Articles Tagged with NYC elder law

The Erie County Department of Senior Services recently announced the date for its 17th annual Elder Law Day event. The program will take place from 2pm to 8pm on Thursday, June 22, at the Adam’s Mark Hotel, 120 Church St., Buffalo, New York. The event helps educates seniors and the greater public about many health, safety, and legal issues many of our beloved elders face in these modern times.

The free event will touch on such topics as Medicare, Medicare Supplemental and Managed Care plans, HMO’s, PPO’s, Part D coverage and long term care insurance to help seniors and their families make informed decisions about elder health care needs. Event Goers can also sit down with sponsors to discuss topics like Medicaid planning, estates, trusts, wills, housing, consumer, health insurance and much more.

“Elder Law Day is full of valuable information and is a great opportunity for seniors and caregivers to learn about their rights, get answers to their questions, and build a plan for the future. These events have been tremendously popular in the past and have proven to be a good way to get information into the hands of people who need it,” said Tim Hogues, Erie County Commissioner of Senior Services. “Elder Law Day brings together professionals from all around the aging spectrum to share their knowledge and actually help seniors right on the spot. I encourage seniors, caregivers, and anyone who needs the latest information on any aspect of senior life to attend.”

The passing of a loved one is never an easy event. While families take time to grieve and mourn the loss of a parent or spouse, many estate-related details that can greatly impact the estate’s financial situation may be overlooked. By taking some time to understand what types of benefits Social Security Insurance (SSI) recipients qualified for before their passing, surviving family members can more easily claim these benefits and relieve some of the financial strain of laying a loved one to rest.

Believe it or not, many people forget to claim SSI death benefits after the passing of a senior loved one. These benefits help provide funds towards the cost of funeral or burial for surviving spouses or children of SSI eligible individuals. The program is administered by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) and provides a $225 Social Security Lump Sum Death Payment (LSDP) benefit.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the administration in 1935 during his first term during the New Deal. The SSA provides benefits for the elderly, disabled, widows, and many other vulnerable citizens. The $225 is the original amount written into law and stands today to aid those in need.

Anyone with a spouse stricken by Alzheimer’s disease knows exactly how devastating the condition is on the patient and how taxing it can be on the person administering care. Often times, senior act as primary caregivers to their spouses battling Alzheimer’s, a testament to their love and commitment until the very end.

While the nature of alzheimer’s disease means afflicted persons do not often outlive their spouses, those acting as caregivers should nonetheless plan for contingencies such as these to ensure their surviving spouse is well taken care of. Depending on the disease’s progression and the overall health of each spouse, couples may need to plan differently to suit their individual situation.

First and foremost, elder spouses need to ensure their power of attorney is up to date and names the caregiver spouse as the primary decision maker for the individual afflicted with Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, this document should give the caretaker the power to name another individual as the decision maker upon passing away.

When someone passes away, he or she typically has the estate in order by creating a will or trust and designating an executor to oversee the dispersal of assets to named beneficiaries, ensuring a smooth process during a time of grief. However, even the wills and trusts that seem cut and dry can face legal challenges to parties claiming to have a stake in the estate and are rightfully entitled to certain assets.

Fortunately, New York and other states have laws on the books known as “dead man’s statutes” that help to exclude testimony concerning conversations between the deceased and the individual challenging the estate. The main reason to exclude such conversations as evidence from probate proceedings is to prevent purgery and the introduction of evidence that cannot otherwise be verified.

While not limited to cases involving trusts and estates, New York Surrogate Courts often find themselves hearing arguments involving the dead man’s statute. There are three-exceptions to the exclusion of testimony by interested parties under New York law. These exceptions include:

Barring the creation of a trust, all estates must pass through probate court to certify the estate before assets may be disbursed to beneficiaries. In New York state, every one of the 62-counties has at least one Surrogate Court (New York and Kings Counties have two) to hear all types of matters related to decedents and their estates as well as certain types of guardianship proceedings and adoptions.

The law invests these powers to Surrogate Courts through the New York Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCP). The section pertaining specifically to probate cases is NY SURR CT PRO § 201.3 and reads:

“The court shall continue to exercise full and complete general jurisdiction in law and in equity to administer justice in all matters relating to estates and the affairs of decedents, and upon the return of any process to try and determine all questions, legal or equitable, arising between any or all of the parties to any action or proceeding, or between any party and any other person having any claim or interest therein, over whom jurisdiction has been obtained as to any and all matters necessary to be determined in order to make a full, equitable and complete disposition of the matter by such order or decree as justice requires.”

