06/28/2016










5 Legal Issues Facing Grandparents

assets to grandchildren Most people assume that by the time they are grandparents, they will not have too many parenting-like hassles. Your kids are fully grown and self-sufficient. Some may even have their own families. Most likely you are now looking toward retirement and all that comes with it. But, the life of being a grandparent is not always easy and there are plenty of legal issues that can arise during those retirement years.

5 Issues Grandparents May Face

Most of these issues will depend on your overall family dynamic, but they are still worth noting. Some of these issues can be resolved with the assistance of an elder law attorney or estate planning attorney, while others may just require a conversation with family members. These legal issues can include:

  1. Holiday visitation rights. Some parental relationships will end in divorce, but where does that leave maternal or paternal grandparents? Some grandparents may wonder if they too are entitled to holiday visitation with their grandchildren. Unfortunately, this is dependent on the court’s rulings as well as the child’s custody paperwork.
  2. Grandparents could pay child support. Grandparents do want to be cautious about any visitation rights they attempt to exercise or any custody battles they enter. That is because in some scenarios, a grandparent could actually be required to pay child support.
  3. Scam artists that target elderly people. Unfortunately, there are those out there that look to take advantage of older generations that are unaware of their rights or sometimes without all of their faculties. These scam artists will specifically target the elderly with health care scams, investment opportunities or even retirement income options – especially if they know you are desperate for an income.
  4. Leaving assets to grandchildren. There are times that grandparents may want to leave assets to their grandchildren instead of their own children. There are state issues as well as IRS provisions and trusts that make it easier for grandparents to do just that. If you wish to leave money or assets to your grandchildren, whether for school or another reason, you will want to speak with an estate planning attorney to setup the proper type of trust.
  5. The issue of the living will. Many grandparents avoid the conversation about what will happen if they die or become incapacitated, but it is a conversation people must have with their loved ones.  A living will is a tool that you can use to ensure that your wishes are honored – and to make sure that family members are not forced to make difficult decisions on your behalf.

Do You Have Concerns as a Grandparent? Contact an Estate Planning Attorney for Help

Whether you have concerns about your Medicaid, health care costs or how you will handle giving assets to your children and grandchildren, an estate planning attorney can help. The Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin is here to help you draft necessary documents to protect your estate as well as your loved ones. You can schedule a free consultation to discuss your issues today at 516-605-0625 or fill out an online contact form with your legal questions.

Steps to Administering an Estate

estate planning The administration process of an estate or trust will typically take six months to a year to complete – and that is a big role to take for anyone. The fiduciary will have numerous tasks that they must complete as part of their role as the administrator of the estate. They will also have long periods of waiting; in which they must constantly keep up-to-date on the progress of the estate. In addition, there are numerous complications that can arise during estate administration, such as contests, disputes among beneficiaries and other assets that are difficult to liquidate.

If you have been given the role of executor of an estate, you are taking on a big task and one that you may not be fully prepared for. That is why it is important to understand the steps involved in a typical estate administration, so that you can better understand what to expect.

What to Expect as an Estate Executor

  1. Take Charge of the Estate – The first step will be to assume your role and secure all paperwork necessary to show that you have the authority to operate as the executor of the estate. This will mean applying to the court for letters of authority based on the contents of the deceased’s will. You will then also need to obtain a tax ID number from the IRS as the estate to file taxes for any income received by the estate.
  2. Sending Notifications – You will then notify all parties interested in the estate or trust.
  3. Inventorying all Assets – Your next job is to identify and list all assets associated with the estate. You will then send that list to the court as well as all known beneficiaries. The fiduciary will then gather the assets under his or her name and the new tax number.
  4. Paying All Debts – Before anything can be distributed to the beneficiaries, the debts of the estate must first be satisfied. Creditors will have six months from the date of the death to file their claims and the estate’s executor must pay them as soon as possible.
  5. Filing Taxes – The executor is also responsible for filing income tax returns for the estate. He or she must file these with the state as well as the IRS and pay any applicable estate taxes before the rest of the assets can be distributed.
  6. Distributing and Accounting for Assets – This is the final step of the estate’s administration. It requires the executor to present an accounting of all assets, all debts paid and any distributions for approval by the court and all beneficiaries associated with the estate. The final distributions cannot be made until any objections are heard and resolved.

Finding the Right Executor Starts with Drafting the Right Will

Before you can even select your executor, you need to start inventorying your assets and coming up with a plan for how you want your assets handled upon your death. This starts by engaging in a conversation with a New York estate planning attorney. If you have not yet drafted a will or moved your assets into a trust, now is the time. Speak with someone from the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin today during a free consultation at 516-605-0625. You can also ask a question online via our online contact form.

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Create a Trust?

attorney assisted trust You already know the benefits of creating a living trust – and you want your estate to avoid probate court. But, how do you proceed after you have made such a decision? You may be curious if you can create your own trust. After all, there are plenty of DIY websites out there and how-to documents to help you through the process. While it is true people with little education could easily set up a trust, these trusts often lack the complexity and ignore the state’s specific trust laws, which leaves their estate vulnerable.

To decide if you need an attorney or not, it is in your best interest to first understand the purpose of a living trust.

Do Living Trusts Help You Avoid Probate?

You want to avoid probate court and give your loved ones the opportunity to grieve without having to attend court hearings. A revocable living trust, unlike your standard will, will give your family members a fast, private and probate-free way to administer the estate upon your death. While the living trust does not substitute for your will, it will be more efficient when it comes to transferring property upon your death.

The Cost of a Living Trust

When you hire an attorney, you may pay an hourly rate or a flat fee to have the living trust set up. If you are doing it at the same time you are drafting a will, you will find that you pay less since attorneys will file their services together to help clients save money. You can still expect to pay over $1,000 to have the trust created and submitted to the court, but you get what you pay for. When you pay the cheap several hundred-dollar fee of online trust and will websites, you are not getting the same legal expertise an attorney has. Plus, these sites are not built for the specific laws that your state requires your trust to address in order to be valid.

The Basics of a Living Trust

A revocable living trust will include certain basics, such as:

  • The name of the grantor, settlor or trustor;
  • The name of the person responsible for managing the trust and all assets included in that trust;
  • The name of the person that will take over responsibility of managing the trust after you pass away (known as the successor trustee);
  • The name of those that you leave your trust property to;
  • The name of the individual in charge of managing your assets left in the trust for minor beneficiaries.

Do You Need an Attorney?

As long as a trust contains the right basic elements, it should be valid. But, that is not to say that you will leave out a valuable asset, name the wrong beneficiary or use the wrong wording in your trust to make it invalid. While it may cost more to hire a professional, the benefits often outweigh such costs. In fact, for a few extra hundred dollars, you will have peace of mind in knowing that your family (and your estate) is truly protected.

Contact a New York Trust Attorney

If you are ready to protect your family and your estate, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. We offer free consultations to discuss your will and other estate planning concerns. Schedule your consultation now by calling 516-605-0625 or fill out an online contact form with your legal questions.

Inheritance Laws and Your Rights: Things You Need to Know

inheritance lawsInheritance laws are what determine the rights of survivors and how they will inherit a decedent’s property. Every state has their own set of inheritance laws and these laws are rather complex. Therefore, it is in your best interest to hire an estate lawyer that can assist you with your state’s laws to ensure your rights are protected.

Understanding the Inheritance Hierarchy Without a Will

If a person dies without a will, it is considered an “intestate” situation. The state of New York will then distribute property in that estate according to statutory schemes of succession, known as the hierarchy of succession. The goal of these laws is to distribute assets for the estate in a way which the decedent most likely would have distributed them themselves since there is no will to determine otherwise.

Spouse and Children

If the deceased has no surviving children, but does have a surviving spouse, all assets from the estate would then pass to the surviving spouse. The estate would, however, be distributed differently if the deceased left a spouse and children. The spouse is entitled by law to $50,000 and half of the remaining property. Then, children would be distributed equally based on what is left and how many children there are to distribute assets to. All children are included within the equal distribution – including those that were adopted or those not born to the surviving spouse (step-children).

Parents and Siblings

If the deceased dies with no surviving spouse or children of record, but they do have surviving parents, then the property would be given to the parents. If the deceased has no surviving parents, the next in line of the hierarchy would be surviving siblings. If there are multiple siblings, the assets would be distributed equally among all siblings. If one sibling has passed, but they have surviving children, their children would then have the sibling’s share distributed equally among them.

Other Relatives by Marriage or Blood

In some cases, a deceased individual may have no other qualifying relatives except for their distant ones. These relatives could receive a portion of the estate if there are no siblings, parents, children or spouses left. If the deceased has grandparents, the estate would then be divided amongst the grandparents (maternal and paternal).

Limitations to the Hierarchy

The estate will escheat or revert back to the state if there are no surviving heirs of the estate. New York law will look as far as great grandchildren before determining that there is no one eligible to inherit the deceased’s estate.

The Importance of Having a Will – Contact a NY Estate Planning Attorney

While you may think the state’s hierarchy will protect those that you love, your estate could be inherited by a family member that you never intended to inherit your assets. This is why it is imperative that you hire an estate planning attorney to assist you with your will and possibly setting up a trust. By having a will, you can prevent having the state determine where your estate will be distributed and ensure your loved ones are properly cared for. Contact the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today regarding your will. Schedule a free consultation now at 516-605-0625 or fill out an online contact form with your questions.

Benefits of Creating a Discretionary Lifetime Trust

lifetime trustWhen you are exploring your options for passing on your estate to your beneficiaries – including your spouse, children, or other beneficiaries – one option that you may want to consider is creating a discretionary lifetime trust for each beneficiary. These offer a level of asset protection for your beneficiaries, and also a legal barrier that bars creditors, and even divorcing spouses, from taking away what you wanted your beneficiaries to inherit.

