Why is it important for Black families to write a will?

Why is it important for Black families to write a will?

Writing a will is not just an administrative task—it is a critical step that ensures your loved ones are provided for even after you are gone. Surprisingly, many individuals, including celebrities, neglect this essential aspect of estate planning. A-listers such as Chadwick Boseman, John Singleton, and PnB Rock tragically passed away without a will in place, leaving their hard-earned legacies to be tangled in lengthy and costly probate battles. However, it is Singleton and PnB Rock’s estate that draws our attention, serving as recent and instructive case studies from which we can learn valuable lessons.

Why is it important for Black families to write a will?

Estate Planning Within the Black Community

Startling statistics from a recent 2021 survey on wills and estate planning reveal a stark reality: while 33% of Americans have taken the crucial step of creating a will, only 27.5% of Black Americans have done the same. It is estimated that over the next 25 years, $68 trillion will be transferred from American households to inheritors and charity. However, due to the underrepresentation in estate planning, the Black community stands at risk of missing out on a substantial portion of this transformative wealth transfer.

The confusing reality of wealthy individuals, including Black celebrities, who fail to establish a will after their passing raises a fundamental question: How could individuals with significant wealth find themselves in such a vulnerable position? The answer lies in a larger issue: the lack of emphasis or education surrounding the importance of wills and estate planning, not only for these individuals but also within the broader Black community.

This can be attributed to various complex reasons such as redlining, a discriminatory practice that emerged in the 1930s and refused financial services to individuals on the basis of race and ethnicity. Through this practice, segregation was reinforced as limited housing opportunities forced Black individuals into concentrated pockets for poverty thus limiting the ability to move into more prosperous neighborhoods. Concentrated pockets of poverty translates to restricted access to quality education, healthcare, and job opportunities. All of these factors have an impact on knowledge of wealth building opportunities such as estate planning to this day.

The Case of John Singleton

 John Singleton is a Black film director, screenwriter, and producer who passed away in April 2019. He’s best known for his film debut “Boyz n the Hood”, and most recently his work as co-writer for the Hulu Original “Snowfall”. At the time of his death, his estate was valued at $6.8 million. The contents of his estate include a Los Angeles home, a 1999 Lexus, a 2003 Mercedes Benz, a 2012 sailboat, ownership of 70% interest in Crunk Pictures, LLC, and was the owner of the New Deal Productions that was valued at $3.2 million.

However, at the time of his death, Singleton had no trust and an outdated will that was created in 1993. He was a father to several children, but only his eldest daughter was included in the outdated will. As one can imagine, when it came time to settle the distribution of his estate, his children were in a battle to acquire their portion of the foregone estate. This battle began after the Singleton’s passing in 2019 and recently ended in February 2023. This is a testament to the extensive process of probating. Aside from the tragic passing of Singleton, another tragedy is the effect probating has had on his family. For the past 4 years, the Singleton family have slandered each other on social media amid discourse about various subjects, but specifically about the distribution of the estate. This not only tarnishes the household name, but also the grieving process. This could have been avoided had the will been updated.

PnB Rock and the Importance of a Will When You’re Young

The rapper and singer PnB Rock is another example of a celebrity who made the mistake of not writing a will. PnB Rock passed away in September of 2022, and left behind Stephanie Sibounheuang, his girlfriend and the mother of his daughter. On Instagram LIVE, she shared that her boyfriend had no life insurance or a will. “We didn’t have nothing set up. We’re so young, we didn’t plan on death. I don’t get no death benefits. I don’t get nothing.” Furthermore, the mother of his child, due to the absence of a will, has been faced with the task of providing for herself as well as her child on her own. 

Writing a will is essential to making sure your loved ones are taken care of. No matter how young or old you are, having a will should be a priority. Life is unexpected and as Sibounheuang stated, they were so young that they didn’t plan on death. Death is not something that can be planned but an estate is. Writing a will seems intimidating to many, but with help from a credible attorney, the process will be made simpler.

The trust and estate planning office specializes in wills and trusts while also understanding the unique challenges faced by Black Americans when it comes to estate planning. In addition to Inna's impressive credentials, our clients have consistently praised her compassionate approach to addressing their concerns during what can be a stressful process. One client expressed, “First she made you feel at ease with [the] entire process and spoke to my family very frankly and openly giving them episodes from her experience [of] how something could go wrong so they had a good idea of what type of trust they need to set up.” When seeking will and trust services, Inna Fershteyn is the professional to trust. To begin drafting your will today, please contact our dedicated Trust and Estate Planning Office at 718-333-2395.

The Importance of an Elder Law Attorney

The Importance of an Elder Law Attorney

As we get older, we come to see some obstacles that our aging family members face. Oftentimes, no one prepares you for what to do when you reach your late stages of life. Healthcare, financial well-being, and long term care are commonly thought of when considering the next steps for your aging loved ones. However, it may be overwhelming to figure out all this on your own. At times like this, it is extremely helpful to visit an elder law attorney. But what exactly is an elder law attorney? 

 Importance of an Elder Law Attorney

An elder law attorney focuses on assisting the older population and their loved ones. They focus on covering a wide variety of issues that the aging population face or will face. Going to an elder law attorney for a consultation to discuss future needs and what seems to be the best for you or your family may help you gain further insight on what may be needed to better your lives. They can help evaluate your current situation as well as exploring options for the future. Some common work elder law attorneys do is:

  • Trusts and wills
  • Estate planning and probate*
  • Nursing home planning and long term care 
  • Medicaid and Social Security assistance
  • Elder abuse 

* Most elder law attorneys are also esteemed at estate planning but not all estate planning lawyers are accomplished elder law attorneys so make sure to check out client reviews

By having an elder law attorney by your side, you can save time, money and avoid getting into future legal trouble. Since the laws surrounding the elderly are different in each state, it is pivotal to find an elder attorney that is knowledgeable and well-versed in their field. A skillful elder law attorney should be able to alleviate your worries about your future and you should feel as if you are in good hands. Follow this link to see some actual cases that have been alleviated by elder law attorney, Inna Fershteyn.

