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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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.

Apr
09
2015
0

Medi-Cal Covers “Skilled Nursing Facilities”

It seems that many people are under the assumption that Medi-Cal pays for all kinds of housing for an older persons. This is not the case. Medi-Cal pays for nursing home care in “skilled nursing facilities.” There must be a doctor’s order that the applicant’s stay in the nursing home is “medically necessary.”

The applicant of course must meet the asset and income qualification rules for eligibility for Medi-Cal. There is also a share of cost that the applicant must contribute to the nursing home.

Except in rare circumstances under waiver programs, you must “private pay” for a stay in an assisted living facility or board and care home. Some people have long term care insurance to help pay for these facilities, but most do not.

You should accomplish now long term care planning with your elder law attorney to plan for your future care. Your attorney will help you plan for qualification for Medi-Cal for a stay in a skilled nursing facilitiy.

Moreover, your attorney will help you plan how you will private pay for your possible need for in-home-care, assisted living facilities and board and care homes. He can help you determine how you can reposition certain of your assets into new insurance products to help pay for your future care. With traditional long term care insurance, if you don’t use it, you lose it. If you never make a claim, your monthly premium payments are generally wasted. With a new kind of insurance product, you can keep your investment in tact, and only utilize the long term care portion of the product if you need it. In addition, under the Federal Pension Relief Act, you may be able to transfer a portion of an appreciated account into such a product without suffering capital gains treatment.

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.

Jan
12
2015
0

2015 CA Medi-Cal Quick Reference Guide

The State of California has changed some of the Medi-Cal qualification figures and requirements for 2015. A brief listing of these changes and requirements is set forth below:

Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA)

$119,220

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 (MMMNA)

$2,981

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

Average Private Pay Rate – Divestment Penalty Divisor – (APPR)

$7,628

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.


Dec
31
2014
0

Mom Is Showing Some Dementia – Can we still create a long term care plan for her?

In my workshops, we talk about the Elder Care Journey. Along this journey, which I show on a chart, is an area called “Declining Senior With Memory or Mobility Issues.”  I reference this step along the Elder Care Journey as a DANGER ZONE. We know that mobility issues and falling oftentimes is the beginning of a downward slope for our older loved ones. A person with mobility issues but who still has good mental capacity can of course enter into a long term care estate plan. She can agree in the plan that if she loses capacity, her loved ones can proceed with asset preservation, possible gifting, transfer of her home for asset protection, and getting her ducks in a row for qualification for Medi-Cal, etc.

If she has lost mental capacity by the time she sees her elder law attorney, she will not be able to enter into such a plan. If there is a formal diagnosis for instance of advanced dementia, we of course will not be able to proceed. In that case, if she has the plain vanilla type of estate plan, which is more suitable for a younger person, the plan will most likely not have the powers to allow her fiduciary to complete gift transfers or to transfer the home to her spouse or her children for asset protection. In that event, we may need to go to court to obtain an order to reform her existing estate planning documents.

If Mom has some dementia, such as short term memory loss, she may still have sufficient mental capacity to enter into a long term care plan. We can usually tell through our interview and conversation with her if she understands what the plan is about. If we are not certain, we can ask her medical doctor whether he would be willing to confirm in a letter that she has sufficient mental capacity to create the estate plan.

The sooner the older client sees the elder law attorney, the better. It is never too late to do long term care planning, but it is much more expensive if we need to go to court to complete the planning.

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, 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.

Aug
04
2014
0

One Unique Way You Can Use Your Own Funds To Help Pay For Your Long Term Care Is To Convert Your Life Insurance Policy Into a Life Care Funding Trust

As we have discussed in the past, there are 3 ways to pay for long term care. 1) You can use your own money; 2) You can use your long term care insurance if you have it; 3) You can utilize the VA Aid & Attendance program to help pay for in home care and the cost of assisted living facilities, and you can use Medi-Cal to help pay for a stay in a skilled nursing facility . 

Most of our clients are not Veterans or the surviving spouses of veterans, and cannot tap into the VA Aid & Attendance program to help pay for in home care and assisted living facilities. Others may never need to go into a nursing home and  utilize Medi-Cal. In addition, as it turns out, most of our clients do not have long term care insurance, and they find long term care insurance to be either impossible or too cost prohibitive to obtain. 