Using Lifetime Trusts for Minors

When beneficiaries are minors, a trust is required to keep the beneficiary’s inheritance until they reach a specific age. Most of the time, parents will pick an age that ranges from 20 to 30 years – when they feel that their beneficiary is mature enough to invest or manage their own inheritance funds. When the beneficiary reaches the specified age and the trust is distributed, the property becomes the beneficiary’s property; therefore, it is subject to creditor claims and divorcing spouses directly associated with the beneficiary.

To protect minors from such actions, you could create a discretionary lifetime trust. This will allow the trust to continue during their lifetime. When drafted properly, it creates a layer of asset protection for the beneficiary – so that, even if they are sued or file for divorce in the future, their inheritance is not affected.

Using Lifetime Trusts for Adults

Discretionary lifetime trusts benefit adults just as much as minors. You could set one up for a beneficiary of any age, including your own spouse. The same reasons for a minor lifetime trust apply for an adult one: To protect their assets.

Also, if the adult beneficiary is already known to mismanage money, you can create a trust and still give him or her an inheritance without worrying about how or what he or she will spend it on, because a lifetime trust will protect the beneficiary from outside influences, and his or her own bad decisions – as well as excessive spending habits.

Three Key Benefits

To sum it up, there are three key benefits to creating a discretionary lifetime trust:

  1. The beneficiary never receives an outright distribution or lump sum payment from his or her inheritance. Instead, the money is kept in a trust to ensure that he or she cannot spend it all at once. He or she is then given smaller, more manageable distributions.
  2. Beneficiaries of the trust receive distributions for health, educational purposes, maintenance, and support. The trustee will have discretion over the distributions made to the beneficiaries.
  3. If the beneficiary is sued, has creditor judgments, or gets divorced, the lifetime trust is inaccessible.

Protect Your Beneficiaries – Create a Lifetime Trust

If you want to protect your beneficiaries and ensure that they can enjoy their inheritance for the rest of their lives, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. We can help you explore options for trusts, including special trusts for adult beneficiaries, as well as trusts for minor children. To get started, schedule your free consultation at 516-605-0625 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.

How to Choose Beneficiaries for Your Life Insurance Policies

insurance beneficiariesWhen you purchase life insurance, you must also designate a beneficiary for your policy. This beneficiary is the individual who will then receive financial compensation upon your death. While it does sound easy enough picking a name, this is not a decision that you should make lightly. Beneficiaries are tied to your policy until you change them – and changing them is not always easy. Therefore, you want to take your time when designating a beneficiary, and possibly enlist the help of your attorney to correlate decisions with your existing estate plan.

Tips for Picking the Right Beneficiary

There are no rules to picking beneficiaries – and you are not required to select family members, either. When thinking about who you would like to receive compensation, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Determine who you are going to help. The purpose of life insurance is to help a loved one after your death. This could be a child, spouse, or even a distant relative. Some people use their life insurance to cover unpaid business debts – so that they may leave it to a business partner. When picking your beneficiary, think about the financial welfare of your family and friends, and decide who you want to help with your life insurance payout.
  2. Know your options for beneficiaries. Your beneficiary doesn’t have to be a family member, or even a person. In fact, you can have a trust listed as your beneficiary. You can also list a charity. Charities are great options if your family is already financially taken care of, and you want to extend your family’s legacy by giving to others.
  3. Consider the beneficiary’s current circumstances. Realize that, though you are trying to help, giving someone your life insurance payout could actually hurt them. For example, family members who are disabled have a specific income level that allows them to collect disability payments from the state. If they were to receive your life insurance payout, they may no longer qualify for disability – something that they rely on to thrive.
  4. Always assign a contingent beneficiary. When you select a beneficiary, always assign a contingent or secondary beneficiary. This ensures that, if the initial beneficiary cannot receive your life insurance payout, there is another named in his or her place.
  5. Reassess often. Also, do not forget to reassess your beneficiary selections frequently to make sure that they are still applicable. As your life changes, and your loved one’s financial situations change, you may find that your initial beneficiary is no longer your choice in the future.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney for More Beneficiary Tips

If you are creating an estate plan, you need the assistance of a Long Island estate planning attorney. An attorney can help you designate the right beneficiaries and correlate them with your will or trust. To get started, explore your options by contacting the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today at 516-605-0625. You can also ask a question online.

Attorney Andrew Lamkin Joins the ‘Chillin’ with Adam’ Board of Directors

Chillin' with Adam

‘Chillin with Adam’ is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to raising money for programs for children battling cancer.

May 2, 2016 – Plainview, NY – Attorney Andrew Lamkin recently announced that he has agreed to join The “Chillin’ with Adam” Adam Gaynes Foundation Inc. Board of Directors in April 2016. Chillin’ with Adam is a non-profit organization “dedicated to raising money for the care, comfort, happiness, education, and cure of children diagnosed with brain tumors and other disabilities.” The organization has made a significant impact in the lives of children suffering from brain tumors, cancer, blood disorders, and other incurable diseases, as well as their families.

“I am honored to serve the Chillin’ with Adam organization as a member of their Board of Directors,” said Attorney Lamkin, founder of the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. “Helping families navigate through special needs law and community assistance programs is a large part of my professional business, and I am honored to give back to the community by extending my services to the families that need it most – families with children suffering from cancer and other disabilities.”

“We are excited to have Andrew on the board,” says The Adam Gaynes Foundation Co-President, Arlene Gaynes. “His professional knowledge and experience in special needs law, as well as his passion and dedication to helping people throughout the community, will be inspiring and a major asset to many of the families, caregivers, and children that we help every day.”

The Chillin’ with Adam Gaynes Foundation was founded in honor of 11-year-old Adam Gaynes, who lost his lifelong battle to a brain tumor in August 2004. Since its inception, the organization has raised and donated over $2.25 million.

“Our mission is to raise funds for these children, and give the funds to various projects and programs at hospitals and schools that will make their lives a little easier while inspiring hope that one day there will be a cure,” says David Gaynes, Adam’s father and co-founder of the organization.

For more information:

For further details about the Chillin’ with Adam Gaynes Foundation, please visit www.chillinwithadam.org/blog/

For additional information about Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin, visit lamkinelderlaw.com

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Media Contact:
Andrew Lamkin
Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.
527 Old Country Rd.
Plainview, NY 11803
516-605-0625
andrew@lamkinelderlaw.com

Five Steps to a Rock Solid Estate Plan

Estate planning should not be something that you second guess yourself on. Instead, you should walk away knowing that your financial and medical future is secured, and that your loved ones will be taken care of if something were to happen to you. In order to have such a feeling, you need to have a solid estate plan. This not only requires the assistance of an estate planning attorney – but it also requires you to prepare for your consultation, and gather all information needed so that an impeccable estate plan can be created to suit your needs. The following is a list of five general steps to take in ensuring that your estate plan will meet your current and future needs.

1. Get an Estate Planning Attorney

The first and most important step in creating a solid estate plan is hiring an estate planning professional. After all, you wouldn’t make a medical decision without your doctor’s advice, so why plan your future without the assistance of professional legal advice? Every step of the estate planning process is critical – from start to finish. A single mistake could have serious, negative consequences for your loved ones and your own health. Before you start officially planning anything, contact a trustworthy attorney.

2. Know What You Need

With the assistance of your attorney, take your time and go over some options. Discuss what might need to be included in your estate plan. Is a will or a trust better suited for your needs? What items do you want to pass on, or what will be sold? Do you have properties that you wish to pass on to a spouse or family member? Perhaps you have a retirement account that you want to give to a beneficiary? All of these items need to be discussed in detail with your lawyer.

3. Gather Necessary Information

You cannot create a solid estate plan without the right information at hand. Estate planning is a technical process that hinges on even the most minute details. If you miss information while planning, you could devalue your business or accidentally leave a retirement account out of the fold. Your attorney will tell you what information to gather. It is in your best interest to heed such advice.

4. Put Everything in Writing

Even minor details should be specified within your estate plan. The wording in this document must be just so – otherwise, errors could be discovered after your passing and invalidate certain items that you specified in your estate plan. The best choice is to have an attorney draft your estate plan to ensure that there are no inaccuracies.

5. Update Frequently

Your estate plan is not something that you create and leave. Instead, it is something that you constantly update, as your needs and overall estate change. If you have a child, you need to update your estate plan. If you divorce, your plan must be updated. You should sit down and review your estate plan annually, or at least bi-annually, with your attorney. Then, any time you have a significant life change (e.g., divorce, death in the family, child, major purchase, etc.), you should also update it with your attorney.

Speak with a Long Island Estate Planning Attorney Today

If you are ready to create a solid estate plan, you need an attorney who understands New York estate planning laws and requirements. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. Schedule your free consultation at 516-605-0625 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.

How to Guarantee Your Parents’ Safety in a Retirement Home

elder lawYou and your parents have established a list of must-haves for an ideal retirement home. You have toured a few facilities and gotten an idea of what they have to offer. You may have even created a short list of facilities that you are considering. But, before you sign any contracts, apply for benefits, or make your final decision, you need to consider your parents’ safety. Putting your loved one in a retirement home is a big decision – one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are things that you need to do to ensure that your loved one truly receives the care that he or she needs – and to ensure that the facility you select is offering what they show on the surface.

Ask the Right Questions

The best way to ensure your loved one’s safety is by asking the right questions while touring the facility with your loved one. You want to get their insight. Then, ask yourself the same questions and put yourself in your loved one’s shoes – that way, you could assess how you would feel in the same home. Some questions to ask include:

  • Are you comfortable here?
  • Does anything worry you about the facility?
  • Do you feel safe here?
  • If you needed help, how long would it take for someone to respond?
  • What are the other residents like? Does everyone seem happy and social?
  • What is the staff like? How are they trained? What is their attitude toward those they are caring for?

