Jun
01
2017
0

Medi-Cal Qualification and Joint Accounts

If you are applying for Medi-Cal, you will be required to disclose all of your assets in your application package. Medi-Cal wants to see evidence of all of your accounts, even joint accounts that you may have with someone else. Joint accounts will be considered by Medi-Cal, at least initially, to belong to you alone. So for instance, if you have a joint savings account with your daughter, Medi-Cal will view that account as belonging to you alone. As a result, the value of the account may disqualify you for Medi-Cal.

You may be able to remedy the situation if you can prove to Medi-Cal that all or a portion of the fund does not belong to you. You can also spend the money in the account on yourself, make repairs to your home, pay down your mortgage, etc. You may also be able to gift the money, or a portion of it from the account. As we have explained in previous blogs however, gifting can create periods of ineligibility for Medi-Cal if it is not done correctly.

Planning for asset protection and Medi-Cal with your estate planning and asset protection attorney at an early stage, can be very beneficial. Your revocable living trust and financial durable powers of attorney can also be amended to have the required gifting and asset protection provisions for Medi-Cal qualification, should you become incapable at some point of handling these matters on your own.

Please feel free to contact our office should you need help with estate planning, 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.

May
14
2015
0

Medi-Cal Qualification and the Home – Contra Costa Elder Law Attorney Michael J. Young

Click here to watch a video of  elder law attorney Michael J. Young of Walnut Creek, CA talk about Medi-Cal qualification and the home.

Medi-Cal Qualification and the Home

You can have a home and qualify for Medi-Cal. You can also take steps to protect your home from a Medi-Cal lien.

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.

Jan
28
2014
0

Financial Durable Powers of Attorney for Baby Boomers and Seniors Can Now Provide for Long Term Care Planning and Asset Protection

Financial Durable Powers of Attorney (Fin. DPA’s) for Baby Boomers and Seniors can provide for asset protection and government benefits planning. The language we use in Fin. DPA’s for long term care planning for baby boomers and seniors is very different from the language we see in the plain vanilla Fin. DPA’s which most people have.

Baby Boomers and seniors usually want to get our ducks in a row for possible qualification for Medi-Cal, which can help pay for our skilled nursing home stay if we run out of Medicare days. In addition, for wartime veterans, we want to get our ducks in a row for possible qualification for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit which can help pay for in home care and the cost of assisted living facilities. If we lose mental capacity, these extraordinary powers will allow your attorney in fact in your Fin. DPA, such as your spouse or child, to follow through with asset protection and government benefits planning according to your wishes.

The Uniform Statutory Form Power of Attorney that many people already have, does not contain the required language for asset protection. And, the majority of attorney created Fin. DPAs do not have this requisite language. As a result, if you become incapacitated and you do not have the requisite language in your Fin. DPA, your agent may be powerless to follow your wishes for asset protection.

For instance, we may want to transfer (transmute) the title of our home from the ill spouse to the well spouse, or to a child, during our lives, for asset protection purposes. For many of our clients, the home is their largest asset. Most of our clients want their home to ultimately transfer to their children without government liens attaching. They also want their children or heirs to receive the home with a full step up in basis when they die, so that there will be no capital gains to pay if the home is sold upon the death of the maker of the Fin. DPA.

Most Fin. DPAs do NOT have this specialized language which is required to accomplish these goals . In addition, for long term care planning, the language in the Fin. DPA is coordinated with the language in the revocable living trust, to provide additional options for asset protection. You should contact your elder law attorney for advice for long term care planning and to review your existing estate plan.

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
20
2014
0

7 Practical Considerations To Take Into Account When Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

Here are 7 Practical Considerations to take into account when you are choosing an assisted living facility, either for yourself or a loved one. We have developed this list  after having first hand experience with assisted living facilities that my father lived in, and after having interacted with our clients regarding these issues over many years.

  1. Is the facility well regarded in the community? Has it been recommended to you by someone who has had a loved one or friend there?
  2. Would the friends and family members of the resident be able to visit at any time, or are there restrictions in this regard?
  3. Is the facility in close proximity to the hospital and medical offices that the resident may need to visit?
  4. How were you treated by the staff and the administrator when you visited the facility? Did you feel welcome and were you comfortable with the experience?
  5. Were all of your questions answered satisfactorily when you visited the facility? Were you left in doubt or were you confused about any of their answers?
  6. Did you feel that you or your loved one would fit into the community for an extended period of time?
  7. Could you imaging yourself or your loved one living there?