In addition, it is also important to know that there is no right or wrong age to meet with an elder law attorney. It is a common assumption that people have when thinking about elder law attorneys. For those in their thirties to fifties, visiting an elder lawyer may help with protecting your wealth and assets for the future. They can also have more options for you since you have the benefit of a head start. You do not necessarily have to be “old enough” or a senior to seek an elder law attorney.

If you or a loved one is looking for guidance to put your mind at ease for the future, a consultation from an adept elder law attorney should help. Please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333-2395 to secure your road for the future today.

Here are The Top 5 Things to Look For

Here are The Top 5 Things to Look For

Planning your estate is an easy means to alleviate the burden on your loved ones following your death. It is important to make sure your wishes are carried out, but as with everything, pre-paid funeral plans have risks attached. When looking for a pre-paid funeral plan, you must exercise the utmost care.

To be considerate of your family, you should not place the entire financial burden of planning your funeral on them. In an effort to relieve your family of this expense, you have the option to pay for your funeral in advance with a pre-paid funeral plan purchased through a funeral home. To make things easier for your family during an already difficult time, pre-paid funeral plans have the potential to act as a good way to spend money to reach the Medicaid qualification threshold.

Here are The Top 5 Things to Look For

Nevertheless, every year when funeral homes go out of business before the need for a funeral arises, consumers lose money. There may be no way to recover your funds if the funeral home mismanages them. Customers are not necessarily entitled to refunds if they change their minds, and some funeral homes sell policies requiring additional payments.

There are five important things for you to consider if you decide to go ahead with a pre-paid funeral plan. 

1. Shop Around

Prices among funeral homes can vastly range, so checking a few different ones before deciding the one you want is a good idea. To promote transparency, the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires all funeral homes to supply customers with a general price list that details prices for all possible goods or services. This clause also stipulates the items consumers cannot be required to purchase and the types of misrepresentations that are prohibited.

2. Make Sure You Have a Reputable Funeral Home

Unfortunately, there have been cases of funeral providers taking advantage of customers. Be sure to select a funeral home with an established positive reputation.

3. Carefully Read the Contract

Before signing you must understand what exactly it is that you are agreeing to. For example, if you move, is this plan transferable? Does it cover funeral services? Will your estate be responsible for covering additional costs if prices rise? Is the plan cancellable and refundable?

4. Find Out Where the Money Goes

The plan should provide information on what the funeral home will do with your money. While some states have protections in place to make sure the money is safeguarded, others do not. 

5. Ensure the Plan Won’t Affect Medicaid Benefits

If you are buying the policy as part of Medicaid Planning, you have to purchase an irrevocable plan. This commitment indicates that you cannot cancel it once it is bought. 

Once you have purchased a plan, inform your family about your decision and where the documents are filled. If your family is not updated that you have selected a plan, the plan is useless.

If you want to look for the pre-paid funeral plan that works best for you, contact the Trust and Estate Law Office at (718) 333-2395

How Will a Personal Injury Settlement Impact My Social Security and Medicaid Benefits?

Dealing with an injury that hinders your ability to work is hard enough. Many seek Social Security benefits to help ease the difficulty in times where they are injured but the process is intricate and can come with many hardships in order to receive these benefits. If you were injured in an accident, you are now also able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for the accident. This can hinder your benefits that were already difficult to receive and though a settlement may seem nice in a situation like this, you depend on your social security benefits more. Situations like these may seem troublesome but you can seek out the help of a personal injury attorney as well as an elder law attorney as this overlap of your benefits and injury can be complicated. The personal injury attorney can help with a lawsuit for the accident but an elder law attorney has in-depth knowledge of the Social Security benefits and what will affect these benefits so you are not put at risk of losing them.

How Will a Personal Injury Settlement Impact My Social Security and Medicaid Benefits?

How much liquid assets can you have for Medicaid and for SSI?

You may be worried about how much liquid assets you can have to be eligible for Medicaid and SSI which include cash, stocks, bonds, and CDs. In New York, In order to be eligible for Medicaid and SSI benefits, you can have up to $2,000 in liquid assets. If you have more, you won’t meet the requirements to receive these benefits, and if you are already receiving benefits, they may be compromised.This is something to keep in mind if you have Medicaid or SSI benefits and want to file for a personal injury lawsuit. Social Security doesn’t depend on work credits and is need-based so it depends on assets. If you receive a settlement for an accident, it can potentially put you over the asset threshold hindering your eligibility for your SSI benefits. It may seem unfair that your benefits may be suspended for receiving a no-fault settlement for your injury, but this is how the system works. These are a few things you should be aware of when deciding between a personal injury settlement or the benefits you need to meet ends meet.

2 Ways To Protect Your Settlement:

  1. A “spend down”: This option is when you spend a good amount of the settlement on resources that are exempt and needed for the benefit of the disabled recipient to ensure you are not over that asset threshold. This is a good option for those who want a simple way of using the settlement money but also helps them while ensuring they are still eligible for the benefits. Some exempt resources include household goods, personal effects, paying off your home mortgage, and paying off any existing debts. These are just a few items that are exempt from being counted as assets and your settlement fund can be used towards them to keep you under the asset threshold. 
  2. Set up a Special Needs Trust (SNT): This option is for those who don’t want to go through the trouble of spending the settlement fund but rather just set up a special needs trust. A special needs trust is a trust that is created for you to put your settlement money in and can be used for transportation, certain therapies, and nursing care without hindering your SSI or Medicaid benefits. This is good for those who want to use the funds to help recover from the accident without having to worry about their SSI benefits and Medicaid benefits being suspended, compromised or revoked. This trust can be set up with the help of an Elder Care attorney and will help make the process of protecting your settlement trouble-free. 

Both these options are great for those who are considering filing for a personal injury lawsuit, but do not want to risk losing their SSI and Medicaid benefits. You should make sure you proceed with either option that best fits your situation after obtaining a settlement for an accident when you are receiving these benefits. This will help reduce the risk of your benefits being suspended and protect your settlement. 

Speak with an Elder Law Attorney

An Elder Law attorney is informed of all current updates to the laws on Medicaid eligibility and SSI benefits eligibility. Unfortunately, Medicaid and SSI requirements can differ from state to state so it makes the process of applying and keeping your benefits even harder. An Elder Law attorney in your area will help simplify this process for you and advise you of all updates to the law and eligibility requirements creating fewer problems on this journey of Medicaid planning and other aspects surrounding Elder Law. Hiring an Elder Law attorney will also ensure that you're still eligible for your SSI and Medicaid benefits even if you plan on filing a personal injury lawsuit. Protecting your settlement will be a priority and an attorney will help you choose the right option to ensure you can still receive your settlement fund without hindering your benefit eligibility.

For further information on how a personal injury settlement may affect your Medicaid and SSI benefits please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2395 to obtain aid in options to protect your settlement fund and help with any of your Elder law needs.

3 Important Elder Law Updates in 2021

When it comes to certain aspects of Elder Law, such as Medicaid or Long Term Care Planning and Asset Protection, laws are constantly changing. For that reason, it’s important to stay updated on any recent elder laws, as they may impact you. Read about 3 important elder law updates in 2021 that could impact you.

3 Important Elder Law Updates in 2021

3 Important Elder Law Updates in 2021: 

  1. Medicaid Lookback Period: Lookback periods vary from state to state. In New York, the law requires a 5 year lookback period on Medicaid Nursing Home Benefits. This means that transfers that were done during this period are reviewed by Medicaid and a penalty is measured if the asset transfer (or “gifts”) in that period was for less than the full consideration. The transfer rate in New York is $13,037, so you should consider this if you are planning on applying for Medicaid or if you already have Medicaid and are making asset transfers. The Governor has also redesigned the program to implement a 30-month look-back period on any uncompensated transfers for home care or community Medicaid that was supposed to go into effect on April 1, 2021, but has been pushed back to July 1, 2021. Once in effect, those who plan to apply for Medicaid and who already have Medicaid after July 1, 2021, must disclose all transfers going back to October 1, 2020. There are exemptions to this update though. If the transfer is or was made to a spouse or a disabled or blind child, Medicaid does not impose a penalty. Additionally, real estate transfers to a spouse, disabled or blind child, a family caretaker that resides in the home and cares for the loved one for at least 2 years, and a sibling with an equity interest in the estate that resides at the elderly’s home for at least 1 year have been expanded to be exempt from receiving a penalty under the new Elder Laws in New York. When considering applying for Medicaid Nursing Home benefits you should take into account that your transfers prior to and after you apply for coverage matter in regards to your eligibility. 
  2. Stimulus Check doesn’t impact Medicaid Eligibility: When assessing your eligibility for Medicaid, the COVID-19 pandemic may cross your mind and specifically the stimulus checks that were given out by the federal government. The three rounds of stimulus payments that were issued from March 2020-April 2021 have been considered to be exempt from Medicaid, SSI, and other need-based benefits. This means that the payments received from the stimulus checks do not count as countable income, and will not compromise your eligibility for any of the benefits named above. This new update gives those who plan to apply for Medicaid or who have Medicaid peace of mind that these payments will not affect their eligibility for their healthcare plan and their loved ones will continue to receive benefits without any issues. 
  3. The New Power of Attorney Form: A Power of Attorney (POA) is an important document you should have especially if you are a senior. This document allows you to appoint an individual to make decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. The Healthcare Power of Attorney deals with any and all medical decisions that will be made on your behalf by a representative of your choosing in the case that you become incapacitated. This form that was put into effect in 2010 in New York, was known to be complicated and long. Governor Cuomo has recently issued a new form of this Power of Attorney that is simpler and shorter. This new form will go into effect in June 2021 and will not impact those who already signed a power of attorney. This new POA document is different from the one currently in effect. The difference in the new Power of Attorney form is that it’s shorter in length and is simpler in the language that it uses, making it easier for people to understand. An individual who is physically incapable of signing, but is mentally in the right state of mind can appoint a trusted individual to sign the Power of Attorney on their behalf. Banks and Financial institutions that refuse to accept this new version of the Power of Attorney can face penalties and could be subject to legal fees. This new law is great for those who are looking to make decisions on behalf of their loved ones and provide them with the best care possible. If your concerned that your Healthcare Power of Attorney is not up to date, speak with an Elder Law Attorney.

What is Elder Law?

Elder Law is an area of law that relates to issues relevant to older people and their family members and loved ones. Elder law attorneys act as advocates for their elderly clients and can handle a variety of legal matters that affect elderly or disabled people. Some of these issues are related to long-term care planning, guardianship, retirement, estate planning, and Medicaid Planning, along with other important matters. Additionally, an experienced New York City Elder Care Attorney will be able to handle the sensitive and emotional needs of an elderly person, and therefore address complicated situations that concern their clients.

How Can an Elder Law Attorney Help? 

An Elder Law attorney is informed of all current updates to the laws on Medicaid eligibility and other aspects of Elder Law. Unfortunately, Medicaid laws constantly change as well as the requirements of your state so it makes the process of finding the best plan for your loved one even harder. An Elder Law attorney will help simplify this process for you and advise you of all updates to the law creating less problems on this journey of Medicaid planning. Hiring an Elder Law attorney will ensure that you're planning for your loved one’s care in a way that corresponds with the laws imposed by the state in which you reside, while also satisfying their wishes.

For further important updates on the Elder Laws in 2021 please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2395 to obtain aid in receiving medical coverage to cover the cost of nursing home care and help with any of your Elder law needs.

How Can An Elder Law Attorney Help Me Get Approved for Medicaid?

There are many ways an elder care attorney can help you get approved for Medicaid. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that covers medical payments, such as hospital care, physician services, and long-term care in nursing homes for individuals with financial need. Individuals of low socio-economic class are unable to cover the costs of medical care out of pocket and therefore rely on Medicaid for aid. Applying for Medicaid is a very difficult and lengthy process, as the questions being asked within the application have great depth and implications for your future. The foundation system responsible for asking the questions that define your eligibility for Medicaid purposely selects specific diction and word choice which may make it challenging for elderly individuals to effectively answer the questions. Answering these questions incorrectly or inaccurately could place your potential coverage in jeopardy, meaning you may not qualify for the aid you need to cover your medical costs. Considering that these questions are the main defining factor when it comes to obtaining Medicaid coverage, family members should seek guidance from an experienced Elder Law Attorney to guide them through this imperative process. The attorney is highly experienced and familiar with New York state’s rules when it comes to long-term care planning and receiving government benefits.The Elder Care Attorney will use her experience in the field to devise the most effective plan in assisting the family by selecting strategies that align with the family’s personal and financial circumstances.

An Elder Law Attorney Could Help you get Approved for Medicaid

Differences Between Medicaid and Medicare:

Medicaid and Medicare are often confused, as both provide medical coverage to individual applicants. However, there is a grand difference between both programs based on the qualifications and the services provided. Medicaid is directly managed by the state and federal government, which correlates with an individual's income to calculate their estimated extent of need. Medicaid covers low-income individual’s medical care regardless of their age. Medicare, on the contrary, typically applies to individuals over the age of 65, and in some cases covers the costs of medical bills for individuals with disabilities at any age. Medicare patients pay part of the costs through deductibles for hospital coverage and small monthly premiums for non-hospital coverage. Expenses that are not covered by Medicare will have to be paid out of pocket or with the help of a private long-term care insurance policy. 

Benefits of Medicaid Coverage:

New York Medicaid benefits pertain to regular examinations, immunizations, and doctor visits. Coverage also extends to medical supplies and equipment, lab exams, X-rays, dental, and vision. Medicaid is beneficial in regards to covering nursing home service payments, hospital stays, emergencies, and prescriptions. Medicaid coverage is extremely helpful for individuals who cannot afford to pay the costs of their medical healthcare independently. This is a great stress reliever and minimizes the pressure on loved ones who worry about paying for their own care or their family members’ care. New York state Medicaid covers essential dental services that are medically necessary, such as extractions to prevent disease. Medicaid will provide a reimbursement for eye examinations every two years and glasses when medically necessary. Medicaid may also cover the cost of contact lenses with prior authorization. Medicaid guarantees that medical professionals will select the most cost effective options when prescribing a patient’s medication, which in most cases is simply the generic brand. Medicaid may also provide reimbursements for over the counter products. New York Medicaid also provides emergency and non-emergency transportation services to beneficiaries. 

Medicaid Eligibility Requirements:

Medicaid eligibility depends on your household size and your earned income. An individual with assets and income that exceed the designated Medicaid requirements will not be eligible for coverage. This means that individuals entering nursing homes will be considered private pay residents and must continue to spend down until they become eligible for Medicaid coverage. There is a five year lookback period involved regarding any gift given to heirs,which may result in a Medicaid penalty or completely prevent you from meeting the qualifications of Medicaid coverage. This is established to prevent Medicaid applicants from transferring their large assets to their children and then claiming they have a financial need for coverage. The lookback period is exactly 60 months, which is five years from your application date. The applicant’s home is not considered as assets, but the estate pay be billed for services provided after the individual passes away. Vehicles, household contents, prepaid burial funds, and an IRA or 401(k) plan are all excluded from the asset calculation process that determines if you are eligible for Medicaid coverage. If the applicant is married, then both spouses’ income will be considered in the effort to grant coverage, even if only one spouse is in need of Medicaid. A spouse that will continue to reside in the home when the other spouse enters nursing home care will be able to keep half of the assets with some additional income for support services, as long as this amount meets the maximum quota.

