Elder Law & Medi-Cal Planning
The Law Offices of Douglas P. Barnes has significant experience in the area of elder law. In addition to preparing estate planning documents such as trusts, durable financial powers of attorney and advance health care directives to provide a plan in the event of future incapacity, we also focus on planning involving Medicare, Medi-Cal, Social Security, and supplemental and long-term care insurance policy issues.
Medi-Cal planning requires a careful review of your assets, income, and estate planning documents to develop a plan tailored to your specific situation. A comprehensive Medi-Cal plan should consider three factors:
- Eligibility planning for Medi-Cal benefits;
- Income planning to reduce or eliminate the monthly “share of cost” to be paid by the Medi-Cal beneficiary; and
- Estate recovery planning to reduce or eliminate the recovery of the amount of benefits paid out from the beneficiary’s estate.
Medi-Cal regulations are frequently changing and Medi-Cal planning requires the assistance of experienced counsel familiar with elder law and estate planning matters. It should be noted that certain property transfers can have significant tax consequences, and improper transfers can result in the disqualification of a Medi-Cal beneficiary and result in a significant period of ineligibility for Medi-Cal benefits.
Special Needs Trusts
Special Needs Trusts (sometimes referred to as “Supplemental Needs Trusts”) are trusts that are specifically drafted to ensure that a disabled beneficiary will continue to be eligible for government benefits. If an intended beneficiary is the recipient of Medi-Cal, SSI, or other governmental assistance program, an outright gift or gift in trust may disqualify the beneficiary from receiving continued assistance. In a Special Needs Trust, distributions are made only to supplement, not replace, the benefits being received. Distributions made by the trustee are discretionary, not mandatory, and are therefore not considered disqualifying under most programs. Special Needs Trusts can be used to receive funds from a personal injury litigation matter on behalf of a disabled person without disqualifying the injured person from Medi-Cal benefits.
In the event a person becomes incapacitated, and does not have estate planning documents in place designating who will manage their financial affairs or make decisions regarding their care, we can assist in having a conservator of the person and/or the estate appointed and can advise the conservator of their fiduciary duties and obligations.
Elder Abuse Protection and Litigation
We also advise and assist our clients in connection with elder abuse issues arising in the context of trust and estate litigation. We protect the interests of the elderly in cases involving fraud, undue influence, coercion.
Experienced Estate Planning and Elder Law Representation
We welcome the opportunity to serve your estate planning and elder law needs. Contact the Law Offices of Douglas P. Barnes to schedule a complimentary consultation with an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney.