Are you struggling to pay for the care of your elderly loved one? Are you having trouble making financial decisions regarding that care?

When our loved ones fall ill, the last thing we want to think about is finances. But finances and proper estate planning can significantly impact your loved one’s well-being. It can make a difference in their long-term care and whether family assets are protected.

Whether you need immediate help with estate planning or retirement planning or want to be proactive, so you’re prepared for the unexpected, Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law is here to help. A Medi-Cal asset protection trust lawyer at our firm can help find your family benefits for which they may qualify.

Medi-Cal Benefits

Medi-Cal is a government program that pays for long-term care in a nursing home. For those who wish to stay in the comfort of their home, it can also help offset the cost of assisted living, as long as care can be obtained at a lower cost than a nursing home.

Medi-Cal is different from Medicare, which is available to almost everyone 65 and older. Medi-Cal has strict eligibility standards based on medical needs, financial resources, and income. Many people think their income is too high or they have too many assets to qualify for Medi-Cal, so they never apply for benefits. That’s a mistake.

At Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law, we use the rules to implement proper, effective, and legal strategies to obtain Medi-Cal benefits for our families while simultaneously protecting as much of their income and assets as possible. You do not have to “spend down” your life savings to be eligible for Medi-Cal. There are legal and ethical strategies an asset protection trust lawyer can utilize to get you the benefits you’ve earned.

Changes to Medi-Cal Program: Asset Limits and Coverage 

In May 2022, the first of many changes came to the Medi-Cal program. On May 1, all adults aged 50 and older became eligible for Medi-Cal benefits, regardless of their legal immigration status.

More significant Medi-Cal program changes—focused on asset limits for the “aged and disabled”—were made in July 2022. Asset limits for Medi-Cal significantly increased from $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples to $130,000 and $195,000, respectively. Spousal impoverishment rules also increased the exempt amount from $137, 400 to $267,000 ($137,400 + $130,000).  In January 2024, the asset limit will be eliminated, allowing more people to qualify for Medi-Cal benefits in California.

Prior Medi-Cal estate recovery rules and California law allowed for assets to be placed under a revocable living trust so that they could be exempt from recovery for Medi-Cal. This rule provides for asset protection, especially when protecting property.

Household Asset Limits for Non-MAGI Programs

Number in Household* Asset Limits
1 $130,000
2 $195,000
3 $260,000
4 $325,000
5 $390,000
6 $455,000
7 $520,000
8 $585,000
9 $650,000
10 $715,000

*As of July 1, 2022; Source: California Department of Health Care Services

Assets Exempt From Medi-Cal Recovery

Property is an asset that can be exempt from Medi-Cal recovery. Property transferred before death is exempt, as is a property that is not subject to probate.

This includes

  • Property held in trust
  • Property held jointly
  • Property that has named beneficiaries

Life insurance and retirement accounts are exempt from Medi-Cal recovery as long as the estate is not named as the beneficiary. Figuring out what is and isn’t exempt from Medi-Cal recovery can be confusing. But the estate planning lawyers at Santa Barbara Estate Planning and Elder Law are here to help make sense of the Medi-Cal program, so you can focus on what is important – your loved one.

Experienced Elder Law Attorneys

At Santa Barbara Estate Planning and Elder Law, we are a law firm specializing in asset protection and helping you and your family make important decisions regarding your estate. So all you have to do is focus on your loved one’s well-being.

We focus on a solid attorney-client relationship because we care about you and your loved one. We are a traditional estate planning firm that also can provide expert advice for Medi-Cal planning, estate recovery, and asset protection.

Don’t hesitate to get the asset protection planning help you need from an elder law attorney. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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1You Schedule A Call

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2We Suggest A Solution

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3We Work Together

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