Elder Law Attorney Assistance in Applying for Medicaid:

An experienced and esteemed Elder Law Attorney can assist you in the process of applying for Medicaid coverage in a variety of methods. One such method is guaranteed avoidance of potential penalties that you may have been unaware of had you decided to file for Medicaid without the help of a lawyer. There are numerous questions that seek to identify if the applicant has made any disqualifying transfers that would result in a penalty. The most common question that correlates to the Medicaid penalty prospect is the prompt asking if the applicant has made any gifts or transfers for less than fair market value within the last 5 years. If you hire an Elder Care Attorney, the lawyer will ensure that you do not have any penalties that would prevent you from obtaining the Medicaid benefits you deserve. The attorney will be well aware of any of the exceptions that will prevent you from earning a penalty and will therefore assist you in the process of qualifying for Medicaid. Hiring an Elder Care Attorney enhances the probability that your application is approved, therefore increasing your chances of obtaining Medicaid coverage. Additionally, another benefit to hiring an Elder Care Attorney to assist in filing for Medicaid coverage is the establishment of effective spend down plans. In order to qualify for Medicaid many married couples must participate in the Spend-Down process, which pertains to the prospects of saving assets when only one spouse needs Medicaid. The purpose of this process is to ensure that the individual in need of long-term care receives the aid they need, while also guaranteeing that their spouse has the financial means of remaining in their home and covering the cost of all their living expenses. An Elder Care Attorney may assist in creating a personal care agreement that enables the senior to provide monetary compensation towards their family caregiver, while also participating in the Spend-Down process. Additionally, the attorney can aid in renaming bank accounts and real estate titles in the effort to enhance the applicant’s eligibility for Medicaid. The attorney will use her experience in the field to answer any inquiries you may have regarding the application process and determining whether you and your loved ones qualify for coverage. 

For further Medicaid eligibility information please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2395 to effectively complete the Medicaid Application.

Top 5 Strategies for Protecting Your Assets From Medicaid

Medicaid is a means-tested program that conditionally accepts applicants based on their income and current assets. According to Medicaid regulations, individuals must have less than $2,000 to qualify for coverage. Applying for Medicaid is quite a complex process, as the questions being asked within the application have great depth and implications for your future. The foundational system responsible for asking the questions that define your eligibility for Medicaid purposely selects specific diction and word choice which may make it challenging for elderly individuals to effectively answer the questions. Considering that these questions are the main defining factor when it comes to obtaining Medicaid coverage, family members should seek guidance from an experienced Elder Law Attorney to guide them through this imperative process. The attorney is quite familiar with your state’s rules when it comes to long-term care planning and receiving government benefits. An Elder Care Attorney will use her experience in the field to devise the most effective plan in assisting the family by selecting strategies that align with the family’s personal and financial circumstances. Below are the top 5 strategies suggested by an Elder Law Attorney regarding ways of protecting your assets from Medicaid.

Best Strategies for Protecting your Assets from Medicaid

1. Income Trusts

Income Trusts serve the purpose of protecting your assets and keeping your monetary income safe. This trust aids in maintaining the income limit set for all Medicaid applicants. Income Trusts are beneficial towards those applicants that exceed the qualifying amount. These trusts give the applicant an opportunity to designate a sub quantity of their income to a specific trust in order to refrain from exceeding the standard acceptable quantity. The Qualified Income Trusts are irrevocable meaning they cannot be changed or revoked. They serve as holding areas for the applicant’s excess income and protect this income from being taken by Medicaid. In states that allow applicants to spend down their excess income, these trusts are less effective, yet can still be utilized based on the applicant’s preference. In order to qualify for Medicaid many married couples must participate in the Spend-Down process, which pertains to the prospects of saving assets when only one spouse needs Medicaid. The purpose of this process is to ensure that the individual in need of long-term care receives the aid they need, while also guaranteeing that their spouse has the financial means of remaining in their home and covering the cost of all their living expenses. An Elder Care Attorney can assist you in establishing an Income Trust and answering any of your questions regarding the trust. 

2. Asset Protection Trust 

An Asset Protection Trust is a great way to preserve your assets when applying for Medicaid, as it allows you to maintain your wealth while still receiving coverage. This is helpful because a Medicaid applicant is only eligible for convergence if they meet the specified quantity of assets held within their account. Many individuals fall into the assumption that the best way to remove the additional assets that prevent them from getting Medicaid coverage is to transfer the assets to family members. This approach, however, is extremely flawed and risky because it often results in a Medicaid penalty. Incurring a penalty prevents you from receiving coverage for a specified period of time. A trust allows you to disperse these assets to the family members you had in mind at the time of creating a trust. The beneficiaries will not be subject to the payment of capital gains tax based on the increase in quantitative value your assets have accrued over time. It is important to note that transfers to a trust are still subject to the Medicaid Lookback period,which tends to include the last five years of your assets. This strategy is extremely effective when it comes to protecting your assets fromMedicaid, while still receiving the coverage you are in need of. An Elder Care Attorney can guide you through the process of creating an Asset Protection Trust based on your personalized extent of assets. 

3. Caregiver Agreement

A caregiver agreement is beneficial to individuals who require additional services that will not be included within the typical Medicaid coverage. This option is great for individuals who would prefer to be cared for by a family member or a trusted close friend. You would not only be cared for by an individual you already know and have a close relationship with, but you would also be benefitting the caregiver for their service. The caregiver will be paid for their duty in caring for you and you will receive the best care possible. In most cases the caregiver would be paid for their services in advance under a contract that defines the services provided and the hours being worked. In the case that the patient passes away all of the unearned funds must be paid to Medicaid in correlation to the amount that Medicaid paid for the patient’s care. A Caregiver Agreement can be the best option for numerous individuals who do not wish to leave home and go into the care of a nursing home, as they would still be able to maintain their full Medicaid coverage. An Elder Care Attorney can help you make the decision in selecting a caregiver you trust to take care of you. 

