5 California Asset Protection Tips

People today may seem to be lawsuit happy in this modern era. Whether you are a business or an individual, you must constantly be aware of the potential for a lawsuit to be filed against you for any number of reasons. There are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your assets from these unforeseen incidents.

There is no discrimination when it comes to the potential for a lawsuit. NO matter your age, race or religion, you can face a lawsuit if someone decides that you are doing something they do not approve of. One of the most vital things you need to know, is that these steps should be addressed as quickly as possible in order to acquire the highest degree of protection possible.

 

Follow These 5 Steps for Maximum Protection

 

Step 1: Asset Protection Trust

This happens to be one of the strongest tools you can have. If your assets are in the correct trust, those assets cannot be taken if you’re sued. This is especially important if you are in a business where you could be sued for malpractice.

 

Lawsuits are most common in these fields due to the nature of these professions and the potential for a substantial financial gain by the one bringing the lawsuit to court.

Umbrella insurance is available, but it is often insufficient to cover the expenses sought in a lawsuit. You should always assure that your coverage meets or exceeds your net worth.

 

Step 2: Separate Your Assets

It is vital to separate your personal and your business assets. If you have a business, or you are in a partnership with another party, you are both held liable should the business or partnership be sued. Therefore, your funds could be included and sought as well. There is a way to protect your assets and we will discuss this in the next sub category.

 

LLC or Corporation:

These two types of classifications are very similar, but there is one major difference. Both of these protect your personal assets from your business assets. So, should your company be sued, your personal assets cannot be touched. LLC’s add an extra advantage called charging order protection. In a nutshell, this advantage promotes someone who is suing to settle out of court or drop the lawsuit all together since they will likely never receive what they are seeking even if they should win the judgement in a lawsuit.

 

Step 3: Use Your Retirement Accounts

Individual Retirement Accounts or IRA’s are protected under federal law as long as they meet the qualifications necessary. In some states IRA’s are more protected due to the state laws. Moving cash into your IRA will protect it should you find yourself in a lawsuit. Do take care in recognizing that there are annual contribution limits with most IRA’s. It is a good idea to seek the advice and or assistance of an attorney to fully understand all of the complex rules in these types of accounts.

 

Step 4: Have a Homestead Exemption

Depending on which state you live in, the value of your home, or a lien on your home can be protected under what is called a homestead exemption. A few states offer unlimited protection, but not all states offer this full spectrum protection.

Also, keep in mind if you should file bankruptcy, then your home is no longer exempt. You can contribute more to your principal and mortgage payment as a way to protect your assets. Also, in this case you should keep in mind that if the home is titled to you and another person,  and they are sued, then you as a co-owner have equal interest in the property. How the home is titled can have a major impact on a creditors’ ability to attempt to seize the property. It is important to know your specific state laws concerning this matter.

 

Step 5: Elimination of Your Assets

This step is fairly elementary. If you don’t have any assets it is extremely difficult for someone to take way something that you do not have. To perform this task, you can transfer ownership of your assets to an offshore protective trust. This type of trust can be easily accessed by you and your family but can’t be touched by someone seeking to seize your property or money. There is also the option for you to give what is known as an “advancement on your will”. This allows you to give your heirs assets early, prior to your actual death.

 

Summing Up What We Have Learned

Simply speaking, the more assets you have the more protection you will need. It does not matter if your assets are personal or business related, they are still a target should you be the victim of a lawsuit. There are personal situations that can arise such as divorce and foreclosure that can take your assets, as well as lawsuits with business partners.

Never assume that you won’t be the victim of a lawsuit. It happens to people from all walks of life. What is most important is to understand which actions you should take to protect you and your assets, as well as your future heirs from being victimized during lawsuit proceedings.

At Titanium Asset Protection, we understand that you want to make the asset protection process as smooth and cost-effective as possible for your loved ones. Your family has enough to handle in dealing with their loss, so we will do everything in our power to help make this process less intimidating. Please contact us at (714)-827-9955 for a free consultation. A member of our experienced team will gladly answer any questions or concerns you might have regarding the probate process.

