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rosehips
11-06-2013, 02:38 AM
Hi everyone.
I'm writing a novel in which a character needs to find a document. Here's the idea (which I'm flexible about if it doesn't work):
Miguel's father Hector is in the later stages of Alzheimer's. At some point a few years ago, Hector sighed the paperwork required to give his wife Dolores, Miguel's mother, power of attorney. He had some specifications in the document about how he wanted that to go; amongst other things, that she not sell his house. Now Dolores is planning to divorce Hector and sell the house. Miguel needs to find the document that stated that she couldn't do that.

I've done some reading about this and I'm having trouble sorting it all out. I hope you all can help me clear it up so I can write a story that makes sense and is consistent with reality.

First of all, would Dolores divorcing Hector automatically have any impact on her keeping POA? If so, I may have to say that she's not planning to divorce him. I can make that work.

Would Hector have had to do the paperwork through a lawyer, who would then have a copy of the documents? This would be inconvenient for me as I want to create a situation where the documents can't be found because Hector is too far gone to tell Miguel where they are.

If Miguel found the documents, would he be able to nullify Dolores's POA and stop her from selling the house, based ont he fact that she's not following Hector's wishes?

Is there anything else I should keep in mind?

jclarkdawe
11-06-2013, 03:39 AM
How old is Miguel?

Where is Hector going to live?

Does Hector need a nursing home?

How rich is Hector?

Have you looked at Medicaid requirements for disposing of property and then subsequently needing Medicaid? (Unless he's very rich, a nursing home is going to use up his money quickly and he'll end up on Medicaid.)

Is Hector unable to make decisions?

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

melindamusil
11-06-2013, 04:13 AM
IANAL like JCD up there, so take this with a grain of salt.



First of all, would Dolores divorcing Hector automatically have any impact on her keeping POA? If so, I may have to say that she's not planning to divorce him. I can make that work.

Doesn't POA automatically go to the next of kin if a person is incapacitated, no paperwork necessary?



Would Hector have had to do the paperwork through a lawyer, who would then have a copy of the documents? This would be inconvenient for me as I want to create a situation where the documents can't be found because Hector is too far gone to tell Miguel where they are.

Don't know if they do POA forms, but when I read this, I thought of all those do-it-yourself legal forms websites.



Have you looked at Medicaid requirements for disposing of property and then subsequently needing Medicaid? (Unless he's very rich, a nursing home is going to use up his money quickly and he'll end up on Medicaid.)

This is very true. My great-grandparents were not wealthy but they were very comfortable financially. Yet when my great-grandma had to go into a nursing home, the estate was wiped out within a year.

Jersey Chick
11-06-2013, 04:37 AM
My brother and I had shared Durable Power of attorney for our mother last year. I found the forms on the NJ website, my mom had to initial exactly what powers she was giving us (there was one that covered every aspect of having POA, which was what she initialed, as well as individual powers; ie. can make medical decisions but not sell any properties) and it had to be notarized. I gave my brother a copy, I held onto the original, and I made a bunch of copies to submit them where necessary. There were no lawyers involved and it didn't cost anything, since I just printed out the forms myself.

As for living arrangements, my mother was in an assisted living facility the last two years of her life. It started out around $5000/month and by the time she died, it was about $8,000/month. Medicare covered her medicines, but not room and board. We ended up having to sell my mother's house in order to pay for her care. It's not cheap at all, especially for someone who requires a lot of medical care.

rosehips
11-06-2013, 08:53 AM
Hi Jim, thanks for your questions.


How old is Miguel?

He's 30.


Where is Hector going to live?

In the house that Dolores is trying to sell. If Dolores were to succeed, she would put him in an assisted living facility using the money from the sale of the house.


Does Hector need a nursing home?

Yes, but Miguel is in denial about that.


How rich is Hector?

The house is quite valuable, but otherwise he's not very rich, despite having been a state senator. He was elected after 1990, and from what I've learned California stopped giving pensions to state legislators after 1990. He's not broke or anything, but the money is mostly in the house.


