The long-term care (LTC) recipient can have no more than about $2,000 at any given time, while the community spouse of the long-term care recipient can have no more than $115,920 as of 2013.
This $115,920 is known as the community spouse resource allowance (CSRA) - the maximum amount the community spouse can have after one-half of the assets of the couple are spent down. There are several ways by which to ensure the community spouse receives as much CSRA as possible, and several mistakes or misconceptions that may result in the community spouse losing out on CRSA they would have otherwise been entitled to.
Medicaid will look at assets in what is called a "snapshot date" - essentially, the first day of the month in which the long-term care recipient applies for Medicaid. If the assets of the LTC recipient equal $117,920 as of the snapshot date, the community spouse would only get to keep one half of that amount - $58,960. Unfortunately, some couples spend down to this amount before applying to Medicaid, unaware that their assets will be cut in half again.
There are also spousal assets that are exempt from Medicaid's calculations, such as a primary homestead, one vehicle, jewelry, etc. A complete discussion of what does and does not qualify for an exemption should be had between you and an attorney. Keep in mind that although some items may be exempt for Medicaid asset counting purposes, they may nevertheless be recoverable from your estate.