Oct
11
2012
0

Where are Mom’s Papers?

It is very important to know where your loved one’s papers are!

We are always trying to accomplish elder care planning as early

as possible, so that we can get all of our ducks in a

row before memories fade.

 

Last week we helped a family whose elderly mother needed

long term care planning. The father had died almost two years

earlier, and he had been in charge of all legal

and financial matters for the couple. The mother was in a nursing home

and could not remember for sure if she had a trust or any estate planning

documents, or whether her home was in a trust. The family also did not know

if there were any estate planning documents, could not find any, and did

not know about a trust. They wanted us to apply for Medi-Cal for their mother,

and to protect her home from a potential Medi-Cal lien. 

 

I asked the children to keep looking for the legal documents.

I checked with my resources at a title company, and was able

to a get a copy of the last deed of record for the home,

and the deed confirmed that the home was indeed in the mother’s family trust. 

Fortunately, the deed referenced the attorney who prepared it. I called

the attorney, who said he had retired, but thought that he had

copies of his clients’ documents in a storage facility. It took awhile,

but the attorney eventually provided us with copies of the estate

planning documents, including the trust. We were able to amend the

various documents for government benefits and asset protection purposes,

and we proceeded to protect the home from a potential Medi-Cal lien.

 

We also needed to see recent statements of all bank accounts, IRA

accounts, etc., for Medi-Cal qualification. We also needed to see life

insurance policies that the mother owned.

The mother was not sure about any of this,

nor were her children. I asked the children to please look for

these documents, to watch the mail for new statements, and to

familiarize themselves with these matters. The mother confirmed

that she wanted her children to help her.

 

The children were able to find the statements, and

also found a life insurance policy that the mother owned. Fortunately, at least

for Medi-Cal qualification, there was no cash in value that

we would have to deal with to create Medi-Cal

eligibility for the mother.

 

The mother was thankful that her children were helping.

The father had apparently been a very strong willed person,

who for whatever reason, did not choose to involve his

children, let alone his own wife, with any of these important issues.

 

All worked out well in this case, but not without loss of time

and with additional angst and tension that the family

and their mother did not need at this time. 

Written Michael J. Young, elder law attorney and probate attorney in Walnut Creek, CA and former in-house counsel for title insurance companies. 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

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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Apr
12
2012
0

2012 CA Medi-Cal Quick Reference Guide

The following is our 2012 CA Medi-Cal Quick Reference Guide. Please refer to our website, http://www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com for a further explanation of Medi-Cal qualification requirements.

2012 CA Medi-Cal Quick Reference Guide

Community Spouse Resource Allowance

$113,640

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

$2,841

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

 Average Private Pay Rate (Divestment Penalty Divisor)

$7,092

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 non-exempt liquid assets the ill person is allowed to keep.

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.

Sep
13
2011
0

Alzheimer’s Planning – Long Term Relationship

We do Alzheimer’s planning in our lawfirm. This type of long term care planning includes, in part, the preparation of estate planning documents. These specialized documents contain required, updated language for asset protection and government benefits planning regarding Medi-Cal and the VA Aid and Attendance Improved Pension Benefit. Part of the planning may also include asset protection of the home and monetary assets.  

However, a big part of Alzheimer’s planning involves working with the family of the loved one who is afflicted with this disease. Alzheimer’s disease can last many years, and our relationship with the families we represent can be very long. As an example, my mother in law, who has Alzheimer’s disease, and who turns 90 next month, has been in a board and care facility for the last 10 years. Other than the disease, she is fairly healthy for a 90 year old.  She does not recognize her three “girls”, but she is being well cared for.  

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments and services that will make life more bearable for the Alzheimer’s patient, and his or her family.  We offer  support for our clients and their families, regarding resources for care as part of the  long term care planning. We also encourage our clients and their families to become knowledgeable about the disease. For additional information regarding Alzheimer’s planning, please feel free to contact our office.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see an elder law attorney for your particular situation. 

