SB833 was implemented on January 1st, 2017, and this piece of legislation is one of the biggest changes to the Medi-Cal Recovery program since the Spousal Impoverishment Rules of 1990. The new law could have a major impact on a large percentage of Californians for several generations to come. This is why seniors should familiarize themselves with this new legislation and how it will affect their finances and overall wellbeing.
Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elder home care. Folsom families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.
Here is what you need to know about the SB833 legislation in California.
Understanding the Medi-Cal Recovery Program
The California Department of Health Care Services currently runs a program called Medi-Cal Recovery, which is also known as the estate recovery program. After a Medi-Cal beneficiary passes away, the state can reimburse itself for any benefits that were offered to the individual. This often devastates the beneficiary’s family because they rely on the deceased person’s assets to pay for the funeral and other final expenses. When this program was first established, even an impoverished surviving spouse could have assets seized if his or her loved one had enrolled in Medi-Cal. Recent legislation has changed how Medi-Cal Recovery works and which assets can be seized.
The Establishment of SB833
This legislation aims to offer more protection to surviving family members. One of the biggest changes to the estate recovery program is they can no longer seize assets from a surviving spouse. The recovery program is limited to probate estates, which means assets can’t be taken from living trusts. SB833 has also limited the amount of interest liens can accrue and created waivers for smaller homesteads. As a general rule, a family will receive most of their loved one’s assets after he or she pass away.
As a caregiver, you should plan your loved one’s estate and consult your lawyer to understand SB833 better. At the same time, you should also consider hiring a professional live-in caregiver if your senior loved one has a long-term disability and you have urgent matters to tend to. If your senior loved one needs hourly or live-in care, Folsom Home Care Assistance can help. Our caregivers can assist with exercise and mobility, prepare nutritious meals, provide timely medication reminders, and help with a wide array of other important daily tasks.
A Look at Probate
Even though many of these new provisions offer much more protection, a lien can still be placed on a senior’s assets if he or she was a beneficiary of Medi-Cal after the age of 55 and the estate goes into probate after he or she passes away. When an estate is placed in probate, the courts will go over all pertinent documents to determine who the beneficiaries should be. During probate, the courts still have the ability to place a lien on the assets to pay back the state for the financial assistance provided by Medi-Cal.
What Should Seniors Do Next?
This new legislation gives seniors one more reason to contact an attorney to help them plan their estate. With the proper documentation, there is a much smaller chance a senior’s estate will go into probate after he or she passes away. Seniors should also be wary of moving out of the state if they have accepted any assistance from Medi-Cal after the age of 55. Every state has its own regulations regarding estate recovery, and moving could invalidate a senior’s protections. Establishing a living trust is generally seen as the safest way to protect assets and ensure they get into the right hands.
Caring for a senior loved one can be rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming for family caregivers who have other responsibilities they need to focus on. For these families, the perfect solution is respite care. Folsom families rely on our caregivers whenever they need time to rest, work, run errands, and even go on vacation. If you need a break from your caregiving duties to plan your loved one’s estate or for other reasons, call Home Care Assistance at 916.226.3737 today.