New Special Needs Trusts Allow Persons under 65 to Keep Public Benefits!!!

Good news! If you are UNDER 65 years old and expecting an inheritance or court ordered settlement, you can have access to these funds and allows you to keep your public benefits (Medi-CAL or SSI).

There is a new federal statute that amended the rules regarding special needs trusts and now allows mentally competent individuals to establish their own “payback” special needs trusts with their own assets. This is called a California Self-Settled Special Needs Trust, as known as a First Party Special Needs Trust that can now be set up to protect your public benefits.  So this is a legal way for you to receive an inheritance or settlement (from a personal injury court case) and stay on Medi-CAL and have extra money be held in trust to enhance the quality of your life.

You must get this set up BEFORE your settlement or inheritance comes to you!

Attorney Joseph McHugh is our Special Needs Attorneys and he works quickly with your Personal Injury Attorney or Estate Attorney to ensure the Special Needs Trust is properly set up before the court ordered settlement(s) or inheritance monies are distributed to you.  With proper Pre-settlement planning, your expected money will help be expedited into the Special Needs Trust… which then can be used for your benefit as soon as available when the final settlement is placed in the Special Needs Trust account.

You will need a person to be your trustee and manage the special needs trust assets and determine what the trust can pay for…. this person must act on your behalf! (If you do not have someone you trust, you can hire a Professional Fiduciary to be the trustee for your Special Needs Trust.) This does not give you total access to the money coming to you, but it does allow for many things to be paid for and most importantly it allows you to keep your public benefits and have additional items paid for by the special needs trust California Self-Settled Special Needs Trust, known as First Party Special Needs Trusts can now be set up to protect Your Public Benefits.

There are rules about what this Special Needs Trust can pay for, but basically it can pay for things like the following:

  • Car and related expenses
  • Clothing
  • Furniture & Household Items
  • Electronics (including TV, Computers, cable and internet)
  • Home Utilities
  • Education and related expenses
  • Insurances
  • Supplemental home care and private care services
  • Travel expenses
  • Entertainment (movies, theater tickets)
  • Legal fees
  • Housing (*may reduce SSI benefits)
  • Food (*may reduce in SSI benefits)
  • Medical procedures or Physical Therapy not covered government assistance
  • Medications (not covered by government benefits

The rules for setting up any type of California Special Needs Trusts can be complicated and it is important to make sure that a person in need of a Special Needs Trust gets good legal advice from an elder law attorney about how to set it up and also properly manage the payments in order to avoid serious problems or loss of public benefits. We at LA Law Center have experience at setting up many different types of Special Needs Trusts and understand that they in many cases need to be created quickly as generally time is of the essences! We are happy to help you.  Call for a free 30 minute consultation to see if we can help you…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.

Arnold Palmer’s Death… a reminder that you should have your affairs in order!!

“Failing to plan is planning to FAIL.” – Ben Franklin

Arnold Palmer, known as “the King” for his personal grand legacy in golf, has died at the age of 87. He died Sunday evening at a Pittsburgh hospital while awaiting cardiac surgery, according to a statement from a spokesperson form his company. We will miss this great golfer!  What a lucky man to have worked in a sport for so many years he loved so much!

Every time a legends passes away, I always want to remind everyone to make sure you have a plan for your body and your assets.  Many say….I am not Rich, Why do I need Estate Planning?

Joseph McHugh, our Estate Planning Attorney is passionate about ensuring your final wishes are properly documented so they will legally carried out upon of your death. More importantly, your wishes in case of you suffer a tragic event as a result of illness or injury, leaving you unable to manage your life or your financial affairs.

It is important to ask a professional to help you decide what type of trust you may need. Do you have special needs loved ones, do you want to make sure certain relatives do not benefit from an inheritance?

We are happy to help you decide how to plan for you incapacity and death… (getting your affairs in order”!

Call us for a free consultation and fee schedule… you need to pull your head out of the sand and decide these things before you join Arnold and many other greats in the hereafter!

Call 818.241.4238 We are happy to discuss your thoughts and wishes!


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!

Protect Your Assets!! What You Do Not Know Can Hurt You!


Protect your assets!  Just like the busy squirrels that are always hiding and protecting their nuts! We work hard for our assets and need to think about the possibility that there is always someone thinking of a way to get them from us.

Over 19 million new lawsuits are filed in the United States every year.  A great number of these lawsuits can frivolous and trying to settle for a fast buck. California has a reputation for siding with the creditors and making it more difficult to protect our assets!  Anyone that has established a professional business can be a target! Doctors, lawyers, accountants, many types of business owners and multiply property owners need to aware of the risks associated their businesses.

Your assets (home, bank accounts, business assets, etc.), that may be at risk can include, personal liability of corporate officers and directors, lawsuits from former business partners, personal injury suffered on property owned by you or your business or in a car motor accident, professional malpractice liability and many more.
Good Insurance is the first line of defense, but it may not totally protect against lawsuits.  Asset Protection is something that needs to be thought about BEFORE an incident occurs!! You should implement legally-sound protection strategies that will help preserve your wealth and safeguard your assets.
You need to make sure you are confident about the risk you personally or in business could have and then consult an asset protection attorney to evaluate the best and most cost effective ways to legally protect your stash of NUTS from any potential creditors.

We offer free confidential reviews of your current estate and give you levels of asset protection strategies.  Call us at 818.241.4238 or go to


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