The attorneys here at Schomer Law Group address elder law and estate planning concerns. In a general sense, everyone knows what inheritance planning is all about, but the same cannot be said about elder law.
In an effort to provide an explanation in a manner that is easy to understand, we will provide a hypothetical conversation between a client and an elder law attorney.
Why would aging be a legal matter?
That is a very good question, because the term “elder law” can be somewhat of a head scratcher until you understand the facts. There are eventualities that you may face as a senior citizen that have legal and financial ramifications. Legal expertise is necessary to help you navigate these waters.
What types of eventualities are you referring to?
The single most important elder law issue that we deal with on a day-to-day basis is long-term care and the expenses that go along with it. While it is true that most people qualify for Medicare when they reach the age of 65, this program does not pay for a stay in a nursing home.
This presents a significant challenge, because a year a private room in a nursing home in our area will cost well over $100,000, and costs have been rising on an annual basis. The numbers will be much higher if you need long-term care a couple of decades from now, and they can be doubled for a married couple.
That could be quite a burden, but most people never need nursing home care, right?
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 35% of seniors ultimately spend time in nursing homes. That is a significant figure, but you also have to consider the fact that many others require custodial care outside of nursing homes that is also very expensive.
What’s the solution?
Medi-Cal is another government health insurance program that does pay for long-term care if you can gain eligibility. However, since it is need-based, the asset limit is just $2000, but some things do not count.
Does your home count toward the $2000 figure?
No, your place of residence is not a countable asset, and in California, there is no equity limit. Other assets that don’t count include your personal belongings and household effects, one vehicle, wedding and engagement rings, heirloom jewelry, and a handful of others.
Can you just give assets to family members that would be inheriting them after you die anyway?
Yes, this is the commonly embraced solution, but it is more difficult than it sounds.
You cannot find out that you need nursing home care today, give away assets tomorrow, and qualify for Medi-Cal next week. In California, there is a 30 month look back period. If you give away assets within 30 months of the date of your application submission, it will be denied.
It is possible that you could be approved in the future, but the duration of the penalty would depend upon the amount that you gave away as it compares to nursing home costs in California.
To provide an example, if you gave away enough to pay for two years of nursing home care, your eligibility would be delayed by two years.
Schedule an Elder Law Consultation Today!
This is just one of the elder law issues that you should address when you are devising a plan for aging, but there are others. If you would like to discuss these matters with an attorney from our firm, our doors are wide open. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 310-337-7696.