A very large concern for many people in California is the ability of Medi-Cal to lien and/or collect their assets. Currently, there are very complicated and expensive estate planning techniques that can prevent Medi-Cal from recovering estate assets. However, with California’s recent passage of SB-833, Medi-Cal’s ability to pursue the estate of a deceased Medi-Cal recipient in order to recover costs of treatment will be severely limited for individuals that pass away on or after January 1, 2017.
Under the new law, recovery will only be permitted against the “probate estate.” Therefore, as of January 1, 2017, Medi-Cal can no longer recover from assets held in a revocable trust or from bank accounts that have a Transfer on Death designation. These types of assets are not considered part of the probate estate in California. This is a major change in the law and a huge benefit for individuals with properly funded revocable trusts.
Looking into the future, we anticipate issues concerning property that was originally in a revocable trust but removed from the trust for purposes of refinancing the mortgage. In this common scenario, estate planning attorneys commonly file what is known as a Heggstad petition with the court, which basically asks the court to order that the property be transferred back into the trust. However, with the new law, Medi-Cal is likely to vigorously argue that because the property was not in the trust at the time of death, it should be considered part of the probate estate and therefore subject to recovery. Rather than risk Medi-Cal recovery on your largest asset, if you have a revocable trust and have recently refinanced your mortgage, verify that your home is titled in your revocable trust.
With the passage of SB-833, now is the time to implement a comprehensive estate plan, including a revocable trust, so that you can protect your legacy for your loved ones and prevent Medi-Cal from taking your assets.
As of January 1, 2016, Medicare will pay doctors in half-hour increments if they have advance care planning conversations with their patients. However, physicians are not required to raise this topic with a patient. The discussions are completely voluntary. If a patient is not comfortable having these conversations with their doctor, Medicare also covers the costs of a nurse practitioner or physician assistant to have these conversations with patients.
Advanced Care Planning includes discussions about what the patient’s goals are for their care, whether they have existing Advanced Health Care Directives or Health Care Powers of Attorney, and the person the patient chooses as their agent to make health care decisions if the patient should become incapacitated.
Health Care goals can range from a patient’s desire to prolong their life as much as possible in every medical situation or their wish to be kept as comfortable as possible even if that shortens their life. There are so many variations and options available that a discussion with a medical professional could prove invaluable to the patient.
By now, most of you are wondering whether there is a cost to the patient for these services. You will be happy to know that if the patient has this discussion during their Medicare Annual Wellness Visit, there is no co-pay.
This program not only benefits the patient, but when patients follow through and execute advanced health care directives, the caregiver/agent for medical decisions experience less emotional stress. If you would like more information on advanced health care directives, please consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.
In recognition of National Estate Planning Awareness Week (October 17 – October 23, 2011), A & R Law Group will offer the preparation of a free will to every new bankruptcy client that retains Greifendorff Law Offices in Garden Grove, California.1
According to the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils (NAEPC), estate planning is one of the most overlooked areas of personal financial management. It is estimated that over 120 million Americans do not have up-to-date estate plans to protect themselves and their families in the event of sickness, accidents, or untimely death. This costs people wasted dollars and hours of emotional hardship each year that can be minimized with proper advanced planning.
Estate planning is a vital part of financial planning, despite how much money you have. Proper estate planning is the only way to control what happens to your assets, including assets that are passed down to your children, when you become disabled or die. Additionally, estate planning documents allow you to help guide the court in determining who you would prefer to act as guardian of your children if something were to happen to you. Why leave these important decisions to chance or let your loved ones argue in court about these matters? Estate planning saves money, emotional stress, and time for you and your loved ones.
In addition to the “free will” promotion, A & R Law Group is offering 50% off a simple will through November 30, 2011 to all clients. With these specials, basic estate planning is affordable for most everyone.