Having prescription drug coverage is extremely important to ensuring we get necessary, life-saving medications while also making sure we do not go bankrupt on impoverished it the process. However, using prescription drug insurance to buy medications does not always yield the best price for consumers and pharmacists know this but cannot always inform patients about the cost savings because they are contractually bound in one way or another to remain silent.

Congress recently passed a pair of bipartisan bills aimed at helping consumers get the best price on prescription drugs by prohibiting contractual obligations that require pharmacists to stay silent about how consumers may be able to save money. If signed into law, the the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act (S.2554) and the Know the Lowest Price Act (S. 2553) would remove barriers placed on pharmacists and allow them to volunteer information to help patients save money on vital prescriptions.

The Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act (S.2554) would bar insurers and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) from placing limits on a pharmacy’s ability to tell consumers when there is a difference between how much a patient would pay for a prescription with insurance compared to without it. The bill would apply to insurance plans offered through exchanges on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and by those offered by private companies.

Medicare helps seniors pay for a whole host of mental health treatment services, including both inpatient and outpatient treatment services to help diagnose and treat mental health conditions. Depending on the type of care needed, beneficiaries may incur some out of pocket costs, including deductibles, and are subject to some limitations on the length of treatment you can receive at in patient centers.

Medicare Part A will cover inpatient mental health services at either a psychiatric hospital or a general hospital, depending on the type of care determined by the primary care doctor. Medicare will cover up to 190-days of treatment at a psychiatric hospital during a person’s lifetime and may cover additional inpatient care at a general hospital if necessary.

When receiving inpatient care with Medicare Part A, beneficiaries will need to pay an out of pocket deductible before they enter the facility. As of 2018, that cost is estimated to be $1,340. After paying the deductible, Medicare Part A will pay the first 60-days of inpatient treatment in full. The next 30-days require the patient pay a daily co-insurance of $355 and the remaining 90-days require a daily co-insurance of $670.

Creating a living trust is one common way individuals plan their estates and keep valuable assets like homes and other real estate out of the costly and timely probate process. For individuals own their home outright, a living or revocable trust is an easy way to instantly pass on a home but if there a mortgage or another lien on the property there may be a “due on sale” clause that requires the debtor to pay the lender immediately.

Typically, a due on sale clause is understood that the debtor must pay the bank the balance of a mortgage when the home is sold or otherwise transferred. While placing a home into a living trust is technically transferring the home from one owner to another, an important piece of legislation called the Garn-St. Germain Act allows individuals to transfer a personal residence to make “a transfer into an inter vivos (also known as “living”) trust in which the borrower is and remains a beneficiary and which does not relate to a transfer of rights of occupancy in the property.”

The exemption for due on sale clauses for these transfer rules allows the property to be placed into a revocable living trust so long as the loan is on residential properties containing less than five dwelling units. For New Yorkers, this is important because it can include homes such as a duplex, triplex, fourplex or even a coop and not just single family houses. So long as there is no change in occupancy to the estate, that is the person creating the trust stays in the home, the due on sale clause can not be enforced.

Elder abuse occurs all too often and comes in many forms. While it may seem unfathomable, abusers can be the ones we rely on the most to take care of our beloved elders during the time in their adult lives in which they may be the most vulnerable. Although nothing can be done to undo the harm caused by elder abuse, family members can look out for the signs of its effects to immediately recognize and end the abuse.

According to statistics from 2011, over 260,000 older adults in New York State suffered from some type of elder abuse in just that year alone. In 2016, the state Office of Child and Family Services released a study that estimated financial exploitation of elders in New York costs a total of $1.5 billion a year. Another study looking into the issue estimated the national cost of elder abuse and exploitation at $36.5 billion per year.

For whatever reason, only an estimated one in 22 instances of elder abuse is reported. Many experts believe that one main reason may be this as many as nine in 10 times, that abuse is committed by family member and the victim may not want any legal or familial trouble for someone they otherwise love and care for. No matter the situation, family members need to convey to their elders that revealing the abuse is the way to end it.

A Kings County Surrogate’s Court judge recently removed the executor to an estate without a hearing over the individual’s failure to comply with the court’s order to properly account of the estate’s assets. The case is a prime example of how and why someone can be removed as the executor from estate if he or she fails to comply with their fiduciary duty to faithfully discharge the responsibilities of the executorship.

The petition to remove the executor was brought by a co-beneficiary to the estate, the sister of the former executor, after the executor failed to open a separate trust account and to file federal or state income tax returns for the trust. Additionally, the petition charged that the respondent’s neglect of the real property held by the limited liability company caused it to sell for a price much less than two previous offers to purchase the real estate, which the executor had rejected.

