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Estate Planning and Elder Law Blog

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 »

Medicaid and Elective Share

Medicaid and Elective Share

We are frequently asked whether it is a good idea to disinherit your spouse due to the possibility of nursing home care in the future.  While updating your estate planning documents is a good idea, simply disinheriting your spouse may not protect your estate in the event s/he needs to go to a nursing facility.  If your spouse requires care in a nursing facility and wants to rely on Chronic Medicaid to pay for it, the Department of Social Services will conduct a five-year lookback.  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 »

Gifting

Gifting

Q: I have 5 grandchildren and want to start gifting them money every year to help support their growing families.  What are some gift tax consequences I need to consider?  Do my grandchildren have to pay a tax on the gift?  I have a relatively large estate, how will gifting affect this?  A: Under Federal law, a person can gift up to $15,000 per person, per year, without having to report the gift on a Gift Tax Return (Form 709). This is called the annual exclusion amount. A more »

Trust vs. Life Estate

Trust vs. Life Estate

  Question:  My parents are concerned about protecting their home.  Some people have recommended that we consider creating a trust while others have suggested that they transfer to house to me and my siblings and retain a life estate, which is a better idea? Answer:  This issue comes up often in our practice.  For starters, an explanation of the two planning tools is probably necessary so that you can make the choice that is best for you.  A deed with a life estat more »

Medicaid Financial Levels for 2019

Medicaid Financial Levels for 2019

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 remai 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 »

Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP)

Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP)

The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) is a Medicaid program that allows a Medicaid applicant, or their representative, to choose the individual (or individuals) to provide care at home rather than using an aide from a home health agency. Under the Medicaid process, once an applicant is approved for Medicaid, they will undergo at least one assessment to help determine how many hours of care the applicant will receive with a Managed Long Term Care plan (MLTC).  The applic 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 »

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