Written Michael J. Young, lawyoung1@gmail.com, 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.

Jul
19
2011
0

VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefits w/o The Sale of Annuities

The VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit is available for wartime veterans or their surviving spouses. For 2011, a single veteran can receive up to $1,644 per month, and $1,949 if married. The widowed spouse can receive up to $1,056 per month. This benefit is most helpful for payment of in home care, assisted living facility and board and care costs.

For qualification, the VA takes into account, among other things, income and assets. If the applicant’s income and assets are too high, he may not qualify. That is where planning by your elder law attorney, who is certified by the VA, comes in. In addition, when we plan for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit, we also plan for Medi-Cal benefits at the same time. Medi-Cal pays for nursing home costs after your Medicare days are used up. Nursing homes in our area can cost upwards of $7,500 or more per month. If you plan for VA alone, without taking into account the more stringent Medi-Cal rules at the same time, you may become eligible for VA but ineligible for Medi-Cal.

Beware of being asked to purchase an annuity to qualify for VA. We have been informed by clients and others that there are annuity salesmen out there, who are also usually not certified by the VA, who will ask you to purchase an annuity for VA qualification. I understand that they usually do not tell you about the annuity at first. The purpose for the sale of an annuity, from a legal perspective, is at best unclear, and is generally viewed by the elder law legal community as unnecessary.  Your elder law attorney can best help you with asset protection and planning, within the Medi-Cal and VA regulations, without the sale of annuities. Medi-Cal also has stringent requirements about annuities, which could make the Medi-Cal applicant either ineligible for Medi-Cal, or require him to pay more than necessary in the share of cost, which money goes from the applicant to the nursing home.  We receive calls from individuals, and their families, who are quite angry that they have purchased an annuity for VA qualification, angry that they do not understand what the purpose of the annuity was, and would like to know how to reverse the process. Your elder law attorney, who is certified by the VA, can best help you with long term care planning, asset protection, VA and Medi-Cal qualification, and estate planning at the same time, legitimately and within the regulations.

Written Michael J. Young, lawyoung1@gmail.com, 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.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see an elder law attorney for professional advice.

Written Michael J. Young, lawyoung1@gmail.com, 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.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see an elder law attorney, who is certified by the VA, for professional advice.

Nov
02
2010
0

Some Differences Between Medicaid and Medi-Cal

     Medicare is a Federal health insurance program. Social Security funds are used to pay the costs of the program. Individuals who are over the age of 65, and who have made Social Secuirty contributions during their working lives are entitled to benefits. Part A of Medicare pays for hospitalization, hospice and some health care. It also pays for rehabilitation in a nursing home for specific periods of time. Part B is designed to pay for outpatient hospital care and doctors’ visits. Co-payments, deductibles and monthly payments may be required for Part B.  

     If a person is hospitalized for three days under Medicare, and then goes into a skilled nursing facility (SNF), Medicare will pay pay 100% of the bill for up to 20 days in the SNF. After that, for days 21 to 100, Medicare will pay only for 80% of the cost. During this time, the Medicare recipient will be required to make a co-payment, through supplemental insurance or will pay privately.

    After 100 days, there is no Medicare coverage for a SNF. After that time, you must pay privately, pay through your long term insurance policy (if  you have one) , or qualify for Medi-Cal to pay for the SNF. The average stay in a SNF under Medicare is under 24 days. Medicare and Medi-Cal are two different programs, and are not related to each other.

     Planning for Medi-Cal qualification should be made early on, through your elder law attorney. There are qualification requirements with regard to assets, income,  spending down, gifting, and a share of cost which goes to the the nursing home. There are legitimate and legal methods through the Medi-Cal regulations to protect assets and create qualification for Medi-Cal. You may visit our web site at htt://WalnutCreekElderLaw.com, for information on how to plan for and how to qualify for Medi-Cal. The estate planning documents, including the financial durable powers of attorney and revocable living trust are usually updated to include government benefits and asset protection language. If a client loses mental capacity, and this language is not present in the estate planning documents, qualification for government benefits, including Medi-Cal, and asset protection is much more difficult.

