Articles Posted in Asset Protection

Medicaid is state and federal funding that pays for long-term care costs, either at home, called “Community Medicaid,” or in a nursing home, called “Institutional” or “Nursing Home Medicaid.” The Medicaid rates change every year for income and asset requirements to determine eligibility for benefits. Following are the 2020 New York rates.

A single applicant for Community Medicaid may keep up to $15,750 in assets and $875 in income. If the applicant’s income is greater than the limit, a “Pooled Income Trust” created by a non-profit organization may shelter the excess income to make the applicant eligible for community Medicaid.

A married applicant for Community Medicaid may keep up to $15,750 in assets and $875 in monthly income. The non-applicant spouse may keep their own income and keep up to $128,640 in assets. The rules are different if one spouse is enrolled in a Managed Long Term Care Plan. The applicant spouse may keep $409 of monthly income and the other spouse may keep $3,216 of monthly income. The healthy spouse may keep between $74,820 and $128,640 in assets. “Spousal Refusal” is another option that may help the healthy spouse keep more income and assets. A review of the couple’s income and assets helps determine which approach is more favorable.

In-vitro fertilization, also known as IVF, has its origins in the 1890’s when the first known case of embryo transplantation occurred in rabbits in Great Britain. By 1973, scientists were able to transplant a human embryo into a woman. The first human IVF pregnancy occurred 47 years ago in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to IVF there are other assisted reproductive technologies, commonly called ART for short, that have changed human conception, such as artificial insemination and surrogacy that have made parenthood possible for people who are unable to reproduce naturally.

Significant changes are afoot in the area of estate planning of such families as more children are born from ART methods for reproduction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1.8% of all infants born in the United States were aided by ART methods. In the context of estate planning, there are two main issues ART families should tackle. First, how parentage and descendants are defined for legal purposes, such as maintenance and inheritance. Second, is who controls the disposition of stored genetic material that has not been used.  

Are all children descendants, legally speaking, of course?

If you’re eligible for divorce benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you can collect up to 50% of the amount your former spouse is eligible to receive by claiming your benefits at his or her full retirement age (FRA).

 
Your FRA is either 66, 66 plus a few months, or 67, depending on the year you were born. The earliest you can claim Social Security benefits is 62. If you claim benefits before your FRA, your Social Security benefits will be permanently reduced by as much as 30%. You can only receive your full Social Security benefit amount if you claim benefits at your FRA.

 
You cannot double dip

The COVID-19 pandemic has understandably left many people facing challenges. Remember that even the most difficult times often present opportunities, which currently includes an ideal situation to transfer assets to a loved one. The combination of decreased market values, lowered interest rates, and a high tax rate exemption has caused people to utilize several advantageous estate planning strategies.

# 1 – Making the Most of Gifting

Based on the value of assets, transferring property through gifting often requires individuals to consider estate taxes, gift taxes, and generation-skipping taxes. By transferring assets to loved ones while the asset’s value is temporarily at its lowest, you have the greatest chance possible of removing the assets from your taxable estate while making the most out of available exemptions. 

Creating a thoughtful estate plan is one of the greatest gifts anyone can leave their loved ones. It is important to update your will when major changes occur. These might include marriage, divorce, opening or closing a business, buying or selling real estate, or birth or death of an heir.

 
Estate planning is a process that helps ensure that your desires for distribution of your property and assets at death are carried out. During life, to complete an estate plan, you should consider the following: 

 

  •     Will: A will is the primary document that should be prepared while living, to be effective at death. A will is a written document expressing how you would like your estate to be distributed after death. Usually a will must be executed in the presence of two disinterested witness and be notarized. You must also have testamentary capacity (over the age of 18, of sound mind, and competent).

Settling an estate, after the loss of a loved one while grieving, is a difficult process. For the weeks and months that follow the funeral, handling the estate of a deceased individual may quickly overwhelm survivors. The steps outlined below provide a guide to survivors through this tumultuous time.

 
Immediately upon the death of a loved one

After notifying family members and close friends, contact a funeral director. The funeral director is able to assist with funeral and burial arrangements, publish an obituary, order the death certificate, and transport your loved one’s remains to the funeral home.

On August 15, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rolled out thirteen (13) proposed warnings in full-color utilizing graphics for rotation on cigarette packages, meant to encourage people to stop smoking or taking up the habit.

 
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. is smoking.

  • Nearly 480,000 people die in the U.S. each year from smoking-related illnesses.

Alcohol and drug abuse among adults 60 years and older is underestimated and under-diagnosed. To caregivers, whether they are a spouse, adult child, or a home health aide, understanding how and where to get help for their loved one is critical to getting a person in treatment.

Nationwide, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers found a 33.3 percent increase in older adult (ages 65 and older) deaths from heroin between 2014 and 2015 (heroin deaths for all ages rose only 21 percent).

Doctors fail to diagnose drug addiction in older adults because some of the symptoms experienced by alcohol and drug abusers mimic symptoms more common in older adults generally. Alcohol and drug abusers, like older adults, suffer from depression, diabetes, and dementia. It may be harder to attribute the cause to alcohol or drugs rather than old age, so treatment is under-diagnosed.

Millions of people find themselves in a middle class bind as they enter the midpoint of their retirement period. A good eight (8) to ten (10) years into retirement, many individuals are able to physically continue to live in their home and afford the upkeep and maintenance of their home with their retirement savings

 
Especially if the individual’s home is single-story, as health problems mature, many individuals will be physically able to maneuver their way around their home with little assistance. Multi-story homes become more difficult because climbing stairs may be a problem. Individuals in the midpoint of their retirement are generally still able to care for themselves. Many of them even hold permanent part-time jobs.

 
The sources of income for individuals in retirement are the fixed income they receive from a pension, an individual retirement account (IRA), Social Security, and 401K savings. Variable income is received through part-time job wages and other financial instruments like an annuity and cash savings.

The present-day court structure was established in 1691, when the New York Assembly established the New York Supreme Court of Judicature with the same common law jurisdiction as the King’s Bench, Common Pleas and Exchequer of England. The court was granted jurisdiction in equity in 1846 by statute, taking over equity matters from the Court of Chancery, and became a court of general common law and equity jurisdiction.

 
The current court structure — made up of 11 separate trial courts with varying jurisdictions — is complex and costly. For example, the Surrogate’s Court, established in 1787, has jurisdiction in probate and administration of estates matters. There is a Surrogate’s Court in each of the sixty-two (62) counties in New York. The Surrogate’s Courts also have concurrent jurisdiction with the Family Courts, over guardianships of the person and property of infants and adoption proceedings. Each county has a separate Family Court. So, there are sixty-two (62) of the courts as well. It is easy to see why any legal proceeding is expensive and the challenge of understanding which court can help you solve a problem.

 
Like any government agency, the New York State court system has a top executive, the Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. In her February state of the judiciary address, she announced an objective to “modernize” the state’s court system. Since then, many organizations and groups from a wide range of New York life – government groups, advocates against domestic violence, legal service providers, bar associations, community groups, and even private citizens – have banded together to lobby for court simplification.

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