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.

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
28
2016
0

‘Tis the Season for Stress’ – Special Challenges

Once again the Holiday Season is upon us. ’Tis the season’ for mixed blessings. Along with the joys of the season come the stressors. This year you wonder how you will manage to get everything done. Your “to-do” list, as always, seems never ending with shopping, baking and decorating. This year, however, you know at the top of your priority list is providing the best possible care for your elderly loved one who suffers from increased dementia.

This time of year can likewise create stress for your loved one whose anxiety levels seem to mirror your own. Unlike yourself, however, the dementia affects your loved one’s ability to express himself or herself clearly. Simple changes in routine can cause unexpected anxiety which increases with the inability to verbalize what they are feeling.

In addition to the stress on both caregiver and care recipient, out of town guests add a whole new dynamic. Family members may feel shocked by your loved one’s mental and physical changes. This shock can produce feelings of guilt or anger that may be directed at you. Your loved one may also exhibit additional uneasiness — possibly viewing family members as strangers.

So the question remains, “How do you make it through the holidays and maintain some semblance of peace?” And, equally important, “How do you help your elderly loved one do the same?”

First of all, you may want to do some pre-planning. Waiting until the last minute often leaves a person feeling rushed and harried. To avoid this unnecessary stress, create a list of priorities.

If you plan to take your loved one with you holiday shopping, hit stores early in the day and on weekdays. Most malls and department stores are far less crowded at these times. Also, take along a picture of the person you are shopping for. This provides a reminder to your loved one and an opportunity for their input on the gift. Encourage your loved one to take part in wrapping the gifts when at home. (Be mindful, however, of their frustration levels.)

If you are doing any of the holiday cooking, establish the menu ahead of time. Plan to buy as many of the ingredients as possible a week or two in advance. Also, prepare whatever will keep in the refrigerator or freezer ahead of time so there is less to do on the actual day of your gathering. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask others to bring along a dish. Most guests would be happy to help.

Prepare your visiting family members for potential changes in your loved one’s status. Imagine how drastic changes and declines would seem if you had not been present to witness them. Sharing can help them prepare family and friends for the emotions they may feel when confronted with these changes.

Ultimately, you cannot eliminate stress from every environment. For this reason it is essential that you eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep. With your own stress level in check, you can focus on monitoring the stress levels of your loved one.

If the stress gets overwhelming, consider getting help with your caregiving tasks. Home health care agencies can provide help a few hours a day or a few hours a week. Adult Day Care gives your loved one a safe environment in which to interact with others. If your holiday plans include an over-night visit or extended stay, check into Respite Care.

Nov
09
2016
0

2017 Medi-Cal Recovery Against Surviving Spouse

Governor Brown has signed new legislation, 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 present law, the state can recover against the surviving spouse or domestic partner of a Medi-Cal recipient, from whatever was in the Medi-Cal recipient’s estate that was left to the surviving spouse or partner by distribution or survival, as from joint tenancy or community property, or property left under a will to the surviving spouse. After January 1, 2017, if the Medi-Cal recipient is survived by a spouse or registered domestic partner, a claim is forever barred against that person. If the surviving spouse however receives Medi-Cal benefits, then his or her estate can be subject to an estate claim after his or her death.

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
28
2016
0

Does Grandma Have A Medical Consent Form For Her Grandchild?

During the summer, many grandchildren will stay with their grandparents for a period of time. If you are a grandparent who will be taking care of one of your grandchildren, be sure that you have a Medical Treatment Authorization Form for your grandchild. Most medical doctors will require such a legal document, which confirms that you have the authority to care for your grandchild and to authorize medical treatment for him or her. The form contains information about the grandchild, identifies the physician, and includes information regarding medical insurance and allergies. The authorization is given by the grandchild’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) and confirms dates through which the authorization is effective.

In addition, you as a grandparent should have a document reflecting that you have temporary authority over your grandchild. This document will come in handy for instance, if your grandchild needs a permission slip to go on a school field trip or to go to day camp.

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.

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.

Feb
08
2016
0

Changes Are Coming For VA A&A Qualification

New changes are in the works which may make it more difficult to qualify for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit. This benefit, for older war time veterans or their surviving spouses, has been very helpful for some of our clients, to help them pay for their long term care costs. A single veteran can receive up to $1,788 per month, and a married veteran can receive up to $2,120 per month from the VA if they qualify for the benefit.

For a number of months now, the VA has been considering new, more difficult qualification requirements for this benefit. The most notable change that is being considered is a three year look back penalty period for gifting. California’s Medi-Cal program presently has a 30 month look back penalty period for gifting.

The VA presently has no look back penalty period for gifting. As a result, under the present VA rules, an applicant with assets in excess of approximately $40,000 for a single person and approximately $80,000 for a couple, with good asset protection planning and by gifting, can then qualify for benefits, without the imposition of a gifting penalty period. A newly imposed three year look back penalty period by the VA could act as a three year waiting period for these same benefits. However, the details regarding precisely how the penalty period for gifting will work, have not been revealed.

Rumors have circulated for some months that these changes would occur in February or March of 2016. As a result, for couples with assets in excess of $80,000 or a single person with assets in excess of $40,000, it may be a good idea to do your planning now before any new changes are implemented.

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.

Feb
01
2016
0

How Much Does The Surviving Spouse Receive In Social Security Benefits?

In a previous post, we discussed what you should do about Social Security benefits after someone dies. But with regard to married couples, how much will the surviving spouse receive? Generally speaking, the surviving spouse will receive 100% of the deceased spouse’s Social Security benefit, as long as that amount is greater than the surviving spouse’s benefit.  As a result, the surviving spouse will continue to receive either his or her own benefit, or the deceased spouse’s benefit, whichever is greater. But, the surviving spouse will not receive both benefits.  A one-time death benefit payment of $255 will also be paid to the surviving spouse by Social Security.

Another requirement is that the surviving spouse must be age 60 or older. The surviving spouse can also be 50 or older provided that he or she is disabled from a disability that began no later than 7 years after the deceased spouse’s death. The surviving spouse must also have been married to the deceased spouse for at least 9 months, and not be currently remarried where the marriage occurred before he/she turned age 60.

An ex-spouse may also collect survivor benefits under certain circumstances.  The ex-spouse must have been married to the deceased ex-spouse at least 10 years.  The age 60 or age 50 with a disability requirements as discussed above, are the same as the married surviving spouse.  Also, the ex-spouse must not be remarried in a marriage that occurred before age 60. Be sure to contact Social Security with regard to your specific case. An in-person meeting at the Social Security office is the best way for you to proceed.

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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