Caring for Your Spouse…Even After You’re Gone

Your spouse has been there with you through thick and thin. They have been your rock, the foundation upon which you’ve built your life. Your spouse has probably been your friend, confidant, and true partner.

If your spouse is ailing now, there are ways that you can protect them, even after you are gone. Let’s say your spouse has a slowly degenerative disease, like Alzheimer’s disease. Hopefully, their illness may be kept at bay. As long as you are there, you may intend to care for your spouse at home. But, what if you die first? At least one study has shown that caregivers themselves often get sick or die early because of the stresses on them.

If you die first, your assets would pass to your spouse. Then, without your support, your spouse may need nursing care and would need to spend the resources you’ve built over a lifetime together to pay for that care. Eventually, they would have “spent down” those resources and would qualify for financial assistance. But, then they would have little money left for incidentals and luxuries, like birthday gifts for the grandchildren.

There is a better way. You could leave your assets to your spouse in a “Testamentary Special Needs Trust,” which is a unique kind of Special Needs Trust. The assets in the Special Needs Trust may not be used for items covered by government assistance, such as medical care. However, the assets may be used for whatever costs government assistance does not cover, such as a special medical procedure, extra therapy, a private room in the hospital or nursing home, travel, an art class, birthday gifts for the grandchildren, and in come cases, even everyday living expenses.

A Special Needs Trust is a good strategy for any loved one needing substantial care. However, a Special Needs Trust for your spouse can only take effect upon your death. Further, it must be set up in a precise manner to qualify, so that the assets you leave to your spouse will not be deemed “available resources” when seeking government assistance and have to be “spent down” before the government will help with the bills.

You would do anything for your spouse. But, statistics show that you may go before your spouse. Plan now to protect and provide for your spouse, even after you are gone. A qualified estate planning and elder law attorney, one who focuses his or her practice in that area, can help you set up a plan that meets your concerns and your spouse’s needs.

About Paul Nichols

Paul is the founder of Financial Abundance, a Registered Investor Advisory firm and EDI, an Estate Planning Firm with offices in State College and Lewisburg. He has been working with individuals, families and businesses for over twenty years, including many Fortune 500 companies. He has educated tens of thousands of people through seminars, workshops and various international speaking engagements where he shared the stage with many notable individuals such as Ronald Reagan, Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad), Mike Ditka, General Schwarzkopf, and Newt Gingrich to name a few.

In 2000, after many years of traveling to consult companies and individuals, Paul decided to relocate from Colorado to State College, PA (his wife’s hometown) to develop a local advisory firm.

Paul operates under the core belief that education plus understanding leads to clarity and confidence; resulting in peace of mind. He is a proud father of three and devoted husband of 20 plus years.

Some of Paul’s accomplishments:
Regular contributor to the Centre Daily Times, via the “It’s Your Money” blog
Featured in the movie Navigating the Fog of Investing
Regular contributor to Town & Gown as the publications Investor Coach
Host of the weekly iTunes Podcast, It’s Your Money
Member of the Western PA Better Business Bureau
Member of the Centre County Chamber of Business and Industry