Governor Jerry Brown recently signed new Medi-Cal legislation SB 833 into law, and it will take effect for those who pass away after January 1, 2017. The new Medi-Cal legislation reduces the State’s ability to go after the assets of deceased Californians who required “specific medical assistance” including permanent nursing home care. The former policies allowed Medi-Cal to seek reimbursement from the estates and assets of the deceased for medical care provided during their lifetime. Previously, Medi-Cal could pursue the surviving spouse of a Medi-Cal recipient who had received assets from that recipient upon their passing.
Trusts will become an even more important estate planning and asset protection tool. The new law limits Medi-Cal’s ability to pursue the assets of a deceased recipient to their “probate estate.” Legally, this is an important distinction. Assets which are protected by a trust are not required to pass through California’s probate process, and would therefore be considered outside of the “probate estate.”
The implementation of SB 833 and the resulting changes in Medi-Cal law may require an immediate review of your estate plan and trust documents.
This is a game changer. SB 833 would also affect assets held in joint tenancy, or life estate assets as these are automatically transferred upon a person’s passing without the need for probate. The new California “transfer on death” deed appears to be outside of these guidelines as well. However, these legal vehicles may not provide the protections, control and cost-effectiveness of a well crafted trust. The experienced estate planning and trust attorneys at Allen Barron have decades of experience helping San Diego residents with estate planning and Medi-Cal planning. The new Medi-Cal legislation could substantially change the strategy with which your assets are managed, and eliminate the need for other asset transfer strategies.
These issues don’t have to be confusing. We invite you to contact us for a free consultation at 866-631-3470 and to learn more about the impact the new Medi-Cal legislation will have upon your unique circumstances.