I’ve heard numerous times about families who want to or have qualified for the
VA Benefit, but are concerned about what to do with the home.
The typical scenario is that mom was living on her own. She breaks her hip. Goes into the hospital, is discharged to a nursing home for rehab, covered by Medicare. Then from the nursing home the family scrambles to find where she should go, because she can’t go home.
The family decides on an assisted living for mom’s long-term care. At this point, with mom paying $3,000 per month in long-term care costs, the family struggles to find ways to pay for long-term care. They discover the little known VA Benefit that can help pay for long-term care for a surviving spouse. This year that benefit would be $1,149 per month.
However, the VA Benefit has an asset test and the home is an exempt asset so it doesn’t count towards the asset test. But if mom qualifies for the VA Benefit, without any planning, then she has less than $30,000 in her name. As the assets dwindle covering the short fall they look to sell their home.
Wouldn’t Selling the Home Disqualify Mom from her VA Benefits
Wouldn’t selling the home disqualify mom from the VA Benefit? Not if the family takes legal steps to protect the VA Benefit. The family, prior to sale, would consult with a VA elder law attorney who would then create a Veterans Asset Protection Trust and deed the home to the trust. Once the home is deeded to the trust, the home could be sold, and the proceeds of the sale would be available to help pay for mom’s long-term care in her assisted living.
Another Benefit of Placing the Home in a Veterans Asset Protection Trust
Not only would mom be able to maintain her VA Benefit as a surviving spouse of a veteran, she would also be able to protect the proceeds of the home from Medicaid or Nursing Home spend-down. The assets in a Veterans Asset Protection Trust do not count towards the Medicaid asset limit of $2,000, assuming mom makes it long enough without needing Medicaid.
This means that mom, if she needs nursing home level care can qualify for Medicaid to have Medicaid pay her base level of care, while having a pot of resources in her trust to improve her quality of life and pay for additional services.
Next Steps to Protect the Home
If you have a loved one who needs long-term care, could qualify for the VA benefit, and want to sell the home–but are afraid to because of a loss of VA Benefits, then give us a call (888) 390-4360. The Elder Care Firm is the only law firm in Livingston County with a VA Accredited Certified Elder Law Attorney.