Funding a Trust

Long Island Trust Funding Attorney - Lamkin Elder Law

Now that you have established a trust, you should transfer all applicable assets into that trust. Doing so will not only ensure your trust is funded, but all of your assets will now be protected by that trust and can hopefully avoid probate court. The process of formally transferring assets into a trust is not complicated, but it should still be done with the assistance of your estate planning attorney to ensure all applicable assets have been properly transferred. Not moving assets over correctly could mean that your trust has no positive effect (or any effect for that matter) on your assets. Instead, assets would be passed through your will and without a will, forced to pass through your state’s intestate succession laws.

Unfortunately, it is all too common for individuals to skip the funding portion of setting up their trust or leave out valuable assets that should be placed into the trust. To ensure your loved ones and assets are fully protected, make sure funding is the first step you take after the trust documents are completed.

Title-Documented Assets

Assets with a title document that verifies you own that asset can be transferred into the trust. You will need a new title document that shows the asset is now held by the trust. Some assets that are titled include:

  • Real estate properties
  • Stocks
  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Investment accounts, such as CDs
  • Vehicles
  • Patents, trademarks and copyrights

For example, if you wish to transfer your home into the trust, you need to prepare and record a new deed that certifies the property is held by the trust instead of yourself. To transfer bank accounts, contact your financial institution and request the ownership be transferred to your trust. The institution typically requires copies of the trust documents, but they handle all transfers after they have evidence a trust exists.

What About Assets without a Title?

There are numerous valuable assets that may not have a titled document. For example, you may have expensive artwork or family heirlooms of significant value that you wish to transfer into the security of your trust. These items can be listed in the trust document so that they are protected by the trust. For a more secure asset transfer, your attorney can draft an Assignment of Property.

Speak with Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. Today

If you want to protect your assets, including non-titled assets, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. We can explore your options and not only help you establish a trust, but transfer your valuable assets into that trust so that they do not have to endure the hassles of probate court. It is important that your assets are transferred properly; otherwise, your assets could experience more problems – such as a retirement account that requires a full distribution and tax penalties. To get started with a properly funded trust, schedule a free consultation online or call 516-605-0625.

529 Plans and Estate Plans

Long Island 529 Plan Attorney - Lamkin Elder Law

A 529 college savings plan is the ideal way to help fund your child’s future college expenses. What you may not know about a 529 plan is that it is also a valuable estate planning tool. For individuals of wealth, a 529 college savings plan provides an opportunity to help transfer some of that wealth as part of the overall estate plan.

The Rules of 529 College Savings Plans

All 50 states allow the use of a 529 college savings plan. Also referred to as qualified tuition programs, these investment opportunities offering parents numerous tax benefits are overseen by the state’s treasury department. One of the best features of a 529 plan is that you do not have to live in the same state where the plan is established. Additionally, you do not have to send your child to a college in the state where the 529 plan is set up.

Because of this open-ended option, states are now competing with one another – which means they are offering generous contribution limits to parents. These types of plans are a simpler form of investment with minimal risk too, making them ideal for every estate plan.

Using a 529 Plan in Your Estate Plan

From an estate planning perspective, there are several attractive features to a 529 college savings plan. Unlike their competition, the education IRA, you are not restricted by income limits nor are you prohibited from fully contributing to the plan. That means that everyone will qualify to own a 529 college savings plan regardless of how much they make each year.

529 Plans and Tax-Free Gifting

One of the most attractive features of 529 plans is that they allow you to reduce your estate tax obligations with an annual tax-free gift contribution of $13,000. Married couples can contribute as much as $26,000 per year in tax-free gift contributions for each beneficiary (each child) without any federal gift tax issues arising later on.

For individuals that wish to reduce the size of their estate, they can fund 529 plans for their children and reduce the tax burden on the estate as well as their beneficiaries. Each contribution can help reduce the size of a wealthier individual’s estate dramatically and minimize or even eliminate tax obligations altogether.

Grandparent Gifts

529 plans are not exclusively offered to parents. Grandparents that wish to contribute to a child’s education can use a 529 account as well. However, grandparents must keep in mind the federal generation-skipping transfer tax or GSTT. This tax is applied to individuals that are one generation below the gift-giver, such as a grandchild. There is a GSTT exemption and GSTT is not due until that exemption has been exceeded. Grandparents can contribute a maximum amount per year to a grandchild’s 529 plan to reduce their own estate value and still keep their grandchildren free of federal taxes later on.

Speak with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. Regarding Your 529 Plan

If you are interested in using a 529 college savings plan as part of your overall estate plan, contact attorney Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today for a free consultation. We can discuss your options and help find the best method for reducing your estate tax obligations. Contact us online or call 516-605-0625 to get started.

The Pitfalls of DIY Estate Plans

Long Island Estate Planning Lawyers - Lamkin Elder Law

The age of the Internet is upon us, and that means more sites educating consumers and even offering cheaper DIY alternatives to professional services. One of these popular DIY sites offers estate planning where you can find all of the forms you need, along with information and tutorials. While it may seem like an ideal option, at closer examination you may find that you truly get what you pay for.

Online services offer contract templates and use boilerplate language that claims to offer you maximum protection, but you are also required to create your own terms and other provisions tailored to the unique estate situation you have. Because these online sites are so simplified, they often create more harm to an estate than good.

Common Issues with DIY Wills

DIY kits claim to offer attorney-level advice and guides for drafting an official will; however, it is up to the customer to take the time to read all of the documentation. Also, these guides do not encompass every circumstance and are often too general in their scope. Most importantly, they use generalized laws instead of addressing specific state laws.

