Posts Tagged ‘trust’

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.

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

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.