Ask the Experts
Estate Planning vs. Elder Law
Michael McGuire: Hello everybody. This is Michael McGuire with the California Elder Law Center. Thank you for joining us. I want to spend a little bit of time today to discuss with you the difference between an estate planning attorney and an elder law attorney. Estate planning attorneys fulfill a very, very important role in most people’s lives.
They answer a critical question, “What happens when I die? What happens what happens to my estate, my assets, my house when I die?” It either all goes to my spouse or it may go to my beneficiaries if I’m an individual that is not married or I had made other arrangements for children from a previous marriage, all the complications that go into creating an estate plan.
It serves the purpose of avoiding probate. You don’t have to have bear the cost of probate, and it makes sure that everybody gets exactly what you want they way you want it.
The elder law community does the estate planning. In fact, they all come from the estate planning field. They all do estate planning, but they have to answer a different question. The question that they have to answer is, “What happens if I live? What happens if I live?” Between the two, which do you think is more expensive, living or dying? Between the two, which do you think is more complicated, living or dying?
We both know the answer to that is living of course. With the cost of care over $8,000 a month on average in California, with 70%, 7 out of 10 of us, needing long term care, whether in a nursing home, an assisted living, a board and care or in home care, with all of us wanting to stay at home, to be protected, to access public grants and entitlements to help defray those costs, we need an expert in our corner that can handle these kinds of issues. That’s an elder law attorney.
Elder law attorneys can be identified by their background, their experience. They are trained and experienced in their offices to address, “How do we empower your spouse, or you, to take care of each other? How are we going to have your children, if that’s who you have chosen to step up and take care of business for you, take care of protecting your life savings, make sure your house is not forced into foreclosure or subjected to a lien simply because somebody didn’t know what the rules were?”
When you are thinking about these kinds of issues … And you should be because it’s your responsibility to take care of yourselves and each other … Think about going to an elder law attorney that can help you choose the right plan for you and your spouse in Palm Springs and Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage and Indio and La Quinta and anywhere in the Coachella Valley.This is Michael McGuire with the California Elder Law Center. Thank you.
Michael McGuire: Hi, everybody. This is Michael McGuire with the California Elder Law Center. Seven out of ten people in California are going to need long-term care some time during their lives. That’s not me talking to you, that’s the State of California and the Department of Healthcare Services talking to you.
In addition, the average cost of care for one month in a Nursing Home in California is now over $8,000 a month that’s almost a hundred thousand dollars a year. A middle class family needs to be aware of what they are entitled to, what they have paid for as tax payers and how they can defray this gigantic cost, and still make sure that their loved one, the senior, their spouse, their parent, is getting the kind of care that they need and deserve but not go broke doing it, whether in a nursing home, an assisted living or getting in home care. That could be an assisted living or a nursing home in Palm Desert, Indio, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage or La Quinta. It starts off with you should know what Medi-Cal says they will pay for…all or some of your stay in a Nursing Home, that’s right. Those are their words, all or some of your stay in a Nursing Home. Not an assisted living or care at home.
It goes on, and they say, you may keep all or some of your savings. If you know the rules, you’ll be quite surprised at how much money you are allowed to keep. You are allowed to keep a lot in the way of savings. In addition to the amount of money above and beyond what you are allowed to save, you are legally allowed to protect and transfer and to shelter those funds in such a way that you can use them to supplement your care and get the quality of care you need and deserve.
Finally, according to the State of California, in writing, to you, it says, “You are the owner of an exempt asset.” It doesn’t even count and that asset is called your home. That’s right, your house doesn’t count. Now, you have to be extra cautious because what will happen is when the person getting all those $8,000 a month worth of benefits passes away, the State would try to put a lien on that house or force it into foreclosure or force a sale in order to satisfy them getting back every penny they paid. They get back $80 million a year from families who didn’t know what they were doing.
You don’t have to live with that fear, you can keep every dollar of your life savings. Medi-Cal will pay for your stay to be in a Nursing Home and you can protect your home in Palm Desert or Palm Springs or Indio or Rancho Mirage or anywhere in the Coachella Valley. You can protect your home now and you can protect your home when you are not here and you can do it legally, and you can do it safely, and you can do it economically.
California Elder Law Center has been doing this for 18 years and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be allowed to keep all of your savings and keep your home and still access your benefits. This is Michael McGuire, thank you for listening to the California Elder Law Center.
