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Easing Into Retirement

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When Is The Right Time to Retire?

It’s hard to say when it’s right time to retire; however, it is easy to say it is the wrong time to retire. You shouldn’t retire unless you have sufficient funds to carry you through your golden years. In the past, most people retired in their sixties. With declining savings and living costs going up, many Americans will have to wait till they’re in their seventies.

Retirement Suggestions

Instead of quitting your job, you may be able to negotiate reducing your working days or working hours. This will allow you to live without drawing on your savings. Downscale your life style. If you want to retire, you need to try to live more modestly. If your home is large, you can sell it and buy a smaller home or rent an apartment. You can move from an expensive state, such as those located in the Northeast, to cheaper, less expensive states in the South and Southwest.

You need to prioritize your needs. Instead of eating out once or twice a week, it is much less expensive to cook your meals and eat at home.

Forced Retirement

Losing your job or being downsized may force you into retirement. Employers may no longer want experienced employees in their fifties and sixties. This tends to raise the cost of their group health care and other group benefit packages. What do you do if you’re downsized and no one wants to hire you?You need to see a job counselor. You need to train yourself to work in another industry. Unfortunately, you also need to downsize your expectations as to what you’ll be earning.

Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyers

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo has been assisting senior Americans regarding wills and trusts issues for more than thirty years. We draft wills and trusts. We probate wills. We litigate will contests. We draft special needs trusts for special needs children.

Elliot S. Schlissel is a member of The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He handles elder care planning related to Medicare, Medicaid and nursing home issues. Call us for a free consultation.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Estate Planning

estateEstate planning is a dry and dull subject. However, the family dynamics and transactions of celebrities bring issues involving estate planning before society as a whole. The deaths of Michael Jackson, Catherine Hepburn, singer Don Ho and the problems involved in their estates have been in the news in the past few years. The problems encountered by these celebrities are good examples of what the do’s and don’ts of estate planning are.

All Estate Planning Should Be In Writing!

Don Ho made various promises to his estranged first wife on her death bed. He told her he would let her six children inherit the family’s beach front home in Hawaii. This eight bedroom luxury home had been in the family for decades. Unfortunately for his ex-wife and her children, this was an unenforceable verbal promise. The house was subsequently listed for sale. While the home was on the market, he died of heart failure.

The home, which was owned by a trust, was listed at 6.8 million dollars and eventually sold for approximately 6 million dollars. Thereafter, the six adult children of the first wife were evicted from the house. There has been a lot of litigation and many estate lawyers have made significant legal fees related to Don Ho’s estate. As of this date, the six adult children of Don Ho’s late wife have not received one penny.

Creating A Trust Is Only a First Step; the Trust Needs to Be Funded

Michael Jackson had created a family trust during his lifetime. He took this action as part of a sophisticated estate plan. However, he did not transfer any assets into the trust. It was therefore absolutely worthless!

To put a home in a trust, a new deed must be created. This deed must transfer the title of the property from the name of the individual creating the trust into the trust. The deed thereafter must be recorded at the County Clerk’s office or the register of deeds in the county where the home is located. Michael Jackson’s estate is now involved in a probate mess that could have been avoided if his trust was funded!

Leona Helmsley left significant assets to her pet. This did not sit well with her friends and family members. They did not like the idea that Leona felt a pet was more important than them. Care should be taken in estate plans to explain exactly who is to receive your assets. If you’re disinheriting individuals, your will or trust should specifically state that they are being disinherited. Think about the consequences and problems that may be caused by your estate plan and take action to deal with these consequences.

Estate Planning Lawyers

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo can provide you with expert legal assistance in the areas of estate planning. Our law office probates wills. We litigate contested wills and estates. We draft wills and trusts. We prepare revocable living trusts and irrevocable living trusts during our clients’ lifetimes.

We provide elder care legal advice concerning issues involving nursing home abuse, medicaid and medicaid planning techniques. We also draft special needs trusts for special needs children. Feel free to call us for a consultation.

