Mar
27
2017
0

How Much Can I Have In IRA’s and Still Qualify for Medi-Cal?

We are often asked the question as to how much you or your spouse can have in IRA’s and 401k’s and still qualify for Medi-Cal. The Medi-Cal applicant, or the ill spouse, can have any amount of IRA’s, 401k’s etc. These are so-called “qualified funds.” The only requirement is that the Medi-Cal applicant must be receiving periodic payments of some amount of principal and interest from these funds. Once this established, these qualified funds are considered exempt by Medi-Cal for qualification.

If the applicant is married, the well spouse can have any amount of IRA’s, 401k’s, etc., and there are no qualifications for distributions. So the qualified funds of the well spouse are totally exempt.

In addition, after the Medi-Cal applicant dies, the “qualified funds” of both spouses, are also exempt from recoupment by the state. As a result, the state will not go after your IRAs and 401k’s when you die.

In one of our recent cases, the ill spouse had approximately $100,000 in IRAs. The well spouse had approximately $300,000 in IRAs. The ill spouse was accepted for Medi-Cal.

There is a “share of cost” which is an amount the ill spouse must pay to the nursing home from the applicant’s income. We will review those rules in other blogs.

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.

Mar
15
2017
0

Does Your Trust Have a Mandatory Bypass Provision?

Most modern Revocable Living Trusts do not have a Mandatory Bypass Provision, which is usually good planning. This provision is normally NOT necessary, and if you have one, it can cause unnecessary headaches after the first spouse dies. A mandatory bypass provision will require splitting and re-titling of the trust assets between a Revocable Survivor’s Trust and an Irrevocable Exemption Bypass Trust after the first spouse dies. You will need a tax I.D. number for the bypass trust, and a fiduciary tax return will need to be filed every year. The surviving spouse will also not have complete control of the assets in the irrevocable bypass trust. The mandatory bypass trust makes Medi-Cal qualification more difficult, because the state will require that you exhaust the assets of the bypass trust before you can qualify for Medi-Cal.

The primary purpose of a mandatory bypass provision in your revocable living trust is to save on death taxes, aka inheritance taxes. The current federal death tax exemption amount is $5.45 million per individual. So if you think you will have more than $5.45 million dollars after the first spouse dies, the mandatory bypass may be useful. Also, if the spouses have a blended family with “his mine and ours” children, the mandatory bypass trust can protect the assets of the children of the first spouse to die.

To avoid issues created by mandatory bypass provisions, you can instead have a discretionary bypass provision in your revocable living trust. This will provide the same results as a mandatory bypass, but will give the surviving spouse the discretion of funding a bypass trust for tax purposes. However, this funding must be completed within 9 months of the date of death of the first spouse to die. You should now check the provisions in your revocable living trust that tell you what to do after the first spouse dies. If the provisions call for a mandatory bypass trust and a split of the assets after the first to die, you may want to have the provision changed by your elder law attorney with an amendment. Most older trusts have a mandatory bypass provision, which should probably be changed.

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
22
2015
0

My Dad Has Already Done Some Gifting! Can He Still Qualify For Medi-Cal?

California does have gifting penalty rules. If the rules are not followed, you could create periods of ineligibility for Medi-Cal. If you follow the rules, Medi-Cal can pay for your stay in a skilled nursing facility, minus a share of the cost that you would pay. We have seen monthly bills of $10,000 and more from skilled nursing facilities.

You can gift any amounts of money or assets to your spouse without penalty, and she can keep up to $119,220, plus her IRAs and “exempt assets, and you can still be qualified for Medi-Cal.

If you gift your money and other non-exempt assets to someone other than your spouse, penalties may apply. The Medi-Cal application asks if you have made any gifts of non-exempt assets to someone besides your spouse, within the last 30 months. If you have, that amount is divided by $7,628. This is the amount that Medi-Cal pays monthly to nursing homes, minus the share of cost paid by the Medi-Cal recipient. It is called the Approximate Private Pay Rate, also known as the APPR.

So for instance, if you gave $40,000 to a grandchild for college tuition during January of 2014, you would not be eligible for for Medi-Cal for the next 5 months. You would not be eligible for the months January through May. You would be eligible however in June, 2014. To figure this out, divide the gifted amount of $40,000 by $7,628 and you will get 5.24, which rounded down is 5 months of ineligibility. You can also give the same amount of a gift on the same day to two children, and still only get 5 months of ineligibility. There are also other rules which can be employed which allow us to transfer monies over time, and thereby significantly reduce the number of months of ineligibility. The nice thing about these rules, as they presently exist, is that the penalty begins to run during the month that you made the gift.