 

How Much Does Estate Planning Cost?

There are various degrees of estate planning one could take. Most people assume that a will is the only necessary option to secure your possessions, but there are other options for you to consider. A will should be completed while the person is in good health both physically and especially mentally.

If a person neglects to secure their assets with a will or trust, then the state in which they reside will most likely take matters into their own hands. This could be a devastating action to those who are your heirs and were hoping to inherit your estate to supplement their lives. If your estate is left in the hands of the courts, then a judge will be making decisions that you would be making, and a substantial portion of your estate will likely be eaten away through court costs, fees and taxes.

Invest Money Now and Save Your Loved Ones in the Future

While there are a variety of options for preparing your will, such as online programs, etc. the safest and most thorough route to take would be to acquire the services of an attorney to assist you. The reason this is a better option is attorneys are well-versed in the specific laws that pertain to the state in which you live.

It is not always safe to use these online versions of will preparation due to the fact that it leaves room for errors. One of the most common errors that is seen in this type of preparation is due to the varying laws that change from state to state.

Is a Will Sufficient or Do I Need a Trust?

The answer to that question is dependent upon you and your specific needs. A will takes effect upon the occasion of your death, but a trust is effective immediately and only includes the assets that you specifically designate for the trust. A will includes your entire estate. If you are considering a trust in place of a will, then it is suggested that you go with a revocable trust due to the fact that it activates upon a person’s incapacity as well as upon their death. The fees for a trust may seem high, but in reality, they are affordable compared to the costs that will be incurred for probate or possible litigation for the estate.

What Is the Expected Cost?

This is a question that is not easily answered. The reason this question is difficult to answer is due to the wide variety of situations that are different for each individual person. If you are looking for a ballpark estimate, then you could get a range somewhere between $500 to $3,000 on average.

The more you net worth is, the more you can expect to pay for legal aid in assuring that your assets are properly protected and distributed. In summary, to get an exact figure on what the cost would be to make preparations for your estate is virtually impossible. You can get a rough estimate, but to to be certain, speak with two or three estate planning attorneys.

At Titanium Asset Protection, we understand that you want to make the estate planning process as smooth and cost-effective as possible for your loved ones. Your family has enough to handle in dealing with their loss, so we will do everything in our power to help make this process less intimidating. Please contact us at (714)-827-9955 for a free consultation. A member of our team will gladly answer any questions or concerns you might have regarding the probate process.

 

 

 

How to Avoid Expensive Probate

No one wants to deal with costly probate, especially when struggling to deal with the death of a loved one. Believe it or not, if you plan ahead, you will be able to minimize, or even completely avoid probate costs. The following are some ways to lower or deter the cost of probate, to make things easier for your loved ones after your passing.

1. Set Up A Living Trust

The simplest and most efficient way to avoid expensive probate, is to set up a living trust. This would be in addition to your Last Will and Testament. A living trust will designate a trustee to distribute your assets according to your terms after your death, whereas a will simply dictates how the probate court may distribute the assets. By appointing a trustee, you will have the peace of mind that your exact terms will be followed. Make sure to fund your trust by transferring all of your assets and properties to the trust.

Remember, a trust will deter the cost of a probate. With a will, the costs of the probate will be deducted from the overall estate amount thus leaving less money for your beneficiaries.

2. Add Beneficiaries to Your Various Accounts

If you have any life insurance or retirement policies such as 401(k)s or IRAs, you need to designate a beneficiary. This will deter any probate expenses. Also, most states now allow you to appoint a beneficiary for your bank accounts. This is most commonly known as a “POD,” or “payable on death” account. For those accounts or investments that are non-retirement accounts, you can also set up “TOD” or “Transfer on Death” accounts.

Check to see if your state offers the option to allow you to designate a beneficiary for your real estate properties. These are done via transfer on a death deed (or often beneficiary dead) or even an affidavit. Other states will allow you to use an estate deed to pass the property onto your chosen beneficiary without the need for probate.

You should be able to acquire the forms from your bank to designated account beneficiaries. For insurance and retirement accounts, you need to contact the company with which you have the policy.