Have you looked at Medicaid requirements for disposing of property and then subsequently needing Medicaid? (Unless he's very rich, a nursing home is going to use up his money quickly and he'll end up on Medicaid.)

I'm not sure I understand. Medicaid is affected if one disposes of property?

The issue of the cost of the nursing home is definitely going to come up. I'd rather not get into the details here, since I try not to discuss aspects of a WiP I haven't written yet (causes me to lose steam). If the POA questions require that I do go into it, though, I will. Let me know.


Is Hector unable to make decisions?

Yes, at this point he's pretty far gone, and not competent.

Melinda, if you're right about POA going to next of kin, that would be interesting from the standpoint of Dolores maintaining POA even if she doesn't have the paperwork to prove it. I'm wondering if in that case I do have to avoid the divorce. In order for her to be next of kin, she'd have to stay married to him. I'll see if I can figure out if you're right about it being automatic. As his wife, she would be next of kin, right?

Jersey, thank you, that confirms that I don't have to deal with the lawyer wrinkle. It does sound like since you made many copies and submitted them in a lot of places, there would be a record and finding the originals wouldn't be such a big deal, though. So now that I think about it, my premise doesn't hold water.

Maybe what I need instead of POA forms is some sort of will?

I had read that POA forms could be customized to specify certain aspects of what the person agreed to let their agent do, and what they didn't agree to. This is the core of what I need. Some sort of legal document, for which there would only be one copy, that Miguel would be able to use to get control of Hector's assets away from Dolores. Basically, Miguel wants to prevent the sale of the house because he wants to take over care of his father and remain in the house per his father's wishes. Does anyone know what I could use?

cornflake
11-06-2013, 09:12 AM
I have a couple other questions - who owns the house? Hector and Delores are married, so presumably they're both on the deed, no? He's incapacitated, beyond anything else, and she has POA, though I don't think she needs it, as Miranda above.

I don't believe any document that says he doesn't want her to sell the house would have any bearing on whether or not she can sell the house. It's her house. He's incapable of making a decision or fighting her on it.

Even if you find a will, I don't think that'll help, as she owns and resides in the house. Miguel can't take it out from under her any way I can see, unless something there isn't true. They can negotiate that he buys her out or whatever.

Yes, a POA should go through a lawyer. I mean you could draw it up yourself and have it notarized but it'd likely be easier to question if it didn't have the proper terminology and if a lawyer wasn't involved (the latter in a taking-advantage way).

The Medicare thing is a thing. If Hector owns the house, he has to use his money, including the house, to pay for nursing home care, before he can get medicare to. If Delores owns the house, however, NOT Hector, then he can't be made to sell it.

Medicare has a five-year lookback though, so be careful,. You can't like, have Hector sell the house to Miguel or something to protect it from having to be sold to pay for his care - they'll find that if it's within five years of the date.

jclarkdawe
11-06-2013, 05:45 PM
There are ton of problems here. You can make them believe this is so, but legally there are so many minefields that you wouldn't believe them.

Assuming Hector owns the house by himself, and Dolores has no interest in the house (unlikely because it seems to be the family house and she has a spousal interest -- which is subject to specific California law), let's look at a couple of major problems with your story.

1) What Dolores is proposing sounds reasonable, placing Hector in a facility that can take care of him, and selling the house so that she can pay the bills. Of course he doesn't want to go into a facility and sell his house, but life sucks, and then you die. Miguel needs to grow up.

2) Miguel can always go into probate court and argue that Dolores is not acting in Hector's best interests and ask the judge to revoke the POA. But see #1 above.

3) A piece of paper saying you don't want to do something isn't legally binding on anything. You can tear it up and destroy it at any time. A POA provides the holder with the same abilities that you had when you executed the POA.

However, here's something that could work, but let me tell you, there's some significant legal research of California law to make this work.

