If properly drafted and executed, certain New York estate planning documents, such as a Last Will and Testament (“Will”) or a trust should be recognized outside of New York. For instance, if you sign a Will while present in New York and follow the proper formalities of a Will execution (e.g. at least two witnesses,…

Should my College Bound Child have an Estate Plan?

It is never too early for an adult to implement an estate plan. The focus of a young adult, however, is much different than those of more senior generations. While the assets of a young adult may not always command intricate estate planning, strong consideration should be given to having your child prepare a health…

If you were to review my client files over the last decade, you might be surprised to learn that estate plans for people younger than forty are scant. Yet, from an estate planning perspective, these generations carry the greatest exposure. While death or disability at any age creates complications, these complications are amplified for younger…

If I update my Estate Planning Documents, may I destroy the previous versions?

While the drafting of new estate planning documents generally replaces previous versions, we generally advise our clients to preserve their old documents because they may be useful in defending your intent after your death. For instance, suppose you prepare a new Last Will and Testament (“Will”) when others may be questioning your capacity and in…

5 Action Items After Completing your Estate Plan

You finally did it! You met with an elder law attorney to “put your affairs in order”. Like most people, however, you have done nothing with your estate plan since meeting with your attorney other than to file your documents with the rest of your personal papers. As I tell any clients, your estate plan…

Why can't I transfer my house to my kids to protect it

Simply transferring your house to your children is the least favorable planning technique in an attorney’s arsenal. The optimal way to protect your house is to use a trust. First, if you transfer your house to your children, you no longer have any rights to use an occupy the house. You become a guest in…

The Perils and Pitfalls of Owning a Co-op

The Perils and Pitfalls of Owning a Co-op We have all heard a horror story or two about co-op ownership. These stories usually arise out of actions or inactions taken by the Board of Directors (“Board”). For instance, a Board might implement a policy requiring a percentage of the floor to be carpeted. Some Boards…

Do you understand who will inherit your Estate if you die without a will?

Co-Authored by Joanna C. Feldman, Esq. Do you understand who will inherit your Estate if you die without a Will? We recently read an article about a multi-millionaire who died without having executed a Last Will and Testament (“Will”). Certain members of his extended family, with whom he likely had little to no relationship, inherited…

How should I deal with my personal belongings in my Last Will and Testament?

Personal belongings, such as jewelry, coin collections, furniture, photographs, family heirlooms, and other items of sentimental value are typically referred to as tangible personal property.  Some people are happy to let their personal belongings be part of their residuary estate.  Others prefer to identify certain items in their Last Will and Testament (“Will”) and designate…

Powerless Power of Attorney

by Salvatore M. Di Costanzo, Esq., and Joanna C. Feldman, Esq. Regardless of whether your estate plan is basic or complex, it is important to review the plan every few years for reasons that include life events and changes in laws and/or regulations. Life Events Estate plans can change drastically upon the occurrence of certain…

Elder Law Answers - Do I need a Last Will and Testament if I designate Beneficiaries for all of my Assets?

Co-Authored by Joanna C. Feldman Many people ask whether – or even why – they need a Last Will and Testament (“Will”) if they designate beneficiaries to inherit their assets upon their death. In some cases, designating beneficiaries on all assets may be appropriate. In other cases, however, unintended complications can arise. In all cases,…

Taking care of a parent can be a full-time job. Parents who want to compensate a child who takes on the burden of caregiving may do so in one of several ways.

Powerless Power of Attorney

The Power of Attorney (“POA”) and Statutory Gifts Rider (“SGR”) are two of the most important documents drafted by an elder law attorney.  The absence of or deficiencies in these documents increases the likelihood of the need to commence a costly guardianship proceeding to be able to implement many common elder law planning techniques necessary…

Second to the house, an individual retirement account (“IRA”) is usually the largest asset when looking into someone’s financial portfolio.  The tax and Medicaid rules dealing with IRAs are very different yet related, quite complex and often misinterpreted or misapplied.   It is important to have a general understanding of these rules in order to avoid…

A Medicaid Trust is an irrevocable trust designed to protect your assets from the staggering costs of long-term care, usually nursing home care. You will be pleased to know that while the trust is irrevocable, many bells and whistles can be included in the trust, which give you a great degree of control. In fact,…

Co-authored by Joanna C. Feldman Under the usual fact pattern, a retirement account will not render someone ineligible for Medicaid.  There are initially two major issues when considering whether someone is eligible for Medicaid: resources and income.  Retirement accounts can fall in both categories. For resources purposes, in New York, retirement accounts, such as IRAs, 401(k)s,…

Change is inevitable, and it comes in many shapes and sizes.  Death, disability, and divorce are three of the most common changes in life that can wreak havoc on an estate plan.  If your estate plan is not flexible, there could be unintended consequences.  With the increasing popularity of revocable trusts, whether drafted by attorneys…

While I cannot say whether there are mistakes in your estate planning documents, the wording of your document may be confusing to you as a non-attorney. Legal documents contain a great deal of legalese.  For purposes of this response, I am assuming that you are leaving all of your assets to your children.  First, it…

Co-authored by Joanna C. Feldman To be eligible for Medicaid benefits in a nursing home in 2018, one may have no more than $15,150.00 in available assets. A life insurance policy with no cash value is not considered an available asset. If a life insurance policy has cash value, however, the cash value of the…

In many cases, a divorce is a traumatic experience for both parties. Usually, neither party has given any thought to the unintended consequences of death or disability during divorce. Until there is a final decree or judgment of separation or divorce, each party remains the spouse of the other. Upon the death of one party,…

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