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.

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.

Apr
28
2014
0

Special Needs Trust & Inheritance & Workshop 5-8-2014

Special Needs Trusts and Inheritance:

Q: Our father just passed away and left $400,000 in his revocable living trust to myself and my brother. My brother is on SSI and will lose his benefit when he receives the inheritance. What should we do?

 A. There is a remedy for this problem when someone dies, and their revocable living trust does not have a special needs trust provision for a special needs beneficiary. Under the law, the revocable living trust became irrevocable when your father died. As a result, it is too late for you to amend the trust to include a Special Needs Trust for your brother.

 However, the California Probate Code does allow the Court to amend the trust to include a special needs trust upon a petition to the Court from the special needs beneficiary. The special needs beneficiary files a petition with the court requesting that the trust be modified to include a special needs trust for himself for his part of the inheritance. Your brother, who will be the petitioner, will tell the court in the petition that had your father gone to an elder law attorney who would have advised your father about the addition to his revocable living trust of a special needs trust for your brother, that your father would have requested that addition.

The courts have been willing to grant these petitions. After the court signs its order for the modification of your father’s trust, the inheritance for your brother will flow into his new Special Needs Trust and he will not lose his public benefits. Your Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney can advise you and help you in the preparation of a petition for the modification of a revocable living trust after the maker of the trust dies.

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, special needs trusts, 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.

Nov
04
2013
0

Peace of Mind Now For Baby Boomers and Seniors Facing Retirement

A big issue now facing Baby Boomers and seniors is, surviving in retirement. We should have our “Ducks In A Row” now regarding health and financial issues, and there are many things we can do.

 Most of our clients do not have long term care insurance to pay for a stay in a nursing home. If they do, the policy would probably not pay the full cost. Fortunately however, California has Medi-Cal, which will pay for a stay in a nursing home provided that you qualify. You can now set up a long term care plan through your elder law attorney, as part of your estate plan, to provide for asset protection and qualification for Medi-Cal. For veterans, the plan will also help for qualification for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit to help pay for in home care and assisted living facilities. Your plan will also confirm your overall desires regarding how your assets will be spent for your care at home and otherwise. If you lose capacity, your loved ones will have the authority to follow through with your plan.

 The home is often our clients’ largest asset. You can take steps now through your estate planning documents to assure that your home will pass to your loved ones as a legacy, without a Medi-Cal lien, so that the state will not be able to recoup the nursing home payments it has made for you.

 Many Baby Boomers’ do not have sufficient savings to live on through retirement. The stock market has hurt many portfolios in the past. Fortunately however, Social Security is still in existence. Some analysts say that the program can pay for benefits for the next 25 years for the general populace. There also seems to be a consensus of opinion, that any changes in the law should not affect Baby Boomers, and that the fund will be available for them. Although you can begin taking benefits at age 62, this could be a 25% reduction of what you would receive if you waited until you are 66. If you wait until age 70, this could raise your benefit by 8%, so wait longer if possible.

 For additional peace of mind, you can change your life style just a little bit, and try to keep more of what your earn. I recommend reading The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley in this regard. Stanley gives examples of how changing your lifestyle somewhat, and giving up certain luxuries, will allow you to put more money into your retirement accounts on an ongoing basis.

 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 and families through the 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.

Oct
07
2013
0

Medi-Cal and Life Insurance

An individual can have any amount of Term Life Insurance, and still qualify for Medi-Cal. Term life insurance has been defined as life insurance that pays a benefit in the event of the death of the insured. So if you have a life insurance policy that pays $10,000 upon your death to your son for instance, that policy is exempt for qualification from Medi-Cal. Also, after the Medi-Cal applicant passes away, the $10,000 is paid to the beneficiary son, and there is no recovery by Medi-Cal. Problems can arise however, if the Medi-Cal recipeint receives a benefit from a life insurance policy, upon the death of his spouse for instance. This event could create immediate disqualification for the Medi-Cal recipient. As a result, when we do long term care planning, we take this possibility into account.

