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Suffolk County, NY Estate Planning and Elder Law Blog

Monday, May 18, 2015

Aging in place, a viable option in New York
A common sentiment of many of our clients as they age and need care is that they wish is to remain in their homes and receive care rather than move to a facility. The Community Based (Homecare) Medicaid program can assist families in paying for the cost of care in the home leaving that as a viable option.  Oftentimes we meet with families who are under the impression that they will not qualify.  In most cases, that is not the case. To qualify, the applicant must meet the necessary income and assets levels.  An individual who is applying for homecare Medicaid may have up to $14,850.00 in non-retirement assets.  Retirement assets will not be counted as a resource so long as the applicant is receiving monthly distributions from the account. 

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Supplemental Security Income

Q: My daughter is unable to work and received Supplemental Security Income (SSI), can I give her money to help pay her bills without reducing the amount of her benefit?

A: You can provide assistance to your daughter in some ways but you must be careful, there are very strict rules regarding what you can pay for and how you can pay for it. 

Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) is a means tested income program created to provide income to aged, blind and disabled persons who have little or no other income.  In 2015, as a single person, your daughter must have limited income and not more than $2,000 in countable assets to be eligible for SSI.  However, unlike Medicaid, purchase of certain goods or services may affect SSI eligibility. 


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Monday, May 11, 2015

Fixing an Old Trust

Question: When my husband died, some of his assets went into a credit-shelter trust under the terms of his Last Will and Testament. I am the beneficiary of the trust during my life and when I pass away everything will be distributed to our son outright. I am concerned that by receiving the inheritance outright, my son’s creditors will be able to access the funds. In addition, my accountant advises me that I do not have a taxable estate and so the credit shelter trust is not going to help me and may in fact incur unnecessary capital gains taxes. Can I do anything to change this?

Answer: Yes!  While trusts created under Wills are irrevocable and cannot be easily modified since the grantor (your husband) is deceased, there is a way to move the assets in your current credit shelter trust to a new trust which will protect the assets for your son. This process is informally known as “decanting.”


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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Transfer of a Motor Vehicle to the Surviving Spouse

Q: My husband passed away a couple of months ago. All of our assets were held jointly except for one of our cars, which was held in his sole name. The car is worth about $20,000.00. What do I need to do to transfer the car into my name? Do I need to go to Court?

A: A little known but important property right for surviving family members is known as “exempt property.” Exempt property is property that passes automatically to a surviving spouse or children under the age of 21, regardless of whether the deceased person had a will or not.


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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Retirement Planning

Retirement can be an exciting new chapter in someone’s life, but it can also be stressful.  The change of lifestyle and income source can lead to anxiety for many individuals reaching retirement.  There may be a fear that there is not sufficient income to meet monthly needs or sufficient resources to last the remainder of their life.  The reality is that people are living longer and require stable income to meet their daily expenses.  A person can maximize benefits and income while preserving assets for the next generation provided that the proper planning has been put into place. 

One key strategy in planning for retirement income is maximizing your benefit under the Social Security system.  Social Security income will play a major role in monthly income for many retired seniors and should not be overlooked or ignored. 


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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Chronic Care Eligibility

Q: If I go to a nursing home, will I have to spend all my assets before I can get on Medicaid?

A: No, it is not necessary to spend all your assets before the Medicaid program will be able to pay your nursing home bill. 

Let us begin this discussion with an explanation of how Medicaid determines eligibility.  To be eligible, you must have less than $14,850 in resources in your name.  For home care Medicaid there is no look back period, meaning that you can transfer assets in one month and apply for Medicaid the next month without incurring a penalty for the transfers.  For nursing home Medicaid, also known as chronic care Medicaid, the Medicaid program will check to see if you gave away assets to make yourself eligible. 


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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spousal Refusal

Question: My husband may soon need a Nursing Home.  I have been told that if he needs to go to a Nursing Home, we will have to spend down all of our assets before he can be eligible for Medicaid benefits, is this true?

Answer:  No, you will not have to spend all of your assets.  Because Medicaid is a need based program, certain income and asset requirements must be met in order to be eligible.  Generally speaking, an applicant for Nursing Home care in New York may have non-retirement liquid assets in the amount of $14,850.00, retirement assets in any amount so long as he is taking a monthly distribution as calculated by the local Medicaid agency and an irrevocable prepaid burial account in any amount.  Moreover, any income received in excess of $50.00 per month must be contributed to the cost of care.


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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Taxation of a Decedent

Question:  I want to know what taxes will be owed on my mother’s Estate.  I am her Executor and she died on April 2, 2015.  She left an IRA worth $100,000.00 and a house worth $250,000.00 that was purchased many years ago for $20,000.00.  I am so confused with regard to income taxes, estate taxes and capital gains tax. Can you explain this to me?  

Answer:  Let me begin my explaining the three types of taxes that you mention. 

As Executor, you will be responsible for filing an income tax return for the period beginning January 1, 2015 until the date of your mother’s death.  That will be her final income tax return.  It is due April 15, 2016 and you must pay the tax due, if any, for the income she received until her date of death.


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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Descendants Trusts
With tax planning becoming less of an issue for the average client, the focus in estate planning has shifted to asset protection for intended beneficiaries. As attorneys, we often hear our clients tell us that they plan to leave everything equally to their children, but that they are concerned that one (or more than one!) has creditor issues or are going through a divorce. How can they ensure that whatever they leave to this child will not have to be spent on his or her debts or given to his or her soon-to-be ex-spouse? The answer is with the use of Descendants Trusts.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Duties of an Estate Fiduciary

Q: My father recently passed away and I was just appointed executor of his estate. The information letter the Surrogate’s Court sent in the mail says that I am a “fiduciary,” what does that mean?

A:  The executor is a fiduciary of the estate and must administer the estate in accordance with the decedent’s wishes as stated in the will. Generally, the duties of an executor are as follows:


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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Supplemental Needs Trust for Disabled Child

Question:  I have three sons and one is disabled.  Should my Will leave everything to my other two sons so that my disabled son does not lose his government benefits when he receives an inheritance?  I am sure my other two sons will always take care of him.

Answer:  There is no reason to disinherit your disabled child.  Chances are that your disabled son will certainly need the inheritance when you die. You should provide for that son in your Will.  Even if your non-disabled children have good intentions, many circumstances may arise in their lives that could directly affect their ability to provide for your disabled child.  For example, if either son gets divorced, predeceases you, or has creditor issues, the disabled child’s share would be at risk.  Even worse, what if your other sons predecease your disabled son?


Read more . . .


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© 2014 Nancy Burner & Associates, P.C.
12 Research Way, East Setauket, NY 11733 | Phone:631-941-3434
82 Main St., Westhampton Beach, NY 11978 | Phone: 631-288-5612
1115 Broadway , Suite 1100, New York, NY 10010 | Phone: 631-941-3434

Attorney Website Design by
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