A Codicil for the Caregiver Spouse



Many of us will serve as a caregiver spouse for a loved one in need.  While Medicaid will assist with nursing home care (after a lengthy eligibility precess), there is very little help to pay for extra care provided in the home or in an assisted living facility.

With care giving occupying most of the day, we do not think about planning our own estate should something happen to us.

Most couples have a simple “I Love You” Will.  This means if one passes away, the survivor inherits.  However, if the caregiver spouse passes away, the spouse who has received the care often requires nursing home care.  Resources left to the survivor must be spent in order to qualify for Medicaid assistance.

The caregiver spouse should revise his or her Will to provide for a special need trust for his or her surviving spouse.  If structured correctly, this trust does not count as a resource for Medicaid eligibility.  The trust can pay for quality of life items not covered by Medicaid.  These items would include a private room, bed holds, extra therapies, clothes, hair cuts and shampoos, and extra care giving hours.

If your current Will provides for your surviving spouse who is requires care, you will want to amend it with a Codicil.  The Codicil can change the direct distribution to the surviving spouse so that it is received instead by the trustee of the special needs trust.

You may want to review your current Will and think about what would happen to your estate should something happen to you first and how best to plan for the care and quality of life of your surviving spouse.


Lynn Campisi is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the  National Elder Law Foundation.  Lynn can be reached at  lynn@campisilaw.com or (205) 967-1010.

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