If you are thinking about using a cheaper alternative, like a DIY site, here are some pitfalls you may want to be aware of first:

  1. No Residuary Clause – A template lets you name beneficiaries and bequeath assets, but it rarely allows you to indicate how that property will remain after all estate taxes, debts and other expenses are paid. These online templates lack the residuary clause to ensure property passes according to the laws of intestacy. This means that certain assets may go to an individual you never intended.
  2. Fill in the Blank Errors – Another common pitfall with DIY estate plans is that the consumer must fill in the blanks. That means you are required to name your executor and add in beneficiaries, guardians and other provisions. It is easy to misunderstand each provision and accidentally fill in the wrong role with someone you did not intend, such as accidentally listing a beneficiary as your executor.
  3. A Clear Lack of Execution – When it comes to witnessing a will, you are required to have the will notarized and a witness present during the signing. This is easily overlooked on a DIY will and in some cases, you are not even prompted to have it notarized. Also, the sites rarely update with the latest probate laws; therefore, you may have a will that violates those laws.
  4. Not Creating a Trust – While a will is a valuable tool, a trust is also something that most individuals will want to create when they make an estate plan. Unfortunately, DIY sites will not advise individuals about creating a trust or even follow the state laws for drafting one.
  5. Special Needs – DIY kits lack the complexity to handle children, especially those with special needs. They may jeopardize your child’s eligibility for public benefits and assets may be passed incorrectly, leaving your child with nothing.

Don’t Risk Your Estate – Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. Today

DIY estate plans do cost less, but they cost you more in the end. Having an estate plan drafted to meet the specific circumstances of your estate is the only way to protect your assets and your loved ones. Let the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. help you with your personalized estate plan. Schedule a free consultation online or call 516-605-0625 now.

When There Is Not Enough Money to Pay Estate Debts

Long Island Estate Debts Lawyers - Lamkin Elder Law

After an individual passes, their debts do not cease. Instead, their estate survives and is then obligated to pay any existing debts that the deceased incurred during their lifetime. But what if the deceased’s estate does not have enough funds in the estate account to cover those debts or has no plan for paying them?

Paying Joint Debts

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has strict guidelines for the debts of the deceased. Under those regulations, family members are not required to pay any debts of the deceased from their own assets. However, there are exceptions to this regulation and there are instances where surviving family members may be held liable for any debts. These exceptions include:

  • Someone that co-signed on the debt;
  • Community property states;
  • The deceased’s spouse and if state law requires that the spouse pay for certain debts (such as health care expenses);
  • The individual was legally responsible for resolving any remaining estate debts per probate laws.

Referred to as “joint debts,” these debts are then the obligations of the surviving debt holder. Therefore, if you have joint debts with a deceased individual, you need to contact the lender to review the terms of the loan or credit line and if required, transfer the obligation into your name and address for fulfillment. You also need to ensure future payments on the debt no longer come from the estate account, but from your personal account.

Paying Individual Debts

When debts are in the decedent’s name and there are no joint account holders, these individual debts must be paid by the estate. The executor is obligated to sell any existing assets to raise enough funds to cover these debts as much as possible. If there are no assets and no cash, creditors have no other options for collection.

Executors must follow an order of priority with estate debts, which includes:

  • Administration, funeral and testamentary expenses;
  • Creditors with security, such as a mortgage lender;
  • Taxes and social insurance contributions;
  • Unsecured debts.

When the estate does not have sufficient assets to cover the debts, then the debts are paid from the following assets:

  • Property that was not dealt with specifically in the estate plan;
  • Any remaining assets that are leftover;
  • Property that was specifically left to pay for remaining debts;
  • Gift monies or other bequests in the estate plan.

Create an Estate Plan That Addresses Your Debts – Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today

It is important that you leave enough assets or create a plan for covering debts your loved ones may be required to pay. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help you devise a plan that ensures joint debts are adequately covered and your individual debts are satisfied. We can explore your options and find creative ways to fund your estate – even when you think there is no way to cover your debts. Contact us now for a free consultation at 516-605-0625 or fill out an online contact form to learn more.

Valid Reasons to Remove a Trustee

Long Island Trustee Removal Lawyers - Lamkin Elder LawFiduciaries that misappropriate trust assets or fail to comply with trust terms can create significant problems for an estate, as well as its beneficiaries. Because a trustee holds all assets of the estate, it is imperative that an inadequate fiduciary is removed. However, removing the individual endowed with the task of overseeing a trust requires special circumstances – and the assistance of an estate planning attorney.

Reasons That Constitute Fiduciary Removal

  1. Failure to comply with trust terms. A trustee has the legal ownership and management of all trust assets. These assets are held for the benefit of the heirs, and the trustee is obligated to act in the best interest of those heirs. If the trustee fails to act in the best interest of the heirs or blatantly ignores trust terms, beneficiaries can petition the court to remove them from their role.
  2. Mismanagement of trust assets. As an elected individual, the trustee has a fiduciary duty to manage all trust assets in a manner that ensures they are not wasted or devalued. If a trustee neglects that duty or purposely neglects their role, leading to a significant decline in trust assets, a petition for removal is valid.
  3. Using trust assets for their own benefit. A trustee who uses their control over trust assets to their own benefit breaches their fiduciary duty to the estate and its beneficiaries. This may lead to a prompt trustee removal by a probate court judge. Unfortunately, if the trustee is a financial institution, beneficiaries may be required to sign a “conflict of interest” waiver, which would allow the institution to legally self-deal in trust assets.
  4. The trustee shows clear hostility toward estate beneficiaries. A trustee must act in the best interests of the estate and cannot allow for a significant breakdown or continuing conflict with beneficiaries. If the trustee shows clear hostility toward beneficiaries or cannot work professionally with the estate’s beneficiaries, the trustee must be removed.
  5. Trust administration methods have led to a breakdown in beneficiary trust. Beneficiaries must trust the individual overseeing their assets. If the way in which the trust is administered has led to a breakdown of confidence in the trustee, leading to further hostility, the beneficiaries can petition for the trustee’s removal.

