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Estate Planning and Elder Law Blog

Power of Attorney as a Married Person

Power of Attorney as a Married Person

Question: My mother passed away about six months ago. My father recently executed estate planning documents with an Elder Law Attorney. He told me that he named me as his agent under a Power of Attorney. Since I am married, is it necessary for me to have a Power of Attorney or can my wife handle everything if needed? Answer: You need a Power of Attorney. A spouse cannot access financial information or transfer assets without a Durable Power of Attorney. A validly executed Power of Attorney will...more »

Financial Aid and Gifting

Financial Aid and Gifting

Question: My mother is elderly and gifted her house and a large bank account to me so that she could apply for Medicaid should her long-term care costs exceed her remaining resources. I am currently completing a FAFSA form for my son who is going to college next year. Will these gifts from my mother to me affect my son receiving financial aid? Can I put these assets into a trust for my benefit to avoid having to disclose them? Answer: These gifts may affect financial aid for your son. ...more »

Removal of a Fiduciary, It’s Not as Easy as You May Think

Removal of a Fiduciary, It’s Not as Easy as You May Think

If you are the beneficiary of an estate or trust and you think that the fiduciary or person in charge is not meeting their obligations, there are procedures in which they can be removed. Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act “SCPA” § 719 lists several grounds upon which a fiduciary can be removed. The grounds are straightforward and include where the fiduciary refused to obey a Court order; the fiduciary is a convicted felon; the fiduciary declared an incapacitated person; or...more »

Estate Planning Basics

Estate Planning Basics

Question: I am single and have no estate planning documents in place. Do I need to consult an attorney now or is it too early? Answer: The best time to execute your estate planning documents is before you need those documents. Any person over the age of eighteen should have certain documents in place. You want to ensure that those you give authority to make your health care decisions or to manage your financial affairs are individuals you trust to carry out your wishes and that they will make...more »

What Will You Leave as Your Digital Legacy?

What Will You Leave as Your Digital Legacy?

Sixty-Eight percent of Americans use some form of social media. What happens to our photographs, conversation, and videos when we die? Some thought should be given to the digital footprint we leave behind. If you take a look at most wills and trusts drafted in the past few years, you should notice a section giving your Executor or Trustee the right to access, modify, control, archive, transfer, and delete your digital assets. This is a broad power that allows someone you trust to access and...more »

Disqualification of Nominated Executor

Disqualification of Nominated Executor

Q: My father recently passed away. I have one brother and one sister. The will divides the assets equally among the three of us. My father’s will has nominated my sister as Executor. She declared bankruptcy several years ago and I do not think that she should serve as Executor. Do you have any advice? A: The person selected to act as the Executor can be anyone that the testator wants to conduct the administration of the estate. There is no requirement that the Executor have any experience...more »

Estate Planning and 529 Plans

Estate Planning and 529 Plans

Question: I have three grandchildren and want to start saving for their college education. Is opening a 529 Plan advisable? What are the implications with respect to my grandchild’s financial aid eligibility and my own estate plan? Answer: When it comes to college financial aid and estate planning considerations, there is never a single right answer. Obviously contributing to your grandchild’s educational future is important and you do not want to put them or yourself in a worse...more »

Further Estate Planning after the Death of a Spouse

Further Estate Planning after the Death of a Spouse

Losing a spouse is an extremely difficult time in life and handling the administration of their estate can be a stressful experience. When you are ready, it is important to seek the advice of an estate planning and elder law attorney to discuss what needs to be done on behalf of your spouse’s estate and also what planning you need to do for your own estate. Your attorney will want to review all assets held by your spouse, whether individually or jointly with you, and all assets in your...more »

Turnover Proceeding

Turnover Proceeding

Question: I am the Executor of my mom’s estate and there is only $10,000 left in her bank account. A year before she died, my mom had much more money. I think someone may have taken her money before she died. What should I do? Answer: If you suspect that somebody has wrongfully taken money or property from your mom before she died, you can commence proceedings in the Surrogate’s Court asking the Court to allow you to investigate who took the money. After the investigation, if you...more »

I Have an Irrevocable Trust, Now What?

I Have an Irrevocable Trust, Now What?

Q: I want to start looking into creating a trust to protect my assets for Medicaid but the idea is over-whelming, can you explain the process? A: There are several types of trusts. One type is an irrevocable trust for Medicaid asset protection purposes. This trust will protect certain assets in case they need to apply for government benefits to assist them with their daily activities.  The drafting process of the trust document is vital because it outlines the rules of the trust. Without...more »

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