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Los Angeles Guide to Preserving Assets When Faced with Medi-Cal and Nursing Home Costs

Elder Law Attorney in Los Angeles California
Elder Law Attorney in Los Angeles California

Los Angeles Elder Law Attorney Helps Families Keep Their Assets When Faced with Nursing Home Costs


Medi-Cal / Medicaid Planning to Preserve Family Assets


Elder law is a relatively new practice that has been around for about 30 years. The Law Office of James Dolenga covers all areas relating to senior legal services, the elderly and senior population. A California elder law attorney is someone who specializes in one of the following areas:


  • Advanced planning is necessary to ensure that assets such as property and financial investments are protected so that an older person can still qualify for Medi-Cal benefits.
  • Implementing the best services for an elderly or incapacitated person requires an understanding of state and federal laws.
  • Guide one through the elder law process and navigate the Medi-Cal long-term care system to help the person qualify for benefits.
  • Protecting assets, decreasing taxes, preventing Medi-Cal Recovery that could lead to a forced sale of your home or loss in equity due to the government lien.


Medi-Cal, the government’s only program that covers long-term nursing home care (also known as a skilled nursing facility or SNF), is available to cover the cost of long-term care. Medi-Cal has the power to seize your loved one’s assets and home in order to recover medical costs.

An elder law attorney will help protect your assets from Medi-Cal. They can assist family members who may require long-term care in California.

Families shouldn’t wait too long to start Medi-Cal planning for their family members’ future. State and federal laws regarding Medicaid can change at any time. Plan now as opposed to waiting for a crisis. If laws change, it may be too late. Elder lawyers assist each client in understanding public and private resources to meet their long-term care requirements. An elder care lawyer will help you ensure that your estate plan is as comprehensive as possible.


How Medi-Cal Planning Works

An elder law attorney can reposition assets of a client or use court proceedings to help a loved one qualify for long-term nursing home care. This will reduce or eliminate medical bills and expenses that could otherwise run $8,000+ per month private pay. An elder law attorney is hired to protect assets, mainly the home, from Medi-Cal claims by the state following the death of the spouse.


James Dolenga is an experienced Los Angeles County, elder care lawyer. Dolenga offers senior legal services to protect loved ones.


How Individuals Can Benefit

As we age, our lives may become more challenging. Los Angeles elder law attorneys can help you to identify legal options.. as health or cognitive ability starts to decline. Do not be forced to pay a nursing home. Families can save thousands of dollars by using elder law services. For Medi-Cal Planning services, please call us (310) 429-5797 for a free consultation.


How can you get Long Term Care without having to pay $8,000+ per month in average nursing home costs?

We first evaluate your situation. After that, specific documents will be prepared based on your requirements. The Medi-Cal application must then be completed and submitted to Medi-Cal for approval. The fees for elder care attorneys are determined by whether there is an existing estate plan or if a new one is required. These fees are reasonable when you consider the alternative option.

The $8,000 per month cost for a nursing home, until the death of a loved one, could be a serious burden to a family that can cost $90,000 to $300,000. This is dependent on how long you live. Instead of spending your family’s money, contact an elder law attorney near you in Los Angeles.


Hiring an Elder Law Attorney to assist with Medi-Cal application will save you a lot of money.


Protect Your Family Home from Medi-Cal

Call an attorney immediately to learn more about elder law services. You can limit your options and/or put your family at risk by waiting or not acting. This can lead to the loss of inheritance for your adult children. To schedule a free assessment of your situation, call (310) 429-5797 or fill out our online contact form.


How to Protect Your Assets From a Nursing Home

A trust to protect assets from a nursing facility is one way an experienced Medi-Cal Attorney can help. An irrevocable house trust is the method an elder law attorney might use. This trust is also known as a Medi-Cal trust or Medicaid trust.

This trust protects assets from nursing homes. The irrevocable trust will place the home/property in the trust. The house can be used by the future Medi-Cal recipient as usual. The government doesn’t count the house because it is held by the trust and not by the Medi-Cal recipient. The trust holds the property so the recipient can live in the house as they always have.

The person won’t hear that “your assets are too large to be eligible for the program.” Because the house won’t be in the person’s name. The trust usually contains provisions that allow the children and grandchildren to receive the house. The house can be transferred to the heirs after the death of the deceased.

To pay off debts and expenses, you can use assets

Medi-Cal spousal impoverishment rules allow the “well” spouse to keep some assets. It is crucial to pay all bills before applying for Medi-Cal. Prepaying large bills, such as insurance, real estate taxes, and funeral expenses can help a couple pay off their current debts.