Look Out for the Warning Signs of Bad Care

There are red flags typically seen at poor quality retirement homes. You can spot them sometimes during a tour, while other times it may not be as noticeable until your loved one has actually moved in. But, being on the lookout for these red flags is important. Some things to look for include:

  • Emotional or physical changes in your loved one. If they seem less functional than they were before going into the home, or they appear to have anxiety or depression, you need to question why.
  • Deflected questions from staff. If staff seem evasive, especially when you are asking a question about your loved one’s care (or lack thereof), you need to be wary. Questions about your loved one’s health should never be deflected or left unanswered.
  • Inadequate staffing or frantic staff. When staff seem easily frazzled or frantic because they are overwhelmed, this is a warning sign that it is time to relocate your loved one. Often, these facilities are understaffed or deal with unexpected high turnover rates – meaning that your loved one’s level of care could greatly fluctuate in between rehiring and training new caretakers.
  • Your loved one is vocal about his or her caretakers. Sometimes, your loved one may even tell you that he or she does not like specific members of the staff, or ask that certain caretakers not be in charge.

Protect Your Loved One with Proper Medicaid Planning

Medicaid is what your parents will depend on when they get older. You can help them with home health and retirement living by speaking with an elder law attorney. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today regarding your loved ones’ needs. Schedule a consultation at 516-605-0625 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.

Three Easy and Effective Ways to Avoid Probate in New York

probateProbate can be slow and costly, tying up your estate for months or even years, and consuming a substantial amount of the estate that you intend to leave for your loved ones. But it does not necessarily have to be this way. There are several simple steps that can be taken to bypass probate, and ensure that a greater portion of your estate passes on directly to your loved ones without lengthy complications and expensive legal fees.

Probate in New York

When a person dies, something has to be done with the estate (assets and debts) that the decedent leaves behind. Probate – which is based on the Latin word “probo,” meaning to prove – is the legal process of finalizing a person’s estate after he or she has died. It includes the following activities:

  • Verifying the validity of the decedent’s will
  • Taking inventory of the decedent’s assets
  • Having the decedent’s property appraised
  • Paying off any debts and taxes
  • Distributing the remaining proceeds according to the decedent’s will or New York intestate law.

Probate is presided over by the executor, who is named in the decedent’s will, and often requires the help of an experienced probate attorney. The process can typically last for several months to a year, and can be notably expensive and time-consuming for the decedent’s survivors.

To ease the burden on their survivors, many people make plans to enable their estates to avoid probate. But, this can also be time-consuming and expensive. Whether or not it makes sense for you to make complex probate avoidance decisions will depend on your age, health, and the overall size of your estate.

Avoiding Probate in New York

There is rarely any need for young, healthy people to involve themselves in complex plans to avoid probate, as they will only have to redo it later in life in order to reflect the many changes that will have occurred. On the other hand, if you are older, in poor health, or have a sizable estate, you may want to do whatever you can to save your family the trouble and expense of having your estate go through probate.

There are several different ways to avoid probate. Here is a list of the easiest and most-effective ways to do so in New York:

1. Joint Ownership

When you and your spouse own assets together, the assets will most likely pass on to the other without going through probate when the first spouse dies. Check to make sure that the title to your property is held jointly, and in the proper manner, according to New York property law.

2. Naming Beneficiaries for Pay-On-Death and Transfer-On-Death Designations

Pay-On-Death (POD) designations can be added to bank accounts and certificates of deposits in order to have funds transferred directly to a beneficiary upon your death, thereby bypassing probate. The same thing can be done for securities and mutual funds by simply adding a Transfer-On-Death (TOD) beneficiary to your brokerage account.

3. A Revocable Living Trust

Creating a living trust, which is no more complicated than creating a will, is one of the most popular ways of avoiding probate. Once you create the trust, you can hold property in trust without having to relinquish any control and without any tax consequences. Upon your death, the property in the trust can be distributed by the person who you name as your trustee to whomever you name as a beneficiary – without the need for probate. Once all property in the trust has been distributed, the trust will cease to exist.

Contact a Long Island Probate Lawyer Today

Probate law is complex; there are a variety of things that can go wrong if you attempt to navigate the law without the help of an attorney. Therefore, as you take steps to avoid probate, it would be in your best interest to draw upon the knowledge of an experienced probate lawyer. He or she can help you avoid tax and probate consequences, and ensure that your heirs inherit as much of your estate as they are entitled to, without lengthy complications and expensive legal fees.
Call the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. at 516-605-0625 or contact me online to schedule an appointment with an experienced Long Island, NY probate attorney. I am available to meet with you at your home or my office, and would be happy to discuss the specific options available to you.

Three Very Important Ways That an Elder Lawyer Can Assist You

elder law lawyerThe most frequent question that potential clients have for an elder law attorney is, “How can an elder law attorney assist me?”

In short, an elder law attorney can assist you with legal issues that are associated with the natural process of aging. This is done in three very important ways:

  1. Estate Planning
  2. Incapacity Planning
  3. Long-Term Care Planning

Read further for a look at how each of these aspects of elder law practice can address your needs.

What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?

As you get older, you develop different problems and concerns. Many might say that you even have different medical problems and other ailments. A doctor who serves the medical needs that arise, due to the natural process of aging, is called a gerontologist. In the same vein, an attorney who attends to the legal needs that arise, due to the natural process of aging, is called an elder law attorney.

Theses issues can be broken down into three broad areas of elder law practice:

1. Estate planning

Estate planning deals with deciding what happens to your assets when you die, and what processes will be employed to move your assets to your heirs after you are gone.

This involves more than simply preparing a will. Not only does it involves planning for the disposal and finalization of your estate after you die, but it also involves avoiding probate, reducing estate taxes, protecting your estate from unforeseen creditors, and providing for the protection of those who will inherit your estate.

2. Incapacity Planning

Incapacity planning addresses the issues that you may face if you become incapacitated. There may come a time when you are not able to handle your own affairs any longer – perhaps due to accident, disease, or loss of physical mobility. If you become mentally or physically incapacitated, who will make decisions on your behalf in regards to your financial and physical well-being?

When you are in your twenties, these kinds of problems are much less of an issue; as you age, they become more of a concern. Therefore, it becomes more important that you have competent advice as to what solutions can be put in place to address these particular concerns, if and when they arise.

Some of the most important tools than can be employed in planning for incapacity are:

  • A durable power of attorney
  • A healthcare surrogate
  • A living trust
  • A living will

Each of these measures is designed to assist you in protecting your assets and/or ensuring that your financial and physical well-being will be attended to, should you not be able to do so yourself.

3. Long-Term Care Planning

The third elder law issue that you may encounter as you age is the need for care to be provided to you from some sort of outside source, such as an assisted living facility or a nursing home.

The costs associated with this can be far beyond your means. So, you will need to do something to protect your assets – both for yourself and your family – as opposed to funneling them all into the cost of long-term care until you eventually have nothing left. This is what we call planning for long-term care or public benefits.

Often, public benefits, such as Medicaid or veterans benefits, can be used to offset the cost of long-term care. In order to do this, however, you will need to abide by very strict and nuanced rules that you may not be aware of.

There are also a lot of myths and misconceptions regarding the use of public benefits that, if you believe to be true, will prevent you from taking advantage of what they can offer toward paying for long-term care.

If, for example, you are under the impression that you make too much money to qualify for public benefits, or that you have done something with your assets that disqualifies you from being eligible, an elder law attorney can help you find out what is available in your specific case, or how you can qualify to take advantage of it.

An elder law attorney will assist you in finding solutions to the problems that you will encounter as you age. Not only will he or she help you find these solutions, but your attorney will also assist you in weaving various solutions together to create a comprehensive plan for addressing all of the issues that you will encounter in terms of ensuring your financial and physical well-being as you age, This expert can also help you in handling the disbursement of your estate after you die.

Speak to an Elder Law Attorney About Your Needs

Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. today for assistance with your estate planning, incapacity planning, and/or long-term care planning. Call 516-605-0625 for a free consultation or contact us online with your questions.

Protecting Your Assets From Nursing Home Costs

protect assetsIf you become too ill or frail to live at home or in an assisted living residence, you may need to move to a long-term care facility that provides 24-hour assistance, monitoring, and nursing care. But long-term care facilities, also known as nursing homes, are extremely expensive. The average cost of a long-term care facility in New York is well over $100,000 per year, and is expected to increase four times by 2030.

What Does This Mean For You?

If you are the average baby boomer with a healthy retirement nest egg of between $200,000 and $1 million, you may not be overly concerned at first. But, what if it becomes necessary for you to stay in a nursing home, with an average cost of $7,000-$8,000 per month? It won’t take very long for your entire life’s savings to wind down to nothing.

The worst part about this arrangement is not only that it will impact your quality of life, but the quality of life for your family as well. You have probably worked throughout your whole life to be able to take care of yourself and your family, and to be able to leave something for them when you pass. If you end up in a nursing home, however, you might go through all of your loved ones’ inheritance extremely quickly.

However, with early preparation and planning in advance, you can create – for your benefit and the benefit of your children – an estate plan that will enable you to protect your assets from the high cost of nursing home care. This may include purchasing long-term care insurance to provide protection against the cost of nursing home care, or creating an irrevocable trust to preserve some of your assets in anticipation of having to spend some in order qualify for Medicaid.

What if You Won’t Need Long-Term Care?

Early preparation can enable you to protect your entire life’s savings. But, why should you prepare for an uncertain eventuality? After all, you may never need to stay in a nursing home. While this may be true, the consequence of not protecting your assets from nursing home costs, and ending up in a nursing home anyway, can be so severe that you may not want to take that chance.

Think about it this way: You can either spend a little bit of time and money with a qualified estate planning attorney to help you prepare in advance and save your entire life’s savings, or lose all of it while paying for nursing home care when it is needed. Which would you rather have as your legacy?

Need Help Protecting Your Assets From Nursing Home Costs?

If protecting your assets from the high cost of nursing home care is something that is of interest to you, consult with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. today. Call us at 516-605-0625 or contact us online to schedule an appointment, and we will be glad to discuss your estate options. If you already have a loved one in a nursing home and he or she is not getting the quality care that’s deserved, don’t hesitate to speak up on his or her behalf. Contact us today.

The Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

alzheimers or dementia differencesThere are two very well known diseases that are affecting the baby boom generation: Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Both are illnesses that plague older adults and, as such, are increasing in prevalence as the baby boom generation – one of the largest groups of citizens in our society – ages.

What follows is a closer look at the differences between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia is the deterioration of a person’s mental faculties, due to an organic disorder of the brain. This affects a person’s intellectual faculties such as memory, judgment, and concentration. Dementia encompasses a broad array of symptoms from physical complications to mood changes and, therefore, is indicated by both physical and mental deterioration.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a specific disease that causes dementia and can have grave – and often irreversible – consequences such as vascular dementia, which contributes to memory loss, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Huntington’s Disease.

To further understand the difference between the two, we can discuss them in terms of how (i) memory loss, (ii) Dementia and (iii) Alzheimer’s Disease relate to each other specifically.

Memory loss is a non-specific condition that can be caused by a variety of things. It is most often benign and not life-changing. But, when memory loss occurs at the same time as other cognitive symptoms – such as difficulty finding words to make a sentence, disorientation, trouble with getting lost, and trouble with day-to-day living – an individual has the syndrome called Dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease is what’s happening to your brain to cause Dementia.

You can have Dementia without Alzheimer’s Disease, but most of the time, you will develop Dementia due to Alzheimer’s Disease. In fact, Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all Dementia cases. You can also have some reversible forms of Dementia caused by drug use or depression. Furthermore, you can have full-blown Alzheimer’s Disease in the brain with no symptoms of Dementia. Therefore, it is important that you obtain an exhaustive analysis of what you or your loved one is suffering from.

The only way to do this is to undergo a thorough physical examination, which will encompass a gamut of exams designed to narrow down the possibilities of what you or your loved one is suffering from. Having this knowledge in hand will enable you to better prepare for what’s coming ahead. This can have elder law implications in terms of estate planning, incapacity planning, and long-term care planning. But, undergoing these examinations can help with the uncertainties regarding your loved one’s future.

To Learn More, Contact an Elder Law Attorney Today

To find out more for you or your loved one, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. by calling 516-605-0625 to discuss your family’s situation, or contact us online for a consultation. We can help make this difficult situation easier for you, your loved ones, and the rest of your family.

Conservatorship in the State of New York Explained

New York State Elder Care Attorney - Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. Americans are healthier and living longer than ever before. The time may come, however, when you or your family will need to make financial and/or health care decisions for a relative. It is helpful to have documents available that give you the legal authority to make these decisions in advance, though this may not always be the case.

If your relative is no longer capable of making decisions or executing a power of attorney, you may need to go to court to request a conservatorship – which will allow you to make legal and health care decisions on your relative’s behalf – while under the supervision of a local court.

What is Conservatorship?

When a family member becomes incapacitated and has not signed powers of attorney for personal finances and health care, you may need to ask a court to give you the authority to manage your loved one’s finances and personal affairs.

Who Does Conservatorship Assist?

Generally, conservatorships are established for people who are in comas, suffering from severe dementia, or have other serious illnesses or injuries that render them incapacitated.

The court usually grants conservatorship to a spouse or other close member of the family, with respect to any evidence of what the incapacitated person would have wanted, or other information regarding the person’s best interest. The person who is appointed by the court is called a conservator, or guardian, and will have a legal duty to act in the incapacitated loved one’s best interests.

How is the Court Involved?

In order to prevent conservators from mismanaging property or otherwise taking advantage of the people they are supposed to be helping, they will be supervised by the court. This means that the conservator may be required to provide periodic reports, which detail their actions. Many courts also require the conservator to seek permission before making major decisions, such as selling real estate or, if the conservator is in charge of health care decisions, terminating life support.

What is Expected of Conservators?

Conservators aren’t required to use their own money to support an incapacitated person. Instead, it’s their job to manage the incapacitated person’s own assets and make personal decisions as needed. A conservator does, however, have the responsibility to seek all financial benefits that might be available. These benefits may include Social Security, Veterans Administration benefits, pension and retirement benefits, disability benefits, health insurance coverage, public assistance, and Supplemental Security Income.

A conservator must act until the court issues an order ending the conservatorship, which ordinarily does not happen until:

  • The incapacitated person dies,
  • The incapacitated person no longer needs this level of assistance, or
  • The conservator resigns or can no longer handle the responsibilities.

Andrew M. Lamkin – Elder Care Attorney

While conservatorship may be a viable option for your family, court proceedings to request conservatorship are expensive, time-consuming, and public – which may not be what your family wants when dealing with a crisis involving a family member. If you need to make decisions for a loved one who recently became incapacitated, you may need the assistance of an attorney experienced in these matters. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help make this difficult situation easier for you and your family. Call 516-605-0625 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

Is Long Term Care Insurance Worth It?

Long Island Long Term Care Insurance Lawyer - Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. If you become too ill or frail to live at home or in an assisted living residence, you may need to move to a long-term care facility that provides 24-hour assistance, monitoring and nursing care. Long Term Care insurance (LTC), also known as nursing home insurance, is a widely publicized protection against the cost of long-term care, particularly residential facilities. Before purchasing a Long Term Care insurance plan, there are many factors to consider.

The Advantages of Long Term Care Insurance

You can never know if and when you might need to stay in a long-term care facility. There might come a day when you will need the type of medical attention that only a residential care facility can provide. Fees for such care will only be covered out of pocket or by a Long Term Care insurance plan.

If you purchase Long Term Care insurance today, you will not have to shoulder all of the cost yourself when you need it later. Further, if you start your coverage early, you may be assured of lower premiums throughout the life of your policy. Some plans also offer the option of insuring a spouse or partner for a discounted rate.

The Disadvantages of Long Term Care Insurance

Long Term Care insurance is expensive. The average cost of a long-term care facility in New York is more than $100,000 per year and expected to increase four times by 2030. But while residents of long-term care facilities are paying more, many insurers are giving less – adding more restrictions and limitations on what they pay out. In most cases, the benefits are so limited that they are rarely enough to cover the total cost of staying in the facility.

Still, insurance companies market Long Term Care insurance by playing on people’s fear of having to spend years in a long-term care facility that result in them wiping out their savings and ending up homeless. But, the odds of needing long-term care are much lower than the insurance industry would like you to believe.

It is estimated that more than 70 percent of all nursing home residents in New York receive Medicaid, which provides certain protections against the risk of being thrown out of the nursing home because of lack of funds.

So, when you weigh the cost of Long Term Care insurance against what these policies typically pay out and the odds of needing it someday, you may find that the insurance is not worth it. In fact, only 5 percent of all Americans over the age of 65 have made the choice to purchase Long Term Care insurance.  

Purchasing Long Term Care Insurance

If you are considering Long Term Care insurance, purchase with care. Don’t rely on advice from the insurance provider, who is simply trying to win your business. Check consumer reports and consult with the New York State Partnership for Long Term Care Program, which offers some of the best terms available. Make a comparison of many different policies and be sure to check each one for any exclusions and limitations that may apply.  Finally, when buying Long Term Care insurance, never sign up for any policy that you can’t afford – always stay within your budget.

Need Help Deciding?

Do you need help deciding if Long Term Care insurance is right for you? Consult with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. today. Call 516-605-0625 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. If you already have a loved one in a nursing home and he or she is not getting the quality care that’s deserved, don’t hesitate to speak up on his or her behalf.

10 Tips For Keeping Your Estate Plan Up to Date

New York State Estate Planning Attorney - Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. Taking the time to create a will and perform other estate planning tasks will save your family money and spare them the burden of having to make difficult decisions regarding your estate while they are grieving. Your estate plan should reflect your most up-to-date family and financial circumstances. Therefore, you should regularly review and update your estate plan whenever any of the following events occur:

#1 You have a new child
You may want to make another will to name a personal guardian for your new child.

#2 You get married
Both you and your new spouse should create new wills. In New York, your spouse is first in line to inherit your estate when you die, unless you have an agreement to the contrary.

#3 You are not married but have a new partner to whom you would like to leave money or assets
You should create a new will. In New York, your partner will receive nothing when you die, unless you provide for them in your will or have other documents in place.

#4 You get divorced
Pursuant to New York’s Estates, Powers and Trusts Law, unless your will states otherwise, a judgment of divorce, judicial separation, or annulment revokes all dispositions or appointments of property made by you to your former spouse. You should make another will after you’ve divorced. You should also review any financial documents, such as your life insurance policy, bank account, and investment portfolio that you may want to change.

#5 You have new stepchildren
Your stepchildren are not automatically entitled to any portion of your estate when you die, unless they have been legally adopted by you. If you want to leave them something, create a new will and specify the gift.

#6 You acquire or dispose of substantial assets (like your home)
If you are leaving your entire estate to one person, a group of people or entity, you may not need to make any changes. However, whenever you are leaving a specific asset to a specific beneficiary, you need to update your will if you happen to lose or sell that asset. This way, you can avoid leaving the beneficiary with nothing. Likewise, whenever you acquire a major asset and want to specify whom you want to inherit it, you will need to create a new will.