 Written Michael J. Young, lawyoung1@gmail.com, 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, who also advises on Medi-Cal qualification, asset protection, nursing homes and the VA Aid & Attendance qualification, serves Contra Costa and Alameda Counties in CA, including the cities of Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc.

Jan
04
2010
0

JANUARY, 2010 ELDER LAW TODAY NEWSLETTER

VA BENEFITS MAY COVER THE COST OF AN ASSITED LIVING FACILITY OR IN HOME CARE

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com. As we discussed in previous Elder Law Today newsletters, the Veteran’s Administration provides a wonderful pension benefit for those individuals who served at least one day during a period of wartime and are now disabled due to non-service connected reasons (aging related issues,  Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and/or other physical disabilities).  This pension, referred to as “Aid and Attendance Allowance”, may pay  the long term care provided in an assisted living facility, or in-home care.  

The “Aid and Attendance” (A and A) benefit is available to a veteran who is disabled and requires the aid of another person to perform the personal functions required in everyday living.  A veteran can show they are eligible if they have a substantial need for assistance with the activities of daily living.  Such activities include bathing, dressing, meal preparation, etc.  A veteran would also qualify for this pension if they can show they need the attendance of another person in order to avoid the hazards of his or her daily environment.  The need for assistance does not have to be permanent.

 Under this program, a veteran can receive up to  $1,644.00 per month or $19,736 per year in benefits, and a widowed spouse can receive up to $1,056.00 per month of $12,681 per year in benefits.  The applicant must be “permanently and totally disabled” under the VA rules.

The vet does not need to be helpless under the rules. He only needs to show that he is in need of aid and attendance on a regular basis. Someone who is housebound or in an assisted living facility and over the age of 65 is presumed by the Veterans Administration to be in need of Aid and Attendance.

Eligibility for the program is based on the income and assets of the veteran. In determining income, deductions are allowed for unreimbursed medical expenses (UMEs). In home care workers are an allowable deduction, provided that some medical or nursing services are provided. Also, the cost of an assisted living facility, or a portion thereof, can be an allowable medical deduction against gross income. 

 In addition, a family member can provide in-home care for a veteran who is applying for aid and attendance.  In order to meet the disability criteria, the care services provided by an unlicensed relative must be prescribed by a health care professional (ex. doctor, RN, LPN or licensed physical therapist) and the professional must consult with the unlicensed relative caregiver at least once a month (in person or by telephone) to monitor the regimen.  In addition, there must be a valid care contract in place and the caregiver must be receiving no more than fair market value for services he or she is providing.

If you or someone you know is a Veteran receiving care in an assisted living facility, or at home, please encourage them to file a claim for this benefit. It would be prudent to seek the guidance of an experiended elder law attorney who is accredited by the VA.

 CAVEAT: When planning for this VA benefit, you should also plan for Medi-Cal benefits and coordinate all of this with your elder law estate plan at the same time. An elder law estate planning attorney, who is also accredited by the VA, is best equipped to help you with this planning. When seeking help for this VA benefit, always ask if the person helping you is accredited by the VA.  

 The following are some additional requirements for eligibility:

 a. Be a veteran who served at least 90 days of active duty.

b. At least one day of active duty had to be during wartime: WWII – 12/7/41 to 7/25/47 – Korea – 6/27/50 to 12/31/55 – Vietnam – 8/5/64 to 5/7/75;

c. Does not need to have been in combat;

d. Discharged other than dishonorably;

e. Income less than $1,644 per month, once out-of-pocket medical expenses are considered.

f. Net worth less than approximately $50,000 for singles or $80,000 for couples.

g. Gifting of assets is allowed with no look-back period, but must be coordinated with Medi-Cal planning and gifting, which does have a look-back period.

 If you or someone you know is a Veteran receiving care in an assisted living facility, or at home, please encourage them to file a claim for this benefit. It would be prudent to seek the guidance of an experiended elder law attorney who is accredited by the VA.

