Aug
06
2018
0

When To Apply For Medi-Cal

Our clients often ask us when the appropriate time would be for them to file for Medi-Cal, to help pay for a stay in skilled nursing facility (SNF). If you are actually in a SNF, you can file a Medi-Cal application. Medi-Cal requires proof that you have been admitted to a SNF, and a will not accept a Medi-Cal application before that time. Once an application is filed, it is retroactive to the first of the month that it is filed. So if you file at the end of a month, and the application is granted, it is retroactive to the first of the month the application is filed. We have been filing applications on behalf of our clients for a number of years now, and to date, all of our applications have been granted. The reason that they have all been granted is that we do not file an application unless it appears to us that our clients have met all of the requirements, and legally qualify. Of course, pre-planning at the earliest opportunity is the best way to assure that Medi-Cal will grant your application, should you need to file at a later time. Pre-planning begins with an analysis of your assets, and with updating your estate planning documents to include the appropriate asset protection, government benefits and Medi-Cal planning provisions under state and federal law. Several of these documents refer to each other, and work hand in hand for qualification and asset protection . If you have lost capacity, pre-planning is of course made more difficult, so the earlier you plan, the better. Estate planning documents typically include your revocable living trust, financial and health care durable powers of attorney, intent to return home, HIPAA statements, wills, community property agreement for couples, etc. At the time you update your estate planning documents, and we review your assets with you, we will show you what would be required for qualification, in the event you are admitted to a SNF and you need to apply for Medi-Cal. We encourage our clients to keep in contact with us over time, so that adjustments can be made to their plans for pre-qualification for Medi-Cal when necessary.

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

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

Apr
09
2018
0

New Medicare Cards Are Being Issued Without Social Security Numbers

With the purpose of helping to prevent fraud and to protect identities, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has redesigned Medicare cards. The new cards will no longer show the owner’s Social Security Number. The cards will still be red, white and blue, but will also not show the gender, signature and other personal information, all of which could compromise the Medicare beneficiary’s identity. The new cards will have an 11 character, randomly assigned number, that will not be connected or related in any way to the beneficiary’s other personal data.

All current beneficiaries are scheduled to receive their new cards no later than December, 2019. In California, the new cards should arrive between April and June, 2018. Beneficiaries are encouraged to ensure that the Social Security Administration has their correct address. Address changes can be made by contacting the Social Security Administration at ssa.gov/myaccount or by calling 800-772-1213, or by visiting your social security office. The Walnut Creek office is located at 1111 Civic Dr., #180, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.

Beware of scammers who are already trying to take advantage of unsuspecting beneficiaries by contacting them directly about their replacement cards. Please understand that CMS employees never call and ask for personal or private information about Medicare recipients. The CMS also will not charge a fee for the new card. Any such inquiries would be clear signs that you are dealing with a scammer.

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 Probate Attorney

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

Mar
12
2018
0

What Are The Intestate Rights Of Inheritance In Probate Upon The Death Of A Married Person?

The rights of inheritance from a person who died intestate, and who was married at the time of death, will depend upon the nature of the particular asset being probated. Assets of the decedent who is a married person can be community property, quasi-community property or separate property.  Quasi-community property is property acquired in another state that would have been community property if it had been acquired in California. Basically, all community property and quasi-community property will pass to the surviving spouse. The separate property of the decedent will be distributed to the surviving spouse and to other relatives, depending upon who survives. So for instance, if there is a surviving spouse and surviving children, one-half will go to the surviving spouse and one-half will go to one child, if there is only one child. If there is more than one child, one-third will go to the surviving spouse, and two-thirds will go to the children in equal shares. Other rules will apply if there are no children or grandchildren.