Nurse Practitioners Want Freedom from Supervising Doctors

Last year in the State of New York midwives obtained the ability to practice their craft without the supervision of physicians. This year nurse practitioners are seeking the same freedom.

Pending Legislation in New York

There is currently a proposed bill before the New York State Legislature that would eliminate the requirement that nurse practitioners have to work under the supervision of doctors. In the event this statute is passed New York would join sixteen other states and the District of Columbia in freeing nurse practitioners from the supervision of physicians.

Seth Gordon, the president of the Nurse Practitioners Association in New York stated “without that restriction, nurse practitioners would be free to enter into their own practices and practice?”

Nurse Practitioners

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has obtained a masters degree and had advanced medical training. They are currently allowed to make a medical diagnosis and they can also prescribe prescription drugs. Presently a nurse practitioner must have a collaborative agreement with a practicing physician. This requires the doctor to review the nurse practitioner’s cases every ninety days. However, the review can be as minimal as the doctor simply looking at one of the nurse practitioner’s patient charts.

Nurse practitioners feel that the review is unnecessary. The New York Medical Society opposes the statute which would allow nurse practitioners to practice without the supervision of physicians. Nurse practitioner argue that removing the physicians supervision requirement would enable more nurse practitioners to have solo practices. They claim this would fill the gap in areas where there aren’t enough practicing physicians.

New York Wills and Trust Lawyer

We provide estate planning services. Elliot S. Schlissel is an elder care attorney. He litigates nursing home abuse and medicaid related issues. He deals with medicaid planning techniques. He also assists individuals with special needs trusts for special needs children. Feel free to call for a free consultation. 

Abuse of the Elderly for Financial Gain

elder-150x150In the year 2000, Howard Thomas suffered severe dementia. He also had terminal cancer. In early 2001, his daughter, who was his primary caretaker, took a short vacation. He was left in the care of a Nidia Thomas. While Mr. Thomas’s daughter was away, Nidia arranged for a $150,000 bank account in Mr. Thomas’s name to be retitled from his name to a joint account with her. She had herself named as sole beneficiary on his pension and she married him. He died several months thereafter.

Howard’s Children Challenge Nidia’s Inheritance

Howard’s three children brought a lawsuit in the Supreme Court in the State of New York to declare the marriage between their father and Nidia null and void. They also proceeded in the Probate Court against her. Ms. Thomas filed a Notice of Election under the estates, powers and trust law, section 5-1.1-A. She asserted her right as a surviving spouse to receive a portion of her deceased husband’s estate. In the Supreme Court proceeding, the court eventually issued a decision stating that Nidia “shall have no legal rights and claim no legal interest as a spouse of Mr. Thomas.” She filed an appeal claiming that, even if the marriage was annulled or voided post death, she is still entitled to receive her share of his estate as a spouse. In this case, an appellate court held that, because Mr. Thomas was incapable of consenting to the marriage due to lack of mental capacity, his spouse could be denied a right of election based on the equitable principal that a court will not permit a party to profit from his or her own wrongdoing. Nidia lost. She received no money from Mr. Thomas’s estate. It all went to his children.

Wills and Trusts Lawyer

Our law office probates wills. We represent individuals on contested wills and estate proceedings. We also draft wills. We provide estate administration services when

loved ones or friends die. We deal with estate tax issues, estate planning issues, and all types of elder care and nursing home issues. We prepare medicaid applications and we assist our clients in medicaid planning techniques. We draft revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts and special needs trusts on behalf of our clients. Call us should you have an issue concerning a will, a trust or an estate matter.

Alzheimer’s Disease: What are the Symptoms?

alz-121x150 Are you concerned that either you, a close friend or a loved one has the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease?  What are the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease? Are your parents just becoming forgetful or do they  have the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease? Should you believe that yourself, a friend, a family member  or a loved one is developing Alzheimer’s disease, then you should go to a physician that deals with this  disorder. There are very specific tests a physician can perform to determine whether Alzheimer’s disease is in  its early stages.

The following are a list of symptoms you should look for concerning Alzheimer’s disease:

Memory lapses -Does the senior repeat himself or herself or tell the same story again and again? Are they forgetful concerning names and acquaintances? Is this a problem that is getting worse? Memory problems are one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Confusion – Has this individual’s speech patterns changed? Does he or she stumble over their words? Instead of using specific terms, do they instead use terms such as “whatchamacallit”?

Mood changes – Is this individual subject to certain mood changes? Where they were normally assertive, are they now reflective? Is this individual becoming withdrawn or depressed?

Difficulty with common activities – Does this individual seem to have difficulty doing normal daily activities such as cooking, washing, bathing and playing games? Does this individual start projects and fail to complete them?

Disorientation – Does this individual become disoriented in situations where they never had difficulty before? Do they get lost easily or wander around aimlessly?

Misplacing items – Has the individual suddenly started to lose things or misplace items? Does he or she lose track of things such as keys, glasses or telephones?

The aforementioned provides you an overview of many of the problems experienced by individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease. Should you see these problems in a friend, family member or loved one, have them a see a physician to look into whether they are developing Alzheimer’s disease. There are medications that can slow the onslaught of this horrendous disease.

Wills and Trusts Attorneys

trust-150x1501The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo drafts wills and trusts for our clients. We probate wills and trusts. We litigate contested wills and estate proceedings. We help our clients deal with Medicaid planning and issues involving nursing homes. We deal with estate administration and estate taxation issues. We also draft special needs and trusts, as well as supplemental needs trusts, for our clients. Feel free to call us at 1-800-344-6431; 516-561- 6645 or 718-350-2802 should you need legal assistance.

Caring for Senior Citizens From Long Distance

elder12-150x150When we were born, our parents cared for us. Are we up to the task of taking care of our parents when they grow old? This is especially difficult when you don’t live near your parents.

Siblings Nearby

Some people are lucky, in that a brother or sister lives near their parents. While the sibling becomes the primary caretaker, it is still important that you contribute to the taking care of elderly parents. You should contact the sibling that lives nearby and find out what you can do to help him or her. You may be able to deal with medical issues involving your parents’ principal medical providers. You also may be able to visit periodically and relieve your siblings.

Making Your Parents’ Home Safe

When you visit your parents, you should take a good look at their home. If your parents are unsteady on their feet or use a walker, you may want to go room by room and see what modifications to your parents’ home are necessary. For example, do the bathrooms have safety bars? Are there places in your parents’ home where they may slip and fall?

You should also look into the accessibility of various parts of your parents’ home. Are there problems with doors, cabinets or wall switches?

Are arrangements for Your Parents Acceptable?

Can your parents take care of themselves? Do they need help during the day? Do they need help with their bathroom and toilet needs? Do your parents need help going to the doctorelder-150x1503‘s office? Think about these issues and if your parents need help. Devise a plan to deal with each of these problems.

Can Your Parents Take Care of Themselves?

Can your parents deal with their own medical needs? Are they taking the right medications? Do they need help filling their medication prescriptions? Can they read the right dosage necessary on their prescriptions? Is their home clean? Do they need cleaning help or a health care aid?

Are they paying their bills? You should check to see that their credit card, electric, oil, mortgage or other bills are paid. You don’t want to end up having your parents in a situation where they are sitting in the dark because they forgot to pay their electric bill.

Can your parents deal with their food needs? Can they go to the grocery store and shop for themselves? Can they still cook? If they cannot meet these needs, you should look into hiring someone to assist them with the purchase of groceries and the preparation of meals.

At what point and time should your parents stop driving? Is their eyesight adequate to see what’s happening on the road? Are their hands shaking to the point that they can’t handle the steering wheel? Are they a menace to themselves and other drivers on the road?

Your parents’ mental state is also important. Do they have friends? Do they have social interaction with their peers? Is there a support system where your parents live? Growing old in America is difficult. It is your duty as a child, niece, nephew or friend of a loved one to help them.

