Articles Tagged with nyc elder law estate planning

For 55-years, Older Americans Month has been observed to recognize older Americans and their contributions to our communities. Led by the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging, every May offers opportunity to hear from, support, and celebrate our nation’s elders. Ways to show your support for Older Americans Month include taking selfies and group shots while participating in activities that improve your mental and physical well-being then posting the image to social media using the hashtag #OAM18.

The 2018 theme for Older Americans Month is “Engage at Any Age” and emphasizes that that you are never too old (or young) to take part in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotional well-being and celebrates the many ways in which older adults make a difference in our communities. Older Americans can get involved in the celebration by participating in activities promoting mental and physical wellness and offering their wisdom and experience to the next generation.

President Kennedy first declared May to be Senior Citizens Month in 1963 as a way to honor citizens 65-years and older and since then, every president has proclaimed May to be a month to show support for older Americans.  In 1980, President Jimmy Carter changed the name to Older Americans Month and as a show of support, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys declares the month of May to be National Elder Law Month.

When titling property pertaining to estate planning, there are many considerations to make in order to properly distribute assets and property to your loved ones upon your death. Depending upon your estate planning measures, you make seek to title property in order to pass automatically to a lineal descendant, in order to avoid probate, or in order to allow your executor to sell, gift, or transfer your interest in property.

Ownership

Sole ownership, the title position in which you are the sole owner of the property, is the most common form of ownership for single individuals. They have full rights to property while alive and also to pass at death. This type of title will pass subject to probate, by the decedent’s will or if they fail to execute a will, by intestate, also known as the process by which a court will determine your estate execution.

As we continue to age, it can be difficult to admit when you are no longer able to handle personal affairs and financial matters on your own. There are a number of alternatives available to those seeking to have their affairs managed by another party, depending upon the individual’s mental capacity to comply with assigning these rights. Those providing caregiver services to the individual, commonly a loved one, may seek retaining legal guardianship of the elderly individual, assigning durable power of attorney and health care power of attorney to specific individuals, or establishing a trust.

Guardianship

Guardianship is a legal status given by the court to create a relationship between someone who is incapacitated or unable to care for themselves and a person determined to be suitable to administer and manage the incapacitated person’s affairs. In order to get a guardianship order, a person must file a petition with the court to review the case at hand. The court assesses the situation, the petitioner, as well as the elderly person to determine what will be the least restrictive method of guardianship. The appointment may include only managing financial affairs, but may also assign responsibility for day to day decision making including support, maintenance, and personal care.

Every trust document is different; the terms of a trust can vary greatly, giving the beneficiaries either a broad range of power or can limit a beneficiary’s power to only include specific rights. Some of the differing terms of trust include: how the income and principal investments are able to be distributed, when, and under what circumstances, if the objective of the trust is either for growth or to maintain balance, when a beneficiary receives a distribution and under what circumstances, such as age attainment or education attainment, as well as whether the beneficiaries have a right of withdrawal also known as 5 by 5 clause.

What is a 5 by 5 Clause?

A 5 by 5 clause, or right of withdrawal, must be specifically stated in the governing trust. The right occurs once a year generally, and will allow the beneficiary to take up to 5% of the value of the trust out to be included in their current tax year or to take $5,000, whichever is greater at the time. If the trust contains a right of withdrawal, the trustee must notify the beneficiary within a reasonable time of their ability that year to withdrawal and the beneficiary must indicate their wish to exercise the right in part or in total or whether they chose to forego taking the amount. In order for the beneficiary to qualify the income under present interest, and therefore exempt under the gift exemption that year, they must have a vested economic interest to the income and principal of the trust.

Prince & Tidal

After the death of a musician, we commonly hear about battles between the estate of deceased artists and various music companies, regarding the royalties to a deceased artist’s work, who now owns it, and who is entitled to receive royalties now that the artist is no longer alive. The Estate of music legend Prince has faced a number of legal issues while trying to determine inheritance as well as ownership of music and rights. The music streaming platform Tidal, started by rapper Jay-Z, had the exclusive rights to stream Prince’s last album, however, Tidal is now being sued by the estate for illegally streaming all of Prince’s albums on the platform streaming site. Shortly after Prince passed away, Tidal started streaming the entire catalogue of music, expanding it from the 90 day exclusivity clause it had for the one album.

Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones & Sony Productions

David Bowie’s Estate

This year, we lost two music icons. While the death of Prince came as a surprise to the music community, David Bowie lost his battle with cancer. It was not surprising that David Bowie’s estate was left with almost $100 million dollars, a very large sum of money that was all properly distributed according to the terms of his will. Bowie outlined his wishes in his will, that was made over a decade ago, which even stating how he wanted to be cremated. The star died on January 10th, 2016, and in accordance with the terms of his will, his last wishes to be cremated were followed, on January, 12th. The will not only outlined how to distribute the estate, but also how and when funds set aside in trusts were to be distributed to his wife and children.

Additionally, the making of this will has provided a straightforward method to determine how future earnings from his music, past as well as unreleased, will be distributed. Bowie recorded a final few songs which are set for release at specific times in the future.

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

Claiming inheritance upon its distribution is something that many individuals welcome and conversely is the source of many family disputes. There are many reasons why someone may want to refuse their bequest however, in a process in estate planning referred to as disclaiming inheritance. Some beneficiaries seek to disclaim their inheritance due to their personal wealth, whether wealthy or poor, for tax reasons, or to pass the gift on. In estate planning, if you decide to disclaim your gift or bequest, you will be treated as if you died before the grantor did, and your share is redistributed according to the terms of the will.

Examples of Why You May Consider Disclaiming

Estate taxes can be particularly hefty and if disclaimed, the gift or bequest would pass to the next of kin, who may be more willing to take on the potential tax burden. In years past, disclaimers have been used a stopgap measure after the estate tax expired in which the first million in assets valued from an estate is exempt and assets thereafter is levied at 55%. Once the tax expires, there are sometimes unintended consequences which end up negatively impacting the estate of the beneficiaries.

NEVER TOO LATE TO SAVE ASSETS

As this blog discussed in the past, the Third Circuit case of Zahner v. Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, which issued a major victory to Medicaid recipients everywhere. While the case is only binding to the states under the jurisdiction of the Third Circuit (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the Virgin Islands) it is the only Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in the nation on the issue of short term annuities in the context of Medicaid eligibility and it is a well reasoned opinion resting on a solid foundation of the facts as they are applied to the law.

With respect to Zahner, the Court held that under Medicaid’s Safe Harbor Provision, a short term annuity that does not, at the time of purchase, extend beyond the anticipated life span of the purchaser does not violate Medicaid’s policy against transferring assets within a set lookback period of time and thus does not disqualify a person from qualifying for Medicaid by their purchase. Many people do this so as to protect the collective assets of a couple when one spouse is about to enter a nursing home, to ensure that the community spouse (the spouse not in the nursing home) has a stream of income.

The Veterans Administration has a program that allows for a large subset of the veterans population to qualify for certain benefits that pay for costs associated with caring for a veteran or their spouse. This Aid and Attendance pension may be in addition to any pension that the service member and/or their spouse may already receive. The Housebound pension also covers certain costs associated the care and attendance to the veteran or their spouse when they are primarily confined to their residence. While a veteran or their spouse may already receive a pension, as well as these additional benefits, one cannot receive both the Aid and Attendance benefits as well as the Housebound benefits. It is important to note at the outset the difference between a pension and compensation.

Compensation is a sum of money that the veteran receives, tax free, for disabilities that the veteran suffered in relation to their time as a service member. The compensation is meant to make up for any loss of income due to the disability. A Pension is meant to provide additional monies to low income or disabled veterans who served during a period of war, or in a war zone. Both of these benefits are distinct from a military retirement. The benefits under these Veterans Administration programs have been in existence for over 60 years, yet many Veterans Administration officials and Veterans Administration attorneys were unaware of these benefits until recently.

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