3. Consider Joint Ownership on Your Properties and Assets

Simply adding a joint owner to any of your accounts, assets or deeds can avoid the probate process. Of course, proof of joint ownership must be provided. In some states, both spouses can share ownership of both tenancy and property.

However, joint ownership to a deed or other asset will then require the deed or asset to be subject to taxes or listed a taxable gift, which must be filed as an IRS 709 form when filing for a federal gift tax return.

4. Disperse Your Assets Before Your Death

A surefire way to avoid the cost of probate after your death is to get rid of all of your properties as soon as possible. Of course this both extreme and impractical as it will not leave you with anything while you are still alive.

As you can see there are multiple ways to avoid, or decrease probate costs after the time of your death. If you need help figuring out which method is best for you, it is best to seek legal advice. Please feel free to contact our office for expert advice regarding estate planning or probate costs.

Need help setting up a living trust? Contact us today for a free consultation.

Are Inherited IRA’s Safe from Creditors?

Retirement plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) are protected from creditors during bankruptcy, but are they safe from creditors after your death? This is the question that thousands of people have been asking.

IRAs are rapidly becoming the most popular method of saving for retirement, as they are a safe form of investing assets. The following article shall answer the pressing question “Are Inherited IRAs safe from creditors?”

Bankruptcy and Retirement Accounts
Similar to Social Security benefits and 401(k), IRAs are protected in the event of bankruptcy proceedings. If you were to ever declare bankruptcy, the assets that you hold in your IRA cannot be seized by creditors. Keep in mind that this does not apply to IRS (Internal Revenue Service) levies, civil lawsuits and other kinds of judgements. In certain states, IRA assets may in fact be protected from creditors, but this varies from one state to another.

Both Roth and Contributory IRAs have a $1 adjustment limited inflation which is specified in the protection rules for federal bankruptcy. This limit does not apply to those IRAs that contain assets that have been rolled over from a qualified plan (401(k), so this means that they are completely protected.

What about Protection for Beneficiaries?
With an IRA, you have the ability to choose a beneficiary (or beneficiaries) to which you would pass on your assets after your death. IRAs are great estate planning tools as they provide that your assets will not be held in probate before being passed to your designated beneficiary or beneficiaries. They are an ideal means for ensuring that your estate plan will be carried out according your exact terms and specifications.

Of course, this will require some detailed planning on your behalf. IRAs and estate plans ensure that you will have complete control over the transfer of wealth of your retirement funds. This is a legal and binding document and holds true even in the event that you have do not have a will.

In most cases, those who are non-spouse beneficiaries of IRAs are not offered the same protection from creditors. Unlike the original account holder, these assets will be subject to bankruptcy hearings and thus could very well be seized, per a United States Supreme Court Ruling. The reasoning behind this is that since the original IRA owner is now deceased and the funds/assets have been transferred to the beneficiary, they are no longer to be considered as retirement funds. Keep this in mind when you are choosing a beneficiary for your IRA.

A non-spouse beneficiary is not able to commingle funds. This means that they are unable to place the inherited IRA funds or assets in their personal retirement accounts. However, if the spouse is the designated beneficiary, they may roll over, or transfer, the IRA asset in their personal account, which means they are protected from creditors and bankruptcy proceedings.

How can Beneficiaries Be Protected?
If the designated beneficiary of an IRA is their child and that child then has issues with debt or other financial difficulties, this could present a dilemma.

One way to prevent this from occurring is to establish a conduit trust on which the trustee is designated as the beneficiary rather than the child. If drafted correctly, the trust is then protected from bankruptcy and creditors. Also, the offspring will still be able to benefit from the inheritance.

In this instance, the required minimum distributions of the IRA are then calculated per the life expectancy of the trustee and thus taxed at their tax rate. Since the beneficiary does not legally own the assets, they are now protected. A key point to remember is that the income will no longer be protected once it has been paid out to the beneficiary.

As a rule, you should review your IRAs periodically to ensure that everything is up to date. As well, take note if your beneficiaries are experiencing financial difficulties. If this is the case, you might want to name a new beneficiary to protect the inherited assets.

Remember that the laws differ by each state. Talk with your estate planner or tax attorney to find out the current laws in that state in which you are currently residing.

5 Estate Planning Secrets of Real Estate Investors

So many people are struggling just to make ends meet that they do not stop to think about their future pertaining to investments and estate planning. However, a lot of people rely on real estate investments as a part of their income. Hence, estate planning plays a key role in tax advantages. Investing in real estate provides for capital gains while at the same time lowering tax liabilities.

Keep in mind that factors such as mortgage repayment, capital gains, estate equalization and real estate fluctuations will create a need for liquidation. As well, spousal rollers are tax deferred until the death of the remaining spouse or sale of the investment property. It is also important to remember that lifetime capital gains via real estate investments are not exempt from taxes.

Following are five tips to help you get the most for your real estate investments.

1. Investments in Real Estate
Distribution, sale, or transfer of property may result in either capital loss or gain dependent upon the market value and condition of the properly in question. If the property is a rental property and the market value exceeds the capital cost, taxes are payable on the recaptured value of that property. However, it can result in a loss if the value is lower than the capital cost which can then be deducted against other gains.

Those real estate properties that are financially successful should then be transferred to surviving family members or the designated beneficiary of the estate. Keep in mind that any taxable liquidity must also be funded in advance. This is to ensure that those taking control of the said property do not have any issues in the future.

It is recommended to create a holding company when investing in commercial properties to assist in split income situations. Additionally, it is wise to go through a family trust to purchase shares of the holding company.

2. Principal Residence
Capital gains acquired from the sale or transfer of a principal residence are not subject to taxes. It should be pointed out, though an investor is only allowed to obtain one principal residence per family unit. Those properties that are held in joint tenancy shall remain with the remaining spouse. Upon their death the last will and testament dictates the future dispersion of the property in question.

To ensure that the total cost of your property tax deferral is covered, you need to have adequate liquidity upon execution of your estate plan. This aids in lowering the repayment for the beneficiary upon transferal of the estate.

If minor children are not part of the estate plan, it is a good idea to use your assets as a replacement to the interest via estate equalization. Keep in mind that you need to keep interpersonal conflicts of property liquidation to maintain harmony within the family unit.

3. Build a Solid Fiscal Foundation for Your Family
Owning a rental property is a great way to earn long-term benefits as opposed to wholesale real estate, property rehab and flipping property. Even with the maintenance costs on depreciating properties, it is a lucrative and easy way to earn a constant cash flow. This money is tax advantaged until you own the property in full. Also, you will not incur any tax liabilities.

You can lower your taxes via a 1031 exchange. This allows your capital gains to be transferred to a new property. Buying, fixing and selling a property is also another way to earn money without incurring tax liabilities. Before venturing into any of the aforementioned options, you should discuss your financial situation with a CIA to determine which option is best for you.

4. Invest in Recreational Property
Tax on the disposition of recreational property is deferred only if the property in question is a joint tenant property. Otherwise, capital gains are taxed. However, if the property is left to the surviving spouse, taxes will incur upon the transfer of property.

If the surviving spouse inherited the property outright and then remarries, the property could then end up in the hands of an unwanted beneficiary. To avoid this, it is advisable to create a spousal trust which can also prevent capital gains tax. This allows the testator to then distribute the property when the remaining spouse passes away.

5. How to Avoid Liquidity Crisis
Upon the death of a real estate investor, the capital gains that arise out of the dispersion of property can often be a lot of red tape for the family of the decreased. This is due to the fact that property is not as easy to sell off as other assets. Thus, it is worthwhile to solve any liquidity issues prior to the event of your death.

24 Essential Pieces of Estate Planning Paperwork

Estate planning is something that we all have to think about in our adult lives. We must prepare for our loved ones to be taken care of after the time our death, or in the unfortunate event that we become incapacitated and are unable to make any sound decisions. We need to divide our assets and appoint someone to make decisions on our behalf. It can be quite overwhelming, so you want to make sure that you have all of the proper documentation in place. In the following, we shall highlight the 24 most important pieces of documents that one should have when it is time to put your estate plan into effect.

1. Power of Attorney: This is the power that you appoint someone to act as your agent for tax, legal, medical purposes and so forth.
2. Savings Bonds: Be sure to have copies of the actual bonds
3. Living Trusts: Be sure to have a copy of your irrevocable or revocable living trust as this is a critical aspect of your estate planning.
4. DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order: This needs to be included with your estate planning in the event that you are in an accident or become incapacitated to the point that the order needs to be invoked.
5. Last Will and Testament: This is a document that has the name of the Executor of your will, a detailed list of your assets and the names of your designated legal guardians for your children.
6. Pension Plan Information
7. Annuity Contracts
8. Health Care Proxy: This is the person whom you appoint to make all of your medical decisions should you become incapacitated.
9. Bank Account Information
10. Safe deposit box Details
11. IRAs
12. 401(k) Account Information
13. Life Insurance Policies
14. Long Term Care Plan Details and Policies
15. Tax Returns from Prior Three Years
16. Vehicle Title
17. Marriage License/Divorce Certificate
18. Birth Certificates for you, your spouse and any dependents
19. Social Security Numbers of the above
20. Social Security/Disability Details
21. Military Discharge Paperwork
22. Names and Details of any important contacts (beneficiary, legal guardian(s), emergency contact, doctors and so forth)
23. Mortgage Accounts
24. Housing Deeds (also any cemetery plot or land deeds)

Other important information:

● Loan information
● Credit card information
● Lines of credit
● Dental Insurance Information
● Eye Care Insurance
● Personal Accident Insurance Plan
● Long and Short Term Hospitalization and Disability Insurance Details
● Detailed list of your assets

Once you have all of the above information in place, you would meet with your estate planning attorney to ensure that all of your estate plan documentation is in place.

Of course, you want to make sure that you properly store your documents. Most people chose to store their estate planning details in their safe deposit box at a bank or other financial institution, while others chose to keep it in a home safe or simply a filing cabinet. Just make sure that someone knows where the paperwork is stored in the event of your death.

If you have all of the above in order, you can rest assured that your loved ones are provided for in the event of your demise!

Should you have any questions regarding how to protect your personal or business assets, feel free to call the Titanium Asset Protection at (714) 827-9955. With our years of experience in asset protection, we will be able to answer any of your questions and concerns. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation

10 Rules for Asset Protection Planning

Asset Planning is a critical part of the business world and you need to ensure that you are covered in the event of a divorce, lawsuit, and judgement and in the untimely event of your death. The following are ten rules to keep in mind when it comes to asset protection planning.

1. Have a defense strategy in mind in the event that you are sued
If you don’t have an actual plan in the unfortunate event that you are sued, it will be too late to take the proper course of action once someone decided to sue you. Plan for several worst –case- scenarios so you will not be left in the dark if the time arises.

2. If you have a two-person partnership, it only doubles your risk.

Keep in mind that if you are in dual-partnership, that your mistakes are your business partner’s mistakes too and vice versa. This means that you are both liable for the others actions and errors. You could lose everything if your partner makes a crucial mistake and ends up being sued.

3. Always use a registered corporate entity
Some business owners are unaware of the fact that there is great potential for the risk of losing all of your property and assets under your name. It is strongly advised to place all of your assets with a registered corporate entity. These include:
● C Corporations
● S Corporations
● Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
● Limited Partnerships (LP)

4. Make sure that you meet your annual requirements to keep your legal protection intact.
Ensure that your company registration is current. As well, you need to hold annual meetings and always keep accurate minutes of these meetings. Another helpful piece of advice is to never sign your name on any business-related documents in your name to avoid legal troubles down the line. This will keep your personal assets apart from your business assets.

