Oct
30
2018
0

Can I Give Each Of My Children $15,000 a Year and Still Qualify For Medi-Cal?

You can give $15,000 to each of your children per year under IRS rules, but there may be penalties if you apply for Medi-Cal within 30 months of the date of the gift. Under IRS rules for the year 2018, you can give away $15,000 or less to any number of individuals, without having to report the gift to the IRS. If you give away more than $15,000 in a single year to any one individual, other than your spouse, you will be required to file a gift tax return. However, you will only have to pay a gift tax if your reportable gifts exceed $11.18 million dollars during your lifetime. I do not believe that any of my clients estates’ will be liable for a gift tax.

But beware of the Medi-Cal gifting rules and the 30 month look back penalty period. Some people are of the belief that if they give away an amount equal to the current $15,000 annual gift tax exclusion amount, that this gift will be exempted from Medi-Cal’s 30 month look back penalty period. This notion is incorrect.

The gift tax exclusion is an IRS rule, and this IRS rule has nothing to do with Medi-Cal’s asset gifting rules. While the $15,000 that you gave to your grandchild this year may be exempt from any gift tax, Medi-Cal will still count it as a transfer that could make you ineligible for nursing home benefits for a certain amount of time, should you apply for Medi-Cal within 30 months of the date of the gift.

When a person is in a nursing home and applies for Medi-Cal, the Medi-Cal application will ask whether the applicant has transferred away any non-exempt assets during the 30 months prior to the application date. Transfers or gifts between spouses are not counted. However, if a gift was made to a third party within the 30 months prior to the application date, an eligibility penalty may apply. If the gift was made more than 30 months prior to the date of the application, no penalty will apply. If the gift was made within the 30 month period, divide the sum gifted by $8,841, the penalty divisor, and that is the number of months of ineligibility for the applicant, starting at the month the gift was made. So for instance, if $15,000 was gifted in June, 2018, we divide that number by $8,841. $15,000 / $8,841 = 1.69, which would be rounded down to one month of ineligibility.  As a result, the applicant would be ineligible for June, 2018, but would be eligible for July, 2018. The devisor penalty number is revised annually.

You should also review the language in your revocable living trust and financial durable powers of attorney, to be sure that there is not a $15,000 limitation on gifting, which we commonly see. If you lose capacity, and we are limited to the $15,000 annual amount for gifting, we may not be able to utilize all of the Medi-Cal eligibility regulations, and your ineligibility period for qualification for Med-Cal could be unnecessarily extended.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, is general in nature, and you are encouraged to see your Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney.

Michael J. Young

Walnut Creek, CA

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

Aug
06
2018
0

When To Apply For Medi-Cal

Our clients often ask us when the appropriate time would be for them to file for Medi-Cal, to help pay for a stay in skilled nursing facility (SNF). If you are actually in a SNF, you can file a Medi-Cal application. Medi-Cal requires proof that you have been admitted to a SNF, and a will not accept a Medi-Cal application before that time. Once an application is filed, it is retroactive to the first of the month that it is filed. So if you file at the end of a month, and the application is granted, it is retroactive to the first of the month the application is filed. We have been filing applications on behalf of our clients for a number of years now, and to date, all of our applications have been granted. The reason that they have all been granted is that we do not file an application unless it appears to us that our clients have met all of the requirements, and legally qualify. Of course, pre-planning at the earliest opportunity is the best way to assure that Medi-Cal will grant your application, should you need to file at a later time. Pre-planning begins with an analysis of your assets, and with updating your estate planning documents to include the appropriate asset protection, government benefits and Medi-Cal planning provisions under state and federal law. Several of these documents refer to each other, and work hand in hand for qualification and asset protection . If you have lost capacity, pre-planning is of course made more difficult, so the earlier you plan, the better. Estate planning documents typically include your revocable living trust, financial and health care durable powers of attorney, intent to return home, HIPAA statements, wills, community property agreement for couples, etc. At the time you update your estate planning documents, and we review your assets with you, we will show you what would be required for qualification, in the event you are admitted to a SNF and you need to apply for Medi-Cal. We encourage our clients to keep in contact with us over time, so that adjustments can be made to their plans for pre-qualification for Medi-Cal when necessary.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, is general in nature, and you are encouraged to see your Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney.

Michael J. Young

Walnut Creek, CA

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

Jul
10
2018
0

Steps to Help Maintain Your Health and Safety

The following are some steps for our senior and (almost senior) clients to consider for healthy living.

