Medi-Cal is California’s version of the Medicaid program that is funded by the state and federal governments.  The Community based Medi-Cal Benefits Program is a government program to help pay for medical needs for low income persons and others with limited resources and high medical bills for individuals are not in a nursing home.

NOTE: There is also Medi-CAL Long Term Care that helps pay expenses if the person is in a skilled nursing facility. THIS PROGRAM HAS DIFFERENT ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS!! LA LAW Medi-Cal Attorney and Medi-Cal Specialists can help you with these requirements.

We will explain the nursing home program in our next LA LAW Center Blog or you call us for a free phone consult to make sure you know if you can qualify for Medi-CAL LTC. Call 818.241.4238.

For Medi-CAL Community Based Program basic qualifications requirements are as follows:

Although persons 65 years old and older with Medi-Cal also receive Medicare, the Medi-Cal program is not related to Medicare Insurance. Medicare is an earned benefit. Medi-Cal is a need-based program with limited amount of income and resources a person has that determines eligibility.

  1. If you are 65, blind or disabled and on SSI, you are automatically covered by Medi-Cal.
  2. I If you are 65, and your income is too high to qualify for SSI, you may still be eligible for Medi-Cal if:
    1. you meet the Community based Medi-Cal resource limits ($2,000 for an individual, $3,000 for a couple). This means this is the amount of assets you have available to you (bank accounts, autos, real estate, more than your home, etc.! LA LAW Staff can help you move other assets into a special Irrevocable trust and then you will qualify.
    2. you are aged 65 or older, blind, or disabled; and payments for your medical bills would leave you with less than the available “need standard” for your other living expenses;

There are other Community based Medi-Cal programs for special conditions for individuals. What are the Income Limits? California law has a fixed maintenance need standard for those who are living at home (not in nursing home).Basically, it is  the amount of monthly income California has set that a person(s) need for necessary monthly expenses, not including medical bills. This set amount is for a single elder (over 65) or disabled person is $600 per month; for an elder/disabled couple it is $934 per month, unless you qualify for the Aged & Disabled Federal Poverty Level Program.

For the Aged & Disabled Federal Poverty Level Program, starting April 1, 2016, an aged or disabled person with countable income at or below $1,220 or couples with an income at or below $1,645 (both subject to change in April 2017) could be qualified for the Aged & Disabled Medi-Cal Program and pay no share of cost. Qualified individuals must be aged 65 or older or disabled and not in long term care nursing facilities.

Basically, if the monthly income is higher than the above listed need standard, or above the aged and disabled level, the person will have a “share of cost” (kind of like a deductible) for your medical bills each month. Once the person pays or agrees to pay the monthly “share of cost” towards the person’s  medical bills, the person will use their  Medi-Cal card to pay for the rest of Medi-Cal covered medical services each month.

This can be helpful for anyone with major medical bills.  The rules are different for individuals are under 65.  We are happy to help you understand your options.  Call us at 818.241.4238.


We often get questions about why people should hire an Elder Law Attorney. Recently one of our clients took the time to recap his experience with us on YELP, as we helped him through the LifeCare Process and I thought I would share this with you. This is the best thing I have seen that shows why you should call our Burbank firm! (818)241-4238.
YELP Review 5 Stars 2/2/2017 from LA LAW Center client…

I searched far and wide and interviewed countless attorneys to help me handle all my affairs with my elderly mother, and with this group of people at L.A. Law Center, I hit the jackpot.  They helped me with everything and are still helping.  Joe & Kathy, and their team (especially Diana who is outstanding too) This LAW CENTER IS THE BEST, HANDS DOWN, TAKING CARE OF EVERYTHING FOR ME AND MY MOM FROM BEGINNING TO END!  My mom had 4 strokes since she was 69 years old, and I brought her down to care for her at my home when she was 85 years old roughly 4 years ago.  She had SOME funds which made her ineligible for Medi-Cal initially,but I could not care for her at my home initially expense wise unless she could join Medi-Cal and make her eligible for some help from IHSS (IN Home Supportive Services). This senior help law group had a completely legal way of opening up a Medi-Cal asset protection trust  for my mom so the money she did have was transferred legally into that trust, (which Joe wrote) and immediately afterward they took care of getting her approved for Medi-Cal.

