Posts Tagged ‘new york special needs planning’

Federal Courts Rule Medicare Standards Too Strict

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Elderly Americans are facing overly strict standards when they apply for skilled nursing home care and home health care through Medicare, two federal courts recently decided.

The two courts, one in Pennsylvania and one in Vermont, ruled that the Obama administration’s standards were too strict and that some seniors have been unfairly denied home care.

The courts ruled against the government position that seniors are only entitled to home care if they can verify that their condition will improve because of it. They said that these rulings were a “failure to apply the correct legal standard”, and determined that seniors are entitled to Medicare coverage of home care if it will keep their condition from deteriorating or allow them to live life as they had been.

Before this ruling, elderly Americans with deteriorating conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may have had trouble receiving Medicare for home care, as their conditions often do not allow them to improve.

The court cited past rulings that decided Medicare law should be interpreted to best favor beneficiaries. In response, 17 Democrats from the House of Representatives sent the Obama administration a letter arguing against its Medicare policies.

The government has not yet responded to the case.

If you or a loved one has been denied Medicare coverage of home care, contact an experienced elder law attorney for assistance.

To learn more about New York elder law, New York estate planning, visit http://www.elderlawnewyork.com

The Importance of Appointing a “Digital Executor” in Today’s High Tech World

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

With the ever growing popularity of the Internet, important documents are no longer stored solely in safety deposit boxes. Increasingly, financial management is performed online and records are stored on a computer hard drive. In addition to online bank accounts, your digital assets could include business documents, online profiles and auctions, and family photos.

This means that things can become tricky for family members when someone becomes mentally incapacitated or passes away. How would one access those online bank accounts?  What should be done about those social networking site profiles?

Consider appointing a ”digital executor” to handle such needs. The digital executor should be someone who is both trustworthy and digitally savvy. It’s a good idea to provide such a person with a list of usernames and passwords to all important accounts. This list could be printed out or burned onto a CD and given to an attorney or stored in a location to which only the digital executor has access. It is also beneficial to provide this person with instructions about whether certain accounts should be deleted, altered in some way, or passed on to heirs.

While the courts offer centuries of legal precedent concerning real property and paper documents, there are many gray areas when it comes to online recordkeeping. Although existing family members may be able to gain access to online accounts after the owner passes on, the situation can be trickier from a legal perspective if the person is mentally incapacitated. To help avoid any potential problems, it is best to consult your attorney about handling these important details.

To learn more about New York
elder law
, New York
estate planning
, visit href="http://www.elderlawnewyork.com">http://www.elderlawnewyork.com

Trusts Are Not Just for the Wealthy

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Think trust funds are only for the wealthy, for those with second homes and extravagant yachts? Think again.

There are several types of trusts available, and they can save thousands of dollars in estate and gift taxes, even if you just own a modest home. Not only that, they are a secure way to manage assets long after you have passed on.

If you have a life insurance policy, for instance, you may wish to consider an irrevocable life insurance trust. Life insurance proceeds are included in your gross estate and, therefore, are subject to federal and state estate taxes. But a life insurance policy owned by an irrevocable life insurance trust is excluded from your gross estate and can save your beneficiaries a huge chunk of money when you pass on.

Another type of trust is the revocable trust, which transfers ownership of one’s assets to a trust during one’s lifetime but also offers details on the distribution of property and assets upon death. The advantage over a standard will is that revocable trusts bypass the probate process. While you can be your own trustee for a revocable trust, you may prefer to name a professional trustee to manage the trust assets, keep good records, pay you a regular income and—should you become incapacitated—pay your household and medical bills.

There are many more options for trusts. To discuss your particular needs, speak to an experienced attorney.

To learn more about New York
elder law
, New York
estate planning
, visit href="http://www.elderlawnewyork.com">http://www.elderlawnewyork.com

Difference Between Power of Attorney and Guardianship

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

A power of attorney and guardianship both give an individual or entity the ability to make decisions for another person. But what are the differences?

The power of attorney is a valuable estate planning tool that enables another individual to make financial decisions in your stead at any time, for example, if you become incapacitated or, for some other reason (such as traveling out of the country), are not able to sign necessary documents. The individual, referred to as the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” can be a friend, spouse, relative or any other trusted person and may, for instance, be called upon to sell real estate, withdraw money from a bank account, or pay bills. Although you must have capacity at the time you execute your power of attorney, it remains valid in the event that you become incapacitated.

How is guardianship different? Guardianship, which requires court authorization, is only granted when incapacity exists. It encompasses much broader powers than a power of attorney, extending beyond financial decisions to health care and personal affairs, such as routine medical treatment and living arrangements.

With a guardianship, the court will appoint a court evaluator, an impartial person who investigates the issues and reports his findings to the court. The court also conducts a hearing, with witnesses in attendance, during which the court determines whether or not the individual in question needs a guardian and who that guardian should be. Although a friend or family member may petition a court to become someone’s guardian, sometimes the court chooses a financial institution or guardianship agency instead.

To learn more about New York elder law, New York estate planning, visit http://www.elderlawnewyork.com

When to Hire a Trust Protector

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

A trust protector is an individual who is responsible for overseeing a trust and its trustees. The concept of the trust protector originated among settlors (individuals who create or establish trusts) who had trusts in offshore jurisdictions. However, trust protectors are becoming more popular as a means of safeguarding trusts established in the United States.

Trust protectors are appointed and granted powers in the trust document. There is no “one-size-fits-all” list of powers a trust protector should be given. A settlor must determine an appropriate level of authority given the settlor’s unique needs. Some examples of duties that a trust protector may perform include:

• removing or replacing a trustee,
• handling disputes between trustees and/or beneficiaries,
• amending the trust,
• adjusting disbursements according to changes in beneficiaries’ circumstances, and
• oversight of investment of the trust’s assets.

There are a variety of reasons for appointing a trust protector. A settlor may have concerns about a trustee’s ability to execute the settlor’s wishes. Or a settlor may want to split administration duties between a trustee and a trust protector. Appointing a trust protector also makes a long-term trust more flexible and able to adjust to unexpected events.

Although anyone may serve as a trust protector, it is generally a good idea to hire an independent third party or professional as your trust protector. An experienced elder law and estate planning attorney can help ensure that a trust protector is given the right balance of power to oversee your trust effectively.

Make Sure Your Will Is Airtight

Monday, November 15th, 2010

People often think that because they have executed a Will, their wishes will be 100 percent honored when they pass on. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

A Will that is not properly drafted and is not sufficiently specific can result in lengthy court battles. This can lead to disgruntled family members and grudges that last for generations.

A Will that is drafted from an Internet sample may be inadequate for your specific needs. It is best to hire an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you craft a document that is tailored to your situation, meets the statutory requirements for a valid Will, and protects beneficiaries and fiduciaries.

Here are some suggestions for making sure your wishes are honored:

-Keep copies of all correspondence and conversations with the drafting attorney.

-Be sure to update your Will on a regular basis.

-If you have previously executed a Will, destroy it, along with any drafts.

To learn more about New York elder law, New York estate planning, visit http://www.elderlawnewyork.com

Seniors More Susceptible to Scams

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Some estimate that up to five million seniors are scammed each year in the United States. Financial scams against the elderly are no doubt a big problem and are on the rise.

Why Are Seniors Prone to Scams?

Experts say that seniors are susceptible because they’re usually home when scammers pounce – either in person or over the telephone. The elderly may also be vulnerable because they’re isolated or lonely, are more likely to assume someone is being honest, or may be unfamiliar with their rights.

What Can Seniors Do to Protect Themselves?

-If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many times scammers claim that a victim is eligible for a huge prize but must act quickly and provide important personal information before he “loses it.” Think twice.

-Pay no attention to telemarketers. Many scams are perpetrated over the phone and it may be difficult for seniors to understand fully what they’re getting into. Try placing your number on the “Do Not Call” Registry.

