Westchester Elder Law Attorney Anthony J. Enea Offers Insights on Estate Planning in 2020
Westchester County, N.Y. (January 27, 2020) – According to a recent Caring.com survey, an overwhelming 78 percent of millennials (ages 18-36) and 64 percent of Generation X (ages 37-53) do not have a last will and testament. Westchester County elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea, member at Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP in White Plains and Somers, N.Y., advises anyone over the age of 18 with assets in their name to have a last will, health care proxy and power of attorney executed in the event of an unexpected injury or illness.
“Estate planning is not only for the wealthy or elderly,” said Anthony J. Enea, who has spent 35 years protecting the rights of seniors, the disabled and their families. “While following through on New Year’s resolutions is often no easy task, when it comes to estate and elder law planning, there are a few important steps that can be taken in a matter of hours to ensure all is in good order for years to come.”
Enea suggests reviewing important planning documents periodically and, if none have been executed, he urges it be done sooner rather than later.
Durable Power of Attorney
Verify that the agent appointed in your durable power of attorney is still who you wish to handle your financial affairs if you are no longer able to do so, recommends Enea. Confirm that he or she is in good health and that an alternate agent has been selected in the event the primary agent can no longer act.
“Your agent should be given broad powers to handle your affairs. If the power of attorney lacks the necessary gifting powers, the incapacitated person’s family may need to commence a guardianship proceeding to obtain authority to make the necessary transfer – an expensive and time-consuming procedure,” noted Enea.
Last Will and Testament, Trusts and Health Care Proxy
Last will and trust documents should also be reviewed from time to time to determine that the beneficiaries, executors and trustees named are still consistent with the creator’s wishes. Similarly, it’s important that the health care proxy be kept up to date with a named agent and an alternate agent.
“All too often the proxy is erroneously executed with two named agents, which is not legally permitted in New York,” said Enea. “It is also important that your agent specifically knows what your wishes are regarding your health care and end of life decision making in the event you are no longer able to make these decisions.”
Protecting Assets from the Cost of Long-Term Care
“Unfortunately, the cost of long-term care has well surpassed estate taxes as the number one factor resulting in the dissipation of assets being available to be passed to one’s spouse, children and grandchildren for the vast majority of Americans,” said Enea. “With the Federal and New York estate tax exemptions being relatively high, they are of little concern to more than 99 percent of Americans. However, the exorbitant cost of long-term care, whether it be a nursing home or at home, is both a real and impactful expense.”
Whether it be considering the purchase of long-term care insurance or creating a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust to protect one’s house and other non-IRA assets, taking steps to learn about your available options generally amounts to no more than a phone call and one or two meetings with an experienced elder law attorney.
A strong leader in Westchester’s legal community, Anthony J. Enea is chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Senior Lawyers Section and president of the Westchester County Bar Foundation. He was named Westchester County’s Leading Elder Care Attorney at the Above the Bar Awards and Best Lawyers’ 2019 Trusts & Estates “Lawyer of the Year” in White Plains. A past chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section, Enea’s practice areas include elder law; Medicaid asset protection trusts; Medicaid applications (home care and nursing home); special needs planning; guardianships (Article 81 and 17-A); and wills, trusts and estates.
Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is located at 245 Main Street in White Plains, N.Y. with additional offices in Somers, N.Y. Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea can be reached at 914-948-1500 or [email protected]. For the latest news, visit Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP online at www.esslawfirm.com.
About Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP
Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is an AV preeminent rated elder law firm with offices in White Plains and Somers, N.Y. The practice concentrates on Elder Law; Medicaid Planning; Nursing Home and Home Care Applications; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Guardianships; Estate Litigation; Supplemental Needs Trusts; and Special Needs Planning. Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP serves Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Queens and is committed to providing the highest quality legal services to seniors, the disabled and their families. Visit the firm online at www.esslawfirm.com.