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

Michael J. Young

Walnut Creek, CA Probate Attorney

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

Jan
30
2018
0

Medi-Cal Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) As of January 1, 2018

When one spouse applies for Medi-Cal, the state will look at the assets of both spouses for qualification of the ill spouse. As of January 1, 2018, the community spouse, also known as the “at-home” spouse, or the “well spouse”, may retain up to $123,600 in liquid assets. The ill spouse cannot have more than $2,000 in liquid assets in his or her name. The couple can also keep their home if the ill spouse confirms that he or she intends to return home. Assets held in revocable living trusts will be considered available, depending on the asset. Any non-exempt assets that the ill spouse has in his name, or jointly with his spouse, over the amount of $2,000, will be counted by Medi-Cal in determining eligibility. The state will want to know about all assets of both spouses, including savings, cash, stocks, etc. In addition, the cash surrender value of whole life insurance of the ill spouse cannot exceed $1500. If it does, you will want to transfer the excess cash to the well spouse. There is no ineligibility penalty for transfers between spouses. For Medi-Cal qualification, assets of the ill spouse are often transferred to the well spouse. Be sure that your revocable living trust and financial durable powers of attorney have the appropriate “transfer” and “gifting” language, in the event either of the spouses loses capacity. If incapacity sets in, and the appropriate language is not there, you may be prevented from making  transfers or gifts.There are of course more rules and regulations to consider, and this article is not exhaustive on the subject. Contact our office so that we may help you plan for qualification for Medi-Cal.

Michael J. Young

Elder Law and Asset Protection Attorney

Medi-Cal Attorney Walnut Creek

1931 San Miguel Dr. Ste., 220

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925-256-0298

Jun
13
2017
0

Your Home and The “Heggstad” Petition

Your home should be transferred to your revocable living trust for various reasons. One reason is to avoid probate of your home upon your death. Another reason is that as of January 1, 2017, if you die after having been on Medi-Cal, the state will not be able to pursue recovery against your home if it is in your revocable living trust.

Some individuals, for various reasons, take their home out of their revocable living trust and do not transfer it back to their trust before they die. One reason the home is taken out of the trust is for re-finance purposes. Some lenders require that your home not be in your trust when you re-finance your mortgage. As a result, the escrow company may prepare a deed for you to sign, taking your home out of the trust. Escrow will usually not transfer your home back into your trust after escrow closes, because they would be violating the lender’s escrow instructions. As a result, you should transfer your home back into your trust after the close of escrow, unless there is a good reason for you not to do so. When you make this transfer back to your trust, your home will not be re-assessed, and the transfer will not trigger the due-on-transfer clause in the deed of trust which secures your mortgage.

The problem is that if you die, and title to your home is not in the trust, your home will need to be probated. A probate can take up to a year to complete, and is a costly process. Fortunately, there is a shorter court process in California that we can use to obtain a court order transferring your home back into your trust after you die. This is called the “Heggstad” Petition, which is named after a court case. If we can prove to the court through this court petition and supporting declarations that it was the obvious intention of the maker of the trust to keep his or her home in the trust, the court may grant an order, transferring the home back into the trust, thereby avoiding probate. This procedure is not guaranteed, but the courts have been more willing in recent years to grant this petition. As a result, if you take your home out of your trust, check to be sure that you have transferred it back into your trust, unless there is a good reason not to do so.

Please feel free to contact our office should you need help with estate planning, asset protection, and qualifying for and applying for Medi-Cal. 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.

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.

Mar
27
2017
0

How Much Can I Have In IRA’s and Still Qualify for Medi-Cal?

We are often asked the question as to how much you or your spouse can have in IRA’s and 401k’s and still qualify for Medi-Cal. The Medi-Cal applicant, or the ill spouse, can have any amount of IRA’s, 401k’s etc. These are so-called “qualified funds.” The only requirement is that the Medi-Cal applicant must be receiving periodic payments of some amount of principal and interest from these funds. Once this established, these qualified funds are considered exempt by Medi-Cal for qualification.

If the applicant is married, the well spouse can have any amount of IRA’s, 401k’s, etc., and there are no qualifications for distributions. So the qualified funds of the well spouse are totally exempt.

In addition, after the Medi-Cal applicant dies, the “qualified funds” of both spouses, are also exempt from recoupment by the state. As a result, the state will not go after your IRAs and 401k’s when you die.

In one of our recent cases, the ill spouse had approximately $100,000 in IRAs. The well spouse had approximately $300,000 in IRAs. The ill spouse was accepted for Medi-Cal.

There is a “share of cost” which is an amount the ill spouse must pay to the nursing home from the applicant’s income. We will review those rules in other blogs.

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.

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