Whole life insurance policies are treated differently for Medi-Cal qualification. Whole life polices cannot  have a total face value, or cash value, that exceeds $1500. The cash value of the policy that exceeds $1500 is counted as an asset toward Medi-Cal qualification. An individual can not have more than $2,000 in non-qualified funds in order to qualify for Medi-Cal. As a result, the cash value of the Medi-Cal applicant’s whole life policy in excess of $1500 will have to be reduced and then transferred in order to create qualification. If the applicant has lost mental capacity, the financial durable power of attorney, provided it has the appropriate language, would be relied upon to liquidate the policy and then to possibly gift the excess amounts, in order to create Medi-Cal qualification. All of these issues should be taken into account as part of long term care planning.   

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 and families through the 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.

die after having been on Medi-Cal, and your term life insurance policy pays a benefit in the amount of $10,000 to your son, for instance .

Jul
30
2013
0

Alzheimer’s Is A Family Illness!

Our office represents many families who have a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. We typically will receive a call from the spouse or child of the person suffering from dementia. The person calling may tell us that their spouse or parent has become forgetful, is not paying the bills or that he is very depressed. On other occasions, we are told that their loved one is “acting out” and is doing unusual things, such as putting their socks on their hands instead of their feet, or are wandering off and getting lost.

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia definitely creates an extremely stressful time for the entire family. The fortunate victims of this disease have spouses and family members who can help them through their ordeal. Keep in mind also, that you do not have to handle this alone, and that help is available to you. The first thing that should be done is to have a physician give your loved one a complete physical examination. The examination should include neurological testing, medical history, lab tests, function tests and brain imaging. The examination results can determine whether the symptoms are temporary, and could show that the behavior of your loved one is caused by depression, poor nutrition, drug interaction or alcohol abuse. If the symptoms are permanent, they could be caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s disease, you can also consult with a geriatric psychiatrist who can help with behavioral issues. If you need help finding a doctor, you can check with a physician’s referral service. Also, if you participate in caregiver support meetings, you can ask the other participants at the meetings.

Your elder law attorney can also be helpful to you to plan the elder care journey for the loved one who is suffering from dementia and their family. We meet with families, and help get the family’s “ducks in a row” from a legal and estate planning perspective. We can give advice on asset protection and qualification for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit. The families we meet with derive a great deal of peace of mind from these meetings.

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 and older clients and families through the 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, older clients and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order to help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

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Jul
01
2013
0

VA Aid & Attendance 2013 Pension Benefit Amounts

The 2013 Maximum Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit Rates are set forth below. This is a wonderful benefit for older wartime veterans, which can help pay for the cost of in-home care, assisted living facilities and board and care. The benefit is “non service connected”, which means that qualification is not dependent upon a wartime injury.

The veteran must typically have served ninety days of active duty, one day of which was during an offical wartime period. The veteran cannot have had a dishonorable discharge. The veteran’s physician must declare the veteran as in need of assistance from another individual and in need of a “Protective Environment”, which may include services offered by a care facility or company.

You should discuss with your elder law attorney how to make the A&A Pension Benefit part of your long term care planning.

BENEFIT AMOUNTS:

Single Veteran         $1,732.00 Per Month or $20,795.00 Per Year

Married Veteran      $2,054.00 Per Month of $24,652.00 Per Year

Surviving Spouse $1,113.00 Per Month or $32,114.00 Per Year

Veteran Married to Veteran (Both A & A) $2,676.00 Per Month or $32,114.00 Per Year.

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 families through the 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 families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit. This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney regarding any planning.

Jun
10
2013
0

2013 CA Medi-Cal Quick Reference Guide

The State of California has changed some of the Medi-Cal qualification figures and requirements for 2013. A brief listing of these changes and requirements is set forth below:

2013 CA Medi-Cal Quick Reference Guide

Community Spouse Resource Allowance

$115,920

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

$2,898

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

Average Private Pay Rate (Divestment Penalty Divisor)

$7,549

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 income the ill person is allowed to keep.

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 families through the 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 families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit. This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney regarding any planning.

May
01
2013
0

Be Patient With Seniors

A lot of us Baby Boomers have either helped take care of our elderly parents, or are presently doing so. The process of taking care of an older person who is ill can be difficult, and the circumstances never become easier. We must remember though to always slow down, and to maintain our patience with our older loved ones while in our care roles.

 I remember when I was a teenager with my driver learner’s permit, at age 15 ½, I was driving with my father in his car. I stopped at a stop sign, and I expressed exasperation about an older man who was slowly crossing the street with his cane, and holding up a long line of cars. My father scolded me, pointed toward the old man and said, “Michael, that man is you, very soon!” At the time it was difficult for me to relate to my father’s comment, but I will never forget it.

