January 7th, 2013
There was a recent case in Long Island, New York concerning issues surrounding “the right to die.” Sungeon Grace Lee, age 28, decided her life was no longer worth living. She advised her doctors she wanted to end her life by cutting off the life support system keeping her alive. Her parents, who are deeply religious, vehemently opposed their daughter’s wishes
Tumor On Her Brain
Ms. Lee had a tumor on her brain stem. She had been suffering from seizures. During one of her seizures she was rushed to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York. The seizure left her paralyzed from the neck down. At that time, she was hooked up to a life support machine that allowed her to breathe.
Parent’s Sue To Keep Daughter Alive
Ms. Lee’s mother, Jin Ah Lee, and her father, Man Oh Lee, a Pastor of the Antioch Missionary church in Flushing, Queens, were both deeply religious people. They retained an attorney and obtained a restraining order preventing their daughter from ending her life. After protracted litigation, both the trial court and appellate court set aside the petition of Sungeon Lee’s parents. In their decision, the courts indicated that the daughter was competent to make her own medical decisions. However, in the end, Ms. Lee agreed to withdraw her request to be allowed to die and complied with her parents’ wishes.
Ms. Lee has been moved from North Shore University Hospital to her parents’ home where she is competently taken care of.
About The Author
Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is an Elder Law Attorney with more than 35 years of legal experience. He represents individuals concerning Medicaid planning, wills, trusts and estate matters, end of life issues and estate planning matters.
December 31st, 2012
Irrevocable trusts are an invaluable estate planning resource. However, due to tax changes (fiscal cliff) and other issues, irrevocable trusts with an estate plan in mind, need to be changed related to subsequent modifications of estate tax laws. Can irrevocable trusts be amended? The answer to that is yes, in certain circumstances.
New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law, section 7-1.9, provides a means to modify, change or amend an irrevocable trust. This section of law allows the settlor, the individual who made the trust, upon written consent of all trust beneficiaries, to amend or revoke the trust in whole or in part. In the event that one beneficiary refuses to agree to the modification or is unable to consent to the modification, this section of the estate law cannot be utilized to amend or modify the trust. Examples of situations, where trusts cannot be amended are when one of the beneficiaries is a minor, an incompetent or the settlor has died.
In the event the settlor becomes incapacitated but has previously executed a Power of Attorney, the individual with the Power of Attorney can provide consent on behalf of the settlor to the amendment or modification of the trust.
Decanting A Trust
Section 10-6.6 of the New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law allows trusts to be decanted. Decanting involves the moving of trust assets from one irrevocable trust to another trust. The new trust can be modified even if a necessary person under EPTL section 7-1.9 was unable to get consent for an amendment under this section.
Should you have an irrevocable trust and wish to make changes, modifications or alterations, New York law allows various routes to accomplish these goals. You should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney if you or other family members face this issue.
August 2nd, 2012
A reverse mortgage is a means by which seniors utilize the equity in their homes. The equity is turned into cash. It can be used to supplement social security, pension payments, and 401K plan withdrawals. In most situations, the proceeds of a reverse mortgage are taken out in a lump sum. Arrangements can be made to have periodic payments over the period of your life, too.
The big benefit of a reverse mortgage is you don’t have to repay it during your lifetime. It gets repaid upon your death. The drawback of a reverse mortgage is it tends to have a higher interest rate than conventional mortgages. In addition to interest payments and an annual insurance charge, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s home equity conversion reverse mortgage program level an initial one time insurance premium from 2% to .01% on your home’s value. It should be noted as with any mortgage, there will be closing costs regarding reverse mortgages.
Whether you take out a reverse mortgage or not is a complicated question. You should meet with an estate planning attorney. Discuss your finances and the consequences of a reverse mortgage before proceeding to take one out.
July 24th, 2012
Planning for retirement is difficult. Today, nest eggs are much smaller than they have been in the past. Many individuals and families plan for retirement at the last minute. This can cause problems.
Save And Invest
Americans need to save today, not tomorrow. It takes a lot of will power to forego today’s pleasures and have money for the long run.
Retirement Is Not A Permanent Vacation
Some TV advertisements present retirement as a permanent vacation. You see pictures of individuals playing golf in a Shangri-La type atmosphere. Americans are living longer today. The Shangri-La atmosphere presented in those pictures can become boring and stale. Even if you can afford living in a retirement community of that type, life expectancy can stretch retirement for as long as thirty or forty years.
