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Rochester Estate Planning Law Blog

Elder law and the selection and financing of a nursing home

Dealing with an aging loved one in New York is never easy. So many issues will come to the forefront when it comes to protecting loved ones who are senior citizens. Deciding on whether assisted living or a nursing home is the best possible living arrangement, assessing financial ramifications and if Medicare can cover the payments, and taking estate planning steps are all part of the process. People who are dealing with this situation and all its inherent issues should be aware of the need to have legal advice.

With health care, cost is an unavoidable matter that will immediately come to the forefront. Selecting a nursing home is an important decision. Many older people want to remain in their homes if they can. Perhaps this is possible with home health aides visiting to provide care and companionship. However, some people eventually need to round-the-clock supervision that comes with a nursing home. Families will have a great deal to consider when this is the case and legal help is necessary.

Estate planning and the value of a living trust

One of the most difficult issues that a person can face is linked with his or her mortality. Of course, it is an inevitable part of life, but that does not make it any easier. When drafting estate planning documents, New York families must be cognizant of certain aspects and strategies to avoid family disputes and other problems after death. Trusts are useful in many different circumstances and knowing whether a trust is right for an individual's situation is important.

One type of trust to consider is a living trust. The living trust will place the assets in a fund, and it can be allocated as needed. The person can use them while alive and then transfer them to beneficiaries upon death. These documents are generally revocable meaning they can be changed while the person is alive. It can be dissolved if that is the desire. When creating a living trust, it will be necessary to name a trustee. The person can name him or herself as the trustee and managed the assets according to their goals. A variety of assets can be placed in the living trust from stocks to property and more. The person has the power to oversee the trust until death. After death, it will go to the successor trustee. The successor trustee can also take charge if the person becomes incapacitated.

Important points about a health proxy

New Yorkers who are concerned about the possibility that they might become incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions will want to consider a healthy proxy. This document is part of a well-crafted estate plan and should not be ignored. It is not just for people who are older. People of any age can benefit from having a health proxy. When formulating strategies to prepare for potential eventualities and avoid family disputes, grasping certain points about a health proxy is essential.

When signing a health proxy, the person who is designated as the agent can make all the health care decisions. That includes denying certain treatments and services. The proxy is required to know about the person's wishes in terms of life support, so if this information is not known, then the decision cannot be made by the proxy. Once a medical professional determines that the person is no longer able to make health care decisions on his or her own, the health proxy will be authorized to do so.

Recognizing Fads In Estate Planning

There are basic elements to estate planning that are generally included in any comprehensive plan. But like any field, there are emerging trends, fads and misinformation that can alter a plan for better or worse. It is important to get reliable, cutting edge advice to avoid mistakes while still taking advantage of powerful new tools.

If you are considering establishing a plan for the future, or making changes to your existing plan, you need to be able to separate fact from fiction.

One simple step to protect your loved ones

When you buy an insurance policy, open a bank account or set up a retirement account, you are required to designate a beneficiary. In some cases, you may be asked to choose a secondary beneficiary, but that is often not mandatory. As your life changes, you preference regarding who benefits from these accounts may also change. If you have not taken a look at these account for some time, now is an excellent time to review them.

In the field of estate planning, it is common to hear about situations where a decedent's wishes are clearly violated because of an oversight. Many of these stories revolve around outdated beneficiary designations. Estranged former spouses, distant relatives and virtual strangers end up getting money that should have gone to loving family or friends. These stories are sad, and so easily avoided.

A trust can be litigated

Many Rochester, New York residents may have heard horror stories about families who go through long waits and a lot of hassle during the probate process and be told that they need a trust in order to "avoid probate."

While it is true that having a trust cuts out much of the routine probate process, like the process of admitting a valid will in to court, many probate horror stories actually stem from situations in which there is a will contest or other serious probate dispute between family members or between family and a third party, like the taxing authority.

Life and death planning

The point of estate planning is not to dwell on your own demise. Estate planning involves many items that serve to improve your life, now and into the future. Of course, there are elements of estate plans that only come to fruition when you die, but there are worse things than making sure that your final wishes are honored and your loved ones protected.

In short, estate planning is life and death planning in one. There are several things you should arrange in advance to protect your rights and your ability to choose.

How people finance a nursing home stay

Many residents of Rochester, New York, both those who are independently wealthy and those who have been working and saving all of their lives, will likely need to stay in a nursing home or other assisted living facility near the end of their lives. However, these facilities can be quite expensive, with total bills for an extended stay running easily in to six figures.

For those who are fortunate enough, usually paying for this bill through accumulated savings is the best option. This may require some careful financial and estate planning on the part of the person or couple who is expecting to stay in nursing home, as it will mean setting aside some of their wealth. On a related point, there are some seniors who may have had financially successful children and other relatives who are willing to pitch in and foot all or part of the bill for long-term care.

Putting a value on the family business

A previous post on this blog discussed how an executor of a will or a trustee of a trust can put a correct value on some common types of property a person may hold when he or she dies. This process is important for a variety reasons and may rightly be called one of the most important things an executor or trustee will do as part of his or her duties.

One thing the previous post did not discuss was how to value a family business, which, in the vast majority of cases, is not publicly traded. Putting a value on this type of business is not just a matter of looking up stock prices, but, on the other hand, a person's share in a family business could be the most valuable piece of property in that person's estate.

How to put a value on common types of estate property

A previous post on this blog talked about how when it comes to estate administration, one of our law office's most important services is providing help with asset valuation on the estate's property. How much each piece of property is worth answers a lot of critical questions that will ultimately determine how much a Rochester, New York family will receive in inheritance and how much of the estate will go to the government in the form of taxes.

Probably the easiest types of property to value are things like bank accounts, other savings accounts, cash and other types of funds that have a definite value. Basically, the value is the dollar amount of the account on the day the person died. Things like publicly traded stock are also relatively easy to value, since doing so is just a matter of knowing the stock price on the day of death.

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Weinstein & Randisi
290 Linden Oaks, Ste. 200
Rochester, NY 14625

Toll Free: 800-768-1780
Phone: 585-310-1578
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