Our Estate Planning and Elder Law FAQs
How do I set up a trust? Does a will have to be notarized to be enforceable? Is my mother eligible for Medi-Cal? Who should I name as a guardian to my children in my will? In our FAQs, we offer answers to the most commonly-asked questions about wills, trusts, probate, and other estate planning topics.
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What is Medi-Cal?
Medi-Cal is a combined Federal and California State program designed to help people pay the costs of long term nursing care for public assistance recipients and other low income persons. It’s a needs-based program and those who seek it must pass certain eligibility requirements. To qualify, you must demonstrate that you have limited resources available.
Must an applicant spend his or her resources down to $2,000?
An applicant can have no more than $2,000 of “countable” resources in their name. An asset is not “countable” if it is “exempt” or “unavailable.” There are many assets, your home being the most important, that are exempt. An “unavailable” asset is one that is not exempt, but for one reason or another, cannot be liquidated or readily accessed at the time of the application. An example might be a time-share that would be difficult to sell. If married, the at-home spouse will be able to keep at least an additional $120,900 (2017) above and beyond any exempt or unavailable property as a Community Spouse Resource Allowance (“CSRA”). In many cases the CSRA can be raised further, sometimes substantially further. We can advise you whether or not you would qualify and explain how this is done.
After the death of the Medi-Cal beneficiary, will Medi-Cal take family assets to pay for the Medi-Cal benefits received?
Medi-Cal can demand to be reimbursed for all benefits paid after the Medi-Cal beneficiary’s death. This could include forcing the sale of the family home. However, there are several significant exceptions and methods to avoid this. Medi-Cal will delay recovery during the life of a surviving spouse. Most importantly, Medi-Cal can only recover against property that is in the estate of the Medi-Cal recipient (or surviving spouse) at the time of their death. There are planning tools we have that can assure that there is little or no property that will be considered to be in the Medi-Cal recipient’s estate, therefore, no recovery. There are technical pitfalls and significant tax impacts if this is not done correctly – so please give us a call!
What planning needs to be done in considering Medi-Cal?
In developing a comprehensive Medi-Cal plan there are three important areas to consider:
- Eligibility Planning: First, we must get you qualified for Med-Cal.
- Income Planning: Once qualified, we plan on reducing or eliminating your “share of cost” copayment. While Medi-Cal pays for a part of your care costs, you may pay the other part. With proper planning, we may be able to reduce your portion of those costs.
- Asset Protection: Next we implement a plan to protect assets from Medi-Cal estate recovery (Medi-Cal Asset Protection Trust).