5. Make sure that you have a comprehensive and up-to-date commercial insurance policy
A current and detailed commercial insurance policy can keep you from losing your property in the event of a lawsuit or judgement. These are the things that need to include in your policy:
● Trespassing on your property
● All liability insurance should cover any third parties on your business property
● Workers Comp Insurance for your personnel
● Rates for “increased cost of construction” should your property become damaged

6. Watch out for incorporation scams
There are quite a few business scams in the works now. It is important to keep this in mind as you are dealing with prospective clients and other businesses. Always check your source to avoid such scams as they could be very costly and you could end up losing your business as a result.

7. Protect all of your business asses with a business entity
An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is the best way to protect your business assets. This would protect you in the event of a third party lawsuit.

8. Keep in mind that sole proprietary is a risky business
If you are the sole proprietor of an establishment and are involved in a lawsuit, your personal assets are not protected, nor are any of your financial accounts. In this event, a judgement can be placed against you and you could lose everything.

9. Always keep your business assets separate from your personal assets.
Make sure to insulate your personal assets from your business assets. If you are a sole or general partnership and your business is not a registered entity, you could lose your personal assets in the event that a judgement is passed against you.

Keep these points in mind when it comes time for asset planning and you should not have any problems in the future.

Should you have any questions regarding how to protect your personal or business assets, feel free to call the Titanium Asset Protection at (714) 827-9955. With our years of experience in asset protection, we will be able to answer any of your questions and concerns. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation.

The Estate Planning Questions You Must Ask for Blended Families

With blended families becoming more and more common, it is critical to make sure that you make the necessary provisions in your estate planning.  Blended families are those in which one or more partners have children from a previous relationship. Often, the parents are confused when it comes to their rights as a parent when it comes to legal issues such as estate planning.
When it comes to estate planning for blended families, there are so many things that can go wrong. Blended families are often made up of those who have been divorced or widowed, so certain legal situations may arise. It is imperative that these be addressed in your estate planning process to avoid any legal hassles in the event of you or your spouse’s demise.

In the following article, we shall discuss the issues and questions you need to discuss with your attorney when it comes to estate planning for blended families.

Questions to Ask in the Estate Planning Process

  • What do you want to happen to your remains after your death?
  • Should you become incapacitated; who do you want to make decisions on your behalf?
  • Who is going to provide for your children and/or dependants?
  • What legal rights does your former partner have when it comes to your shared children?
  • Do you have any financial obligations to your former spouse/partner?
  • Does anyone involved have any liabilities that might impact the financial standing of all of the parties involved in the estate planning?
  • Who will take over as their legal guardian in the event of your death?
  • Are you collecting Social Security or any other benefits? What will happen to those in the event of your death?
  • Do you have a plan as to how to divide up your assets?
  • How will you provide for both your surviving spouse and your blended family?

Other Things to Keep in Mind When Estate Planning for Blended Families

  1. Prepare for a variety of situations

As life is unpredictable, you should sit down and discuss the following scenarios with your current spouse or partner

  • The event that your spouse should die before you
  • The event in which you pass away first
  • The unfortunate event in which you both die at the same time (ie: accident, natural disaster and the like). You would need to choose a legal guardian to care for your shared children in this sector, as well as whom you want to be the joint executor of your estate.
  1. Make sure that your will is up to date

If you currently have a written will, it is imperative that you update to include your current parent and children. Make sure that all details are relevant and up to date as this can prevent many hassles down the line. This also applies to a living trust. If you do not make the necessary changes, your former spouse may end up with everything and your current spouse and children could lose everything that is dear to them. Always ensure that your current will and living trusts are current.

  1. If you have a prenup, make sure that your estate planning details are included in the documentation.

In the event that you are engaged to be married and are going to have a prenuptial agreement, you should ensure that all of your estate planning is included. This is the best way to make sure that any of your children from a previous marriage or relationship are provided for in the event of your death. Include a detailed medical history for your children such any medical conditions or allergies as well as all of their medical and educational records.

  1. Ensure that you’re medical and pension plans, as well as any legal documentation is up to date.

All of the dependants in your blended family need to be added to your insurance policy. Be sure to have the correct information such as their social security number, birth date, legal name and so forth. This also includes any retirement plans, mutual or trust funds and IRA’s. This can save a great deal of legal hassle and red tape in the future.