Hire Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. to Help with Your Trustee Removal Petition

Beneficiaries faced with the task of removing a trustee need to carefully consider their position. Even if there are adequate grounds for removal, they must consider the potential costs and consequences of doing so – especially if the trustee resists the petition. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your trustee removal. We will explore your options and if you have a valid reason, we will represent your petition to the court. Contact us online today to learn more, or call 516-605-0625 to schedule a consultation.

Things You Didn’t Know About Estate Planning – But Should

Long Island Estate Planning Lawyers - Lamkin Elder LawMost Americans are aware they should complete an estate plan, but little have done so. An estate plan does not only distribute assets, but it can also protect an individual and their loved ones from creditors, conflict, and much more. Unfortunately, the biggest reason for a lack of pre-planning comes down to information – or the lack thereof. Consumers are often giving into misconceptions about estate plans, and these misconceptions can cost American households thousands of dollars later on.

What Consumers Should Know About Estate Planning

From making important decisions to addressing formalities, there is plenty you should know about creating and maintaining an estate plan.

  1. An estate plan is not reserved for the wealthy. The number one reason Americans do not create an estate plan is because they assume you need excess wealth to have one. In reality, even middle- to low-class citizens could benefit from a well-drafted estate plan. Even those with no assets, but with children, can name a guardian for their minor children if they pass. On the other hand, without an estate plan, a judge will determine the guardian for minor children, which may not be a guardian you would have selected voluntarily.
  2. Estate plans have strict formalities. Despite being in the electronic age, there are formalities with an estate plan. While it may be seen as an antiquated law, wills must be signed in the presence of witnesses. This is not because the law it out of date; instead, it is to protect yourself and your beneficiaries, ensuring that your will is valid and you did not make your decisions under duress.
  3. Estate plans cover all valuable property. Whether you have a retirement account from employment, a coin collection, or a family home, your estate plan can dictate how each asset you own is distributed after your death.
  4. A properly drafted estate plan can avoid probate. Probate court, which involves taxes, fees, and legal costs, can be avoided with a living trust. While a trust does not guarantee an estate will avoid probate, if the trust has all assets titled in your name you can save your heirs the costs and lengthy delays associated with probate court.
  5. Omissions can cause legal issues. Self-drafted estate plans usually lack the complexity required to cover your estate, including any unique aspects of it. A simple omission or use of confusing language can result in an unfavorable outcome. This is why it is imperative your estate plan is drafted by an attorney who understands New York estate laws, giving them the ability to draft a will that addresses your estate’s unique characteristics.

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 after you have passed. Schedule a consultation online or call 516-605-0625 to learn more

Choosing the Executor of Your Estate

estate planningOne of the most important decisions you will make for your estate plan is in selecting the individual (or institution) to be in charge of your assets after you have passed. Also known as the executor, the tasks of this fiduciary can impact your beneficiaries and estate; therefore, there are factors you should consider before selecting a person for the position.

You are allowed to select more than one individual to fulfill these roles, known as co-executors. Some people choose more than one fiduciary – individuals legally obliged to act in your estate’s best interests – to ensure that at least one individual has legal and financial expertise, while the other is close to the family. If you do choose to have more than one executor, be sure to choose two people who can work well together. It is also recommended that you select a successor for each role, in case your first choice is unable to serve.

Choosing Your Executor(s)

The individual responsible for administering your estate is the executor. Because this individual will have direct access to your assets, finances, and resources, it is imperative that you select an individual who is financially stable, responsible, and – most importantly – trustworthy.

The law requires your estate to have an executor so that there is someone responsible for collecting all assets of your estate, protecting your estate property, creating an inventory, paying valid creditor claims (including taxes), representing the estate, and distributing assets to the estate’s beneficiaries. In some cases, an executor may have to liquidate assets (such as selling stocks, bonds, or even furniture) to have adequate cash on-hand to pay taxes, creditors of the estate, and beneficiaries.

Paid versus Non-Paid Executors

One approach is to appoint someone who has no conflict of interest with your estate, meaning someone who has nothing to gain from your will. Many testators will name a paid executor, such as an attorney or accountant, to avoid conflict. Some valid reasons for choosing a paid executor include:

  • Spouses and family members are often burdened with grief; therefore, it is too much of a burden to ask that they are personally liable for all estate taxes, filings, and fiduciary tasks.
  • Executors must gather assets; therefore, a spouse or family member would be required to retrieve money and property loaned to friends, which creates a conflict for that family member.
  • A professional has the ability to call on the advice of other professionals, such as accountants, tax experts, investment counselors, and business administrators to assist them with their fiduciary demands.
  • A professional also has the time and emotional distance to handle the complex role of being the executor, while a family member does not.

Non-paid executors, which are usually family or close friends, can waive the executor’s fee to which they are entitled and serve the estate. However, this individual must be capable of doing the job; therefore, a person should be selected like an employee. A desirable executor is one who has experience handling bills (especially complicated Medicare, ambulance fees, hospital bills, etc.). This individual should be highly organized because they will be required to manage a preponderance of paperwork and meet strict deadlines with the court.

Most importantly, the law does not allow convicted felons, minors, or non-U.S. citizens to serve as fiduciaries. While a nonresident can serve as an executor in the state of New York, it is often best if the executor is local so that they can meet the demands of their position.

Schedule a Time to Meet with Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin, PC

Selecting an executor is extremely important. An estate planning attorney can assist you with not only your estate plan, but also with selecting a responsible, suitable executor for your estate. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, PC online or call 516-605-0625 to schedule a consultation.

How Your Cell Phone Can Help in an Elder Abuse Case

elder abuseElder abuse is a growing issue in the United States. While estimates vary, it is believed that four to six percent of elderly Americans are abused. According to research provided by the National Incidence Study on Elder Abuse, approximately 450,000 elderly individuals experienced some form of abuse in 1996.

