Our Long Island Elder Lawyer Team Helps New Yorkers Plan For Care with Care
Aging often comes with a wide range of issues involving finances and family. Getting older can often also raise a number of questions about how to get the care you need today while planning for the future. At Davidow, Davidow, Siegel & Stern we help empower older adults to navigate legal issues, obtain benefits, protect assets, and provide for their loved ones. Our firm has been advising people and families across Long Island for more than a century. Our Long Island elder lawyer team has dedicated their careers to serving the community. We are Long Island Elder Lawyers!
Common Legal Issues for Older Adults
Elder law is a general term that applies to a slew of legal issues that often come up as people age, like those associated with preparing for major life decisions and ensuring long-term care is available when needed. Many of these issues are unique to older people, and the best approach often depends on the specific circumstances and goals of the person involved.
A Long Island elder lawyer at our firm will explain that elder law issues often include:
- Estate planning
- Medicaid planning
- The family home and other asset protection
- Powers of attorney
- Advance health directives
- Long-term care planning
Addressing these issues regularly requires a multigenerational approach, with input from loved ones and family members. Although it can be difficult to think about aging, it is important to have these conversations with family members and a seasoned elder law attorney.
It may seem like some or all of these issues can be addressed far into the future. The truth is that the sooner you start planning, the better. The future will arrive! A Long Island elder lawyer at DDSS can help you develop a plan that protects your hard-earned assets and ensures that you and your loved ones receive and can pay for needed care.
Advance directives allow you to designate someone to make medical and financial decisions for you if you eventually are unable to do so.
A healthcare proxy is used to designate a specific person to make medical decisions on your behalf if there comes a time when you cannot make those decisions for yourself.
A living will is a commonly used advance directive to guide others who will make your medical decisions. It instructs medical care providers and family members on the type of medical care you want to receive in the event you become incapacitated, such as certain life-extending treatments some people may or may not prefer to receive.
A power of attorney authorizes someone else to make important personal and financial decisions if you are not able to do so.
If properly executed, these documents can be done in advance so that a guardian need not be appointed in the event of your incapacity.
There are several benefits that come with using these and other advance directives. Chiefly, they offer the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are calling the shots regarding your health care and financial well-being. Directives can also be used to protect assets, ensure eligibility for Medicaid and other benefits, and avoid messy court proceedings.
It is vital to have an experienced attorney in your corner when considering these and other advance directives. Family dynamics often weigh heavily on decisions about medical care and finances. A Long Island elder lawyer at DDSS will help you understand all of the legal tools available, appoint the appropriate agents and incorporate these advance directives into a comprehensive plan for the future.
For those who did not or could not execute the proper advance directives, a Guardianship may become necessary. A Guardianship is a valuable legal court proceeding that is commonly used to assist people who cannot care for themselves or make important financial and life decisions because of mental incapacity. It allows a court to appoint a guardian to make those decisions and generally manage the incapacitated person’s affairs.
In the event that a person becomes incapacitated and does not have advance directives in place, a family member or loved one can seek court approval to be authorized as a guardian. The person seeking to be made guardian has to show that it is necessary or to the extent that it is necessary. That means showing that the incapacitated person’s ability to function and make decisions has become sufficiently limited, and that the incapacitated person needs a guardian to provide for them and manage his or her affairs.
One or more people may be appointed guardians, whether they share responsibilities or divide them between personal needs and asset management. In the event that a family member is not available to serve as guardian, a court may choose an independent guardian from an approved list.
Long-Term Care Planning
Nursing homes and in-home care providers offer crucial assistance to older adults across Long Island, New York and throughout the country. They also often represent the biggest threat to the assets that people have worked their entire lives to acquire and want to leave for their families.
Those assets commonly include:
- A family home and other real property
- Cash, savings, and checking accounts
- Pensions and retirement accounts
- Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
- Certificates of deposit
People and families concerned about the potential costs of long-term care should start planning now. There are a number of solutions available to help protect assets and reduce costs, which you should consider with the advice of an experienced elder law attorney.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance is a valuable planning tool that can help cover the costs of in-home care, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. It is important to understand, however, that many insurers fight to limit or avoid paying out perfectly viable claims.
Medicaid benefits can cover a significant chunk of long-term care coverage, including home care and nursing homes. To be eligible for Medicaid, however, you must be poor, meeting strict asset and income limitations. Without proper advance planning, you can spend all of your assets on your care until you fall below these poverty limits. Alternatively, you can obtain Medicaid while preserving your assets with the help of a Long Island elder lawyer at our firm.
You can often obtain Medicaid eligibility through the use of an Irrevocable Trust also known as a “Medicaid Asset Protection Trust” or “MAPT.” These instruments can be used to protect assets and ensure that they are not counted when your Medicaid eligibility is being determined. Examples of this include placing your residence and investment portfolio in the MAPT. While you would relinquish control of these assets, you can continue to reside in the residence and receive the income from your portfolio. The assets would also be shielded from Medicaid’s estate recovery program.
A MAPT can also serve as an effective estate planning tool. You can designate the beneficiaries who will receive the assets upon your passing. Moreover, a MAPT can be used to protect these beneficiaries (your heirs) from exposure to capital gains tax. Perhaps most important is the fact that you can designate, through your trustee, how assets are to be distributed and used.
Properly structuring your MAPT is key to preserving assets and obtaining Medicaid eligibility. If the assets are not in the trust for the requisite timeframes then they will fall within Medicaid’s “look back period,” and they will be counted against eligibility. Also, simply setting up a MAPT will not ensure eligibility. It will be necessary to actually transfer your assets into it.
Additional considerations should include whether or not Medicaid will be helpful in regard to funding long-term care. While Medicaid can be of great assistance to many people, it must be remembered that it does not cover the costs of all services or facilities. If, for example, you wish to reside in a long-term facility which only accepts privately paying residents, then eligibility for Medicaid would not matter in terms of funding your care. When determining whether an MAPT is in your best interests, and how it should be structured, it is important to consider your long-term goals and whether the trust helps you to meet those goals.
Our experienced attorneys can assist you with determining whether an MAPT is the best vehicle for meeting your goals. If such an instrument is in your best interests then we will work to structure it in a way that captures as many benefits as possible. We will also work to reduce the inconveniences which result from giving up control of your assets. We understand that no two situations are the same. This is why we will work to craft a solution which fits your needs.
Do I Need a Long Island Elder Lawyer?
The good news for people and families worried about long-term care costs and facing a myriad of decisions about how to plan for the future is that you do not need to go it alone. A seasoned Long Island elder lawyer at DDSS will guide you through the wide range of issues facing older people as they age.
Elder law encompasses a wide range of complicated legal issues that touch on a number of different areas of the law and can vary from state to state. They are particularly important to understand because elder care on Long Island is among the most expensive in the country… and costs continue to rise.
Our firm helps people and families tackle the financial and emotional burdens associated with aging, increase their quality of life through proper planning, and protect assets. We also help provide peace of mind for the client and their families, knowing that there is a plan in place in the event that they can no longer take care of themselves.
Speak with a Long Island Elder Lawyer at DDSS Today
If you or a loved one is looking to plan for the future and protect your assets, DDSS can help. We are pleased to meet with clients in person or via Zoom, FaceTime, and other video conferencing tools. Call us, contact us online, or use the live chat function to schedule a consultation with a Long Island elder lawyer today.