Example: Mike Smith and Joan Smith own a house, $40,000 in savings, and a car. Mike will need to move into a nursing home. Joan can keep $20,000 for her protected allowance under Medi-Cal, while Mike can retain $2,000. Mike is not eligible for Medi-Cal because they have $20,000 in excess funds.

Joan uses the $20,000 extra to pay off Mike’s mortgage, make credit card payments, and pay the real estate taxes in advance. Joan has $20,000, Mike has $2,000 left. Mike is therefore eligible for Medi-Cal.


Questions About Protecting Assets from a Nursing Home

How much does a nursing home cost?

Everyone wants to protect their assets from the rising costs of nursing home care. It can easily cost around $8000 or more per month. Seniors may pay $180,000 in 2 years, but many people stay longer than 2 years, which can significantly increase the cost. Proper planning with an elder law attorney can help protect assets from a nursing home.

Is Medicare able to pay for the costs of nursing home care?

No. Medicare pays for limited benefits, which are for skilled nursing care.

I’m concerned about my assets being protected from nursing home expenses and would like to know if there are any government programs that can pay for them.

Medi-Cal, also known as Medicaid in California, is the government program that covers most nursing home care. Some veterans may be eligible for veterans’ benefits that can pay for nursing home care.

What can I do to avoid becoming impoverished when I need nursing home care?

Speak with an elder law attorney about all of your options. Do not give away assets until you have a plan in place. Giving away assets can cause penalties.

My spouse is moving into a nursing facility. Can he transfer all his assets to me so that he can receive Medi-Cal?

The answer is usually no. When protecting assets from nursing home expenses, it is important to have a plan. All assets are typically lumped together, then divided in half for purposes of qualifying for Medi-Cal. A spouse who is not in the nursing facility can keep half the assets that are otherwise non-excludible, up to a maximum of $100,000, plus the home, including personal property, auto, and burial, as well as any other assets.

How much income can I make while protecting my assets from nursing home expenses and still be eligible for Medi-Cal?

A person over 60 years old with a monthly net income of less than $2200 can be eligible. A person with a net income of more than $2000 per month may be eligible, depending on the cost of their nursing home. The nursing home must receive any income. The spouse of an eligible Medi-Cal recipient is entitled to a maximum monthly income of $2960.

Additional Information about Protecting Assets From Nursing Home Costs.

Senior citizens, including those with disabilities, can find help in nursing homes. This type of care is expensive. The average cost of a stay in a nursing home is between $60,000 and $90,000 per year. Many people mistakenly believe that Medicare will cover their nursing home expenses. This type of long-term care is not covered by Medicare. Medi-Cal may cover nursing home care. However, you will need to meet strict eligibility requirements. Not all people can be eligible.

An elder law attorney can help you to protect your assets from Medi-Cal recovery.

They will prepare and execute the necessary documents or court procedures.

To protect assets from a nursing home, do you need a trust?

Although each case is different, trusts are a common document that is often part of an elder law attorney strategy. A trust is used by families to protect their assets from nursing home care. An irrevocable trust, also known as a house trust, can help families protect their savings and home from being consumed by nursing home care costs. It is not the same as a revocable living estate.

Three points of interest

  • The legal responsibility for nursing home costs of the spouse is shared by the other spouse. This means that income from both spouses is considered when the spouse applies for Medi-Cal nursing benefits.
  • A portion of assets that are owned by a married couple exceeding $20,000 can be at risk due to the nursing home spouse paying for them.
  • When applying for Medi-Cal, a prenuptial agreement does not protect assets.

Is it possible for a nursing home to take your house?

Legally sheltered assets is the goal. Avoid using your hard-earned assets to pay high nursing home costs.

A person must be able to afford the care they need before they can enter a nursing home. False.

Medicare, which is the most common form of health insurance for people age 65 and over, provides only limited nursing home benefits for seniors. Medicare covers skilled care only. Medicare is used for rehabilitation needs, not permanent placement in a nursing home. Except for long-term care insurance that is specifically tailored for seniors, most other insurance policies do not cover nursing home care.

You will need to figure out how to pay all the costs associated with your stay in a nursing home. It is more expensive than most people can afford. False.

Most people who live in nursing homes are eligible for government Medi-Cal assistance to pay for their care. Medi-Cal will pay for long-term care in skilled nursing facilities. Medi-Cal requires that individuals have limited assets and income before Medi-Cal can begin paying for their care. To qualify for Medi-Cal, a resident of a nursing home must reduce their assets and income to pay for the costs.

