Feb
29
2016
0

Do-It-Yourself Estate Plans

If you do an on-line search, you will immediately find websites that will help you create estate planning documents like revocable living trusts and wills. The selling point of these websites is that you will save on legal fees. Accordingly, you do not receive legal representation from these web sites. But, are you being “penny wise and pound foolish” by creating your own on-line estate plan?

In our firm, we do long term care planning and asset protection for the older client. Some of the legal documents that are included in the long term care plan are also revocable living trusts and wills. However, the provisions and language in the documents created by an elder law attorney are quite different from what you will find on line. The documents created by an elder law attorney include mechanisms for asset protection and long term care planning for your care, which can be implemented when needed. As my mother once told me, she wanted a plan that would be effective if she did not die, and became ill along the way.

In California, we have Medi-Cal which will pay for an extended stay in a skilled nursing facility, provided that you have your ducks in a row. There are regulations and codes which you can take advantage of for asset protection and qualification for Medi-Cal. In a properly drafted long term care plan, if you lose mental capacity or otherwise become incapable of handling your own affairs, your fiduciary will be able to take advantage of these codes and Medi-Cal regulations for asset protection and qualification for Medi-Cal. Without a properly drafted long term care plan, you may be required to spend down your assets first, in order to qualify for Medi-Cal. In addition, your home may be left exposed to a Medi-Cal lien for reimbursement to the state after you die. As a result, you may be required to prematurely spend all of your assets to create qualification for Medi-Cal. In addition, you may end up leaving nothing for your family when you die.

Long term care planning is as much for your loved ones as it is for yourself.  It is your loved ones who will have to deal with the consequences of your decisions during your life, and after you die. No website that I have observed is capable of giving tailored legal advice for asset protection and long term care planning that can help clients save tens of thousands and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars. The old adage, “you get what you pay for,” still holds true.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Young, at 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA www.WalnutCreekElderLaw, 925-256-0298, lawyoung1@gmail.com we practice Elder Law and we help Baby Boomers, Seniors and families through their Elder Care Journey. We help families with long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help Baby Boomers and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

Feb
19
2016
0

How Does Medi-Cal Treat Joint Accounts?

All assets in the name of the Medi-Cal applicant are reported when qualifying for Medi-Cal. The home is reported, but can usually be confirmed as an exempt asset for qualification. So- called Qualified assets such as IRA’s are reported, but are but are also usually confirmed as exempt for qualification. The applicant can then not have more than $2,000 in non-exempt assets in his or her name.

If the applicant’s name is on an account with another person, Medi-Cal will count the entire amount as being in the name of the applicant. For instance, if you maintain a joint bank account in the amount of $15,000 with your mother in order to avoid probate when you die, and your mother applies for Medi-Cal, the $15,000 will be counted as belonging to your mother. Your mother would be ineligible for Medi-Cal because she cannot have more than $2,000 of non-exempt assets in her name.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Young, at 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA www.WalnutCreekElderLaw, 925-256-0298, lawyoung1@gmail.com we practice Elder Law and we help Baby Boomers, Seniors and families through their Elder Care Journey. We help families with long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help Baby Boomers and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

Feb
08
2016
0

Changes Are Coming For VA A&A Qualification

New changes are in the works which may make it more difficult to qualify for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit. This benefit, for older war time veterans or their surviving spouses, has been very helpful for some of our clients, to help them pay for their long term care costs. A single veteran can receive up to $1,788 per month, and a married veteran can receive up to $2,120 per month from the VA if they qualify for the benefit.

For a number of months now, the VA has been considering new, more difficult qualification requirements for this benefit. The most notable change that is being considered is a three year look back penalty period for gifting. California’s Medi-Cal program presently has a 30 month look back penalty period for gifting.

The VA presently has no look back penalty period for gifting. As a result, under the present VA rules, an applicant with assets in excess of approximately $40,000 for a single person and approximately $80,000 for a couple, with good asset protection planning and by gifting, can then qualify for benefits, without the imposition of a gifting penalty period. A newly imposed three year look back penalty period by the VA could act as a three year waiting period for these same benefits. However, the details regarding precisely how the penalty period for gifting will work, have not been revealed.

Rumors have circulated for some months that these changes would occur in February or March of 2016. As a result, for couples with assets in excess of $80,000 or a single person with assets in excess of $40,000, it may be a good idea to do your planning now before any new changes are implemented.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Young, at 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA www.WalnutCreekElderLaw, 925-256-0298, lawyoung1@gmail.com we practice Elder Law and we help Baby Boomers, Seniors and families through their Elder Care Journey. We help families with long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help Baby Boomers and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

Feb
01
2016
0

How Much Does The Surviving Spouse Receive In Social Security Benefits?

In a previous post, we discussed what you should do about Social Security benefits after someone dies. But with regard to married couples, how much will the surviving spouse receive? Generally speaking, the surviving spouse will receive 100% of the deceased spouse’s Social Security benefit, as long as that amount is greater than the surviving spouse’s benefit.  As a result, the surviving spouse will continue to receive either his or her own benefit, or the deceased spouse’s benefit, whichever is greater. But, the surviving spouse will not receive both benefits.  A one-time death benefit payment of $255 will also be paid to the surviving spouse by Social Security.

Another requirement is that the surviving spouse must be age 60 or older. The surviving spouse can also be 50 or older provided that he or she is disabled from a disability that began no later than 7 years after the deceased spouse’s death. The surviving spouse must also have been married to the deceased spouse for at least 9 months, and not be currently remarried where the marriage occurred before he/she turned age 60.

An ex-spouse may also collect survivor benefits under certain circumstances.  The ex-spouse must have been married to the deceased ex-spouse at least 10 years.  The age 60 or age 50 with a disability requirements as discussed above, are the same as the married surviving spouse.  Also, the ex-spouse must not be remarried in a marriage that occurred before age 60. Be sure to contact Social Security with regard to your specific case. An in-person meeting at the Social Security office is the best way for you to proceed.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Young, at 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA www.WalnutCreekElderLaw, 925-256-0298, lawyoung1@gmail.com we practice Elder Law and we help Baby Boomers, Seniors and families through their Elder Care Journey. We help families with long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help Baby Boomers and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

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