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Should the Rich Pay More In Taxes?

Recent polls support the idea that the government should soak the rich for more taxes. More than 70% of the adults in the United States approve of increasing federal taxes on families who earn more than a quarter of a million dollars per year starting in 2013. More than half of the Republicans agree to the tax increase as well as more than three quarters of the Democrats.
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Is Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars A Year The Number that Establishes that Someone Is Rich?

The cost of living in major metropolitan areas of the United States is high. Two hundred fifty thousand dollars a year is a lot of money. But it does not make a family rich!  President Obama is consumed with the idea of raising taxes.  His definition of who is rich is incorrect.  A fairer measure of wealth would be to set the standard for individuals receiving a tax increase at between five hundred thousand and one million dollars per year.

Bush Presidency Tax Cuts

When President Bush was in office, he was able to motivate congress to pass tax cuts for everyone. This included individuals earning millions of dollars per year. These tax cuts stay in effect until the end of 2012.

President Obama believes that the best way to reduce the deficit is to “tax the rich”. This is not the best solution to America’s financial problems. A much more sophisticated detailed plan must be enacted to the deal with America’s huge deficit. A more effective tax cut then those proposed by President Obama would be to raise the tax rate of everyone in the United States making under $500,000.00 a year by one percent and raise the tax rate for individuals who make over $500,000.00 by two percent. This would generate much more income.

New York Elder Law Attorneys

Elliot S. Schlissel is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He drafts wills. He also deals with guardianship matters and assisted living issues. The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo handles medicaid eligibility, medicaid problems and also drafts living wills. Call for a free consultation.

How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?

If you don’t know the answer to the question how much money you need to retire, you should not retire. Guessing is not a solution to this problem. Recent studies show that more than half of Americans who retire aren’t sure how much money they will need. Those Americans that have retirement strategies often do not take into consideration the rising cost of health care retired Americans face.

A recent study showed that baby boomers felt they needed $60,000.00 a year to retire. However, the same individuals could not calculate how large a financial portfolio was necessary to throw off $60,000.00 a year in income.

Just Keep Working

A large portion of the baby boomers interviewed felt that their retirement solution was to “just keep working.” I personally subscribe to this theory! As long as you just keep working you don’t have to worry about how much money you will need to retire or how much money you don’t have that is necessary to retire.

Do’s and Don’t’s Involving Retirement

Speak to friends, relatives and other individuals who have retired and ask them what it is costing them. Develop a plan and put the plan in writing. Thereafter, carry out the terms of the plan.  Educate yourself as to issues involving investing for retirement. Participate in employer related 401K and pension plans. Last but not least, simply don’t retire!

Wills and Trusts Lawyer

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo has experience in handling all types of wills, trusts and estate law issues. We probate wills and contest wills. We deal with issues concerning administration, estate taxes and estate planning. We represent executors of wills and we probate the wills.  We draft revocable living trusts and irrevocable living trusts for our clients. We also draft special needs trust for special needs children.  We deal with all types of elder care issues, including, but not limited to the nursing home abuse, medicaid planning techniques and medicaid qualification. Feel free to call us for a consultation.

Borrowing Against Retirement Accounts

When Americans face financial stress they turn to their retirement accounts for liquid assets.  Pensions, 401K plans and 403B plans are where Americans are turning to for quick infusions of cash.

In this past year borrowing from retirement accounts hit new highs.  It is estimated that more than 15% of all individuals who have money in retirement accounts have borrowed from these accounts.  Are Americans borrowing to the point that they won’t have sufficient funds when they retire?  According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, more than a quarter of all retirement plans have outstanding loans against them.

The Effect of Borrowing From Retirement Accounts

Retirement accounts are designed to maximize compounded returns on your investments.  Financial advisers believes most people do not have the discipline to pay back the loans against their retirement accounts and are therefore discounting the funds available when they retire.  If you lose your job or change your employment, you will be unable to pay back the outstanding loan on your retirement account.  If you borrow money against your retirement account and pay a portion of it back and thereafter are fired or moved to a new job, the unpaid portion will be considered a taxable distribution and taxed at income tax rates. You can also be stuck paying a 10% penalty if you default on paying back the loan against your retirement account.

New York Estate Planning Lawyer

Everyone will eventually die.  The issue we face is we don’t know when this will take place.  From my point of view, the later the better! When you pass on you want to simplify the issues your loved ones will face on your estate.  The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo can help you achieve this goal.  We draft wills. We probate wills. We litigate contested will issues.  We can advise you regarding issues concerning estate taxes.

We draft revocable living trusts and irrevocable trusts.  We also draft special needs trusts for special needs children.  We can advise you concerning medicaid planning techniques and other medicaid issues. We litigate nursing home abuse cases.

