Often, when working with clients on getting a plan in place for Mom, applying for Medicaid and getting her settled in the nursing home, I am asked, “Now what do I do to plan for and protect Dad?” We’ve preserved the home and maximized income and resources for him, but now what? Is he protected if anything else may happen?
First, be sure to put the house, the car and all of the bank accounts in Dad’s name alone. This ensures that when Mom dies, there is nothing in her name that the state can claim through estate recovery. Second, re-build Dad’s estate plan and remove Mom as beneficiary on his Will and any other accounts. This protects Mom should Dad die before her, as you want to avoid Mom inheriting anything which would interrupt her Medicaid eligibility. You also want to have surrogate decision makers in place (power of attorney for health care and finances) in case Dad’s health and/or cognition declines.
Finally, talk with an experienced elder law attorney about the possibility of a second round of asset protection planning, depending on Dad’s health. Perhaps steps could be taken to ensure the home will be fully preserved even in the event that Dad would need nursing home care in the future.
Good planning never ends, it just proceeds to the next phase.