Medi-Cal Recovery and Estate Planning: What You Need to Know

Medi-Cal impacts estate planning.

Medi-Cal is the name of the program California uses to administer the federal Medicaid dollars received. It funds several programs,and the Medi-Cal program can get extremely complicated. However, it’s not just the rules of the program that may cause a misunderstanding. Medi-Cal must also be considered during the estate process.

However, while many people believe that they can adequately plan for the future needs of their loved ones, it’s extremely important for people to work with an estate planning lawyer who is experienced in working with individuals who are Medi-Cal recipients.

Applying for Medi-Cal Is Often Confusing and Difficult

In fact, applying to become a recipient of Medi-Cal isn’t a simple process. Eligibility for Medi-Cal depends on things like income and assets (among others). Another consideration for acceptance is often seen in whether the applicant is receiving SSI; however, not being an SSI recipient does not mean that someone won’t qualify for Medi-Cal.

How Does Medi-Cal Affect Estate Planning?

Medi-Cal is very helpful in that it allows people to get access to healthcare and to other helpful services such as skilled nursing or nursing home placement. However, being a recipient directly affects estate planning. Medi-Cal is almost like getting a loan for medical care. The State of California has the right to recover some or all of the estate after the recipient dies.

How Can Someone Protect Their Estate Against Medi-Cal Recovery?

The best possible solution to protect your estate against Medi-Cal recovery is to talk to an estate planning lawyer before you apply for and receive Medi-Cal. There are eligibility rules, waivers, hardships, and deferrals that could limit, or possibly remove, Medi-Cal recovery from the table. The family home is often exempt if there is a surviving spouse. The house generally remains exempt and will pass on to any legal heirs. However, Medi-Cal can then collect on the estate to repay the program for the costs spent on the spouse who was covered. Medi-Cal may even place a lien on the home if the estate isn’t large enough to satisfy the outstanding balance. If the house is sold, Medi-Cal recovery is completed, and the heirs receive whatever is left. This highlights the importance of speaking with someone before applying for and receiving Medi-Cal. An experienced estate lawyer can walk you through your best options to protect your estate for the benefit of those you love.

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