Suffolk County, NY Estate Planning and Elder Law Blog
Monday, November 23, 2015
QUESTION: My father is in his eighties and although he is in good health, he would like to plan and pay for his funeral now. Does it make sense for him to do this?
ANSWER: Yes, it does make sense to make plans for your father to make and pay for his own funeral arrangements. Many people pre-arrange and pre-fund their funerals as part of their estate plan. This arrangement can be done by either (1) going directly to the funeral home of your choice whereby the funeral is partially or fully pre-paid through the establishment of a funeral trust with the funeral home as trustee, or (2) the money can be deposited into a bank passbook account for the benefit of the funeral home.
Advantages of pre-planning and pre-funding one’s funeral expenses include peace of mind for the individual pre-arranging, the ability to make personal and specific selections for the funeral service, relieving the financial and emotional burden on loved ones, and for purposes of Supplemental Security Income/Medicaid can serve a spend down when necessary. A pre-need funeral trust allows recipients of SSI/Medicaid to set aside money to fully fund the funeral service of their choice before their funds are exhausted down to necessary eligibility levels or these government sponsored programs.Read more . . .
Monday, November 23, 2015
Question: Does the Veterans Administration provide any benefits to receive assistance at home?
Answer: There is a benefit referred to as the improved Pension through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), more commonly referred to as Aid and Attendance Pension. Assuming you meet the eligibility requirements, the VA permits payments to care givers (including family members, but not spouses) for care provided to the veteran and/or the spouse. There are three main requirements to qualifying for Aid and Attendance.
First, the claimant must have served at least 90 days active duty with one day served during wartime. There are specific wartime periods: World War I (April 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918); World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946); Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955); Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975); or Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation). The claimant must have received a military discharge “other than dishonorable.”
Read more . . .
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Question: I was recently named as an agent on my mother’s Durable Power of Attorney which included a “statutory gifts rider.” What is this document and what responsibilities will I have?
Answer: A Durable Power of Attorney is a document in which a principal, in this case your mother, can designate an agent to act on her behalf with respect to financial, business or legal matters. In New York State, the agent is limited to the powers enumerated in the document and can only act pursuant to that authority. A Durable Power of Attorney is effective when signed and, contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement that your mother be incapacitated or unable to handle her own finances in order for the agent to have the power to act. In fact, the Durable Power of Attorney survives an individual’s incapacity. This means that you as the agent will still be able to act for your mother even if she became incapacitated.Read more . . .
Monday, November 16, 2015
Portability- It May Not Be Too Late
The concept informally known as “portability” is now permanent as a result of the enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Portability allows a surviving spouse to use a deceased spouse’s unused estate tax exclusion (up to $5.43 million in 2015).
For those dying in 2011 and later, if a first-to-die spouse has not fully used the federal estate tax exclusion, the unused portion called the “Deceased Spousal Unused Exclusion Amount,” or “DSUE amount,” can be transferred or “ported” to the surviving spouse. Thereafter, for both gift and estate tax purposes, the surviving spouse’s exclusion is the sum of (1) his/her own exclusion (as such amount is inflation adjusted), plus (2) the first-to-die’s ported DSUE amount.Read more . . .
Friday, November 13, 2015
Question: I have heard there will increased costs for Medicare in 2016. Is this true?
Answer: Unfortunately, yes. For about 30% of Medicare participants, there will be an increase in the Medicare Part B premiums. This 30% includes those participants who do not have the Part B premium deducted from their Social Security check and all new enrollees for 2016. Accordingly, if you are eligible for Medicare, but have not yet enrolled, you should consider enrolling sooner rather than later and opt for the Part B premiums to be paid from Social Security if you are collecting. For those who are not yet collecting Social Security in an effort to maximize their benefit, the savings on the Medicare premium may not be worth collecting Social Security early. The full retirement benefit is available at age 66, however if you delay collecting, the benefit will be even greater. For instance, for each year that you delay collecting Social Security after age 66, there is an 8 percent increase in the benefit. For the 70% of Medicare participants who do have their Part B premium paid out of their Social Security check, the premium will remain the same.Read more . . .
