anybody is or becomes disabled. The plan should avoid the delay and expense of probate court. The plan should protect money from children’s creditors or divorce or remarriage. It should be crafted to serve family harmony and to avoid disputes between children as joint owners. Even a relatively simple situation is made up of many moving parts. Internet documents and joint-ownership devices just won’t do the job.

Also, assembling the moving parts so they work smoothly is just the first step. Your estate plan needs maintenance too, just like your car has a “check engine” light. Major family events like serious illness or death, marriage, birth, or financial reversals are alerts that you should tune up your plan to reflect those changes. Your plan shouldn’t be “one and done.”

It takes expertise to coordinate the various strategies available. Don’t risk a result that will cause your family problems and unnecessary expense. Call us to create a plan that harmonizes the moving parts, so the gears will work together and you will leave the legacy you intended. We hope you found this article helpful. If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

- Creating an Estate Plan On Your Own: Think Twice