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,…

While an annuity might serve you well from a financial planning perspective, financial planners and clients must be aware of the treatment of annuities for Medicaid purposes. For Medicaid eligibility purposes, the cash value of an annuity is considered an available resource. This means that an annuity is treated like cash and if you need…

When I meet with people for the first time who are interested in estate planning, their focus is usually on after-death planning.  Whether their concern is minimizing estate taxes, planning for minor or spendthrift children, or simply passing assets to the next generation as quickly and efficiently as possible, nearly every meeting begins with a…

Co-authored by Joanna C. Feldman The truth is that very often, “elder law” attorney is a misnomer as it pertains to many of our clients.  For example, nearly everyone should have a comprehensive Power of Attorney. Some of our youngest clients have just become adults who come to us for a Power of Attorney before…

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