Dec
21
2016
0

Medi-Cal Recovery Will Be Limited to Probate Estates after January 1, 2017

We have recently blogged about the new legislation Governor Brown signed, effective January 1, 2017, which changes the rules regarding recovery by the state for payments it has made to nursing homes for Medi-Cal recipients. Under the old law, the only way we could avoid recovery was to ensure that there was nothing in the Medi-Cal recipient’s name at the date of his death. Under the new law, for Medi-Cal recipients who die after January 1, 2017, recovery will be limited to those estates that are subject to probate under California Probate Law. Assets transferred from a revocable living trust of the Medi-Cal recipient will not be subject to recovery under California Law, because assets in a revocable living trust are not be subject to probate.

For example, if Mary the Medi-Cal recipient leaves her home to her son in her will, the home will be subject to a probate. If the state paid $30,000 to a nursing home for Mary, the state will be able to recover the $30,000 from the probate of the home. If the home was in Mary’s revocable living trust at the time of her death, the state will not be able to recover against the home, because the home will transfer from the trust to Mary’s son, and will not be probated.

The new rules, effective for Medi-Cal recipients who die after January 1, 2017, also exempt certain assets from state recovery. For example, property transferred prior to death, that are no longer in the beneficiary’s name, are not subject to recovery. However, any transfers must be made within the Medi-Cal regulations in order to avoid periods of ineligibility when applying for Medi-Cal. Also, the state cannot recover against your life insurance policy as long as you name one or more beneficiaries under your policy. If you do not name a beneficiary, or if the beneficiary you have named dies before you do, there will be a probate to determine who the beneficiary is. The state will be able to recover against the probate.

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 the older client and their families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

Dec
08
2016
0

John Hancock Has Dropped Traditional Long Term Care Insurance – But All Is Not Lost!

Forbes Magazine has recently reported that John Hancock is the latest insurance company to drop out of the traditional long term care insurance market. John Hancock has been one of the largest providers over the years, having sold some 1.2 million traditional long term care insurance policies. It is estimated that there are now less than 20 companies that are selling these traditional “use it or lose it” style of policies. Forbes says that, “This withdrawal signals what many financial planners, government officials, and financial service firms have known for years—that the United States is nearing a long-term care planning crisis.”

The reason that so many insurance companies have dropped out of the traditional long term care insurance market is because they are losing money on this type of policy. The insurance companies set initial premiums too low and they underestimated how long people would live. They also underestimated the cost of long term care and how much the cost of that care would increase over time.

Fortunately however, there are new insurance options that you can explore to help pay for your long term care. In 2010, an amendment to the Pension Protection Act (PPA) of 2006 was passed which can be very advantageous to Americans struggling to find ways to pay for long term care. As an example, many seniors own annuity contracts. Individuals who own annuities can now exchange those annuities, on a tax free basis, for Pension Protection Act style annuities that have long term care riders. The long term care rider in the new annuity contract can create multiples of the amount in the annuity that can be used for your care. For instance, $100,000 moving from your existing annuity into a Pension Protection Act style of annuity could create $300,000 in a rider to be used for your care. If you need help with two out of the six activities of daily living, you can “go on claim,” and the amounts distributed to you from the annuity for your care are distributed tax free.

You can also transfer money from any source into a Pension Protection Act style annuity or life insurance policy that has a long term care rider. The healthier you are, the easier it is for you to qualify for these new financial instruments. However, they are easier to qualify for than traditional long term care insurance policies because you are using your own assets to fund the long term care annuity or life insurance policy.

While you are updating your estate planning documents for long term care planning and asset protection with us, and if you are interested, we can help you explore these Pension Protection Act asset protection possibilities with you.

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 the older client and their families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

Nov
28
2016
0

‘Tis the Season for Stress’ – Special Challenges

Once again the Holiday Season is upon us. ’Tis the season’ for mixed blessings. Along with the joys of the season come the stressors. This year you wonder how you will manage to get everything done. Your “to-do” list, as always, seems never ending with shopping, baking and decorating. This year, however, you know at the top of your priority list is providing the best possible care for your elderly loved one who suffers from increased dementia.

This time of year can likewise create stress for your loved one whose anxiety levels seem to mirror your own. Unlike yourself, however, the dementia affects your loved one’s ability to express himself or herself clearly. Simple changes in routine can cause unexpected anxiety which increases with the inability to verbalize what they are feeling.

In addition to the stress on both caregiver and care recipient, out of town guests add a whole new dynamic. Family members may feel shocked by your loved one’s mental and physical changes. This shock can produce feelings of guilt or anger that may be directed at you. Your loved one may also exhibit additional uneasiness — possibly viewing family members as strangers.