A Study by Fidelity Investments indicates a couple who are 65 years of age when they retire will need more than $250,000 to pay for medical expenses throughout their retirement. These medical expenses do not include nursing home care. The study found the average medical expenses for a 65 year old couple amounted to more than $530 per month. It should be noted Medicare is not free and doesn’t cover all medical expenses!
Be Careful With Your 401K Plan
A 401K Plan is retirement plan. Many people borrow large sums from their 401k plans and are not able to pay these sums back. Depleting your 401K plan can have a significantly negative impact on your ability to retire.
Be Careful Of Your Priorities
Steven Cuhna, a certified financial planner with Bay Street Financial Services, suggests you remember the 5 P’s regarding retirement, Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. You should have a plan that analyzes your financial goals, retirement needs, investment and estate plan. You may live a long time but you will not live forever. Having a will and/or irrevocable trust may be necessary to help you preserve your assets. Another solution is to never stop working!
April 4th, 2012
Who needs estate planning? Probably you do! Estate planning does not relate to an individual’s net worth. The purpose of an estate plan is to see to it that your financial goals and the financial goals of your family can be met even after you die.
There are several elements of an estate plan. A will, a power or attorney, a living will and a health care proxy. These basic documents comprise an estate plan.
Why You Need A Will
A will is a very basic document in which an individual lays out what he or she wants to happen to his or her assets upon death. It can also name guardians to the decedent’s minor children. A major reason for having a will is that if you die without a will you are considered to have died “intestate”. Individuals who die intestate will expose their heirs and loved ones to additional expenses in dealing with the complications involved with estate administration.
Are Trusts Only For The Rich?
Trusts are documents that allow you to control your assets and its distribution after you die. Trusts can also be utilized to reduce estate and gift taxes. Trusts are no longer for the rich. They’re a valuable estate planning device many middle class families utilize.
Annual Gift Giving
Each individual may give up to $13,000 a year or $26,000 if you are married and giving the gift in conjunction with your spouse. In addition you can pay an unlimited amount in medical and educational expenses for an individual if these funds are paid directly to the institutions that provided the medical or educational services.
Estate Planning Lawyers
Estate planning is a sophisticated undertaking. You should utilize experienced well thought of estate planning attorneys to handle these sophisticated transactions. The law offices of Elliot Schlissel have been drafting estate plans for their clients for over thirty years. The firm probates wills. They litigate contested wills. The firm’s attorneys have extensive experience in bringing guardianship proceedings, drafting revocable living trusts and irrevocable living trusts. Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is a member of the National Academy of Elder Care Attorneys. He provides all types of elder care counseling to his clients including issues involving nursing home abuse, Medicaid, Medicaid planning techniques, specials needs trusts for special needs children which are also referred to as supplementary needs trusts. Feel free to call our office for a consultation.
March 22nd, 2012
Justice Alexander W. Hunter sitting in the Supreme Court, Bronx County recently had an unusual case presented to him. A daughter brought a proceeding in a guardianship. She requested the court take action to prevent a court appointed guardian from retaining an attorney to draft and execute a new Last Will and Testament for her father. She took this action because she felt the drafting of this new Will would not be in the father’s best interest.
Justice Alexander Hunter denied her request. In his decision he stated that her arguments were a regurgitation of allegations she made in her initial petition to be appointed the father’s guardian. The court had initially found that the father required the appointment of a guardian of both his person and property. But the court’s decision stated that the court evaluator believed that the guardian should keep the father involved in the decision making processes. He also stated in his decision that the guardian should give the father the greatest amount of independence and self determination with regard to his property management and the maintaining of his personal needs. The court felt that the father’s drafting a new Will and Testament possibly “opened the door to potentially costly and protracted litigation post mortem as being speculative.”
The law offices of Elliot Schlissel have over 100 years experience in the preparation and submission of guardianships to the courts to the courts throughout the metropolitan area. There are two types of guardianships under Article 81 of the New York Mental hygiene Law and Guardians under the Surrogates Court Procedure Act under Article 17-A. The law offices of Elliot Schlissel have extensive experience in handling all aspects of Guardianship petitions on a regular basis in the courts throughout the metropolitan New York area. In addition our law office drafts Wills and Trusts and probates Wills. We assist our clients in Estate Planning matters. We represent Executors in Estates. We also draft Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Living Trusts and engage in all aspects of Medicaid Planning. In situations involving Special Needs children we draft Special Needs Trusts which are also known as Supplementary Needs Trusts.
March 7th, 2012
Retiring in comfort is getting more and more difficult. The costs of retirement are spiraling while the income of the average American has flattened out or is declining. There are many retirement myths that are simply untrue. Following is the discussion of some retirement issues that all potential retirees should be aware of.
How much will be enough? Do you have enough savings to retire? Will one million or two million dollars be enough in the bank to retire? According to Re Keithen D. Miller, a certified financial planner with Palisades Hudson Financial Group in Atlanta, Georgia, “With most people living longer and the continuing rise of the cost of living, a million dollars no longer guarantees a five star retirement. Most people will need to have enough money to support them for twenty five to thirty years in retirement. Depending on the lifestyle you want to maintain and where you live, a million dollars may not go so far.”
Your Expenses Won’t Go Down In Retirement
Most retirees anticipate their expenses will decrease once they retire. According to Nicole Rutledge, a certified financial planner with Resource Consulting Group inOrlando, Florida, “in my experience this is not always the case. Typically we see clients spend more money when they initially retire. This is the time in their lives when they are still healthy and full of energy. They travel more, focus resources on hobbies and other interests and do many of the things they have been putting off during their working years. We call this the go-go years.”
According to Rutledge, although spending increases initially when individuals retire the spending does decrease in the later retirement years. “That’s when the health issues, energy and just a general desire to travel the world and focus on these just aren’t what they used to be.”
The Declining Value of Social Security
Social security has never been meant to be the primary source of income for Americans who retire. Social Security provides a safety net for Americans. The average Social Security benefit is twelve hundred dollars per month. This is not enough money to live on! This will put you at the federal poverty level.
Individuals when they retire shouldn’t be overly aggressive with regard to their investments. However investing too conservatively can also be problematic. Individuals who retire should have a balanced program of dividend bearing stocks as well as fixed income return investments. Interest rates are at an all time low right now and investing in Certificates of Deposit at one and a half to two percent will not earn enough interest to secure you in your retirement years.
Retiring Too Early
It was once thought that all Americans should retire as they approach their sixties. With life expectancies increasing and savings having to last longer in retirement it is recommended today that you retire at an older age. This will expand your working years and give you additional years to accumulate savings. You will also maximize the amount you receive from your Social Security benefits.
For more than thirty years, the Attorneys of the Law Offices of Elliot Schlissel have handled estate planning needs for their clients. The Attorneys drafts wills and trusts. They draft special needs trusts for special needs children. The firm also has extensive experience with regular preparation of revocable living trusts and irrevocable living trusts.
The law office also probates wills and litigates contested will contests. They advise executors as to what to do in the handling of estates. They deal with Medicaid issues such as nursing home abuse, Medicaid planning techniques, the drafting of Health Care proxies and Powers of Attorneys. Feel free to call us for a consultation. The firm’s more than thirty years of experience can be utilized to see to it your loved ones are protected and your estate is not subject to inappropriate taxation.
March 6th, 2012
Death is unpleasant. Why would anyone want to think about such an unpleasant subject. However, as unpleasant as death may be, everything that lives will eventually die. End of life issues are difficult to face. However, the failure to face end of life issues can create untenable, difficult, and painful situations for your loved ones.
A Living Will is a document that spells out an individual’s wishes with regards to the type of medical care he or she wants to have. It is only utilized when the individual who drafts the document is no longer capable of communicating with doctors directly. It deals with issues such as life support and medical treatments that do not prolong life but only prolong death and suffering.
A Health Care Proxy is sometimes called a health care power of attorney. This allows an individual to select someone he or she trusts to make decisions about medical care during a period of time when they are in incapacitated or unable to communicate their wishes.
Cathy Brant is the senior vice president in the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization states that living wills and health care proxies are a good idea for everyone whether they are healthy and young or older and not so healthy. She states further that these two documents can spare families painful fights and ensure patients receive – or don’t receive – the medical treatments they wish should they end up in a situation where they can’t speak for themselves.
Avoiding The Terri Schiavo Situation
Terri Schiavo collapsed in 1990, in her home. She did not have any advance directives regarding end of life care issues. Her heart stopped. She suffered irreversible brain injuries. She was left in a vegetative state. Her husband, who loved her very much, stated she had told him she would not want to live in a vegetative state. He parents vehemently disagreed with Terri’s husband. They wanted her kept alive without regard to the quality of her life. Her husband and parents litigated for years concerning the issue of turning off her life support system. The case eventually went to the Supreme Court. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees were expended concerning this issue. In 2005, the court ordered her feeding tubes removed and she died two weeks later.
The Law Office of Elliot S. Schlissel has more than thirty years of experience in handling all types of Estate related matters. We probate Wills. We litigate Will contests. We draft Wills and Trusts. We create guardianships for clients. We have developed expertise concerning Estate Tax issues, Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Elder Care issues, nursing home abuse matters, Medicaid, Medicare planning techniques, Special Needs Trusts and Supplement Needs Trusts for our clients. Call us for a free consultation. Our phones are monitored 24/7. We can be reached at 1-800- 344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.
March 1st, 2012
Computers codes are the new frontier concerning Estate Planning issues. Should a senior become disabled, uncommunicative or die, access to his or her online accounts are creating major estate planning problems. Without the password to an online account it is virtually impossible to get into the account. Yahoo and Google will only provide passwords if court orders are obtained.
It used to be if someone became disabled or died you would go through their papers or review their mail to ascertain where their assets were maintained. Today, most Americans maintain their assets in online accounts that are only accessible by user codes and passwords.
If it should become necessary to obtain a court order to obtain the passwords to an account of the deceased, it may take months to get the proceeding through the courts. If there are no written records, family members and loved ones will be unable to obtain information from the bank account of seniors who become disabled or have passed away.
Hiring Computer Forensic Experts
If you need to get into the account of a loved one and you do not have access to his or her account name and/or password it may become necessary to hire a computer forensics expert to break into the hard drive to find the necessary information. This can take weeks and involve a considerable expense.
Inventory of Computer Codes
John Ramano, the co- author of “Your Digital Afterlife” suggests that each individual write out an inventory of financial online assets. This inventory should include usernames and the passwords that go with each username. He recommends these computer codes be maintained in a secure location such as home safe or a bank safety deposit box.
Web Based Companies
Another approach is to maintain the services of web based organizations that store information concerning online assets. The organizations such as Entrustet and Legacy Locker will permit access to this web based information to authorized individuals.
There is a program call Last Pass. This allows an individual doing an estate plan to create a master password. The unlocking of this master password by an authorized representative or family member opens up a digital asset list which is created by utilization of the Last Pass software program. This software can also be accessed by handheld electronic devices such as telephones, personal computers and iPads.
The Law Office of Elliot S. Schlissel has more than thirty years of experience in handling all types of Estate related matters. We probate Wills. We litigate Will contests. We draft Wills and Trusts. We create guardianships for clients. We have developed expertise concerning Estate Tax issues, Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Elder Care issues, nursing home abuse matters, Medicaid, Medicaid planning techniques, Special Needs Trusts and Supplement Needs Trusts for our clients. Call us for a free consultation. Our phones are monitored 24/7. We can be reached at 1-800- 344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.
January 10th, 2012
End of life issues are difficult to face. Everyone that lives will eventually die. If you want to make your own choices as to how you’re cared for, should you become gravely ill, it is important that you have a Living Will. A Living Will is an advance directive that explains to your loved ones and your physicians what type of life prolonging medical treatments you want and don’t want if you become incapacitated, are placed on a resperator, or are unable to express your concerns due to illness or injuries.
Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) in the State of New York, is considered a “ high spending” medicare area of the country. Most individuals without health care proxies on Long Island will find themselves dying in a hospital. Individuals with Living Wills can choose to spend their final days in a hospice facility.
Hospice Facilities are designed to make patients facing end of life diseases comfortable by treating their pain and allowing their illnesses to run a natural course. Treatment in hospitals is organized around the theory of prolonging life. This can involve aggressive procedures even if the illness is considered by the treating physicians to be terminal. The treatment in hospitals for terminal illnesses can greatly reduce the quality of the individuals life. Sometimes the difference between hospice care and hospital care relates to the quality of the individual’s life while dealing with a terminal illness.
Lauren Hersh Nicholas is a health professor with the University of Michigan. She has conducted a study of involving living wills. She states there’s a benefit to the family of the patient. “Family members have a somewhat easier decision making process, because they have greater guidance.” The hospice treatment can eliminate pain and reduce medical procedures that are unlikely to work.
The Elder Law and Wills, Trusts and Estate lawyers at the Law Office of Elliot Schlissel have been helping their clients deal with end of life issues for more than 3 decades. The law firm drafts Wills, Trusts and Health Care Proxies, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills. They represent individuals involved in will contests. They explain to executors of wills their duties. In addition, they draft revocable living trust and irrevocable living trusts. The firm is also involved in assisting clients with nursing home issues as well as medicaid planning technigues. Call for a consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 and 718- 350-2802.