Archive for the ‘Trusts’ Category

Raskin & Makofsky | Experts in Elder Law, Estate Planning, Medicaid and More

Here at Raskin & Makofsky we are experts in the field of elder law. Serving the Long Island area we care about helping you with Medicaid, estate planning, wills, trust, asset protection and more. Whether you are helping an elderly loved one or getting your own affairs in order at Raskin & Makofsky we have the expertise and experience you need.

Medicaid recovery in NY: Where are we?

Several months ago we blogged about New York’s emergency regulations which expanded the definition of “estate” for Medicaid recovery purposes. These regulations, allowing recovery from interests such as jointly held assets and life estate interests, enhanced Medicaid’s ability to recover its costs from a decedent’s estate.

The emergency regulations expanding the definition of “estate” expired last fall.  New York law referring to this expanded definition of “estate” is still in place without regulations to clarify what the new definition is.

We are hearing two possible alternatives going forward. The first is that final regulations will be issued effective for Medicaid recipients dying after July 1, 2012. These would be similar to the emergency regulations that have expired with some changes. The second alternative which we think is more likely is the elimination of the law expanding the definition of “estate” and going back to the original law. This would mean that for Medicaid recovery purposes, only assets passing from the decedent pursuant to a court process (probate or administration) would be available for recovery.

We will keep you posted as we know more about New York’s attempt to expand estate recovery.

2012 Medicaid Income and Resource Allowances

Medicaid income and resource allowances for eligibility change every year. The  numbers effective January 1, 2012 are:

Nursing home resource allowances

Applicant: $14,250

Applicant’s spouse in the community: $74,820-$113,640

Nursing home income allowances

Resident: $50 (plus cost of health insurance, if any)

Spouse in the community: $2,841

Community Medicaid resource allowances

Single care recipient: $14,250

Married care recipient: $20,850 (this includes resources for both spouses)

Community Medicaid income allowances

Single care recipient: $792 (plus $20 if over age 65

Married care recipient: $1,159 (including spouse’s income)

Anyone considering a Medicaid application whose income and or resources exceed these figures should consult a knowledgeable attorney.  There are many opportunities to achieve Medicaid eligibility when these allowance are exceeded.

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.

Budget includes expanded Medicaid Recovery

We now have the wording of the NYS Budget Bill in regard to the expanded recovery from estates of Medicaid recipients. The legislation states that in addition to assets passing under a valid will or by intestacy,

“..an individual’s estate also includes any other property in which the individual has any legal title or interest at the time of death, including jointly held property, retained life estates, and interests in trusts, to the extent of such interests;…”

The legislation takes effect April 1, 2011. There is no reference to grandfathering such  assets created prior to the effective date. There will be efforts made to modify the legislation to include grandfathering. Hopefully these efforts will be successful.

Medicaid planning will be significantly affected by this new legislation.

Just in: NYS Budget Affects Medicaid Recipients

The NYS Budget for 2011 has been passed.  According to the information we just received, there is one significant change that will affect many Medicaid recipients. The budget includes a provision for a regulation which will expand the assets from which Medicaid may recover its costs on the death of a Medicaid recipient. These newly recoverable assets may include  life estates, joint accounts and revocable and irrevocable trusts. More details will follow as we get more information.

The good news, if there is any, is that according to our current understanding, this provision is the only change in the new budget affecting Medicaid applicants and recipients.

Can an agent amend a trust?

A recent New York case held that an agent under a Power of Attorney cannot amend a trust on behalf of the principal unless the principal’s Power of Attorney specifically grants that power to the agent. The case is Perosi v. Ligreci, 2011 NY Slip Op 21048 (Supreme Court, Richmond County, February 14, 2011.) This decision confirms that you must think very carefully about what you want your agent to be able to accomplish on your behalf when signing a Power of Attorney and specifically provide for the needed authority in your document.

In our office we post an interesting saying every week. I will be adding our weekly saying to my blogs. This week’s saying is:

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”  -John Wooden

Does Your Power of Attorney Provide for Creation of Pooled Trusts?

There may come a time when you are seeking to apply to the Medicaid program to provide an aide at home. If you are eligible and have income over the Medicaid income allowance ($787 in 2010) Medicaid will direct that you pay your excess income to the agency providing the aide.  However, you have a there may come a time when you are seeking to apply to the Medicaid program to provide an aide at home. You have a much better alternative: to open a pooled trust account with a non-profit trust company. The pooled trust will receive your excess income, charge a reasonable fee, and pay your bills with the excess income.

The problem we have seen occurs when the person needing the home care services is no longer capable of entering into legal transactions and cannot set up the pooled trust. In that case the agent under the Power of Attorney can do so if the document specifically gives the agent the authority to create and fund trusts. If the authority has not been given, the next option would be to start a guardianship proceeding to allow for the trust to be set up. This is a costly and time consuming effort.

If your agent does not have the authority specifically stated to create and fund trusts you may want to consider revising your Power of Attorney, a much better alternative: to open a pooled trust account with a non-profit trust company. The pooled trust will receive your excess income, charge a reasonable fee, and pay your bills with the excess income.

The problem we have seen occurs when the person needing the home care services is no longer capable of entering into legal transactions and cannot set up the pooled trust. In that case the agent under the Power of Attorney can do so if the document specifically gives the agent the authority to create and fund trusts. If the authority has not been given, the next option would be to start a guardianship proceeding to allow for the trust to be set up. This is a costly and time consuming effort.

If your agent does not have the authority specifically stated to create and fund trusts you may want to consider revising your Power of Attorney.

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?

NY SUPERLAWYER

I am honored to have been selected as a 2010 New York Superlawyer in the area of elder law.  There are only 28 other elder law attorneys designated as New York Superlawyers this year.  Ellen Makofsky has also been named as a New York Superlawyer. It is satisfying to know that our time and effort and commitment to our work and our clients is recognized.