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.

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.

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.

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.

Sep
28
2016
0

Consider A Joint Checking Account With Your Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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Jun
01
2016
0

The Personal Residence Exclusion

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

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

Apr
25
2016
0

When Can The State Recover Medi-Cal Payments?

If you die after having been on Medi-Cal, the state will want to recover from your estate. They will want to recover what they paid for your nursing home care while you were on Medi-Cal. If there is nothing in your estate when you die, there will have nothing in your estate for them to recover. That it why it is important for you to see an elder law attorney in order to get your “Ducks In A Row” for Medi-Cal qualification, and to avoid state recovery. For instance, if your home is in your estate when you die, the state can recover against it. If you have transferred your home out of your estate prior to your death, there can be no recovery against your home. If you have lost capacity, your fiduciary will not be able to transfer the home out of your estate without consideration, unless you have specialized language in your revocable living trust and financial durable power of attorney which provides for such a transfer without consideration. Most revocable living trusts and financial durable powers of attorney do not have the requisite language to make real estate and asset transfers, without consideration, if you lose capacity. Most revocable living trusts and financial powers of attorney provide only that a sale of assets can be made, for adequate consideration or fair market value. This language is not helpful for Medi-Cal qualification and state recovery.

The state cannot recover against your estate, after you have been on Medi-Cal, until you die. If you are survived by a spouse, the state claim is prohibited until the surviving spouse dies. But again, if there are no assets in your name when you die, if you were a Medi-Cal recipient, the state will not be able to pursue a claim against your spouse. If you are a Medi-Cal recipient who is survived by a minor child under the age of 21, the claim is barred against the state. Also, if  you are a Medi-Cal recipient who is survived by a disabled child of any age, the claim is barred against the state.

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.

Mar
15
2016
0

Medi-Cal and Life Insurance Recovery

If you die after having been on Medi-Cal, the state can only recover what is left in your estate at the time of your death. Whatever is in your revocable living trust when you die, is recoverable by Medi-Cal because that is part of your estate. That is why we reserve powers in the revocable living trust and financial powers of attorney to transfer assets out of your trust during your life in order to avoid state recovery.

If you have life insurance and you die, your beneficiary, such as your spouse or a child, will receive the death benefit. This death benefit to your spouse or child is not recoverable by Medi-Cal. However, if you name your revocable living trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, the death benefit will be funded into your revocable living trust when you die. This death benefit will be “in your estate” when you die, and therefore recoverable by Medi-Cal. As a result, if you think you may be applying for Medi-Cal at some date in the future, you should name a person or persons to be the beneficiary of your life insurance policy.

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.

Mar
10
2015
0

Will Medi-Cal Let Me Make Gifts To My Wife Without Penalty?

Will Medi-Cal Let Me Make Gifts To My Wife Without Penalty?

YES!  For qualification for Medi-Cal, there is presently a 30 month look back period for making gifts. But this look back period does not apply between spouses. We have discussed in previous blogs how to properly transfer the home between spouses in order to avoid a state lien after the Medi-Cal recipient passes away. There is no penalty period for this transfer.

The ill spouse and the well spouse can both have any amounts of qualified funds, like IRAs, when qualifying for Medi-Cal. These are called “exempt assets.” The ill spouse can then have no more than $2,000 in regular or “non exempt” assets. The well spouse can have up to $119,220 in regular assets. So for qualification for Medi-Cal, the ill spouse will generally transfer her regular assets to the well spouse, so that the ill spouse has no more than $2,000 in regular assets.

If the well spouse then has more than $119,220 in regular assets, he can gift a portion of that amount to other individuals, to get him down to $119,220, but penalty periods can apply. Medi-Cal will ask if any assets have been gifted within 30 months prior to qualification for Medi-Cal from either spouse to other individuals. The gifts from the ill spouse to the well spouse do not create penalties. But any gifts to other individuals, like family members, can create penalty periods for qualification for Medi-Cal.

To figure out the penalty period, divide the amount of the gift by $7,628. The answer will give you the number of months of ineligibility for Medi-Cal. So, if $35,000 is gifted from mother to son within the last 30 months, that amount is divided by $7,628. The solution is 4.58 (rounded down to 4) months of ineligibility. So if the gift was made in October 2014, the Medi-Cal applicant would not be eligible for Medi-Cal until February 2015. Your elder law attorney can help you lower the months of ineligibility caused by gifting, through long term care planning. Do not attempt any transfers without the advice of your elder law attorney.

Your elder law attorney will help you to increase the quality of your life, and not just figure out who-gets-what after you pass away. 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 advised 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
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.

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