Jul
10
2018
0

Steps to Help Maintain Your Health and Safety

The following are some steps for our senior and (almost senior) clients to consider for healthy living.

  • Prevent falls: My father’s advice to me just before he died was for me to advise all of my clients to not fall. Falls can be the beginning of the end for people. Walk more deliberately, use your cane, and hold on to handrails.
  • Safety at home: Avoid climbing ladders, and if you must, make sure that someone is with you. Remove slippery area rugs. Do not jump up and down inside of the trash barrel to create more space for trash.
  • Exercise: Keep your strength up. Walk every day if you can, and add more steps all the time. If your legs are strong and your balance is good, you are less likely to fall.
  • Have discussions with your family: Talk to your loved ones and your support group about your health care decisions and your Directive to Physicians. Talk about your financial decisions and your financial Power of Attorney. Make sure all of your estate planning documents are up to date, and that they have the latest asset protection and Medi-Cal qualification provisions.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, is general in nature, and you are encouraged to see your Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney.

Michael J. Young

Walnut Creek, CA

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

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
31
2017
0

California Still Has A 30 Month Look Back for Gifting

California still has the 30 Month Look Back Penalty Period for Gifting. There is a federal law known as the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), which has a 60 month look back penalty period. However, California has not to date implemented that law. Medi-Cal eligibility workers are required to use the 30 month look back period.

When you apply for Medi-Cal, the application asks whether you have given away any countable, or non-exempt assets within the last 30 months. If you have made such a gift without consideration, or for less than fair market value within the 30 months prior to making the application, a penalty period of ineligibility may be imposed. Transfers of any kind between spouses are exempt and do not create any periods of ineligibility.

The penalty transfer amount, which is also known as the monthly average nursing home private pay rate, is presently $8,515. The penalty period starts when the transfer is made, as opposed to when you make the Medi-Cal application. To calculate the penalty period, first check to see if it was made more than 30 months prior to making the Medi-Cal application. If more than 30 months have passed, there is no penalty.

Lets assume however that you have gifted $50,000 to your grandchild on October 1, 2016, and that you are applying for Medi-Cal on January 1, 2017. The gift was made 3 months prior to the application, so the 30 month look back penalty rule applies. You then divide $50,000 by $8,515, which reflects 5.87, which is rounded down to 5 months of ineligibility, starting from the date of the transfer. As a result, you would be ineligible for Medi-Cal during the months of October, when the gift was made, November, December, January and February, but you would be eligible March 1, 2017. There are of course other rules to consider, which may be to your benefit, which your elder law attorney can help you with.

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

Mar
15
2017
0

Does Your Trust Have a Mandatory Bypass Provision?

Most modern Revocable Living Trusts do not have a Mandatory Bypass Provision, which is usually good planning. This provision is normally NOT necessary, and if you have one, it can cause unnecessary headaches after the first spouse dies. A mandatory bypass provision will require splitting and re-titling of the trust assets between a Revocable Survivor’s Trust and an Irrevocable Exemption Bypass Trust after the first spouse dies. You will need a tax I.D. number for the bypass trust, and a fiduciary tax return will need to be filed every year. The surviving spouse will also not have complete control of the assets in the irrevocable bypass trust. The mandatory bypass trust makes Medi-Cal qualification more difficult, because the state will require that you exhaust the assets of the bypass trust before you can qualify for Medi-Cal.

The primary purpose of a mandatory bypass provision in your revocable living trust is to save on death taxes, aka inheritance taxes. The current federal death tax exemption amount is $5.45 million per individual. So if you think you will have more than $5.45 million dollars after the first spouse dies, the mandatory bypass may be useful. Also, if the spouses have a blended family with “his mine and ours” children, the mandatory bypass trust can protect the assets of the children of the first spouse to die.

To avoid issues created by mandatory bypass provisions, you can instead have a discretionary bypass provision in your revocable living trust. This will provide the same results as a mandatory bypass, but will give the surviving spouse the discretion of funding a bypass trust for tax purposes. However, this funding must be completed within 9 months of the date of death of the first spouse to die. You should now check the provisions in your revocable living trust that tell you what to do after the first spouse dies. If the provisions call for a mandatory bypass trust and a split of the assets after the first to die, you may want to have the provision changed by your elder law attorney with an amendment. Most older trusts have a mandatory bypass provision, which should probably be changed.

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.

