We have assets. Can we qualify for Medi-Cal?
By understanding the complex rules and a little Asset Planning – YES!
What is Medi-Cal Asset Planning?
Medi-Cal Asset Planning is the legitimate planning necessary to help you, your family, and your heirs preserve, maintain and enjoy normal property and assets while enabling you, your spouse, or loved one to legally qualify for Medi-Cal to pay for nursing home expenses. Such planning can be a lifesaver for families that need the benefits offered by Medi-Cal (typically “Medicaid” in the other 49 states) yet insures that you will not have to dispose of the property and assets that most families rely on for a normal, comfortable life.
The Medi-Cal website makes it seem that we need to be “Poverty Level” to have Medi-Cal pay for nursing home costs.
Yes…, the bullet-pointed requirements certainly do read like that, but NO…, you do not necessarily have to be poor for Medi-Cal to pay for your nursing home expenses.
Government-run agencies and programs are often needlessly complex. How many people have a “tax expert” do their tax returns? Often a tax expert can save you thousands of dollars as they are experienced and knowledgeable about the true working of the tax code. Likewise, the few experts in California who deal with Medi-Cal on a daily basis for their clients, can tell you that it is a complete myth that Medi-Cal is a program exclusively for the poor IF you KNOW the system. Alice A. Salvo is one of those experts.
Many people who read the requirement set forth on the Medi-Cal website become discouraged. What can they do? They have no where to turn for help. Out of desperation some even take it upon themselves to literally give everything away but for a backpack and sleeping bag and then attempt to apply for Medi-Cal benefits. Contacting Alice A. Salvo, who has decades of experience in Medi-Cal Asset Planning and helping her clients with the Medi-Cal application process, might be the wiser path with a better outcome.
Alice can advise you and assist you to intelligently plan for Medi-Cal-Paid nursing home care whether you need nursing home services right now or if you are planning a few years ahead. Regular people, with property, income and assets, can and do qualify every day for Medi-Cal, and their nursing home expenses are paid by Medi-Cal while they retain and enjoy significant and normal middle-class assets.
Is Medi-Cal Asset Planning legal?
Yes! This is absolutely legal… Personal and family asset planning is routinely done for many reasons including: common estate planning; tax planning; inheritance tax planning and tax avoidance; planning the distribution of one’s lifelong earnings to heirs, institutions and charities, and planning for meeting the qualifications required for Medi-Cal approval. Changes in federal laws enacted in 1996 has made it possible that most anyone can qualify under Medi-Cal’s income and asset eligibility tests.
Medi-Cal Asset Planning lawyer Alice A. Salvo is expert in understanding the numerous and complex rules and requirements of Medi-Cal. Proper Medi-Cal planning is uniquely tailored to each individual’s circumstances and life objectives. Planning one’s estate for Medi-Cal is often called a “Spend Down Plan.” In fact, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) which is one of the two government enties that administers Medi-Cal will include in the required forms a document that all Medi-Cal applicants sign to prove that he or she is aware that Medi-Cal Asset Planning is possible. DHCS refers to this as the “Notice of Spendown”.
Why would a family consider seeking Medi-Cal Asset Planning?
Medi-Cal can be critical if you, your spouse, or a loved-one is facing the high costs associated with nursing home care, in-home care, adult day care, or the use of an assisted living facility. Research shows that about 70 percent of people age 65 or older will need long term care services at some point in their lifetime 1. And while most people think of long term care as impacting only those in senior years, 40 percent of people currently receiving long term care services are ages 18 to 64 2. Car accidents, hip fractures and other medical issues can often require months or years of nursing home care followed by returning home after recovery.
When should I begin planning for Medi-Cal?
It is never to early to engage in Medi-Cal planning. Early planning can provide you with options, such as creating estate planning documents with language making sure your appointed agent can carry out further Medi-Cal planning in the event you become incapacitated. You can also engage in planning at any time, even in emergency situations, although your options may be limited.
If I am already receiving Medi-Cal benefits, can I still benefit from Medi-Cal planning?
Yes. Proper planning has the potential to reduce or eliminate your “share of cost” co-payment and can protect your assets from estate claims by creditors or prevent a lien on your home by creditors. A common concern of our clients is that their home be protected from Medi-Cal estate recovery. Alice Salvo is experienced in preparing and implementing proven Medi-Cal estate recovery plans to protect a Medi-Cal recipients’ home from Medi-Cal estate recovery.
Is Medi-Cal Asset Planning considered a “Spend-Down Plan?”
Yes. But instead of giving away your home, car and all your “stuff,” you need to know that you can most often keep your home; your car; and most or all of your stuff if you have a full understanding of the many strategies available for those who desire that Medi-Cal pay for their nursing home care without first living under a bridge.
Typical People who would benefit form Medi-Cal Asset Planning?
Consider as a common client of ours, a semi-retired or fully-retired married couple that cannot possibly qualify for nor afford the very high premiums required to secure long term care insurance. Medi-Cal might be their best option if one of them needs an expensive stay in a nursing home to recuperate from an accident or illness; or even for an unknown, possibly lengthy stay. Medi-Cal eligibility is determined by the amount of income and the “countable” assets of the applicant. Medi-Cal Asset Planning usually requires the transferring, conversion, and liquidating of some assets which will then enable you or your loved one to meet Medi-Cal’s test of income and assets.
My wife needs nursing home care for a year. We’d have to sell our home for the $125,000.00 needed.
