Medi-Cal is a program that provides medical insurance and income assistance to individuals who meet certain income requirements. These programs are especially important to those who are elderly and have mental or physical disabilities. Unfortunately, if a person who is receiving Medi-Cal has, or receives, assets such as cash, property, life insurance policies, or retirement funds, it is possible that some or all unprotected assets could be taken. There are ways to protect your assets, but failing to follow Medi-Cal guidelines correctly could lead to serious problems and penalties such as having your benefits withheld. Knowing how to protect your assets allows you to preserve your property without sacrificing the benefits to which you are entitled.
Do Not Transfer
One thing that many people make the mistake of doing is transferring assets. These transfers usually consist of a person transferring their property to a close friend or relative such as a child. Property transfers are easy to trace and if Medi-Cal notices that you have transferred an unusual amount of property in the months or years immediately preceding your application, they may penalize you. Medi-Cal does not want people transferring their assets to reduce their own worth since those assets could have been sold or taken to pay for your medical care or living expenses.
Instead of transferring property to other people, consider paying off your debt with assets that might otherwise have to be surrendered. Debts that can usually be paid for prior to applying for Medi-Cal include real estate taxes, your home’s mortgage, your funeral expenses such as your burial plot, and other outstanding debt. Paying off what you owe benefits you and gives you a chance to use the money you earned in the way that you choose without harming your eligibility.
Invest in a Trust
There are certain assets that you can have that will not be taken such as the home you live in and the vehicle you use for your transportation. It is also possible to have a revocable living trust in place that keeps your assets safe. Not only does a trust protect your assets, it ensures that your beneficiaries will not have to deal with a long probate process and provides certain tax benefits. Setting up a trust will help you protect your assets from Medi-Cal now while protecting your estate in the future.
Contact an Attorney
Laws concerning Medi-Cal change often and can be difficult to fully understand or implement correctly. Making one mistake could place all of your property at risk and cause significant financial problems for your heirs in the future. Talking to an experienced asset preservation planning attorney gives you an opportunity to plan for the future with the help of a skilled lawyer. The legal team at MMZ Law understands how important it is to protect your assets and we work with you to devise a strategy that provides you and those you love the protection you need. Contact us at 909-256-6702 to schedule a consultation at our Claremont, California office so that we can begin providing you with assistance.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
MMZ LAW, A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION
341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711
MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.
This information is educational information only and not legal advice.