-Never disclose important financial and personal information to a telemarketer or any stranger.

To learn more about New York elder law, New York estate planning, visit http://www.elderlawnewyork.com

How to Choose an Executor

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Serving as someone’s executor, or personal representative, is a big job that comes with many responsibilities. While being chosen is often considered an honor, there is a lot of work involved, and an executor must be organized, pay strong attention to detail, and capable of meeting deadlines. You may be tempted to name someone in your family as your executor in order to avoid hurt feelings, but your family and heirs will not be well served if you choose your executor based on anything other than ability.

You should consider the following:

  • Choose someone who is trustworthy. Your executor will have knowledge of all your finances. He will be reviewing estate assets, determining your liabilities and paying off creditors, settling outstanding debts, and making distributions to your named heirs. That’s not the kind of information you want spread around, so you’ll need to choose a person who will be discreet.
  • Choose someone who is organized. The person you select will be responsible for a large number of detailed tasks. He will need to make lists of assets, meet court deadlines, and make timely distributions for estate taxes. Not completing these actions in a timely and organized manner can draw out the entire process, costing your heirs time and money.
  • Choose someone who is financially knowledgeable.

If you cannot think of a person you can entrust with all of these responsibilities, you should not lose faith. There are other options for you to consider, such as choosing a bank or a financial institution as your executor. Also, you have the option of asking your estate planning attorney to partner with the person you choose as executor to help with the difficult tasks and ensure a smooth probate for all involved.

To learn more about New York elder law, New York estate planning, visit http://www.elderlawnewyork.com

How Ready Are Your Children to Handle Your Estate?

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Many parents spend a lot of time, energy, and money preparing estate plans intended to provide security for their children and grandchildren. While it’s common for parents to conduct numerous discussions with advisors in order to create a plan that will transfer their estate as smoothly as possible, they often neglect to hold similar conversations with their children.

When planning to pass your estate on to your heirs, it is important to consider how they might handle the new responsibility of receiving an inheritance. Parents may believe that the inherited estate will be used responsibly to help their children and grandchildren pay for furthering their education; to make it possible for one parent to stay home with young children; to ensure a secure retirement, or to be put to other responsible, sensible uses. The assumption that children share the financial values of their parents, however, may not be valid.

While death and money are often uncomfortable subjects for discussion between parents and children, it is important to bring these topics up. Avoiding these conversations can jeopardize even carefully crafted estate plans To be certain that your children are prepared, you may want to include them, if they old enough, in the process of planning your estate. The more they know about what to expect, the more prepared they will be.

To learn more about New York elder law, New York estate planning, visit http://www.elderlawnewyork.com

The Disadvantages of Do-It-Yourself Estate Plans

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

While some people think that creating an estate plan on your own is a simple task, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there is a lot of legal knowledge, personalization, and attention to detail that goes into an estate plan. Even if you are young and think you have negligible assets, you should consult a professional. There are simply too many things that can be left out or misunderstood, and sometimes things just go wrong. Even a small mistake in an estate plan can lead to big problems, even invalidating your entire plan.

There are several important issues that are often overlooked by those preparing an estate plan on their own:

  • Although a will does not have to be notarized in some states, most states do require you to sign your will in the presence of witnesses. Failing to do this can result in your estate plan being invalidated.
  • It is important that you choose a backup guardian for your minor children in case your first choice is unwilling or unable to care for them. Failing to do so can cause great problems for your family after your death.
  • Although there is no estate tax in 2010, many heirs will actually end up paying more because of capital gains taxes.
  • Upon your death, your will becomes a public document, and this could leave your heirs open to criticism, claims, and contest suits by predators or unhappy relatives.

Any of these issues could present problems for those completing estate plans on their own. An estate planning attorney, however, could easily anticipate and address these issues. You should contact an estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate plan is current and complies with all state and federal regulations.

To learn more about New York elder law, New York estate planning, visit http://www.elderlawnewyork.com