Estate Planning Frequently Asked Questions From The Law Offices of Janis A Carney
Whether you need help with estate planning, trust and will administration, long-term care planning, or another area of elder law, the Law Offices of Janis A Carney are here to be your advocate. We take the time to learn the details of your situation to craft an estate plan that is specific to your needs. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach, which is why you can trust that we will find the best ways to address what is most important to you. Schedule a free consultation with your Silicon Valley estate planning attorneys today.
Trusts & Wills
General Estate Planning FAQs
I’m a Veteran. Can I Get Help From the VA To Help Pay for Long-Term Care at Home or in a Care Facility?
If you are a veteran, the VA has benefits to help pay for care if you need it at home, in assisted living, or skilled nursing. The VA Pension with aid and attendance is the name of the program that provides cash to you to help pay for those expenses. The VA Pension with aid and attendance has three sets of rules.
Rule 1: Do you qualify for a relationship to the VA or to the military service? Specifically, are you a veteran? Did you serve in active duty in a wartime period? It doesn’t mean that you had to be in a war theater, you could have been stateside the entire time. In fact, all you had to do was to be on active duty at least one day during the declared wartime period. Those dates are readily available online if you need them. The other item on the Veteran issue is, whether you were honorably, or at least not dishonorably, discharged from the military. Those are the criteria.
If you’re not a veteran but your deceased spouse was a veteran, you may be able to qualify for spousal benefits under the same program based on your deceased spouse’s service in the military.
Rule 2: What are your medical expenses compared to your income? You have to have medical expenses that pretty much exceed your income. Medical expenses refers to the costs incurred in most healthcare situations. These costs simply need to be unreimbursed. If they’re unreimbursed and you don’t have enough money to pay for your medical expenses, then you’ll be able to get some VA benefits.
Rule 3: Do you have enough savings to actually pay for your care? This takes into account what the VA calls net worth. If your net worth could be utilized to pay for care, then you are not going to qualify for this benefit. There are some additional rules that are likely to come out soon. Contact us to learn more.
Why Should I Consider Long-Term Care Planning When I’m Creating an Estate Plan?
Estate planning is extremely important, as this determines how your assets are distributed when you die. Crafting an estate plan helps to protect your family and avoid the hassle and costs associated with probate.Long-term care planning, however, is more important for preserving your assets for your family against the cost of long term care. Protect your assets by meeting with our certified elder law attorney to create a solid long-term care plan. Your plan will cover where you’ll receive care, how it will be paid for, and how your assets will be protected.
Where Will I Get Long-Term Care if I Can’t Stay at Home?How Will I Pay for It?
Long-term care can be provided at home, as most people prefer to remain in the comfort and privacy of their own home. In addition to care provided in the home, there are other options available for long-term care, including skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, memory units, and more.
The assisted living industry is rapidly growing and offers a wide array of living situations. Based on this and the community in which you live, the cost of an assisted living facility will vary. For example, the cost of an assisted living facility located in the Silicon Valley can range between $4,000 to $10,000 per month.
Unfortunately, Medi-Cal, which pays for about 60% of the patients in a skilled nursing facility does not cover assisted living. With that, it’s important to think about how you plan to pay for assisted living privately. Rather than paying out of your savings account, consider how you could leverage money and make payments or put some money aside in an investment account that can be multiplied and then utilized for long-term care or left to your family should you not need long-term care.
What Do Assisted Living and Nursing Home Care Cost?
Assisted living is the level of care that is non-medical. It is intended to assist individuals with their basic activities of daily living, which include personal hygiene, toileting, dressing, feeding, and transferring from a bed to a chair. Skilled nursing is a level of care where you need medical care. Medical care could be for a specific health condition or due to a higher level of assistance required in your daily activities of living. The average cost of skilled nursing care in Silicon Valley is between $9,000 and $ $17,000 a month.
What’s the Difference Between Medicare & Medi-Cal? Will Medicare Pay for a Nursing Home?
Medi-Cal is the California version of the federal Medicaid program, which is a public benefits program. An individual has to be financially needy in order to qualify for Medi-Cal. Medicare is health insurance that an individual pays along with social security in the form of deductions from paychecks. When you turn 65, you are automatically transferred to this health insurance from whatever private insurance you had.
Since Medi-Cal is a public benefit, it is only for individuals who either don’t have Medicare or who have Medicare, but have other health care costs that it doesn’t cover. Medicare does not cover long-term care in a skilled nursing facility. This can be covered by Medi-Cal if the individual qualifies.
Medi-Cal covers the things that Medicare does not cover. It can cover co-payments, deductibles, and long term care for an individual in a skilled nursing home. Medicare will cover the short-term care in a nursing home, including physical rehabilitation. Since Medi-Cal is a public benefit, you have to be financially needy in order to qualify.
Will I Lose My House if I Need Medi-Cal?
Essentially, your home is protected if you intend to return there. Medi-Cal has rules for eligibility, your share of cost or co-payment, and a set of rules for recovery. If your plan is to return home once your medical care is complete, then in that situation, your home is protected. It is also protected if your spouse or a minor or disabled child is living in the home.