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse does not have to be physical, though physical contact is the most common. Any form of mistreatment that results in harm or a loss is considered abuse under the law. The New York State Office for Aging categorizes elder abuse into several categories, including:

  • Physical Abuse – Any physical force that results in serious bodily injury, impairment, or pain. This can include assault, battery, or the use of inappropriate restraints.
  • Sexual Abuse – Any non-consensual sexual act of any kind with an elderly individual.
  • Domestic Violence – Violence from an intimate partner or family member, especially when the violent acts are used to exercise power or control.
  • Psychological Abuse – While no bodily injury occurs, psychological abuse is still against the law. This can include the willful infliction of emotional or mental anguish, humiliation, threats, or verbal conduct.
  • Neglect – This applies to caregivers (both professional and family) who fail to provide a reasonable level of care under elderly care standards.
  • Financial Abuse – This includes the illegal use of an elderly person’s property, resources, and funds.

How a Cell Phone Can Help

Whether an elderly individual is being cared for in a professional facility or in their own home, providing them with a cell phone can help prove elder abuse. Just some ways a cell phone can help include:

  • Contacting Authorities – Many elderly victims do not report their abuse simply because they are kept from using a phone. By providing them with a cell phone, they are more likely to contact the authorities or loved ones to report abuse.
  • Video – Capturing video of threats, battery, sexual misconduct, or even psychological abuse offers key evidence in proving that the abuse exists.
  • Photos – A cell phone can be used to capture photographs of injuries immediately after the abuse – including restraint marks. Because cell phones are equipped with Meta data, they will automatically timestamp when the photo occurred, which can later be used at trial.

Speak with an Attorney Regarding Your Elder Abuse Case

Elderly individuals are a prime target for abusers, especially elderly individuals with dementia. If you suspect abuse, contact the authorities and then an attorney right away. At the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, PC we offer comprehensive representation for elderly individuals to ensure that their rights and health are protected – especially when they cannot protect themselves. Contact attorney Andrew M. Lamkin online or call 516-605-0625.

Does Retirement Mean You Are Old?


Long Island Elder Law Attorney - Lamkin Elder Law

Retirement is meant to be a pivotal time in a person’s life. They have the opportunity to enjoy life, stop working an 8-to-5 job, and possibly even see friends and family more. However, another thing retirement may mean for some people is a sign of being “old.” As a society, retirement and age are closely related, and while a person may retire at 65, that does not necessarily mean they are old. Overcoming the negative mindset about aging is important, not only for creating a positive light on retirement, but it could actually improve a person’s outlook on life too.

Why Age is a Big Issue

People see age as something negative. They do not look forward to aging and the term “elderly” is almost offensive to some people. However, aging is also a symbol of something else: growing and succeeding. A person must age to succeed in life and gain responsibility – both of which are positive things.

How to Overcome the Stigma of Age

To age successfully and overcome negative stigmas, a person must stop being reluctant to the concept of aging. Instead, they should feel more empowered. To do this, a person should prepare for retirement so that it is a rewarding experience – rather than a hassle. This can be done by:

  1. Getting Paperwork in Order – An estate plan should be established long before retirement – and should be reviewed and updated at least once a year or every other year. An estate planning attorney can advise a person as to which documents their estate will need – such as a will, setting up a trust, creating a healthcare directive, and more.
  2. Maintaining Great Health – There are those that age well and those that do not. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, staying active, taking medications and supplements, a person could age successfully without issue. Whether it is swimming daily, taking walks or riding a bike, physical activity will keep the body feeling young and also gives retired individuals activities to fill their days.
  3. Stay Engaged – Often people retire and isolate themselves. Instead, a person should remain engaged with family, friends, and even previous coworkers. Staying active in the community can empower a retired individual and provide them with a more fulfilling life.
  4. Embrace the Change – Retirement provides individuals with the opportunity to explore themselves and the world around them. Instead of looking at retirement as a negative situation or a sign of “old age,” a person should embrace it and look at it as an exciting time in their life.

Prepare for Retirement With an Estate Plan – Meet with Andrew M. Lamkin Today

Retirement can be a rewarding and fulfilling time. With the right estate planning documents in place, you can retire with a secure financial future. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin today for a consultation regarding your estate plan. To schedule an appointment, call 516-605-0625 or fill out an online contact form.

How Much Will It Cost to Financially Support Your Aging Parents?


estate planning

Caring and supporting aging parents can be rewarding, but it can also be a highly frustrating and exhausting experience. When financially supporting your loved ones, it may be much more expensive than you realize. If your parent has little to no financial safety net, then a child may be the sole provider – making him or her wonder not only how much it will cost, but how he or she will plan for their own retirement when they are financially supporting someone else.

According to a study published by MetLife, 10 million adult children over the age of 50 are currently caring for their aging parents. These individuals not only provide care but financial support as well.

Aging Parents Are Running Out of Funds

The situation of elderly parents running out of financial savings is becoming increasingly common. That is because aging individuals are living longer than expected but are not finding ways to make their money last as long as their health. Also, rising long-term care costs are quickly draining what was considered an adequate savings a decade ago.

How Much Will It Cost?

To determine how much it will cost to support an aging parent, children need to assess the financial future and costs associated with their parents. This can include:

  • Healthcare Costs – How much will it cost for health insurance, copays, prescriptions, or in-home care.
  • Nursing – Will the aging parent need around-the-clock nursing care at a facility or in their own home?
  • Savings – Children will need to find out how much money is left in their parent’s savings and what retirement and Social Security benefits they are receiving each month.
  • Equity and the Home – A discussion will be needed to find out what will happen to the family home and more importantly, if there is any equity that can help support the aging parent.
  • Monthly Expenses – Lastly, calculating the monthly living expenses – from groceries to utility bills to even social events – is important.

