Apr
01
2013
0

Now Is The Time To Plan For Incapacity

My mother, who was a WWII veteran and the mother of five wild boys and a composed girl, used to tell me that the only thing that she really feared in life was losing her mental capacity. When I was a younger attorney, and my parents were younger, I prepared their estate plan, which was the typical plan designed for what happens when you die. When my parents got older and began to suffer the maladies of older people, I prepared a new estate plan for them, with a focus on not so much what would happen when they died, but on what would happen if they did not die, became ill and needed help with their care. My parents were adamant about having a plan that left something, especially their home, to their six children.

Estate planning and planning for mental capacity issues is very different for the older client. As a baby boomer, and after having helped take care of my aging parents, and after counseling many older clients and their families, my perspective as an estate planning attorney has changed over the years, and is now geared toward setting up a plan for the care of my clients, and protection of their assets, as well as planning for when they die.

Incapacity involves the inability of someone to make decisions regarding their personal and financial affairs. For many of our clients, diseases such as Parkinson’s and  Alzheimer’s have lead to mental incapacity. For other clients, there has been an event causing a brain injury leading to mental capacity. Many of our clients have dementia with no disease related diagnosis. Our recommendation is that anyone who is a baby boomer or older, should have an updated estate plan with an emphasis on asset protection and government benefits planning. You should also plan on how you or your fiduciary can get your ducks in a row to be able to protect your assets, such as your home, and obtain Medi-Cal to pay for your nursing home care, and the VA Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit to help pay the cost of in home care and assisted living facilities if needed.

You will need to decide who will be able to manage your financial affairs if you cannot. These individuals are usually trusted family members, but can also be friends. They can also be professional fiduciaries, who are licensed by California’s professional fiduciary bureau. You will also need to decide on who will make decisions for your regarding your health care, if you cannot do so. One issue to decide is whether you want to be on life support machines if you are in an irreversible condition and are only being kept alive by machines.

Michael J. Young, your elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA can help you design a plan to meet your needs as you get older. The plan will involve getting your ducks in a row for asset protection and government benefits planning. There are many options that your senior law attorney can help you with. Keep in mind that if you lose your mental capacity and what to protect assets by way of transferring your assets to your spouse or children, as is allowed under the regulations, you will not be able to do so if you have a traditional estate plan. In that case, we may have to go to court to amend your estate planning documents to provide for asset protection.

The information contained herein is not to be taken as legal advise, and you are advised to see your elder law attorney before attempting any planning or transfers of assets on your own. This article is written by elder law attorney Michael J. Young. Mr. Young, whose office is in Walnut Creek, CA is an elder law attorney, senior law attorney, Medi-Cal attorney and probate attorney whose office is in Walnut Creek, CA. Mr. Young is certified by the VA and is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). 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.

Mar
11
2013
0

Can Mom Go On Hospice at Home?

Most of our clients make it well known in their long term care plans, that if they become ill, they wish to be taken care of at home for as long as possible. My parents made a pact with each other that if either of them had to go to “rehab”  as my mother called it, which is a skilled nursing facility, that they wanted to return home and be taken care of at home. My mother died at home under hospice care. Your elder law attorney can make these desires known in your elder care estate planning documents. In fact, at the Law Offices of Michael J. Young in Walnut Creek CA, we have our clients sign a separate “Intent To Return Home Document,” which states that if they have to go to a nursing home, it is always their intent to return to their home.

Most of our clients also make it known in their long term care planning documents that if they have a terminal illness, and they would only survivie by being hooked up to machines, that they would rather instead, be allowed to die with dignity, and not be hooked up to machines.

Many people do not know that hospice care can take place at home, and that hospice care professionals can come to your home. Hospice is also often paid for by Medicare or private insurance. To qualify for hospice, a physician must confirm that in their opinion, their patient is likely to die within a six month period. This is generally all that is required. I remember how relieved my siblings and I were when my mother was on hospice at home, and various nurses, social workers, doctors, priests and other aides came into my parents home to attend to my mother. All of us benefitted from this process. 

The hospice process allowed my mother, my dad, myself and my siblings to  to appreciate our last days together with my mother, outside of the traditional, more hectic hospital atmosphere.  

