When you get married, you promise to be there for your spouse in sickness and in health, regardless of your household economic circumstances. Sometimes, health issues will have a direct impact on your future financial stability.
Especially as you get closer to retirement age, a diagnosis with a major medical issue could have dire implications for your household. If your ex needs in-home nursing care that Medicare won’t cover, see you could incur thousands of dollars in bills every month.
Eventually, you can face creditor claims. Hospitals and other health care providers can even ask for a lien against your house because of unpaid bills. Reviewing your estate plan when your spouse’s health starts to decline could protect you both.
You can plan now for future support
Perhaps you are both in your seventies, and a doctor just diagnosed your spouse with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, their health and cognition only show minimal symptoms, but that will likely change in the next few years.
You can take this opportunity to engage in asset protection planning and also Medicaid planning by updating your estate plan to reflect this new situation. Transferring your real property so that you and your spouse don’t hold title in your own names can protect it from creditor collection efforts both now and after you die.
Diminishing the property that you personally hold can also make it easier for your spouse to qualify for Medicaid when their condition gets worse. Medicaid will look back over years of your financial records, so planning as soon as possible when you know that future health declines are likely is crucial to getting coverage when you need it.
Your spouse can also make important decisions now
As health conditions progress over time, they can have a bigger impact on someone’s well-being and cognitive function. By the time health issues truly compromise your spouse’s mental capacity, they will no longer have the authority to create legal documents on their own behalf. You can work with them now to create powers of attorney and advance medical directives so that both of you have protection as you grow older and health issues continue to affect you.
Knowing when to draft, review and update your estate plan can help you better protect yourself and your spouse as you age.