Medi-Cal rules prohibit the use of certain assets (which Medi-Cal calls resources). A home of modest value is one asset. Med-Cal will not consider a nursing home resident’s primary home as long as they or their agent declare that they plan to return home in the event of an emergency. It doesn’t matter if the resident is unlikely to be able ever to return home. The home is protected by the intention, not the reality.

The majority of nursing home residents can keep their home and are eligible for Medi-Cal to help pay their nursing home costs.

To answer the question, “Can a nursing facility take your house?” The nursing home cannot take your house, but without proper planning, equity and funds could be lost. In certain cases, the house may need to be sold to cover Medi-Cal.

It’s important that you understand that Medi-Cal will often pay for nursing home care, even if the individual has assets that could be used for its care. Medi-Cal may try to recover medical expenses from the estate of the deceased person after the person has died. This is called estate recovery. There is a program called Medi-Cal Estate Recovery which could put your home at risk if you die.

You can avoid Medi-Cal estate collection and preserve assets from a nursing facility. It is important to not put your children’s names on the deed. This could lead to financial ruin. Consult a qualified elder law lawyer. To maximize your benefits, plan ahead for a nursing home admission. Consult with an elder law attorney even after the person has been admitted. There are fewer planning options, which can lead to financial losses.

You may be concerned about the cost of nursing home care and would like to know more about how a nursing home can take your home. We can provide additional information about trusts to protect assets against nursing home liens or help you with your concerns.

Medi-Cal Protecting Assets

To avoid probate and Medi-Cal recovery, elder law Medi-Cal planning involves having all assets in a decedent’s revocable trust. A revocable trust is a great way to provide for loved ones.

An old method for elder law Medi-Cal planning involved using a Medi-Cal Asset Preservation Trust to hold assets. This trust typically holds a home or bank account and is usually separate from the individual’s personal assets. This will allow the person to qualify for Medi-Cal long-term care benefits.

Assets that don’t typically require probate, and will avoid Medi-Cal recovery are those held in a revocable trust and assets in joint tenancy. Wills do not protect assets from Medi-Cal probate and Medi-Cal estate collection.

Medi-Cal Asset Protection Can Be Made Possible by Proactive Planning

To protect your assets from Medi-Cal, create a trust that can be revocable. This will eliminate any claims by the state against your assets for Medi-Cal reimbursement. James Dolenga, an elder law attorney in Los Angeles, can provide guidance regarding elder law Medi-Cal planning. It is difficult to qualify for Medi-Cal long-term care in a nursing facility. An elder law Medi-Cal planning lawyer can help you determine what documents are required and provide guidance.

Concerned about Medi-Cal assets, the question is “Can the State put a lien upon my home?”

To hold property until the death of a Medi-Cal beneficiary, liens are placed on their estates. California no longer imposes liens on the homes of residents in nursing homes or their surviving spouses as of January 1, 1996. The exception is when the home isn’t exempt, such as when the applicant for nursing home Medi-Cal did not indicate an intention of returning home. In these cases the home will be sold. These are currently the only liens that can be placed on the homes of living beneficiaries.

Five steps to a comprehensive plan for sheltering assets from Medi-Cal

  • Pre-Planning to be eligible for Medi-Cal and protecting assets from Medi-Cal estate recovery: This step is about creating an estate plan prior to long-term care. The comprehensive Medi-Cal Asset Preservation sections of the plan provide protection for you, your loved ones, and your assets in case you need long-term care.
  • Eligibility Planning: A crucial step in structuring your assets to be eligible for Medi-Cal long-term care benefits.
  • Income Planning:  This step will help to reduce or eliminate the monthly cost of co-payment for Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
  • Medi-Cal Recovery Planning: This step reduces, or eliminates, Medi-Cal recovery from the Medi-Cal beneficiary’s estate. This prevents the government’s collection against your primary residence and other assets.
  • Preparation of Medi-Cal Application Forms: We will communicate directly with Medi-Cal on your behalf to complete the application process.


Expert Elder Law Medi-Cal Planning Guidance

It can be difficult to protect assets from Medi-Cal Estate recovery. Sometimes, there are multiple strategies. Each option is discussed along with its benefits to help you make an informed decision. An experienced Los Angeles elder law attorney will review your assets, income, and estate planning documents.

Then, James Dolenga will develop a strategy to create a Medi-Cal plan that is tailored to your unique situation. It can be quite an emotional undertaking.

Our strategy is to make it as simple and as comfortable as possible.

Call us at (310) 429-5797 to get started or fill out our contact form to arrange a consultation.


James Dolenga, JD

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