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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.

No More Golden Years

retirement planning for seniorsRetirement is supposed to be the “golden years.” Today, the golden years maybe a thing of the past. It is estimated three quarters of Americans facing retirement age have approximately $30,000 in savings. The failure of Americans of retirement age to develop a significant amount of savings may have a long term impact on retirement in United States.

401K Plans Versus Pensions

In the past, Americans of retirement age relied on pensions for monthly income. Extremely few Americans still have pension plans. Pension plans were replaced decades ago by 401 K plans, for most Americans. These 401 K plans presumed Americans would have the foresight and ability to save on a regular basis for their old age.

Teresa Ghilarducci, a Professor of Economics at the New School, in a recent New York Times interview stated individuals were “asked to do what they were not responsible enough to carry out, which was to set up a long term savings plan that anticipated future financial needs.” The savings accumulated by the middle class senior citizens will not be sufficient for the large majority to support their standard of living. It is estimated Americans should save eight times their annual income to maintain their living standards.

Retirement In Poverty

The majority of Americans, when they reach retirement age, will have allocated less than $5.00 a day for food. This will put them at the poverty level. Social Security will not provide a safety net sufficient to meet retired Americans long term needs. Americans should look at Social Security as a base for their savings not as a safety net. It will not be enough to live on! This is especially true with the movement among certain political parties to reduce government benefits to senior Americans.

Job Opportunities For Seniors

When a worker who is more than 55 years of age loses his or her job they find it difficult to find new employment. When they find new employment they are often required to work for reduced wages or on a part time basis. The unemployment rates among Americans 55 and older are higher than those of the general population.

About The Author

elder planning and estate administrationElliot S. Schlissel is in elder care attorney helping senior Americans in dealing with medicaid issues, nursing home issues and drafting wills, trusts and healthcare proxies.

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.

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.

Why Create An Irrevocable Trust?

make_money_online_blogging-150x150Irrevocable trusts cannot be changed. They are permanent trusts.

Asset Protection: When you place your assets in irrevocable trust, you remove ownership and control of those assets from the creator of the trust. These types of trusts are used for Medicaid planning purposes. It should be noted that there is a five year look-back period for medicaid eligibility. The assets placed in these trusts cannot be reached by creditors of the individual who made the trust. One type of irrevocable trust is called a self-settled irrevocable trust.

Life Insurance: Another type of irrevocable trust is called an irrevocable life insurance trust. If you purchase life insurance and transfer the policy into an irrevocable life insurance trust, the proceeds of the life insurance pass outside of your estate. They therefore are not taxed as part of your estate.

Tax Purposes: You can also create an “AB trust” for the benefit of your surviving spouse. This type of trust allows you to use the spouse’s exemption from estate taxes by funding the “B” trust with assets valued at or below the federal estate tax exemption rate, in the event the value of the deceased spouses estate assets is greater than the estate tax exemption at the existence of time of death. The “A” trust would be funded for the benefit of the surviving spouse. Estate taxes in this situation are deferred until after the surviving spouse dies.

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

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.

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