Feb
02
2017
0

2017 MEDI-CAL DESK REFERENCE

2017 MEDI-CAL DESK REFERENCE

Divestment Penalty Divisor $8,189.00
Individual Resource Allowance $2,000.00
Monthly Personal Needs Allowance $35.00
Community Spouse Resource
Allowance $120,900.00
Monthly Maintenance Needs
Allowance $3,023.00
Resource Allowance for a Couple
(Husband and Wife both in facility) $2,000.00/each

MICHAEL J. YOUNG, ATTORNEY AT LAW

Elder Law Planning, Estate Planning, Trusts, Probate, Real Estate,

Preservation of Assets, Long Term Care Planning

Member: National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.

1931 San Miguel Drive, Suite 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

E-mail: LawYoung1@Gmail.com Phone: (925) 256-0298

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com Fax:     (925) 938-6727

Jan
30
2017
0

Do not Listen To Your Neighbors Regarding Medi-Cal Eligibility

Do not listen to your neighbors regarding Medi-Cal eligibility! Over the last number of days, we have been told by several individuals who are interested in our services, that their understanding is that they would never qualify for Medi-Cal based upon “advice” they received from their neighbors. In each case, the advice was wrong.

One person told me that she was told that her husband would not qualify for Medi-Cal because his IRAs were too high. I told her that her husband can have any amount of IRAs and still qualify for Medi-Cal. In fact, I told her that she, as the well spouse, can also have any amount of IRAs, and her husband could still qualify for Medi-Cal.  In addition, I told her that both her and her husband’s IRAs cannot be collected against by the State for Medi-Cal recoupment.

In another case, an individual told me that she was informed that she could not qualify for Medi-Cal because she owned her own home. This information is also incorrect. All she has to do is express a subjective intent in writing that she intends to return home, even if she is in a nursing home. We prepare that documentation for our clients as part of their estate plan. This intent to return home is also confirmed on the Medi-Cal application. In addition, I told her that as of January 1, 2017, her home cannot be collected against by the State for Medi-Cal recoupment, if her home is in her revocable living trust at the time of her death.

In another case, a person told me that he understood that he could not qualify for Medi-Cal because his and his wife’s income was too high. This advice is also erroneous because of the Medi-Cal rules regarding Share of Cost. The state pays qualified nursing homes $8,189 a month for a Medi-Cal recipient, minus a share of cost from the recipient. The $8,189 is usually much lower than a nursing home would be if you were to private pay. The recipient’s income goes to a share of cost to the nursing home, up to $8,189, minus a few small deductions from the recipient’s income. If the recipient is married, the well spouse can keep all of her income, without penalty. If the well spouse makes under $2,981 per month, the ill spouse’s income is allocated to the well spouse’s income to bring her up to $2,981 per month. As a result, many of our clients end up paying a very small share of cost, and sometimes nothing, to the nursing home.

The moral of the story is, do not listen to your neighbors regarding Medi-Cal eligibility.

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
08
2016
0

John Hancock Has Dropped Traditional Long Term Care Insurance – But All Is Not Lost!

Forbes Magazine has recently reported that John Hancock is the latest insurance company to drop out of the traditional long term care insurance market. John Hancock has been one of the largest providers over the years, having sold some 1.2 million traditional long term care insurance policies. It is estimated that there are now less than 20 companies that are selling these traditional “use it or lose it” style of policies. Forbes says that, “This withdrawal signals what many financial planners, government officials, and financial service firms have known for years—that the United States is nearing a long-term care planning crisis.”

The reason that so many insurance companies have dropped out of the traditional long term care insurance market is because they are losing money on this type of policy. The insurance companies set initial premiums too low and they underestimated how long people would live. They also underestimated the cost of long term care and how much the cost of that care would increase over time.

Fortunately however, there are new insurance options that you can explore to help pay for your long term care. In 2010, an amendment to the Pension Protection Act (PPA) of 2006 was passed which can be very advantageous to Americans struggling to find ways to pay for long term care. As an example, many seniors own annuity contracts. Individuals who own annuities can now exchange those annuities, on a tax free basis, for Pension Protection Act style annuities that have long term care riders. The long term care rider in the new annuity contract can create multiples of the amount in the annuity that can be used for your care. For instance, $100,000 moving from your existing annuity into a Pension Protection Act style of annuity could create $300,000 in a rider to be used for your care. If you need help with two out of the six activities of daily living, you can “go on claim,” and the amounts distributed to you from the annuity for your care are distributed tax free.

You can also transfer money from any source into a Pension Protection Act style annuity or life insurance policy that has a long term care rider. The healthier you are, the easier it is for you to qualify for these new financial instruments. However, they are easier to qualify for than traditional long term care insurance policies because you are using your own assets to fund the long term care annuity or life insurance policy.

While you are updating your estate planning documents for long term care planning and asset protection with us, and if you are interested, we can help you explore these Pension Protection Act asset protection possibilities with you.

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
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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