Sandwich Generation Planning - Elder Law - Medi-Cal Planning

Are you worried about going broke paying for in-home care or nursing home care?

We can help you with the following (and more):

  1. Get the quality care your parents need;
  2. Relieve the family member caregiver;
  3. Protecting the family assets from being depleted on care;
  4. Understand the hidden benefits of Medi-Cal and VA Benefits Planning 

It seems like before we know it, our kids are grown up. As they enter adulthood, our own parents also begin a new phase in life.  One of the greatest blessings we have is that our loved ones are now living longer, allowing us more priceless time and memories together.  But with that comes great concern for those loved ones who may not have prepared financially to live through these extended years.  This can cause both our aging loved ones and our extended family distress. 

 As our loved one's age, they may begin to require more and more help with daily activities. Family members (statistically the adult daughter) usually step in first to help, but in time realize they can't provide the level of care that is necessary.  While they want to meet their moral obligation to loved ones by helping them with daily activities, managing medical and financial decisions, and securing safe living arrangements, the family caregiver often becomes overwhelmed trying to continue living his or her own life in the midst of these important duties.  The family caregiver usually begins to experience high stress, anxiety, guilt, and even depression as a result.

 Eventually, family caregivers look for outside help to ensure their aging loved one has the complete care that he or she needs.   They are often shocked when they find out that securing in-home care or long-term care is very expensive. The average cost per month for nursing home care is now $10,000 in California!

 This is when family members panic and begin looking at all possible options, as they realize that their aging loved one will likely run out of money paying for long-term care. Family members might look first at their own financial resources but quickly realize they can't afford the high cost of long-term care while supporting a family of their own. They also know they are not equipped to personally provide the level of care that is needed.

Long-term Care Insurance 

While some seniors are able to afford private care, the cost of long-term care can easily wipe out savings of all but the wealthiest families in a matter of years. Those who have planned ahead by purchasing long-term care insurance have a degree of certainty and peace of mind knowing that they have a lesser need to rely on other sources in the future. Unfortunately, many can't afford the high cost of long-term care insurance or worse, because of age or medical conditions, cannot qualify for long-term care insurance. If you do have long-term care insurance, you should be aware of what your policy covers. Many policies have high deductibles or a waiting period before it will provide a period of care in a medical facility.  In fact, many who have long-term care insurance still have to resort to State and Federal Government benefits to pay for their care.

While the State and Federal Government have financial resources available to assist aging loved ones with long-term care costs, the aging loved one usually must be completely broke to qualify.  Unfortunately, once your loved one exhausts all financial resources, your options for quality care greatly diminish. This adds another level of distress and helplessness, as family members worry that their loved ones will not have the quality of care they desire, and will not be permitted to age with dignity. 

 This is where we come in.

We help your loved one secure government benefits to fund in-home care or long-term care, without them having to first go broke. This is accomplished legally and ethically through robust medical and financial powers of attorney, gifting strategies, trusts, and other strategies, that help your aging loved ones retain their financial security and age with dignity. 

 What Government Benefits Might Be Available to Your Loved Ones?

Many aging seniors may be eligible for Medi-Cal or VA Aid and Attendance Benefit.  These benefits can provide your loved ones additional financial resources to help fund the cost of in-home care or long-term care assistance.

 Medi-Cal Planning for Long-Term Care:

Medi-Cal is a benefit through California's Medicaid health care program that helps seniors fund their long-term care needs. (It is different from Medicare because Medicare is an entitlement program for those that have paid into the system).  Medi-Cal is a program you must qualify for to receive benefits, and which requires seniors to have very few financial resources in their name.

We work with individuals, and their caregivers, to guide them through the challenging financial and legal decisions that occur as they grow older and require ongoing care. While there are significant federal and state benefit programs that were designed to assist the elderly, far too many people fail to understand how these programs function and what is required for eligibility. We work closely with our clients to ensure they have an understanding of the many legal options to protect assets and qualify for benefits that will help pay for long-term care.

Fortunately, our planning strategies can help your loved ones preserve their assets but still qualify for Medi-Cal.  And because your loved ones still have assets, we can use those assets to help supplement the high cost of long-term care to cover what Medi-Cal will not.

Now is the time to use our strategies to qualify your loved one for Medi-Cal.  California has adopted the DRA (Deficit Reduction Act of 2006) but has not yet implemented it.  When it does, it will become much more difficult to obtain Medi-Cal while preserving family assets, leaving your loved one at great risk

Proactive Planning - Pre-Medi-Cal Planning 

Far too often, seniors wait until they fall ill and require care to seek the assistance of an attorney. Unfortunately, in waiting for a crisis, seniors and their caregivers often encounter more hurdles for qualification and high levels of stress during an already difficult time. We assist clients with pre-Medi-Cal planning, developing a long-term care plan that seeks to protect assets through traditional estate planning functions and asset protection tools such as irrevocable trusts while coordinating private insurance, veterans benefits, and other resources which may be available to pay for future elder care, without draining all of the family's assets.

Helping You Qualify for Medi-Cal 

Even if you haven't taken time to plan for Medi-Cal eligibility, there are a number of tools at your disposal to obtain eligibility. We assist clients who are just starting the process and need to qualify immediately. In these situations, we work directly with seniors, geriatric care managers, caregivers, social workers, care facilities, and healthcare providers to identify the best environment for your ongoing care. We work with you to complete the Medi-Cal application and when necessary, “spend down to qualify” in a meaningful way that won't waste your hard-earned assets but instead benefit your loved ones for years to come.

We can help you avoid the financial ruin associated with the high cost of long-term care. Contact us today to learn more about the issues surrounding Medi-Cal eligibility and to begin the planning and application process.

 The VA Aid and Attendance Benefit

Another benefit that may be available to your loved ones is the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit.  This is a federal benefit available to seniors who served our country during a war-time period or to the Veteran's surviving spouse.  To qualify, the Veteran needs to require daily assistance with activities.  He or she also needs to have served at least three months in the armed services, during which time there was one active day of combat (even if the Veteran did not physically see combat). The other main requirement is that the Veteran (or the surviving spouse)  only has limited resources or assets in his or her name.

 Like Medi-Cal planning, we can help Veterans (or the surviving spouse) secure the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit without having to first go broke!  Now is the time though to secure this important benefit before the law makes this benefit more difficult to obtain!

 Thank you, Veterans for your service to our country. 

Contact Us Today

Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law is committed to answering your questions about Elder Law, Medi-Cal Planning, VA Benefits, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning, Conservatorships, Probate/Trust Administration in California.

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.