Hector, at a family dinner attended by Dolores and Miguel and one other person. At this dinner, Hector presents Miguel with a deed to the house, making Miguel the sole owner (see spousal rights issue). After physically giving Miguel the deed (there HAS TO BE delivery of the deed), in the presence of both other people, Hector asks if he could hold onto the deed for Miguel, because he doesn't want people knowing he has to give up his house because of his Alzheimer's.

You now have what is a delivered but unrecorded deed. Any subsequent deed that is recorded before it is would be prima facia valid, subject to arguments of fraud. In other words, if Dolores makes a subsequent deed, there's a good argument she's committing fraud because she has knowledge of the prior deed.

Miguel would need to find both the deed and the friend of his father's. And isn't California a community property state?

Lots of research to pull this off.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

ULTRAGOTHA
11-07-2013, 12:00 AM
Re the Medicaid thing:

Given your description of Hector’s finances, he WILL end up on Medi-Cal (what California calls its Medicaid program) if he enters Long Term Care. The only question is when (unless he dies awfully quickly).

Nursing home care is expensive. Medi-Cal wants to maximize benefits for taxpayers, so people on Medi-Cal must use up all their assets paying for their care.

One common way to get around that was for people on the verge of needing Medicaid to sell or give their assets to family members so Medicaid couldn’t get hold of that money. So the law was changed mumbledumptly years ago to state that if a person who ended up on Medicaid had given assets away to family members within the last 30 months that asset still was subject to being sold to pay Medicaid for care.

So if the house is in Hector’s name and Delores sells the house, and then Hector ends up in a Nursing Home and Medi-Cal has to pay for his care in the next three years, Medi-Cal could come after Delores for the value of the house.

If Miguel succeeds in stopping the sale of the house, but then Hector goes into a Nursing Home and Medi-Cal has to pay for his care in the next three years, then as long as Dolores is still married to Hector, she can stay in the house for the rest of her life. But after she dies, the value of the house goes to Medi-Cal (assuming Medi-Cal paid more than the value of the house for Hector’s care. If they paid less, then the residual value goes to Hector’s heirs if he’s dead and to Hector if he’s alive and Medi-Cal will take that money in monthly chunks until it’s all gone or Medi-Cal stops paying for his care.)

Bottom line is that people on Medi-Cal can’t leave assets to their heirs until after Medi-Cal is repaid for the cost of their care. Spouses can stay in the house and keep a car until they die or go into a Nursing Home themselves. The rest of the person’s assets go to Medi-Cal to reimburse the tax payers for their care.

If Hector goes to an Assisted Living Facility and doesn’t end up on Medi-Cal for more than 30 months after the sale of the house, that’s a different scenario.

FAQ here (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:t8Rg2Qdo83QJ:www.seniormedi-benefits.org/Faq.pdf+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us)(html Google cache version of a .pdf).

Lawyer web site with some data here (http://www.medi-calhelp.com/).

I agree with Jclarkedaw that selling the house to fund Hector’s stay in Assisted Living is a reasonable and prudent thing to do. Even divorcing Hector could be reasonable--it protects Dolores’s assets from being seized if Hector ends up on Medi-Cal. They can’t go after her real estate or car or stocks or savings if she’s not married to him. They can’t use her income and assets to determine his eligibility. If she has more money than he does (or will by the time he needs Medi-Cal) then that’s a completely reasonable, if wrenching, thing to do.

It will get a bit tricky if she wants to continue to be the one to make medical decisions for Hector, since she wouldn’t be his wife any more and he’s not competent to sign documents assigning her medical power of attorney. But a good family law lawyer could make it work, especially with Miguel’s help. OTOH, if she wants to dump him because his health is for worse, then she doesn’t need to make medical decisions and it would fall to Hector’s child(ren) to do so.

(Note to those reading along at home--if you or your parents or spouse have a probability of needing nursing home care in the moderate future—Consult a good attorney now. Don’t wait until the person is just about to go into a nursing home.)

rosehips
11-07-2013, 01:39 AM
Thank you all for your excellent help.