Your share of cost is related to your income and has nothing to do with your home unless you rent your home. If you rent your home, you need to count the rent from it, less the expenses of the home, such as mortgage or insurance and taxes and such, towards your co-payment for the nursing home. The majority of the time, this is not a big concern for most individuals.
It’s important to understand that when you die, if you do not leave a spouse or disabled or a minor child behind, the state will expect to get its money back. The state lets you keep the house for eligibility because the state wants you to be able to go home, rather than remain in a nursing home that you’re paying for. Upon death, the state expects to take the money out of the value of your home if you still own it. This process is called recovery.
My Spouse Has Alzheimer’s and Is Living at Home. What Do We Need To Do Now To Plan Ahead?
You have my sympathy if your spouse has Alzheimer’s. You’re probably working really hard taking care of your spouse, but make sure that you’re also taking care of yourself. It’s also important to think about who will care for your spouse if you become unable? From in-home caregivers and assisted living facilities to memory units and nursing care for dementia, the costs can quickly rise. Make sure you plan ahead by contacting our estate law offices in Silicon Valley to schedule a free consultation and learn more about making a tailored estate plan for your needs.
Is It Too Late To Do Anything if My Loved One Is Already in a Nursing Home?
If your loved one is already in a nursing home in California, it is not too late to still do some long-term care planning. We have the most liberal eligibility rules of any state in the country. Contact The Law Offices of Janice A Carney to speak with an attorney who is certified in elder law to discuss your specific situation and learn how to protect your assets and provide for care for your loved one.
If I’m Healthy, What Planning Should I Do Now?
The best time to create an estate plan is when you’re healthy. Your options will decrease as you become sick or infirm. Contact our estate planning law offices in Silicon Valley to discuss how you can protect your assets and leverage them for future needs with an estate plan created just for you. You can plan where you’ll receive care, should you need it, and how that care will be paid for.
Contact The Law Offices of Janis A Carney in Silicon Valley
Am I Already Protected if I Have My Assets in a Trust?
Asset protection involves estate planning, putting assets into trust, and protection from probate and the government. This topic also includes how you will protect your assets should you need long-term care.
When you’re planning for long term care, a revocable living trust will do nothing to protect you should you need long-term care. Be sure to ask your estate planning attorney about an irrevocable trust, as this is what is used for long-term care planning.
There are a number of issues that your estate planning attorney will ensure are addressed, including taxes, income, and more. If you had a trust created for you in another state, it is vital to have one of the elder law attorneys at The Law Offices of Janis A. Carney review it with you, as it is not necessarily the right trust to have in California.
What’s a Powerful Power of Attorney and Why Is It So Important?
Most people typically have a power of attorney that is simply a statutory power of attorney. This type of power of attorney is the one with all of the boxes down the side, and says to check at the bottom if you want to give all of those powers to the person of your choosing. This is a very weak power of attorney.
A powerful power of attorney is one who will be able to manage long-term care planning for you should you lose capacity and haven’t done it for yourself yet. This type of power of attorney needs several different provisions that are not included in the statutory power of attorney.
At The Law Offices of Janis A. Carney, our power of attorney forms are 26 pages long, which means they are very comprehensive. They spell out every detail of power that you have, so there’s no guesswork.
What if Long Term Care Insurance Is Too Expensive?
Only about 10% of individuals over 65 have long term care insurance. The longer you wait to buy it, the more expensive it becomes. Long-term care insurance is sold through insurance companies that are basically focused on health insurance coverage. There’s no guarantee that a traditional long-term care insurance plan will retain the same cost in premiums or maintain the same coverage.
Many people resist buying it because if they don’t use it, they lose the investment. With that, you may wonder if there is an alternative? The good news is that there is! The government wants you to get some coverage for long term care. As a result, there are new investment products that are being made possible through the pension protection act which was a federal act in 2006.
Not all life insurance companies offer these, so you need to talk to someone who is connected with elder care planning and long term care through life insurance and annuity products as an investment. These investments can be passed on to your family if you don’t need them.
What Is the Difference Between Long-Term Care Planning and Long-Term Care Insurance?
Long-term care planning looks at any financial products you might have bought, your investments, and your legal documents. It also includes where you want to receive care, how this care will be paid, and more.
Long-term care insurance is insurance that pays for care based on the contract terms, where it's paid, and how much it pays per day.
How Do You Advise People Who Say, “I’m Never Going Into a Nursing Home,” or “I’m Never Going To Need Long Term Care”?
No matter what you might think or wish for, you can’t know for certain that you’ll never need assistance in some form toward the end of your life. In fact, a large number of people do need care at some point in a skilled nursing home. While it might not be pleasant, it’s important to think about this and make plans ahead of time. Hopefully you won’t need this type of care and you’ll be able to enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have plans in place if necessary. If you don’t need it with the new investment products, the funds will pass on to your family.
Start Your Estate Planning Process Today!
Some people enjoy planning ahead and making sure that everything is covered. Others prefer not to think too far ahead into the future. No matter which approach you prefer, it’s important to make sure you have an estate plan in place to protect yourself, your assets, and your loved ones. Contact The Law Offices of Janis A. Carney in Silicon Valley today to speak with a certified elder law attorney and schedule your free consultation.