Estate Planning and Elder Law Blog

Grantor Trust Rules

Question: My friend has an irrevocable trust to protect assets in case she needs Medicaid to pay for her long-term care. What are the tax ramifications of this kind of trust? Answer: The typical Medicaid trust is a grantor trust for income tax purposes and is includible in your estate for estate tax purposes.  The…

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Small Estate Proceeding

Question: My father died without a Will leaving only a checking account in his sole name with a balance of $35,000. My brother and I are his only heirs. I have heard that there is a proceeding in the Surrogate’s Court to handle an estate of this value. Can you tell me about it? Answer:…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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. …

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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…

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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…

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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…

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