Just to address the concerns raised about Dolores's wisdom versus Miguel's denial, that is a part of the plot I am definitely going to get into. Ultimately, Dolores is in the right, here, as you've all already pointed out. That's part of the plan.

Jim, I hadn't considered the issue of community property (so thank you for raising it) but I have no problem saying there was a prenup if that helps. The way I see it, Hector would be above average in terms of navigating legal stuff because he was a career politician. Would a prenup help?

I like your suggestion about the deed. It adds another layer to the drama to have Dolores deliberately ignore the fact that Hector gave Miguel the house, and it makes the issue more of a gray area, which I like.

Ultra, I really appreciate your explaining all of that to me. I'm not sure what to do about the question of her divorcing Hector. I initially conceived of her motives to be generally good, although she also wants a life of her own, which she's never really had to begin with due to the kind of person Hector was when he was well. Now, of course, she's even less free to live her life as the sole caregiver for him. When I was first figuring the situation out I thought she'd want the divorce so she could dump Hector into a facility and move on. Which I realize sounds callous, but there's a lot of backstory that makes that seem more understandable having to do with their marriage. However, I don't see Dolores as the kind of person who would abandon Hector completely and my intention was for her plan to be that despite the divorce, she'd retain POA so she could continue to make medical decisions for him. So from what you said it sounds like I should still have the POA in place from before he became incompetent.

I'm starting to feel like I'm losing the threads of all these legal aspects. Let me see if I can sum up how I should go about this.

1. At some point longer 30 months before the time when he'd need Medical, Hector gave the deed to Miguel in front of Dolores and another friend. He then kept the deed and hid it somewhere, and now he can't tell Miguel where.
2. He also gave Dolores POA so that she would have no trouble making medical decisions for him, even though it probably wasn't absolutely necessary since she's his wife. I can just say he was really into being thorough.
3. Since he's gotten worse, Dolores has decided he needs care in a nursing home, so she wants to sell the house to pay for it. Possibly she hid the deed he gave to Miguel herself. She creates a fraudulent deed in order to sell the house. Miguel needs to find the real deed as well as the family friend who witnessed his father give it to him in order to challenge her fraudulent deed and her right to sell the house.
4. There's still the question of the divorce. Would Dolores divorcing Hector just make this all way too complicated? I could say she wants to move on with her life but doesn't want a divorce due to her Catholicism. I have an aunt who resisted divorcing my uncle despite his abusiveness, gambling, and alcoholism for years for that reason, so it wouldn't be that farfetched. What do you all think?

Do I have it all straight or am I missing anything?

cornflake
11-07-2013, 01:47 AM
What sticks out at me from your list is Hector giving the deed to Miguel and the resulting stuff in the next-to-last point you have implies he owned the house outright and Delores did not. That's odd, given they're married, that she wouldn't be ON the deed.

Also, as pointed out, CA is a community property state, so if they bought the house when married, it's half hers regardless.

A prenup only helps that if he owned the house himself before they married, as I understand the way you're setting this up. Which I may not but that's what I'm getting.

ULTRAGOTHA
11-07-2013, 01:57 AM
If you're going that way, there's conflict between the legally prudent thing to do, which may be to divorce Hector (especially if she has assets of her own which in CA would be half Hector's), her desire to get away from caregiving him and have a life of her own, her cultural leanings to not get divorced, and feeling guilty/conflicted between B and C.

rosehips
11-07-2013, 02:54 AM
cornflake, yes, he owned the house before they were married. He inherited it from his parents.

Ultra, true! But that makes the story richer, IMO. :) Do you think the divorce aspect makes the situation stronger? Or should I leave out the divorce? In which case, I could probably leave out the bit about Hector giving her POA, becuase as his wife she'd automatically have it, right?

