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Katya Sverdlov Blog

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Third of Americans Spend Their Entire Inheritance Within Two Years!

A researcher at Ohio State University found that Americans who receive an inheritance save about half of it and spend, donate or lose the rest. However, almost 30% of Americans who receive the inheritance had negative savings rate within 2 years of receiving the inheritance, meaning that they spent it all.

There are strong similarities in these spending habits with people who receive lottery winnings. Apparently, lottery winners save only 16 cents of every dollar won and have dramatically higher bankruptcy rates within 5 years after winning.

Of course, the inheritance that people receive may not be a large amount of money. The median inheritance for the past 30 years was $11,340. For those people who inherit $100,000 or more, the percentage of people who spent it all within two years dropped to 19%.

If you receive an inheritance (or a lottery winning) – be careful. I’ve seen bad financial advisors who have only their own interests at heart. I’ve also seen bad “friends” who convince unsophisticated people to invest in their ‘brilliant’ business schemes. There is no perfect answer about what to do with the money. But not spending it immediately would probably be the best advice!

 

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING


Friday, February 5, 2016

Leaving Real Estate Property to More Than One Heir May Cause Future Problems

Property partnership may end for a variety of reasons. One common category of circumstances when real estate litigation occurs involves siblings who inherit property from their parents and have different wishes.

Multiple problems can arise.   One sibling may want to live in the property while the other one wants to rent it out. Alternatively, one sibling may want to cash out and sell the property while the other may want to keep it. The sibling who wants to keep the property may not have the money to buy the other sibling out. Furthermore, the siblings may not agree on the property’s value.

One alternative for establishing the value of the property is to hire three appraisers and take the average of their given values. Of course, the appraisers cost money.

The better alternative is to structure your bequest in a way that avoids potential conflicts amongst the siblings. No parent wants to believe that their children will fight after their death, but unfortunately it happens all the time. First, Wills and Trusts can be written such that the real estate will be given to one child while the other assets will be given to the other. Another alternative is to provide in your Will or a Trust that real estate should be sold within a year of death and proceeds should be distributed equally amongst the beneficiaries.

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Can You Avoid a 5 Year Penalty for Uncompensated Transfers?

Medicaid imposes a transfer penalty that can last for up to 5 years for all uncompensated transfers made prior to the application for nursing home Medicaid. This provision makes crisis planning for nursing home not efficient. Yet many people are reluctant to transfer their assets ahead of time and impoverish themselves, because, of course, no one knows when nursing home will be needed.

One way of avoiding the nursing home penalty is to prove to Medicaid that the transfer was made not for the purpose of Medicaid giving. For example, grandmother has a history of gifting large amounts of money to grandchildren, and continues doing so for several years while being in good health. If, at some point, she has a stroke and has to go to a nursing home, Medicaid will deny her application, claiming that the money gifted was an uncompensated transfer. The family can then appeal and try to prove to an administrative judge that the transfers were done while she was in good health and not as part of Medicaid planning.

This is an affirmative defense, meaning that the burden is on the family to prove their point, not on Medicaid to prove the opposite. If there is no evidence that grandmother was in good health while gifting the money, and if there is no pattern of gifting the money, the petition will likely be denied.

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Can Court Reform a Will When the Attorney Made a Drafting Mistake?

In a recent New York case, a Will provided for disposition of 2/3 of the property (leaving property to decedent’s siblings, nieces and nephews) and was silent about the disposition of the remaining 1/3. In re Isasi-Diaz, NYLJ, Mar. 28, 2014, p. 35 (Sur. Ct., N.Y.Co.) (Mella, S.)  The attorney-draftsman provided an affidavit to the court, explaining that he made a mistake, that the decedent provided him with instructions about the disposition of her entire estate, but he made an error while drafting the Will.

The court denied the petition for reformation. The court reviewed the express language of the Will. The court also relied on the well-established New York rule that extrinsic evidence will not be admissible to contradict the unambiguous expressions of the decedent. As a result, since the Will was unambiguous about disposing only a portion of the estate, the court ruled that it could not rewrite the Will based on extrinsic evidence.

The takeaway: please review your documents prior to signing them. Attorneys are human and make mistakes. You should always request to review your documents prior to signing and actually spend the time reading them to ensure that they reflect your wishes. Do not be afraid to change or add things, since this is your document! Do not be afraid to ask questions!

 

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING


Thursday, January 7, 2016

What are Gifts and how much can you gift and receive without paying taxes?

What is a gift: In general, a gift is the value of the property transferred in excess of the value of any consideration received therefore.

What is the current gift tax rate: The current federal gift tax rate (similar to the current federal top estate rate) is 40%. However, this rate is only applied after the applicable exclusion amount.

Who is responsible for paying the taxes: The donor who makes the gift is responsible to pay the tax. If the donor fails to pay the tax when due, then the donee is also liable for the tax.

What are the current exclusions:

Federal: In 2015, the federal exclusion amount is $5,430,000. This means that one can gift during one’s lifetime up to $5,430,000 and no federal gift taxes will be due.

Annual: But it gets even better! In addition to the federal exclusion amount, there is also an annual gift tax exclusion of $14,000 per donee per year. This means that if a husband and wife have 3 children, they can gift to them $14,000 x 3 x 2 = $84,000 per year, without filing a federal tax return or paying any gift taxes.

Other: Payments of tuition to a qualifying educational institution (but not for books, room or board), payments for medical care directly to a provider or for medical insurance, or gifts made to political organizations also qualify for an exclusion. No gift tax return needs to be filed for these types of gifts.

Spousal: There is an unlimited marital spousal deduction for all gifts between US citizen or resident spouses. As an alternative to an outright gift, the donor spouse can make a gift to a living trust which meets the Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) requirements to that the gift qualifies for the marital deduction.

 

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Power of Attorney Printed From the Internet Was Found Invalid

Plaintiff tried to bring a personal injury lawsuit against a College on behalf of his daughter, acting under authority of a Power of Attorney. The Power of Attorney was found and printed from the internet, and was not prepared by an attorney.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff lacked authority to bring the action, because the Power of Attorney was invalid as it did not comply with the statutory requirements of GOL 5-1501B(1)(d). The Court agreed with the defendant and dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the document did not contain the exact wording required by the statute. Berrian v. Siena College, 2015 NY Slip Op. 05431 (App. Div. 2d, June 24, 2015)

Morale of the Story: the Power of Attorney document looks very easy to prepare. A lot of people think that they do not need an attorney to do it. And yet a very large percentage of these documents later turn out to be invalid, either because a wrong form was used or because it was not signed in the right places. Talk to an attorney when executing this document!

 

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING


Monday, December 7, 2015

Are relatives required to pay for nursing home care?

A nursing home is prohibited from requiring a third party to guarantee payment from his own funds to the facility as a condition of admission or continued stay of another party. Any attempt by the nursing home to do so is a blatant violation of the law, and may be reported to the local District Attorney’s office.

On the other hand, a nursing home may require an individual who has legal access to the resident’s income or resources to sign a contract to provide payment from the resident’s income or resources for such care. An individual can have access to resident’s income and resources through a Power of Attorney, a joint bank account or through an appointment as Guardian.

If an individual signed a contract to provide payment to nursing home from the resident’s income or resources, and then that individual breaches this contract, then a nursing home may institute a cause of action. The individual may become personally liable for the cost of care if the resident’s funds were misspent and were not turned over to nursing home, as required.

 Nonetheless, very often certain nursing home facilities are in high demand and there is a waiting list. The chances of an individual’s acceptance into a particular nursing home may be greatly enhanced by some private pay in advance.

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.


Monday, November 30, 2015

What is Long Term Care Insurance and New York State Partnership for Long Term Care

Many seniors are not aware that Medicare does not pay for custodial long term care. An individual suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, which requires assistance with feeding, bathing, and taking oral medications will not be covered by Medicare not by a Medigap insurance. The only way of paying for custodial long term care are: private payments, Medicaid, or Long Term Care Insurance.

Long term care: this is care that can be provided in the home, in a nursing home or in an assisted living facility. Eligibility for benefits is based on medical necessity as evidenced by an individual’s inability to perform a specified number of personal functions (activities of daily living): bathing, toileting, dressing, self-feeding, lack of mobility or loss of cognitive capacity.

Home Care: Most long term care insurance policies have a home care component. It is usually beneficial for an elderly person to continue to reside at home: familiar surroundings, familiar people and familiar foods provide comfort and control. The long term care insurance policy can pay for the number of hours required by the patient. This is a large improvement over Medicaid: individuals relying on public programs (Medicaid) frequently find that the number of hours authorized may be significantly less than what is required for the individual’s health and safety.

Coverage Provisions: These vary, depending on the need and the willingness to pay. In New York, a policy must offer at least 24 consecutive months of coverage. Each policy generally provides for a specified payment level, based on whether care is received at home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home. If the cost of care exceeds the policy benefit, the full benefit will be paid. If the cost of care is lower than policy benefit, the actual cost will be paid. Most policies contain a deductible, usually measured in days. The benefit period can be as short as two years, and as long as the life of the insured, with everything in between.