When the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) is adopted in California, which could be any time, there will be a five year look back instead of a 30 month look back penalty period for gifting. If we take the above example under the DRA rules, of the $40,000 gift to a grandchild, you would be ineligible for 5.24 months after you have entered the nursing home. If you gifted that amount to two people, you would have two periods of ineligibility of 5.24 months each. Also, under the DRA, the more liberal rules for gifting over time will be severely restricted.

As a result, you should proceed now with your long term care planning with your elder law attorney.

For additional information, you can contact your elder law attorney Michael J. Young. 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, 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA http://www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com, 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 “Sustainable Estate Planning” TM, long term care planning, asset protection plans, special needs trusts, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help Baby Boomers and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order to help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension Benefit.

Jan
02
2015
0

Treatment of The Home With Reverse Mortgages By Medi-Cal

Under the Medi-Cal regulations, it is fairly easy for us to establish the home as an “exempt asset” for qualification for Medi-Cal. The usual way is to confirm “an intent to return home” by the Medi-Cal applicant. The next task is to protect the home from a Medi-Cal lien if you pass away after having been on Medi-Cal. If you die after having been on Medi-Cal, and you are still on title to the home, Medi-Cal can put a lien on your home to recover the payments they have made to the nursing home. If you are not on title to the home when you die, Medi-Cal cannot pursue recoupment against your home. After we confirm the home as an “exempt asset”, we can transfer the home to another person without penalty under the Medi-Cal regulations. You can always transfer the home to your spouse without penalty. The goal is to keep the home as a legacy in your estate without it going to the state.

If you have a reverse mortgage on your home, it may become difficult for you to transfer title of the home to another person without triggering the due on transfer clause under the mortgage. This means that the loan could be due and payable upon the transfer. Also, if you go into a nursing home for an extended period of time, the reverse mortgage can become due and payable, and the home could be sold under the terms of the reverse mortgage. Any proceeds from the sale that you realize may make you ineligible for Medi-Cal benefits.

A reverse mortgage on your home is sometimes a good option for the older person. However, please keep in mind that it may not be such a good option if you could go into a nursing home in the foreseeable future. You should seek the advice of your elder law attorney for a full discussion of protecting the home, before committing to a reverse mortgage.

For additional information, you can contact your elder law attorney Michael J. Young. 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, 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA http://www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com, 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 Sustainable Estate Planning TM, long term care planning, asset protection plans, special needs trusts, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help Baby Boomers and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order to help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension Benefit.

Dec
31
2014
0

Mom Is Showing Some Dementia – Can we still create a long term care plan for her?

In my workshops, we talk about the Elder Care Journey. Along this journey, which I show on a chart, is an area called “Declining Senior With Memory or Mobility Issues.”  I reference this step along the Elder Care Journey as a DANGER ZONE. We know that mobility issues and falling oftentimes is the beginning of a downward slope for our older loved ones. A person with mobility issues but who still has good mental capacity can of course enter into a long term care estate plan. She can agree in the plan that if she loses capacity, her loved ones can proceed with asset preservation, possible gifting, transfer of her home for asset protection, and getting her ducks in a row for qualification for Medi-Cal, etc.

If she has lost mental capacity by the time she sees her elder law attorney, she will not be able to enter into such a plan. If there is a formal diagnosis for instance of advanced dementia, we of course will not be able to proceed. In that case, if she has the plain vanilla type of estate plan, which is more suitable for a younger person, the plan will most likely not have the powers to allow her fiduciary to complete gift transfers or to transfer the home to her spouse or her children for asset protection. In that event, we may need to go to court to obtain an order to reform her existing estate planning documents.

If Mom has some dementia, such as short term memory loss, she may still have sufficient mental capacity to enter into a long term care plan. We can usually tell through our interview and conversation with her if she understands what the plan is about. If we are not certain, we can ask her medical doctor whether he would be willing to confirm in a letter that she has sufficient mental capacity to create the estate plan.

The sooner the older client sees the elder law attorney, the better. It is never too late to do long term care planning, but it is much more expensive if we need to go to court to complete the planning.

For additional information, you can contact your elder law attorney Michael J. Young. 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, 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA http://www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com, 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 Sustainable Estate Planning, long term care planning, asset protection plans, special needs trusts, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help Baby Boomers and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order to help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension Benefit.

