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

Jun
13
2017
0

Your Home and The “Heggstad” Petition

Your home should be transferred to your revocable living trust for various reasons. One reason is to avoid probate of your home upon your death. Another reason is that as of January 1, 2017, if you die after having been on Medi-Cal, the state will not be able to pursue recovery against your home if it is in your revocable living trust.

Some individuals, for various reasons, take their home out of their revocable living trust and do not transfer it back to their trust before they die. One reason the home is taken out of the trust is for re-finance purposes. Some lenders require that your home not be in your trust when you re-finance your mortgage. As a result, the escrow company may prepare a deed for you to sign, taking your home out of the trust. Escrow will usually not transfer your home back into your trust after escrow closes, because they would be violating the lender’s escrow instructions. As a result, you should transfer your home back into your trust after the close of escrow, unless there is a good reason for you not to do so. When you make this transfer back to your trust, your home will not be re-assessed, and the transfer will not trigger the due-on-transfer clause in the deed of trust which secures your mortgage.

The problem is that if you die, and title to your home is not in the trust, your home will need to be probated. A probate can take up to a year to complete, and is a costly process. Fortunately, there is a shorter court process in California that we can use to obtain a court order transferring your home back into your trust after you die. This is called the “Heggstad” Petition, which is named after a court case. If we can prove to the court through this court petition and supporting declarations that it was the obvious intention of the maker of the trust to keep his or her home in the trust, the court may grant an order, transferring the home back into the trust, thereby avoiding probate. This procedure is not guaranteed, but the courts have been more willing in recent years to grant this petition. As a result, if you take your home out of your trust, check to be sure that you have transferred it back into your trust, unless there is a good reason not to do so.

Please feel free to contact our office should you need help with estate planning, asset protection, and qualifying for and applying 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 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.

Jun
01
2017
0

Medi-Cal Qualification and Joint Accounts

If you are applying for Medi-Cal, you will be required to disclose all of your assets in your application package. Medi-Cal wants to see evidence of all of your accounts, even joint accounts that you may have with someone else. Joint accounts will be considered by Medi-Cal, at least initially, to belong to you alone. So for instance, if you have a joint savings account with your daughter, Medi-Cal will view that account as belonging to you alone. As a result, the value of the account may disqualify you for Medi-Cal.

You may be able to remedy the situation if you can prove to Medi-Cal that all or a portion of the fund does not belong to you. You can also spend the money in the account on yourself, make repairs to your home, pay down your mortgage, etc. You may also be able to gift the money, or a portion of it from the account. As we have explained in previous blogs however, gifting can create periods of ineligibility for Medi-Cal if it is not done correctly.

Planning for asset protection and Medi-Cal with your estate planning and asset protection attorney at an early stage, can be very beneficial. Your revocable living trust and financial durable powers of attorney can also be amended to have the required gifting and asset protection provisions for Medi-Cal qualification, should you become incapable at some point of handling these matters on your own.

Please feel free to contact our office should you need help with estate planning, applying for Medi-Cal and asset protection. 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.

May
31
2017
0

California Still Has A 30 Month Look Back for Gifting

California still has the 30 Month Look Back Penalty Period for Gifting. There is a federal law known as the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), which has a 60 month look back penalty period. However, California has not to date implemented that law. Medi-Cal eligibility workers are required to use the 30 month look back period.

When you apply for Medi-Cal, the application asks whether you have given away any countable, or non-exempt assets within the last 30 months. If you have made such a gift without consideration, or for less than fair market value within the 30 months prior to making the application, a penalty period of ineligibility may be imposed. Transfers of any kind between spouses are exempt and do not create any periods of ineligibility.

The penalty transfer amount, which is also known as the monthly average nursing home private pay rate, is presently $8,515. The penalty period starts when the transfer is made, as opposed to when you make the Medi-Cal application. To calculate the penalty period, first check to see if it was made more than 30 months prior to making the Medi-Cal application. If more than 30 months have passed, there is no penalty.

