Articles Tagged with new york elder law

When determining how you want your estate and assets administered upon your death, it is also important to consider how you want decisions made in the event that you cannot make them for yourself. Naming a power of attorney has a number of benefits that will avoid any drawn out court proceedings to name an agent in the event of your incapacitation. Power of attorney documents name an individual, also known as an agent, to perform specific tasks when you cannot. These powers can vary, as there is medical/health care power of attorney and also property or financial power of attorney powers.

Medical power of attorney gives an individual the ability to make your health care decisions, such as where you should receive care, if you should receive a specific treatment in the event your wishes are not listed, as well as dealing with your insurance and medical premiums. Financial powers of attorney allow an individual, upon a specific event, to handle a variety of your financial matters on your behalf. While many people will name someone as power of attorney in the event of incapacitation, some will name a power of attorney to take effect immediately, thus, delegating decision making power.

These situations are predisposed to undue influence, something the court is very suspect of and will closely monitor in the event they believe an individual is abusing their power of attorney role over an elderly individual. In the event that you are competent and have named someone as a power of attorney, but due to a number of circumstances, including the end to a relationship or a possibility of undue influence, you wish to revoke the power of attorney, you can do so by delivering a notice to the power of attorney, your estate attorney, as well as other interested parties notified of the document.

Aging comes with a number of considerations, including how to deal with ailments, conditions associated with older age, as well as how method of treatment is best for you or a close loved one. Today, there are an overwhelming amount of options to choose from when it comes to pain management and treatment for chronic conditions, however, many of them can become very addictive. One somewhat controversial treatment option for pain management being used by a number of elderly citizens is the use of medical marijuana.

Although the use of marijuana whether medicinally or recreationally is illegal under federal law, over half of the states have decriminalized and now approved it for use medicinally. Based on numerous studies and research, it has been shown that as compared to other pain management treatments, the use of marijuana leaves less risk for addiction, fewer side effects, as well as allowing individuals to still go about their daily lives while managing health issues. Health issues associated with aging include autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, as well as cancer, dementia and Parkinson’s disease, which have all been approved under conditions managed using medicinal marijuana.

While the current elderly population has been somewhat skeptical of what they have known as an illegal drug being approved for use in the medical setting, as more states make it legal for use, approval among the older generations increases. Since many seniors are seeking to determine if use of marijuana is suitable for their condition, many nursing homes and assisted living facilities have had to come up with their own policies, either endorsing or shaming it’s use. Almost a dozen nursing homes in the state of Washington have amended their policies to respond to the demand for approval of medical marijuana as treatment in their facilities.

The legal rights of illegitimate children and their ability to take under the terms of a trust have for years been the subject of many litigation proceedings. Illegitimate children are traditionally known as children who are born out of wedlock or to unmarried parents, however, the most widely known cases are those children who were born as the result of an affair by either or both parents. When one parent is the beneficiary of the grantor of a trust, the other spouse of the child, when old enough, may try to assert claims that they are also entitled to access the trust due to blood relation.

How Does an Illegitimate Child Take?

While traditionally under common law, an illegitimate child was not seen as a legal child of either parent, with no right of parental support or right of inheritance, today the laws have changed to better reflect the rights of an illegitimate child. Although states differ regarding their laws on wills and trusts, many now favor giving children rights, under statutes such as The Status of the Children Act as well as the Equal Protection Act. Under the Status of the Children Act, there is a presumption that any reference to children not further defined in a will includes both legitimate and illegitimate children, regardless of their relationship to the father.  

Daily, thousands of baby boomers are forced to make the decision as to whether they need care and assistance as they continue to age. Currently, there are 1.4 million adults residing in nursing homes and that number will only continue to grow over the next few decades. Plans for how to cover the millions of adults who thought they would rely on Medicare and Medicaid in their old age as well as where they will live and who will assist in taking care of them if needed, are questions that must be addressed soon.

Thus, it is not surprising that it took four years and thousands of comments in the rulemaking process in order to revise the broad nursing home regulations that were put in place in the 1990s under the Nursing Home Reform Act. Nursing homes must comply with federal nursing home regulations, but some state laws have adopted more strict laws.

What New Regulations?

Many of our elderly adults end up in nursing homes or assisted living, whether as a result of an accident or due to a declining ability to care for themselves. While many have family members or friends who are able to ensure their loved one is being taken care of properly in their respective homes, not all of those elderly are fortunate to have someone to look after them. In fact, the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee found that 30% of nursing homes in the United States were cited for nearly 10,000 instances of abuse over a two year period.

Abuse in a nursing home can take many forms, some problems involving physical abuse and negligent include untreated bedsores, inadequate medical care through dehydration and improper hygiene, as well as physical abuse such as broken bones, untreated bruises and cuts. Other examples of abuse involve verbal abuse, for example yelling, and ignoring requests, as well as withholding medication.