Elder Law Attorneys

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have been handling Elder Law matters for their clients for more than thirty-three years. The firm represents its clients with regard to issues involving nursing homes. We help clients do estate planning and Medicaid planning, so in the event they need to go into a nursing home, their home won’t be taken to pay the nursing home bill. We prepare special needs trusts for children and irrevocable trusts to protect homes. We draft wills and trusts for clients. In the event clients die, we help probate the wills and trusts. Feel free to call the Elder Care Attorneys at The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo for a consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

A Gift to Americans From Congress and President Obama

President Obama, in a statesman-like series of decisions, has worked out a compromise with the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives regarding jobless benefits, income taxes and estate taxes. Although some of the President’s democratic colleagues did not see eye-to-eye with the President on this issue, in the spirit of compromise, they have also agreed to the new tax law.

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Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010: The George Bush Era Tax Rates for all Taxpayers

President Obama had initially said he would let this tax law expire because he felt it was too generous to individuals he felt were “wealthy”. President Obama described wealthy individuals as individuals who earned over $250,000.00 per year. Please be advised, President Obama, that individuals who earn $250,000.00 per year in the State of New York are NOT WEALTHY. Yes, they are earning a significant income; but considering the tax rates and the cost of living in New York, they are basically living at a high middle-class level.

The new tax bill has a cost of $858 billion over the years 2011 and 2012. This new law extends various business tax breaks that were initially designed to encourage further investments into business infrastructure that expired in the year 2009.

New Social Security Rate

The Social Security rate for the year 2011 will be cut by a third, from 6.2% to 4.2%. This will save a working individual, who earns $50,000.00 per year, approximately $1,000.00. The social security tax rate will go back up again in 2012 to 6.2%.

Estate Taxes: New Estate Tax Rates

The estate tax rate for 2011 and 2012 will be 35% for assets over $5 million. Individuals will also be entitled to have a stepped-up date of death cost basis in any property that is inherited for 2011 and 2012.

President Obama Moves to the Center

President Obama is moving towards the political center. This agreement will give President Obama a forceful campaign issue when he runs for re-election. He will be able to campaign on the basis that he did not raise taxes! He will further be able to argue that he sustained the economy by keeping the tax reductions set up by his predecessor, George Bush, in effect. This will take the punch out of the Republican presidential candidates’ election platforms. They usually accuse Democrats of being addicted to tax and spend policies.

It should be noted that President Obama had to change his position with regard to extending the Bush era tax cuts. On several previous occasions, President Obama had made it clear that he would not extend the Bush era tax cuts for all Americans. He was only prepared to extend them for individuals who earned less than $250,000.00 per year. President Obama’s compromising on this issue was the right thing to do.

Wills and Trusts Attorneys

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo, for more than three decades, has been assisting their clients with estate administration, estate planning and the drafting of wills and trusts. Our law office has extensive experience in dealing with estate situations when individuals die without a will (intestate). In estates where there are estate taxation issues, we can assist the administrator, executors and trustees in all aspects of estate and tax planning. Feel free to call our law office at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802 for assistance with all issues involving wills, trusts, estates and elder care concerns.

Senior Citizens Filing Bankruptcy

CreditCard.bmpMany seniors no longer have sufficient assets to maintain their lifestyles. There is a tendency in these situations to go into debt. Seniors use credit cards to finance routine purchases with the hope that they will be able to pay their credit cards back at some point in the future.

In some instances, they are unable to accomplish this goal. Most seniors will not ask family, friends or charities for help. This is true even in cases where seniors have previously helped other family members. Most senior citizens are too proud to ask for help!

The credit card debt that seniors are maintaining has been growing. Seniors also require more medical treatment than younger Americans. In situations where the medical treatment is not covered by insurance, seniors find themselves in debt.

The average age of individuals filing bankruptcy has been rising for the past few years. The group with the largest increase in bankruptcy filings are Americans older than 55 years of age.