Long-Term Care Planning Can Help

For families supporting their aging parents, sometimes the solution is not pooling funds together or even selling off assets; instead, long-term care planning is needed. By meeting with an elder law attorney, families can explore their Medicaid options and create a plan that not only protects their aging parent’s assets, but can help pay for medical expenses, nursing home facilities, and more. The cost of caring for an aging parent can easily equal thousands of dollars each month – especially if that parent is in a private care facility and family members are paying out of pocket.

How to Avoid Court with Your Aging Parents


Long Island Elder Law Attorney - Lamkin Elder Law

It is not uncommon for children and their aging parents to have issues. Conflicts often arise (including old, once-settled conflicts) when aging parents begin to slowly decline in health and start needing emotional and financial assistance from their children. Any time there is conflict present, it can escalate to the point where a family winds up in court discussing their issues with a judge. These court costs and attorney fees will not only take out funds from the estate, but are often avoidable.

Even if family members do not get along, there is usually a way to avoid legal battles and keep the conflicts out of the courtroom.

Three Ways to Avoid Going to Court

  1. Organize Legal Documents – Some parents create an estate plan, but if they created that plan 30 years ago and have not updated it, now is the time. Certain life changes can severely alter the effectiveness of those documents – from divorces to changing heirs to medical needs. Children should have their parents meet with an estate planning attorney to revisit their documents and make changes as necessary. Also, parents should have a Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Healthcare Directive. These documents will prevent costly legal battles when the time arrives and a child must care or make decisions on behalf of the parent. The Advance Healthcare Directive will dictate who can make healthcare decisions on behalf of their parents, while the Durable Power of Attorney allows an agent to have legal authority over the estate.
  2. Plan for Care – Most families neglect to think of the future, especially when it comes to long-term care needs. As parents degrade in health, they may need private care or may even need a care facility. These are expensive and if the estate has not planned for these expenses, families may become aggressive towards one another while trying to find financial solutions. If one sibling is burdened with the costs while the others are not, it could create unwanted friction. This can be avoided by having a discussion, creating a plan, and establishing a system for covering long-term care costs.
  3. Use Mediation, Not Courtrooms – If a dispute does arise, mediation is a cost-effective solution. This organized process is conducted by a trained individual. Both parties will meet with the mediator and he or she will offer suggestions and ways to work out the issues. Most family conflicts can be easily resolved in mediation.

Avoid Family Disputes Altogether with a Sound Estate Plan

By establishing an estate plan that covers things like finances, healthcare decisions, and power of attorney, a family can reduce the likelihood that there will be any disputes in the future. Because emotions often play a vital role in these types of disputes, having legal documents in order can stop any attempt for someone to bring a grievance against the estate.

Take control of your estate’s future by meeting with an estate planning attorney. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin today for a consultation by calling 516-605-0625 or filling out an online contact form.

When Should Elderly Drivers Stop Driving for Good?


Elderly Woman driver

Most individuals want to drive as long as they can. However, there may be a time in a person’s life when they need to stop or at least limit how often they drive, which could be on a temporary or permanent basis, depending on the person. As a person ages, their driving abilities change as well. There are some things older drivers can do to reduce their risk factors, but these do not make up for medical conditions or age degradation that makes it unsafe for a person to drive.

It is important that elderly drivers pay attention to the warning signs that their age may be impacting their ability to drive safe, and either make adjustments or stop driving altogether.

How Age Affects Driving

Age does not automatically translate into bad driving skills. There are numerous drivers that continue to use safe driving practices and even drive into their 80s or 90s. However, age does affect a person’s strength, coordination, and flexibility, which all affect how a person safely controls their vehicle.

Signs That It Is Time to Stop Driving for Good

There is not a set age for when someone should stop driving. Instead, an elderly driver must be on the lookout for signs that their ability to drive safely is declining. These signs include:

  1. Too many “close calls” on the road – meaning almost crashing.
  2. Dents or scrapes are present on the vehicle, but the individual does not know how they received them.
  3. The driver frequently becomes lost while on the road – even in familiar locations.
  4. Response times have lessened dramatically or the individual has a decreased ability to quickly press on the brake.
  5. Vision has dramatically changed.
  6. Hearing has decreased.
  7. Easily distracted or no longer can concentrate on a single object for several seconds.
  8. Taking medications that affect reflexes and senses. A physician may recommend the elderly driver no longer drive or at least stop driving while taking the medication.
  9. Increase in citations, such as tickets for speeding or driving too slow.
  10. Difficulty staying in the lane, accelerating, or failing to use turn signals.

While losing the ability to drive may make some elderly individuals feel as though they have lost their independence, there are benefits to no longer driving. The adjustment will be difficult, but an elderly individual will save money, decrease the likelihood of being in an accident, and can still keep a busy social life by allowing public transportation, friends, or family members to drive them around.

Have You Planned for the Future? Meet with an Elder Law Attorney

As you age, there are many changes. It is important to meet with an elder law attorney to plan out the future “unknowns,”  such as Medicare, Living Wills, and Health Care Proxies. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin can assist you with your estate and legacy planning needs. Contact us today for a consultation at 516-605-0625 or fill out an online contact form.

Cities Consider Restructuring Due to Increased Elderly Population


Helping A Sick Elderly WomanWhile the nation’s senior citizen population has increased at a rapid pace over the past ten years, many elder issues have come to the forefront, including increased medical needs, social security discussion and nursing home debate. A recent report, led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), considered the growing elderly population in urban development across the country. The organization reported a 24 percent increase in senior living population in cities across the U.S. from 2001 to 2011. The fastest growing demographic is seniors age 80 and up. These statistics lead to the question: How can urban areas adjust their infrastructures to these changing needs of our citizens as they age?