Kathy (his wife), is a licensed and experienced senior advocate.  Kathy has knowledge of how Medi-Cal works and is also an authorized Medi-Cal placement representative, as well as a licensed Triage director, and Certified Senior Advisor. She walked me through how to transfer the money and she did the paperwork and took me through it all step by step.  (And Diana was instrumental in handling all the paperwork and dealing with the Medi-Cal representatives.  It would have been insane for me to even attempt doing that myself) (They have never failed to get someone approved by the way) And then, once my mom was approved for Medi-Cal, they advised me on how to sign my mother up for In Home Supportive services where I received help for almost 2  years so I could care for my mother at home which were her wished and not be forced to put her in a facility immediately.  But Kathy’s service didn’t stop there, their services cover the lifetime of my mother, and we did this all in advance knowing at some point my mom would have another stroke event (which she did recently) and at some point facility care would be needed temporarily or permanently if she had too many needs for me to take care of her at home even with help.

So in the last 2-3 months, my mom’s most recent stroke put her in the hospital again, and then rehab which medicare covered up to a point.  Kathy guided me through this the entire time.  And when medicare (and Kaiser) stopped their rehab support, my mother was in no condition to come home safely, and this is where Kathy’s knowledge came in handy again, advising me in finding the best facility because after medicare stopped paying, she knew the law was that if I could not care for her at home, they would have to keep her in the long term care unit at their facility and transfer her to her Medi-Cal coverage.  And the facility did everything to try and kick her out but Kathy kept me strong to fight them and stand up for my mom’s rights.  Because when the LA Law Center agreed to take us on – Kathy became my mom’s personal legal advocate (in addition to me) and my mom is now being cared for and very happy in an outstanding facility which I never would have been able to make happen without her knowledge of what our rights were. (And as a side note – Kathy did this for us with a broken foot healing at home and recovering from that awful flu for a month – while I texted her these extremely long texts multiple times a day for about 30 days straight – during this entire last stroke episode – from hospital to rehab – to finding the best facility in Los Angeles Country to dealing with the case workers for the hospital and the facilities who are trying to do nothing but get my ailing mom out as fast as they can so they could make more money.  Kathy did this for me (with Diana’s help) – from her sick bed because it was crisis time.

Joe, and Kathy, and Diane, and the rest of their legal team, took my mom on after our first meeting with them, to make sure she was taken care of for the rest of her life.  That is what their service provides, overseeing my mom and helping me (her eldest son and power of attorney) to give her the best and most loving care possible.  I am eternally grateful to these people.  They are loving and caring and have their comprehensive help and legal expertise down.  It’s what they do.  I was recommended to them by another attorney who said if you want a group of people who will help you with your mom from beginning to the end.  This is the only group that provided the most comprehensive service.  And at EXTREMELY reasonable rates.  Read the other reviews and everyone has a slightly different situation but a similar recommendation,  These people are just the best.  I am so blessed and grateful to have found them.  Their help has been invaluable to me, and most importantly my beloved mother. Thank you,,Thank you, Thank you.

CALL US AT (818)241-4238 for a free phone or office consultation.

Los Angeles Elder Law Attorney Protecting Seniors’ Assets… from the perspective of Summer UCLA Intern, Ryan Eason

I am a student at University of California, Los Angeles interning at LA Law Center, PC for the summer of 2016, and in my tenure here, this is what I’ve learned.

One’s twilight years should be a time of peace and security, not one of financial discord and stress. However, many senior citizens in the Southern California and Los Angeles area are tremendously burdened by the cost of long-term medical care and nursing homes, which currently averages roughly $8,000 a month in California. Sub-acute care can cost up to as much as $30,000 a month.

Despite these often-overwhelming inconveniences, there are opportunities to measurably reduce them through consultation with an elder law attorney. Many senior citizens in the Los Angeles area aren’t aware of their own eligibility to qualify for Medi-CAL, and without legal counsel, are forced to resort to dire financial compromises to afford long-term health care. That is why working with the team in Los Angeles at LA Law Center, PC is important, to be able to comprehend you and your loved one’s options to qualify for Medi-CAL benefits. It is certainly not necessary for you to “spend down” your assets to the $2,000 level or lose your home to get the financial security you deserve.

Through the reallocation of assets, transfer of non-exempt assets to exempt, and re-categorization of assets along State and Federal rules, our Los Angeles elder law attorneys will offer your family a strong, guiding hand toward receiving the financial assistance you and your family need, eliminating the necessity to resort to extreme measures to pay for nursing homes, such as depleting your savings.

At the LA Law Center, PC we understand Los Angeles families that wish to protect their hard-earned assets. We understand that every situation requires a unique and specialized approach, and in our office, you aren’t another client; you are a person. We understand that long-term medical care is not only a matter of numbers and figures, but also one of respect and dignity. And, most importantly, we understand the legal processes necessary to reallocate your assets to qualify for Medi-CAL while simultaneously ensuring those assets’ protection.