Friday, November 06, 2015
Day Haven Neighborhood of Caring Breakfast
This past Thursday, November 5th, Michele Biggart, our Office Manager, was amongst the honorees at the Day Haven Neighborhood of Caring Breakfast held at Villa Lombardi’s in Holbrook. Day Haven Adult Day Services is a social model adult day services programs with centers in Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma NY. Michele was awarded with a piece of artwork completed by a Day Haven participant entitled “Beautiful.” In addition the firm has partnered with Day Haven and The Bristal Assisted Living to provide “Memory Café’s” for those families and caregivers dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. For more information regarding Day Haven and Memory Cafes visit http://www.dayhaven.org/
Wednesday, November 04, 2015
Q: My father is a resident of Florida and owns a condominium and several financial accounts in his sole name. He also owns a summer home in New York that is titled in his sole name. If he were to pass away, what is the procedure to transfer the New York home after his death?
A: Real estate is governed by the laws of the state where it is located. The old saying is that where you own dirt you have to probate a will. Therefore, if a person dies owning real estate in two different states, the Executor would have to probate the Last Will & Testament in the decedent’s home state and commence an “ancillary” probate proceeding in the State where the other real property is located. In your father’s case, his estate would first be probated in the Florida courts. The ancillary proceeding would be commenced in the county in New York where his summer home is located. Read more . . .
Monday, November 02, 2015
Find out how our staff members are celebrating National Caregivers Month!
Great Work Happening!
In honor of National Caregivers Month, Nancy Burner & Associates, P.C. would like to share the recent adventures embarked upon by our attorney Britt Burner, Esq. and our estate planning paralegal, Jessika Lombardo.
On October 31st, Britt and Jessika joined a group of young professionals from all over the NYC area to travel to Jamaica and work with children who have mental and physical disabilities as well as those affected by HIV/AIDS--and have been orphaned or otherwise abandoned.
The group will be blogging each day and you can follow their trip at: http://hobokencares.blogspot.com/Read more . . .
Friday, October 30, 2015
De-Clutter Your Life!
This past Tuesday, October 27th 2015, over 35 of our clients joined us for the "Retired Senior Volunteer Program" (RSVP) presentation on De-Cluttering your life. RSVP's mission is to provide diverse volunteer opportunities for people 55 and older. RSVP supports Older Americans who wish to remain active and make a difference in their communities.
This presentation discussed how to shrink the piles of bills, receipts, ads and official "stuff" that comes from Medicare, IRS and financial institutions. It guided clients as to what papers are important, how long they should be saved, where to keep them and how to safely dispose of papers no longer needed.Read more . . .
Monday, October 26, 2015
What is Estate Planning?
Question: While I am familiar with Last Wills and Testaments, I keep hearing my friends talk about completing an “Estate Plan.” What is typically included in an “Estate Plan” and do I need one?
Answer: While people are aware of the importance of execute a Last Will & Testament, they are often of the mindset that it is something to be done as they get older and as a result it gets put off. For the same reason, the value of a establishing a comprehensive Estate Plan is often overlooked.
Regardless of your age, the creation of a thorough Estate Plan is essential. An Estate Plan ensures that your needs, your family’s needs, and financial goals are met during your lifetime and upon your death. A thorough and comprehensive plan should include a Last Will & Testament, Health Care Proxy, Living Will, and Power of Attorney. For some clients the creation of a Trust is also practical.
Read more . . .
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Demystifying Chronic Care Medicaid
What does look-back mean? What is spousal refusal? Will Medicaid take my house if my husband has to go to a Nursing Home? All too often these are the questions we hear from our clients who are faced with navigating the Medicaid landscape once a crisis occurs. In New York, the Medicaid program can provide a source of payment for those who are financially eligible and require care, either in a nursing facility or in their own home. In order to be eligible for Chronic Medicaid (payment for nursing home care) an individual must meet certain income and asset requirements. To start, the applicant may have no more than $14,850.00 in liquid non-qualified (non-retirement) assets in their name. They may have qualified (retirement) assets in an unlimited amount, provide that they are taking a monthly distribution. When applying, the Department of Social Services will require a full financial accounting from both the applicant and his spouse for the five years immediately prior. This is what is often referred to as the “look-back.” The purpose of this investigation is to determine among other things whether any transfers were made during this time period which would affect eligibility. The rule is that for every $12,390.00 that was transferred a one-month penalty will be imposed.
Read more . . .
Nancy Burner & Associates, P.C. has offices in Setauket, Westhampton Beach, and Manhattan New York.