Increasing Accessible and Affordable Housing

One key element in creating senior-friendly cities is to increase accessible and affordable housing. Many people choose to move into smaller homes as they age. After retirement, some must adjust their budget as income decreases and medical expenses increase. Stairs may become challenging, as can property maintenance. City living has the potential to provide one-level apartments with few or no stairs, little upkeep, and easy access to medical services. In certain areas, zoning laws are being re-evaluated to allow families more flexible options for adding additional living quarters. Urban planners are exploring various forms of housing for the elderly.

Transportation and Mobility

As driving becomes more hazardous and difficult with age, public transportation may be vital to an elderly person’s well-being. Going to medical appointments and maintaining a healthy social life are crucial for seniors. Many cities already offer free or reduced price car and taxi services specialized for handicapped citizens. As more elder-based social services are offered, specialized senior bus transportation is explored as well. Discounted metro-cards are offered in many cities already. Organizations are beginning to look to other countries for ideas. For example, Lisbon, Portugal has instilled a public awareness campaign for elderly safety on city sidewalks. To accommodate their needs, walkways must be no less than five feet wide.

Cost Effective Social Services

During a time when the number of seniors is increasing rapidly, many city budgets are unfortunately being cut. The OECD has to deal with this issue in their effort to find affordable resources for growing needs. Examples of free or low cost social services include Nutrition Centers, Recreation Centers, and Meals on Wheels. The OECD’s goal is to keep up with the changing demographic while continuing the search for innovative and effective ways to engage the elderly with each other and the community.

Long Island Premier Elder Law Attorney

If you are a senior thinking about relocating, or you have an elderly loved one living on their own, you may have legal questions about Medicaid, special needs or elder law. Serving New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Andrew M. Lamkin and his team will work with you to ensure your assets are protected and that your benefits will be there when you need them. Contact the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin today.

Important Facts to Know About Nursing Homes and Guardianship

It is less than common knowledge that nursing homes can file for guardianship of their residents to collect debts. However, this practice has increased ten-fold in recent years. In fact, studies show that up to two thirds of all guardianship proceedings nationwide are brought forth by a government entity or institution. Elderly and disabled nursing home residents with unpaid debts are at the core of this seemingly untoward practice. A report by the Brookdale Center of Healthy Aging and Longevity has shown between 2000 and 2012, over twelve percent of Manhattan’s guardianship cases were initiated by nursing homes. A study of the entire state resulted in a similar outcome.

Why Would Nursing Homes Want Guardianship of Residents?

Guardianship transfers an incapacitated individual’s right to make decisions regarding themselves to another party. Once the appointment is complete, the guardian (a person or entity) will make all financial and personal decisions for the individual. Guardianship effectively trumps a healthcare proxy or power of attorney. In situations where unpaid debts are accumulating against the nursing home, the facility may petition for guardianship to avoid family feuds, prevent embezzlement by family members, or to obtain Medicaid coverage. However, many people argue that the real reason for this practice is to force the resident’s family members to pay unpaid debts and settle bill disputes. In these situations, the guardian (nursing home) is usually paid with the incapacitated resident’s money. In fact, a nursing home with guardianship can directly take unpaid debts out of the resident’s bank account.

Although the primary reason for nursing home guardianship is typically financial, the granting of guardianship also gives the facility the last say in the resident’s care. In doing so, the nursing home is able to continue collecting payments by keeping the incapacitated person in their facility. It goes without saying that this type of arrangement creates a scenario in which nursing homes could take advantage of residents.

Can Guardianship Be Avoided?

A guardian has access to an incapacitated individual’s bank account and other readily accessible funds; however, guardianship does not supersede the trustee of a trust. By placing all of your loved one’s assets in a trust before they go into a nursing home, you can protect their assets from guardianship.

Andrew M. Lamkin – Elder Care Attorney

When an individual no longer has the capacity to make financial and healthcare decisions on his or her own, a guardianship proceeding may be required. If you need to help a loved one during this difficult time, you may consider filing a petition for guardianship. This is a complex legal process that requires the help of a skilled elder care attorney. As discussed above, guardianship can also be petitioned for by an institution or government entity. If you are looking for ways to protect your loved one’s assets from this type of guardianship arrangement, an elder care attorney can help you in this situation as well. At the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, we have been representing older New Yorkers and their loved ones for many years. We understand the complexities and emotional challenges surrounding elder care law and estate planning. It is our goal to make this process as painless as possible, and to protect the assets and wishes of you and your loved ones. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin for a free consultation.

Flexibility is Needed For Long-Term Planning


Financial PlannerThe Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, wisely said, “change is the only constant in life.” In terms of long-term planning this is especially true. It is challenging enough to plan for next year, but when your plans involve the distant future (grandchildren and generations you may never meet) the possibility of change increases substantially. What makes sense now may not make sense in twenty years. An ever-changing economy, advancing technology, and uncertainty about the future in general, create an environment in which flexible financial planning is more than just prudent, it is essential. The good news is that there are long-term planning options that provide the necessary flexibility to protect your own future, as well as future generations.

Multi-Generational Planning

It is not uncommon for individuals and families to plan for the next generation (their children and grandchildren); however, multi-generational planning is not as widely practiced or understood. The future tax landscape and financial regulations make rigid estate planning less effective in the long term. However, many people like the rigid structure of certain types of estate planning, such as dynasty trusts. These highly structured trusts make managing individual wealth in the immediate future easier, so they are sometimes preferable to the more flexible options.

One such flexible planning option is a multi-generational trust. These long-term planning tools allow future modification of trust terms, distribution flexibility, and multiple other clauses to protect the funds from future uncertainty. Another method of flexible, multi-generational planning is through a process known as decanting. Decanting occurs when assets are moved from an old trust into an updated trust. This process can only be used in certain situations, and each state has its own laws regulating decanting. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney will understand your state’s stance on decanting and how it affects your long-term planning options.

