CREEDON & GILL believes that Estate Planning is not just for Seniors. In fact most effective Estate Planning is done during middle age. It is never too soon to think about providing for your parents in their old age, you in yours, and your children and loved ones down the road.
ESTATE PLANNING: WILLS AND TRUSTS
A good estate plan starts with your will, which dictates how your assets will be distributed. This requires careful consideration, particularly when there are children and especially children from a prior marriage. Even if you believe that the division of your assets will be relatively straightforward, you must consider factors such as accounts with designated beneficiaries, which do not pass through probate, and the fair market value of assets such as real estate.
An estate plan may instruments known as 'trusts" for a variety of purposes. Sometimes a trust is thought of as a company that owns an asset, like your house, and you "own" the company, instead of simply the house.
That is at the simplest level, however, you may want a revocable living trust to allow a trusted person to begin managing your affairs during your lifetime and distribute your major assets to your beneficiaries after your death without the need to go through probate. Trusts can also protect young people or family members with disabilities.
If you have been named the executor of an estate, you should consider consulting with an attorney to learn the details of legal obligation of managing a will and the estate in the interests of the beneficiaries.
In New York State, estates are handled by the Surrogate’s Court of the county in which the deceased person had their primary residence. Someone, usually the executor, must ask the court to approve the will. Interested parties are given proper notice, and if the will is approved, the court will issue letters testamentary so that the executor can begin paying the estate’s debts and distributing the assets in accordance with the will.
It is highly recommend for an estate executor to seek legal counsel. An executor who fails to properly manage the estate and causes financial harm to beneficiaries can face litigation. Estates involving trusts, significant real estate, or different types of investments can all involve complications,
Financial planning for seniors is complicated by the potential need for long-term care. The need for a nursing home stay is unpredictable, and if the need does arise, care is expensive.
It has been estimated that 1 in 3 people turning 65 will need care at a skilled nursing facility at some point in their lives. The median cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home in New York State was reported as $131,853 in 2016 and is expected to increase 3% over the next five years.
Medicare does not cover long-term stays in nursing facilities. Some families have the resources to pay for nursing home costs out of pocket, and others invest in long-term care insurance. However, 6 in 10 nursing home residents are covered by Medicaid.
Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is a need-based program, which means that certain income and resource limits must be met in order to be eligible. This often means that families must spend down their own resources on nursing home costs before finally qualifying for Medicaid. However, it is possible to be eligible for the program and still preserve your family’s assets. This is where Medicaid planning comes in.
Just transferring resources to family members and then applying for Medicaid will not be successful. The program has a “look-back” period of five years before the application date, and transferring assets for less than market value during that period will result in a period of ineligibility.
If one spouse needs nursing home care, the other spouse can refuse financial support, but Medicaid has the right to seek contribution from the spouse that continues to reside in the community, for the care of the spouse in the facility. Nevertheless, it is possible to protect your family’s assets while qualifying for the program. Medicaid’s financial regulations are complicated, and it is important to have an attorney on your side who understands the process.
SURROGATES COURT: WILL CONTESTS AND DISPUTES
Even if you took the time to try and set up a will and estate plan the right way, conflicts over wills and trusts are common and can lead to estate litigation in Surrogates Court. Moreover you could be an intended beneficiary of someone else's will or estate plan and find a family member or even a virtual stranger trying to deny you what you are due.
Sadly, more often then not, it is a disgruntled family member trying to make a naked money grab who throws the case into litigation in Surrogates Court.
At Creedon & Gill we can help you reach a fair compromise that protects your interests, but it is important to let people know that you will not be bullied and that if push comes to shove Creedon & Gill is on your side fighting for what is right. And fighters is what we are here first and foremost. Most Estate Attorneys don't know how to fight in Court at all. But we do.
We have extensive experience in estate litigation. Because the time to act in Estate Litigation is dictated by law, it is a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable attorney when the clouds first gather.
Planning your estate is part of the process of financial planning you engage in to build and protect your family’s wealth.
Dying without a will means that state law will determine how your assets are divided among family members, which is not something you want to happen. Besides imposing time and expense setbacks, and there are more likely to be disputes among your heirs and even a complete breadown of order.