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Transferring Title of Home to Avoid Medi-Cal Estate Recovery Can Have Terrible Consequences

Too often seniors have told me that due to their concerns about Medi-Cal estate recovery, they have either transferred title to their home to their adult child, or other non-family member, or added them to title. Under most, if not all circumstances, seniors should avoid this option to protect them from Medi-Cal estate recovery.

Medi-Cal is a joint federal and state program that provides financial assistance for low-income individuals so they can afford medical and long term care. When a Medi-Cal recipient dies, the state may try to recover repayment from the deceased’s estate. It has been my experience that this estate recovery option causes many seniors to be overly concerned about holding onto title of their homes during their lifetimes. Many seniors do not realize that Medi-Cal will not pursue estate recovery until the recipient and surviving spouse (if married) die.

Rarely, if ever, is it wise for seniors to transfer title of their homes or add a child or another personto title to protect the home from estate recovery. Transferring title, or adding another person to title, is difficult and nearly impossible to reverse. If title is transferred, the senior has given up total ownership and control of his or her home. Unfortunately, some seniors who have done this tell me that the child, now on title, has evicted the senior form the residence so that the child can either sell the house or rent it out to tenants. This is obviously a devastating predicament for seniors. Of additional concern, if the child is a co-owner of the property and the child is successfully sued, the property could be subject to a lien by the child’s judgment creditor.

For most seniors their most significant asset, at the time of their death, is their home. If it remains part of their estate when they die, it is subject to Medi-Cal estate recovery. To best protect their home from estate recovery, most seniors would be best served by having a living trust prepared and transfer the home into their trust. It would then not be part of their estate at time of death. Seniors, who own homes and have been Medi-Cal recipients and are concerned about Medi-Cal estate recovery, should discuss a living trust or other appropriate options with an estate planning attorney.

by Attorney Bob Martin

Elder Abuse Restraining Order Representation Project

Elder Law & Advocacy is excited to announce the Elder Abuse Restraining Order Representation Project (EARORP) serving both San Diego and Imperial Counties. This program provides free legal advice and representation for victims of physical, emotional or financial elder abuse. Representation includes assistance with court paperwork and representation in the civil restraining order hearing.

California law defines Elder Abuse as “(1) Physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or other treatment with resulting physical harm or pain or mental suffering. (2) The deprivation by a care custodian of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm or mental suffering. (3) Financial abuse…”

It is estimated that Elder Abuse is experienced by 1 in 10 older adults. It is also believed that many cases of elder abuse go unreported.

The Elder Abuse Restraining Order Representation Project offers free legal advice and representation to older adults (aged 65+) who have been the victims of financial, physical or emotional abuse. This program seeks to increase the access to justice for seniors who would otherwise be unrepresented and encounter many barriers to successful completion, including facing their abuser in court alone and navigating the technicalities of the court process.

For more information, please contact Elder Law & Advocacy at 858-565-1392.

Scam Alert


According to the Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), new Medicare cards will be mailed out beginning in April 2018.  The new cards contain a unique, randomly assigned number that replaces the current Social Security-based number.

“The goal of the initiative to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards is to help prevent fraud, combat identity theft, and safeguard taxpayer dollars,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

Good news, right?  This is very good news for beneficiaries who want more protection.  However, according to the AARP Fraud Watch Network, the proposed change presented an opening to scammers.  Scammers went to work as soon as they learned about the rollout of the new cards.

Here are some of the ways scammers have tried to use the new card rollout to scam Medicare beneficiaries:

Calling and claiming to be from Medicare-

The caller states that Congress requires a fee for the new card and it must come directly out of your checking account.  The scammer then asks for your account information.  THERE IS NO FEE FOR THE NEW CARD!

The caller will ask you to verify your Social Security number in order to issue the new card replacement.  MEDICARE WILL NOT CALL AND ASK FOR YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER!

This information will be used to steal your identity and your money.  Don’t fall for it and hang up.  You will eventually receive your new card by mail along with instructions to keep your new Medicare number confidential.  As the scammers continue to work on new ways to scam you, be aware.  If you stay aware, you can spot it and stop it.

If you have questions about the issues raised in this article or have another legal or Medicare-related matter, call Elder Law & Advocacy 858 565-1392 to see if you qualify for free assistance.

Scam Alerts




When older individuals are scammed out of their savings, retirement and other funds, the logical result is a decrease in money needed to live. 

