Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

email print
Elderlaw: 02/01/2014

Elderlaw Advocates

Dear Len & Rosie,

My mother, age 84, lives in a board and care and is getting close to needing full skilled nursing care. We found a nursing home that will take Medi-Cal but Iím wondering about Medi-Cal coming after my sister, who manages my motherís money, in attempt to recover funds from the family after my mother dies. You see, my mother wants to pay for her future funeral (as required) but also wants to give some gifts to her children and grandchildren. Will Medi-Cal claim sheís just emptying out her bank account and the family will therefore have to pay them back for my motherís nursing home care? I know there is a recovery division in Medi-Cal but I need more information about giving away her money. Someone told me that anything gifted prior to 30 months cannot be touched. Is this correct?


Dear Patti,

There are two parts to Medi-Cal planning: eligibility, the right hand that giveth, and recovery, the left hand that taketh away. Medi-Cal eligibility and Medi-Cal Estate recovery have absolutely nothing to do with one another, so we need to discuss them separately.

The eligibility branch of Medi-Cal will take nothing from your mother. They will either grant or deny her eligibility for benefits, depending on the circumstances when you file a Medi-Cal application on her behalf. To qualify, she must have a maximum of $2,000 in countable assets. Her prepaid funeral and burial, if itís irrevocable (she canít cash it in) doesnít count. Neither does her house if she has one, and her retirement accounts, one automobile and certain other assets.

Your mother cannot simply give her excess money away to qualify for benefits. When an application is filed, you must disclose any gifts made in the prior 30 months, and each gift triggers a transfer penalty during which your mother may not receive nursing home Medi-Cal. However, with careful planning, itís possible to minimize the transfer penalties so your mother will qualify sooner rather than later.

Medi-Cal recovery rules are different. Remember your motherís home. Itís exempt for eligibility but itís not protected from estate recovery. If your mother has a home, then itís almost always best to shelter it in an irrevocable trust that will allow her to receive benefits (such as rental income to help pay for her board and care home) but also protects the home from estate recovery, probate in the courts. A properly prepared irrevocable trust will also ensure that your motherís home will get an increased cost basis on her death so the home could then be sold without having to pay capital gains tax.

What everyone should understand about long term care is that there is almost always something that can be done to help shelter a loved oneís home and other assets from the cost of his or her care. You, and anyone in a similar situation, should consult with an attorney who is experienced in Medi-Cal work.

Len & Rosie

Len Tillem and Rosie McNichol are elder law attorneys. Contact them at 846 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476, by phone at (707) 996-4505, or on the Internet at Len also answers legal questions each weekday, Noon-1 p.m. and Sundays, 4-7 p.m. on KGO Radio 810 AM.

Recently Published:

11/01/2019 - Elderlaw Advocates Nov. 1, 2019
08/15/2019 - Elderlaw Advocates August 15, 2019
08/01/2019 - Elderlaw Advocates August 1, 2019
06/15/2019 - Elderlaw Advocates June 15, 2019
05/15/2019 - Elderlaw Advocates May 15, 2019
04/15/2019 - Elderlaw Advocates April 15, 2019
03/15/2019 - Elderlaw Advocates March 15, 2019
03/01/2019 - Elderlaw Advocates March 1, 2019
02/15/2019 - Elderlaw Advocates Feb. 15, 2019
01/15/2019 - Elderlaw Advocates Jan. 15, 2019
12/01/2018 - Elder Law
11/15/2018 - Elderlaw Advocates Nov. 15, 2018
10/15/2018 - Elderlaw Advocates Oct. 15, 2018
10/01/2018 - Elderlaw Advocates Oct. 1, 2018
06/01/2018 - Elderlaw Advocates June 1, 2018
05/01/2018 - Elderlaw Advocates May 1, 2018
02/15/2018 - Elderlaw Advocates Feb. 15, 2018
01/15/2018 - Elderlaw Advocates Jan. 15, 2018
09/15/2017 - Elder Law
08/15/2017 - Elderlaw Advocates Aug. 15 2017
06/15/2017 - Elderlaw Advocates
06/01/2017 - Elderlaw Advocates
04/15/2017 - Elderlaw Advocates
03/15/2017 - Elderlaw Advocates
03/01/2017 - Elderlaw

Community Calendar

Veterans Day Family Hike
Oakmont Veterans appreciation event
A trip back in time at Newcomers Club
Kenwood Vineyards comes to Berger
Horszowski Trio plays in Oakmont
Free food available for those in need
Forest Therapy
Join Bill and Dave on the Sonoma Ridge Trail
Glen Ellen/Kenwood Friends Feast
Free food available for those in need
Rotary Club of Glen Ellen-Kenwood meeting

Weather Underground PWS KCAKENWO2