#7 You are married and move from a community property state to a common law property state, or vice versa
Community property and common law property states view marital property in different ways. This means that what you and your spouse own in common will be different, depending on which type of state you live in. New York is a common law state, so whenever you move from New York to a community property state or vice versa, you should review and update your estate plan.

#8 You change your mind about whom you want to inherit a substantial portion of your estate
When a beneficiary dies before you do, or you simply change your mind about who you want to inherit your assets, you should create a new will. You should also update the beneficiary designations in documents, such as your banking and/or investment accounts and your life insurance policies.

#9 You want to name a new guardian
If the guardian you named in your current will has passed away, is no longer close to your family, or needs to be changed for any other reason, you should name a new one in a new will.

#10 You want to name a new executor
If the person you have named to be the executor of your estate is no longer available, willing, or appropriate to handle your estate, you should name a new executor in a new will.

The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. – Estate Planning Attorney

Estate plans should always be customized to the unique aspects of the individual. Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin can help you understand your estate planning options and draft a plan that addresses your concerns. Schedule a consultation online or call 516-605-0625 to learn more.

Visitation Rights for Grandparents

New York State Elder Law Attorney - Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.Grandparents provide a unique, loving avenue for their children to know and understand their family history and to develop relationships with other family members. A loving relationship with a grandparent over a significant period of time can greatly enhance the lives of the grandchildren.

Most grandparents want to have a relationship with their grandchildren. But sometimes these relationships are interfered with. Sometimes the parents prevent the children from seeing the grandparents or interfere with their relationship.

In New York, grandparents can remedy the situation by bringing petitions in the family court under grandparents’ rights issues to be granted visitation with their grandchildren.

Troxel v. Granville

In the leading supreme court case concerning this subject, TROXEL V. GRANVILLE (99-138) 530 U.S. 57 (2000), the supreme court affirmed that parents have a fundamental right to make a decision concerning the care, custody and control of their children. Unfortunately, the interpretation of this ruling in many states has been to severely limit the rights of grandparents to have visitation with their grandchildren.

Fortunately for grandparents who live in New York, the state takes a liberal point of view with regard to promoting the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren.

Visitation Rights for Grandparents in New York

New York’s provision concerning grandparent visitation rights is extremely brief, but does provide visitation rights for grandparents if at least one of the parents is deceased or, as it is vaguely stated, “where circumstances show that conditions exist which equity would see fit to intervene.”

So, if you are a grandparent and you are being prevented from seeing or having a relationship with your grandchildren, a grandparent visitation petition can be brought in the family court of the county in which the grandchildren reside.

With regard to awarding visitation to a grandparent, the family court will take into consideration two fundamental factors:

  1. Whether or not the grandparent has a real relationship with the grandchild
  1. Whether having a relationship with the grandparent will be in the best interest of the child.

If a real relationship cannot be established, or if having a relationship with grandparent is not deemed to be in the best interest of the child, the chance of visitation being awarded to the grandparent will be very slim.

Why You Need an Attorney

Visitation rights for grandparents is a very vague area of law and unless you are being advised by a lawyer who is aware of its nuances, your chance of receiving visitation rights may be severely limited.

Therefore, you should hire an established, knowledgeable grandparents rights attorney to deal with the case and advocate on your behalf. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help you. Call 516-605-0625 or contact me online to schedule an appointment. I am available to meet with you at your home or my office.

Understanding Financial Powers of Attorney

New York State Estate Planning Attorney - Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.Good estate planning involves more than just preparing a will. It not only involves planning for the dispersal and finalization of your estate after you die, it also involves the following:

  • Avoiding probate disputes,
  • Reducing estate taxes,
  • Planning for your needs if you become unable to care for yourself,
  • Protecting your estate from unforeseen creditors, and
  • Providing for the protection for those who will inherit your estate.

A financial power of attorney (also called a durable power of attorney) enables you to give someone else the authority to make financial decisions for you, in the event that you become unable to manage your finances yourself. The person to whom you give this authority will be called your agent and is usually an attorney or a family member whom you trust to make financial decisions on your behalf.

Your agent will take care of routine tasks, such as checking your mail and paying your bills, as well as more complex tasks, such as managing your retirement account and filing your taxes. He or she does not have to be a financial expert, but rather someone who is trustworthy and has common sense. Whenever necessary, your agent can hire other professionals to handle tasks that he or she is not capable of handling.

A financial power of attorney can be drafted to take effect immediately or when you become incapacitated. Spouses often have active durable powers of attorney that authorize each spouse to handle the financial tasks of the other whenever they out of town or otherwise unavailable to do so. Others draft powers of attorney that will be activated only when a doctor certifies, in writing, that they have become incapacitated.

In New York, a durable power attorney must specify the following:

  • The powers you are granting,
  • That these power will exist even after you become disabled or incompetent,
  • To whom you grant these powers,
  • The specific financial transactions you grant your agent the authority to manage, and
  • That this power of attorney may be revoked by you at any time.

The State of New York has its own durable power of attorney form that is readily available on the internet. However, it is not mandatory to use the state’s form. In fact, some banks and financial institutions have their own forms for granting someone authority to manage another’s accounts.

In any event, your durable power of attorney must be signed in front of a notary public (or two witnesses) and with your selected agent present. Once you have completed and properly signed the form, your power of attorney will be valid until your death. This means that you cannot use a durable power of attorney to grant someone the authority to handle financial matters after your death. This authority must be granted to the person in your will by naming he or she as the executor of your estate. That person will then have the authority to handle specific matters, such as paying off debts, distributing property to beneficiaries, and arranging the funeral and burial.

The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. – Estate Planning Attorney

It’s important to have an experienced lawyer working with you when establishing power of attorney. We can help you develop a plan for how your finances and healthcare will be handled if an accident, illness, or medical condition renders you incapable of making these crucial decisions yourself. Call the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. at 516-605-0625 or contact us here for a consultation.

How the New York Probate Process Works

Long Island Probate Lawyer - Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.It is very likely that at some point in your life you will be involved in the probate process as either an executor, administrator, beneficiary or heir.

Understanding how New York’s probate process works will be useful when it is time for you to create your own estate plan.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process that takes place after a person dies to prove their Will and to dispose of their estate.

Probate can take a long time and cost a lot of money for the family of the deceased, therefore, individuals often take measures to enable their estates to avoid probate and save their families time and money.

Why is Probate Necessary?

Big or small, almost everyone has an estate and leaves behind some assets when they die.

Probate laws ensure the following:

  1. Assets will be transferred to the right individual(s) after they die.
  2. Creditors will be paid off
  3. The decedent’s last Will and Testament is valid

Testate or Intestate

If the decedent left a valid Will behind, the estate is considered testate.

If no valid Will was created before the decedent’s death, the estate is intestate.

For testate estates, the decedent’s Will determines how the assets are to be distributed.

If the estate is intestate, distribution of the estate will be determined by New York’s Intestate Succession Laws.

How Probate Is Started

After the decedent’s death, his or her family members will look to see if there was a last Will and Testament left behind. If they find one, the person named as the executor will file a petition to open probate.

If no Will is found, a family member will usually file a petition to open probate and request to be appointed an administrator of the decedent’s estate.

The petition to open probate must be filed in the surrogate court in the county in which the decedent was a resident at the time of his or her death.

Executor vs. Administrator

The duties of the executor or administrator, both of whom must be officially appointed by the court, are exactly the same. Probate involves some complex legal issues, so an attorney is usually hired also to assist the executor/administrator in performing the following duties.

With regards to estate assets, theses duties include:

  • Locating, securing and taking inventory of all assets
  • Having the assets appraised
  • Filing an inventory of assets with the court

With regards to claims against the estate from creditors, the executor/administrator’s duties involve:

  • Determining which creditors have a claim against the estate
  • Notifying all creditors of the probate
  • Paying the creditors from the estate

Will Contest
The executor/administrator also has a duty to defend the decedent’s Will in court.

Sometimes someone challenges the decedent’s Will, in what is known as Will contest.

This can only be done on the basis of something like fraud, or incapacity of the decedent at the time the Will was created, not simply because they are unhappy with their gift or inheritance.

If, however, the Will contest is successful and the decedent’s Will is invalidated, the court will look for a previous valid Will with which to probate the estate. If no previous valid Will can be found, the estate will be probated as intestate and in accordance with state intestate succession laws.

Beneficiary or Heir
Once all estate property has been accounted for, all creditors have been paid and all contests have been dealt with, the executor or administrator must prepare and pay any taxes due on the estate.

After that, all remaining assets must be transferred to the rightful beneficiaries or heirs; the only difference between the two being that beneficiaries are named in the Will, while heirs are decided by the court in accordance with state intestate succession laws.

Probate for Small Estates

The probate process can take months or even years and can cost a significant amount of money, so for estates with assets under $30,000 and/or where the decedent owned no real property, or jointly owned real property with someone else for which there was no plan to sell, there is the option of filing a “small estate affidavit” to avoid the formal probate process.

Contact a Long Island Probate Lawyer Today

Call 516-605-0625 or contact me online to schedule an appointment with an experienced Long Island, NY Probate Attorney. I am available to meet with you at your home or my office.

6 Simple Estate Planning Tips

Long Island Estate Planning Attorney - Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. Estate planning is for everyone and is equally as important for single people as it is for married couples. Everyone needs to have a will and to take the necessary steps to provide for their loved ones and to have their property disposed of after they die.

Estate planning can permit you to determine how your estate is to be managed after you die or when you become unable to manage it yourself. It can also permit you to take steps to avoid probate and minimize estate taxes. Here is a list of six simple estate planning tips that you can employ whether you are young, old, married, single, or with or without children.

