Once considered simply a part of Estate Planning, Elder Law has grown into a related, but distinct field. Basically, the practice of Elder Law involves planning for illness and incapacity. It may draw on such simple tools as health care directives or powers of attorney. In early planning stages, the goal may be to eliminate or reduce, through the use of powers of attorney and living trusts, the possibility of formal Probate Conservatorship. In crisis situations, it can involve structuring a Probate Conservatorship in such a fashion as to be the least restrictive for the individual who is being cared for, while allowing the maximum flexibility in managing his or her person or estate.
One of the major areas of Elder Law is the protection of assets for a well spouse when the other spouse must be placed in skilled nursing. The state and federal Medi-Cal laws and regulations allow a certain amount of assets and income for the well spouse while still permitting the spouse who is placed in skilled nursing to have his care paid for or supplemented by Medi-Cal. In many cases, this minimum amount can be significantly enlarged, so that the financial security of the spouse who is still living in the home is maintained. Major asset protection can be accomplished when one of the couple’s assets is an operating business or family farm. We are able to advise you on the options available when a spouse is to be placed in skilled nursing. Additionally, there are legitimate asset preservation strategies when it is a widow or widower who is anticipating long-term care and wishes to preserve an asset, such as the family home, for his or her children.