There are many “myths” involved with Medi-Cal planning, but few people (even fewer attorneys) really know what their rights are with regards to protecting their home and assets, should they have to be admitted into a long-term care facility in the future.
So how much do you know about Medi-Cal planning? To find out, just take the Medi-Cal test for the calendar year 2017 below:
- Do I have to give away everything I own to get Medi-Cal?
- No, if you are a couple, the at-home spouse can have a minimum of $120,900 and still be eligible for Medi-Cal benefits for the ill spouse. However, a single person can only keep $2,000 and still remain eligible for Medi-Cal.
- Do I have to wait 3 years after giving anything away to get Medi-Cal?
- Because Medi-Cal recently changed their “gifting rules” on January 1, 2017, you’ll need to discuss this issue with an Elder Law Attorney to learn what you can and cannot do with regards to gifting money to your children or family members. The new gifting rules will affect any gifts of money after January 1, 2017.
- Can I keep all my separate and inherited property when my spouse gets Medi-Cal?
- Not necessarily. Medi-Cal will combine all assets owned by both spouses when one of them applies for Medi-Cal benefits; despite any pre-nuptial or other arrangements that may have been made by the spouses beforehand.
- Can I only give away $13,000 per person, per year under the Medi-Cal rules?
- No, that is the IRS per person, per year gift rule. Any gifts of money after January 1, 2017 could result in a denial of benefits.
- How much of my income can I keep if my spouse applies for Medi-Cal?
- Medi-Cal will allow the at-home spouse to keep the first $3,023 and still maintain eligibility for the ill spouse. This is the minimum that you are allowed to keep, as under certain circumstances the at-home spouse can keep more or all of the couple’s income.
- Can I “hide” my assets and get eligible for Medi-Cal?
- No! Medi-Cal will do a 30-60 month look-back and they will find any assets you attempt to “hide”! That is considered fraud and it will result in a denial of benefits at the very least.
- Will the Medi-Cal rules that applied to my neighbor when he went into a nursing home, apply to me?
- No, Medi-Cal updates their rules and regulations every year; therefore, you should not rely on what your neighbor did last year. Medi-Cal just made some major changes to their eligibility rules and recovery rules effective January 1, 2017.
- If I have a living trust, are my assets protected from a Medi-Cal claim in the future?
- It depends on what type of trust you have and if it is funded properly.
- Is there anything I can do in advance to prepare for the possibility of needing Medi-Cal to help pay for my long-term care?
- Yes, with proper estate planning…in advance, before you lose capacity…it is possible to protect your home and financial assets against Medi-Cal recovery.
I would recommend that if you have not discussed Medi-Cal Planning with your current attorney to a) make an appointment with them to discuss this matter and determine what your options would be…IF…you had to apply for long-term careMedi-Cal benefits in the future, or b) call my office to discuss creating an estate plan for you or c) call my office to update your current estate planning documents to include language to give you and your loved ones the option to protect your assets (without going to Court)…IF…you needed to apply for Medi-Cal long-term care benefits in the future.
For more information about the “myths and truth” about Medi-Cal planning, please visit my website at www.sololaw.net or call my office at (916) 536-1773 to schedule a FREE ½ in-office consultation.
Until next time…“It’s your life, so plan for it”!