Estate Planning With A Disabled Spouse

Some people think that Estate Planning is something that an individual or family does once in a lifetime - like having wisdom teeth pulled. But when a spouse is seriously ill and probably will need Long Term Care, the old estate plan that leaves property to the sick spouse needs to be reviewed.

Even when a family is very wealthy it is often wise to set aside a portion of the assets bequeathed to a spouse in a Special Needs trust that can pay for needs not provided by Medicaid. This approach covers the remote possibility that the sick spouse need Medicaid benefits. Remember, my grandmother was in the nursing home 17 years. At today's charges this would probably mean over $1,500,000 in costs.

But this planning is more important for families that have modest wealth where it is likely the sick spouse will need Medicaid benefits during his or her lifetime. The Special Needs trust can provide for a private room, clothing and the many other amenities that Medicaid does not provide and at the same time the plan can include an inheritance for the family's children.

Again this kind of planning in the context of Medicaid is best left to an attorney familiar with the federal statutes that cover Medicaid - an Elder Law Attorney.