Joseph McHugh, Esq., our firm’s managing attorney, holds a “superb” 9.1 rating on, boasts a 100% success rate when it comes to qualifying clients for Medi-CAL, and has served the Los Angeles community since 1987. For a free consultation with our legal triage advisor, Kathy McHugh, call us at 818-241-4238.


Ryan Eason, Intern at LA Law Center, PC

UCLA ’17, English and Communications

Note: We wish to thank Ryan for doing a great job with us this summer… I think he understands Elder Law and what it takes to operate a small law firm! Joe & Kathy McHugh


If I Am On Medi-CAL, Can the State Take My Home When I Die?

Many clients in Los Angeles that are Medi-Cal beneficiaries are worried about being on Medi-Cal and what will happen to their hard earned asset….their house!

They want to know if the state (California) will “take” their homes after they die if they have been on Medi-Cal benefits.

The State of California does not take away your home exactly! However, your home can be “subject” to a Medi-CAL Estate Recovery Claim after your death. This ONLY HAPPENS when your home remains in your name when you die!

Medi-CAL Estate Recovery…  “the State” will make a claim against “your estate” (any asset in your name at the time of your death) for the entire amount of the Medi-Cal benefits paid or for the value of your estate, whichever is less. So to protect your home “from being taken by the State of California”, you must move your home from your name BEFORE YOU DIE OR LOSE MENTAL CAPACITY.

There are many ways to do this, but you must be careful to avoid possible capital gains for your children or beneficiaries.  We highly recommend that you discuss this with only an experienced elder law attorney that can guide you through your options.    Be careful of online legal services, regular estate planning attorneys, friends of the family referral lawyers, social; workers, etc. Many people make the mistake of getting the wrong advice!  There are many thing our Los Angeles Elder Law attorneys can counsel your family on doing.

Truly the only professional that you should trust and can help you in getting help to pay for your medical or long term care costs that has the proper understanding of the benefits versus the consequence is an Elder Law Attorney.

Los Angeles Elder Law Attorney, Joe McHugh has dedicated the main part of his practice to serving the needs of seniors and their families with the legal and asset protection issues that you need to know as you grow older.

We are happy to personally speak with you on the phone or in person at no charge to see if we can help you or your loved ones! Call 818.241.4238!


KNX 1070 Radio & LA Law Center “The Costs of Elder Care:  The Race Against Time Radio Show!”

As experienced Elder Law Attorneys and Medi-CAL staff, we are very pleased to be a part of a radio series on CBS KNX 1070 and KFWB 980 in Los Angeles, called ‘The Costs of Elder Care: The Race Against Time!’

This radio series program gives a lot of unknown information to the public regarding paying for  long term care in nursing homes and protecting family assets including the family home while qualifying for Medi-CAL (Medicaid).

Our Elderly Care Attorneys are passionate about educating everyone about options for seniors and their long term care! As an experienced Los Angeles Elder Law Attorney, Joseph McHugh, Esq. was interviewed by radio talk show host, Charles Feldman for his reporting of the challenges of the high costs of aging and the many options to pay for nursing home care including government programs. Of course one of these options is qualifying for Medi-CAL and Joe explains that middle class families with modest assets CAN qualify by reallocating their assets.

For additional information & replays of the interviews about elders and long term care on the CBS KNX Radio Station’s Web Site CLICK HERE!

As always, call us at LA LAW if you have concerns about your family and long term care! Elder Law Attorney,  Joe McHugh is dedicated to protecting senior’s assets, especially with a well spouse at home! Do not trust a social worker or other care professional to know elder law!! Talk to an Elder Law attorney in Los Angeles!

Our elderly care attorneys and staff are dedicated to informing the community about the Medi-CAL facts… and continue to fight the widespread misinformation and myths that surround Medi-CAL State Benefits qualifications, senior care and way to help paying for nursing home care.

Our highly experienced Medi-CAL Attorneys and Staff have a mission to educate the public about protecting seniors assets with California laws and rules for Medi-CAL gift transfers, eligibility, and Medi-CAL Estate Recovery.

For free consultation call us at (818) 241-4238!

Senior Scammers… What Can You do?

Today’s Senior Scammers continue to try to dupe our older citizens by trial and error and when it works, they hit hard! They are very good at mostly phone calls that generally have an urgent nature with the target of getting money from an unsuspecting senior.  As an adult child or loved one, you may be able to easily spot a scam, but elderly people are targeted and they may not tell you about the scammer. Talking to your senior loved ones and paying attention as well knowing what to look for with the most common scammers can help you protect your older loved ones to stay safe from scammers. Read more here.   Or go to

At LA LAW Center we will be happy to help you with any possible scammer and explaining this to your senior loved one!


