Senate Bill 483
In San Diego, long term care planning often involves eligibility for applicants of both facility and home Medi Cal benefits. This bill passed the Senate on August 21, 2008 and also passed the Assembly on August 12, 2008. This bill is currently awaiting signature by the Governor of California. This bill will modify significantly the current eligibility requirements for individuals seeking benefits for both in home and in facility benefits. This is an extremely complicated area of the law and each case is individual and needs to be analyzed by an experienced and competent attorney. This is not law until signed by the Governor [which was not as of the date of the writing of this article] and we will do our best to update the status of this law on our san diego estate planning attorney blog.
In San Diego, if you own a home, this was [normally] considered "exempt" from the eligibility requirements if this was a primary residence and the value of the home was not considered a factor. Under this current bill, which the Governor is expected to sign, this would limit [for exemption purposes foe eligibility of benefits] the homestead value to $750,000. This would be determined by using either the assessed value by the San Diego County Assessor for property tax purposes or an appraised value. In both cases, the liens would be deducted first such as a mortgage or home equity line of credit on the home. There are some limited exceptions. If an applicant's spouse is living in the house, then this limited eligibility would not apply. Similarly, if an applicant's minor child was living in the house this would not apply. In addition, if the applicant's adult child is disabled or blind, then this limitation would not apply.
In San Diego, as with all of California, there is currently a "look back period" of thirty  months. This period is calculated by using the first of the month of the date of the transfer of any asset for less than fair market value. This can be an issue in many applicant's eligibility. This Bill would change this to a period of sixty  months and would also commence when the applicant is in a nursing home and applying for Medi Cal benefits and not when the assets were transferred.
Many individuals have also used Medi Cal Qualified Annuities to exempt this asset from determining their eligibility for benefits for both in home and in facility. This Bill will require all applicants to disclose any interest either they or their spouse have in any annuity. In addition, the State of California will be required to disclose and inform all applicants as well as their beneficiaries under the annuity that the State of California will become a remainder beneficiary in for the annuity however there is a limitation for only certain types of annuities. There are many other provisions concerning annuities which are not mentioned in this article. We urge you to read the entire Bill yourself.
If you would like a complete copy of Senate Bill 483, we would be pleased to provide one to you either by mail, fax or e mail. Please contact our office and we will provide this at no charge for you to review the entire content of the Bill since this article is a summary only. As you will determine from a close reading of the entire Bill, there are exceptions and legal options and only an experienced attorney can protect your rights and try to obtain your legal goals and represent you as needed for any administrative hearings.