My husband is in the middle stage of Alzheimer's disease I believe. He seems to be gradually losing ground. How do we protect our assets in case he needs assisted living or nursing home care?
There are two aspects to your question, each of which needs to be addressed. We'll also give you a list of things to prepare for meeting a lawyer to address these.
First and most importantly, if your husband has Alzheimer's it is essential that he have the following documents in place to protect him as a person. The key issue is whether his Alzheimer's has progressed to the point where he does not have the legal competency to sign documents. If you are not certain, or its "gray" consult an estate planner in your state immediately. The estate planner may need to consult with the physician or neurologist that is treating your husband for input. The following are documents to consider:
While all the above is advisable to protect your assets and husband, the second part of your question pertains to the elder law issue of protecting assets from nursing home costs. With Alzheimer's this is an especially critical issue in that your husband, if otherwise in good health, could have a long term nursing home stay which could deplete or wipe out your assets. You have to consult an elder law specialist in your state. This is a subspecialty of estate planning (an estate planner would address the documents discussed above, or you could use the elder law specialist to do both the documents and planning). Planning needs to be coordinated with any long term care coverage, the magnitude and nature of your assets, and other facts. Many planning options have been eliminated by recent legislation which can require a five year look back period for any transfers, limits on how much of an interest can be protected in a personal residence ($500,000, unless your state increased the amount up to $750,000), etc. It may be feasible to transfer or restructure assets now, create certain contractual arrangements, etc. to provide some protection.
When you make the appointment to meet with the elder law specialist, it would be helpful for you to have the following items:
Preparation will save time and get you better advice at less cost.
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