Forced Divorce for Seniors?

Growing old alone can be tough, but it might be what many of our parents and grandparents will be forced to do in order to protect their assets and still qualify for Medicare.  In her article Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22, journalist Gail Sheehy describes how she learned the hard way about Medicaid’s “policy of pauperization” when she supported her husband during his long battle with throat cancer.

“If the couple first exhausts all their remaining assets, then Medicaid will cover nursing care. And if Sheehy, in her late 60s, wasn’t willing to give up all her assets and income?

‘Then, you need to divorce him,’ the geriatric care manager told her.”

It seems that at a time when couples most need the health, security, and emotional support that come from a loving spouse, they learn that they may not be able to afford to be married!

But the difficulties don’t end there. The U.S. News & World Report article above shows that a “policy of pauperization” is only part of what’s wrong with our long-term healthcare system. Poorly trained caregivers, piecemeal medical treatment—these and more are what await you if you’re a middle-class aging American.

So when you’re investigating how to protect your assets and your future with an estate plan, be sure to find out how you can achieve the same goals in the event that you need long-term care as well.