We are estate planning, probate and elder care attorneys.  Call us for a free consultation regarding wills, trusts and estate matters

Fewer Family Practice Doctors

doc-150x150Fewer doctors in the United States are going into family practice. Solo medical practitioners involved in family practices are becoming scarcer. The American Academy of Family Physicians, in 1986, represented forty-four percent of the practicing doctors. As of 2008, only eighteen percent of practicing physicians are in family practice and that number continues to grow smaller.

In 2007, twenty-eight percent of the doctors in private practice described themselves as being self-employed. In 1970, almost sixty percent of all doctors were self-employed.

New Doctors Don’t Want Family Practices

Many of the doctors graduating medical school have no interest in small family practices. They seek better life styles, which involve shorter working days and weekends off. They want to avoid patient emergencies.

New Doctors Have to Deal With Debt Obligations

Many doctors going into medical practice today borrowed large sums to help pay for their medical school expenses. These young doctors are looking for steady pay checks that have no risk attached to them.

Will Patients Suffer?

There are benefits for patients who use larger medical practices. These larger practices can provide more preventive medical services. They have the financial ability to use technology to enhance their practice, which gives them greater capabilities.

Loss of the Personal Touch

Generations of Americans have had personal, confidential relationships with their physicians. Physicians were trusted individuals. Patients felt they had a personal relationship with them. Newer, larger medical groups may lack this personal touch. Doctors who are part of larger medical groups have the ability to pool their resources to provide more sophisticated, higher levels of medical care.

There are pluses and minuses involved in a demise of the local family sole practitioner. Although there is a loss of the personal relationship, the patient may end up with more sophisticated medical care!

New York Lawyers

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have more than 70 years of combined legal experience. We draft wills and trusts. We probate wills. We litigate will contests. We draft revocable living trusts and irrevocable trusts for our clients. Elliot S. Schlissel is a member of The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

We represent individuals with regard to issues concerning medicaidmedicaid planning techniques and developing special needs trusts for special needs children. We also deal with issues involving nursing home abuse. Feel free to call for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

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.

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.

Trustees: Who are They and What do They do?

trust-administration-attorney-300x199A trustee is the person who administers a trust. A trust can have one trustee, two trustees, or multiple trustees.

In theory the trustee is the owner of the trust assets. Trustees supervise the disposition of the trusts assets. They handle investments and, in some types of trusts, they make periodic payments to beneficiaries. Trustees must produce accountings on an annual basis to give the beneficiaries an opportunity to see how the trust is being administrated. The trustee is responsible for filing income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service and, if there is an estate income tax, with estate taxing authorities on behalf of the trust. Sometimes trustees are given discretionary authority to make dispositions of trust assets to the trust beneficiaries.

In New York the trustee is a fiduciary held to the highest standard of ethical conduct.

Trustees are paid a commission in the State of New York based on the value of the trust assets they administer.

Beneficiaries of a trust receive periodic payments from the trust. The term and nature of the periodic payments are dealt with at the time of the creation of the trust. The individual who creates the trust is called the trustor or settlor. Individuals who receive the balance, if any, of the assets of the trust at the end of the operational period for the trust are called remaindermen.

Should you have questions regarding trust issues contact the trust attorneys by email or at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo at 1-800-344-6431.

Why Have an Irrevocable Trust?

living-trusts-typesWills, revocable trusts, and irrevocable trusts are all estate planning devices. Revocable trusts are a type of trust that can be changed, modified, or revoked at anytime. This type of trust allows you to change your mind with regard to all aspects of the terms of the trust. These trusts are very flexible.

Uses of a revocable trust:

1. Revocable living trusts avoid probate. The assets in the trust at the time of the death of the individual who made the trust pass directly to the beneficiary. The trust does not have to be probated.

2. It is private document. Wills need to be probated. This opens up the terms of the will to review by a court. Once the will is filed with the courts it becomes a public document and other individuals can obtain copies of the will. An example is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s will in Manhattan. So many people wanted to see it that it was displayed to the public mounted it under plexiglass. The details of your assets and the individuals who receive your assets remain a private matter.

3. It establishes a plan that deals with mental disabilities such as Alzheimer’s disease and other mental illnesses that effect seniors. When you place assets in a revocable trust and the person who created the trust becomes disabled, the trustee or alternate trustee supervises the trust and distribution of the assets therein. If you do not have this type of trust or a power of attorney, it becomes necessary for your loved ones or next of kin to bring a guardianship proceeding under article 81 of the New York Mental Hygiene Law to appoint a guardian for you.

Should you have questions regarding revocable trusts contact the trust attorneys at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo at 1-800-344-6431 or by email.

Who Needs a Will? You Do!

last-will-and-testamentDo you have assets? Do you own a house? Have you been married more than once? Do you have children from more than one relationship? Are you concerned about what happens after your death to your spouse and/or your children? Are you single? All of the above individuals need a Will.

