Two Long Term Medi-Cal Mistakes That Will Cost You

Hi there. Bridget Mackay. I’m an attorney. I practice in Petaluma in elder law. There are two scary things that can happen if you don’t prepare your estate to apply for long-term Medi-Cal correctly. The first is, if your application hasn’t been done correctly, and if your preparation for putting your application in has not been done correctly or with the advice of someone knowledgeable in this area of practice, you can be disqualified from receiving Medi-Cal because you’ve either gifted or spent down money that was over the regulatory limit. Let me give you an example.

Mary wanted to apply for long-term Medi-Cal for her husband, who needed 24-hour skilled nursing in a nursing home care for an undetermined amount of time. And she filled out the application, did some research on the Internet, and discovered that they couldn’t have over $120,000 in assets. So in order to make her estate qualify for her application for her husband, she gave away $100,000 to her children in $50,000 checks. She prepared her application, she put it into Medi-Cal, and found out that her husband was disqualified for one year from applying, and that she would have to pay for the $10,000 a month cost of his care for that year, and she had already given her $100,000 away. So not only did she give the money away without consulting an attorney, thinking she was doing the right thing, but when she found out she was disqualified from applying again for a year, now, she had to come up with another $100,000 or $120,000 to pay for her husband’s care for the next year. So, small mistakes can be very expensive.

The second scary thing that could happen, is that your home could be lost at your death. When you apply for Medi-Cal, your home is exempt. In other words, the welfare worker who is processing your application will not count the value of your home in determining if your assets qualify for Medi-Cal. So oftentimes, people will qualify, they put their application in, they are approved. Their loved one spends whatever amount of time they have to in a long-term care or a nursing home facility, and they pay minimal cost to that because they have qualified for this government program. But when their loved one passes away, the house is still in that person’s name.

So, even though the house was not counted by the welfare office when they apply, Medi-Cal has the right to come back around and recover on that house. In other words, they can make a claim for the amount of money that they spent caring for your loved one, and they will make that claim on any asset that’s left in the estate. In this case, it was the house. So, if that loved one had planned to give… Wanted to give that house to their heirs, or their beneficiaries, or their children, they can’t do it until Medi-Cal has gotten the money that they’re owed out of it first, which often forces people to sell homes in order to satisfy Medi-Cal’s recovery claim.

So, you might understand by the series of these videos that you need to protect yourself. And you need to protect yourself from these follies by very specific legal actions and with the help of a qualified attorney that works in this area.

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