This would be the case for anyone, but for a person who is not able to work anymore, there is no way to make up for what has been lost.  The result is a lower standard of living for some and for others, poverty.

Once the money is gone, in many cases, it is very difficult to get it back.  As the old saying goes-‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.


The problem: You got a fax or an email from someone who needs your help.

How did it happen?  Scammers and fraudsters have gotten your fax or email address without your permission!

What is the ‘pitch’? In return for a fantastic sum of money, you help out by becoming the ‘middleman’ in an oil deal between foreign companies, or you are identified as a potential heir of someone who has your same last name and died years ago in a foreign county.

What’s the catch?   These scammers and fraudsters want to you to respond.  If you do, they will always ask you to pay a small amount of money for something related to the ‘deal’ or inheritance.  And then, they ask for more and more money.  Many people feel they have invested so much money and time, they have to keep paying to recoup their investment.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself: Never respond to these emails or faxes.

If you have questions about an unsolicited fax or email, contact Elder Law & Advocacy.  Our staff attorneys will review documents with you at no charge. We are a free legal services organization with a mission to help seniors who are age 60 and over who reside in San Diego or Imperial Counties. Call (858) 565 1392 San Diego County or (760) 353 0223 Imperial County for no-cost help

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

In 2011, the United Nations designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, recognizing Elder Abuse as a “global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world.” The World Health Organization defines Elder Abuse as any act or lack of action that occurs within a relationship where there is an expectation of trust. This can come in the form of financial, emotional, physical or sexual mistreatment.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, about 5 million, or 1 in 10 older Americans, are victims of Elder Abuse, with about 1 in 14 cases going unreported. It is also worth noting that anyone can be a perpetrator of Elder Abuse. In fact, almost 60% of abusers in elder abuse and negligence cases are family members

Here at Elder Law & Advocacy, we serve over 8,000 seniors annually in both San Diego and Imperial counties. If you have concerns regarding Elder Abuse for yourself or a loved one, please contact our office at (858) 565-1392 and visit our website at We can help with legal services for persons ages 60 and over and their caregivers. We also assist with health insurance issues, and  legal assistance for skilled nursing home residents. For physical, sexual, and emergency situations, we also suggest that you call Adult Protective Services at (800) 510-2020 (within San Diego County) or (800) 339-4661 (outside the County).

Elder Law & Advocacy to Participate in NBC 7 Responds Event on Renters’ Rights

Join us on Wednesday, May 23, 2017, from 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM

This event will be hosted via Facebook. You can access the event at NBC 7 Responds Facebook Page:

Scam Alert




You “went solar” or got a new water heater or put in artificial turf or installed new energy efficient windows but now you have a much bigger property tax bill.


You receive a visit from someone who offers to help you lower your energy or water bills.  You may be told it will also help the environment.  You are told that it is a “government–sponsored program”.  That person implies it is free, especially for seniors.

You had that energy upgrade installed but the product was substandard, the installation was sloppy, they damaged your property during the installation.

You get behind on your property bill and may be at risk of foreclosure!

WHAT TO DO:  Take your time before you sign!


Elder Law & Advocacy will review any documents with you for free, before you sign up or after you have had an installation completed.

Scam Alert

Alertas De Estafa/Fraude Para Adultos

¡Cuidado- Instalaciones De Energía Solar Pueden Ponerlo En Riesgo!

El Problema:

Usted decidió instalar tecnología de energía solar o obtuvo un nuevo calentador de agua o instalo pasto sintético o ventanas de energía eficiente pero ahora tiene una cuenta de impuestos propietarios.

Esto Es Lo Que Puede Pasar:

Usted recibe una visita de alguien que le ofrece ayuda para reducir sus cuentas de energía o agua. Le pueden decir que ayudaría al medio ambiente. Le dicen que es un “programa patrocinado por el gobierno”. El individuo ofreciéndole estos servicios insiste en que es totalmente gratis, especialmente para adultos mayores.

Usted obtuvo la mejora energética pero el producto fue deficiente, la instalación fue mala, y le dañaron su propiedad durante la instalación.

¡Usted se atrasa en sus cuentas propietarias y está en riesgo de juicio hipotecario!

Que Hacer: ¡Tome su tiempo antes de firmar!


Elder Law & Advocacy revisara sus documentos con usted sin ningún costo alguno, antes de que firme o después de que le hayan hecho cualquier instalación.

¿No está seguro/a si es una estafa o fraude?  ¡Primero Llámenos!

