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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. 15 | January, 2007


A Wonderful Gift to Parents of Baby Boomers

The “graying of America” is in full force. A “Baby Boomer”, of which I am one, turns 50 every 71/2 seconds. And, people are living longer than ever before. By the time adults reach the age of 85, one out of every two requires nursing home care. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans over 85 will grow from 3.5 million to 7 million by 2020, doubling the number of people in nursing homes in the next 20 years.

Over the holidays, I witnessed this phenomenon first hand in my own extended family. I am in my 50’s, and so are most of my five siblings. In addition, my father and my wife’s mother are both in their late 80’s, are wheel chair bound, and receive specialized care in nursing homes. We see these folks regularly in their nursing homes, and we included them in our holiday festivities as much as we could, negotiating steps with their wheel chairs, etc. These older folks are no longer capable of caring for their own personal or financial affairs. But fortuantely, their plans have been in place for some time.

The estate plan for older individuals usually provides for their children to be able to take care of them as the years progress, with the parents’ assets. These estate plans also typically include provisions to help preserve assets for as long as possible to help pay for their nursing home care. Medi-Cal provisions are often incorporated into the estate planning documents to help the families qualify their parents for government assistance if appropriate.

The key is to provide elder law estate planning as early as possible, especially if there are early signs of dementia. If you act later, this type of estate planning becomes more difficult, and courts may have to be involved to obtain the desired results if the client has lost cognitive powers.

So, the best gift that baby boomers can give to their parents is to encourage them to see an elder law attorney to prepare a specialized elder law estate plan. This will generally provide peace of mind for the entire family, especially with the knowledge that court involvement will not be required in later years if their parents lose cognitive abilities.

We also recognize the importance of the involvement of the children in the estate planning process, and we are pleased to have them visit us with their parents. After all, it is the children who will ultimately be helping their parents under the estate plan.

Update on Medi-Cal: On February 1, 2006, the House of Representatives passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. (“DRA”) These new provisions, when enacted by the States, will greatly reduce our ability to qualify elderly persons for Medi-Cal assistance. However, the good news is that the State of California has enacted very few of the provisions, and most of the planning opportunites are still available to us at this moment. Indications are that California probably will not adopt substantial portions of the DRA until October, 2007. As a result, by following proper procedures, ownership of the home still does not disqualify someone for Medi-Cal assistance, and the home can still be made unavailable for lien attachment by the State after the death of the Medi-Cal recipient. However, for this type of estate planning, the legal documents must contain specific language.

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