Getting remarried as a senior can have a whole host of important consequences from estate planning, retirement, and any future medical care needs, particularly if either spouse has children. Without careful planning and consideration before remarriage, seniors may find themselves in unexpected financial trouble and even create a fight in probate court over the estate if new will and testaments are not drawn up.

First and foremost, a remarriage affects the inheritance of the deceased’s surviving family members, even after the trouble of crafting a well thought out last will and testament. Under New York probate laws, surviving spouses are entitled to a portion of the estate, even if the deceased’s will explicitly divides the estate amongst his or her surviving children.

In this situation, each party should re-examine his or her will and consult with an experienced New York estate lawyer to draw up new plans for the disbursement of the estate. Without a revised will following a remarriage, the deceased’s estate may be held up in probate court due to legal challenges over beneficiaries looking to collect pieces of the estate they believe they may be entitled to.

When we send our beloved elders to a nursing home, we expect them to receive the care and attention need to live happy, comfortable, and dignified lives. Unfortunately for many seniors and their families, nursing home abuse and neglect is an all too common problem facing our nation’s elder care and assisted living system. While we expect nursing homes to do the right thing, nursing home abuse allegations can often lead to time consuming legal fights to recover damages and hold the facility accountable.

To make matters worse, many nursing homes have the power to insert clauses in their contracts with residents that strip away their right to due process in a court of law and instead require any disputes be settled in an administrative process known as arbitration. Because many families make the decision to place a loved on in an assisted care facility under duress, they often overlook key clauses in nursing home contracts.

What are predispute binding arbitration clauses?

Being named as a beneficiary to the estate of a loved one often comes with its own set of responsibilities and expectations following the passing of the deceased. Often times, individuals create estates and trusts to ensure their hard earned assets like homes, businesses, and sentimental items remain with close family members to ensure these articles are well taken care of and create a lasting legacy for future generations.

However, sometimes the strings attached with inheriting such assets are simply too much for the beneficiary to bare and could actually create a burden instead of benefit. Many of us have probably seen movies or heard news reports of beneficiaries needing to perform some sort of unusual task to claim an inheritance like taking care of a pet or living in a home for a certain period before the property may be sold.

While many of these examples are rare and impractical to say the least, there are many times when accepting an inheritance can create untenable financial liabilities like paying property taxes on homes and businesses. Despite the financial hardship some inheritances create, beneficiaries may still want to ensure their portion of the estate remains under their sphere of influence and provide some good to other families members down the line.

Medicaid is a terrific program designed to help older Americans pay for the cost of their prescription medication, hospital care, and even long term assisted living facility needs. Of course, like any other program, the system is in imperfect and comes with its own unique set of limitations, restrictions, and penalties that seniors and their families need to understand in order to take full advantage of under the law.

Designed as a resource to help low income and disabled seniors, Medicaid requires applicants meet certain financial criteria to qualify for benefits. Sometimes, seniors find themselves in a delicate situation where the state considers them too wealthy to qualify for Medicaid but unable to pay for vital nursing and hospital care on their own. In these circumstances, seniors may need to spend down or transfer assets to qualify for Medicaid assistance.

While this may seem like a practical idea, application for Medicaid in New York requires seniors to disclose asset transfers over the previous five-years to ensure applicants are truly in need of government assistance. The Department of Social Services ”looks back” at financial transactions made by the applicant or his/her spouse and may institute a so-called “penalty period” on non-exempt transferred assets which creates a waiting period on benefits which varies depending on the situation.

The Erie County District Attorney recently announced the creation of a new enhanced multidisciplinary team (eDMT) to help combat the 1,600 cases of senior financial exploitation reported each year in the country. The approach is a brand new model design to create a public-private partnership across multiple disciplines to investigate, prosecute, and educate the public about the very real danger facing many vulnerable elders both in the county and the state as a whole.

According to the Erie County District Attorney’s website, the eDMT “is coordinated by social worker Kathy Kanaley of Center for Elder Law & Justice, and includes the Erie County District Attorney’s office and representatives from Erie County Adult Protective Services and Senior Services.” Furthermore, the task force includes a forensic accountant assisting in the accounting of stolen funds, as well as a geriatric psychiatrist to help with determinations of capacity.

“This collaboration will help our office spot and aggressively prosecute those who prey on these vulnerable members of society,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn. “The sooner we can take action, the easier it will be to get justice for these elderly victims.”

Contact Information