Your blended family will already have enough to deal with the in event of your demise. If you pay attention to the above details, you can give them the peace of mind that any legal issues are covered.

Should you have any questions regarding how to protect your personal or business assets, feel free to call the Titanium Asset Protection at (714) 827-9955. With our years of experience in asset protection, we will be able to answer any of your questions and concerns. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation

 

 

 

New California Law- Medi CAL Will Dramatically Scale Back Estate Recovery

As California’s answer to Medicaid, Medi-Cal is funded by both the federal and state government. It was created to provide low or no-cost medical care for low income/low resource CA residents. Eligibility is determined by such factors as income, assets, age and disability.

In January of 2017, new rules were set in place regarding Medi-Cal. Some of these changes will have a direct effect on estate recovery. In the following article, we will discuss these changes and how they apply to estate recovery.

Prior to 2017, the state of CA allowed claims on the estates of those Medi-Cal recipients aged 55 or older. For the past 20 or so years, these claims were eligible regardless of whether or not the recipients dwelt in a nursing facility. Upon their death, the state sent the heir of the estate an “estate recovery claim.” This claim was for the amount of the benefit paid to the decreased party.

New Changes To The Medi-Cal Law Effective For Those Who Died On Or After January 1, 2017

As of January 1, 2017, the following provisions were made regarding Medi-Cal and estate recovery:

  • Recovery is limited for those 55 or older solely to Home and Community Based services and nursing home residents
  • Prohibit claims for surviving registered domestic partners and spouses
  • Recovery is limited to only those cases that are subject to CA probate.
  • The state is required to waive a claim due to a substantial hardship if the estate recovery is of modest value.
  • The state is required to provide the current beneficiary and their liaison with a copy of the expenses that are subject to recovery.
  • The amount which a state can charge on liens is restricted.

The new changes effective on January 1st, limited Medi-Cal recovery to those who died on or after January 1, 2017 and were 55 or older at the time that they received their benefits for hospital visits, prescription drugs, community based services and nursing facility care. Those under the age of 55 are subject to recovery if they were “permanently institutionalized” in a medical institution or facility, and were not expected to be able to return home.

In accordance with the new law, the following services are now subject to recovery:

  • Doctor’s appointments
  • Prescription medications
  • Managed care reimbursements
  • Nursing home care
  • Intermediate care for developmentally disabled individuals
  • Home care
  • Community based services
  • Related hospital and prescription services given to an individual while residing in a long term nursing facility or receiving community or home-based services.

Those who are exempt from estate recovery include the following:

Minors/Disabled Children: If the recipient is survived by a child under the age of 21, the state cannot recover the estate. This renders the claim null and void. As well this applies to disabled children of any age. The child in question does not have to be the heir to the state nor do they have to be living with the recipient of Medi-Cal.

Spouse/Registered Domestic Partner: If the deceased is survived by either a registered domestic parent or spouse, the claim for estate recovery is then null and void. In the case that the spouse or domestic partner also is a recipient MediCal benefits, they will then be subject to estate recovery at the time of their death.

Estate Recovery is limited to probate estate. This means that the state can only make a claim against an estate for the amount of the Medi-Cal benefits paid at the time of death, or equal to the value of the state, whichever is less. Effective under the new law, however, recovery is now limited to those estates which are subject to probate under CA law. A living trust is not eligible for recovery, however a will is subject to probate and is therefore due for recovery at the time of death.

The following property items are exempt from estate recovery claims:

  • Retirement accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Homesteads of “modest value” (in which the fair market value is less than 50% of the average home price in which the property is located)
  • Those items which are not subject to probate
    • Living trusts
    • Life estates
    • Mobile homes
    • Joint tenancies
    • And so forth
  • Any property which was transferred prior to the death of the Medi-Cal recipient

All of this may sound overheating. The best way to protect your home is to ensure that nothing remains in your estate after your death. Another safeguard is to execute a durable power of attorney that includes both real estate transfer and gifting clauses.

