Archive for the ‘Wills’ 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.

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?

Beneficiary Designations Can be Tricky

We often name beneficiaries on different funds including retirement accounts, insurance policies, bank accounts, brokerage accounts. It is very important to properly designate the beneficiaries on these accounts in order to assure they will ultimately go to the intended beneficiaries.

For example, bank accounts with beneficiaries are called Totten Trusts. If the account owner of a Totten Trust dies with two named beneficiaries on the account, one of whom predeceased the account owner, the result is that one half of the account will go to the surviving beneficiary and the other half will fall into the account owner’s estate. If the account had been set up with the beneficiaries names as joint with right of survivorship, then the full account on the account owner’s death would pass to the surviving beneficiary.

Beneficiary designation forms provided by insurance companies and brokerage firms must be read very carefully.  The account owner may inadvertently indicate  beneficiaries in a way that was never intended. These forms may have default provisions which may take over if the account owner did not sufficiently or clearly indicated how the account is to be distributed.

All beneficiary designations should take into consideration the owner’s estate plan to be sure that these designations will not unintentionally supersede plans created in a will or trust.

It is very important to give careful consideration to naming beneficiaries, and when unsure of the proper way to accomplish estate objectives, ask for guidance.

Mediation

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.

Coping With The Loss of A Spouse

The passing of a beloved spouse is an awful thing.  The emotional loss coupled with the disappearance of the day to day companionship leaves the surviving spouse trying to fill a cavernous space.  In her June 15, 2010 New York Times column, Jane E. Brody  writes of the challenging job a surviving spouse has in making an emotional adjustment to the loss.  I think you will find the column interesting and you can access it at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/health/15brod.html. Ms. Brody not only addresses the difficulties of the emotional issues surrounding the loss of a spouse but  she concludes her column by remarking on the concerns many widows and widowers have in regard to what will happen as they age and perhaps grow ill and require long-term care. This is a real concern.  One way to assuage these fears is to learn about what the options are in regard to receiving long-term care and how to pay for long-term care.