Ask the Attorney

QUESTION: My wife just had a stroke. She is at home now. We have help but they said it is only temporary. I have checked with a few home care places and they charge $25 an hour. We can’t afford that. I don’t want her to go into a nursing home. I went to a seminar and they wanted me to do an irrevocable trust. Is that a good idea? What should we do?

ANSWER: The MI Choice Waiver Program is Medicaid program that will pay for help to come to your house. They will also pay for medications, doctor visits, etc. In order to qualify for the MI Choice Waiver Program, your wife must pass a medical assessment and there will be an asset limit; just like Medicaid in a nursing home. Since you are a married couple, you will be able to keep “up to” $125,600. There are legal planning options to save up to 100% of anything exceeding the amount you are allowed to keep.

From what you have told me, it does not seem like an irrevocable trust would be right for you. The biggest problem I see is that your wife cannot qualify for Medicaid for 5 years after you transfer your money into the trust. That means that you will be paying for her home care for the next 5 years! There are much better planning options available to get her qualified for Medicaid in the next few months; rather than waiting 5 years. I would see an Elder Law attorney to discuss your options.

Michael B. Walling is an Elder Law & Estate Planning attorney with an advanced Master of Laws degree. He is the managing attorney at The Elder Law Center and the law firm of Michael B. Walling, PLC. He has offices in Battle Creek and Portage, Michigan. Mr. Walling is also a part-time Professor at Western Michigan University.

This column is intended for general information purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice to any particular person.