If you sell your home, where will you live? Medi-Cal was set up (as it is in all other 49 states under different names) to help out in situations like this. Medi-Cal Asset Planning could make it so your wife will return to your home and you will not be a $125,000 in the hole. Medi-Cal Asset Planning is very much like estate planning that most families do at some point in their lives, except that you need an attorney who is not only trained as an expert in estate planning – but has the knowledge necessary to have your estate planning engineered to meet the complex requirements of Medi-Cal.
What things will you help us do? Do you have some real-life examples?
Yes… As an Example – Your wife, needing nursing home care, will be the “institutionalized spouse” and is only allowed to keep $2,000 of assets. To legally qualify for Medi-Cal, your wife would have to remove her name from all community property accounts (bank accounts and the like) and transfer any of her separate accounts to you (the husband) who will remain in the home. There would be other requirements too. Any excess resources greater than $2,000 for the wife (individual limit), or $106,400 for the two of you (married couple limit) may be “spent down” by purchasing what Medi-Cal deems to be “exempt,” “not-counted,” or “unavailable” assets.
Your family home - Your wife can transfer her portion of the family home to you as a sole owner. Many other options are possible. Title of the home can be transferred to anyone, not just to one spouse or the other, just so long as it is deemed an “exempt” asset at the time of transfer. If you were to transfer your home’s title to “others” (not just from wife to husband), Alice A. Salvo, as an experienced estate planning attorney will prepare the transfer documents in such a way that the “new owners” will avoid paying unnecessary capital gains taxes. Having a Medi-Cal and Estate Planning attorney help you not only saves you from ending up penniless, but will save all parties needless waste of time, money, and future taxes and claims. Better to do it right than look back two years from now and “wished that you had made wiser choices.”
Pensions & Retirement Accounts - We can transfer income such as pension benefits to go to the husband: the stay-at-home spouse. For a single individual, for some simple situations, devising a payout of regular payments to you including interest and some principle can shift these accounts to the exempt status. Obviously there is a little more to it but we do this routinely and can advise you accordingly.
Do I need an attorney’s help?
California’s Medi-Cal rules and regulations are not only complex, they are changed and amended virtually every year. If you attempt to transfer cash and/or property and those transfers were found to be “improper,” that can result in a period of Medi-Cal ineligibility for up to 5-years. For many folks planning on using Medi-Cal that could be a financial and medical disaster. You are advised to consult with a qualified Medi-Cal Asset Planning attorney before attempting to qualify and apply for Medi-Cal benefits.
Are the property and assets in our Living Trust protected from Medi-Cal Claims?
No… Unfortunately, many people applying for Medi-Cal benefits assume that assets and properties included in their Living Trust are sheltered from Medi-Cal eligibility rules and recovery claims. They are not.
Can I simply give-away my assets to family members so I can qualify for Medi-Cal?
That is exactly what most people assume and do. Before you try that, remember that Medi-Cal has strict rules against improper transfers and when Medi-Cal finds out, that may result in period of ineligibility: up to 5-years. Medi-Cal has a procedure called “looking back” to see exactly WHAT cash, property or other assets you may have improperly transferred. Remember. Be warned. Medi-Cal is “the government;” the State of California with the power and clout of “the State.” Never assume the government is stupid, nor cannot find out what you have transferred or “gifted” to friends or relatives. Never lie to the government – the penalties are both severe and unnecessary. Instead, find out what your available, proper, and legal options are for legitimate, effective Medi-Cal Asset Planning.
Must I sell our home to qualify for Medi-Cal?
No… No matter if you are single or married, your home is exempt for Medi-Cal eligibility purposes. “Eligibility” is the key word, however. You need to protect yourself from Medi-Cal coming back later to recover their expenses from the equity of your home. Proper Medi-Cal Asset Planning can prevent Medi-Cal from asserting a future claim against your home to recover the amount of nursing home bills that Medi-Cal paid on your, or your spouses’ behalf.
What Services does Alice A. Salvo provide?
Medi-Cal Asset Planning Attorney Alice A. Salvo can help you or your loved-one qualify for Medi-Cal benefits to pay for the bulk of your Long-Term Nursing Home Care. Call us to set up a free consultation to determine whether seeking Medi-Cal benefits is the right solution for your situation. You will come away with a full understanding of the benefits and possible drawbacks of qualifying for Medi-Cal; and an approximation of any “share of cost” that you might be liable for.
There is no cost nor obligation associated with this confidential meeting. It is only to review the specifics of your individual case and provide you the detailed information you need to make critical decisions.
If, after your meeting with Alice A. Salvo, you determine that getting prepared to be qualified for Medi-Cal is right for you, we will do all that is necessary to help you get your financial affairs in order so you can qualify. We can act as your Legal Representative with Medi-Cal.
As your Legal Representative, we will prepare the application for Medi-Cal and will represent you in all dealings with the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). It is comforting to know that proper Medi-Cal planning will help you legally avoid future claims while enabling you to pass-on property and assets to your heirs: as a helpful foothold and legacy from one generation to the next.
We will be with you all the way. You are never left alone to fend for yourself with imposing bureaucracy of DHCS.
How can I find out more?
Call us! Our office hours are Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, but we make every attempt to take your calls after hours Monday – Saturday up to 10:00 PM.
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Planning for a Nursing Home stay can be devastatingly expensive and can leave you penniless! Without proper Medi-Cal Asset Planning, Medi-Cal can diminish all of your assets and inheritance. Call us
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