So the question remains, “How do you make it through the holidays and maintain some semblance of peace?” And, equally important, “How do you help your elderly loved one do the same?”

First of all, you may want to do some pre-planning. Waiting until the last minute often leaves a person feeling rushed and harried. To avoid this unnecessary stress, create a list of priorities.

If you plan to take your loved one with you holiday shopping, hit stores early in the day and on weekdays. Most malls and department stores are far less crowded at these times. Also, take along a picture of the person you are shopping for. This provides a reminder to your loved one and an opportunity for their input on the gift. Encourage your loved one to take part in wrapping the gifts when at home. (Be mindful, however, of their frustration levels.)

If you are doing any of the holiday cooking, establish the menu ahead of time. Plan to buy as many of the ingredients as possible a week or two in advance. Also, prepare whatever will keep in the refrigerator or freezer ahead of time so there is less to do on the actual day of your gathering. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask others to bring along a dish. Most guests would be happy to help.

Prepare your visiting family members for potential changes in your loved one’s status. Imagine how drastic changes and declines would seem if you had not been present to witness them. Sharing can help them prepare family and friends for the emotions they may feel when confronted with these changes.

Ultimately, you cannot eliminate stress from every environment. For this reason it is essential that you eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep. With your own stress level in check, you can focus on monitoring the stress levels of your loved one.

If the stress gets overwhelming, consider getting help with your caregiving tasks. Home health care agencies can provide help a few hours a day or a few hours a week. Adult Day Care gives your loved one a safe environment in which to interact with others. If your holiday plans include an over-night visit or extended stay, check into Respite Care.

Nov
09
2016
0

2017 Medi-Cal Recovery Against Surviving Spouse

Governor Brown has signed new legislation, effective January 1, 2017, which changes the rules regarding recovery by the state for payments it has made to nursing homes for Medi-Cal recipients.  Under the present law, the state can recover against the surviving spouse or domestic partner of a Medi-Cal recipient, from whatever was in the Medi-Cal recipient’s estate that was left to the surviving spouse or partner by distribution or survival, as from joint tenancy or community property, or property left under a will to the surviving spouse. After January 1, 2017, if the Medi-Cal recipient is survived by a spouse or registered domestic partner, a claim is forever barred against that person. If the surviving spouse however receives Medi-Cal benefits, then his or her estate can be subject to an estate claim after his or her death.

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 the older client and their families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

Oct
10
2016
0

October, 2016 Medi-Cal Reference Guide

This Medi-Cal Reference Guide reflects some of the most frequently requested information we receive regarding Medi-Cal qualification.

Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) $119,220. This is the amount of non-qualified money or investments that the well spouse may keep. Either spouse may keep any amount of qualified assets, such as IRAs.

Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) $2,981. The well spouse is allowed to keep all of her income. The MMMNA is the minimum amount of monthly income that the well spouse is allowed to keep. If she is under this amount, the income of the ill spouse is applied to bring the well spouse up to the $2,981 amount. This calculation is set forth in the accounting that is presented with the application to Medi-Cal.

Divestment Penalty Divisor (APPR) $8,189. This is the monthly amount that the state pays to Medi-Cal nursing homes, minus a share of cost from the applicant. The APPR is also the gifting penalty divisor which is used in calculating periods of ineligibility for Medi-Cal, using the current 30 month look back period. So for instance, if the Medi-Cal applicant gifted $20,000 to a child in October, 2016, she would be ineligible for Medi-Cal for two months. Divide $20,000 by $8,189 and round down to two. The applicant would be ineligible in October and November, but would be eligible in December. There is no penalty for gifting between spouses.

Applicant Resource Allowance $2,000. This is the amount of assets that the applicant can keep, whether he is single or married.

Monthly Personal Needs Allowance $35. This is the amount of income the applicant can keep. The applicant is also given credit for his part B Medicare premium.

This off course is only part of the picture. Please feel free to contact our office for additional information.

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 the older client and their families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

Sep
28
2016
0

Consider A Joint Checking Account With Your Parents

Many older people insist on handling their own financial affairs without assistance, for as long as as possible. This is admirable, but what if something bad happens to the older person, like a medical event which lands the older person in the hospital, and ready access to cash is needed? And, what if the older person begins to lose capacity and starts to make bad decisions with their money?

For access to immediate cash, a child or other loved one should be a joint owner on a checking account with the older person. If the older person is hospitalized and indisposed for a period of time, the child will be able to take care of finances, and pay bills for their parent. If the older person starts to make bad financial decisions, or is the subject of fraud, the child could shut the account down.