For more information about hospice, long term care planning, asset protection, Medi-Cal qualification and the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit, please feel free to contact Michael J. Young at The Law Offices of Michael J. Young in Walnut Creek, CA. www.youngelderlaw.com www.walnutcreekelderlaw.com

Written Michael J. Young, elder law attorney, Medi-Cal attorney, senior law attorney and probate attorney in Walnut Creek, CA and former in-house counsel for title insurance companies. Mr. Young is a Medi-Cal attorney and is VA Certified.  www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com LawYoung1@Gmail.com 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 Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc. Mr. Young advises clients regarding Probates, Probates with Real Estate, Medi-Cal, nursing homes, 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

Apr
19
2012
0

The Importance of an “Elder Law” Durable Power of Attorney

     Does your Financial Durable Power of Attorney (financial DPA) contain asset protection and government benefits qualification language? It probably does not, unless it was prepared by an elder law attorney. If you lose mental capacity, your spouse or children may be prevented from gifting your assets to themselves, in order to help you qualify for Medi-Cal or for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension benefit.

If your financial DPA contains any gifting language at all, it is probably limited to the annual gift tax exclusion amount, which is $13,000 per person this year. This language is usually of little help for Medi-Cal qualification. In addition, the language will probably not allow for gifting to the ”attorney in fact”, who is the person acting for you.  Specialized language is required under the law in order to allow for any gifting to the person acting as the “attorney in fact.” This specialized language usually does not appear in a “regular” financial durable power of attorney.

For instance, the home can easily be established as an exempt asset for Medi-Cal qualification. If the home is in the name of the Medi-Cal applicant who has lost mental capacity, and we want to transfer the home to a child and reserve a life estate to the applicant in order to avoid a Medi-Cal lien, most financial durable powers of attorney will not allow for this. Most financial durable powers of attorney will allow a transfer only upon receipt of consideration from a sale for fair market value of the real property.

To give another example, the Medi-Cal applicant, under the regulations, is allowed to own a life insurance policy, with a pay on death figure in any amount. However, in order to qualify for Medi-Cal, the applicant’s life insurance policy cannot have more than $1500 cash value. If there is a $5,000 cash value, for instance, the Medi-Cal applicant cannot qualify. The remedy is to liquidate the cash from the policy and then gift it out. What do you do however if the Medi-Cal applicant has lost capacity? We need to then look at the powers in the financial durable power of attorney. However, although most financial DPAs may allow for a liquidation of the cash value, they will not allow you to gift the cash out. The Medi-Cal applicant can only retain $2,000 in non qualified accounts, and if the cash from the policy cannot be gifted, it would have to be spent before qualification for Medi-Cal can be obtained.

The financial DPA in an elder law context, is also coordinated with the revocable living trust of the applicant. There should be specialized asset protection language in the trust, which refers to the financial DPA. This specialized language will allow the attorney in fact to “stand in the shoes” of the maker of the trust, for all purposes, including for Medi-Cal qualification. This technique is allowed by law, and provides the greatest amount of flexibility for the family who is helping the older person who has lost capacity, when we are applying for Medi-Cal.

Remember that if existing estate planning documents are not updated before the older person loses capacity, we may have to resort to a court proceeding to modify the language in the documents. This process is expensive and is not always guaranteed. The best approach is to pre-planning, and to have your estate planning documents updated as early as possible by a qualified elder law attorney, who practices full time in this area of the law. 

Written Michael J. Young, elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA. www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com mike@WalnutCreekElderLaw.com. 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 Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc. Mr. Young advises clients regarding Medi-Cal, nursing homes, asset protection, the VA Aid and attendance pension benefit, and long term care planning. Mr. Young is a Concord Elder Law Attorney with offices in Walnut Creek, CA.

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Oct
17
2011
0

What Is The Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning?

I practice Elder Law and represent the older client and their families. When clients come to see me, their concerns are not so much about what happens when they die, but more about ’What happens if they don’t die.’