Sep
29
2014
0

An Interesting Insurance Based Strategy To Help Private Pay For Long Term Care

Our clients are concerned about how they will private pay for their long term care. Most long term care takes place first in our homes and then in assisted living facilities. We have Medi-Cal in California, but it only pays for a stay in a skilled nursing facility, if we qualify. As a result, our clients are always asking, “How can we private pay for our long term are if we do not go into a nursing home?”

This strategy may be appropriate for individuals who do not want to pay premiums to purchase long term care insurance policies. People have become reluctant to purchase long term care insurance because of the cost, and because of the fact that if you do not use it, your investment by way of premiums paid is lost. In addition, long term care insurance companies have been known to raise the premiums of its insureds over time.

Many of our clients take the position that they will “self-insure”, using their savings for their care. For these individuals, one effective planning approach may be to leverage some of their savings that they would use for their care in the future to provide a larger pool of money. This money can be utilized to pay for care in the home, assisted living facility or nursing home. If the money is not needed, it would then pass to their children or heirs.

To employ this strategy, money is transferred from its current location (bank account, older fixed annuity past the penalty period, etc.) into a specially designed life insurance policy with riders that allow accelerated payment of a large portion of the death benefit to the policy owner upon a qualified health event, to help pay for the costs of long term care.

Depending on the age and health status, the lump sum premium paid into this type of life insurance policy may provide a death benefit of double or more that amount. However, if the insured qualifies to begin using the long term care benefits, the insured may receive as much as five times the amount of the original premium. Any monies not used for convalescent care would still pass to the heirs upon the death of the insured.

When your elder law attorney prepares your long term care estate plan, ask him to explore this possibility with you.

For additional information, you can contact your elder law attorney Michael J. Young. 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, 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA http://www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com, 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, special needs trusts, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help Baby Boomers and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order to help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension Benefit.

Mar
25
2014
0

Consider Naming a Professional Fiduciary In Your Estate Planning Documents

When we prepare our estate planning documents, such as the Revocable Living Trust and Financial Durable Powers of Attorney, we typically name our spouses and then our children as our fiduciaries if we cannot act for ourselves. It would seem that the most common reason that would cause a fiduciary to act is the loss of mental capacity of the principal. For instance, in the case of a Revocable Living Trust for a husband and wife, they will name each other as a co-trustees. If neither of them can act because of incapacity, the children who have been named as successor trustees, will step up to act as trustee. With a Financial Durable Power of attorney, the couple will typically name each other as attorney in fact, and if they cannot act for each other, the children who have been named as successor attorneys in fact, will step up to act.

Many of our clients however do not have a living spouse or children or even siblings who can be named as fiduciaries for them. In addition, statistics show that at lease a quarter of persons in the  age group of 80 years or older, have significant clinical cognitive impairment. These individuals will need a responsible fiduciary to help manage and preserve their assets for them, and to help ensure that they receive good care as they age.

So for people who really have no one to name as a fiduciary in their estate planning documents, we recommend naming a professional fiduciary. These individuals are licensed by the State of California Professional Fiduciaries Bureau.  A professional fiduciary as successor trustee of a revocable living trust for instance, will carry out the terms of the trust while you are alive, and then finish the trust administration when you die.  During your lifetime, the professional fiduciary as successor trustee under your trust, or as your attorney in fact under your financial power of attorney,  will manage your checking account, pay your bills and otherwise help to protect your assets. They will make sure that your assets are used for your care and that your assets are preserved and managed for as long as possible. Many older people are vulnerable to scammers and even family members who will try to take advantage of them, and take their money.

We can recommend several very good professional fiduciaries who you could consider naming as successor fiduciaries  in your estate planning documents.

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.

Jan
28
2014
0

Financial Durable Powers of Attorney for Baby Boomers and Seniors Can Now Provide for Long Term Care Planning and Asset Protection

Financial Durable Powers of Attorney (Fin. DPA’s) for Baby Boomers and Seniors can provide for asset protection and government benefits planning. The language we use in Fin. DPA’s for long term care planning for baby boomers and seniors is very different from the language we see in the plain vanilla Fin. DPA’s which most people have.

Baby Boomers and seniors usually want to get our ducks in a row for possible qualification for Medi-Cal, which can help pay for our skilled nursing home stay if we run out of Medicare days. In addition, for wartime veterans, we want to get our ducks in a row for possible qualification for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit which can help pay for in home care and the cost of assisted living facilities. If we lose mental capacity, these extraordinary powers will allow your attorney in fact in your Fin. DPA, such as your spouse or child, to follow through with asset protection and government benefits planning according to your wishes.