Giving discretionary power to trustees is another method of multi-generational planning. Trustees can be authorized to make a broader range of decisions regarding assets, and beneficiaries can be given “power of appointment” laws, allowing them to decide what is in their best interest and of future generations. This can be useful in situations where an intended beneficiary doesn’t have the responsibility or capacity to handle the funds. For example, if a favorite grandchild becomes an adult with a serious substance abuse problem, the trustees can put certain restrictions on the disbursement of funds for that individual.

Andrew M. Lamkin – Estate Planning Attorney

No two estate planning situations are the same. Every client has unique needs, and needs an estate plan tailored to those needs. Whether you are planning for a disabled child, safeguarding your estate from unnecessary taxes, or planning for multiple, future generations, The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help. We will create a comprehensive plan based on your specific goals, answer your questions, and help ease any concerns. Serving clients in Long Island and throughout New York State, our legal team will draft wills and trusts, administer estates, and help clients apply for Medicaid and nursing home care. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.

June is National Safety Month


safetymonth-juneEvery June, the National Safety Council recognizes the importance of safety education and awareness around the country with National Safety Month. Seniors should be especially aware of ways to protect their emotional well-being and physical health as they experience the physical shifts of aging. As the summer begins, many venture out into the sun for adventure or relaxation with nature, family and friends. From sun exposure to household safety tips, these are a few ideas for seniors to be well while taking advantage of all life has to offer.

Safety Outdoors: Know Your Body

Seniors should be aware of adverse physical effects as the weather heats up. As you age, your body finds it increasingly difficult to stay hydrated. Physical signals that help the body regulate thirst begin to decrease, making consistent hydration a vital part of staying safe and healthy in the summertime. Dehydration also adds to the potential of electrolyte loss (such as salt and potassium) in your body. Drinking water and sweat replacement products are key to keeping these potential problems at bay.

Know the symptoms of heat stroke. Heat stroke is a condition brought on by an abnormally high body temperature. If you plan on being out in the sun for an extended period of time, understand your body’s cues. Find shade quickly, use an ice pack to cool down, and seek medical attention if you experience any of the following:

  • Rapid pulse
  • Heavy breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry skin, with an abnormal absence of sweating
  • Headache
  • High temperature (above 104 degrees)

To stay healthy and energized in the summer sun, choose light, loose-fitting clothing made of natural fabrics. Sunscreen is important for all ages, and hats provide an added level of protection. Wearing sunglasses is vital to decrease sun-exposure that can irritate and damage elderly eyes.

Stay Connected

Over two million accidents involving people over age 65 are reported each year. About 7,000 of these accidents prove fatal. Staying connected to friends, family and neighbors can minimize injury in your home. Safety proof your home with these tips:

  • Keep an updated, easily accessible list of emergency numbers. Include your police, fire department, poison control and doctor’s number. Keep a friend or family member’s number listed as well.
  • Make a point of getting to know your neighbors. Not only does this provide social benefits, but it can be key in saving time and possibly even preventing an emergency.
  • Know how medication should be stored, and if it can affect you adversely in the summer heat. Make sure caretakers, friends, and neighbors are aware of medications you are taking.
  • Avoid nasty falls, one of the leading types of incidents involving seniors. Ensure clear, clutter free hallways and floors. Bannisters and no-skid tape should accompany all staircases. Rugs should be taped down to prevent sliding.

How the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin can Help You

Aging brings up many legal questions, from issues of estate planning to advanced directives and beyond. It can be an overwhelming and emotional process, as well as a relief to tackle such issues. A member of the Elder Law and Trusts and Estates sections of the Nassau County Bar Association, Andrew M. Lamkin has the experience and professionalism to help you reach your planning goals. Contact Mr. Lamkin and his team for a free consultation.

How the Elderly Can Be Safe Drivers

The loss of a driver’s license can be devastating for seniors. That little plastic card has represented freedom and independence for the last 50, 60, or 70 years of their life. It is widely understood that driving abilities change as people get older, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it becomes dangerous. There are many ways to reduce risk factors and implement safe driving practices as people age. As long as they are cognizant of warning signs, and willing to make adjustments when necessary, elderly people can drive long into their senior years.

Here are a few tips for senior drivers and their loved ones to consider:

  • Understand how the process of aging can affect driving: Everyone ages differently, so there is no magic age at which one can no longer safely drive. Pay attention to how aging is affecting you. Do you have pain or stiffness in your neck that may make it difficult to look over your shoulder before changing lanes? Does weakened arm strength make it difficult to turn the wheel quickly? Have you noticed a diminished reaction time in your day to day activities?
  • Get an annual eye exam
  • Get an annual hearing exam
  • Consult with your doctor: Ask about ailments, or about medications you are taking. Could any of them have an adverse affect on your ability to drive? Are there any available products or resources to help counter these negative effects? For example, tinted sunglasses may reduce the glare if you suffer from glaucoma.
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Make sure you have the right car for your needs: Does your car have power steering and power brakes? Is it an automatic or manual transmission? Get regular maintenance, and make sure your windshield is always clean. If you need certain equipment to make the car easier to operate, an occupational therapist can prescribe this equipment.
  • Be a defensive driver: Today’s drivers are shockingly distracted – texting, looking at their GPS, even watching movies on their smart phones or iPads. You must drive defensively to drive safely on today’s roads. Leave plenty of space between your car and the car in front of you and be extra cautious at intersections.
  • Know your limits: If driving after dark is becoming difficult, or if you are terrified to drive in rain or snow, listen to your gut. Voluntarily making adjustments to your driving habits is responsible behavior and it will help you retain your ability to drive for as long as possible.
  • Listen to your loved ones: It may be hard to accept, but your loved ones usually have your best interest in mind when they express concern about driving ability. If you feel that their concerns are unfounded, there are several self-evaluation tools available online to assist you. It is possible that you just need a refresher course. Your doctor can also help by providing an unbiased opinion. However, if all signs point to “no,” it may be wise to listen to your loved ones. The termination of your driver’s license does not mean the end of your independence. In fact, with today’s resources for seniors, the loss of a license often comes with numerous social benefits.