Exclusions: certain conditions are excluded by long term care insurance policies. These are, among others: alcoholism and drug additions, attempted suicide or intentionally self-inflicted injuries, mental and nervous disorders (except Alzheimer’s disease or demonstrable organic brain disease).

New York State Partnership for Long Term Care

These are specific long term care insurance policies approved by the New York Partnership policy.

Under a Total Asset Protection plan, the insurance policy will pay for the first three years nursing home care or six years of home care or a combination of the above (where two home care days are equal to one nursing home day). Individuals who have received these specified Partnership long term insurance benefits may apply for Medicaid and be eligible without regard to the value of their assets. Individuals may sell, transfer spend or retain assets, before during and after applying for Medicaid nursing home care – the penalty period does not apply. However, the Medicaid income levels will still be applied.

The policy premiums depend on age and coverage chosen. The Partnership policies are generally slightly more expensive than other policies. Annual premiums for a basic policy can range from $2,800 for a 40 year old to $13,000 for an 80 year old. However, the benefit is the ability to apply for Medicaid without transferring assets. All aspects must be considered and analyzed before a decision is made.

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Can relatives supplement Medicaid covered nursing home care by paying for private nurses and private rooms?

Even though this concept appears reasonable (after all, most nursing homes are short on staff and rooms are semi-private at best), Medicaid does not permit it.

Medicaid is a payor of last resort: if there are any available sources of payment then these sources must be used first. If a resident, or anyone else on resident’s behalf pays for private nursing services, then it is considered a payment for a service for which Medicaid is already paying. As a result, Medicaid would then have to reduce its payment to the nursing home by the amount being private paid for the nursing services. This reduction would be unacceptable to the nursing home.

Similarly, Medicaid and Medicare pay a fixed fee to the nursing home for any room in the facility. As a result, Medicaid rate for a private room would be the same as the rate for a semi-private room. Therefore, most nursing homes reserve private rooms for private paying residents. Some relatives want to supplement the nursing home by giving additional payment for a private room. However, Medicaid would look to the private payment and reduce its payment to the nursing home by the amount of this private payment. The end result would be a nursing home receiving a similar rate for a private room and a semi-private room, which is not an acceptable business model. 

If a nursing home would accept a privately paid supplement on behalf of a Medicaid resident, either for a private room or for a private nurse, and if this payment was not reported to Medicaid, the nursing home would be committing Medicaid fraud. The consequences, both civil and criminal, are such that nursing homes are usually unwilling to discuss these supplements.

The one method that is available to supplement the nursing home care is to hire a “companion” to a Medicaid resident. Companion services are not considered medical, as a result they are not provided in the Medicaid nursing home rate. Placing a companion with a Medicaid resident will not have an effect on Medicaid payments. A skilled companion may provide various services to the resident, including bathing, toileting and feeding the resident.

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

There is a lot of government help available for low income seniors.

This article is an invaluable resource. It lists all the various government programs that are available to senior citizens, with links to criteria and additional information.

There is a lot of help available to seniors. The list of available programs includes, but is not limited to: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Property tax relief, legal help, housing vouchers and Supplemental Security Income.

The key is to know about them and have the ability or the knowledge to qualify.

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/100214/retirement-strategies-low-income-seniors.asp?layout=orig


Friday, November 13, 2015

Accident Liens – can Medicaid recover from personal injury or malpractice award?

It may come as an unwelcome shock to many personal injury plaintiffs, but Medicaid is entitled to recover medical expenses paid on behalf of an individual, from the proceeds of a personal injury or a malpractice action.

The entire award is subject to Medicaid recovery: there is no distinction between pain and suffering and medical expenses, both portions of the award are subject to Medicaid liens. Unlike estate claims, there is no limitation on the age of the recipient for Medicaid to impose its lien.

Limitations

The lien is limited to Medicaid payments made after the date the injuries were sustained. The lien is also limited to those Medicaid payments made for the treatment of injuries sustained. The rationale is that Medicaid is not entitled to recover for Medicaid properly paid (other than from estate claims).

One final limitation is that Medicaid is not entitled to a recovery when the claim is against a nursing home based on negligence or abuse of a Medicaid patient.

Legal Fees

Medicaid lien has the priority over all other liens, with the exception of the attorney fee for representing the injured party in an action to recover for the injuries in the accident. However, the attorney is not entitled to a fee from the proceeds being paid to Medicaid.

 

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship.


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