There is a “gap in the market” where expensive costly attorneys help some individuals stretch assets to deal with a costly long term health conditions (such as Alzheimer’s) and avoid costly probate fees. But, the regular middle class often lacks access to such advice. They end up burning through their modest savings to pay for home care or nursing home expenses and only then do they turn to public benefits.
I help middle class seniors and their families make informed choices, before using up all their assets caring for elders. This is most effective in a “pre-planning mode” but even in a crisis, I can still help families put financial assets into the right legal structure.
Doing this effectively, requires understanding what type of public benefits exist, their eligibility and maintenance rules, and how that intersects with trust and tax laws. Sometimes, applying for public benefits may not be appropriate if private insurance is still an available option. Other times, private insurance is not even an option because the type of care is not covered or the insurance company will not insure the senior.
Public benefits can be maximized without deception and coordinated with family member help. Everything is honestly answered and reported when filing applications.
Elders actually have many alternatives, though often they do not realize that is the case. My job is to make the messy maze of regulations that intersect with trust and tax law understandable so that the elder can make his/her decision based on a full understanding of their options about:
- how to structure assets (such as business ownership and how much income to provide oneself through a W2, if any)
- how to spend down assets (there are many ways that an elder can spend down assets without incurring a penalty from Medi-Cal)
- whether or not and how to gift assets (without having the recipient incur a large capital gains tax, if the asset is sold later)
- which medically recognized expenses the elder may have that would reduce countable income; and
- how to transfer assets after death (to protect assets from Medi-Cal recovery and probate)
I welcome family members in the learning process and host ongoing trustee webinars and educational events. However, for the sake of all involved, there are times I must discuss matters with the elder alone, please don’t take this personally. This is a standard best practice among elder law attorneys in order to be able to protect all involved from accusations of undue influence.
For the elder, I make home visits (within a reasonable distance from of Simi Valley or Valencia), because I know that mobility is often an issue. I may charge up to half my hourly rate ($150/hr = half my hourly) for travel time, however this is on a case by case basis. If the Elder decides to hire me, any fees paid for travel or visiting will be credited toward the flat fee quote in an engagement.