P.O.Box 225081, San Francisco, CA 94122

call us415-534-1200

San Francisco, CA Medicaid and Medicare Planning Lawyer

San Francisco County Medicaid planning attorney

Attorney Helping Clients Qualify For Nursing Home Coverage in the Bay Area

According to recent estimates, a healthy couple will spend nearly $390,000 on healthcare after the age of 65, and costs can be even higher for people with ongoing health conditions. The high costs of medical care may be difficult for you to manage during your lifetime, and it may seem next to impossible to maintain sufficient assets to leave to your family after your death. In some cases, Medicare and Medicaid can assist with these expenses, but only for those who are eligible.

At the Law Office of Martin Alperen, we recognize that provisions for your healthcare are an important part of your estate plan. With our decades of legal experience, we help clients with matters including advance health care directives and powers of attorney, and we can also help you pursue strategies that allow you to maintain Medicaid eligibility and cover your care expenses late in life without compromising your estate.

Who is Eligible for Medicare and Medicaid in San Francisco?

Medicare and Medicaid are both federal programs that can help cover medical expenses for senior citizens in the United States. Medicare is available to anyone who is at least 65 years old, and if you or your spouse had Medicare taxes withheld from your paycheck for at least 10 years, you are eligible for Medicare Part A, which covers hospital, hospice, and skilled nursing facility expenses, without having to pay a premium. You can also purchase Part B to cover outpatient care and preventive services. However, Medicare does not cover long-term care, such as an extended stay in a nursing home.

Medicaid, on the other hand, can cover the cost of long-term care in addition to most expenses related to inpatient and outpatient care for those over the age of 65, but you are only eligible if your income and assets fall below a certain threshold, which varies from state to state. In California, Medicaid is referred to as Medi-Cal, and as of 2020, the eligibility requirement is an annual income below 138 percent of the federal poverty level based on household size, and assets totaling $2,000 or less, excluding certain exempt assets like your home and other personal belongings.

Estate Planning For Medicaid Eligibility

The challenge often comes when your income and assets are above the Medicaid eligibility threshold but you want to avoid draining your assets on long-term nursing home care so that you have an estate to pass on to your heirs and beneficiaries. You may be tempted to simply give away your assets to your family in order to become eligible for Medicaid coverage. However, this may not only incur substantial gift taxes, it can also delay your eligibility for Medicaid.

In California, anyone applying for Medicaid is subject to a review in which the state will look at asset transfers made within the past 30 months, a time known as the look-back period. Unqualified transfers during this time can make you ineligible for Medicaid coverage for several months, which can delay your access to the nursing home care you may need.

However, if you plan ahead with an estate planning attorney, you can transfer a significant portion of your assets to an irrevocable trust. This removes these assets from consideration for Medicaid eligibility and allows you to transfer them to your beneficiaries after your death according to your own terms. As long as you transfer assets to an irrevocable trust before the look-back period, the transaction should not result in a Medicaid penalty.

Contact an East Bay Area Medicaid Planning Attorney

The process of ensuring Medicaid eligibility can be complicated, but an experienced attorney can help you explore all possible options. With our help, you may be able to avoid the difficult choice between providing for your long-term care and leaving your assets to your family. Contact us today at 415-534-1200 to schedule a free consultation, and we will find a convenient time and place to meet with you to start planning for the future. We serve clients in San Francisco County and throughout the East and North Bay Area.

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