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.

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.

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.

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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Jun
28
2016
0

Does Grandma Have A Medical Consent Form For Her Grandchild?

During the summer, many grandchildren will stay with their grandparents for a period of time. If you are a grandparent who will be taking care of one of your grandchildren, be sure that you have a Medical Treatment Authorization Form for your grandchild. Most medical doctors will require such a legal document, which confirms that you have the authority to care for your grandchild and to authorize medical treatment for him or her. The form contains information about the grandchild, identifies the physician, and includes information regarding medical insurance and allergies. The authorization is given by the grandchild’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) and confirms dates through which the authorization is effective.

In addition, you as a grandparent should have a document reflecting that you have temporary authority over your grandchild. This document will come in handy for instance, if your grandchild needs a permission slip to go on a school field trip or to go to day camp.

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.

May
12
2016
0

The New Transfer On Death Deed (TOD)

On January 1, 2016, a new California law became effective which creates a Revocable Transfer on Death Deed. (“TOD Deed”). The deed is designed to transfer residential property to named beneficiaries upon the death of the grantor. There is no transfer of title during the life of the grantor. The legislative purpose of the TOD Deed was to hopefully create an inexpensive way to transfer property, without the use of revocable living trusts, and without subjecting the title to probate.

Please be sure to contact your attorney before you use such a deed, as there are definite downsides to the use of the TOD. One big downside is that there is a three year statute of limitations which allows secured and unsecured liens to attach to the title of the home after the death of the grantor. As a result, the title will become uninsurable by title insurance companies for three years from the date of death of the grantor. So for instance, if the home passes from mother to son on July 1, 2016, a transfer of the home or a loan on the home from the son will be uninsurable until July 1, 2019. In California, lenders and purchasers almost always require title insurance to insure a title transfer and to insure a loan. The practical result may be that the son will not be able to sell the home or put a loan on it for the three year statutory period.

We do Medi-Cal and asset protection planning in our firm. If the home is in the estate of the Medi-Cal applicant at the time of his or her death, the State will pursue a lien against the property for the amount they have paid to the nursing home for the Medi-Cal applicant.  By using the TOD deed, Medi-Cal will be able to attach a lien to the subject real property, because it was in the estate of Medi-Cal applicant upon death. As a result, the use of the TOD is inappropriate for long term care and asset protection planning.  Your elder law attorney will advise you of the available techniques under the regulations to properly protect the home from a Medi-Cal lien.

If your grantee does not intend to sell the property or take a loan out on the property for three years from your death, and if you as the grantor are not concerned about Medi-Cal recovery against the home, then the TOD deed may be appropriate. Please be aware also that a class description of beneficiaries such as “children” cannot be created on the TOD deed. If a named beneficiary predeceases the grantor, and there are no other specifically named beneficiaries who take title immediately and jointly, a probate of the home will be required.

As a result of all of the above, it would appear to this elder law attorney with some 39 years of experience, that the use of TOD deed may very well be “penny wide and pound foolish.”

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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