  • Create a Basic Will – Amongst other things, a basic Will enables you to:
  1. Express how you would like your property to be disposed of after you die
  2. Name an executor for your estate
  3. Choose a legal guardian for your children
  4. Appoint someone to manage any money your children inherit
  • Create a Revocable Living Trust – A revocable living trust differs from a Will in that it covers how your estate is to be dealt with in the following three scenarios:
  1. When you’re alive and healthy
  2. When you are incapacitated
  3. When you die

A revocable living trust will contain provisions to allow you to manage your own estate while you are alive and well, but will name a disability trustee who will manage your estate in the event you become mentally incapacitated. It will also outline how this trustee should dispose of your estate if you die, and will name those who should receive the balance of your estate after all of your bills have been settled.

  • Draw Up a Power of Attorney – A power of attorney can be drawn up to authorize someone to handle your affairs when you are unable to.  You can draw up multiple powers of attorneys for different purposes. For example, a power of attorney to be given to someone who will manage your finances and another to be given to someone who will make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • Create a Living Will – A living Will, also known as a health care declaration, allows you to express in advance what decisions should be made should you need life-prolonging medical treatment and can’t make those decisions yourself.
  • Update Your Beneficiary Designations – Whoever is named as a beneficiary in financial documents, such as your life insurance policy, bank account, and investment portfolio, will inherit these assets when you die, regardless of what your will or trust says. So, to make sure that these assets are inherited by the right individual(s), you should make it a point to review and update your beneficiary designations on a regular basis, especially after major life events such as the birth of a child, a marriage or a divorce.
  • Consult with an Attorney – Unless you make arrangements ahead of time, when you die or become unable to manage your own affairs, the state may appoint a guardian to manage your affairs for you. So it is important to consult with a state planning attorney to help you take the necessary steps to have your estate managed or disposed of by someone who is aware of your needs and desires, and who has the best interest of your loved ones in mind.

Navigate the Complexities of Estate Planning – Speak to an Attorney

Estate planning can be a complex process that often requires the assistance of an attorney. Contact attorney Andrew M. Lamkin today regarding your estate plan or for assisting with estate administration. Call 516-605-0625 for a free consultation or contact us online with your questions.

Comparing Medicare and Medicaid

New York State Medicaid Lawyer - Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. Medicaid and Medicare have very similar names, and they can both help you pay your medical bills, but they are very different programs.

Medicaid is for low-income people in financial need. On the other hand, Medicare assistance is not based on need; instead, eligibility is based on age and work history.

Although you can qualify and receive benefits from both Medicaid and Medicare at the same time, you will be required to meet separate eligibility requirements for each program.

Here is how Medicare and Medicaid compare:

Medicare

Medicare is administered by the federal government, linked to social security and established to address the high cost of medical care that older people face, especially given the reduced earning capacity of retired people. An individual’s financial need, however, is irrelevant when it comes to their eligibility to receive Medicare. Instead, they are entitled to Medicare because they paid for it with their taxes.

Medicare is available to US citizens who are at least 65 years old and have paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. It is also available to certain people receiving disability through Social Security and some people with long-term kidney disease.

Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) covers the cost of medical care in a hospital or a nursing home facility. Medicare Medical Insurance (Part B) pays for most basic lab costs and outpatient needs, such as medical supplies, home health care, and physical therapy. Medicare Prescription (Part D) covers a part of the costs of prescription medications.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a joint Federal and State program, and like Medicare, its purpose is to address the high cost of health care for low-income individuals and families who cannot afford the cost of medical treatment or long-term custodial care.

Medicaid in New York can be divided into two main types:

  1. Community Medicaid, which covers medication and comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care at hospitals and clinics;
  2. Institutional Medicaid, which covers care provided in nursing homes.

Medicaid is generally available to people with low incomes and children under the age of 19. But it is also available to pregnant women and individuals over 65, as well as those who are blind, disabled or in need of nursing home care.

In order to qualify for Medicaid in New York, you must reside in the state of New York and meet strict financial guidelines related to your living situation, family status, age, and health.

Other Differences Between Medicare and Medicaid

Medicare Part A and D require you to pay an annual deductible and copayments for long hospital stays. In addition, Under Part B, you are required to pay a monthly premium and 20% of all doctors’ bills not paid by Medicare. Under Medicare Part D, you pay a monthly premium, a deductible, copayments and all prescription medication cost above a certain amount, unless you qualify for a low-income subsidy.

Medicaid benefits, on the other hand, are paid by Medicaid directly to health care providers, hospitals, and nursing homes. And, if you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, Medicaid will pay for most of your Medicare Part A and Part D premiums, deductibles, and copayments as well.

Finally, you apply for Medicare at a local Social Security Office while for Medicaid you will need to apply in an office for New York City’s Medicaid program or online through the New York State of Health Exchange.

How Can a New York Medicaid Lawyer Help?

Obtaining Medicaid is a complicated application and eligibility process. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. is aware of all the intricacies of Medicaid law and can work with you to determine the best way to protect your assets and income for your family.

Call 516-605-0625 or contact me online to schedule an appointment with an experienced Long Island (LI) Medicaid Attorney. I am available to meet with you at your home or my office.

Who is Responsible for Protecting Your Rights as a Shareholder?

Long Island Shareholder Rights Attorney - Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. Becoming a shareholder in a corporation is a weighty decision. You are deciding that you trust a company enough to invest. Sometimes, it’s hard to be certain that the company is holding up its end of the deal. As a shareholder, you have certain rights that must be upheld, and it can be difficult to know where to turn if you suspect your shareholder rights have been violated.

How Shareholder Rights Work

Corporations are a unique type of organization. They aim to make a profit, but they operate on behalf of many different actors. Corporations typically rely on shareholders for investment. When things are going well for the company, this is an excellent system for everyone involved: the company continues to grow, and shareholders then “share” in the profits. Shareholders vote on major company decisions, can access information about the company’s operations, and may be given priority for buying additional stock. In some cases, however, shareholders get the short end of the stick. For example, you might:

  • Be induced to sell your shares at unfair prices
  • Not receive the opportunity to vote on important company matters
  • Not receive proper dividends
  • Not be permitted to transfer your stock

Shareholder rights are outlined in the corporation’s bylaws, but these actions are generally violations of your shareholder rights, and you have recourse if such actions have occurred. The strange thing about corporations is that they themselves have no obligation to you as a shareholder. Being a shareholder can be understood as “owning” part of the corporation, but only in a very limited way. A corporation is not one single entity, but a set of contracts between the various stakeholders. Shareholders are just one piece of a rather complex puzzle.

When you hold shares in a corporation, you aren’t in a direct relationship with the corporation as a legal entity. Instead, you’ve entered into a fiduciary relationship with the board of directors and the officers of the corporation. Therefore, it is the board of directors and officers who are responsible for upholding your shareholder rights. This is actually a good thing, because having your rights linked to the entire corporation, with all its interrelated functions and parts, would be difficult. The board of the directors, on the other hand, consists of several readily identifiable individuals who hold the duty to act in the interests of shareholders.  

What to Do When Your Shareholder Rights Are Violated

If your shareholder rights are violated, the initial action is to issue a formal complaint to the directors. Hopefully, the situation will be rectified at this step. If not, you may be able to bring a lawsuit. This will typically be against one or more of the directors or officers. In a derivative lawsuit, you’ll actually be suing the corporation (represented by the directors) on behalf of the corporation. You’ll be suing as a partial owner of the corporation, and not as an individual. A seasoned attorney can assist you to determine how to move forward with a legal action, based upon the facts in your case.

If you would like to learn more about your rights as a shareholder and what you can do to protect your rights or file a lawsuit, contact us at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.

Exactly How Does Power of Attorney Work?

Long Island Power of Attorney Lawyer - Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.Some people think that establishing power of attorney is only for the very wealthy, or those with pressing health concerns. In fact, it’s a good idea for every person to have this important safeguard in place. With the help of a good power of attorney lawyer, the process need not be complicated. To start, we’ll discuss a few different types of powers of attorney and how they work.

Types of Power of Attorney

  • General power of attorney. In essence, general power of attorney gives someone of your choosing the power to act on your behalf. This might involve managing financial transactions, settling claims, operating your business, or handling gifts. General power of attorney is useful for those who may foreseeably not be able to operate at their full mental or physical capacities. It can also be useful for people who travel abroad often, and need a trusted individual to have the right to act on their behalf in the U.S. General power of attorney is often included in an estate plan.   
  • Special power of attorney. This works similarly to general power of attorney, but you specify exactly which powers you want your chosen agent to have. Commonly, these will include selling property, managing real estate, handling financial transactions, and collecting debts. You might choose to designate special powers of attorney if you have health concerns, or if you have commitments that draw you away from certain tasks.
  • Healthcare power of attorney. Giving an agent healthcare power of attorney gives that person the power to act on your behalf if you are medically incapable of making your own decisions regarding your care and treatment.
  • Durable power of attorney. Signing this order means that whatever power of attorney you have given your agent will remain valid. Certain situations and health conditions make it wise to have this document in place.

How to Establish Power of Attorney

The first step is to choose a trusted individual to be your agent. It might be a family member, a friend, or an attorney, but no matter who it is, you must trust them implicitly to act in your best interests. They should keep careful records of every transaction undertaken under your name. You may designate multiple agents, but keep in mind that doing so can result in delays when it comes to taking action. Once you have chosen your agent, it’s time to sign the power of attorney. You must be of sound mind when you sign the document, so if there is any chance that this could be called into question, you might consider having a doctor attest to your mental competency prior to signing.

It’s important to have an experienced lawyer working with you when establishing power of attorney. Contact us at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. for a consultation. We can help you develop a plan for how your finances and healthcare will be handled if an accident, illness, or medical condition renders you incapable of making these crucial decisions yourself.

