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Medicaid Qualfying Divorce?

An article in the most recent AARP magazine gives the impression that the only option that many seniors have for qualifying for Medicaid and protecting some assets is to get a divorce.  While divorce is certainly one planning option, it is only one of many, and almost always the last resort.  After a couple has shared a lifetime together, weathering storms and celebrating triumphs, very few people desire to divorce their mate as an asset protection device.  The good news is, you don't have to.  There are always other asset protection options, many of which will protect as much if not more assets than a divorce would.  In fact, in 18 years of practice, I have only had one client choose a divorce for purposes of qualifying for Medicaid once, and that was a rather complicated case involving disabilities of both spouses, each needing Medicaid in different states.  The complexity of planning around the different qualification rules of two different states for a married couple proved to be unworkable, and a divorce was the most logical choice.  But such cases are extremely rare.  Common wisdom from many well meaning "advisors" will often suggest that this is the only choice.  Sadly, some of these well-intended advisors sometimes even include lawyers that are not well versed in elder law, but there are almost always other options.   If you are being advised to get a divorce to protect your assets from Medicaid, get a second opinion.  There are many, many other options, and an experienced elder law lawyer can advise you of all available options. 

One Person has left comments on this post

» Todd Whatley, CELA said: { Mar 17, 2010 - 08:03:28 }

I agree. Divorce is rarely the method to use. In Arkansas, and I think most states, there are much better ways to protect resources than through divorce. Also, as you mentioned, divorce is traumatic after a life of sharing lives. Thanks for addressing this issue.

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