Mar
11
2014
0

No Look Back Period for VA Aid & Attendance

There will NOT be a look-back gifting penalty period for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit. On February 27, 2014, Senate Bill 1982, known as The Veterans Pension Protection Act, did not get the required votes to pass. One of the purposes of this bill, which also contained other provisions, was to help curtail some of the backlog at the VA for processing this benefit.

 Unlike Medi-Cal, VA does not have a look-back gifting penalty period for qualification for the Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit. As a result, you can theoretically gift all of your assets away today, and be eligible for this VA benefit tomorrow with no gifting penalty. California however has a 30 month look back penalty period for gifting for eligibility for Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal pays for nursing home costs, minus a share of cost contribution by the recipient.

 A problem has been that the 30 month look back penalty rules for Medi-Cal have often been ignored when large gifts have been made for qualification for Aid & Attendance. The result has been that if you make a big gift today in order to receive this VA benefit, you may have created a long period of ineligibility for Medi-Cal, by not following the Medi-Cal gifting regulations. Your elder law attorney will advise that any gifting made for qualification for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension benefit should coincide with the Medi-Cal gifting rules.

 If Senate Bill 1982 had passed, any gifts made within the last three years would be reported, and a penalty for eligibility would attach.

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.

Oct
07
2013
0

Medi-Cal and Life Insurance

An individual can have any amount of Term Life Insurance, and still qualify for Medi-Cal. Term life insurance has been defined as life insurance that pays a benefit in the event of the death of the insured. So if you have a life insurance policy that pays $10,000 upon your death to your son for instance, that policy is exempt for qualification from Medi-Cal. Also, after the Medi-Cal applicant passes away, the $10,000 is paid to the beneficiary son, and there is no recovery by Medi-Cal. Problems can arise however, if the Medi-Cal recipeint receives a benefit from a life insurance policy, upon the death of his spouse for instance. This event could create immediate disqualification for the Medi-Cal recipient. As a result, when we do long term care planning, we take this possibility into account.

Whole life insurance policies are treated differently for Medi-Cal qualification. Whole life polices cannot  have a total face value, or cash value, that exceeds $1500. The cash value of the policy that exceeds $1500 is counted as an asset toward Medi-Cal qualification. An individual can not have more than $2,000 in non-qualified funds in order to qualify for Medi-Cal. As a result, the cash value of the Medi-Cal applicant’s whole life policy in excess of $1500 will have to be reduced and then transferred in order to create qualification. If the applicant has lost mental capacity, the financial durable power of attorney, provided it has the appropriate language, would be relied upon to liquidate the policy and then to possibly gift the excess amounts, in order to create Medi-Cal qualification. All of these issues should be taken into account as part of long term care planning.   

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.

die after having been on Medi-Cal, and your term life insurance policy pays a benefit in the amount of $10,000 to your son, for instance .

Jul
30
2013
0

Alzheimer’s Is A Family Illness!

Our office represents many families who have a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. We typically will receive a call from the spouse or child of the person suffering from dementia. The person calling may tell us that their spouse or parent has become forgetful, is not paying the bills or that he is very depressed. On other occasions, we are told that their loved one is “acting out” and is doing unusual things, such as putting their socks on their hands instead of their feet, or are wandering off and getting lost.

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia definitely creates an extremely stressful time for the entire family. The fortunate victims of this disease have spouses and family members who can help them through their ordeal. Keep in mind also, that you do not have to handle this alone, and that help is available to you. The first thing that should be done is to have a physician give your loved one a complete physical examination. The examination should include neurological testing, medical history, lab tests, function tests and brain imaging. The examination results can determine whether the symptoms are temporary, and could show that the behavior of your loved one is caused by depression, poor nutrition, drug interaction or alcohol abuse. If the symptoms are permanent, they could be caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s disease, you can also consult with a geriatric psychiatrist who can help with behavioral issues. If you need help finding a doctor, you can check with a physician’s referral service. Also, if you participate in caregiver support meetings, you can ask the other participants at the meetings.

Your elder law attorney can also be helpful to you to plan the elder care journey for the loved one who is suffering from dementia and their family. We meet with families, and help get the family’s “ducks in a row” from a legal and estate planning perspective. We can give advice on asset protection and qualification for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit. The families we meet with derive a great deal of peace of mind from these meetings.

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 older clients 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, older clients 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.

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Jul
01
2013
0

VA Aid & Attendance 2013 Pension Benefit Amounts

The 2013 Maximum Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit Rates are set forth below. This is a wonderful benefit for older wartime veterans, which can help pay for the cost of in-home care, assisted living facilities and board and care. The benefit is “non service connected”, which means that qualification is not dependent upon a wartime injury.

The veteran must typically have served ninety days of active duty, one day of which was during an offical wartime period. The veteran cannot have had a dishonorable discharge. The veteran’s physician must declare the veteran as in need of assistance from another individual and in need of a “Protective Environment”, which may include services offered by a care facility or company.

You should discuss with your elder law attorney how to make the A&A Pension Benefit part of your long term care planning.

BENEFIT AMOUNTS:

Single Veteran         $1,732.00 Per Month or $20,795.00 Per Year

Married Veteran      $2,054.00 Per Month of $24,652.00 Per Year

Surviving Spouse $1,113.00 Per Month or $32,114.00 Per Year

Veteran Married to Veteran (Both A & A) $2,676.00 Per Month or $32,114.00 Per Year.

