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Could a trust help you qualify for Medi-Cal?

When you reach your older years and time of retirement, you may find yourself among the many individuals who need long-term care. Numerous issues could result in the need for this care, such as mental deterioration, serious illness or injuries. Unfortunately, incapacitating events are not uncommon for individuals over the age of 65, and the costs of receiving care can often prove difficult to address.

Though you may have taken some steps to put away savings in the event of needed care, you may not have enough to cover what is necessary for a nursing home stay or other long-term services. Because of this possibility, you may wish to consider creating a long-term care plan along with your estate plan. You may even be able to utilize trusts in order to potentially qualify for Medi-Cal.

What is Medi-Cal?

You may know that Medicaid is a federally offered benefits program that provides qualifying individuals with financial assistance for long-term care needs. In California, Medi-Cal is the state's version of this program. It still has eligibility requirements that you must meet in order to obtain assistance, many of which depend on your income and accessible assets.

How can trusts help?

Because your income and accessible assets must not exceed a certain amount, you could potentially use trusts in order to remove some of your assets from your estate. However, only certain trusts may prove useful in this endeavor. When looking for a trust to suit your needs, you may wish to consider the following tips:

  • Make the trust irrevocable - As the name suggests, these trusts are irrevocable. This stipulation means that you cannot change or end the trust simply to regain access to your assets. If you use a revocable trust, Medi-Cal agents may still consider assets in that trust accessible, and it could disqualify you for assistance.
  • Do not benefit from the trust - If you create a trust that allows you to receive payments or allows for the assets to go toward your benefit, it can still count against you in terms of Medi-Cal eligibility.
  • Consider a special-needs trust - If you have a permanent disability, a special-needs trust may help you benefit from the trust while not facing negative impacts to Medi-Cal qualifications. However, a parent or guardian must set up the trust for you, and you cannot serve as trustee, only as beneficiary.

Medi-Cal can often prove helpful when it comes to paying for long-term care. If you have questions regarding how to plan for your care needs and for potentially qualifying for financial benefits, you may wish to find out more information on your options from local legal resources.

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