Michael McGuire: Hello, everybody. This is Michael McGuire with the California Elder Law Center. I’d like to talk to you a little bit about something that is near and dear to every senior’s heart in the United States, and that of course is Medicare, health insurance. In 1965, Medicare was created. In 1965, seniors all across America were really struggling when it came to the issue of being able to afford quality healthcare, or to get any kind of a health insurance policy after they had retired that would provide them with quality healthcare.
The answer was Medicare, a program that we all pay for through our payroll taxes every step of the way, since 1965. The story in the United States is, as a result of Medicare, people live longer, better, more vibrant lives than any time in history because they have access to quality healthcare.
Now the Medicare program was set up in parts. The way the parts work, and the best example of that, would be a little old lady, 83.6 years of age, single, going into a nursing home, going to an assisted living facility or needing care at home but starting off in a nursing home. 70% of everybody who goes into nursing homes is a single lady, average age 83.6 years of age. The number one reason is she fell down and broke her hip: osteoporosis. They take her to the hospital. Part A pays for that. Part B pays for the doctor and outpatient services. Part C is the supplemental policy. That could be AARP. That could be Desert Oasis. That could be Blue Shield, Blue Cross. It could be any one of 83 different programs in Southern California. Part D is if your supplemental policy does not provide you with prescription drug coverage, part D is for prescription drug coverage, catastrophic prescription drug coverage.
If you fall down, you break your hip, they’re going to send you out to a rehab, nursing home, not assisted living, very shortly, and there Medicare will pay for 20 days. But that’s all they pay. They don’t pay more than that, at the 100% rate. Day 21 through day 100, they’ll pay, but there’s a $148 a day deductible. Your supplemental policy typically pays that. What you’re faced is you’re not going to be allowed to have the whole 100 days. They will attempt to cut that short and classify you as convalescent, and now you’re on your own. Now you need the $8,000 check because you are on your own. That’s where Medi-Cal comes in. Medicare’s a godsend. It’s not an answer when it comes to the issue of long-term care or paying for an assisted living, though. This is Michael McGuire with the California Elder Law Center. Thank you for joining us.
Three Step Process
Michael McGuire: Hi everybody. This is Michael McGuire from the California Elder Law Center. We’re going to take a moment to discuss the basic foundation of determining whether or not you will be able to access public entitlements and grants in order to help defray the cost of long term care for a loved one, a senior, a member of your family, a parent or your spouse perhaps. The cost of care for senior living, for assisted living or a nursing home. The three step process brings this all down into a manageable formula that you can use to determine whether or not you are going to be able to get anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000 a month to help pay for long term care here in the United States today.
Step number one is, Am I eligible? Am I eligible? That’s an issue of your income. Step number two of the three step process is am I qualified. Am I qualified? To access money for being in an assisted living, nursing home, for in home care? That is a process of analyzing your assets. You never go to step number two until you’re done with step number one. Step number three, step number three is have I completed the application according to the rules of the agency I’m attempting to get money from. Have I completed it? Have I checked off all the boxes and am I thorough in my presentation of documentation to support everything I’m saying?
Let’s take a look at step number one, am I eligible. That’s a function of your income. Is the cost of my care more than my income? Is the cost of my care in an assisted living more than my income? If it is then you’re going to be eligible for one of these programs as to your income. Once you have determined you’re eligible, then you need to know if you’re qualified. That’s a question of analyzing your assets. Each kind of asset is treated differently underneath all of these programs, whether it’s a Veteran’s Administration or Medi-Cal. The assets are treated differently if you are looking for nursing home benefits or assisted living benefits.
As a direct result of that, you will be faced with am I qualified, I take the gross amount of my assets and then I begin taking deductions just like on a tax return because some assets don’t count at all, others only count partially. I am in fact allowed to transfer those assets legally and safely. Step number three of course is the application. It has to be thorough, it has to be complete and it has to be fully documented. We can help with that process for you with the three step process. We have developed a three step process specifically to help a middle class family first of all understand am I eligible, am I qualified, is my application correct. Most importantly is to make sure you quickly, efficiently and prudently access up to $8,000 a month in benefits because long term care in a nursing home or assisted living is a very expensive proposition. Michael McGuire for the California Elder Law Center. Thank you for listening