Jim, in terms of the deed scenario, if I understand correctly, Miguel would have to find the deed and sue his mother? And then have the family friend appear as a witness? Is taking the step of suing her necessary, or would simply having the deed be enough to stop her from selling? Is it the kind of thing where she could still try to take the necessary steps to sell unless a judge put a stop to it?

jclarkdawe
11-07-2013, 03:17 AM
If he's a politician, I'd make him a law school graduate who never practice law or took the bar exam.

Have the house be the "family" house, that Hector received from his father and wanted to make sure when to his son, who will then transfer it to his son, and so on and so forth. You've now upped the tension and gotten around community property. Miguel will have to balance out whether having dad pay for his care, or become a welfare recipient is better. Especially since dad always opposed Medi-Cal.



1. At some point longer 30 months before the time when he'd need Medical, Hector gave the deed to Miguel in front of Dolores and another friend. He then kept the deed and hid it somewhere, and now he can't tell Miguel where.

I think look back period is 5 years now, not 30 months, but don't quote me on this, as I haven't dealt with this for quite a while. Question that I don't know the answer to is whether Medi-Cal goes from the date of filing of the deed versus the date of the deed. I believe deeds in California need to be notarized, but I'm not sure. However, the date on the deed doesn't matter, it's the date of delivery that counts. Until a deed is delivered to the other person, a deed can be destroyed without any problems.

2. He also gave Dolores POA so that she would have no trouble making medical decisions for him, even though it probably wasn't absolutely necessary since she's his wife. I can just say he was really into being thorough.

Prudent estate planning involves a POA, as well as a living will. Further, you'd normally set up a secondary POA for Miguel if Dolores isn't able to act or doesn't want to. Remember that a POA in this type of situation needs to be written with the forethought that the person isn't going to be available.

3. Since he's gotten worse, Dolores has decided he needs care in a nursing home, so she wants to sell the house to pay for it.

Because you've changed terms here, make sure you understand the difference between nursing homes and assisted living. Further, make sure you understand what Medi-
Cal pays for. Many programs like it pay for nursing homes but not assisted living.

Possibly she hid the deed he gave to Miguel herself. She creates a fraudulent deed in order to sell the house.

It's not a fraudulent deed. In fact, if the subsequent deed is recorded at the Registry of Deeds first, it will be valid in many states. I don't know with California.

Miguel needs to find the real deed as well as the family friend who witnessed his father give it to him in order to challenge her fraudulent deed and her right to sell the house.

She can list the property with a realtor to sell the house without preparing a deed. Normally the deed isn't prepared until very close to the closing when the property is transferred. She could be hoping that by the time the property closes that Miguel will come to his senses and see that it's the only way to pay for the nursing home. She could intend to lie if he doesn't come to his senses.

4. There's still the question of the divorce. Would Dolores divorcing Hector just make this all way too complicated? I could say she wants to move on with her life but doesn't want a divorce due to her Catholicism. I have an aunt who resisted divorcing my uncle despite his abusiveness, gambling, and alcoholism for years for that reason, so it wouldn't be that farfetched. What do you all think?

Asset protection is a big reason for a divorce here. A divorce isn't going to change much, other then when the divorce is finalized, her POA might become invalid. This depends upon state law.

Do I have it all straight or am I missing anything?

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

jclarkdawe
11-07-2013, 03:23 AM
Jim, in terms of the deed scenario, if I understand correctly, Miguel would have to find the deed and sue his mother?

Miguel would have to get down to the Registry of Deeds prior to his mother. First recorded deed in most states is the deed that's good.

And then have the family friend appear as a witness?

If mom wants to contest the deed, the family friend is going to need to testify to having witnessed the delivery.

Is taking the step of suing her necessary, or would simply having the deed be enough to stop her from selling?

See above.

Is it the kind of thing where she could still try to take the necessary steps to sell unless a judge put a stop to it?

She could argue that the deed is invalid as it was never recorded, and delivery was not completed, as Miguel returned the deed to Hector, and Hector decided not to do it subsequently. There's all sorts of legal permutations that can go on here.


Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

ULTRAGOTHA
11-07-2013, 04:45 AM
Jim said:

Because you've changed terms here, make sure you understand the difference between nursing homes and assisted living. Further, make sure you understand what Medi-Cal pays for. Many programs like it pay for nursing homes but not assisted living.

Absolutely true. Medi-Cal won't pay for assisted living, as it's not medical care. They will pay for various forms of Long Term medical Care or maybe even in-home medical care in an attempt to keep the client out of a more expensive nursing home. (This varies soooo widely by state you'll need to do specific research if you need it for your story.)

Also be aware that in-home support services are available for patients in many states. Sometimes private insurance will pay for them (Does Hector have insurance in his retirement?). Sometimes Medicaid will pay for them. Medicare pays for fewer such services, in general. (For example, they would pay for 10 days in the hospital for IV antibiotics for a patient but they will not pay for 10 days of home IV antibiotic infusion, which is far, far FAR cheaper.)

As far as my comment on conflict goes, I was merely pointing out a source of conflict for your character, not making any positive or negative judgements about it. All stories need conflict of some sort. Your choice if you choose to use it.

rosehips
11-07-2013, 08:43 PM
Also be aware that in-home support services are available for patients in many states. Sometimes private insurance will pay for them (Does Hector have insurance in his retirement?). Sometimes Medicaid will pay for them. Medicare pays for fewer such services, in general. (For example, they would pay for 10 days in the hospital for IV antibiotics for a patient but they will not pay for 10 days of home IV antibiotic infusion, which is far, far FAR cheaper.)

So I'm guessing the amount private insurance covers varies by plan. I have to set up the scenario so that there aren't a lot of options for paying for Hector's care, though. I'd be pretty surprised if the system here in America was very efficient for covering the costs of Hector's care, but it sounds like I don't know enough about it. I need to read up on Medicaid, Medi-Cal, and Medicare.

The idea I've been working with is that Hector's had a lot of medical bills in the last years due to a bad bout of pneumonia and some other complications as a result of the Alzheimer's. The medical bills have wiped out his savings and take up most of the money he's getting for retirement. That way the options are, as I see it, either to refinance the house to pay for an in-home caregiver and all the equipment necessary for his care (which is Miguel's preference) but that will lead to costs Miguel can't handle down the line, or to sell the house and either buy a small place and pay for in-home care or put Hector in a nursing home. I do think a nursing home it the option I need to be looking at because he's in the late stages of the disease and is quite afflicted.

Jim, you've nailed what I had in mind for his legal background, and I like the passing-it-on-to-the-son idea very much.

Notarizing a deed doesn't create copies, does it?

It sounds like I need to look up living wills, too. I've read the wikipedia article, and it looks like living wills only apply to a person's medical wishes. Is that correct?

ETA:
Okay, so I'm starting to understand the Medi-s. Medi-Cal is just Medicaid in California. It's for people who are financially unable to pay for their care. Can I argue that due to his assets, Hector doesn't qualify?

Medicare is an entitlement program, which you get if you paid into social security. Now, as a teacher, I don't pay into social security, but there is a spot on my pay stub for medicare, so I guess you can pay into it without paying SS. Anyway, as a politician, I'm guessing Hector would have done the same as me. So he would be eligible for Medicare. From what I read, Medicare doesn't provide anything like full coverage, though. So unless I'm misunderstanding, the financial hurdles I've been working with still stand.

jclarkdawe
11-07-2013, 11:00 PM
Living wills only deal with medical decisions.

A deed is a different sort of document from most. Copies of an unrecorded deed are only relevant if you can show that the original was destroyed. Historically deeds are treated differently from other documents for a variety of reasons.

Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, rural property tax payers didn't always have the cash for the property tax bill. So their neighbor would take a deed for a small chunk of land, and lend them the money. The deed would never be filed in the Registry of Deeds, and often a year or so later, the two would swap back. Nothing was ever recorded and no record ever existed of it.

