Many people worry about how they would pay for long-term care in a skilled nursing facility if it should become necessary. Long-term care is expensive, and you may worry that the cost will completely exhaust your retirement savings and all of your assets. Fortunately, it is possible to become eligible for Medi-Cal while still holding on to many of your assets. However, it is only possible with careful planning and the assistance of professionals.
Medi-Cal is the state of California's Medicaid program, and it is often thought of as a service only available to those struggling desperately with finances. However, you have funded Medi-Cal with your tax dollars, and you have the legal right to make use of the program under the right conditions. There are asset and income limits for the program, but there are ways of working within those rules to protect most assets. In planning for long-term care, you will need to make arrangements to protect as many assets as possible while remaining eligible for Medi-Cal so that it can cover the cost of care in a nursing facility.
The term “spend down” is often used in reference to eligibility for Medi-Cal benefits, but it does not mean that you must spend all your assets before you qualify. Instead, resources can be transferred or re-titled legally and appropriately to achieve eligibility without destitution.
At Gilfix & LaPoll, we have decades of experience in elder law and Medicaid and Medi-Cal planning. We approach each client's situation on an individual basis to find the best ways to preserve his or her assets and achieve eligibility for Medi-Cal. We adhere strictly to the rules for Medicaid and Medi-Cal while using every exception to your advantage. Some assets are automatically protected, while others can be legally transferred without a long ineligibility period. In some cases, an irrevocable trust may be appropriate to hold title to your residence. We take care to avoid any Medi-Cal estate claims to recover the cost of the program from your estate after your death.
The process of protecting your assets for Medi-Cal is filled with complexities. That is why you need the assistance of an experienced elder law attorney. An improper disbursement of assets can lead to many years of ineligibility for Medi-Cal. A proper plan is structured to minimize the impact of taxes on property, gifts and capital gains while protecting your assets to the greatest degree possible.