Many California residents will need some type of financial assistance later in life due to long-term care expenses. Medicaid and Medi-Cal can prove immensely useful to you, your loved ones and other state residents. Of course, it is not always easy to qualify.

Fortunately, you do not have to feel out of luck when it comes to obtaining financial assistance. If you begin the planning process before the need for help arises, you may have a greater chance of arranging your assets in a way that works to your advantage when it comes to obtaining benefits for care.

Countable and exempt assets

In general, the biggest factor that affects your eligibility for benefits is income level and countable assets. Countable assets refer to the assets that will go into consideration when determining your income and asset value level. If this level exceeds a certain amount, you likely will not qualify for benefits, which can prove detrimental.

Luckily, programs like Medi-Cal do allow for exempt assets so that you or your loved ones retain something in efforts to qualify for assistance. Exempt assets may include the following:

  • A primary home
  • A primary vehicle
  • Burial plots
  • Life insurance policies

Of course, other items may be exempt as well, depending on the circumstances.

Rearranging assets

In efforts to lower monthly income or countable asset value, you could take certain steps as you plan ahead. For instance, you could create an irrevocable trust into which you put countable assets. Because the trust is irrevocable, you cannot end it or change the terms, which means that you no longer have access to the assets you put into it. Medi-Cal agents look more favorably on irrevocable trusts than revocable trusts because, with the latter, you could potentially change your mind and re-incorporate those assets into your countable estate later.

Other options

You may also want to explore or take advantage of other planning options. Because planning ahead for these benefits can prove tricky, you may want to work with a legal professional in efforts to avoid inadvertently damaging your eligibility for Medi-Cal or Medicaid. A California attorney experienced in this area of law could answer your questions and assist you with the planning process. Though thinking about needing this type of financial help can seem scary, it is often beneficial to ensure that you have plans in place.