By Nancy C. Brady, RN, Esq. And Linda Faith Marshak, Esq.
Elderlaw: Not Just For Senior Citizens Any Longer
The practice of elderlaw has traditionally focused on planning for the disposition of one’s estate while minimizing or eliminating estate taxes, and protecting one’s assets in the event long term care is needed. While for the most part, these are goals of older individuals, in today’s society many younger people need to consider and plan in the same ways as their older counterparts.
For example, it is just as important for younger people to have a validly executed Last Will and Testament. Did you know that when a spouse dies, the surviving spouse is not automatically entitled to inherit everything, unless all their assets were jointly held? A Last Will and Testament ensures that the decedent’s estate be distributed as per their wishes. Also, a Will can provide instructions as to the appointment of guardians for minor children, establish trusts for minor children, disabled individuals, and trusts to minimize estate taxes. Aside from a Will, lifetime trusts can be established to achieve an individual’s planning goals.
It as advisable for individuals of all ages to execute a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy to allow the individual of their choice to be their representative for financial and health care decision making under the appropriate circumstances. Contrary to popular belief, without these documents, spouses or family members do not automatically have authority to make decisions for each other.
Elderlaw attorneys can provide advice regarding the purchase of long term care insurance. As the so-called “baby boomers” are aging, they are expected to place enormous demands on the health care system as they require rehabilitative and custodial care. There are already proposals in Albany to decrease Medicaid benefits, and therefore individuals will have to pay for their care “out of pocket” unless they are insured for long term care. Health insurance does not cover such services and Medicare will only cover them for a short period of time.
Elderlaw attorneys are familiar with the Medicaid rules as well as other benefits available not only to seniors, but to disabled individuals under age 65 as well. The elder law attorney can establish and implement plans for asset protection in the event application for Medicaid is required in the future. In an emergency situation when no advance planning has been done, the eldlerlaw attorney can advise and implement a plan to save the most assets possible under the Medicaid rules.
At this time of the year, most individuals are reviewing their financial information in preparation for income tax season. This is a great time to review legal documents as well. If documents have been executed, review them to make sure they are still valid and current; if none have been executed don’t put off having them prepared and executed.
Thanks to the generosity of “The Wave”, the Law Firm of Brady & Marshak, LLP, will be writing a monthly column about issues that face many families every day. We are a law practice that focuses on elder law, although our clients are not only senior citizens. Our practice is unique in many ways, for example, we visit our clients in their homes, and if necessary in the hospital or nursing home. Our clients have ongoing contact with either Nancy Brady or Linda Marshak directly. We pride ourselves on the quality of our services, and the close attention we pay to each and every client. We are committed to meeting the legal needs of the Rockaway and Breezy Point communities by educating, advising and counseling the residents of these areas. We look forward to meeting many of you, and to assisting you with your legal needs. We will be presenting seminars on a regular basis in this community. The above topics and many others will be addressed in future columns as well. Nancy Brady can be reached at (718) 945-1515; Linda Marshak can be reached at (516) 829-8265.