4. Medicaid Compliant Annuities and Promissory Notes

In many cases, individuals require urgent long-term care services, however they have recently conducted a transfer of assets or are still in possession of the assets that limit the income cap they require to qualify for Medicaid coverage. As of now, there is no possible method of removing these assets in time to qualify for coverage because any movement of the assets will result in a Medicaid penalty. The only options left to qualify for coverage under such short notice and with exceeding assets present would be to write an annuity or promissory note. This would serve as an insurance product that would payout the income. First, you would make an investment into the annuity. Then, the insurance provider would return your income by using a constant stream of income approach. The annuity has specific qualifications to ensure that Medicaid will approve of the strategy. The annuity must be fixed with all monthly payments being the same, while also being irrevocable. The annuity is unassignable meaning it cannot be transferred or sold to another individual. The payments on the annuity must be immediate in order to qualify for coverage. An Elder Care Attorney can further explain this strategy in describing the best course of action in selecting an annuity with qualifications that would make it possible for you to still qualify for Medicaid. 

5. Spousal Transfers and Spousal Refusal

According to current Medicaid laws, transfers may occur between spouses without being subject to the five year look-back period. The assets who are under the name of the spouse in need of care should be transferred to the name of the spouse who doesn't require care. The spouse who is not in need of care is typically referred to as the community spouse. With the presence of spousal refusal, the community spouse may refuse to provide necessary support to the spouse in need of care. If this is the case, then the spouse who is in need of care will immediately be provided Medicaid services to ensure that they are provided with all the care necessary. Medicaid may then require the community spouse to make contributions even though that spouse initially refused to provide the necessary support. The community spouse will still receive a benefit because the reimbursements to Medicaid will be at specified discounted rates. Spousal refusal is present in New York, however it may not be present in other states. Seeking legal advice from an Elder Care Attorney puts you and your loved ones in a good position to protect your assets from Medicaid. 

Reasoning Behind Asset Protection:

Asset protection from Medicaid is extremely important in the long run in regards to receiving long term coverage. Without taking the proper steps now to protect your assets, you may be unable to receive long term coverage, such as nursing home care. Long term care insurance provides coverage for nursing home care and at home coverage for individuals ages 65 and older with chronic conditions. There is nothing worse than running out of money when you need it most, so by taking the necessary steps to protect your assets today, you will avoid this problem when it becomes time to consider long term care. An Elder Care Attorney will guide you through the process of following all of the strategies above to save and protect your assets from Medicaid.

For further Medicaid eligibility information please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2395 to effectively protect your assets from Medicaid.

What you need to know about the stimulus relief bill

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a very stressful time for all Americans. Many individuals have been forced to file unemployment because they have been unable to work and high risk residents have faced challenges in obtaining a stable income during these unstable times. Much of the population has struggled financially on top of the emotional and physical strain the pandemic has caused. With such a discrepancy from normalcy, the people of this nation are reaching out for a helping hand and a sense of comfort during these challenging times. With Joe Biden as our new President, he has made some changes towards the Covid-19 relief stimulus checks in the effort to alleviate some of the financial hardships Americans are facing during these times.These changes greatly vary from the previous two stimulus checks you have received under President Trump based on the new qualifications and groups of individuals eligible to receive aid money. President Biden’s new $1.9 trillion bill allocates a greater magnitude of money towards relief for utility, rental, and mortgage costs, as well as more funding for schools and insurance premiums. 

All you need to know about the third stimulus relief check

Who will receive the third stimulus check?

Unlike the maximum limit of $100,000 in annual income needed to qualify for President Trump’s stimulus checks, the stimulus checks will only apply to individuals making less than $80,000 annually. However, those who do qualify will be receiving $1,400 direct payments into their bank accounts as soon as this weekend. Couples who file taxes jointly have a new income cap of $150,000 of conjoined income to receive the stimulus check. On the contrary, couples who have made a joint annual income of $160,000 or more will not be receiving a third stimulus check. The income cap for couples during the first two stimulus checks was $200,000 so be sure to note the massive change in income limit for couples when inquiring if you are qualified to receive the third stimulus check. Head of household filers, such as single parents have an income cap of $150,000. A married couple with two children is subject to receive up to $5,600 in aid. On the contrary, a single parent with two kids would receive up to $4,200 in aid. Additionally, you will receive $1,400 for each of your young dependents.The federal government will utilize your 2020 adjusted gross income based on your tax returns when determining how much aid money you are subject to in relation to your income.

Will adult dependents receive this stimulus check?

It has been decided that adult dependents will in actuality receive this stimulus check to help them cover expenses brought forth by the Covid-19 pandemic. These adult dependents potentially include college students who will be receiving $1,400. This is also a great sign in regards to including adult dependents with disabilities by granting them a stimulus check to help fund the costs they may not be able to afford because of the financial strain brought upon the population by the pandemic and its consequences on the economic state of this nation. This stimulus check will apply to four different populations that the previous two checks did not include under President Trump. President Biden’s new stimulus package will include High school students 17 or older claimed by someone else, college students claimed by someone else, elderly adults claimed by someone else, and disabled adults claimed by someone else.

How will President Biden’s new stimulus package impact the child tax credit?

