Before we examine Medi-Cal recovery and joint tenancy in California, we would like to provide some background information.
The Medi-Cal program is theoretically intended to provide health insurance to people who have significant financial need. It is a program that is jointly administered by the state of California along with the federal government.
Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care, so many seniors who were never really impoverished use Medi-Cal to pay for living assistance.
Because of the fact that it is a need-based program, there are stringent qualification parameters. Your assets can’t exceed $2,000, but your home doesn’t count as long as the value does not exceed $802,000. (This is the 2013 equity limit in California; it is subject to change.)
Medi-Cal Recovery in Campbell California
Now let’s get into the subject of Medi-Cal recovery, joint tenancy, and your home.
Some people get the wrong idea about Medi-Cal. You may think that you are free of any encumbrances once you qualify for the program. This can lead you to believe that your home would remain in your family after your passing, even if you received Medi-Cal benefits to pay for long-term care.
This is not the way it works. Medi-Cal can seek to recover the monies spent to pay for your care after you pass away.
If your home is in your name when you pass away, it would be part of your probate estate. As a result, Medi-Cal could seek recovery and target your home.
This would logically bring up the question of whether or not you could divest yourself of ownership of the home. You can in fact give the home to someone else as a gift. However, there is a look back period. If you give away assets within a particular time frame preceding your application for Medi-Cal, your eligibility can be delayed.
Nationally this look back period of time is five years, and California is soon to adopt this 60 month look back.
Another course of action that may cross your mind would be to add someone else, perhaps an adult child or multiple children, to your property title. This is called joint tenancy with right of survivorship.
Assets that are held in joint tenancy are not subject to the probate process. Traditionally, Medi-Cal recovery specialists could not seek to attach property that was held in joint tenancy. However, this is a matter that now varies on a state-by-state basis. Some states aggressively try to attach the portion of the property that the benefit recipient held in joint tenancy.
In other states, the surviving joint tenant or tenants generally wind up avoiding loss of any portion of the property to recovery efforts.
To explore your options with regard to the avoidance of Medi-Cal recovery, the wise course of action would be to discuss everything in detail with a licensed Campbell CA elder care attorney. Should you be interested in doing so, we invite you to contact our firm to schedule a free consultation.
We also invite you to register for a free Medi-Cal Planning Workshop. To view upcoming workshops and to register, follow this link: Free Medi-Cal Planning Workshops.