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 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 families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit. This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney regarding any planning.

Jun
10
2013
0

2013 CA Medi-Cal Quick Reference Guide

The State of California has changed some of the Medi-Cal qualification figures and requirements for 2013. A brief listing of these changes and requirements is set forth below:

2013 CA Medi-Cal Quick Reference Guide

Community Spouse Resource Allowance

$115,920

This is the amount that the community, or (at home) well spouse can retain in liquid assets. This amount does not include exempt assets, such as the home and qualified accounts, such as IRA’s.

Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance

$2,898

This is the minimum amount of income the well spouse can keep. 

Average Private Pay Rate (Divestment Penalty Divisor)

$7,549

This is the amount the State pays to nursing homes on the Medi-Cal program, minus a share of cost by the applicant. This figure is also used to calculate penalty periods of ineligibility for Medi-Cal.

Applicant Resource Allowance

$2,000

The applicant can keep this amount in cash, checking, etc.

Monthly Personal Needs Allowance

$35

The amount of income the ill person is allowed to keep.

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 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 families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit. This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney regarding any planning.

May
31
2013
0

Baby Boomer Alert!

You should get your “Ducks In A Row” now. Many of us Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, have helped to take care of our elderly parents. Both of my parents are gone now, but my siblings and I helped our parents through their “Elder Care Journey,” which I talk about in my workshops. We helped our parents, the best that we could, with issues concerning their illnesses, memory issues, trips to and from the hospital and trips to and from nursing homes. We helped to get in-home-care for them, and helped to get them into assisted living facilities and a board and care home. Finally, both parents passed away while on hospice.

 I remember my brother Charles saying to me early on regarding helping our parents, that “This isn’t getting any easier.” And I remember thinking to myself that it won’t be that much longer, in the scheme of things, before my wife and I, who are both Baby Boomers, could need care. We want to make things as easy as possible for our children to help care for us.

 The first thing Baby Boomers should do is check their estate planning documents, including their revocable living trust and financial durable powers of attorney, to be sure that the proper asset protection and government benefits language is in the documents. The boiler plate language in the majority of estate planning documents will not help in these areas if you lose mental capacity. If the language is not there, and you lose mental capacity, your family may have to resort to going to court to reform your documents, which can be costly.

 With proper long term care planning, which starts with your estate planning documents, Medi-Cal could be accessed to pay for nursing home stays if you use up your Medi-Care days. And, there techniques you can use to protect the home from a Medi-Cal lien, which can be specified in your estate planning documents. In addition, the VA Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit is there to help older war time veterans, and this benefit can be used to help pay for in home care and assisted living facility costs. Proper language in your estate planning documents will make it much easier for your children to follow through with your care and to access these benefits, especially if you lose your mental capacity. 

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

 This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney regarding any planning.

Apr
22
2013
0

Start Walking for Your Health!

People are living longer and are enjoying healthier lives for longer periods of time. George Burns, who lived to be 100 said, “I’m going to stay in show business until I’m the last one left!” I see attorney friends at the courthouse who are over 80. When I talk to them, I discover that they have no intention of retiring. Mickey Mantle once said, “If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” This is a funny line, but by exercising, we can expect to live long and productive lives.

 A report by the American College of Sports Medicine says that by the year 2030, there will be more than 70,000,000 people in this country who are over the age of 65. And, the fastest growing segment of the population will be people who are over age 85! But, we want to be healthy as we grow older.  

 Walking has been reported to be the easiest exercise to do, which also has the greatest benefits. According to a report by the Mayo Clinic, you can literally walk your way to fitness and good health. Several reports say that by merely walking 45 minutes per day, you can maintain a healthy weight, control blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, strengthen your skeletal system and improve your coordination and balance. Walking also helps to elevate your mood.

 You can easily create a walking routine. My wife walks around the Lafayette reservoir with her friends two times a week. They don’t go around the reservoir once, but two times! I am trying to catch up with her with my walking routine, by walking to downtown Walnut Creek and back for lunch every day. If I stretch it, I can have a 45 minute round trip walk. I believe that in the future, I will be one of the attorneys at the court house who is over 80, and in great shape!

 At the Law Offices of Michael J. Young, located in Walnut Creek, Ca, we talk about the Elder Care Journey with our clients, and in our workshops. Over the years, we have helped many families, and we can help you too with long-term care planning, asset protection plans, assistance with Medi-Cal and the VA, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney.

 Michael J. Young, Attorney at Law, is an estate planning attorney and Medi-Cal qualification attorney in Walnut Creek, CA. For additional information, please visit our website at  www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com LawYoung1@Gmail.com Our address is at 1931 San Miguel Dr., Suite 220, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. 925-256-0298. Mr. Young serves Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, including the cities of Alamo, Walnut Creek, Concord, Danville, Pleasant Hill, Brentwood, Antioch, Clayton, etc. Mr. Young advises clients regarding Medi-Cal, Probates, Probates with Real Estate, Medi-Cal, nursing home costs, asset protection, the VA Aid and attendance pension benefit, and long term care planning. Mr. Young is an Elder Law Attorney and Probate Attorney with offices in Walnut Creek, CA. Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney, Walnut Creek Probate Attorney. Senior Law Attorney. Walnut Creek Medi-Cal attorney. Mr. Young is certified by the VA and is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

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