Lets assume however that you have gifted $50,000 to your grandchild on October 1, 2016, and that you are applying for Medi-Cal on January 1, 2017. The gift was made 3 months prior to the application, so the 30 month look back penalty rule applies. You then divide $50,000 by $8,515, which reflects 5.87, which is rounded down to 5 months of ineligibility, starting from the date of the transfer. As a result, you would be ineligible for Medi-Cal during the months of October, when the gift was made, November, December, January and February, but you would be eligible March 1, 2017. There are of course other rules to consider, which may be to your benefit, which your elder law attorney can help you with.

Please feel free to contact our office should you need help with applying for Medi-Cal, and asset protection. 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.

Apr
11
2017
0

How Much Are Probate Fees?

In California, Probate Code section 10810 statutorily sets the maximum amounts that executors and attorneys may be paid for their fees. The amount of attorney fees and executor fees are ordered by the court at the end of case. If the case is complicated, for instance where litigation is involved, the attorney can request that the court allow additional fees for the attorney’s extraordinary services.

The formula for calculating statutory fees for the attorney and for the executor are as follows: (1) Four percent for the first $100,000 of the estate; (2) Three percent for the next $100,000; (3) Two percent on the next eight hundred thousand dollars; (4) One percent on the next nine million dollars.

So for instance, if the amount probated is $100,000, the executor and the attorney can each be awarded $4,000 for their fees. If the amount probated is $200,000, the executor and the attorney can each be awarded $7,000 for their fees. The following chart reflects the statutory fees for the attorney and the executor for an estate with a value up to $5,000,000.

PROBATE ESTATE VALUES TOTAL ATTORNEY AND EXECUTOR FEES*
$100,000 $8,000
200,000 14,000
300,000 18,000
400,000 22,000
500,000 26,000
600,000 30,000
700,000 34,000
800,000 38,000
900,000 42,000
1,000,000 46,000
2,000,000 66,000
3,000,000 86,000
4,000,000 106,000
5,000,000 126,000

Please feel free to contact our office should you need help with a 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
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
02
2016
0

Elder Law Attorney Michael J. Young attends National Conference for Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorneys in New Orleans, LA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Walnut Creek, CA – Elder Law and Asset Protection Attorney Michael J. Young traveled to New Orleans, LA, from October 28-29, 2016 to meet with forty other leading elder law attorneys from across the nation. Through discussions, strategic visioning and personal goal setting, the attorneys explored professional practice development, employee development and expanded client services. The group, comprised of attorneys from 24 different states, convened at the New Orleans Marriott at the Convention Center. In addition to an intense meeting schedule, Mike and his wife Linda were able to watch several different groups play Cajun Zideco music, as well as traditional New Orleans style jazz. According to Mr. Young, the value of meeting with like-minded elder law professionals is undeniable. “The level of commitment of this group to improved practices and professional development is, in essence, a gift not only to us, but to our  clients. We each come away with new insight, fresh ideas, and an appreciation for the opportunity we have to serve our clients in helping to prepare them for the second half of life.”

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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.

Jan
29
2016
0

Consider a Line of Credit On Your Home

The home is usually our clients’ most valuable asset. For Medi-Cal planning purposes, we have discussed in previous blogs how you can set up your Long Term Care Plan to ensure that you can transfer your home to your spouse or to you children without Medi-Cal penalty, and at the same time protect your home from a Medi-Cal lien.

But in the meantime, what if you need cash and you want to tap into the equity in your home? How will a line of credit affect your eligibility for Medi-Cal? Generally speaking, if you take a lump sum from the line of credit on your home, that lump sum may be treated as an asset which could negatively affect your eligibility for Medi-Cal. However, if you draw down on your line of credit as needed, for specific purposes, your eligibility for Medi-Cal should not be affected. So for instance, if you draw money down from your line of credit to pay for a roof repair, or to make payments for in-home-care, your line of credit would not be counted for Medi-Cal eligibility purposes should you need to go into a nursing home. As a result, it may be a good idea to check into getting a line of credit on your home. And by doing so, we should still be able to protect your home under Medi-Cal regulations.

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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