Why a Nonprofit Nursing Home May Be the Best Option for Your Loved One

New York State Nursing Home Lawyer - Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. Choosing a nursing home facility for an elderly loved one is a difficult decision for a family to make. There are so many factors at play: quality of care, distance from home, and a pleasant environment, among others. Many options may be available, but be careful. Some nursing homes are more concerned about making a profit than about providing the right level of care for residents.

The Rise of For-Profit Nursing Homes

These days, most nursing home facilities in the U.S. are for profit. In fact, 78% of nursing home revenues went to for-profit institutions in 2010 (up from 72% in 2008). These nursing homes may be more willing to cut crucial corners in order to bring in more revenue, even when doing so puts residents in harm’s way, and skirts around what the law permits.

Between 2010 and 2012, federal prosecutors brought 120 cases against nursing homes. Many of these homes are run by enormous companies that operate thousands of nursing homes nationwide. Some are even facing lawsuits associated with preventable deaths of residents. These cases involve a situation in which residents often went without food, bathing, or proper medical treatment. Neglect is not a problem that is unique to for-profit nursing homes, but it is more common within them.

How For-Profit Facilities Cut Corners

The most important factor that influences a nursing home’s quality of care is the staff. It’s not surprising that when a facility hires skilled, well-trained personnel–and hires enough of them–residents are well cared for. Conversely, it is unsafe to have a low ratio of caretakers to residents, as many residents suffer from serious health and cognitive conditions that require close supervision.

A 2011 report published by the Government Accountability Office found that for-profit institutions were severely lagging in this area. For-profit nursing homes had fewer registered nurses present per resident per day, and had the highest number of deficiencies causing harm or jeopardy to residents. For-profit institutions are also likely to spend less money on activities for residents, as well as nursing supplies, and even food. This all leads to a lower quality of life and more health risks for residents. Not-for-profit institutions, however, are not driven by the bottom line. These facilities generally hire more staff, and are able to commit more resources to keeping residents healthy and happy.

Making a Decision

Choosing a nursing home for your loved one is a deeply personal decision, and one that is different for every family. However, when researching nursing homes, it is worth weighing the true goals of the facility–is it the well-being of residents, or is it profit? It is well worth your time to look into non-profit nursing homes, as they often provide a higher standard of care.
If you already have a loved one in a nursing home, don’t hesitate to speak up on their behalf if it appears he or she is not getting the quality care they deserve. And, if you suspect mistreatment or abuse, contact us at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.

Resident-on-Resident Nursing Home Abuse More Common Than You Might Think

New York State Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer - Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. When we think of nursing home abuse, we tend to think of nurses and caretakers mistreating our elders. This is an important problem, but there’s another aspect of nursing home abuse that can fly under the radar. Sometimes, nursing home residents themselves are guilty of abusing other residents. If you have a loved one in a nursing care facility, be aware of the very real risk of mistreatment by other residents.

Types of Abuse by Residents

In a group setting like a nursing home, it’s easy for small, but nevertheless troubling, behaviors to escalate if they go unchecked. Every month, one in five nursing home residents experiences some type of aggression from another resident. Some of these offenses are merely aggravating. Residents might yell, insult, or curse at another resident. If this behavior is habitual, it can take a serious toll on the mental health of the targets.

Moreover, poor behavior may not stop there. Frequently, residents enter other people’s rooms without permission, looking through other’s possessions. Sometimes, residents go as far as hitting, biting, scratching, or sexually assaulting other residents. This is, of course, unacceptable. Nursing home employees have a difficult job, but more must be done to protect residents from abuse.

What Causes Resident-on-Resident Abuse

In most incidents, it’s hard to point to a single cause of aggression. Many nursing home residents are cognitively impaired, and engage in actions that may be associated with some form of dementia. If resident-on-resident abuse is rampant in a particular nursing home, it may potentially be linked to the overall conditions in the facility. Abuse is more likely in facilities in which the following factors are present:

  • Conditions are crowded, with less private space for each resident. This can lead to frustration and tension, which can in turn lead to residents acting out. It also means that residents may have more frequent unwanted interactions.
  • Inadequate staff for supervision. Stretched thin, personnel can find it difficult to find time to resolve conflicts, and to respond quickly to explosive situations.
  • There is not a good system in place for conflict resolution. With many people living in the same close quarters day-to-day, it is not surprising that tensions can develop between residents. Without a mediation structure, those tensions can fester and potentially become explosive. Staff members may become desensitized to conflict, ignoring the warning signs for abuse.
  • Staff members aren’t communicating with residents in a sensitive manner. Particularly for relatively young residents who are suffering from cognitive impairments such as dementia, pent-up frustration is an enormous problem. If they aren’t given the chance to talk about it, and provided with proper outlets, it could lead to such a resident engaging in abusive acts against other residents.

What to Do If a Loved One is Being Abused in a Nursing Home

There is nothing more painful than seeing a family member suffer. If you believe a loved one is the victim of abuse at the hands of another nursing home resident, don’t wait. Contact us at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. An experienced elder law attorney, Andrew Lamkin can help your family resolve the situation and pursue justice and full compensation for your loved one.

Top 4 Reasons to Rewrite Your Will

New York State Wills and Trusts Lawyer - Lamkin Elder LawWhile you may be aware of the importance of estate planning, preparing a last will and testament, establishing trust, and having other advanced directives, when did you last update your will? Do you review your will and your trusts regularly? Have you had any major life changes since your will was originally prepared or last updated?

Keeping your will up-to-date is extremely important not only to help you reach your estate planning objectives, but for the future well-being of your family and other beneficiaries. If you have not reviewed your will recently, these are four of the main reasons you should consider doing so right now:

1. You Are Getting Married

Getting married is one of the biggest decisions a person will make during his or her life. Your will should include your new spouse and his or her future needs, as well as your own. Getting married is an ideal time to rewrite your will.

2. You Bought a New House

Making the decision to buy a new house is an important decision. That being said, a new home can add a substantial asset to your estate. A new home purchase is a long-term investment you will want to protect both now and for your beneficiaries. Don’t delay on adjusting your estate planning following a new home purchase. This way your property will be protected and covered under the conditions of your will.

3. You Are Having Your First Child

Becoming a parent for the first time is a joyful occasion; however, with the joy comes many legal and financial responsibilities. While it will be your job to provide and care for your child as he or she grows, you also need to ensure that your child will be taken care of in case of an untimely death. If tragedy struck, you would want to have your child’s financial future secured. You would also want to ensure that guardianship is assigned so that your child is cared for by the person you feel best suited to the task.

4. You Just Received a Life-Threatening Diagnosis

Even though we all know we’re going to die one day, people don’t like to dwell on their own mortality. That all changes though when you receive a life-threatening diagnosis. Finding out from your doctor that you have an illness or medical condition which will lead to death far sooner than you may have hoped is extremely sobering. At a time like this a person should review and update his or her will. Take the time to make sure your affairs are in order for the benefit of those you love.

In truth, rewriting your will should be done any time major changes in your life occur. Whether you experience one of the above, you are going through a divorce, you are about to welcome your first grandchild, your financial situation has significantly improved, you recently sold or purchased new assets, or you simply changed your mind about beneficiaries, talk to a lawyer about rewriting your will. When the time comes, you and your loved ones will be glad you did.

Experienced Wills and Trusts Lawyer in New York State

If you have made any major life changes in recent months, or your outlook on life and what the future may hold has changed, now is the time to rewrite your will. With the help of an experienced lawyer from the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C., changes and adjustments to wills and trusts can be accomplished with ease. Our firm has years of estate law experience and we are committed to doing all we can to help our clients achieve their estate planning goals.

To get started with rewriting your will, call our firm and schedule a free consultation with a New York State estate planning lawyer today. Protecting your future begins now!

Elder Financial Fraud Explained

Long Island Elder Financial Fraud Attorney - Lamkin Elder LawAccording to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), major financial exploitation is self-reported by seniors and elderly adults at a rate of 41 per 1,000 surveyed. This figure is significantly higher than the rates for self-reported emotional, physical, sexual, or other types of abuse and neglect. What makes this statistic so frightening is knowing elder financial fraud is not limited to any one particular area – anyone can fall victim. Elder financial fraud is a very real concern, nationwide. Out of all the elderly adults surveyed by the NCEA, only one in ten abuse cases did not include some form of financial abuse.  

What Is Elder Financial Fraud?

Elder financial fraud is a type of elder abuse involving taking or swindling an elderly adult of out their assets by fraudulent means and for personal financial gain. Examples of elder financial fraud include:

  • Forging a person’s signature.
  • Coercing an elderly adult to “donate” money for a non-existent or fraudulent charity.
  • Using false pretenses to convince a person to give you money.
  • Using deceptive methods to rob an elderly adult of his or her savings.
  • Telemarketing scams.
  • Credit card scams.
  • Identity theft.
  • Promising goods or services in exchange for money, and then not delivering.
  • Confidence crimes (i.e. gaining someone’s confidence for fraudulent financial gain).
  • Physical or mental harm for extortion purposes.
  • Embezzlement.

Who Is Most Likely to Perpetrate Elder Financial Fraud?

Elder financial fraud can be perpetrated by anyone from a loved one to a trusting friend, a relative to a long-time confidante, a caregiver or healthcare provider, and even a dishonest telemarketer or thief who targets the elderly.

Most people, particularly older adults, are extremely trusting. They want to believe people are good and have faith in humanity. While that is not necessarily bad, it can leave them open to financial scams and make them easy targets for financial fraud.

If a “friend” calls claiming he or she has fallen on bad times and is in desperate need of assistance, an elderly adult may not think twice about lending money. Unfortunately, this is one of the ways our loved ones fall victim. Even an unsuspecting call from a company informing your loved one about a computer virus and offering to remedy the problem for a price is often a scam.

