Archive for the ‘Estate Planning Lawyer’ Category

Super Lawyers

Ellen Makofsky was named one of the Top 50 Women in the New York metropolitan area of New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County for the third consecutive year.  She is the only attorney concentrating in Elder Law included in the list of Top Woman Attorneys.


Additionally, both Judy Raskin and Ellen Makofsky were named as Super Lawyers in the Elder Law category.

The Super Lawyers designation begins with nomination by one’s peers and factors in credentials, experience and awards.  The designation represents the top 5% of lawyers in New York State.


Congratulations to Monica!

Congratulations to Monica Ruela. She passed the Bar Exam given in July, 2011.

Monica has been working for us since she was a high school student of 16. She managed to work for us almost full time while attending Nassau Community College and then St. Johns, doing very well in her studies. After graduation she attended Touro Law School while continuing to work at our firm part time.

Monica will now be our second associate,  joining Anne Dello-Iacono who has been with us for 3 1/2 years. We have always valued Monica’s excellent work over the years. We look forward to working with Monica as an admitted attorney.

A Retained Life Estate May No Longer Avoid Medicaid Recovery

A retained life estate is itemized in new Medicaid law and regulations as a type of non-probate asset now included in the definition of “estate” for Medicaid recovery purposes. Therefore, a deceased Medicaid recipient’s interest in a retained life estate may now be available for Medicaid recovery on the death of the Medicaid recipient.

The potential recovery of this interest was not anticipated when many parents even years ago transferred their home by deed to a child or children and retained a life estate.  We expect that Medicaid’s legal right to recover from a life estate interest will be challenged in court in the near future. However, we do not know what the results of that litigation might be and as of now the retained life interest is a recoverable asset.

The owner of a retained life estate may have options available to protect the life estate interest.  This will depend upon the individual’s particular situation.

2011 SuperLawyers Both: Ellen G. Makofsky and Judith B. Raskin

I am honored to announce that I have been named one of the 2011 TOP 100 SuperLawyers and one of the 50 TOP WOMEN SuperLawyers in the New York Metropolitan area. This is the third consecutive year that I have received the SuperLawyers designation , second  time I have been named to the 50 Top Women Lawyers list but the first time I have been named to the Top 100 Lawyers.

Judy Raskin, my partner at Raskin & Makofsky, has also been named to the 2011 SuperLawyers list for the second consecutive year in the Elder Law category.  In fact, she is spotlighted in the SuperLawyers publication counseling other lawyers on how to create a client-friendly office.

The SuperLawyers list is created by peer nominations and recognition plus an analysis of the nominated lawyers background, credentials, experience, honors and awards. The final SuperLawyers selection represents the top 5 percent of lawyers in New York State.

We are very proud of the work we do at Raskin & Makofsky, and are honored to have both of our firm’s partners recognized in this way.

Planning for the Married Same-sex Couple

New rights and benefits are now afforded same-sex couples with the recognition in New York of same-sex marriage as of June 24, 2011. However, because at this time the federal government and most other states do not recognize same-sex marriage, there are legal issues affecting same-sex couples they need to be aware of such as the following:

  1. Their New York income tax return will be filed as married but their federal income tax return will be filed as individuals;
  2. The survivor is not entitled to Social Security death benefits;
  3. The value of a partner’s health insurance coverage will be taxed at the federal level as income to the employee.
  4. States not recognizing same-sex marriage will not recognize the New York marriage;
  5. A child born to one partner will not be considered the child of the other partner in the non-recognition states and at the federal level unless there has been an adoption by the second partner.

Same-sex couples should seek advice on these and other matters in order to plan appropriately.

When Is a Gift Taxed?

Gifts under $13,000 (2011 figure) per year/per person plus any payments made directly for tuition to an educational institution or for medical expenses  are excluded from any calculation of gift tax.

For taxable gifts over the tax free amount, a federal gift tax return must be filed (Form 709) by April 15 of the year following the year the gift was made.

Gift tax is only payable if and when an individual’s lifetime taxable gifts exceed the gift tax exclusion amount, currently $5M.

Super Lawyer 2010

I have just returned from a New York State Bar Association Elder Law Section Meeting where I addressed Section Members on the newest developments regarding surrogate health care decision-making. This happened to roughly coincide with the publication of the Top 50 Women SuperLawyers List, and many of my colleagues at the meeting congratulated me for making the list.  I feel honored, though I have to say it is an unusual feeling to be publicly acknowledged in this way.  Our firm works hard to help people with their problems, so it’s a funny thing  when word gets around!

It has been a great year for our firm, Raskin & Makofsky, because  both my partner Judy Raskin and I were named to the SuperLawyers List in the Elder Law category. We are very proud to have both firm partners named and to be two of the twenty nine listed Elder Law attorneys in the New York Metropolitan area. The SuperLawyers List, which begins with nomination by one’s peers and factors in credentials, experience, and awards, represents the top five percent of lawyers in New York State. That must also mean that our clients are in the top five percent as well, doesn’t it?

Are You Executing the Current Power of Attorney form?

The new statutory Power of Attorney form in New York effective Sept. 12, 2010 is very similar to the Power of Attorney form effective September 1, 2009 through September 11, 2010. It is very important that anyone executing a Power of Attorney in New York use the current form. The form effective Sept. 12, 2010 and its immediate predecessor are very similar.

There are a few telltale signs to look for to be sure you are using the current form. Be sure to see the following:

1. Page 2, section (e) is titled REVOCATION OF OTHER POWERS OF ATTORNEY and the text of that section begins “This POWER OF ATTORNEY DOES NOT REVOKE…”

2. Section (h) refers to the STATUTORY GIFT RIDER, not the STATUTORY MAJOR GIFT RIDER.

3. The attached gifting rider is the SGR (STATUTORY GIFT RIDER),  not the SMGR (STATUTORY MAJOR GIFT RIDER).


At a recent networking event I met a woman who is an attorney and licensed social worker. She currently provides mediation services for couples seeking a divorce. She is considering using the benefits of mediation in elder law matters. I think that such a service might be very valuable in matters such as contested guardianships, family issues in estate planning matters, disagreements over medicaid planning strategies, conflicts when 2 agents under a power of attorney, executors under a will or trustees of a trust must act together and cannot agree.

Revision to Statutory Power of Attorney in NY

On September 12, 2010, a new Durable Power of Attorney form became effective in New York. Previously the New York Power of Attorney law and statutory form were significantly revised and became effective September 1, 2009. As attorneys began working with the new law it became apparent that there were some problems in the statutory language and the form it set forth that needed correcting.  Legislative changes have altered the law including the statutory form. Anyone signing a Durable Power of Attorney should now use the new form in order to be protected by the statutory provisions governing powers of attorney in New York.