Frequently Asked Questions

Elder Law

What steps should I take to plan for long-term care?

Even if you are currently in good health, it’s a great idea to meet with a knowledgeable elder law attorney who can address your long-term care planning needs. You can explore the various long-term care options out there, from in-home care to nursing centers. Together, you and your attorney can discuss your goals for your final years, taking several factors—such as your finances, physical needs, and more—into consideration. Once you’ve created a variety of long-term care options, you can rest easier with the knowledge that you and your family will be supported and protected, come what may.

How do I know if I qualify for MediCAL coverage?

MediCAL is a state-run program in California that offers health coverage to (typically low-income) people. While there are some parameters to qualifying for MediCAL coverage, it’s highly advised that you meet with an experienced elder law attorney who can help you assess your situation and advise you on how to proceed. There are several strategies for applying for MediCAL, and your attorney will work hard to ensure that your future remains bright.

What is an Irrevocable Medicaid Trust?

In order to qualify for Medicaid assistance, a person needs to fall below a certain income level. By forming an irrevocable Medicaid trust, you can set aside those financial assets you intend to pass on to your beneficiaries once you pass away. Once these assets are in an irrevocable trust, Medicaid will not take them into account, allowing you to meet the eligibility requirements based on your reduced amount of assets. If you are interested in learning more about how an irrevocable Medicaid trust could help you achieve your goals, reach out to Douglas M. Buchanan Attorney at Law today.

Estate Planning

What should I include in my estate plan?

While there are many potential aspects to a robust estate plan, it’s helpful to start with some essential documents. Creating a will, establishing any number of trusts, drafting an advance health care directive, and appointing a health care proxy are all important steps to take to ensure that your future—and that of your loved ones—remains bright

What is an Advance Health Care Directive?

An advance health care directive is a key component of your estate plan. It essentially allows you to document your preferences regarding medical interventions or treatments to which you give your consent, should you be incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes. An advance health care directive also allows you to appoint a trusted individual to serve as your health care proxy. Should you fall unconscious or otherwise become incapacitated, your health care proxy will advocate for your best interests and ensure that your wishes are known and respected.

What is a durable power of attorney?

A durable power of attorney is a document that allows you to name a trusted individual to complete legal transactions or make important decisions on your behalf. Should you be unable to be physically present to complete an important real estate transaction, you can send this trusted person to conduct the transaction in your place. A durable power of attorney can also be used to give your trusted loved one the power to oversee any financial transactions, ensuring that your best interests and wishes are carried out


What is probate?

When someone passes away in the state of California, their estate enters a period known as probate. Probate is the legal process of assessing the value of the estate, paying off any outstanding debts or taxes owed by the estate, and distributing the remaining assets among the named beneficiaries.

What happens when someone dies without a will in place?

If a person dies “intestate,” or without a will, the probate court will step in to oversee the process. As the deceased individual did not name an individual to serve as the estate administrator, the court will determine who can step in to serve in this capacity. While probate may still go smoothly without a will, disputes among family members can certainly arise. The court will have a more direct role in overseeing the process, adhering closely to state probate laws to ensure an equitable outcome.

How long does the probate period last in California?

While each situation differs slightly, the average duration of the probate process in California is one year. Depending on the circumstances and complexity of the estate, the process may take significantly longer—especially if disputes arise.