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Elder Law

Monday, October 7, 2019

An Estate Planning Checklist to Facilitate Wealth Transfer

Studies have shown that 70% of family wealth is lost by the end of the second generation and 90% by the end of the third. 

Help your loved ones avoid becoming one of these statistics. You need to educate and update your heirs about your wealth transfer goals and the plan you have put in place to achieve these goals.


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Saturday, June 1, 2019

Medicare vs. Medi-Cal: Similarities and Differences

With such similar sounding names, many Americans mistake Medicare and Med-Cal programs for one another, or presume the programs are as similar as their names. While both are government-run programs, there are many important differences. Medicare provides senior citizens, the disabled and the blind with medical benefits. Medi-Cal, on the other hand, provides healthcare benefits for those with little to no income.


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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Six "Must Haves" for Nursing Home Contracts

The decision to place a family member into a nursing home is a dilemma for an ever-increasing number of Americans. In addition to the emotional difficulties inherent in making such a decision, if a family decides to place a member into a nursing home, there is a mountain of paperwork awaiting them. While nursing homes will often argue that their contacts are standard and cannot be changed, this is rarely the case. To ensure that your contract doesn’t have any hidden or illegal clauses, it’s essential to consult with an experienced elder law attorney before you sign it.

When you receive the nursing home contract, make sure to actually read the contract in detail to understand the provisions. Make sure that the following provisions are included:


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Friday, April 12, 2019

What is the Medicaid Lookback Period?

Medicaid is a healthcare program jointly operated by the individual states and the federal government. Medicaid is designed to help individuals with limited income and resources pay for healthcare costs including nursing home care, assisted living, or in-home care. However, qualifying for Medicaid can be difficult. While eligibility is state-dependent, there are generally four key requirements: (1) you must be 65 years of age or older, permanently disabled, or otherwise qualify depending on your specific state’s class requirements, (2) you must be a resident of the state in which you are applying, and either a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or legal alien, (3) your income must be within your state’s income limitations, and (4) your assets must be within your state’s asset limitations.

To help individuals qualify for much-needed Medicaid coverage, multiple strategies exist to reduce one’s income and assets to the state threshold without adversely affecting the individual’s life. These include gifting assets to family and friends, transferring assets to a spouse, and investing in exempt assets (exempt assets are assets that do not count as “assets” for Medicaid purposes – most states allow certain home values to be exempt).


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Monday, April 1, 2019

The Effects of Gifts on Medicaid Planning

Medicaid is a healthcare program designed to help individuals with limited income and assets afford needed medical care. Importantly, Medicaid covers long-term healthcare services such as nursing home costs and costs for at-home personal healthcare. Because Medicaid is intended to benefit those with limited income and assets, there are strict eligibility requirements based on income and assets. Although Medicaid is a federal creation, it is jointly operated by the federal and state governments. As a result, the specific income and asset eligibility requirements for each state are different and you should consult with a Medicaid planning attorney in your area for specific eligibility advice.


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Friday, March 29, 2019

Reverse Mortgages and Older Americans

Perhaps you’ve seen the catchy commercials for a reverse mortgage stating that many older Americans are struggling to get by because they currently do not have enough in savings and retirement funds to manage their expenses, but yet many have equity in their homes. To solve the financial difficulties, the commercial recommends using a reverse mortgage to access that equity.

Suppose you’re one of the many individuals such commercials are targeting. You’re struggling financially but have significant equity in your home – perhaps you paid off your mortgage ten years ago. How exactly does a reverse mortgage help you?

At a basic level, a reverse mortgage is a loan from a bank secured by your house – just like a regular mortgage. The primary difference is that for a reverse mortgage, you receive a lump sum payment or continuous payments from the bank and do not make payments on the principal balance. Whereas in a regular mortgage you take out a loan and then make monthly payments, a reverse mortgage doesn’t require any payments to be made until a specified event occurs, such as your death, the sale of the property, or another event identified in the loan agreement.


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Friday, March 15, 2019

Preventing Falls in the Home

Unfortunately, as we get older, falls become more serious as they can result in health complications such as fractured arms or hips, internal bleeding, and head trauma. To minimize your risk of falling while at home, consider taking the following steps.

Add assistive devices

 Assistive devices can be installed throughout your residence to provide for better support in day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

  • A handrail for the stairs provides extra support when going up and down the stairs
  • Handrails in the shower and bathtub provide support in an area that is notoriously easy to slip and fall
  • A seat in the shower or bathtub reduces your time standing and helps to reduce the risk of slipping and falling
  • A handheld showerhead can be combined with a shower seat to allow you to bathe while sitting down, significantly reducing your time standing in the shower or tub

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Friday, March 1, 2019

Legal Issues of Caring for Parents with Dementia

Ever increasing life expectancies mean we get to spend more time with our loved ones, but it also means facing greater health problems as we age. One of the most challenging health issues for aging adults is dementia. Dementia is not a specific disease, but rather describes a group of symptoms that are associated with a decline in memory and cognitive function. In severe cases, those suffering from dementia may not remember their family members, or who they are, and may generally not be able to continue to live independently. As a result, many families take on a caregiver role for parents who suffer dementia. The following legal issues should be considered by families when caring for parents with dementia at any stage:


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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A Brief Introduction to End of Life Legal Planning

While being one of the most important aspects of your later stages in life, end of life legal planning is often the hardest to deal with. The issue is a mix of emotions, finance, and law – a combination that will bring anxiety to anyone. Nonetheless, being prepared for the unexpected, and eventually the expected, is exceptionally important. End of life legal planning can be split into two primary categories: healthcare and financial.


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Friday, February 1, 2019

What is the Older Americans Act?

The Older Americans Act was signed into law on July 19, 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to address economic shortcomings for those in their later years of life. While focused on aiding Americans who are 60 years of age and older, the Older Americans Act has had far reaching implications affecting Americans of all ages. The Older Americans Act is a piece of umbrella legislation that introduced many new programs, agencies, and centers, including the Aging and Disability Resource Centers, the National Family Caregiver Support Program, and the Administration on Aging. The Older Americans Act also brought in many new forms of funding for services required by seniors to retain their independence, such as transportation services, education services, and legal aid. Notably, the Older Americans Act was brought in during 1965, the year of significant change in social welfare programs in the United States – 1965 also seeing Medicaid and Medicare coming into existence.

How is the Older Americans Act Funded?

The Older Americans Act is funded through discretionary funding at the federal level. For each fiscal year, the legislature must allocate funding to the Older Americans Act -- funding peaked in 2010 at $2.33 billion and has slightly decreased since. Because funding has not kept up with the increasing demands placed on the program by an aging population, government agencies stuggle to provide services. Therefore, seniors who rely on the programs under the Older Americans Act face long waiting times and waitlists to receive the services.


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Friday, December 14, 2018

Making Decisions About End of Life Medical Treatment

While advances in medicine allow people to live longer, questions are often raised about life-sustaining treatment terminally ill patients may or may not want to receive. Those who fail to formally declare these wishes in writing to family members and medical professionals run the risk of having the courts make these decisions.


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Law Offices Of Michael J. Wittick, A Professional Law Corporation is located in Irvine, CA and serves clients with estate and wealth preservation matters throughout Irvine, Lake Forest, Laguna Woods, Laguna Hills, Foothill Ranch, Tustin, Aliso Viejo and the surrounding areas.



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