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Many people only focus on death when thinking about planning their estate. However, a more important and longer-lasting issue is planning for incapacity. Physical and mental incapacities, due to advanced age, illness, coma, or dementia affect millions of individuals every day. These incapacities can last several years and are devastating to one’s health and asset management decisions, because of court involvement through a guardianship.
A guardianship is a court-ordered process where an individual is appointed to act on behalf of another because that person lacks the capacity to make medical and financial decisions for themselves. A guardianship is expensive and time-consuming and the court and guardian will be involved with all aspects of overseeing your medical and financial decisions while you are incapacitated.
If you properly plan during your life by preparing estate planning documents, such as a revocable living trust and power of attorney documents for property/finance matters and for healthcare decisions, you may be able to avoid guardianship court. Call today to schedule your appointment with attorney John Park and discuss your options on how to avoid a guardianship or if you have questions about establishing a guardianship or are involved with a current guardianship matters.
Most people intend to fully care for their loved ones as long as possible. However, providing constant care, especially when your own health is declining, may not always be possible. Family members or children are busy with their own lives, and are not always available to assist. As a last option, you look into nursing home care.
You have probably heard that nursing home care is expensive and will most likely deplete all of your hard-earned assets. The California Department of Health Care Services estimated that the average cost of annual nursing home care in 2011 was $91,250/year.
To help you pay for nursing home care, the federal government jointly with the states, administers the Medicaid program for the needy. Medicaid provides payment for medical coverage for those with low or no income and few assets.
In California, this program is called Medi-Cal. Pre-planning to qualify for Medi-Cal benefits years in advance of applying, could give your loved ones the necessary care they need if nursing home care is required, while also preserving all of your own assets.
There are options to pre-planning for Medi-Cal, including strategic gifts and spending on home improvements. The best option though is the proper creation and use of Medi-Cal trusts. With the proper creation of a Medi-Cal trust, you may be able to transfer your assets to the trust and have them protected. The important point is to start planning early when you have assets to protect, but are healthy enough to delay nursing home care for at least five years.
If you were unable to pre-plan and are in a crisis situation and Medi-Cal benefits are needed immediately, you may have other options available to you, although not as good as if you were able to pre-plan. For example, if you are married, rather than just spending-down all of your assets to pay for your spouse's medical care, you could pursue a division of assets. A division of assets could ensure that your spouse receives Medi-Cal benefits, while preserving some of your assets and income for your well-being.
Contact our office today to schedule your appointment with attorney John Park and discuss all of your options including: pre-planning for Medi-Cal benefits with Medi-Cal trusts, qualifying for Medi-Cal benefits, assisting with Medi-Cal applications, or Medi-Cal crisis planning.