Early on, because of all sorts of funky deals, governments put in Registry of Deeds. Until a deed is recorded, it isn't finalized. Once it is recorded, it's easy to make copies. Before it is recorded, a deed can be revoked for a lot of reasons and relatively easily. Especially when the deed is a gift and no consideration is exchanged.

So until Miguel can file the deed, unless he can show, for example, that the deed was burned in a house fire, copies are useless.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

melindamusil
11-08-2013, 12:39 AM
Have the house be the "family" house, that Hector received from his father and wanted to make sure when to his son, who will then transfer it to his son, and so on and so forth. You've now upped the tension and gotten around community property. Miguel will have to balance out whether having dad pay for his care, or become a welfare recipient is better. Especially since dad always opposed Medi-Cal.


Once the deed was transferred, wouldn't Miguel be responsible for paying property taxes?
Or, to put it another way, wouldn't the government expect SOMEONE to pay the taxes on the property?
This could be a complication - unpaid property taxes causing (state or county-level) IRS agents to poke around or maybe threaten to foreclose on the property.

jclarkdawe
11-08-2013, 12:57 AM
Once the deed was transferred, wouldn't Miguel be responsible for paying property taxes?
Or, to put it another way, wouldn't the government expect SOMEONE to pay the taxes on the property?
This could be a complication - unpaid property taxes causing (state or county-level) IRS agents to poke around or maybe threaten to foreclose on the property.

Someone has to pay the taxes. I'd be expecting in the scenario I suggested that the father would continue to pay the taxes. Towns are notified of the change in ownership when you file the deed.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

ULTRAGOTHA
11-08-2013, 03:01 AM
ETA:
Okay, so I'm starting to understand the Medi-s. Medi-Cal is just Medicaid in California. It's for people who are financially unable to pay for their care. Can I argue that due to his assets, Hector doesn't qualify?

Depends on what his other assets are. The house won't count for qualifying him for Medi-Cal (which, yes, is just California's name for Medicaid) because his wife gets to live in it. Savings, second cars, stocks, bonds, boats, jewelry, other major assets will count. Income counts. 401(K)s, IRAs and pensions count. Social Security income counts.

It's not that he has to be poor right this minute. But he has to spend down all his assets (save for the house and one car for the spouse) before Medi-Cal will start using taxpayer money to pay.

Medi-Cal will make him use all his income to pay for care, then pay the balance for the month. So if his pension+Social Security+outlays from 401(K)/IRAs covers the monthly Long Term Care bill, Medi-Cal won't get involved. But if, frex, the monthly bill is $5000 and his monthly income is $3500 then Medi-Cal could cover the difference.

That $1500 per month that Medi-Cal covers will get totted up for later. Once the wife either divorces Hector or sells the house or dies or goes into LTC herself, then Medi-Cal will step in to recover what they can from the value of the house (and car).

So yes, you can certainly argue that Hector doesn't qualify for Spend-Down yet, especially if you have him going into Assisted Living (though he can't be so very ill for Assisted Living). Once he goes in to Long Term Care, though, he WILL qualify for Medi-Cal eventually given what you've said about his finances.


Medicare is an entitlement program, which you get if you paid into social security. Now, as a teacher, I don't pay into social security, but there is a spot on my pay stub for medicare, so I guess you can pay into it without paying SS. Anyway, as a politician, I'm guessing Hector would have done the same as me. So he would be eligible for Medicare. From what I read, Medicare doesn't provide anything like full coverage, though. So unless I'm misunderstanding, the financial hurdles I've been working with still stand.

Medicare doesn't cover Long Term Care for this sort of scenario. What they cover, under Medicare Part A, is LTC care if you need it upon being discharged from the hospital after having been in the hospital for at least three days. For example, you have a heart attack and need 6 weeks of care in a Nursing Home before you can go to your own home. Or if you're in a traffic accident and need in-patient rehab. That sort of thing.