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Elder Planning Isn't Just For The Elderly

White Plains Long-Term Care Planning Law Blog

Managing an estate when no will exists

If there is one thing that readers of this New York estate planning blog should take away from its many posts it is that everyone should have an estate plan. An estate plan does not have to be a complicated scheme of inheritance and conditions: estate plans need only be enough to fulfill the wishes of their testators and satisfy the requirements of New York law. Wealthy or of modest income, with children or single, all individuals can and should build the estate plans that they want.

That is because death is an unavoidable truth for everyone and a failure to provide an estate plan can result in a person's estate being subject to the laws of intestate succession. Someone dies intestate when they die without a will, and their estate then becomes distributable based on a complex set of rules. Generally, an estate will pass to a person's spouse, but special considerations may exist if the decedent had children from previous relationships.

Do you have long-term care plans for a disabled loved one?

If you have a developmentally disabled child or sibling, you probably provide quite a bit of support to help them live a healthy, fulfilling life. It may not be pleasant to think about, but you need to plan for a future where they still require services but you are not there to take care of them.

Even if you have already taken the step of adding them to your last will or creating a special needs trust to help them in the future, you may need to start planning now for the services they will likely need when they get older.

How much does nursing home care cost?

New York residents who own their own homes may plan to stay in their residences for as long as possible before making the decision to move into a nursing home or other assisted living facility. It can be difficult to uproot one's life and move to a strange new place, as a person must leave behind the home and memories on which they have built their life. For that reason, it is good for individuals to begin planning for their long-term care long before it becomes necessary.

Long-term care in nursing and assisted living facilities can be costly, and not everyone can afford the care they may need when the day comes to move out of their home. According to one report, nursing home care in New York can cost more than $10,000 per month. Individuals who wish to secure private rooms in their facilities may pay closer to $11,000 or $12,000 each month, while those who live in semi-private rooms may find lower cost options.

Managing an estate when the decedent had debts

The word "debt" often has negative connotations. Debts can be burdensome, long-lasting, and can affect the ways that New Yorkers spend and save their money. However, some debts, while not necessarily good, are not as negative as others. For example, when a person takes out a mortgage to buy a home, that debt may give them an opportunity to get into the real property market.

While some debts may be resolved in the short term, other debts like mortgages may be paid off over decades. In some cases, individuals with long-term debts may pass away before their debts are paid off in full. When this happens the individual's heirs may wonder what obligations they have, if any, to repay the money that the decedent still owed on their debts.

3 kinds of power of attorney documents that can help you

Too many people have a negative reaction to the idea of power of attorney documents. While it is true that predatory individuals can, theoretically, use a power of attorney as a means to gain control over or manipulate someone else, in reality, these documents primarily serve the critical purpose of protecting people who experienced severe medical events.

A power of attorney only has authority if the individual who signs the document becomes incapable of acting on their own behalf. Whether they have a severe illness that forces them into a coma or suffer a head injury in a car crash, a person who executes a power of attorney does not have to worry about its authority getting used by the other individual until they wind up temporarily incapacitated.

Wills and trusts serve different estate roles

Effective estate plans include options. These may contain wills & trusts which can serve different roles. Each have advantage and disadvantages.

One common option is for a person to own most of their assets in their name and use a will to govern their distribution. Another choice is to create a revocable trust which owns most assets with the trust agreement governing the distribution of assets. Unlike wills, trust property does not have to undergo probate and are not pubic. Wills are more susceptible to challenges than trusts. There are fewer laws governing challenges to trusts. Many argue, however, that a will is more efficient because it is easier to transfer assets when they are owned in a person's name. Any assets that a person owns is automatically included in their estate.

Protecting the home from risk by Medicaid

A large number of Americans will ultimately need long-term care financed through Medicaid. Their Medicaid planning should assure that one of them can continue to live in their home and safeguard their ownership. Medicaid is a federal and state health insurance program that gives benefits to needy individuals and is the biggest payer for long-term costs such as nursing home care. An individual and their spouse must meet financial eligibility requirements.

Some assets are excluded from the calculation of assets for financial eligibility. A primary residence that has an equity value below $585,000 in 2019 is excluded if a spouse still resides in the home. Even though the home is an excluded asset, changing its ownership from joint ownership to the sole ownership of the spouse who remains helps prevent the state from placing a lien on it. This may also assure that the spouse who stays in the home can keep all the sale proceeds if it is sold.

5 tips for choosing the right nursing home

If you live in or around White Plains, you know that there are multiple nursing home facilities in the area. While they appear similar on the surface, as you dig deeper you'll find that each facility is unique in its own way.

Choosing a nursing home for yourself or a loved one is a difficult task, as this won't be the only thing on your mind. However, if you neglect to make an informed decision, it could come back to haunt you in the long run.

Assuring access to estate documents

Information about the location of important estate documents and access cannot die with the people who executed the documents. Storing information about estate matters such as wills & trusts and significant passwords is a vital part of estate planning.

It may be possible to secure a will with the Surrogate Court in some New York counties or register it with a private service. But family members should know about the location these documents and important financial documents such as life insurance policies, divorce records and deeds. The physical document must be kept secure. A safety deposit box or a secure location at home may be possibilities for keeping them safe.

Safeguarding estate documents

Extensive estate planning may lose its effectiveness if important documents and information is lost or stolen. Safeguarding information on important estate matters such as wills & trusts is essential to assure that family members can act on wills, trusts and other important matters.

It may come as a surprise that a safe deposit box is not a good storage option for storing original documents. The authorization to gain access to the box would be contained in any estate documents stored in that location. If the person dies or becomes incapacitated, the estate administrator or heir would have to receive judicial authority to gain access, which also requires having the documents contained in the box. People who choose to keep their documents at home must keep them in a location that is safe and secure. A file cabinet at home or office is an appropriate storage location for the original documents. A fireproof safe is even better.

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