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Elder Law

Effects of Income Change on Medicaid

Effects of Income Change on Medicaid

Q: I am looking into different care options for my mom, but I am concerned that she will lose her income to pay for care.  This is the money she lives on every month.  I recently heard that I could get her care at home through Medicaid and she would still be able to use her income for her regular monthly expenses.  How does this work? A: Community Medicaid is a great way to get the care mom needs at home while still being able to use all of her income for her every day expenses.& more »

Guardianship Options

Guardianship Options

Q: I have a daughter that is 18 years old and has Autism. I know that I need to become her guardian to make decisions for her, but I am not sure about the options.  Can you explain them to me? A: In New York State, when a person turns eighteen, they are presumed to be legally competent to make decision for themselves. However, if a person is intellectually disabled or developmentally disabled, as defined by Article 17-A (“Article 17-A”) of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure more »

Guardianship Article 17-A vs. Article 81

Guardianship Article 17-A vs. Article 81

In New York State, when a person turns eighteen, they are presumed to be legally competent to make decision for themselves. However, if a person is intellectually disabled or developmentally disabled, as defined by Article 17-A (“Article 17-A”) of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, a parent or concerned relative can ask the Surrogate's Court to appoint a guardian to assume the decision-making functions for that person. If a young adult has issues with mental illness or other more »

Sweetheart Wills

Sweetheart Wills

Question: My husband and I did Last Will & Testaments when our children were young – probably about 20 years ago.  Is there any need to update? Answer: In our practice, we see a lot of Last Will & Testaments that were executed when a couple was younger that were appropriate when drafted but outdated.  Your Last Will & Testament probably leaves everything to each other and then to your children.  This is referred to as a “Sweetheart Will.”  While more »

Wills vs. Account Beneficiaries

Wills vs. Account Beneficiaries

Q: I recently signed a last will and testament but it does not list out my assets individually, is that alright? What about my retirement accounts and annuities? A: A last will and testament is a document that states to whom your assets will be distributed upon your death. However, any asset that has a named beneficiary or a joint owner will go to that designated person, not to the persons listed in your last will and testament. When you are meeting with your estate planning attorney, it is ess more »

Estate and Gift Tax Update 2019

Estate and Gift Tax Update 2019

Q: Can you tell me about any updates to estate and gift taxes for 2019?    A: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act”) increased the federal estate tax exclusion amount for decedents dying in years 2018 to 2025. The exclusion amount is for 2019 is $11.4 million. This means that an individual can leave $11.4 million and a married couple can leave $22.8 million dollars to their heirs or beneficiaries without paying any federal estate tax.  This also means that an individua more »

STAR Benefits

STAR Benefits

Question: I currently receive Enhanced STAR benefits.  My friend told me that the regulations have changed, and now there is a different way to qualify, is that correct?  Answer: Great question!  Enhanced STAR is the tax rebate program in New York available to qualifying Seniors.  Enhanced STAR is designed to refund a portion of the property taxes earmarked for the local school district to Seniors over age 65 who meet the income cap, currently set at $86,300.00.  The i more »

Updating Your Estate Planning Documents

Updating Your Estate Planning Documents

Q: I signed my will 10 years ago when I was 58 years old, do I need to update it?   A: The short answer is “maybe”, but you should definitely visit a lawyer to review your plan.  In general, we suggest clients review their estate plan every five years or after a major life event.  Such events include marriages, divorces, births, deaths, retirement, sale of your home, etc.  If you are in your late 60s you have either started to receive Social Security Retirement more »

Not Your Grandmother's Will

If you happen to have a copy of your  parent’s  or grandparent’s Last will & Testament, it is likely that the estate plan was simple- everything to the spouse, then when the second spouse dies, everything to the children. We call these “sweetheart” or “I Love You” Wills.  While these were easy to understand, they did not give much protection to a surviving spouse that might need Medicaid to pay for homecare or nursing home care.  The more »

Trusts for Mommy and Me

Trusts for Mommy and Me

Question:  My mother has a trust that protects her house in case she needs long term care in a nursing home.  Is this legal?  Also, when she dies the trust is paid to another trust for me.  Do I need this?  I am only 53 and my mother is 75.  Answer: I assume what you are describing is an Irrevocable Medicaid qualifying trust.  Based upon that assumption, the trust is a very common and effective way to protect assets in case your mother later needs nursing hom more »

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