Of course, they want to make sure that their assets pass to their family with a minimum of expenses and taxes. But the bigger and more complicated question is, “What happens if I don’t die?” As we know, Americans are living longer all the time. The infirmities of old age may require that we have in home care assistance, or go to an assisted living facility, board and care home or eventually a to a nursing home.  We are of course concerned about how we pay for these costs. A regular estate plan does not address these needs. An elder law attorney can prepare a long term care plan for you, and address these needs. He will also address the concern of passing assets to their family.

To put it another way, a regular estate plan insures that if you die, your assets will be passed on to your family the way you want. The operative word is “if”. A  regular estate plan will not help preserve assets so that hopefully there will be something left when you die to pass on to your family. As we know, the assets of the older client could be depleted by a nursing home stay or lengthy illness, which could leave their spouse or heirs with nothing.  

If you have sufficient assets to pay for long-term care or nursing home costs without running out of funds, then a regualr estate planning attorney may be all you need. However, if you cannot afford the cost of a lenghty nursing home stay, of around $90,000 per year or $180,000 per year for a couple, or more, then an elder law attorney would be able to help you.

For a real life example, Mary and Jim have about $300,000 in assets and a home worth around $500,000. Jim needs assistance and uses a wheelchair. Mary has been providing for his care, but recently has shown signs of forgetfulness and confusion. She has been diagnosed by her doctor as having early signs of dementia.   

An estate plan is of course important to Jim and Mary, but this won’t help them deal with the problems they are presently dealing with. They want to tackle the issue of how they will be able to afford the cost of nursing home care should either one or both of them need it. They want to establish how they will be taken care of should Mary’s dementia become more advanced. They want to find out if if they can stay in their home with assistance.

This couple needs a life plan, specific to them, to meet their needs for the future. Jim and Mary need to seek the advice of an elder law attorney.

Written Michael J. Young, elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA. www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com mike@WalnutCreekElderLaw.com. 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 Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc. Mr. Young advises clients regarding Medi-Cal, nursing homes, asset protection, the VA Aid and attendance pension benefit, and long term care planning. Mr. Young is a Concord Elder Law Attorney with offices in Walnut Creek, CA.

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Sep
28
2011
0

Elder Law is Alzheimer’s Planning

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million people in the U.S., and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. today. This disease is expensive for the families of Alzheimer’s patients. And, it is the families who absorb much of the cost of care.

There are government resources available to help pay for the cost of care. The VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension Benefit for wartime veterans and the surviving spouses of wartime veterans can be very helpful to pay for care. For the single veteran, the pension rate can be as much as $1,644 per month or $19,736 per year. For the surviving spouse, the pension rate can be as much as $1,056 per month, or $12,681 per year. This VA benefit can help pay for the costs of in home care, assisted living facilities and board and care homes.

Another government benefit is Medi-Cal, which can pay for skilled nursing facilities for the Alzheimer’s patient.

Qualification for both of these programs, the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit and Medi-Cal, are asset and income based. Planning for these benefits can be done through your elder law attorney. You should pursue your long term care planning goals, including asset protection, through your elder law attorney as early in the process as possible.

Your elder law and asset protection attorney will update the estate planning documents of the Alzheimer’s patient, provided it is not too late, to include asset government benefits planning, and asset protection language. Thereafter, planning steps are made over time for asset protection and for qualification for these programs.

Michael J. Young, who is an elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA, helps many clients with Alzheimer’s disease, and their families, with Alzheimer’s Planning. Elder Law is Alzheimer’s Planning.

Mr. Young is an elder law attorney who represents clients in Concord, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Brentwood, Antioch, Clayton, Danville, Alamo and surrounding areas.

This blog is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. You should consult an elder law, asset protection and government benefits planning attorney for your particular case, and before you proceed with any planning.

Written Michael J. Young, elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA. www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com mike@WalnutCreekElderLaw.com. 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 Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc. Mr. Young advises clients regarding Medi-Cal, nursing homes, asset protection, the VA Aid and attendance pension benefit, and long term care planning. Mr. Young is a Concord Elder Law Attorney with offices in Walnut Creek, CA.

Through proper planning from an elder law attorney,  disease is not too far advanced, the

Michael J. Young is an elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA.

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