  • Prevent falls: My father’s advice to me just before he died was for me to advise all of my clients to not fall. Falls can be the beginning of the end for people. Walk more deliberately, use your cane, and hold on to handrails.
  • Safety at home: Avoid climbing ladders, and if you must, make sure that someone is with you. Remove slippery area rugs. Do not jump up and down inside of the trash barrel to create more space for trash.
  • Exercise: Keep your strength up. Walk every day if you can, and add more steps all the time. If your legs are strong and your balance is good, you are less likely to fall.
  • Have discussions with your family: Talk to your loved ones and your support group about your health care decisions and your Directive to Physicians. Talk about your financial decisions and your financial Power of Attorney. Make sure all of your estate planning documents are up to date, and that they have the latest asset protection and Medi-Cal qualification provisions.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, is general in nature, and you are encouraged to see your Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney.

Michael J. Young

Walnut Creek, CA

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

Jun
25
2018
0

No Penalties For Transfers Between Spouses Under Medi-Cal Regulations

When a person is in a nursing home and applies for Medi-Cal, the Medi-Cal application will ask whether the applicant has transferred away any non-exempt assets during the 30 months prior to the application date. Remember that exempt assets such as IRA’s are reported to Medi-Cal, but are not countable assets for Medi-Cal qualification.  The ill spouse, or applicant spouse, cannot have more than $2,000 in his/her name, of non qualified assets. The well spouse can have up to $123,600 in non-qualified assets. So if the ill spouse transfers assets to the well spouse to get down himself\herself down to the $2,000 limit, Medi-Cal does not apply a penalty. However, if a gift was made to a third party within the 30 months prior to the application date, an eligibility penalty may apply. If the gift was made more than 30 months prior to the date of the application, no penalty will apply. If the gift was made within the 30 month period, divide the sum gifted by $8,841, the penalty divisor, and that is the number of months of ineligibility for the applicant, starting at the month the gift was made. So for instance, if $15,000 was gifted in June, 2018, we divide that number by $8,841. $15,000 / $8,841 = 1.69, which would be rounded down to one month of ineligibility.  As a result, the applicant would be ineligible for June, 2018, but would be eligible for July, 2018.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, is general in nature, and you are encouraged to see your Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney.

Michael J. Young

Walnut Creek, CA

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

Apr
09
2018
0

New Medicare Cards Are Being Issued Without Social Security Numbers

With the purpose of helping to prevent fraud and to protect identities, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has redesigned Medicare cards. The new cards will no longer show the owner’s Social Security Number. The cards will still be red, white and blue, but will also not show the gender, signature and other personal information, all of which could compromise the Medicare beneficiary’s identity. The new cards will have an 11 character, randomly assigned number, that will not be connected or related in any way to the beneficiary’s other personal data.

All current beneficiaries are scheduled to receive their new cards no later than December, 2019. In California, the new cards should arrive between April and June, 2018. Beneficiaries are encouraged to ensure that the Social Security Administration has their correct address. Address changes can be made by contacting the Social Security Administration at ssa.gov/myaccount or by calling 800-772-1213, or by visiting your social security office. The Walnut Creek office is located at 1111 Civic Dr., #180, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.

Beware of scammers who are already trying to take advantage of unsuspecting beneficiaries by contacting them directly about their replacement cards. Please understand that CMS employees never call and ask for personal or private information about Medicare recipients. The CMS also will not charge a fee for the new card. Any such inquiries would be clear signs that you are dealing with a scammer.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, is general in nature, and you are encouraged to see your Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney.

Michael J. Young

Walnut Creek, CA Probate Attorney

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

Mar
12
2018
0

What Are The Intestate Rights Of Inheritance In Probate Upon The Death Of A Married Person?

The rights of inheritance from a person who died intestate, and who was married at the time of death, will depend upon the nature of the particular asset being probated. Assets of the decedent who is a married person can be community property, quasi-community property or separate property.  Quasi-community property is property acquired in another state that would have been community property if it had been acquired in California. Basically, all community property and quasi-community property will pass to the surviving spouse. The separate property of the decedent will be distributed to the surviving spouse and to other relatives, depending upon who survives. So for instance, if there is a surviving spouse and surviving children, one-half will go to the surviving spouse and one-half will go to one child, if there is only one child. If there is more than one child, one-third will go to the surviving spouse, and two-thirds will go to the children in equal shares. Other rules will apply if there are no children or grandchildren.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, is general in nature, and you are encouraged to see your Walnut Creek Probate Attorney.

Michael J. Young

Walnut Creek, CA Probate Attorney

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

Mar
08
2018
0

What Assets Can Be Administered By The Probate Court When The Decedent’s Will Is Filed?

Only certain assets left through a person’s will can be administered through a probate proceeding.

