Unfortunately current economic hardships may exist more acutely for the LGBT elder community because of a lifetime of federal law discrimination that has affected their financial security and health care options. Of all the so-called financial safety nets, including Social Security and retiree health insurance benefits, the harshest effects on aging LGBT Boomers is Medicaid. To be eligible in New York for state nursing home assistance, certain asset and income level requirements exist whereby qualified applicants must be deemed impoverished.
New York State Medicaid allows the spouse of a person receiving Medicaid – “the community spouse” – to keep certain assets including the family home to protect against total impoverishment. Because marriage rights are not granted to same sex couples in New York, they cannot take advantage of this provision.
On the other side of the coin, the inability of same sex couples to marry in New York offers a distinct Medicaid planning advantage in later years. If you are in a same sex partnership and wish to plan ahead five years to protect your jointly owned home and life savings from nursing home costs, and cannot obtain long-term care insurance for any reason, you may both establish a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust for one other. Legally married couples may not name each other as the trustee in a MAPT. Same sex partners, however, are able to name one another as each other’s trustee and therefore do not have to go outside of the relationship to put someone else in charge in order to protect assets. A New York elder law attorney who has familiarity with the underserved legal needs of the LGBT community can best advise whether or not a MAPT is a viable financial solution in a given situation.
by A.K. Lehmann, ABA Paralegal Lehmann & Lehmann Legal Communications