The child tax credit was initially created 24 years ago with the purpose of aiding parents in helping to pay for their children due to financial difficulties. However, with the Covid-19 pandemic, these financial circumstances have only increased in severity, therefore creating a directly correlated response in regards to the child tax credit. The child tax credit will be expanded to $3,600 per child under the age of 6 and $3,000 for each child under the age of 17. Based on current changes, the government will now be conducting monthly payouts instead of you having to claim the credit when you file your tax returns. Providing these monthly payments would provide regular income, rather than a large sum of money granted upon the completion of taxes. This tax credit will be a lifesaver and massive reliever for parents who have lost their jobs in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and are struggling to provide their children with everything they need to thrive. 

What impact does President Biden’s new stimulus plan have on unemployment payments?

President Biden’s new stimulus package provides a bonus of $300 per week in regards to unemployment funding. This pandemic aid will be extended until September 6 in order to help people get back on their feet after suffering job loss during these challenging times. Additionally, a new tax waiver on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits will become available. This will extend the CARES Act Programs until early September. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits will increase to a minimum of 79 weeks, or 86 weeks in high-unemployment states. This will expand Public Emergency Employment Compensation up to a maximum of 53 weeks. The unemployment payments aim to reduce the massive poverty population within the nation and reduce the financial burden the pandemic has brought forth upon the American people. 

Does President Biden’s new stimulus package include information on food assistance programs?

Yes, President Biden will extend the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) program benefits till September to provide the populations in need of food assistance. The program, however, will not extend the Pandemic-EBT program which would have been beneficial in the face of future emergencies and crises. By providing specific grocery benefits for the meals that children miss at school due to the in-person school shutdowns, parents were able to feed their children despite the financial hardship they were facing from potentially losing their jobs during the pandemic. During the mid-January census, 24 million parents in the U.S. stated that they did not have enough food to feed their families, while prior to the pandemic only 8.5 million adults stated that they did not have enough food. Thus, President Biden’s new proposal would extend 15% maximum SNAP Benefit increase so that all the parents in need could feed their children.This would include approximately $27 more per person per month in SNAP Benefits. This would total approximately an additional $100 per month for a family of four. 

How will President Biden’s third stimulus check eligibility rules affect older adults?

If you have a pension or investments that are taxable, that would have an impact on your adjusted gross income, which would influence your eligibility for receiving the third stimulus check. If you're over age 65 and a recipient of Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance, you were eligible for the  first and second stimulus check under President Trump, and will be eligible for a third under President Biden.  Your gross income does not include any Social Security Benefits unless half your Social Security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000 filing single or $32,000 if married, filing jointly. Qualifying relatives may be considered adult dependents and filed as such on tax paperwork. An adult who has a gross income of less than $4,200 annually and lives with the family all year can be declared an adult dependent on the tax paperwork. If you're 65 years-old or older, you should file taxes only under the following circumstances: You are a single filer with at least $13,850 in gross income or you are a head of household with at least $20,000 in gross income. Other qualifications of filing taxes after 65 years old are if you are married filing jointly (if one spouse is 65 or older, $25,700 in gross income; if both spouses are 65 or older, $27,000 in gross income), if you are married filing separately, or if you are a qualifying widow(er) age 65 or older with at least $25,700 in gross income.

For further Elder Care information please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2395 to be informed of your stimulus check qualifications.

How to maintain Medicaid Eligibility when your spouse dies in NYC?

The process of aging is a difficult concept, especially for individuals who lack knowledge of their medical coverage system and management of their financial assets. Prior to reaching old age, individuals should consider applying for Medicaid and creating an Elder Care Plan. Applying for Medicaid is quite a complex process, as the questions being asked within the application have great depth and implications for your future. The foundation system responsible for asking the questions that define your eligibility for Medicaid purposely selects specific diction and word choice which may make it challenging for elderly individuals to effectively answer the questions. Considering that these questions are the main defining factor when it comes to obtaining Medicaid coverage, family members should seek guidance from an experienced Elder Law Attorney to guide them through this imperative process. The attorney is quite familiar with your state’s rules when it comes to long-term care planning and receiving government benefits.The Elder Care Attorney will use her experience in the field to devise the most effective plan in assisting the family by selecting strategies that align with the family’s personal and financial circumstances.Additionally, the esteemed attorney will ensure that you maintain your Medicaid Eligibility even when your spouse dies in NYC.

Maintaining Medicaid Eligibility when your spouse dies in NYC?

What if the nursing home spouse outlives the community spouse?

In the case that the spouse enrolled in nursing home care passes away prior to the community spouse, then the living spouse is subject to an exception of 50% of the total countable assets of both of the spouses.The total countable assets may only reach the value of $119,220 in order to remain qualified for Medicaid coverage. However, this exemption does not work if the roles are reversed. This means that if the community spouse passes away prior to the spouse in the nursing home, then the nursing home spouse may not use the 50% exemption.This is due to the fact that the individual inhabiting the nursing home will no longer receive Medicaid coverage and therefore will not obtain the care they require. The maximum quantity of assets an individual on Medicaid may hold is $2,000, thus any value above this would result in a Medicaid penalty. In most cases the surviving spouse will receive the remaining assets based upon the content of the will. To avoid dealing with this complex situation you should hire an Elder Care Attorney to begin Medicaid Planning for married couples.

Medicaid Planning for Married Couples

Upon receiving inheritance the surviving spouse should convert this money into a non-countable form. These forms may include Medicaid-qualified annuity, a new car, new household furniture, etc. An Elder Care Attorney will provide guidance on which non-countable form would be most effective for your specific family circumstances in order to avoid incurring a Medicaid penalty. This penalty will result in a disqualification period that may leave you without coverage, which is certainly not worth the risk. Prior to the death of the community spouse, the couple should change their accounts in order to prevent them from being in joint names. Without taking this step, there may be numerous financial consequences that will jeopardize your Medicaid coverage. In the case that the house or the home was under joint names and the community spouse passes away, then the spouse receiving nursing home care will exceed the $2,000 maximum assets allowed. Therefore, the house should be solely in the name of the community spouse instead of under joint names. 