Sadly enough, some of the worst cases of elder financial fraud involve loved ones facing substance abuse or financial problems, or those simply wanting to gain access to money they believe is rightfully theirs.

What You Can Do to Prevent Elder Financial Fraud

Although you can’t keep a watchful eye on your elderly loved ones at all times, you can take certain actions to help minimize or prevent elder financial fraud:

  • Check bank statements and accounts regularly; be watchful of suspect charges.
  • Talk to your loved ones about potential scams to which they could fall victim.
  • Restrict access to your loved one’s checking and savings accounts.
  • Agree to discuss all financial transactions before money changes hands.
  • Be watchful of property or belongings going missing.
  • Assign a financial power of attorney so your loved one will no longer be burdened with making financial decisions.

If you suspect your loved one has become the victim of elder financial abuse, or you are worried about his or her financial well-being, speak with an elder law attorney at once. An attorney from our firm can assist with estate planning and other asset protections, as well as advise you of how to best manage these issues. Call the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. to schedule a free consultation.

Understanding Health Care Power of Attorney

Long Island Advanced Health Care Directives Attorney - Lamkin Elder LawAs your loved ones get older, there may come a time when they will be unable to make healthcare decisions on their own accord. When this happens, you’ll want to have a health care power of attorney, advanced directive, or proxy in place, particularly if your loved one is living on his or her own.

These important legal documents are extremely beneficial in cases in which a parent is unexpectedly involved in an accident or contracts a life-threatening or debilitating illness. Any elder adult, single parent, or individual living on his or her own can benefit from having a health care power of attorney in place.

Assigning power of attorney to a trusted loved one or friend gives a person peace of mind in knowing his or her wishes pertaining to medical treatment and end-of-life care will be followed. You don’t want your loved one put through unnecessary pain and suffering for the purpose of prolonging life, if that is not what he or she wishes. You don’t want decisions to be made by those who may not know you or those who can’t be trusted to focus on your best interests.

What Is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

A health care power of attorney is a legally-binding document that assigns rights and responsibilities for health care decisions to another person. The person who is granted the power of attorney would then have the authority to make life and death decisions in situations where the individual is no longer able to do so.

What Exact Decision-Making Power Does a Health Proxy Give?

As a health proxy or health power of attorney gives a person decision-making power over any and all medical – as well as end-of-life – decisions, you will want to make sure the person you choose understands your wishes and can be trusted to follow them. Decision-making power may include:

  • Whether you should be admitted or discharged from a hospital
  • What treatment or medication you do or do not want to receive
  • What parties can have access to your medical records
  • When you should be resuscitated
  • Whether you should be put on life support
  • Whether you want doctors to go to extraordinary measures to keep you alive

Who Should You Choose As Your Proxy?

Giving another person the power to make decisions about your medical needs, health care, and end-of-life treatment is an important life decision. The American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging recommends people choose an agent who:

  • Will take the time to talk with you about your wishes, your health care priorities, and any end-of-life needs.
  • Will understand what you want and faithfully do what you wish when the time comes.
  • Lives nearby or can easily travel to you if the situation arises.
  • You trust with your life.
  • Will not give in to family members’ arguments or conflicting opinions, but will follow your wishes as laid out.
  • Will not bend to medical personnel’s recommendations, if these go against your wishes.
  • Will be an unwavering advocate for you.

Choosing health care providers, nursing home staff, doctors, government representatives from organizations that have a financial responsibility for your care, court-assigned guardians, or individuals who have health power of attorney for numerous people is not advised. You need someone you can trust to make the same decision you would make, if you were able.

Legal Assistance with Advanced Health Care Directives

If you are interested in creating an advanced health care directive, health care proxy, or living will, we recommend you speak with a skilled Long Island advanced directives attorney right away. An attorney from the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. can help prepare these documents and give you the peace of mind afforded by knowing that your interests are protected.

Contact our firm now to find out how to get started.

Finding the Right Retirement Community for Your Loved One

Long Island Elder Law Attorney - Lamkin Elder LawAs your loved ones age, you may find yourself in search of a retirement community able to fulfill their social and recreational interests, as well as meet their personal healthcare needs. Finding the right retirement community or senior housing option can be a difficult task. Not all retirement communities offer the same amenities and services. In addition, not all communities may fit within the available financial budget.

So, how can you go about finding the right retirement community? How can you know your loved one’s needs will be met and he or she won’t fall victim to any hidden pitfalls or risks? A decision such as this should be undertaken with great care. Seeking counsel from an experienced elder law attorney before making a commitment can improve your chances of finding the right community where your loved one is safe from harm.

Questions You Should Ask

While touring retirement communities, reading brochures, and checking online reviews can be beneficial, getting answers to certain questions are a key part of your search. You want what’s best for your loved one, so don’t hesitate to ask questions or raise concerns. Discuss the matter with your loved one; make sure all of his or her needs will be met. Finding out the answers to these and other questions can help you narrow your search:

  • Is there a waiting list, and if so, how long is it?
  • What medical and healthcare services are available?
  • Will your loved one have access to advanced care services? What type?
  • Is nursing care available for when your loved one is unable to care for him- or herself?
  • Are housekeeping and other in-home services available on site?
  • Does the facility have specialists trained to care for Alzheimer’s patients, Parkinson’s patients, or those suffering from other types of dementia?
  • What activities are available in the nearby area?
  • Does the community offer transportation to and from these activities?
  • Does the community have an ongoing relationship with local colleges, art schools, or libraries that offer events residents can attend?
  • What exercise and recreational activities are available on site? Is there a pool? Golf course? Putting green? Tennis court? Other activities?
  • Does the community sponsor or support social activities such as bingo, card games, book clubs, movie nights, and other group get-togethers?
  • What services are included in the basic contract?
  • What additional services can be added to the contact, and at what cost?
  • Are there other fees or costs of which you should be aware?
  • How are the costs broken down (food, housing, transportation, etc.), and what portion of the costs are eligible for refund?
  • Are refunds available at any time, or only under certain circumstances?
  • Is a down payment or deposit required?
  • Does the facility have any specific requirements or qualifications residents must meet before being allowed to join the community?
  • Does a person’s age, health, mobility, or mental capacity have any bearing on eligibility?
  • What will happen if your loved one is unable to pay? Will he or she be evicted? Will the facility try to help find a decent alternative? Will loved ones be notified ahead of time so a resolution can be reached without causing undue disruption?
  • Where do residents eat? What meal plans are available? Do residents have access to a cafeteria or dining hall? Is food provided only at designated meal times? Do residents have other food options? What can be arranged for residents on strict diets?
  • How many staff are employed at the facility?
  • Are trained nurses or medical staff available or on call 24 hours a day?

If you or your loved one has other questions, the time to inquire is prior to signing a contract and moving your loved into the facility. As you want what is in your loved one’s best interests, be sure to have an elder law attorney review the contract and terms.

As the National Council on Aging states, it is important for seniors to stay connected with family, friends, and the community. In fact, this can have a much greater impact on their happiness than material goods. So, finding the right community will give you and your loved one peace of mind in knowing he or she will have a good quality of life and standard of care.

Contact a Long Island Elder Law Attorney

Helping families protect their assets and loved ones is what we do. At the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C., our attorneys are committed to being the legal advocate our clients deserve. With in-depth knowledge of elder law, we are able to assist with legal and non-legal matters, including but not limited to retirement planning, long-term care, and nursing home placement. If you are in search of the right retirement community for your loved one, we are here to help. Call our firm today to schedule your free consultation.

Who Should Be Your Estate Agent?

Long Island Estate Planning Attorney - Lamkin Elder LawOne of the most important aspects of estate planning is assigning a power of attorney. The power of attorney is a nationally recognized role, but requirements will differ from state-to-state. This paper gives one or more individuals the power to act on your behalf – operating as your agent. Their power can be limited to just one activity, such as making healthcare decisions, or the power can be general. You can also authorize permanent or temporary power of attorney to a single individual.

These roles take effect immediately once the document is signed or upon the occurrence of an event – such as becoming incapacitated. The power of attorney can also be revoked, but you will be required to submit a written notice of revocation to the individual that is currently acting as your agent.

The person that is assigned a power of attorney is your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.” With that valid power of attorney, they can take whatever action that is permitted within the scope of the document. For example, they can sell assets or even acquire new assets on your behalf.

While you may be wary about assigning someone so much power over your life and wealth, it is important to realize that without a power of attorney, if you are unable to manage your own personal and business affairs, the court may have to appoint one or more individuals to do so for you – and these may be individuals that you would rather not have managing your life.

Who Should Be Your Estate Agent?

You are allowed to choose anyone as your agent. Most individuals will name a family member, such as their spouse or child to act on their behalf. You can also name more than one person to act as an agent at the same time – but be aware agents may disagree. Co-agents should have special provisions in the power of attorney to ensure there is limited disagreement among both parties.

You should also name a successor agent to your primary agent. This is because if the first agent is unavailable or unable to fulfill their role, you will need a secondary agent to step in and assume their duties. Without a successor, the courts will have to decide an agent on your behalf.

There are no requirements or qualifications needed to be an estate agent. The only qualification is that the person is of legal age and that they are not incapacitated themselves. The best choice is always an individual that you trust and know is responsible enough to carry out your wishes. This person should be impartial and able to put what you request ahead of their own personal gain.

Before Selecting an Agent, Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney

Because of the broad powers that can be assigned to an agent, it is important that you speak with an attorney. Your attorney can advise you as to the roles of an agent and help you not only select the proper party, but designate their powers so that only competent individuals are handling certain aspects of your estate – and most importantly, that they are handling things in your best interests. Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your powers of attorney. Contact him at 516-605-0625 or online for a free consultation appointment.