Llame al 858-565-1392 (Condado de San Diego) o 760-353-0223 (Condado del Valle Imperial)

Para asesoría gratuita.

Alertad De Estafa/Fraude Para Adultos

Tarjetas De Crédito Para Usos Médicos- Utilícelas Con Cuidado

Ayuda! Mi dentista dice que necesito trabajo dental valorado en miles de dólares y el trabajo no es cubierto por mi aseguranza!

Cuando gastos inesperados ocurren y el/la paciente simplemente no tiene el dinero suficiente para pagar por ellos, un proveedor de cuidado de salud le pudiera sugerir una tarjeta de crédito especial para ese tipo de gastos. Un consumidor angustiado pudiera considerar este tipo de opción a crédito, cual es ofrecida a los pacientes en la oficina del proveedor. Estas tarjetas de crédito médicas cubrirán parte del gasto, pero no vienen sin ningún riesgo.

Estas tarjetas ofrecen no tener intereses por el término inicial. Al finalizar el término inicial, el usuario de la tarjeta debió de haber pagado el balance en completo. Si el prestatario no ha pagado el balance completo al acabarse el termino inicial, todo el interés junto con la deuda restante se convierten a deuda y estas tarjetas especiales incluyen un interés muy alto de alrededor de 26.99% reportado por el Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

En Diciembre 2013, el Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordeno a GE Capital Retail Bank y sus subsidiario, CareCredit, a reembolsarle millones a consumidores quienes fueron víctimas de tácticas engañosas debido a inscripciones a tarjetas de crédito. En las oficinas de doctores y dentistas de todo el país, pacientes fueron inscritos para obtener tarjetas de CareCredit al pensar que eran ofertas sin interés, pero en realidad fueron acumulando interés cual “iniciara” si el balance restante no fuese pagado al final del periodo promocional. El interés  se calcula desde la fecha que el prestatario se inscribió para obtener crédito.

¿Que debe de hacer un consumidor quien enfrenta este tipo de gasto?

  • Si su proveedor medico sugiere que use una tarjeta de crédito médica como una opción de pago, no confíe en su explicación de los términos de crédito.
  • Pida una copia en escrito de la aplicación y léala cuidadosamente.
  • Este seguro/a de entender los términos y los cargos de interés después del término promocional.
  • Si usted decide en aplicar, asegúrese de dividir y hacer sus pagos adecuadamente para asegurar que no quede balance restando al final del término inicial.
  • Considere si tiene otra opción disponible como una cuenta de crédito existente con un cargo de interés menor.

Si tiene preguntas sobre este o algún otro asunto legal, llame a ELDER LAW & ADVOCACY al (858) 565-1392.  La mayor cantidad de adultos mayores y cuidadores/ayudantes califican para asesoría legal gratuita.

Scam Alert


Help!  My dentist says I need thousands of dollars’ worth of dental work and it’s not covered by my insurance!

When unexpected expenses come up and a patient just doesn’t have the money to pay for it, a healthcare provider may suggest a special credit card for these expenses.  A distressed consumer may turn to this type of credit option, which is offered to a patient at the provider’s office.  These health-care credit cards will cover part or all of the expense, but they are not without risk.

These cards can offer “no interest” for the initial term.  At the end of the initial term, the card user must have paid the balance off in full.  If the borrower has not paid the entire balance off in full by the end of that initial term, all of the interest along with the unpaid balance becomes due and these special cards can have a very high interest rate-a rate of 26.99% has been reported by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In December 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered GE Capital Retail Bank and its subsidiary, CareCredit, to refund millions to consumers who were victims of deceptive credit card enrollment tactics.  At doctor’s and dentist’s offices around the country, patients were signed up for CareCredit cards they thought were interest free , but were actually accruing interest that “kicked in” if the balance was not paid at the end of the promotional period. The interest is calculated all the way back to the date the borrower signed up for the credit. 

So what is a consumer who is facing this type of expense to do?

  • If your medical provider suggests using a special health-care credit card as an option for payment, don’t rely on their explanation of the terms of the credit.
  • Ask for a printed copy of the application and read it carefully.
  • Be sure you understand the terms and the interest rate after the promotional period.
  • If you decide to apply, make sure to divide up and make your payments evenly to ensure that you have no balance by the end of the initial term.
  • Consider whether you have other options such as an existing credit account with a lower interest rate.

If you have questions about this or other legal matters, call ELDER LAW & ADVOCACY at (858) 565-1392.  Most seniors and their caregivers are eligible for free legal advice.