Where to find a Medi-Cal planner/estate attorney in the Bay Area?
December 10, 2020 9:12 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a family member who might need nursing care in the not too distant future. Details inside.

Essentially what it says on the tin. My relative's children are looking for a Medicaid planner/estate attorney Swiss Army knife sort of person who would be able to 1) review Relative's existing revocable trust, and 2) to recommend planning strategies for Relative in terms of asset transfers and other moves that would help them qualify for nursing home care through Medi-Cal when the time comes.

The problem is, in my searches on their behalf, it seems like there are a lot of estates/trusts attorneys who can help them out with #1, but it's not clear if they can actually recommend what to do w/r/t #2. On the other hand, there are "Medi-Cal planners" who would ostensibly be able to help with #2, but it seems hard to vet them unlike with lawyers. Plus they don't have the legal expertise Relative's family needs.

Are there firms or particular lawyers out there, preferably in the Bay Area, who specialize in this sort of thing? Or will most estates/trusts lawyers actually be able to give advice w/r/t goal #2, assuming Relative's trust and estate aren't too complicated?
posted by un petit cadeau to Law & Government (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Note that medicaid on a federal level can penalize any asset transfers that occur within a time frame. This is called the look back period. States implement this differently, but in IL it's five years back, in California I believe it is 30 months.
So be warned that simply transferring things now may not be enough, or even possible if long term care is likely to happen very soon. Here's a generalized link about it.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:08 PM on December 10, 2020

These exist! The CANHR lawyer referral program
would be a good place to look for someone. They also have a huge amount of self-service resources on using Medi-Cal for long term care.
posted by assenav at 10:27 PM on December 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

California Lawyer here. Correct, there are very few lawyers who know this stuff. I've had some tangential experience with this area so here's my two cents:

#1: The lookback rules are not absolute. People tend to oversimplify this and make the rules sound worse than they really are. There's hope, particularly if the applicant is married. However, none of the online materials are any good about the actual rules. Some of the more prominent California ones are misleading or downright wrong. So, that's fun.

#2: You want to search using the term "Elder Law" to find an attorney who knows this stuff. I PM'd you the name of a San Diego lawyer who may be able to help you get started or refer someone, but you need someone with connections in your relative's county. Just know that if you use a lawyer for the Medi-Cal planning, this is going to be EXPENSIVE. Like, price-of-a-cheap-car expensive. Not so much for the trust review.

#3: There are the "Medi-Cal Planners" you found, non-lawyer individuals and companies who do this for a fee. Maybe not a bad way to go, I don't know. They'll charge about $6k to run a person through their system and get them qualified for Medi-Cal (California's Medicaid). That's probably less than you would pay a lawyer to do it, but you may also have to pay a lawyer to review and update the trust.

#4: You really need a professional advisor of some sort so it's good you're looking. The system is not at all accessible, the state/counties do NOT make the rules clear, and they attempt to deny benefits to people who actually qualify, so you need someone advocating on the applicant's behalf.

It's a good thing you're doing this pretty early.
posted by bluesky78987 at 5:41 AM on December 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

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