Prior to suspending the executor from his role of managing the estate, the co-beneficiary filed two-petitions with the Surrogate’s Court. The first, seeking the executor’s removal from management of the estate and the second asking the court to compel the executor into account and file the estate. The court subsequently issued a 45-day order for the executor to account for the estate and file the necessary paperwork.

A King County Surrogate’s Court judge recently handed down a significant ruling in the case of a caretaker who appeared to marry her elderly patient in his final days in an effort to claim part of the deceased’s estate. The judge hearing the case decided the woman forfeited her statutory share of the estate because she knowingly married the deceased while he was alive and mentally incapacitated.

The ruling came down after a 37-day trial and nearly 12-years of litigation surrounding the $5 million estate of a successful businessman who was 100-years old when he passed away in 2006. The now deceased married his caretaker in secret in from of the New York City Clerk’s Office, without the knowledge of his two adult sons who brought the challenges to the estate.

The judge said he found it impossible that the deceased’s wife did not know her husband was mentally incapacitated when they married just a year before the man’s death.. “The evidence presented shows consistent, insidious and duplicitous conduct that led to” the wife’s “clandestine marriage” to the deceased, the judge said.

As our parents age, it may become necessary to take on a some type of guardianship role to help them live out their golden years in comfort and dignity. Even highly functioning seniors can use a little help in certain areas to ensure their best interests are served and avoid costly mistake that can leave elders in financial and medical dire straits.

Under New York law, mentally competent seniors may willfully yield control over certain aspects of their lives to trusted friends or family to act in certain ways on their behalf. This is often referred to by the courts as the “least restrictive form of intervention” since it only gives the guardian limited power to help compensate for any limitations faced by the elder.

To achieve this type of guardianship, both parties (the elder and prospective guardian) will need to file their paperwork in the probate court where the elder lives. As long as the elder agrees and can demonstrate to the court why it is in his or her best interest to appoint a guardian, courts are generally inclined to allow this limited guardianship. Depending on the powers granted, the guardian can help their elder manage decisions related to medical care, financial management, and paying taxes.

While it might not be the most important things on peoples’ minds, the truth is that all of us need a last will and testament, regardless of whether or not we think our estates are large enough to need one. Without a last will and testament or some type of trust, the assets of our estate will enter into what is known as intestacy and be distributed according to a line of succession dictated by the law, rather than what our final wishes may have been.

In New York, any assets not placed into a trust will need to pass through probate court (known as Surrogate’s Court in the state). Even in cases where the deceased created a will and specifically dictated which assets go to which heirs, the court must still hear the matter to ensure the deceased’s wishes are carried out.

However, certain assets will not pass through probate with or without a will. These types of assets include homes that are jointly owned by spouses, life insurance payouts, retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, and bank accounts set up as payable-on-death. Without a will, any other assets like personal property and savings accounts will be passed along according to New York’s intestacy laws.

Creating a trust is one of the most common ways people use to pass on the assets without having to pass the estate through probate and deal with courts, judges, and create a public record of what the individual has accrued over his or her lifetime. Just like there are many ways to pass on an estate to heirs, there are also different types of trusts that people can use to accomplish these goals.

Picking the right type of trust for one’s estate depends on many things including the type of assets in one’s estate, the individual’s goals, and whether some of the assets might go to minor children that will be unable to manage finances for themselves. Whichever type of trust you choose to go with, it should be based on careful analysis and attention to detail to ensure that your final wishes are carried and heirs receive their due inheritance.

Inter vivos trusts

A last will and testament is an incredibly important document that needs to be kept safe and help ensure that when your estate passes through probate, New York courts will allow your executor to carry your final wishes and disperse assets to your heirs. After taking all of the important steps like consulting with family members, working with a trust and estate attorney, and finally drafting the last will and testament, great care needs to be taken in storing the original copy of the will to make sure the estate can pass through probate courts as quickly as possibly and make the job of the executor that much easier.

To preserve the original copy of their last will and testament, testators (the person creating the will) have a number of options to preserve the original copy of their executed will. Many people elect to keep their executed will in a safe deposit box at a bank or other secured facility. It is important to note that no matter where the document is kept safe, the executor must know the location of the last will and testament to pass the estate through probate.

New York probate law holds that if the original executed copy of the last will and testament is lost, the probate court will presume the testator meant to revoke the document and proving anything to the contrary can be a difficult, time consuming, and expensive endeavor. Even if a bona fide copy can be produced, New York probate courts will likely not accept the document and enter it as a copy of the will.

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