A Medi-Cal Asset Protection Trust is an Irrevocable Trust specifically created to hold assets (i.e. the home and savings accounts) to qualify for Medi-CAL Long Term Care Benefits and to prevent the State of California from “Medi-Cal Estate Recovery”. If set up properly and far enough in advance, a person’s entire estate can be protected and this person will have Medi-CAL help pay nursing home costs!

“Estate Recovery” is the right of the State of California to seek reimbursement from any assets of the Decedent for funds the State paid in Medi-Cal benefits if it is in the name of the patient at the time of death. These claims can be quite large and will not be claimed until both spouses have passed away. So, if the first spouse is on Medi-CAL and the second spouse dies ( without using Medi-CAL), if there is any money in the surviving spouse’s name at the time of death, the State can and WILL recover… even if the assets were already distributed to the children after the death of last spouse. It is critical to set up an irrevocable trust and transfer the family house into the trust or it may be taken by the State!

So it is important to get all assets out of the name of persons and spouses that are using Medi-CAL for long term care. This is complicated and you should seek help from an elder law attorney…not just any attorney because many attorneys do not understand legally how to protect form State recovery. WE ARE ALWAYS HAPPY TO HELP A FAMILY WITH QUESTIONS.

The Medi-Cal Asset Protection Trusts are designed to legally transfer assets that would otherwise disqualify a person from receiving benefits and use the State Medi-Cal rules so that the assets will not count or make the penalty from the transfer minimized or eliminated. An experienced elder law attorney can set this up and then guide the family with exact transfers to meet current laws and Medi-CAL rules.

Currently the rules as set up by both the State of California and the Federal Government allow an individual to preserve assets to pass on to family and to avoid recovery. Proper and legal estate planning WILL ensure      families with assets can have their estates protected from the State of California Recovery Unit.

We are passionate about helping families preserve their assets with the least amount of time and trouble. We offer free consultations to seniors and their adult children.

For more information go to or call 877.537.8283.  


California Medi-CAL Planning and Qualifying with Assets- Part Four

What You Do Not Know Can Hurt You!!!

This is PART FOUR in our blog helping middle classed family members understand how to qualify for  Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) to pay part or all of the cost for skilled nursing home care.

Always remember, you do not operate on yourself and we highly recommend that you get assistance from a qualified elder law attorney for your family’s Medi-CAL planning, allows you to legally qualify for the federal and state Medi-CAL Program.

There are several strategies a family can use to make sure their loved one can qualify for Medi-CAL Long Term Care Benefits.

  1. Intend to Return Home

If a single person receiving Medi-CAL care in a facility owns a house, this family home does not disqualify them form Medi-CAL, but could be subject to sale to pay for Medi-CAL expenses. The house is only protected if a qualifying child or dependent lives there or if the recipient intends on returning home. In California you must always have the Medi-Cal recipient (or their attorney-in-fact) sign an intent to return home.

Most families sell the home and end up with a large amount of cash that must be spent down before the loved one qualifies for Medi-CAL. Keeping the home avoids losing the entire value of it to spend down. By retaining the home, Medi-CAL recovery may not come after the full value of the home when the loved one dies.

Potential rental income from the house would also go towards paying the nursing home care cost and reduce the amount that Medi-CAL would have to pick up. This could mean that Medi-CAL recovery using this strategy might go after a smaller share of its cost in the recovery process.

In California, an experienced Elder Law Attorney may be able to help you transfer the home to an irrevocable trust to prevent Medi-CAL recovery on the family home.

  1. Medi-CAL Treatment of a Home

If the community spouse lives in the home then the home is exempt from determining Medi-CAL eligibility. It does not count as an asset and prevent the institutional spouse from receiving Medi-CAL help. On the other hand any other real estate property, not the primary residence, will have to be converted to cash and spent down before Medi-CAL will start paying the bill.

If the well spouse living in the home does not in turn need Medi-CAL help in the future then one of two things can happen to the house after the death of the institutional spouse. Legally Medi-CAL has a claim against the property for recovery services. At the death of the community spouse, the property cannot be sold until the lien is satisfied.

In California,  if the property is properly transferred into a Medi-CAL Asset Protection Irrevocable Trust, the state does not consider the house an asset for recovery. Always work with an experienced elder law attorney when dealing with recovery issues. You can never assume what your state recovery program will actually do.

We invite you to take advantage of a free phone consultation or appointment for a free 30 minute consultation to review your individual situation and determine if you would benefit from our experience and legal services.

