New York Elder Law Attorneys
Seniors have unique legal needs that are best served by an attorney with extensive knowledge and experience in the field of elder law. Elder law encompasses a range of issues of importance to seniors, including estate planning, Medicaid planning, guardianship, and estate administration and litigation. Our attorneys can assist with any of these elder law matters.
Financial planning for seniors is complicated by the potential need for long-term care. The need for a nursing home stay is unpredictable, and if the need does arise, care is expensive.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 1 in 3 people turning 65 will need care at a skilled nursing facility at some point in their lives. According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the median cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home in New York State was $131,853 in 2016 and is expected to increase 3% over the next five years.
Medicare does not cover long-term stays in nursing facilities. Some families have the resources to pay for nursing home costs out of pocket, and others invest in long-term care insurance. However, 6 in 10 nursing home residents are covered by Medicaid. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is a need-based program, which means that certain income and resource limits must be met in order to be eligible. This often means that families must spend down their own resources on nursing home costs before finally qualifying for Medicaid. However, it is possible to be eligible for the program and still preserve your family’s assets. This is where Medicaid planning comes in.
- Should the need arise for long-term care, it can be costly. Medicare does not cover long-term stays in nursing facilities.
- Approximately 1 in 3 people turning 65 will need care at a skilled nursing facility at some point in their lives.
- Medicaid can offer a solution; 6 in 10 nursing home residents are covered by Medicaid.
- It is important to plan ahead and transfer needed assets early to avoid the five year “look-back” period.
Simply transferring resources to family members and then applying for Medicaid will not be successful. The program has a “look-back” period of five years before the application date, and transferring assets for less than market value during that period will result in a period of ineligibility. If one spouse needs nursing home care, the other spouse can refuse financial support, but Medicaid has the right to seek contribution from the spouse that continues to reside in the community, for the care of the spouse in the facility. Nevertheless, it is possible to protect your family’s assets while qualifying for the program. Medicaid’s financial regulations are complicated, and Littman Krooks has decades of experience in helping families navigate the process involved in Medicaid planning. We welcome the opportunity to learn more about your needs and share our strategies to safeguard your family’s wealth.
When it comes to long-term care, planning ahead can make the difference in preserving significant assets for your family while qualifying for the Medicaid benefits that most families rely on for nursing home care.
Littman Krooks can craft asset protection strategies to meet your family’s unique needs. We start by helping you take stock of critical factors such as your health, your finances and your objectives. Typical concerns for families are how to balance their plans for retirement and leaving a legacy for their heirs with the potential need for long-term care. Careful advance planning can help you avoid the Medicaid “look-back” period for transfer of assets to family members. We will consider strategies such as spousal refusal, disinheritance, or a gift-back program as we design an asset protection strategy that is tailored to your family’s needs.
People who take the time to engage in careful estate planning have the best chance of avoiding disputes among their heirs. However, conflicts over wills and trusts are always a possibility and can lead to estate litigation.
This is not a prospect that anyone welcomes, but if a dispute arises, you should take the steps necessary to defend your interests. Whenever possible, our attorneys will help you seek a practical resolution that protects your interests while avoiding unnecessary expense, but when litigation is required, we will fight for your rights.
The attorneys of Littman Krooks have extensive experience in every aspect of estate litigation, including matters involving contesting a will or trust, spousal election, contesting accounting, breach of fiduciary duty, construction of a will or trust, guardianship and trust reformation. We offer advice and representation to heirs, beneficiaries, trustees, and executors and administrators of estates. Because the statutes of limitations apply to estate litigation matters, do not delay consulting with an attorney.
Planning your estate is a natural extension of the financial planning you engage in to build and protect your family’s wealth. Far too many people fail to put a proper estate plan in place.
Dying without a will means that state law will determine how your resources are divided among family members, which may not be what you would have chosen. The lack of an effective estate plan can lead to disputes among your heirs, causing your family unnecessary strife and expense.
A good estate plan starts with your will, which dictates how your assets will be distributed. This requires careful consideration, particularly when there are children from a prior marriage. Even if you believe that the division of your assets will be relatively straightforward, you must consider factors such as accounts with designated beneficiaries, which do not pass through probate, and the fair market value of assets such as real estate.
- If you die without a will, state law will determine how to distribute your assets according to a formula, which may not represent your wishes.
- Dividing assets requires the consideration of many factors and is not necessarily a straightforward process.
- You may want to consider using trusts for your estate planning to protect both your wishes and your assets for beneficiaries.
An estate plan may also include trusts for a variety of purposes. You may want a revocable living trust to allow a trusted person to begin managing your affairs during your lifetime and distribute your major assets to your beneficiaries after your death without the need to go through probate. Trusts can also protect assets for young people or family members with disabilities.
When you consult with our estate planning attorneys, we will take the time to learn about your wishes and needs, and we will bring a wealth of experience to bear in crafting an estate plan that helps you avoid conflict, provide for your heirs, and minimize estate taxes.
Estate Administration and Probate
If you have been named the executor of an estate, you need to be fully aware of your responsibilities. You must ensure that certain steps are taken, and you have a legal obligation to manage the estate in the interests of the beneficiaries.
In New York State, estates are handled by the Surrogate’s Court of the county in which the deceased person had their primary residence. Someone, usually the executor, must ask the court to approve the will. Interested parties are given proper notice, and if the will is approved, the court will issue letters testamentary so that the executor can begin paying the estate’s debts and distributing the assets in accordance with the will.
It is highly recommend for an estate executor to seek legal counsel. An executor who fails to properly manage the estate and causes financial harm to beneficiaries can face litigation. Estates involving trusts, significant real estate, or different types of investments can all involve complications, and the attorneys of Littman Krooks can guide you to solutions. If anyone contests the will or threatens litigation, then the advice of an attorney is indispensable.
When a senior loved one is unable to make decisions in their own best interest, guardianship may be necessary. However, it is important to seek legal counsel, because less restrictive solutions may be available, especially if you take the time to plan ahead.
Our attorneys can meet with you to discuss alternatives such as caregiving, trusts, powers of attorney, advance health care directives or health care proxies, and representative payees. We can help you determine the best solution for your needs.
If a loved one becomes incapacitated without any other arrangement in place, then guardianship may be necessary. Three types of guardians exist and must be appointed by the court: guardian of the person, to make decisions about matters such as health care and welfare; guardian of property, to handle the ward’s financial affairs; or guardian of the person and property.
Other types of guardianship apply for children or people with developmental disabilities, but for a senior loved one who becomes incapacitated, an Article 81 guardianship petition is filed with the Supreme Court or County Court. The attorneys of Littman Krooks are highly experienced with all types of guardianship and can represent you throughout the process.
Knowledge and Experience
The elder law attorneys of Littman Krooks stand ready to help you protect your family’s financial future.
Contact Littman Krooks to learn how we can serve your elder law and estate planning needs.