Veterans May Need to Update Estate Plans Following California Audit

Posted on Jun 15, 2013

On Thursday, May 9, California’s independent state auditor issued a recommendation that the state make immediate changes with regard to spending on veterans’ retirement homes. Among the recommended changes is to begin charging residents more money in order to recoup more of the costs. She noted that California lawmakers should consider amending the existing laws surrounding veterans’ benefits. Specifically, she indicates that fees charged to veterans for staying in veterans’ retirement homes should be based on assets, including property, stocks, and cars. This is contrary to the current system that is based upon income. She further recommended that the laws be changed to allow the state to recover some of the expenses by pursuing claims against the estates of residents after they have passed.

At least one veteran is speaking out in outrage over the proposed amendments to the laws. John Meyer of Oceanside, California, called the proposal “an affront to veterans who sacrificed for their country.” Mr. Meyer is a former Green Beret who served two tours of duty in Vietnam.

San Diego lawmakers, however, are split with regard to the proposal. Democrat and Senator Ben Hueso, chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, is not in favor of increasing the financial burden on veterans. Assemblyman Rock Chavez, however, is in support of a more stringent means test. Mr. Chavez is a Republican from Oceanside who is a former administrator in the Department of Veterans Affairs and a retired Marine Corps colonel.

The audit was conducted by Elaine Howle. It was ordered after lawmakers began raising alarms over the increasing costs of the veterans’ retirement homes. The state is currently wresting with financial difficulties in providing services to troops returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Potential legal changes such as amendments to the laws surrounding veterans’ benefits could have a big impact on existing estate plans. To learn more about potentially modifying or updating your plan, contact the experienced Anaheim estate attorneys at the Law Office of James F. Roberts & Associates, APC. Call our office today at (714) 459-5481.

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James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm