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Spousal Refusal And Medicaid Planning

elder care attorney medicaidIn the States of Connecticut, Florida and New York spousal refusal to pay for a spouse’s medical expenses can be an acceptable Medicaid planning technique. The spouse of an individual who goes into a nursing home and applies for Medicaid is referred to as the “community spouse.” This spouse can keep approximately $3000 a month of the family’s combined income. In addition the community spouse can keep about $100,000 in assets which is referred to in Medicaid jargon as “resources.” Exempt assets such as car and the home the parties reside in are not included. The spouse that is going to go into the nursing facility is referred to as the “institutionalized spouse.”

$3000 A Month Is Not Enough

In a situation where the community spouse cannot live on the $3000 a month which is exempt from Medicaid, spousal refusal becomes an important option. The first step is the moving of assets from being held jointly to being solely in the name of the community spouse. An elder care attorney can prepare a document indicating the community spouse is refusing to contribute his or her income and assets to the care of the institutionalized spouse. The document provides reasons for the community spouse needing more than $3000 a month to live on. If the community spouse exercises spousal refusal and then meets other requirements to qualify for Medicaid benefits, the New York State benefit program must pay the expenses for the institutionalized spouse.

Department of Social Services Suing Community Spouse

The Department of Social Services can institute a law suit against the community spouse to recover all of the expenses paid by Medicaid. The purpose of the law suit is to force the community spouse to reimburse the Department of Social Services. So why should a community spouse risk this law suit? There are good reasons for this. To start with there is no guarantee the Department of Social Services will be successful in the law suit. Even if the Department of Social Services is winning the law suit, these law suits are often settled for less than the entire amount which is due and owing. In the event the Department of Social Services is successful in the law suit, it may only obtain payment for the Medicaid reimbursement rate and not for the much higher private pay rate the institution would charge for taking care of the institutionalized spouse. The private pay rate is usually $3000 to $5000 a month higher than the reimbursement rate for Medicaid.

Elder Care Planning: The Best Route

The first option should be to purchase long term care insurance. If this is not a viable option, the next best way to deal with elder care related issues concerning Medicaid is to hire an elder care lawyer to prepare an irrevocable MAPT trust at least five years before any potential need for Medicaid benefits.

elder care planning and medicaid

Retirement Problems

estate planning lawyerDo you have enough money to retire? This is a question baby boomers are starting to think about. How much money do you need before you retire? What is the best way to plan for retirement?

When Should You Start Saving?

Experts agree that you should start saving for your retirement as early as possible. The longer you defer putting aside money in a 401(K), IRA or through a pension plan the less likely that you’ll have sufficient funds to last during the term of your retirement.

Medicare and Medical Expenses

Medicare will not be sufficient to cover your medical expenses during retirement. A study by Fidelity Investments found a 65 year old couple retiring in 2012 would need to spend $240,000 to cover their medical expenses during the time of their retirement. If you retire at 65, you will need to set aside a quarter million dollars just for medical expenses!

Maintaining Your Standard of Living In Retirement

Baby boomers facing retirement often receive mailings from retirement communities showing retirees living the good life. The question is, how much does the good life cost? Will it be cheaper to live the good life in your senior years than you’re living expenses were when you were working? Studies show you will need approximately 75 to 80% of the income you had a while you were working to maintain your lifestyle in retirement. When you are retired you will have more time available to go on vacations and you may find that the good life is not inexpensive.

Should You Wait To Retire?

Now that Americans are living longer, should they consider 65 a reasonable retirement age or should they wait until their 70 or older to retire? Many Americans working for large corporations are deprived of the choice of working through their sixties into their seventies. Large corporations tend to push older employees out by offering them incentives and other packages. Should you lose your job when you are 55 or 60 years of age, you will find many employers are reluctant to hire older Americans.

Conclusion

Be careful when you retire. You don’t want to outlive your money!

About the Author

prepares and litigates wills and trustsElliot S. Schlissel is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He assists seniors with regard to wills, litigation, Medicaid issues and estate litigation.

The Right To Die

long island attorneyThere 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

elder care helpElliot 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.

Retirement: It May Not Be A Choice!

estate planning lawyerJob growth in the United States has been weak for a number of years. However, there is one group in the American population that has a higher level of employment than in previous decades. This group encompasses “older Americans.” More than 7.2 million Americans over the age of 65 are now working. This is more than twice as many that were employed 18 years ago. Why are a lot of older Americans working today? Simply speaking, they have to!

Savings In 401K’s Are Down

The amount of money in 401K plans and equity in homes of older Americans has decreased during the recent recession. During this period of time, the expenses for senior citizen’s health care and daily living expenses have increased.

Living Longer

Americans today are living longer than they have in the past. This makes working beyond 65 years of age much easier. Many Americans work to stay active and productive. However, the most significant factor in Americans working well into their seventies is financial need.

In a study regarding retirement financial confidence conducted by Employee Benefit Research Institute, only 14% of Americans polled felt they would have enough money to live comfortably in retirement. Is retirement no longer an option?

About The Author

Elliot S. Schlissel practices elder law and has more than 30 years of experience assisting his clients regarding retirement issues, estate matters and Medicaid planning issues.assistance in planning for retirement

Estate Planning

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 Schlissel DeCorpo 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.

Garden of Eden Adult Home in Brooklyn is “A Garden Of Hell”

The Garden of Eden Nursing Home is located in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York. The residents of this adult facility have been forced to live in a poorly maintained residence and under unsanitary living conditions. Multiple lawsuits have been brought related to complaints of mistreatment from the residents.  The State Health Department has sited the facility for numerous violations during the course of 2011.

Pay Your Rent Or We’ll Put You On The Street

Linda Benjamin, age 58, who has been living at the facility for the past nine years, has said “they have black hearts – all of them.”  She claims to have been bullied and threatened by administrators during the entire 9 year period she has been living at the facility.  Benjamin recently asked the administrators of the facility to reduce her rent so she could purchase a new set of dentures.  She was told that if she didn’t pay her rent she would be out on the street.

Residents of the facility claim the administrator Martin Amsel bullied patients into attending optional treatment meetings.  They would be threatened with eviction or unnecessary hospital stays if they didn’t do as requested.

The State Health Department documents indicate that residents complained they were being served stale and moldy food.

Administrators Defense

Jeff Sherrin stated “Garden of Eden and its Administrator were wrongfully accused by the Department of Health inspector of overzealousness in trying to encourage residents to attend programs and take medications that their doctors had order for them”.  He further stated that the facility has one of the best inspection records of any adult facility in the State of New York.

Numerous residents of the facility disagree with Jeff Sherrin’s analysis.  They claim they are bullied, harassed and tormented by the management of the facility

Elder Care Lawyers

The Elder Care Lawyers at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have been helping seniors with numerous issues for over two decades.  The law firm had extensive experience with Medicaid, Medicaid planning techniques, drafting special needs trusts for special needs children, representing executors in the probating of wills, contesting wills and drafting wills and trusts.  The firm also prepares guardianship documents for submissions under Article 81 under the New York Mental Hygiene Law.  In addition the firm drafts revocable living trust and irrevocable trusts for their clientsCall us for a free consultation regarding all elder care and wills and trusts issues.

Dispelling Retirement Myths

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.

Investment Income

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.

New York Wills and Trusts Lawyer

For more than thirty years, the Attorneys of the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo 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.

Baby Boomers Need Wills

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.

Living Will

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.

Health Care Proxy

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.

There are many issues individuals face as they grow older. Drafting health care proxies, will and living wills are issues that Americans should face up to.

Elder Care Lawyers

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo 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.

Why You Need A Living Will

willspic-150x150End 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.

End of Life Issues on Long Island

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 Verses Hospitals

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.

Living Wills and Family Members

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.

Elder Law Attorneys

The Elder Law and Wills, Trusts and Estate lawyers at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo 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.

Retirement Planning for Single Americans

Who prepares better for retirement, married couples or single individuals? The answer is married couples. More than 85% of married couples have saving plans related to their retirement. This compares with only 67% of single individuals who have established retirement savings programs.

Retirement Planning

Americans who have worked during the course of their lives are entitled to receive Social Security benefits. Social Security is an entitlement program. Another entitlement program working Americans have the benefit of is medicare. Medicare is a program that pays for a variety of medical treatments for senior citizens. It pays for hospital stays, doctors visits and prescription drugs. Medicare is not designed to pay for nursing home care. If a senior is placed in a nursing home for rehabilitation purposes, Medicare will cover up to 100 days of the expenses of the nursing home facility. However, if a senior needs to go into a nursing home because he or she just can’t take care themselves, Medicare is not designed to pay this expense. Seniors can buy catastrophic health care insurance to cover this type of expense.

Retirement Savings Plan

There are various types of retirement savings programs. Some employers have pension plans for their employees. Another type of savings program through employment is called a 401K plan. This allows the wage earner to save without paying current income taxes for a portion of his or her income. Individual retirement accounts are yet another type of retirement savings program that provides tax benefits.

How Much Is Necessary To Save For Retirement

The amount of money an individual or family needs to put aside for retirement varies with the lifestyle and cost of living of the people involved. Most financial planners suggest that retired Americans will require between 75% and 80% of the income they had during their working lives for their retirement. This is a figure that is hard for most Americans to meet. Most families and singles reduce their expenditures and live simpler lives in retirement, thereby preserving their limited assets.

Elder Care Lawyer

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo provides elder care legal services to our clients. We draft wills and trusts. We probate wills. We deal with Medicaid planning issues. We assist our clients with nursing home issues. We provide all types of elder care legal representation. We also draft special needs trusts and supplemental needs trusts for our clients. Should you need a will, trust or an elder care attorney, call us at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Valley Stream, Lynbrook, Baldwin, Malverne, Freeport, Oceanside, Long Beach, Elmont, Lakeview, West Hempstead, Hempstead, Merrick, Bellmore

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