Elder Law Today is written by Michael J. Young, Attorney at Law, 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220,  Walnut Creek, CA 94596. This information is for general informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions, you should consult a qualified attorney. MIKE@WALNUTCREEKELDERLAW.COM

For additional information, such as upcoming seminars, past newsletters, and to listen to an interview with attorney Michael J. Young, visit  www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com.

Office: (925)-256-0298

UPCOMING SEMINARS BY ELDER LAW ATTORNEY MICHAEL J. YOUNG:

Dates: Fridays, January 8 and 22, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. at the Law Offices of Michael J. Young, in the Channell Room. For reservations call 925-256-0298.

Oct
27
2009
0

Our Clients and Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder, wherein certain nerve cells in the brain become impaired or die. These nerve cells, called “neurons” normally produce a chemical known as dopamine. This chemical allows for smooth, coordinated functions of the body’s muscles and movements.

When a high percentage of the brain cells which produce dopamine are impaired, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may appear. Symptoms may include tremors, changes in facial expression, imbalance, small handwriting and slowness of movement. In time, the symptoms may become worse. Mild tremors can become more severe. Body movements may also become slower, and mobility problems may become worse. The use of eating utensils, dressing, and performing various activities of daily living may become more difficult.

Parkinson’s disease, which is difficult to diagnose officially, affects both sexes in equal numbers, and does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, social status or where you live. There are different rates of progression for the disease. We encourage our clients who have Parkinson’s disease and their familiy members to seek the help of support groups, to pursue ongoing medical care, and to learn adaptive techniques from medical professionals.

 Parkinson’s disease is the most common brain disorder, after Alzheimer’s disease, that we see with our clients. When symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear, as with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, we receive inquiries from individuals who may have the disease, or from their loved ones. They want know what should be done now regarding the establishment of a long term care plan for the person with the disease.

We help clients review and update their existing estate planning documents, to be sure the documents contain the requisite asset protection language. We then help the family plan for long term in-home care, which is the preference of most of our clients. We help the family plan for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, which can help pay for in home care, for veterans. We also help with planning for Medi-Cal benefits, which can pay for nursing home care.   

 If you or a loved one has symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, please feel free to call elder law attorney Michael J. Young, with offices in Walnut Creek, CA, at 925-256-0298. Mr. Young serves clients principally in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. You can visit our web site at www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

Oct
27
2009
0

For Home Health Agencies: Important News on a US Government Program That Can Help Pay Your Clients’ In-Home Healthcare Costs

If you run a home health agency, you probably feel like you are wearing a hundred different hats, from finding the right employees,  to dealing with all of the issues they bring with them. Moreover, you are communicating with clients who are stressed out and who are wondering how they are going to be able to pay for your valuable services.

Did you know that there is a Federal program that can pay your clients directly, to help defray the cost of their in home healthcare.  This is the Veterans Administration Aid & Attendance benefit program that is available to veterans and to their surviving spouses. In order to qualify, clients who are veterans or who are surviving spouses of veterans, need to meet required income and asset limitations. These requirements can be legally and honestly met, through the help of an elder law attorney accredited in this area. 

For married couples, the benefit can be as much $1,949 per month or more, and for surviving spouses of a veteran, the benefit can be as much as $1,056 per month or more. 

The benefit to your clients is that this program provides an additional source of funds to them, to help pay the cost of in home care that you are providing to them.  Our clients all want to stay at home as long as possible, and we all know that it is better for all involved, if our clients can stay home longer.

If you’d like to learn more about how the VA Aid and Attendance program works, then I’d like to invite you to a workshop I will be hosting for home healthcare providers here at our offices. We will be sending additional information to you regarding upcoming programs. We are also available for in-service programs regarding this benefit. You may contact our offices for additional information, and feel fee to check our website at www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com.

By Michael J. Young, Elder Law Attorney, with offices in Walnut Creek, and serving Contra Costa and Alameda Counties.

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