For more information go to or call us at:

Local Phone: (818) 241-4238 or

Toll Free Phone: (877) 537-8283

Worried about Your Mom or Dad? Adult children need to step in…

It is always difficult to see a parent start to fail and need care at the end of their productive lives. It is important to begin planning for long term care and placement in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility before it is immediately needed.  The family needs to talk with an experienced elder law attorney to legally decide on what the parent(s) wishes to do versus what is in the best interest of the senior loved one.  Children are generally uncomfortable about moving a parent out of their home to a facility against they want to remain at home.  This discussion can start with looking at in home care aides to start the life care cycle. Sometimes parents become rebellious and do not allow anyone in the home to help them.  If the children do not live nearby or have to work a full time job, managing a rebellious parent long distance becomes a difficult family task.

Many children are understandably uncomfortable in becoming the parent, especially if the parent does not want to accept help that is clearly needed.  Independence is a hard thing to let go of.  But there is a time when adult children will need to step in to the decision making role, just as parents do with small children. Your decision to step in can be very difficult because in many situations the decline is gradual.   When is the right time to step in?

Too often the deterioration of your parent’s ability to do the every day things to care for themselves will happen gradually over time. Your parent(s) may become experts at hiding these problems, so it is important for you to be on guard for certain warning signs:

  • Incapable to properly pay bills and manage their finances
  • Incapable to handle their needed nourishment, clothing or shelter
  • Incapable to take care of one’s physical health

Early intervention on your part can prevent serious problems from occurring.  When you visit your parent(s), look for the following warning signs of a possible care crisis:

  • no food in the cupboards,
  • stacks of unopened mail,
  • evidence of not bathing
  • other signs that your parents are no longer able to properly care for themselves.

If they wait for the parents to ask for help, that day will probably never come. They need to have a plan in place sooner than later that will provide for adequate care supervision and financial assistance even if parents feel they need no help.

LA LAW Center Staff will help you assess your parent’s physical, emotional and financial situation and suggest the best options for your parent’s situation.  This can range from, setting up a Conservatorship, securing Government Benefits to help pay for care, such as Medi-CAL, Medicare, Veterans or Social Security benefits, developing a Life Care Plan or help in choosing In Home Care Givers,  Assisted Living Facility or Nursing Home.

For more information, please surf our website and look around. We try to educate our community and assist them with any elder law needs they may have or fear. Visit our site or call us today to schedule your FREE consultation with one of our experienced elder law attorneys.


1 (877) 537 – 8283

Why is a Power of Attorney (Health and Financial) Document so important?

Death or mental incapacity can strike at any time.Signing a Power of Attorney NOW, while healthy and competent will prevent the need for a conservatorship and possible loss of assets!

With respect to creating these ‘NO MATTER WHAT DOCUMENTS’… there is no time like the present!  There are two kinds of Powers of Attorney, one is for health care and medical decisions and the other is for financial decisions. Both of these are important for you and your loved ones to have.

  1. Choosing a Personal Representative for Health Care Decisions

The Advance Health Care Directive allows you to make decisions about the ability to keep you alive in certain circumstances. This may include life support, artificial nutrition or hydration. You may also specify any medications you would want or where you would like to spend your last moments. These documents are flexible and help your family members guide you through your last wishes.

Executing an Advanced Health Care Directive (medical durable power of attorney) assigns the person of YOUR CHOICE to act on your behalf to make medical decisions if you are mentally incapable of making those decisions yourself, without the need of proceeding to court for an appointed conservator of your person.

  1. Choosing a Personal Representative for Financial Decisions

For financial decisions, you, as the principal, appoint one or more people to be your “attorney-in-fact” to all of your financial decisions. Your attorney-in-fact can make all the same financial decisions regarding your assets and liabilities as you can.

Power of Attorney can take effect immediately or be specified to take effect when you become incapacitated or incompetent as declared by one or more physicians. This is why the power of attorney is considered durable, because it survives your incapacity or incompetency.

Executing a Durable Power of Attorney identifies a the person of YOUR CHOICE to act on your behalf to make financial decisions if you are mentally incapable of making those decisions yourself, without the need of proceeding to court for an appointed conservator of your estate (assets).  This can also allow your representative to move assets out of your name to qualify for Medi-CAL (Medicaid) qualifications or to prevent recovery.

Take advantage of a free phone consultation or appointment for a free 30 minute consultation to review your individual situation and determine if you would benefit from our experience and legal services.

For more information go to or call us at:

Local Phone: (818) 241-4238 or

Toll Free Phone: (877) 537-8283