Estate contests often develop between children from the first marriage and the second wife. Issues arise when a man or a woman has children from more than one relationship. Sometimes loved ones have financial difficulty and the possibility of receiving assets in an estate brings out the worst in them.

There is a simple way to avoid unnecessary expensive litigation that can last from months or years. Write a Will! A Will states who your loved ones are, what your assets are and who will receive your assets at the time of your death. No one looks forward to dying. The thought of writing a Will is often an issue that individuals seek to put off. However, a Will should be written when you are competent and healthy not right before your death.

Attorneys that handle Wills & Estates prepare Wills. They are generally speaking inexpensive documents to have prepared. They simplify your end of life issues and allow your assets to pass in an orderly manner. Wills cut down on financial disagreements developing among your heirs and loved ones.

If you die without a Will your assets pass to your loved ones through administration proceedings. These proceedings can be time consuming and tedious. More than one person can request to be the Administrator of your estate. This can lead to arguments, bad feelings and increased attorney’s fees.

If you have assets or loved ones, you need a Will! Have it written by an attorney before you are too sick and old to deal with it.

Should you have questions regarding drafting a Will, feel free to call the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo to discuss these issues at 1-800-344-6431 or email us at schlissel.law@att.net.

More Options For Medicaid Planning

nursing-home-elderly-medicaid-planningOn Tuesday, this blog featured an article about what seniors can do to qualify for Medicaid if they forsee the need for nursing home services in the future, but do not yet need to go that route. But what if you or a loved one has already had to enter a nursing home? Now, you are faced with a situation where the senior’s life savings will soon be depleted by nursing home bills that can run as much as $10,000 to $12,000 per month. Is there any way to preserve the person’s assets, or at least a portion thereof?

Attorneys have used various strategies to allow seniors to preserve their savings for their children while still “spending down” their estate legally for the purpose of qualifying for Medicaid. One of those, which is not playing out as the most effective method, is the use of “personal service contracts” in conjunction with a lump-sum up-front payments to caregivers.

A better method is emerging for those who need “crisis planning,” i.e., trying to preserve assets after a senior has already entered a nursing home. This is the use of gifts along with promissory notes.

This method consists of retaining an attorney’s assistance to gift half of his or her assets to another while simultaneously loaning the other half of the assets (minus the $13,900 [in 2009]) to another with a promissory note for repayment. The promissory note must not last longer than the life expectancy of the lender, it must require that equal payments are made during the loan period without deferred or balloon payments, the note is not terminated by the death of the lender, and the note must be non-negotiable.

The attorney will assist the client in then applying for Medicaid, receiving a denial indicating that the person is “otherwise eligible” but for the uncompensated transfer of the gift. The applicant can then use the payments on the promissory note to pay the nursing home bills till the Medicaid “penalty amount” is paid, and then reapplying for Medicaid at which time the application should be accepted.

At that time, the person will have at least preserved half of her assets from the “spend down” requirement.

Maximum protection can be afforded to seniors’ assets by starting the Medicaid planning process several years before the expected need for nursing home services, as discussed earlier. But the promissory note/gift method, among others, is still available to seniors even if the time has already come to enter a nursing home.

For help with short term or long term Medicaid planning, e-mail or call us at 800-344-6431.

Picture courtesy of the Ombudsman Program.

When You (Or a Loved One) May be Entering a Nursing Home…

nursing-home-elder-lawIf you, a spouse, or parent think that you may need the services of a nursing home in the near future, you should know that there are some things you can do to plan for this possibility and help maintain some of the person’s assets.

Nursing homes can be very expensive. Residing on one can deplete $9,000 to $12,000 per month from one’s assets on a monthly basis. You can apply for Medicaid to assist with these bills, but they will only begin paying once the person has completely “spent down” their assets to$13,800 (in 2009) altogether.

There are steps that you can take which would allow you to preserve much of your assets for the next generation while still qualifying for Medicaid if and when nursing home services are needed.

When an individual applies for Medicaid, and the Department of Social Services is looking into whether the application has indeed depleted his or her assets down to almost nothing, they actually look up to five years prior to the application date to see if the person made any transfers to children or others in order to preserve their assets from Medicaid’s required “spend down” to poverty.

Elder law attorneys, such as the experienced lawyers at The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo, can assist individuals in applying for Medicaid or, for instance, setting up an Irrevocable Trust that may allow a senior to preserve his or her assets from Medicaid’s “spend down” requirement throughout their lives.

We can personalize these trusts depending on each individuals circumstances.

For instance, if someone has owned their home for a long time, such that the house has increased in value by $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for married couples, and if the Irrevocable Trust does not appropriately deal with this increased equity in the residence, there can be significant tax liability when the house is sold.

Regardless of whether you need an Elder Law attorney to prepare a Medicaid application or create any other kind of Medicaid plan, you can contact our offices at 800-344-6431 or e-mail us with any questions or to set up a free consultation.

Picture courtesy of injuryboard.com.

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