Government benefits are available, but may become more difficult to obtain in the future. California will soon adopt the Deficit Reduction Act, which will make Medi-Cal eligibility more difficult. Medi-Cal can pay for your stay in a skilled nursing facility. VA will probably institute a look-back penalty period for gifting, and make that benefit more difficult to obtain.

Also, many Assisted Living Facilities now offer several  levels of care including independent living, custodial care and care in memory wings. If you could utilize your own funds for the cost of the assisted living facility, you would probably like to stay there for as long as possible.

One way you can use you our own funds to pay for your long term care, is to possibly convert your life insurance policy into a Life Care Funding Trust. Some of our clients have asked whether they should let their life insurance premiums lapse, as part of budgeting for the cost of their long term care. Premiums on life insurance policies have typically been made for many years, and it would be a shame to let the policy lapse without a benefit to you.  

 We can explore whether your life insurance policy has a value that can be converted to a long term care benefit. As part of the process, we will present a copy of the policy to the Life Care Funding Company along with a simple application which includes some medical information about you. The Life Care Funding company underwriters will determine whether they will make a cash offer to you for the purchase of the policy, and for how much. If they make such an offer and you accept it, the cash is then placed into a Life Care Funding Trust for your benefit, and payments are made to your care provider on a monthly basis. You will then stop making premium payments, and you will benefit from the policy. Please let us know if you would like us to help you explore this possibility.

In the future, we will be discussing other unique ways we can utilize our own funds to help pay for our long term care.

For additional information, you can contact 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, 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, 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 help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

Mar
25
2014
0

Consider Naming a Professional Fiduciary In Your Estate Planning Documents

When we prepare our estate planning documents, such as the Revocable Living Trust and Financial Durable Powers of Attorney, we typically name our spouses and then our children as our fiduciaries if we cannot act for ourselves. It would seem that the most common reason that would cause a fiduciary to act is the loss of mental capacity of the principal. For instance, in the case of a Revocable Living Trust for a husband and wife, they will name each other as a co-trustees. If neither of them can act because of incapacity, the children who have been named as successor trustees, will step up to act as trustee. With a Financial Durable Power of attorney, the couple will typically name each other as attorney in fact, and if they cannot act for each other, the children who have been named as successor attorneys in fact, will step up to act.

Many of our clients however do not have a living spouse or children or even siblings who can be named as fiduciaries for them. In addition, statistics show that at lease a quarter of persons in the  age group of 80 years or older, have significant clinical cognitive impairment. These individuals will need a responsible fiduciary to help manage and preserve their assets for them, and to help ensure that they receive good care as they age.

So for people who really have no one to name as a fiduciary in their estate planning documents, we recommend naming a professional fiduciary. These individuals are licensed by the State of California Professional Fiduciaries Bureau.  A professional fiduciary as successor trustee of a revocable living trust for instance, will carry out the terms of the trust while you are alive, and then finish the trust administration when you die.  During your lifetime, the professional fiduciary as successor trustee under your trust, or as your attorney in fact under your financial power of attorney,  will manage your checking account, pay your bills and otherwise help to protect your assets. They will make sure that your assets are used for your care and that your assets are preserved and managed for as long as possible. Many older people are vulnerable to scammers and even family members who will try to take advantage of them, and take their money.

We can recommend several very good professional fiduciaries who you could consider naming as successor fiduciaries  in your estate planning documents.

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
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.

Nov
04
2013
0

Peace of Mind Now For Baby Boomers and Seniors Facing Retirement

A big issue now facing Baby Boomers and seniors is, surviving in retirement. We should have our “Ducks In A Row” now regarding health and financial issues, and there are many things we can do.

 Most of our clients do not have long term care insurance to pay for a stay in a nursing home. If they do, the policy would probably not pay the full cost. 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 through your elder law attorney, as part of your estate plan, to provide for asset protection and qualification for Medi-Cal. 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. If you lose capacity, your loved ones will have the authority to follow through with your plan.

 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 the nursing home payments it has made for you.

 Many Baby Boomers’ do not have sufficient savings to live on through retirement. The stock market has hurt many portfolios in the past. Fortunately however, Social Security is still in existence. 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, and that the fund will be available for them. 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 8%, so wait longer if possible.

 For additional peace of mind, you can 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.

 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.

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