Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 4, 2007 / 21 Elul, 5767

Lack of ‘determination’ leaves spouse in financial nightmare

By Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: My wife, who had been the major breadwinner in our household, had a stroke six months ago at age 68. I had hoped to be able to take her home, but after rehabilitation efforts, the doctors tell me that she has permanent brain damage and that her paralysis will not get better. She can't swallow, is being tube fed, and can't communicate. I am 70, have diabetes, and, until I began taking care of her full time, did handyman repair work. My wife's income is from Social Security and a pension.


My only income is a small Social Security check. During our 44-year marriage, we both worked and put our money together to raise our family and support ourselves. We always put everything in her name — including our home and about $100,000 in savings and CD's — because we figured she would live longer than me. She has a $230,000 IRA. The only thing in my name is my checking account, which is now down to $500 after paying legal expenses. We both have Medicare and a supplement through her former employer.


Since I now know I can't take care of her at home, I followed the doctors' advice and placed her in a nursing home. Since we do not have enough money to pay more than $7,000 per month for her care and still let me live, I decided to file a Medicaid application, but I was told that we have too much money. I went to a lawyer who told me I should transfer all of the assets into my name, but my wife never signed a power of attorney and has no will. I could not get any information from the bank about her account. The only alternative, he said, was for me to become her guardian and seek permission of the court to transfer the assets.


The judge of probate appointed me as her guardian, and appointed a lawyer for my wife who told the judge that since I was in a trust relationship with my wife, I should not be allowed to make any transfers to myself because if I died, our children — not my wife — would benefit. This was because two of our three children who have been estranged for years objected to anything coming out of her name. The judge ruled that I should not transfer assets to myself, but that if I had to sell the house, I could have part of the equity. The judge also approved a budget for me that will come out of my wife's money, but I will not be able to afford to continue living in the house and have nowhere else to go. My lawyer says that there is nothing else to do. I have spent nearly $7,500 to get to this point. Is there anything I can do to protect my wife and myself as we are both victims here?


A: We have had a rash of reader requests for information about topics of this nature of late, but your question points up the complexity of the situation and potential horror stories when adults do not practice "self determination" and sign appropriate powers of attorney and wills. As in your case, children and potentially others can come out of the woodwork to add to your grief. Added to this is the fact that you have a number of remedies about which your lawyer apparently did not apprise you.


First of all, current federal and state Medicaid laws, as well as public policy, allow inter-spousal transfers. We believe that even though you are acting as your wife's guardian, not to allow you to make the transfers which your wife could have made if she had the capacity to do so discriminates against her as an incapacitated person under the equal protection clauses of the United States and your state constitution.


Federal Medicaid law sets minimum and maximum amounts of countable resources that can be set aside to you (as the spouse in the community) to take care of yourself and still allow your wife (the nursing home spouse) to qualify for Medicaid assistance. Called the "Community Spouse Resource Allowance," each state establishes its own limit within the federal guidelines. This amount does not include the value of the family home and some other non-countable resources. Since you have an actuarial life expectancy, we don't think that one can legitimately argue that the transfer of the home plus your state's spousal resource allowance will provide you with a life of leisure during your last years.


Taking the NextStep: Your dilemma could have been solved had your wife signed a durable power of attorney with spousal gifting provisions. Had she done so, the court proceeding would not have been necessary, and significant dollars and time could have been saved.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JAN L. WARNER received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from the University of South Carolina and earned a Master of Legal Letters (L.L.M.) in Taxation from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a frequent lecturer at legal education and public information programs throughout the United States. His articles have been published in national and state legal publications. Jan Collins began co-authoring Flying SoloŽ in 1989. She has more than 27 years of experience as a journalist, writer, and editor. To comment or ask a question, please click here.

Archives

© 2007, Jan Warner

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles