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Incapacity Planning

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Imagine your family at peace: How to Have Crucial Conversations with Your Loved Ones about End-of-Life issues


Talking about end of life issues with a loved one who is already sick is difficult. Your loved one may not be thinking clearly, may be in pain, and everyone is likely to be very emotional. That’s why it’s important to have this conversation early, while everyone is thinking clearly. A plan is likely to be empowering for all involved.

A parent may be resistant to receiving care and having crucial conversations with you because she is afraid of losing her way of life, losing privacy, getting old, not having sufficient financial assets, being a burden, having her money taken away from her, being thrown into a nursing home and dying.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Will Anyone Respect Your Wishes?

An incredible book that I read in the past year was “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Dr. Atul Gawande. The book is a discussion of the state of American medicine as it relates to end-of-life care. Mr. Gawande argues that doctors often cause more suffering to patients by prescribing completely unnecessary procedures at the end of a person’s life.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What is the right age to get a Power of Attorney?

My answer to this question is always the same: 18! Before you turn 18, your parents are legally responsible for you and can make legal decisions on your behalf. After you turn 18, NO ONE can do that. It comes as a huge shock to most of my clients, but in the event of incapacity -  neither your parents, nor your spouse nor your children can sign for you in banks, speak on your behalf to government agencies or initiate a lawsuit on your behalf. Unless, of course, they have a Power of Attorney or they went to court to seek a guardianship 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 . . .


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Rich and Famous Planning: Sumner Redstone – an estate plan that is embarrassment for the man, the family and the company?


Mr. Redstone’s fortune is estimated at $5 billion. He could afford the best legal plan in the world. Yet, despite the assets and despite the multitude of involved lawyers, his estate planning and his last years are turning out to be a mess.

Mr.


Read more . . .


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, 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.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

California Lawmakers resurrect the Right-To-Die Bill

The bill would allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients. The bill already passed the State Senate in June, but faced strong opposition in the Assembly, due to a large number of Catholic legislators.

The legislation was inspired by Brittany Maynard, who, after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, moved to Oregon in order to have an option to end her own life in a dignified manner. Before she died, Maynard left a video asking the California lawmakers to amend the state laws to allow others to have the same dignity.

The bill has support of nearly 70% of state residents. The bill contains a lot of regulations to protect against fraudulent prescription of lethal medicine and it does not allow the patients to end their own life (the doctor has to administer the medication).

Currently, 4 states in the country have laws permitting a legal method of ending one’s life. New York State Senator Diane Savino introduced a Death with Dignity bill in Albany in February 2015. The bill would permit prescription of lethal medication to terminally ill patients. Terminally ill is defined as an incurable illness that is expected to result in death within 6 months.  The bill is currently being discussed in the State Senate.

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.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What is a Guardianship

When is it Necessary: Having a Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy are the best ways of ensuring that your wishes are honored by a person that you trust. Sometimes, however, an individual loses capacity and has not executed these advanced directives.  Without a Power of Attorney, NO ONE has the right to go into your bank account and withdraw assets to pay your own bills. NO ONE has a right to sell your house and move you into a more appropriate environment. And without a Health Care Proxy, NO ONE has a right to your health care records.

 In those cases, it may become necessary to apply to court to appoint a person who will be able to take care of the individual and effect his wishes. That person is called a Guardian. The process of appointing a Guardian is long, expensive and entails a complete loss of privacy.

 Judicial Standard: In order for a guardian to be appointed, there must be a judicial determination, based on a clear and convincing standard, that (1) the individual is unable to meet his daily needs for hygiene, food, clothing, medical care, financial affairs and personal safety, and (2) the individual is unable to comprehend his own inability to manage his own affairs.  

Both of the above prongs are necessary: if a person is simply eccentric and prefers to live in a squalid environment, no guardian will be appointed. Similarly, if a person is wheelchair bound, but retains his mental facilities and is able to arrange for his own care, no guardian will be appointed.

Guardianship Proceeding

  1. Petition: A petition must be filed with the Court. Amongst other things:

              a.  The petition will provide a detailed description of the alleged incapacitated person’s (“AIP”) functional level and his understanding of his inability to manage activities of daily living.

              b.  The petition will list all the powers being sought by the guardian over the AIP.

              c.   The petition will list all the person’s assets, income, and debts.

 

2.   Appointees: If the petition is deemed not to be frivolous, the court will appoint:

             A. Court Evaluator. This is an independent person who will investigate the Petition. This person will interview the AIP, the AIP’s relatives, the AIP’s neighbors, the AIP’s doctors, the person who filed the petition, and anyone else who has any knowledge of the AIP. The Court Evaluator will provide a report to the judge, with this recommendation.

            B. Attorney for the AIP. This person will represent the wishes of the AIP. Very often, the AIP does not want a guardian to be appointed over him – after all, who wants to lose his autonomy?

 

3.     Hearing: A hearing is required before a guardian is appointed. During a hearing, the petitioner will present evidence about the AIP’s incapacity and need for a guardian. Petitioner and the AIP may both put witnesses on the stand and cross examine them. The Court Evaluator presents his report. The hearing is public, so anyone can attend.

4.     Decision: At the end of the hearing, and taking into account all the evidence presented, the judge makes the decision about the necessity of the appointment. If a specific person sought to be appointed as a guardian (i.e. a daughter sought these powers over the mother), then she may receive it. If Adult Protective Services sought the guardianship, because no family is available, then a non-profit organization will be assigned as a Guardian.

 

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.

 

 


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Planning for Children with Special Needs

There are many considerations when planning for your children. There are even more issues to consider when planning for your child with Special Needs. Regardless of the child’s age, the need for special care will continue.

  1. Advanced Directives. You need to have a trusted family member or a friend to make financial decisions and health care decisions on your behalf, if you are not able to do so. The documents needed are Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy. Having these documents will ensure that someone has access to your money and will be able to support your children even if you are incapacitated. .

  2. Will. You can only name a guardian of your children through a Will. If you are named as a guardian of your special needs child, you can either specify an alternate guardian through the guardianship paperwork or do it through your will. You can also set up a Supplemental Needs Trust through a Will.  

  3. Guardianship. Once the child turns 18, your authority to make decisions for him will end. Prior to this age, you may want to commence a 17A guardianship, which will permit you to continue making financial and health care decisions on the child’s behalf.

  4. Supplemental Needs Trusts. These trusts provide funds for the enhancement of life for special needs children and adults, without jeopardizing their receipt of government benefits.

    1. These trusts can either be set up during life or through a Will.

    2. There are two types of Supplemental Needs Trusts:

      1. Payback Trusts: set up using the individual’s own money, need to have a Payback provision to the State

      2. Third Party Trusts – set up with other people’s money, there is no need for a payback provision.

  5. Government Services. There are many government benefits available to special needs children and adults. You need to review the various options available and plan accordingly.  

    1. Supplemental Security Income (SSI): provides a monthly stipend to a child once he or she is eligible. Funds are used to meet basic needs.

      1. Typically a child qualifies at 18 (when he is deemed to be cut off from parents’ income and assets

      2. SSI has a 3 year look back period for transfers of applicant’s own funds – so planning must start early

      3. Eligibility is based on resources (maximum of $2,000)

    2. Medicaid and Medicaid Waiver Programs: provide for home and community care, prevocational services, supported employment, respite care, vehicle modification.

      1. Some programs are resource based, others are not

 


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.

 


Monday, March 23, 2015

Consumers are buying less long term care coverage, most likely based on high premiums and uncertainty. However, different options with various benefits are available.

Less Policies Bought: The recent trend is for consumers to buy fewer long term care insurance policies. For those that are still buying them, the policies cover fewer years, provide less coverage, and do not have inflation riders.

Reason: Higher Premium and Uncertain Need. The reason for this decline is most likely the steep increase in premiums for long term care insurance policies. Premiums on existing policies may be rising as much as 25-50% per annum. Premiums for new policies may range anywhere between $2,000 - $6,000 per year. Since a lot of people are unsure that they will ever need long term care coverage, they are reluctant to pay these high premiums for uncertain benefits.

Different Options Available: There are policies available that combine the benefits of a regular life insurance policy with the benefits of long term care polices. In these policies, the money can be used EITHER for long term care, or, if long term care is not needed, the policy will pay out a death benefit to the beneficiaries.  This way, the insured should not feel that he is throwing out good money for something that he may never need, yet he can feels protected that he will have available long term care coverage.

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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