New York Elder Law And Estate Planning Blog

NYSBA ELSN Member Spotlight - Felicia Pasculli

Felicia Pasculli was featured in a member spotlight article in the Elder and Special Needs Law Journal, a publication of the Elder Law and Special Needs Section of the New York State Bar Association. Felicia was interviewed by Katy Carpenter and here is a portion of that interview with the full article attached below. 

Knowing when to update an estate plan

Knowing when to update an estate plan is important to avoid estate planning errors and problems. Updating an estate plan as life changes is as important as ensuring the estate planner has all the components that an effective estate plan should have in place. As a result, estate planners should be aware of when to update their estate plan and how New York estate planning can help.

As a good rule of thumb, if an estate plan is greater than three years old, the estate planner should review it, update it and ensure it reflects the estate planner's current wishes. In addition, if the estate planner moves to another state, it is important to update an estate plan when they relocate. Estate planning rules, such as those for a will to be valid, can vary by state, so it is essential for estate planners to update their estate plan if they move to another state and ensure it is valid in their new state.

How can a trust help you avoid probate?

When you pass away, you want your assets to go directly to the heirs you choose. But when you only have a will, your inheritance goes through a probate court. Probate can take a lot of time and is open to the public. If you don’t want your heirs to go through that, you can put your assets in trusts.

Trusts avoid probate court. While there are different types of trusts you can create, a trust-based estate plan can speed up and simplify the distribution of your inheritance.

Common estate planning mistakes when one spouse dies

The death of a spouse can be a devastating event, and the emotional pitfalls can be even worse if there was improper planning or errors were made over the deceased spouse’s estate. Difficulties often arise if one spouse handled all financial matters, and the survivor has little or no knowledge of their finances.

Financial and legal experts advise each spouse to have three essential documents: a will, a durable power of attorney and an advanced medical directive. The surviving spouse should know the location of those documents and how to access them.

What is a special needs trust?

Setting up a trust can be an important part of an effective estate plan. There are different types of trusts for estate planners to be familiar with which can help based on their unique situation and circumstances. One type of trust is a special needs trust for estate planners to ensure they understand and know when to utilize.

A trust is created when property is transferred into trust to be managed by another party, referred to as the trustee, for the benefit of another party who is referred to as the beneficiary. The selection of a trustee is an important decision that should be made carefully. Special needs trust are created for the benefit of a beneficiary with a physical or mental disability, which may include those who lack the capacity to manage their one finances.

The value of having an advance health care directive

Planning for end-of-life is important to consider and can provide valuable peace of mind for the estate planner and their loved ones and family. Drafting an advance health care directive that reflects the wishes of the estate planner is useful, and understanding what an advance health care directive can do is beneficial.

An advance health care directive, sometimes also referred to as a living will, is an important document to include as part of an overall estate plan. An advance health care directive provides direction concerning how end-of-life medical treatment should be handled. It allows the estate planner to ensure their wishes are understood and followed if they become incapacitated and are unable to direct their own medical care and treatment. It also helps ensure family members will not be left with the burden of making difficult decisions for their loved one during an emotional time.

How is Medicaid eligibility determined?

There are federal healthcare programs that can be very beneficial to certain individuals. Medicaid is a healthcare coverage program that is administered jointly by the federal government and the Government of New York State. It provides coverage to adults, children, elderlies and those with disabilities. According to federal laws, states are required to cover certain groups of individuals under this health program, based on certain parameters, in addition to mandatory inclusions such as low income families, pregnant women, children and recipients of Supplemental Security Income.

In addition to the categories mentioned already, states can choose to cover other groups such as those receiving home and community-based healthcare services. However, those inclusions are based on certain eligibility criteria that were put in place by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 2010. Those eligibility criteria can be divided into two categories: financial eligibility and non-financial eligibility.

Aaron Futterman Presents At The Amsterdam at Harborside in Port Washington, NY

Law Partner Aaron Futterman, CPA, ESQ presented last night to a large group of mental health professionals on elder law and estate planning at The Amsterdam at Harborside in Port Washington, NY. Topics included Medicaid misconceptions, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Wills and common types of Trusts.

You may still need a will with a trust-based estate plan

For many people who are new to estate planning, the big question of concern is whether they should have a will-based estate plan or a trust-based estate plan. Both a will and a trust provide someone control over how assets get distributed after his or her death, although they work in different ways.

Choosing a will or a trust is always a personal decision that should be made with your specific circumstances and estate planning goals in mind. However, the choice between a will or a trust can feel misleading if you do not realize that you may need a will even if you choose a trust-based estate plan.

What medical decisions can my health care agent make for me?

Regardless of your age or health status, it can be smart to use a health care proxy to appoint an alternate decision-maker. The purpose of naming an alternate decision-maker, called a health care agent, is to control who makes medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make the decisions yourself. You should choose someone trustworthy who lives nearby and who will prioritize your wishes above his or her own wishes for you.

Choosing the right person to serve as your health-care agent can help avoid potential problems. However, it is also important that you and your agent understand what authority your agent will have.

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