Elder Law

Friday, September 15, 2017

Should you hire an aide privately or through an agency?

According to recent research by the AARP, about 90 percent of seniors would like to stay in their own home as they age, even if they require day-to-day assistance with activities of daily living. With a rapidly increasing senior population, demand for quality in-home care is beginning to skyrocket.

In the past, in-home care was usually delivered by home care agencies, who would provide a home care aide, and take care of the back-end reporting and financial requirements. However, the cost structure is beginning to shift.

First, cases involving cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s disease, usually require round the clock care.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

If you plan on growing old, the Medicaid debate affects you!

One in three people who turn 65 end up in a nursing home. No one ever wants to go there, yet most of the time the family has no choice about this issue (it becomes dangerous to keep the person at home, the daily care required is too much for a home care aide, etc). 

In New York and in New Jersey nursing home now costs $15-$20K a month! The vast majority of people cannot pay this bill on their own, especially after years of retirement spending. Even if the person wants to stay at home, an average home care bill is $10-$12K a month, which, for most people is also unaffordable based on Social Security pensions and retirement savings.

Currently, Medicaid pays for home care and nursing home care.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Medicare does not pay for home care!

Even though some seniors may be entitled to home care through their Medicare benefits, it may be impossible for them to receive this needed care.

And that is why most people plan for Medicaid - not because they are trying to cheat the system, but because they have no other real choice. 


Read more . . .

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Is an Irrevocable Trust really that Irrevocable?

The word “Irrevocable” usually implies no ability to change. Most people believe that the Trustee is required to adhere to the wishes of the Trust’s creator, even though the times and circumstances have changed. Nonetheless, that is no longer true in the case of New York State.

There are two circumstances where an Irrevocable Trust may be changed or revoked.

The first circumstance exists when the Grantor of the Trust is still alive, wants to make a change and ALL the beneficiaries of the Trust agree with the proposed change.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Main Reasons Why Families Fight Over Estates

1. Location of Siblings. It is often the case that one sibling provides care and support for an aging parent, while other siblings are distant (either physically or psychologically). While the local sibling provides support, that same sibling may also control the parent’s finances. The same sibling may also bring the parent to an attorney to get his affairs in order.

Read more . . .

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Financial Crimes Against the Elderly

Elderly people are vulnerable to fraud and financial abuse. The reasons are multiple: isolation, weakening mental and physical condition, memory loss and lack of knowledge about today's markets and technology.
According to New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, only 1 out of 44 cases of financial abuse Is reported, usually because the victim is too ashamed to report the incident. Even in 2010, an estimated cost of financial exploitation against the seniors was $2.9 billion.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Who will care for my dog?

When a couple owns a pet, the owners can assume that the survivor will continue caring for their pet (although that’s not necessarily true, at least in my own situation). What happens when a single person owns a pet? In 49 states (Minnesota is the only state that does not permit this) you can now create a pet trust.

A pet trust permits the grantor to set aside a certain amount of money to care for the pet upon the owner’s disability or death. The trustee of the trust will make regular payments to the pet caregiver. The grantor can make specific instructions regarding the care of the pet, including shelter, feeding and veterinary care.
Read more . . .

Monday, July 25, 2016

Executor of your Will: who should be named and what are his responsibilities?

An Executor is the person named in the Will who ensures that deceased person’s wishes are carried out after death, that all the assets are found, that all the debts are paid and all the money is distributed according to deceased person’s wishes.

Responsibilities: The duties of an executor include: finding the Will, hiring a probate lawyer to put together a probate petition (including getting all the signatures from all the necessary parties), filing the petition and the Will with the court in order to be appointed as an Executor by the court, appearing in court (if necessary), notifying credit cards companies and banks about death, setting up an estate bank account, filing an inventory of assets with the court, carrying out the wishes of the decedent (including selling the real estate and other assets, if necessary), paying all the necessary income and estate taxes, and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries.  

Who should you name: as you can see, the probate process can be long and complex. The executor should be someone responsible and capable of handling such a task. Usually people name relatives or friends, because they know that the person will carry out their wishes.

Read more . . .

Monday, March 14, 2016

What are the current methods of maximizing one’s social security payments?

Now that the “file and suspend” loophole has been eliminated (effective April 30, 2016), what other strategies remain for maximizing one’s social security payments?

1.   The main strategy is, of course, to delay the receipt of social security. At full retirement age, a worker is entitled to receive 100% of his Social Security retirement benefits. However, for each year that the worker delays the receipt of his benefits, he will receive an 8% delayed retirement credit. At age 70, however, one cannot delay any further and is obligated to receive the income. As a result, if the worker delays the receipt of his benefits until age 70 his benefit will increase by a total of 32%.

Of course, the downside of this strategy is that during the years that the worker delayed the receipt of his benefit, he was not receiving any payments from Social Security.  As a result, this strategy only works for people who have an alternative source of income during these years of deferment, either through continued employment or through savings.

Furthermore, this strategy works only for workers who are in relatively good health and expected to live for a long period in retirement.  If the worker develops an unexpected illness and dies sooner than he expected, the overall receipt of money will be significantly less than if he had chosen to receive full retirement benefits at full retirement age.

2.   Another strategy involves survivor benefits. Depending on the survivor’s work record, the survivor has a choice. She can either (i) receive full survivor benefits at age 60 and delay the receipt of her own larger benefit at the age of 70 or (ii) take her own benefits at the age of 62 and then switch over to survivor benefits at full retirement age.

3.   Yet another strategy involves benefits for divorced spouse. As long as the spouses were married for at least 10 years prior to divorce, and the individual has not remarried, the ex-spouse may claim spousal benefits based on an ex-spouse’s earning records. This strategy may be very beneficial, as the ex-spouse may claim her spousal benefits at full retirement age and delay the receipt of her own retirement benefits until the age of 70.


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, 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

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

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