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.

Dec
21
2016
0

Medi-Cal Recovery Will Be Limited to Probate Estates after January 1, 2017

We have recently blogged about the new legislation Governor Brown signed, effective January 1, 2017, which changes the rules regarding recovery by the state for payments it has made to nursing homes for Medi-Cal recipients. Under the old law, the only way we could avoid recovery was to ensure that there was nothing in the Medi-Cal recipient’s name at the date of his death. Under the new law, for Medi-Cal recipients who die after January 1, 2017, recovery will be limited to those estates that are subject to probate under California Probate Law. Assets transferred from a revocable living trust of the Medi-Cal recipient will not be subject to recovery under California Law, because assets in a revocable living trust are not be subject to probate.

For example, if Mary the Medi-Cal recipient leaves her home to her son in her will, the home will be subject to a probate. If the state paid $30,000 to a nursing home for Mary, the state will be able to recover the $30,000 from the probate of the home. If the home was in Mary’s revocable living trust at the time of her death, the state will not be able to recover against the home, because the home will transfer from the trust to Mary’s son, and will not be probated.

The new rules, effective for Medi-Cal recipients who die after January 1, 2017, also exempt certain assets from state recovery. For example, property transferred prior to death, that are no longer in the beneficiary’s name, are not subject to recovery. However, any transfers must be made within the Medi-Cal regulations in order to avoid periods of ineligibility when applying for Medi-Cal. Also, the state cannot recover against your life insurance policy as long as you name one or more beneficiaries under your policy. If you do not name a beneficiary, or if the beneficiary you have named dies before you do, there will be a probate to determine who the beneficiary is. The state will be able to recover against the probate.

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

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.

Oct
10
2016
0

October, 2016 Medi-Cal Reference Guide

This Medi-Cal Reference Guide reflects some of the most frequently requested information we receive regarding Medi-Cal qualification.

Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) $119,220. This is the amount of non-qualified money or investments that the well spouse may keep. Either spouse may keep any amount of qualified assets, such as IRAs.

Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) $2,981. The well spouse is allowed to keep all of her income. The MMMNA is the minimum amount of monthly income that the well spouse is allowed to keep. If she is under this amount, the income of the ill spouse is applied to bring the well spouse up to the $2,981 amount. This calculation is set forth in the accounting that is presented with the application to Medi-Cal.

Divestment Penalty Divisor (APPR) $8,189. This is the monthly amount that the state pays to Medi-Cal nursing homes, minus a share of cost from the applicant. The APPR is also the gifting penalty divisor which is used in calculating periods of ineligibility for Medi-Cal, using the current 30 month look back period. So for instance, if the Medi-Cal applicant gifted $20,000 to a child in October, 2016, she would be ineligible for Medi-Cal for two months. Divide $20,000 by $8,189 and round down to two. The applicant would be ineligible in October and November, but would be eligible in December. There is no penalty for gifting between spouses.

Applicant Resource Allowance $2,000. This is the amount of assets that the applicant can keep, whether he is single or married.

Monthly Personal Needs Allowance $35. This is the amount of income the applicant can keep. The applicant is also given credit for his part B Medicare premium.

This off course is only part of the picture. Please feel free to contact our office for additional information.

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.

Apr
25
2016
0

When Can The State Recover Medi-Cal Payments?

If you die after having been on Medi-Cal, the state will want to recover from your estate. They will want to recover what they paid for your nursing home care while you were on Medi-Cal. If there is nothing in your estate when you die, there will have nothing in your estate for them to recover. That it why it is important for you to see an elder law attorney in order to get your “Ducks In A Row” for Medi-Cal qualification, and to avoid state recovery. For instance, if your home is in your estate when you die, the state can recover against it. If you have transferred your home out of your estate prior to your death, there can be no recovery against your home. If you have lost capacity, your fiduciary will not be able to transfer the home out of your estate without consideration, unless you have specialized language in your revocable living trust and financial durable power of attorney which provides for such a transfer without consideration. Most revocable living trusts and financial durable powers of attorney do not have the requisite language to make real estate and asset transfers, without consideration, if you lose capacity. Most revocable living trusts and financial powers of attorney provide only that a sale of assets can be made, for adequate consideration or fair market value. This language is not helpful for Medi-Cal qualification and state recovery.

The state cannot recover against your estate, after you have been on Medi-Cal, until you die. If you are survived by a spouse, the state claim is prohibited until the surviving spouse dies. But again, if there are no assets in your name when you die, if you were a Medi-Cal recipient, the state will not be able to pursue a claim against your spouse. If you are a Medi-Cal recipient who is survived by a minor child under the age of 21, the claim is barred against the state. Also, if  you are a Medi-Cal recipient who is survived by a disabled child of any age, the claim is barred against the state.

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.

Mar
28
2016
0

You Can Spend Down Resources for Medi-Cal Eligibility

For eligibility for Medi-Cal, you cannot have more than $2,000 in non-qualified assets in your name by the end of the month that you want to be eligible. So, if you apply for Medi-Cal on April 1, 2016, you must be down to $2,000 in assets by April 30, 2016. In addition to the $2,000, you can have any amount of qualified assets, like IRAs. Under the Medi-Cal regulations, you can spend down your assets for anything for yourself, to create eligibility. For instance, you pay for  a new roof on your home, remodel your home, pay off bills, buy new clothes, pay down your mortgage, etc. Keep your receipts so that you can document your expenditures to Medi-Cal. If you are considering going into a nursing home and then applying for Medi-Cal, you should consider spending down your assets after you have applied to the facility, and have privately paid for awhile. You should keep in mind that if you have been admitted to a Medi-Cal certified facility, and have privately paid, you cannot by law be evicted or transferred from the facility because you want to change from a private pay patient to a Medi-Cal patient.

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.

Mar
15
2016
0

Medi-Cal and Life Insurance Recovery

If you die after having been on Medi-Cal, the state can only recover what is left in your estate at the time of your death. Whatever is in your revocable living trust when you die, is recoverable by Medi-Cal because that is part of your estate. That is why we reserve powers in the revocable living trust and financial powers of attorney to transfer assets out of your trust during your life in order to avoid state recovery.

If you have life insurance and you die, your beneficiary, such as your spouse or a child, will receive the death benefit. This death benefit to your spouse or child is not recoverable by Medi-Cal. However, if you name your revocable living trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, the death benefit will be funded into your revocable living trust when you die. This death benefit will be “in your estate” when you die, and therefore recoverable by Medi-Cal. As a result, if you think you may be applying for Medi-Cal at some date in the future, you should name a person or persons to be the beneficiary of your life insurance policy.

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

Feb
19
2016
0

How Does Medi-Cal Treat Joint Accounts?

All assets in the name of the Medi-Cal applicant are reported when qualifying for Medi-Cal. The home is reported, but can usually be confirmed as an exempt asset for qualification. So- called Qualified assets such as IRA’s are reported, but are but are also usually confirmed as exempt for qualification. The applicant can then not have more than $2,000 in non-exempt assets in his or her name.

If the applicant’s name is on an account with another person, Medi-Cal will count the entire amount as being in the name of the applicant. For instance, if you maintain a joint bank account in the amount of $15,000 with your mother in order to avoid probate when you die, and your mother applies for Medi-Cal, the $15,000 will be counted as belonging to your mother. Your mother would be ineligible for Medi-Cal because she cannot have more than $2,000 of non-exempt assets in her name.

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

Feb
08
2016
0

Changes Are Coming For VA A&A Qualification

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

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

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

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

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

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