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Long-term care laws may often be used to save family home

It's a common scenario in Texas and elsewhere: an elderly couple enjoying retirement face a crisis when one of them gets ill and incapacitated and needs to enter a nursing home or similar facility right away. The spouse at home is in relatively good health and is still active but there is no long\-term care plan that has been put in place to contend with the crisis. Does he or she have to sell the house to finance the rather exorbitant institutional charges that are demanded?

In many instances, an elder law attorney may be able to save the home by taking advantage of certain available legal remedies. If an expert legal professional is not consulted, the most common development is that the couple sells the home to finance the nursing home stay. When that happens, they also learn to quickly dissipate the house proceeds so that they will qualify for Medicaid, which is the federal agency that will pay for institutional stays of people who have no assets.

There are remedies under state and federal law, however, that allow Medicaid to pay while the active spouse remains securely in the home. That does, however, require some advance planning and should be done as soon as possible. It is not ideal to try and obtain help after the critical emergency has already incapacitated one of the spouses.

The only sensible solution to being caught in an extremely harrowing position is to plan ahead and take care of the eventualities well before they may happen. One's choices about housing, health care and other issues of long-term care in Texas can be fulfilled if sufficient planning time is available. The bottom line and lesson here is to not sell the house in a panic; instead, one should see an experienced elder law attorney and weigh the options to determine the best choices available.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Seniors have more options than selling their home", Marjorie Youngren, Aug. 20, 2016

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