The primary reason for seniors filing bankruptcy has to do with their inability to pay credit card debt. The medium credit card debt for seniors filing bankruptcy is over $27,000. Medical expenses are the second largest cause for seniors to file bankruptcy.

In addition to problems involving credit card debt and medical expenses, more and more seniors in their late-fifties and sixties are still carrying mortgages on their principle place of residence. Today, 63% of all Americans in their late-fifties and sixties are still making mortgage payments. This is up significantly from the 49% of individuals in this category that were carrying mortgages in 1989. These figures were obtained from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

About Our Law Firm

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo represents individuals filing for Chapters 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. We are also involved in the preparation of wills and trusts. We probate wills and we represent individuals in contested will cases and estate proceedings.

Elliot S. Schlissel is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and has been assisting New York seniors in dealing with all types of legal problems for over 20 years. Our phones are answered 24 hours-per-day, 7 days-per-week. Our phone numbers are 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802. You may also contact us by email.

What Wills Can’t Do

WillsTrusts-150x150There are many very important uses for wills. However, there are things for which wills were not designed and cannot accomplish. The following are a list of things that can NOT be dealt with in a will:

1. If you own assets in a “joint tenancy” with another individual, or a “tenancy by the entirety” (a marital estate), you cannot dispose of the assets in a will since there are two owners of the assets. If one party dies, the surviving party inherits all of the remaining assets.

2. If you have a life insurance policy with a named beneficiary, you cannot change the beneficiary designation in a will. To change a beneficiary designation, you must contact the life insurance company and fill out a “change of beneficiary” form.

3. Stocks and bonds that have a beneficiary designation, such as transfer upon death (TOD) cannot be bequeathed in a will. To change the beneficiary designation on these types of stocks or bonds, you must contact the security company that holds the security and fill out the appropriate paperwork.

4. Pension plans, 401K plans, 403B plans, IRA’s, SEP’s and other retirement plans that have a named beneficiary cannot be impacted by a will. To change the beneficiary designations, you must contact the administrator of the plan and complete a “change of beneficiary” form. However, if the beneficiaries predecease you or there are no beneficiaries named, you can name a beneficiary for this asset in a will. This also applies to life insurance policies and annuities.

5. Bank accounts that have a “payable on death” feature or a beneficiary designation cannot be devised under a will. For example, if you have a bank account and it says “pay to my daughter Sue”, and you write a will indicating proceeds in that account are to be paid to your son John, the designation in the bank account will control.

6. You cannot leave contingent gifts in a will. An example would be a gift that is contingent upon a person becoming married, divorced or changing his or her religion. However, you can put a clause in a will leaving money to a son to pay for his college education. In the event the son does not go to college, those funds could be used for another purpose.

7. You cannot have a clause in a will that goes against public policy or is illegal. An example of this would be an attempt to leave money in a will for the purpose of buying illegal drugs.

8. You can’t make appropriate arrangements for a child or family member with special needs in a will. A special needs trust is required for this purpose.

9. Wills may not contain clauses that leave assets to pets. For example, you cannot leave $10,000 to your dog Rover. However, you are allowed to leave money to an individual taking care of your dog, or a trust can be set up and funded through your will to pay for such care.

Should you have any questions regarding wills, trusts and estates, feel free to contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo, by email or at 1-800-344-6431.

Wills And Trusts Can Reduce Estate Taxes

home-150x150Individuals with significant assets can reduce their tax liability upon their death by using sophisticated wills and trusts. In 2010, the wills, trust and estate area is facing a unique situation. For the 2010 calendar year there is no federal estate tax. After 2010, the federal estate tax exemption will go back to one million dollars.

Well drafted wills and trusts can create schemes that minimize the estate tax faced by individuals. Should you have an estate of over a million dollars, it is important that you meet with an estate planning attorney. Appropriate action must be taken to see to it that your heirs receive the assets you have accumulated during the course of your lifetime without paying 50% of these assets in federal estate taxes.

Should you have any questions and wish to discuss estate planning, contact the estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo at 1-800-344-6431 or by email.

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