California Medi-Cal estate recovery laws are extremely complex and confusing, especially for out-of-state people who have parents living in California. If your parents live in California and you live in another state, it is crucial that you understand your parents’ rights and obligations under California legislation regarding Medi-Cal Estate Recovery reforms and SB833. At MMZ Law, we take pride in helping elders and their families not only understand the laws, but also protect themselves and their assets from government liens.

How Probate Works

Probate is a court process that establishes the validity of a will and, once the assets are validated, transfers the assets of the decedent to the heir or heirs that are named in the will. Any assets that go through the process of probate are subject to any liens that Medi-Cal has attached to the estate for recovery. This can include annuities, joint tenancy assets, and any life insurance and retirement plans that are payable to the estate of the decedent.  

SB833 Helps, but Not 100%

Fortunately, SB833 changed the law to ensure that fewer assets of elders are subject to estate recovery under Medi-Cal, but that does not mean that you should not be just as vigilant about protecting your parents’ (and, eventually, your) assets from recovery. It is important for you to help your parents with their estate planning, or, at the very least, hire someone who knows the ins and outs of Medi-Cal planning to help them in order to protect as much of their estate as possible from Medi-Cal recovery.

SB833 is subject to a transition period: Those who died before 2017 will be held to the old law, while those who die after 2017 will be eligible for any help from the new law. The new laws are ultimately good for families who reside in California, though, and an experienced attorney can help you understand everything you need to know before you make any decisions.

California Does Not Act Under Deficit Reduction Act

Uniquely, the only state in the U.S. that does not recognize the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 is California. This is one of the most important reasons that you should consider letting your elder parent stay in California if you have to think about putting them in a nursing home. Sure, we all want our elder parents closer to us when the time comes to move them out of their home and into a nursing home, but the minute that you move a parent from the state of California, the eligibility and recovery rules for Medi-Cal change.

Any planning that was done previously in California may be the reason your parent is denied eligibility in another state. The Medi-Cal laws only apply to people who are in California nursing homes. Before making any major decisions, it is crucial that you consult with an elder law attorney who is well versed in the legal and financial implications of estate law. Contact us at MMZ law today at (909) 256-6702 if you are facing any of these tough decisions and we will help you understand how Medi-Cal will affect you and your family, as well as guide you in the estate planning process so that your family does not suffer any unnecessary losses.  



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.