At Titanium Asset Protection, we know that the changes to Medi-Cal and estate recovery can be quite overwhelming. If you have any questions regarding these changes and how they will affect your estate, please contact us at (714)-827-9955 for a confidential and free consultation. A member of our knowledge and expert staff will gladly assist you with any concerns you may have pertaining the above changes for Medi-Cal recipients.

How to Protect Yourself from Lawsuits

Without a doubt, in the modern era, the risk of getting a lawsuit is very high. Because of this, more and more people are doing whatever they can to avoid getting into those predicaments in the first place. While this is undoubtedly easier said than done, you’ll find that a lot of people simply don’t know how to handle themselves or execute proper etiquette.

This is very problematic because overall, most people do not have any clue how to properly articulate themselves or express themselves in the public square. Not literally, of course, but remember, in litigious contexts, it is important to acknowledge that communicating or making statements about another person can result in serious consequences. Rather than getting caught up in one of those situations, you can keep the following advice in mind. This will ensure that you not only avoid getting sued, but it will also allow you to better articulate and organize yourself should you feel concerned about possibly getting into legal action.

Now remember, even if you exercise the best judgment, it is still possible to get into a lawsuit. However, in the event that that would happen, assuming you followed protocol to a tee, you would not be held liable. So even if a suit is brought to court, you can still survive or avoid a long-standing dual just by following the best practices.

Stay Silent

First and foremost, one of the easiest ways to get sued in the public square for making slanderous or libelous statements about someone is simply by saying those statements out loud. If you avoid this in the first place, you’re never going to encounter any of those kinds of issues.

This is something that a lot of people experience because when they interact with others in a public forum, oftentimes they make the mistake of making an assumption or statement that isn’t true. For example, if you’re a celebrity and you make a statement about other celebrities, talking about their actions, you’re opening yourself up to a lot of problems. This is primarily because a lot of people that are in those situations, don’t fully realize just how critically important it is to maintain your public appearance. If people don’t take that responsibility seriously, they’re going to end up in a lot of trouble. So rather than just throwing assumptions out there about another person, always keep in mind that if you make a statement about someone, it has to be something true. You cannot openly spread lies or falsehoods about people, because as a result, you could be opening yourself to being sued. When in doubt, just stay silent. There is no way someone can sue you for NOT saying something bad about them.

Know the Law

In a way, getting into lawsuits is a bit like playing a game. A very costly and time-consuming game, but a game nonetheless. Now while the stakes and costs of this “game” are much higher than Monopoly, the fact remains that you must treat a game like you would any other endeavor of competitiveness. You must know the rules.

Without knowing the rules, it’s not possible to properly know what not do. With the law, if you’re able to understand what you can and cannot do, you’re going to be in way better shape than someone that doesn’t understand the difference between libel and slander.

It’s also important to know how what you could be sued for in your type of business or even personal matters, because if you understand how to get into a lawsuit, you can understand how to avoid them altogether.

Most of the time, people treat these situations in a very counter-intuitive fashion, and as a result, they end up getting themselves into legal trouble they very well could’ve avoided. So rather than being one of those individuals, ensure that you’re always exercising caution. Now, of course, you will not be expected to understand the ins and outs of complicated legal jargon and code all by yourself. That’s where having educated people on your team helps.

Have a Good Team

One of the first things to keep in mind, when it comes to avoiding lawsuits, is having a good team around you. If you have people that are smart enough to avoid trouble in the first place, you’re not going to encounter any issues.

These are the individuals that will watch over your work and ensure you’re doing the right thing. They’re also the people that are going to go over all of your work and ensure that anything that you do intend to disseminate is properly checked and approved.

Remember, the aforementioned tips are just a start. Overall, you’ll see that if you practice just a little bit of these strategies, you’ll go a long way.

Now that you know what it takes to avoid getting sued, it’s time to take action and ensure you have the best asset protection lawyer, in the business, watching your back. Titanium Asset Protection has decades of experience, and specializes in ensuring your assets will stay safe and sound no matter what the circumstances. To learn more or get a free consultation, visit mullhoferlaw.com or call (714) 827-9955.