The passing of a Medicaid recipient’s spouse could harm the current Medicaid recipient by making him ineligible for coverage. If the community spouse dies and leaves the estate to the nursing home Medicaid recipient, then the individual will have too many assets to qualify for coverage. Even in the case that the individual chooses not to claim his share of the estate, Medicaid will still assess the situation, which may result in a Medicaid penalty. In this case, a trust could be an effective option to protect the spouse’s medical coverage. The surviving spouse is typically titled to either half or a third of the assets titled under the name of the deceased spouse. The money must be removed and properly disposed of to ensure that the Medicaid recipient continues to be eligible for coverage. 

For further Medicaid eligibility information please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2395 to effectively maintain Medicaid Eligibility when your spouse passes away. 

Medicaid versus Medicare: Who covers nursing home costs?

There comes a point in time when you may begin to consider placing your loved one into a nursing home to ensure that they receive the best care possible. When making such a decision it is important to be well informed and aware of all of the aspects that attribute towards nursing home care. One such attribute pertains to the cost of care and how it will be covered. Usually the cost will either be covered using Medicare or Medicaid. However, there are specific qualifications that outline which coverage plan may be utilized based on your personal situation. Additionally, it is important that you are able to differentiate between the types of care offered, such as skilled care and custodial care. In order to best be informed of all the details concerning enrolling your loved one in the care of a nursing home, you should contact an Elder Care Attorney to guide you in your decision making process. With proper counsel you will be sure to place your loved one in the hands of the best nursing home possible, while still being able to cover all of the costs such care will require.

Medicaid vs Medicare Nursing Home Coverage

Qualifications for Medicare Coverage of Nursing Homes

There are specific statements that discuss if an individual qualifies for Medicare coverage when it comes to nursing home care. The first statement pertains to the period of time the individual stayed at the hospital out of medical necessity. In order to qualify for Medicare coverage an individual must have spent at least three consecutive days in inpatient care for a medical necessity. After being discharged from the hospital the individual must then be admitted to a nursing home within the 30 day period that begins the moment the patient is discharged. The individual must be in need of skilled nursing or rehab care on a daily basis for the specific condition they endured while hospitalized in inpatient care. Lastly, in order to receive Medicare coverage for nursing home care, an individual must have a letter from a physician ordering and proving the necessity of this care. If the individual falls within the category that aligns with all of these statements, then they may be eligible for receiving Medicare coverage when it comes to nursing home care. 

Skilled Care vs Custodial Care

The greatest difference between skilled care and custodial care pertains to the manner in which the care is provided and who is responsible for providing such care. Skilled care refers to care that is specifically administered by a professional who is responsible for ensuring that the individual does not further deteriorate from the condition they are currently in. This care is administered when direct medical care becomes a necessity as a result of a short-term medical condition that they will recover from. On the contrary, custodial care can be performed within the home setting, meaning the one administering this care does not have to be a medical professional. This type of care provides aid for activities related to daily living. These activities usually pertain to eating, bathing, and similar skills. In most cases, patients that receive custodial care have a chronic condition, meaning they are not expected to improve in the manner that those who receive skilled care are. If custodial care is the only type of care necessary, then it is possible that Medicare will not cover the costs. However, Medicaid will cover the costs of custodial care, so you will be able to provide your loved ones with the care they require to continue thriving.

Medicaid Rules for Skilled Nursing Payments

Receiving Medicaid coverage can be quite complex, as there is a very specific list of qualifications necessary to obtain coverage. Medicaid is based on “needs only” policies, meaning there are strict regulations pertaining to the amounts of assets you are allowed to hold.  Medicaid is income based, while Medicare does not depend on your assets or income. An esteemed Elder Care attorney will assist you in qualifying for the type of coverage you need, as the attorney has much experience in the field and knows the specific rules of state pertaining to the amount of money an individual can have while still qualifying for Medicaid coverage. A Medicaid applicant over the age of 65 can possess up to $2,000 in NY in order to qualify for coverage. Asset limits for married couples vary in relation to whether both spouses require Medicaid coverage or only one spouse. One automobile regardless of the quantitative value is referred to as a “non-countable” asset as long as the car is used to transport the Medicaid applicant or other members of the family. The attorney will assist you in preparing for the five year Medicaid lookback period and will provide guidance on the Medicaid spend-down process. 

Is Dual-Eligibility a Possibility?

Dual-Eligibility refers to an individual who is qualified to receive both Medicaid and Medicare coverage. In this case, Medicaid will cover all of the costs that Medicare did not cover. Usually, individuals qualify for Medicare based on their age and qualify for Medicaid based on the income bracket they fall into. Additionally, Medicare beneficiaries below the age of 65 who live on Social Security Disability Insurance may be eligible to receive Medicaid benefits. The benefits of being dual-eligible is that you may receive greater medical coverage and lower out-of-pocket costs. For medical issues Medicare is the primary payer, Medicaid will serve as the secondary payer to cover any Medicaid costs leftover. Medicaid assists in covering the cost of the Medicare premiums, deductibles, and copays. An Elder Care Attorney can assist you in becoming dual-eligible and receiving the benefits that result from this eligibility. 

For further Medicaid eligibility information please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2395 to obtain aid in receiving medical coverage to cover the cost of nursing home care.