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

Apr
09
2018
0

New Medicare Cards Are Being Issued Without Social Security Numbers

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

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

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

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

Michael J. Young

Walnut Creek, CA Probate Attorney

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

Feb
05
2018
0

Medi-Cal Treatment of Reverse Mortgages

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

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Young, at 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA www.WalnutCreekElderLaw, 925-256-0298, lawyoung1@gmail.com we practice Elder Law and we help Baby Boomers, Seniors and families through their Elder Care Journey. We help families with long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help Baby Boomers and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

Michael J. Young

Elder Law and Asset Protection Attorney

Medi-Cal Attorney Walnut Creek

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

Jan
30
2018
0

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

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

Michael J. Young

Elder Law and Asset Protection Attorney

Medi-Cal Attorney Walnut Creek

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

Nov
13
2017
0

Have You Checked In On Your Older Loved One Lately? “Driving”

Have you checked in on your older in-laws and parents lately? The holiday season affords a good opportunity for you to see them and observe how they are doing. Here are a few things you should consider when you see them.

Driving

If your older loved one is still driving, find an excuse to ride with them, and observe their behind the wheel skills. Check to see if there are any obvious dents or dings on their car. Do they miss signs and signals? Do they drive very slowly? Do they get lost easily? A client of mine told me that he recently rode with his 87 year old grandmother. I asked him how the experience was, and he told me that it was not good. My client said that in his opinion, his grandmother only had about 10% of the ability that is required to drive an automobile, and that she definitely should not be driving. He said that his grandmother would signal before changing lanes, but that she had no idea if there was anyone in the adjoining lane, and that she almost caused a crash on their ride. He said that she would not drive on the freeways or at night, which is good. He also said that she would only made right hand turns if at all possible.

These are all signs that it may be time to reduce the need for the older person to drive, if possible. You could suggest to them that in addition to not driving at night, that they should drive only during non-commute hours. You could also look into alternative transportation services for them, such as local buses, taxis and Uber or Lyft. Rossmoor has a bus, and there are dial-a-bus services available. If you have the time, you could offer to take your older loved ones to their errands and appointments.

Michael J. Young

Elder Law and Asset Protection Attorney

Medi-Cal Attorney Walnut Creek

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

Nov
02
2017
0

Preventing Financial Elder Abuse – Wait Three Days Before Signing Anything

How to Prevent Financial Elder Abuse – Wait Three Days Before Signing Anything:

When I was a child and I earned some money, a hole would immediately start burning in my pocket. I would be excited and tell my mother what I wanted to buy with the money. She would tell me to think about it, and to wait three days before buying anything. This was my mother’s “three day rule.”

Waiting the three days gave me a chance to think about whether the expenditure of my hard earned money was a good idea or not. Often times, I would forget about the purchase and move on to something else during those three days. The three days also gave me a chance to talk to my parents and friends and ask for their advice before I made the purchase. Also during that time, my father would strongly encourage me to save my hard earned money. I am sure that the “three day rule” saved me a lot of money, grief and disappointment.

In order to avoid financial elder abuse, we should take my mother’s “three day rule” advice. Wait three days before you sign anything that requires spending your money. During that time, ask other professionals, family members and friends what they think about the deal or contract. Do not do business with people or organizations you do not know. Ask for referrals from  professionals and your friends and family members regarding the purchase of products and services. That fact that you are being rushed may be an indication that you are being pressured into a bad deal.

Typical financial elder abuse situations that we see include but are not limited to: Time share sales; Inappropriate financial sales and advice; and Real Property Investments. Also, a reverse mortgage may not be right for you, so seek professional advice before entering signing the contract. A movie star on TV may not be the best person to take advice from regarding a reverse mortgage.

Michael J. Young

Elder Law and Asset Protection Attorney

Medi-Cal Attorney Walnut Creek

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

Oct
24
2017
0

Preventing Financial Elder Abuse-Personal Relationships

One red flag that we have seen showing possible elder abuse is exhibited by family members who are overly zealous about preserving the money that is being spent for the older person’s care. We have seen family members who are “caring” for an older person, refuse to spend sufficient funds for the older person’ care. This attitude may actually endanger the older person’s health and welfare. These family members may be more concerned about preserving their possible “inheritance” than they are in caring for the older relative, and they may be guilty of financial elder abuse. These are the same family members who will say that this is the older person’s money, that the older person has earned it over their lifetime, and that the family members don’t really care if they “get” anything. Another red flag for elder abuse that we have seen is the sudden advent of relatives or old friends, who have not been seen for years, who are now expressing great concern and interest in “helping” the older person. Another “red flag” for possible elder financial abuse are caretakers who show an unusual interest in the older person’s finances. In these cases, it may be appropriate for the older person to engage the services of a geriatric care manager or professional fiduciary, who can manage the older person’s finances. The older person’s attorney-in-fact under their financial durable power of attorney may be called upon to engage these services if the older person has lost capacity. An elder law attorney and Medi-Cal attorney can help you with the appropriate language and design in the creation of your financial durable power of attorney and other estate planning documents, which may be needed for your care and for Medi-Cal qualification. As always, you should have your estate planning documents prepared sooner than later, and while you still can.

Michael J. Young

Elder Law and Asset Protection Attorney

Medi-Cal Attorney Walnut Creek

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

Oct
17
2017
0

Prevent Financial Abuse: Financial & Estate Planning

Financial and Estate Planning:

One of the best ways to prevent financial elder abuse, is to make sure that you know what your financial assets are at all times. You should be in contact with your financial advisor on a regular basis to determine whether there have been any changes to your accounts. Do not be afraid of calling him or her to ask questions. Find out if your required minimum distributions from your qualified accounts, like IRA’s, are being made properly. Ask if you have any outstanding life insurance or long term care insurance. Have a discussion regarding your financial needs and income, and whether your accounts and investments should be reviewed or reallocated.

Check your bank balances on a regular basis. You should know what your monthly bills are, and how much money you have in your accounts at all times. You can arrange with your bank to view your accounts on line. If you need help paying your bills or managing your accounts, you can ask a trusted friend or family member. There are also professional fiduciaries who can assist you in paying your bills.

Never have your estate planning documents, such as your revocable living trust and financial durable power of attorney, updated by non-attorneys or document preparers. There is much involved in estate planning, and you may be creating more problems for yourself and your family by not having an attorney help you.

Michael J. Young

Elder Law and Asset Protection Attorney

Medi-Cal Attorney Walnut Creek

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

Jun
19
2017
0

Durable Powers Of Attorney For Young Adults

We usually don’t think estate planning documents are necessary for younger adults. But consider the potential need for financial and health care powers of attorney for them. We received a recent call from a client whose 23 year old daughter, Jenny, was in a severe automobile accident. Jenny suffered traumatic brain injury in the accident. After two weeks in the hospital, she was transferred to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation. Jenny has not been cognizant enough to make medical or health care decisions for herself.

Our client called us because Jenny does not have financial or medical powers of attorney, or a HIPAA statement for access to her medical records. Our client and her husband are running into problems making medical and financial decisions on behalf of Jenny. They are also having difficulty gaining access to Jenny’s medical records. If Jenny’s incapacity continues, a conservatorship proceeding in probate court may be the only resolution to this problem. In a conservatorhip proceeding, the probate court judge appoints another person, the “conservator” to care for and make decisions on behalf of another adult, the “conservatee. A probate court conservatorship proceeding is time consuming, intrusive to the family and expensive. This dilemma could have been avoided if Jenny already had these basic estate planning documents. After all, we never know what may happen to any of us at any time.

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
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.

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