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Planning for Long-Term Care: The Role of Medi-Cal in Estate Planning

Posted by Mark Ruiz | Mar 18, 2024 | 0 Comments

Every so often, clients or potential clients inquire about the possibility of Medi-Cal seeking reimbursement from their estates after they pass away.  Many of them have heard horror stories about Medi-Cal seeking reimbursement from the estates of people they were acquainted with.  Although there are certain circumstances where Medi-Cal can in fact seek reimbursement from estates, these circumstances are relatively rare and specific to certain situations. Nonetheless, I thought it would be useful to provide a brief blog entry regarding Planning for Long-Term care in the context of Estate Planning.

Planning for Long-Term Care: The Role of Medi-Cal in Estate Planning

Long-term care is a critical consideration for individuals and families as they plan for the future. Whether it's due to aging, disability, or unforeseen circumstances, the need for ongoing medical and personal assistance can arise, presenting significant financial challenges. In California, one essential resource that plays a key role in addressing these challenges is Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. Understanding how Medi-Cal intersects with estate planning is crucial for ensuring comprehensive and effective long-term care strategies.

The Rising Cost of Long-Term Care

The cost of long-term care services, including nursing home care, assisted living facilities, and in-home care, continues to escalate, placing a significant financial burden on individuals and their families. According to recent estimates, the average annual cost of a private room in a nursing home in California exceeds $100,000, making it inaccessible for many without proper planning. As such, incorporating long-term care considerations into estate planning becomes paramount.

Medi-Cal: A Lifeline for Long-Term Care

Medi-Cal serves as a lifeline for individuals who require long-term care but lack the financial resources to cover the exorbitant costs independently. Unlike Medicare, which primarily provides health insurance for individuals over 65 and those with disabilities, Medi-Cal is a needs-based program that covers a wide range of medical and long-term care services for eligible low-income individuals.

Qualifying for Medi-Cal Benefits

To qualify for Medi-Cal benefits, individuals must meet certain income and asset requirements. Estate planning plays a crucial role in structuring assets and income streams to ensure eligibility while maximizing benefits. Strategies such as asset protection trusts, gifting, and Medicaid-compliant annuities may be employed to help individuals qualify for Medi-Cal without exhausting their life savings.

Navigating Medi-Cal Estate Recovery

One important consideration in Medi-Cal planning is estate recovery, whereby the state may seek reimbursement for long-term care costs paid on behalf of Medi-Cal beneficiaries from their estates upon their passing. However, certain exemptions and planning techniques can help minimize or mitigate estate recovery, preserving assets for intended beneficiaries.

The Importance of Advance Planning

Planning for long-term care and incorporating Medi-Cal into estate planning is most effective when done proactively. Waiting until the need for long-term care arises can limit options and diminish the effectiveness of planning strategies. By taking a proactive approach and working with an experienced estate planning attorney, individuals can ensure that their wishes are honored, their assets are protected, and their long-term care needs are met without undue financial strain on themselves or their loved ones.


Planning for long-term care is a critical component of comprehensive estate planning, particularly in California, where the cost of care continues to rise. Understanding the role of Medi-Cal and incorporating it into estate planning strategies can provide individuals and families with peace of mind, knowing that they have access to essential care services while safeguarding their assets and legacy for future generations. To learn more about how to effectively plan for long-term care and navigate the complexities of Medi-Cal in estate planning, consult with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can help tailor a plan to your unique needs and goals.


This article is intended for general information purposes only.  Any legal analysis or other content should not be construed as legal or professional advice or substitute for such advice.  No attorney-client or confidential relationship is formed by transmission of information.  If you require legal or professional advice, please contact an attorney or other suitable professional advisor.  The choice of an attorney or other professional is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements and blog

About the Author

Mark Ruiz

Mark A. Ruiz Attorney/Owner Mark  primarily focuses on Business Law, Real Estate Law and Estate Planning.  He holds a Bachelors Degree from Santa Clara University with an emphasis in Business/Marketing and a Law Degree from the University of San Francisco with a Business Law Certificate.  He ...


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