The bank and financial accounts, except for IRAs, should be transferred to the revocable living trust of the older person, with a child or other person named as successor trustee. These transfers to the revocable living trust are completed through the bank or financial institution, and these trust assets are reflected on the schedules of assets attached to the revocable living trust. The trust is set up so that if the older person loses capacity, a doctor’s note is obtained, and the child can act as the new trustee to control the assets for the benefit of the parent.

But what if the parent refuses to cooperate and do any of these things? You should try to maintain a dialogue of communication with the parent, and try to stay informed about what is happening with his daily life. If the parent becomes unusually defensive when asked about his finances, this should be a red flag. At this point, a geriatric social worker may be able to help you communicate with your parent. If the estate plan and finances aren’t properly set up, and the parent loses mental capacity, a court conservatorship may be required for you to be able to gain control of the accounts. The earlier the estate plan and joint checking account is set up, the easier it will be for all concerned.

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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Jun
28
2016
0

Does Grandma Have A Medical Consent Form For Her Grandchild?

During the summer, many grandchildren will stay with their grandparents for a period of time. If you are a grandparent who will be taking care of one of your grandchildren, be sure that you have a Medical Treatment Authorization Form for your grandchild. Most medical doctors will require such a legal document, which confirms that you have the authority to care for your grandchild and to authorize medical treatment for him or her. The form contains information about the grandchild, identifies the physician, and includes information regarding medical insurance and allergies. The authorization is given by the grandchild’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) and confirms dates through which the authorization is effective.

In addition, you as a grandparent should have a document reflecting that you have temporary authority over your grandchild. This document will come in handy for instance, if your grandchild needs a permission slip to go on a school field trip or to go to day camp.

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.

Jun
01
2016
0

The Personal Residence Exclusion

When we are doing long term care planning with our clients, we often discuss the fact that if you sell your home during your life, you may have to pay tax on the capital gain. Capital Gain is the difference between the “basis” in the property, basically what you paid for it, and its selling price. The federal tax can be up to 15% of the gain, and there is a smaller tax to the state which is determined by your tax bracket. You may exclude up to $250,000 of gain on the sale of your personal residence. If you are married, you can exclude up to $500,000.  To qualify, you or your spouse must have lived in and owned the home for at least two out of the five years prior to the sale. When doing long term care planning, we also discuss methods under the IRS regulations, which may allow us to avoid capital gains.

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.

May
12
2016
0

The New Transfer On Death Deed (TOD)

On January 1, 2016, a new California law became effective which creates a Revocable Transfer on Death Deed. (“TOD Deed”). The deed is designed to transfer residential property to named beneficiaries upon the death of the grantor. There is no transfer of title during the life of the grantor. The legislative purpose of the TOD Deed was to hopefully create an inexpensive way to transfer property, without the use of revocable living trusts, and without subjecting the title to probate.

Please be sure to contact your attorney before you use such a deed, as there are definite downsides to the use of the TOD. One big downside is that there is a three year statute of limitations which allows secured and unsecured liens to attach to the title of the home after the death of the grantor. As a result, the title will become uninsurable by title insurance companies for three years from the date of death of the grantor. So for instance, if the home passes from mother to son on July 1, 2016, a transfer of the home or a loan on the home from the son will be uninsurable until July 1, 2019. In California, lenders and purchasers almost always require title insurance to insure a title transfer and to insure a loan. The practical result may be that the son will not be able to sell the home or put a loan on it for the three year statutory period.

We do Medi-Cal and asset protection planning in our firm. If the home is in the estate of the Medi-Cal applicant at the time of his or her death, the State will pursue a lien against the property for the amount they have paid to the nursing home for the Medi-Cal applicant.  By using the TOD deed, Medi-Cal will be able to attach a lien to the subject real property, because it was in the estate of Medi-Cal applicant upon death. As a result, the use of the TOD is inappropriate for long term care and asset protection planning.  Your elder law attorney will advise you of the available techniques under the regulations to properly protect the home from a Medi-Cal lien.

If your grantee does not intend to sell the property or take a loan out on the property for three years from your death, and if you as the grantor are not concerned about Medi-Cal recovery against the home, then the TOD deed may be appropriate. Please be aware also that a class description of beneficiaries such as “children” cannot be created on the TOD deed. If a named beneficiary predeceases the grantor, and there are no other specifically named beneficiaries who take title immediately and jointly, a probate of the home will be required.

As a result of all of the above, it would appear to this elder law attorney with some 39 years of experience, that the use of TOD deed may very well be “penny wide and pound foolish.”

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.

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