For a married person, all of his or her separate property, which is in that person’s name alone, can be distributed through a probate court proceeding. Separate property is identified as what was owned by the decedent before marriage. In addition, separate property refers to assets acquired during marriage by gift or inheritance. If the decedent is single, all assets in the decedent’s name alone can be distributed through a probate proceeding. For community property, one-half of each asset which is titled in the couple’s names as community property can be handled through the probate court process. In addition, the portion or percent owned by the decedent with others as tenants in common can be subject to the probate court process. Assets that are not registered in the decedent’s name, such as furniture, coins and jewelry can also be distributed through probate.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, is general in nature, and you are encouraged to see your Walnut Creek Probate Attorney.

Michael J. Young

Walnut Creek, CA Probate Attorney

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

Feb
12
2018
0

Avoid Probate To Avoid Medi-Cal Recovery

When a Medi-Cal recipient dies, the state will attempt to recover from the recipient’s estate, what the state paid for that person’s care during his or her lifetime. Before January 1, 2017, the term “estate” referred to any assets in the recipient’s name at the time of death. As of January 1, 2017, as the result of SB 833, which was signed into law by Governor Brown on June 27, 2016, the state has taken the definition of “estate” to mean a probate estate. A probate estate is an estate that is being processed through a court action in probate court. If you do not have an estate that is subject to probate when you die, there can be no state recovery. A revocable living trust will avoid probate. For instance, if you transfer your home to your revocable living trust and then you die, your home will be transferred to your named beneficiaries of the trust, without the need of a probate court action. If you do not transfer title of your home to your trust, and your name alone is on the deed, a probate of your home will be required when you die. The state could then recover against your home. If you hold title to your home in joint tenancy and then you die, title to your home will vest in the surviving joint tenant without a probate court action, and there will be no state recovery. However, on the death of the surviving joint tenant, a probate court proceeding will be required if the surviving person did not put title in a trust, or did not add another joint tenant to the deed. So the easiest way to avoid Medi-Cal recovery, is to avoid probate.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law and probate 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 and probates. 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
05
2018
0

Medi-Cal Treatment of Reverse Mortgages

Reverse mortgage loans are designed for homeowners who are 62 years of age or older, and who have a substantial amount of equity in their homes. The amount of equity is usually the difference between the fair market appraised value of your property, and the amount due on existing mortgages. As the borrower under a reverse mortgage, you can receive monthly or other periodic payments. You can also have access to the funds, like a line of credit, that you can draw on when needed. You make no payments until the loan is paid off, when you pass away and the property is sold, or when you go into a long term care facility for an extended period of time. For Medi-Cal qualification purposes, the State does not treat the amount of the loan as an asset. However, when you receive money from the reverse mortgage lender, Medi-Cal will treat that receipt of money as an asset in the month you receive it. As a result, you will need to spend that money down before the end of the month to meet the Medi-Cal qualification limits. A caveat on a reverse mortgage is that if you as the borrower go into a nursing home for an extended period of time, the loan may be called due, and the secured home will have to be sold. The proceeds of sale, which become a cash asset, could make you ineligible for Medi-Cal.

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.

Michael J. Young

Elder Law and Asset Protection Attorney

Medi-Cal Attorney Walnut Creek

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

Jan
30
2018
0

Medi-Cal Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) As of January 1, 2018

When one spouse applies for Medi-Cal, the state will look at the assets of both spouses for qualification of the ill spouse. As of January 1, 2018, the community spouse, also known as the “at-home” spouse, or the “well spouse”, may retain up to $123,600 in liquid assets. The ill spouse cannot have more than $2,000 in liquid assets in his or her name. The couple can also keep their home if the ill spouse confirms that he or she intends to return home. Assets held in revocable living trusts will be considered available, depending on the asset. Any non-exempt assets that the ill spouse has in his name, or jointly with his spouse, over the amount of $2,000, will be counted by Medi-Cal in determining eligibility. The state will want to know about all assets of both spouses, including savings, cash, stocks, etc. In addition, the cash surrender value of whole life insurance of the ill spouse cannot exceed $1500. If it does, you will want to transfer the excess cash to the well spouse. There is no ineligibility penalty for transfers between spouses. For Medi-Cal qualification, assets of the ill spouse are often transferred to the well spouse. Be sure that your revocable living trust and financial durable powers of attorney have the appropriate “transfer” and “gifting” language, in the event either of the spouses loses capacity. If incapacity sets in, and the appropriate language is not there, you may be prevented from making  transfers or gifts.There are of course more rules and regulations to consider, and this article is not exhaustive on the subject. Contact our office so that we may help you plan for qualification for Medi-Cal.

Michael J. Young

Elder Law and Asset Protection Attorney

Medi-Cal Attorney Walnut Creek

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

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