* 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.

Mar
25
2013
0

Can The State Take My Home If I Die After Having Been On Medi-Cal?

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive as an elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA is, “Can the State of California take my home if I die after having been on Medi-Cal?”

 The state will not actually take your home. But your home, if it is in your estate when you die, can be subject to a claim by the state after your death for the amounts the state has paid for your care. This claim will be paid when your property is sold from your estate. The state can only recover for the amounts they have actually paid for your care. Presently the amount they can recover is $7,092 per month, minus the share of cost that you have contributed to a nursing home. This amount of course would be less than what you would have paid as a private pay patient in a nursing home.

 In order to establish your home as an exempt asset when you apply for Medi-Cal, you must confirm your intent to return home if you have entered a nursing home. There is a question on the Medi-Cal application which allows you to establish this intent.

 The state will not pursue a claim for reimbursement against a surviving spouse of a Medi-Cal recipient as long as she is still living in the property. When she dies, the state will pursue the claim against any assets she received from her spouse, including the home, if he was a Medi-Cal recipient. In addition, the state cannot pursue a claim against the home if the Medi-Cal recipient is survived by a minor, blind or disabled child.

 There are techniques allowed by the state for protection of the home from a claim after death. For instance, we can “transmute” or transfer the ill spouse’s interest in the home to the well spouse during his life, and reserve a life estate to the well spouse. We can also transfer the home from a single Medi-Cal recipient to his children, for instance, and reserve a life estate to the Medi-Cal applicant. Transfers such as these must be done correctly and pursuant to the regulations in order to avoid a state claim, and in order to avoid capital gains issues. Please be aware that there is no protection for the home if it is in the revocable living trust of the Medi-Cal recipient when he passes away. Asset protection planning must be accomplished while the Medi-Cal recipient has good mental capacity. Otherwise, we may have to go to court to correct the problem. Do not rely on the idea that your financial durable power of attorney and revocable living trust will allow you to make these transfers during mental incapacity. The estate planning documents require specialized language in order to do this, and most plans do not have the requisite language.

 Keep in mind that the state cannot make a claim against assets that are not in your estate when you die. You will need the help of your elder law attorney aka your asset protection attorney in order create a long term care and asset protection plan for you. 

 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. He is a member of NAELA 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

Jan
10
2013
0

It Is Difficult Being The Caregiver For Your Older Loved One

Many of our older clients are being taken care of by their spouse, or by one or more of their adult children or another family member. The older person of course appreciates the help, and the caregiver feels gratified in their role. The caregiver may also feel extremely guilty if they don not help. The care often takes place in the older person’s home or in the home of a child. Also, spouses and children will at times spend nights in their loved one’s care facility to help with the care.

But, being a caregiver for an older person can be a 24 hour a day, seven days a week job. And, the work can be exhausting. We receive calls all the time from family members or from spouses, who tell us that they can’t do it any more. I remember when my brother and I were trying to take care of our elderly father. My brother and I finally got to the point where we could barely pick our Dad up to help maneuver him to the bathroom. Toileting issues were difficult for everybody. Our Dad also would not cooperate with taking his medications, and there were other problems. My brother and I finally decided that we did not have the requisite skills to properly care for our Dad any longer, but we suffered with the guilt associated with making this decision. I do remember being amazed however, when we hired an experienced in-home care giver for our Dad, how the care giver, because of his training, could easily move our father around.

If you find yourself in the caregiver role, please keep in mind that your own health can suffer as the result of helping your loved one. How many times have we heard of the well spouse passing away from exhaustion caused by her helping her ill spouse? Please give yourself a break. Call other family members and friends to help you. You can utilize adult care services, where you take your loved one to spend several hours during the day. You can also hire a caregiver, and there are many fine agencies in the area who have qualified people who can help you.

Please feel free to contact us if you have questions along these lines, as we may have suggestions for help you can receive within the elder care community 

At the Law Offices of Michael J. Young in Walnut Creek, for many years now, we have helped clients and their families with questions such as these. We also continue to help seniors keep what they have earned. We do this through the preparation of asset protection plans, long term care plans, revocable living trusts, powers of attorney and wills, and assistance with applications for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid and attendance Pension Benefit.

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. He is 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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