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"How to get Medi-Cal coverage for your nursing home care... without selling your home or leaving your family without a dime... Surprising ways to pay for your assisted living and long term care costs."

Elder Law Today Newsletter | Vol. 22 | December, 2007


Exemption of the Home for Medi-Cal Qualification

The home remains exempt for qualification for Medi-Cal as long as certain conditions are met. Meeting one or more of these conditions is generally easy to do.

For Medi-Cal qualification, there must be a statement in writing by the Medi-Cal beneficiary that he or she intends to return to their home, or primary residence, even if it is evident that the beneficiary will be in a skilled nursing facility for an extended period of time, and even if it is evident that the beneficiary will never be able to return home. Such a statement can be provided at the time of qualification for Medi-Cal by the recipient or by the person who is preparing the Medi-Cal application.

The estate planning documents the elder law estate planning attorney prepares will usually include such a document. Statements of intent to return home are also generally included in other estate planning documents as part of the general estate plan which is prepared by the elder law attorney. Another purpose for this statement is to provide peace of mind to the older clients, confirming that they intend to live in their home, and that they will be able to return to their home at any time regardless of their age. This is also a message to the family as to their loved ones’ intentions.

There are numerous other regulations which create the home exemption. For instance, if the home is a duplex or a multiple dwelling unit, it is usually exempt from Medi-Cal qualification as long as one of the units is the residence of the beneficiary. The home is also exempt if the beneficiary’s spouse, beneficiary’s child under age 21 or a dependent relative lives in the home.

Also, at times, real property that is used as a business can be exempt. Certain documentation must be provided to Medi-Cal, including tax returns, business license, etc., which reflect the use of the property as a business. The bigger issue is protecting the home from a Medi-Cal lien after the death of the recipient. The Medi-Cal regulations are complex, and this is only a brief outline of portions of the regulations regarding exemption of the home. Before you act, seek the advice of an elder law estate planning attorney who is familiar with the Medi-Cal rules and regulations and asset protection.

A funny story: The stories in the ELT newsletters are printed with permission of the clients, and sometimes poetic license is used. One of our clients, Mrs. Pecksniff, who is in her 80’s is still an avid golfer. She was telling us about her playing at Crystal Springs Golf Course on a week day morning in the late 1980’s with her girl friend. Mrs. Pecksniff said that she and her friend were slow players, and that two male players, who were a hole behind, caught up with them. Mrs. Pecksniff looked at the men and said, “You two look like athletes. Have you ever played professional sports?” They said, “Yes ma’am, may we play through?” Later at the club house, someone asked Mrs. Pecksniff and her friend what they were saying to Will Clark, (first baseman with the S.F. Giants), and his friend. Mrs. Pecksniff said, “Who?,” and admitted she did not know who that was.

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