We receive this response too often from clients who, after working with another attorney on their elder law and estate planning matters, learn that their planning is incorrect, unnecessary or deficient.  This is becoming increasingly problematic for the consumer in all areas of law, but arguably more impactful in this area because of both the…

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…

Insights from the 2019 Tax Season

As many of my readers know, I am a tax accountant as well as an elder law and estate planning attorney. In fact, many of my legal clients become tax clients to maintain a well-balanced relationship throughout the years. The concept is that by using me to prepare your tax returns, you have access to…

living will vs. healthcare proxy

Co-Authored by Joanna C. Feldman, Esq. Long-term care insurance can be a great arrow in one’s quiver of tools when planning for the future.  But long-term care insurance premiums can be expensive, or, possibly more importantly, the coverage can be capped in a variety of ways. Many long-term care insurance (“LTCI”) policies have a maximum…

First and foremost, I recommend that you have an open discussion with your family about the disposition of your remains. These are very sensitive issues and there is no substitute for a well- informed family. New York State law, however, does provide a mechanism for you to express your wishes in writing. Section 4201 of…

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 Let’s consider the cost of care versus the legal fees to implement proper planning. So often, when I ask clients about their assets, they respond “I have nothing”, yet they own a house.  For some reason, it seems to be common that where there are little cash assets, there is a…

The elderly are vulnerable, and as a result, are often soft targets for non-physical abuse. I refer to them as “silent abuses” because they are often difficult to identify, or worse, prove. Examples include undue influence, duress, coercion, mental abuse, and financial exploitation. Generally, a common predicate for most cases begins with a close, confidential…

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,…

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…

We have all heard the saying “life is full of regrets”.  I have compiled a list of the most common regrets that I often hear from clients, but more often, their family members, during my practicing as an elder law and special needs planning attorney.  If you have neglected any of these topics, my hope…

A 529 plan is a very common planning technique used by grandparents to fund a grandchild’s college education.  Simply stated, contributions to a 529 plan grow tax-free over the life of the plan and if used for qualified tuition costs, the distributions from the plan are also tax-free. Notwithstanding the beneficial tax treatment of a…

Assuming by your question that you are a beneficiary of your parent’s estate, you are entitled to certain information.  For instance, where the Estate is not required to file an estate tax return, an Executor must file an Inventory of Assets with the Court within six months of his appointment.  Where the Executor is prepared…

  I often review existing estate planning documents and in doing so, find that most estate plans consist of a living will and health care proxy which are advance directives dealing you’re your health care matters.  A health care proxy is a document that appoints another individual to make your medical decisions if you are…

This is a real fact pattern. I recently met with a family whose 86 year old Mother was admitted to a nursing home for dementia.  They sought my assistance in obtaining Medicaid eligibility to pay for the nursing home, which cost $15,000 per month.  Mother is still on Medicare which pays for the first 100…

An integral part of our practice involves planning with the assets of individuals who are disabled or have special needs. These individuals are usually persons who have developmental disabilities, mental illnesses, or who suffer from other severe and chronic or persistent disabilities. We commonly refer to these individuals as supplemental needs beneficiaries and the primary…

I recently entered the world of beekeeping. When contemplating this new hobby, I obviously vetted my ideas with friends and family (not the neighbors). Their responses were comical and in all cases, far from the truth. Sitting down to write this piece I thought, this is no different than the practice of elder law. So…

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