The Uniform Statutory Form Power of Attorney that many people already have, does not contain the required language for asset protection. And, the majority of attorney created Fin. DPAs do not have this requisite language. As a result, if you become incapacitated and you do not have the requisite language in your Fin. DPA, your agent may be powerless to follow your wishes for asset protection.

For instance, we may want to transfer (transmute) the title of our home from the ill spouse to the well spouse, or to a child, during our lives, for asset protection purposes. For many of our clients, the home is their largest asset. Most of our clients want their home to ultimately transfer to their children without government liens attaching. They also want their children or heirs to receive the home with a full step up in basis when they die, so that there will be no capital gains to pay if the home is sold upon the death of the maker of the Fin. DPA.

Most Fin. DPAs do NOT have this specialized language which is required to accomplish these goals . In addition, for long term care planning, the language in the Fin. DPA is coordinated with the language in the revocable living trust, to provide additional options for asset protection. You should contact your elder law attorney for advice for long term care planning and to review your existing estate plan.

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.

Jan
20
2014
0

7 Practical Considerations To Take Into Account When Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

Here are 7 Practical Considerations to take into account when you are choosing an assisted living facility, either for yourself or a loved one. We have developed this list  after having first hand experience with assisted living facilities that my father lived in, and after having interacted with our clients regarding these issues over many years.

  1. Is the facility well regarded in the community? Has it been recommended to you by someone who has had a loved one or friend there?
  2. Would the friends and family members of the resident be able to visit at any time, or are there restrictions in this regard?
  3. Is the facility in close proximity to the hospital and medical offices that the resident may need to visit?
  4. How were you treated by the staff and the administrator when you visited the facility? Did you feel welcome and were you comfortable with the experience?
  5. Were all of your questions answered satisfactorily when you visited the facility? Were you left in doubt or were you confused about any of their answers?
  6. Did you feel that you or your loved one would fit into the community for an extended period of time?
  7. Could you imaging yourself or your loved one living there?

* 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 and families through the 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.

Jan
10
2014
0

FIVE THINGS BABY BOOMERS AND SENIORS CAN DO TO GAIN PEACE OF MIND FOR SURVIVING THEIR RETIREMENT YEARS

Many Baby Boomers and seniors are concerned about surviving their retirement years. Many have not been able to save adequately, have suffered losses in the stock market, and do not have pension funds sufficient to meet their future needs. Most are concerned about health care issues, and how their nursing home costs would be paid for if needed. They also want to leave a legacy to their loved ones.

First: Update your estate plan to a Long Term Care Plan. Most of our clients do not have long term care insurance to pay for a stay in a nursing home. Fortunately however, California has Medi-Cal, which will pay for a stay in a nursing home provided that you qualify. You can now set up a long term care plan, as part of your estate plan, to provide for asset protection and qualification for Medi-Cal. within the state regulations. For veterans, the plan will also help for qualification for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit to help pay for in home care and assisted living facilities. Your plan will also confirm your overall desires regarding  how your assets will be spent for your care at home and otherwise.

Second: The home is often our clients’ largest asset. You can take steps now through your estate planning documents to assure that your home will pass to your loved ones as a legacy, without a Medi-Cal lien, so that the state will not be able to recoup any nursing home payments it has made for you.

Third: Change your life style just a little bit, and try to keep more of what your earn. I recommend reading The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley in this regard. Stanley gives examples of how changing your lifestyle somewhat, and giving up certain luxuries, will allow you to put more money into your retirement accounts on an ongoing basis. As you get older, cut back on certain expenditures, and put what you save into your retirement accounts. Go out to fancy dinners less often, put off buying a new car, and put those savings into your retirement account.

 Fourth: We still have Social Security. Some analysts say that the program can pay for benefits for the next 25 years for the general populace. There also seems to be a consensus of opinion, that any changes in the law should not affect Baby Boomers. Although you can begin taking benefits at age 62, this could be a 25% reduction of what you would receive if you waited until you are 66. If you wait until age 70, this could raise your benefit by another 8% per year, so wait longer if possible.

 Fifth: Stay physically active and you will most likely remain healthier and live longer. Try to increase the number of steps you take every day. It has been said that sitting is the new smoking. Get up and walk around for ten minutes every hour. This will also make you more productive. 

* 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 and families through the 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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