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Estate Planning and Elder Law Blog

2020 Medicaid Levels

2020 Medicaid Levels

Question: My husband may require care in a Nursing facility. I was considering applying for Medicaid but I have heard that we could lose everything if we accept assistance through the Medicaid program. Is this correct?  Answer: No, however this is a common misconception. Medicaid is a means tested program and accordingly applicants must meet certain income and asset requirements. Rest assured, despite these requirements, there are protections for spouses who remain in the community. In...more »

Retirement and the SECURE Act

Retirement and the SECURE Act

The new Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, effective January 1, 2020, is the broadest piece of retirement legislation passed in thirteen years. The law focuses on retirement planning in three areas: modifying required minimum distribution (RMD) rules for retirement plans; expanding retirement plan access and increasing lifetime income options in retirement plans. This article will focus on the modifications to the RMD rules and its effects on inherited IRAs. ...more »

STAR Program Changes

STAR Program Changes

Question: I heard there have been some changes with the STAR program, how can I be sure that I will continue to get my reduction in my tax bill? Answer: Yes, there have been some changes to the STAR program effective this year. STAR is the New York State Tax Relief Program which provides qualified New York homeowners with partial exemption from New York Property Taxes. Basic STAR is available on owner-occupied primary residences where the combined income of the owners is less than $500,000....more »

Social Security and Medicaid

Social Security and Medicaid

Q: Will my Social Security deposit increase in the New Year?  A: New Year, new income and asset thresholds! Each year the Social Security Administration determines if there will be an across the board Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) in Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. For 2020, this increase will be 1.6%. With this COLA, Medicare Part B premiums will also increase. The standard premium for 2020 will be $144.60, up from $135.50 in 2019. Keep in mind that while this is a...more »

SECURE Act

SECURE Act

Question: I recently heard that the Secure Act passed and that it may affect how my retirement accounts. What changes should I expect and do I need to adjust my estate plan? Answer: Yes, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (“SECURE”) Act was passed last minute and will be effective January 1, 2020.  The SECURE Act makes several changes to retirement accounts, both in how we can save and how they will be spent, but the biggest change practioners are...more »

Long Term Care Insurance

Long Term Care Insurance

Q: My mother needs homecare assistance. She currently has long term health insurance, will she also need to apply for Medicaid?  A: Long Term Care (LTC) insurance is a great tool to cover some or all of the costs of long-term care. Depending on the plan she purchased and how much care your mother will need, her LTC insurance may cover a large portion of the expense. When the insurance is not enough to cover the level of care your mother needs, Medicaid can help supplement.  While...more »

Estate and Gift Tax Update for 2020

Estate and Gift Tax Update for 2020

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act”) increased the federal estate tax exclusion amount for decedents dying in years 2018 to 2025. The act is set to sunset on December 31, 2025.  The exclusion amount is for 2020 is $11.58 million. This means that an individual can leave $11.58 million and a married couple can leave $23.16 million dollars to their heirs or beneficiaries without paying any federal estate tax.  This also means that an individual or married couple can gift this...more »

Spousal Refusal and Medicaid

Spousal Refusal and Medicaid

Question: My husband suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and may soon need a nursing home. I have been told that if he needs to go to a Nursing Home, they will take our house and I will have to give them all of his income, is this true? Answer: No, it does not have to be. Because Medicaid is needs based program, certain income and asset requirements must be met in order to be eligible. The good news is that those requirements take into account that where there is a situation where...more »

Gifting to Minors

Gifting to Minors

Question: I plan to make large gifts to my children and grandchildren before the year is over. I have two daughters, and they each have two children. All of my grandchildren are under the age of 18. One daughter has some creditor issues and I am afraid that gifting her money will just result in more money going to her creditors. Is there any planning I should do before gifting? Answer: With regard to gifting money to your daughter who has creditor issues, you should create a trust for her...more »

Managed Long Term Care Program

Managed Long Term Care Program

Question: My father was recently enrolled into a Managed Long Term Care Company. I am having a hard time navigating his benefits and getting the care at home that he needs. Are there any options?  Answer: Yes, there are options. First, a basic understanding of the Managed Long Term Care Program (“MLTC”) is helpful when trying to navigate the benefits. When someone is approved for Community Medicaid benefits, they are required to enroll in a MLTC. The MLTC is responsible for...more »

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