 As Baby Boomers, we are extremely busy with our lives. We are usually operating at warp speed and are always multi tasking. Our demeanor and our speech often reflect our impatience with the lack of swiftness at which the world around us is responding to our expectations. In order to be good care givers when dealing with our older loved ones, we must substantially slow down.

 Communications can be difficult, but do not need to be so. When we are speaking with our older loved ones, we must be in the moment with them. As difficult as this may sound, the cell phone should be turned off and put away. We need to listen carefully and respectfully to what our older loved ones are saying and what they are asking. If they become angry, do not react with anger. Try to envision yourself at their age and in their circumstances. As my father would say, “That person is you.”     

 At the Law Offices of Michael J. Young, www.WalnutCreekElderLaw, 925-256-0298, lawyoung1@gmail.com we practice Elder Law. We help families through the Elder Law minefield, and have been helping family members to better communicate with each other. We help families with long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help families get their ducks in a row in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

 This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney regarding any planning.

Apr
01
2013
0

Now Is The Time To Plan For Incapacity

My mother, who was a WWII veteran and the mother of five wild boys and a composed girl, used to tell me that the only thing that she really feared in life was losing her mental capacity. When I was a younger attorney, and my parents were younger, I prepared their estate plan, which was the typical plan designed for what happens when you die. When my parents got older and began to suffer the maladies of older people, I prepared a new estate plan for them, with a focus on not so much what would happen when they died, but on what would happen if they did not die, became ill and needed help with their care. My parents were adamant about having a plan that left something, especially their home, to their six children.

Estate planning and planning for mental capacity issues is very different for the older client. As a baby boomer, and after having helped take care of my aging parents, and after counseling many older clients and their families, my perspective as an estate planning attorney has changed over the years, and is now geared toward setting up a plan for the care of my clients, and protection of their assets, as well as planning for when they die.

Incapacity involves the inability of someone to make decisions regarding their personal and financial affairs. For many of our clients, diseases such as Parkinson’s and  Alzheimer’s have lead to mental incapacity. For other clients, there has been an event causing a brain injury leading to mental capacity. Many of our clients have dementia with no disease related diagnosis. Our recommendation is that anyone who is a baby boomer or older, should have an updated estate plan with an emphasis on asset protection and government benefits planning. You should also plan on how you or your fiduciary can get your ducks in a row to be able to protect your assets, such as your home, and obtain Medi-Cal to pay for your nursing home care, and the VA Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit to help pay the cost of in home care and assisted living facilities if needed.

You will need to decide who will be able to manage your financial affairs if you cannot. These individuals are usually trusted family members, but can also be friends. They can also be professional fiduciaries, who are licensed by California’s professional fiduciary bureau. You will also need to decide on who will make decisions for your regarding your health care, if you cannot do so. One issue to decide is whether you want to be on life support machines if you are in an irreversible condition and are only being kept alive by machines.

Michael J. Young, your elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA can help you design a plan to meet your needs as you get older. The plan will involve getting your ducks in a row for asset protection and government benefits planning. There are many options that your senior law attorney can help you with. Keep in mind that if you lose your mental capacity and what to protect assets by way of transferring your assets to your spouse or children, as is allowed under the regulations, you will not be able to do so if you have a traditional estate plan. In that case, we may have to go to court to amend your estate planning documents to provide for asset protection.

The information contained herein is not to be taken as legal advise, and you are advised to see your elder law attorney before attempting any planning or transfers of assets on your own. This article is written by elder law attorney Michael J. Young. Mr. Young, whose office is in Walnut Creek, CA is an elder law attorney, senior law attorney, Medi-Cal attorney and probate attorney whose office is in Walnut Creek, CA. Mr. Young is certified by the VA and is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). For additional information, please visit our website at  www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com LawYoung1@Gmail.com Our address is at 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 Alamo, Walnut Creek, Concord, Danville, Pleasant Hill, Brentwood, Antioch, Clayton, etc. Mr. Young advises clients regarding Medi-Cal, Probates, Probates with Real Estate, Medi-Cal, nursing home costs, 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. Senior Law Attorney. Walnut Creek Medi-Cal attorney.

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