This problem happens all too often, and it can come down to the caretakers word against the elderly abused patient. An Illinois man concerned about the care of his father after he voiced concerns about a new nurse, installed a surveillance camera in his father’s room in an assisted living home. The camera unfortunately confirmed exactly what he believed, he was being neglected at times, verbally and physically abused by a certified nurse’s aid working at the facility. The nurse was charged with a felony aggravated battery to a person older than 60 years and felony abuse of a long-term health care facility resident.

Putting your assets in an irrevocable trust has a number of benefits, including: allowing the settlor, also known as the maker of the trust, to establish how his or her assets will be kept and eventually distributed, it allows the settlor to have access to the income produced by the trust, as well as the numerous tax benefits such as capital gains taxes being either deferred or in the event of gifting, avoided.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the federal tax code applies a gift tax on an individual level, however, that tax does not apply to trusts. If you transfer funds from your personal account, whether it is a savings or checking, to another, in excess of $14,000 you will be subject to a tax for the gift made, however, the IRS does not place these same taxes on trusts, depending on how the gift was made.

If the beneficiary makes a discretionary gift to another, a gift that can be shown to be made for the immediate benefit of another, it depends on whether the donation is viewed as present or future interest in the gift. If it can shown that the gift was made for the future interest of another, the IRS will not subject the trust to gift tax, however if it can be perceived that the gift was made for a temporary relief of another, the gift tax will be applied to the donation made.

There comes a time when difficult conversations must be had with an elderly loved one in your life that requires a caregiver, but is not receptive to the idea. These conversations can initially be overwhelming for both the loved one and the elderly person, as they start to make a plan about how their lives will change, but as so many Americans continue to live longer with a number of chronic health problems, enlisting the help of a caregiver is a very realistic and responsible choice in order to ensure an elderly person is well taken care of. This also tends to be the best option for those families who are not geographically close enough to care for their loved one full time but see the need for change in the current situation.

In determining the needs of your loved one, continue the dialogue to assess what is most important to both of the parties, such as, full time versus part time care, what daily activities the individual partakes in and what kind of assistance is needed with those, if any, as well as whether overnight care or meal assistance is needed, among many other factors.

Once needs have been determined, it is important to build a pool of applicants to interview. Caregivers build a very personal and intimate relationship with those they care for, thus, it is critical that the individual not only approves of the caregiver, but shares something in common and can trust that person.

Elder abuse has been an increasing trend over the past few decades, within roughly one in ten Americans over 60 years of age experiencing elder abuse, whether it be financial, harassment, sexual, physical, or passive abuse through neglect or deprivation. Of the elders subjected to abuse, over 90% of those Americans are abused by someone they know, either a family member, friend, acquaintance, medical staff employee, or caretaker.

Predators seek out opportunities with the elderly in order to become involved in their lives and then later exploit them in their most vulnerable state. Often times, an individual will claim to be helping the elder individual, either by assisting in caretaking or house keeping, and then will later bill them for an exorbitant amount of money or get ahold of their checking account to pay themselves.

Warning Signs

Special needs trust are a type of trust by which the beneficiary is provided for through the trust income, but has no control over the distributions of the trust. Generally, special needs, or supplemental needs trusts, have been used to provide for those loved ones with disabilities or who are unable to care for themselves any longer.

Once a special needs trust is established, family or a loved one can put the assets in the trust for the benefit of the beneficiary in order to provide them with any number of resources they feel the beneficiary deserves. The trust funds can be used to compensate for additional medical bills not fully covered by insurance, for personal leisure, travel, or anything the grantor feels the beneficiary may want or benefit from.

Eligibility for Benefits & Being a Beneficiary

According to the 2010 Census, over 7.5 million unmarried couples or 15 million people, live together, a sharp increase from the 3.2 million unmarried couples living together in 1990. This increase in cohabitation has been attributed to a number of different factors, including increased living costs, decisions to marry later or not at all, and until recently, due to legal barriers for same sex couples.

There are many legal benefits to marriage, including rights to social security, immigration rights if one party is not a citizen, surviving spouse benefits, estate benefits, as well as joint bankruptcy filings and the right to refuse to testify against a spouse in a legal proceeding. However, these reasons alone are not justification to get married, which many couples are finding is not for them.

In order to ensure that your partner gets inheritance in the event of your passing, it is critical that the couple executes estate planning documents such as a will or trust. Naming your partner in your will ensures that they will be the beneficiary of the assets and property executed in the document. Additionally, name your partner as your beneficiary on all pensions, retirement accounts, and insurance policies and check those policies to determine if naming a non-family member is allowed or subject to specific rules.

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