Call the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.

Elder law is a complex, emotional area of the legal system because it involves making difficult decisions on behalf of the people who mean a great deal to us. We understand the emotional toll these decisions can take. However, elder law is very different today than 10 or 20 years ago. Seniors are working, traveling, and driving for much longer. Sometimes there is an unfair bias toward elderly drivers, and then again, sometimes the concerns are valid. If you are concerned about the driving ability of a loved one, we can help. Call the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin for a free consultation today.

When Your Elderly Parents Live With You

Senior Care Assistant Reading BookThe decision to move an elderly parent into your home can be a difficult one, both emotionally and financially. However, a consultation with an elder care attorney may put your mind at ease about many of the uncertainties. Having an elderly parent live with you comes with additional expenses, but you don’t have to feel like you’re drowning in a financial abyss. There is help available; you just need to know where to look for it.

In many cases, a child assumes responsibility for most of the parents’ expenses. Sometimes, siblings offer financial assistance at the beginning, but over time, the expenses become the sole responsibility of the child providing housing – out of sight out of mind.

This common situation can be more than financially draining. Fighting with siblings over the shared burden of financial responsibility can destroy those relationships and cause resentment toward the elderly parent. In order to avoid these unnecessary family disputes, it is essential to have a comprehensive, detailed plan in place prior to making any decisions. There are many resources available to ease the financial, physical, and emotional burden of having an elderly parent live with you. It can be an enjoyable experience for all if you plan correctly and know where to turn for help when problems arise.

Easing the Financial Burden

Can my parent still qualify for Medicaid? This is an important question. In New York and other states, a child is not legally obligated to pay for the elderly parent’s care. If your parent is living with you, there is a good chance that he or she qualifies for Medicaid. In fact, programs such as Community Medicaid and Medicaid Home Care provide additional benefits for a parent living in his or her child’s home. Medicaid programs are just one example of the many resources available to you if your parent lives in your home. An elder care lawyer can help you understand your options, save you money, and help protect the delicate relationships with your parent and siblings.

Questions to Ask Before Moving An Elderly Parent Into Your Home:

  • What kind of care does my parent need?
  • How much assistance can I provide?
  • Do we get along well?
  • Will my parent contribute financially?
  • Is my home adult-friendly?
  • Are my spouse and kids supportive of this decision?
  • Will my parent have an available social network?
  • What kind of help can I expect from my siblings?
  • What will I do and how will I feel if my siblings are unable to provide assistance?

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it provides a good starting point for discussion. While not all of these questions may be easy to answer (and some might not have the answer you want), they provide a more holistic view of how successful the arrangement might be. Involve your siblings in this conversation as well. Early planning doesn’t guarantee success, but it increases the chances.

Call the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.

As elder care lawyers, we talk quite a bit about quality of life for elders, but it’s just as important for you to maintain your quality of life. Moving a parent into your home is a beautiful, loving gesture. However, this selfless gesture can come with added expenses and a long list of stressors. A skilled elder care attorney can help you before, during, and after you have made this very important decision. Call the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin for a free consultation today.

What We Can Learn From Robin Williams’ Estate Problems

Business man pointing to transparent board with text: Estate PlaWhen a grieving family gets hit with unwelcome surprises, things can get ugly. The loss of a loved one is painful, but the process of fighting over sentimental and valuable estate items (from mother’s favorite tea cup to her million dollar beach house) can break the happiest of families in two. The consequences of inadequate estate planning are seen all the time, yet it continues to happen to even the most conscientious planners. Celebrity estate planning disasters are often sensationalized, taking center stage on tabloid magazine covers. However, we can learn from their mistakes.

Robin Williams’ tragic suicide last August shocked millions. Prior to his death, Williams took extra precautions to ensure his estate would be divided fairly among his children and widow. The tax-efficient plan, which included a real estate holding trust and covered everything from his mansion to his memorabilia, seemed water-tight. Unfortunately, his family didn’t think so. What was responsible for the family feud? Basically, it boils down to individual, sentimental items. Not the mansion. Not the cars. Williams’ widow has requested that the jewelry bequeathed to his three children exclude his watch collection. In addition, she is requesting clarification on what exactly is included in “memorabilia.” In fact, the ongoing battle over these items landed the estate’s and heirs’ attorneys in front of a probate judge in San Francisco’s Superior Court last month.

Avoid “General” Language in Estate Plans

What can we learn from the Williams’ family estate problems? For starters, when creating an estate plan it’s a good idea to steer clear of “general” language. Clear and specific words should be used to ensure there is no question as to what is supposed to go to whom. For example, instead of saying “jewelry,” you should specify each item or category of jewelry included in the estate plan. The watch collection goes to my son. The pearl earrings go to my daughter, Sara. The diamond necklace goes to my daughter, Beth. As you can probably surmise from the above example, there can be consequences to a statement as general as the jewelry goes to my children.”

Consider a QTIP or Revocable Trust

There are myriad things to take into consideration when setting up an estate plan, especially for blended families. There are also many excellent tools for dealing with even the most complicated situations. For example, a Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust (QTIP) is an effective tool for blended families because it maintains control of the trust’s assets but provides for the surviving spouse until his or her death. Revocable trusts can be useful in avoiding probate. Wills and trusts can also be supplemented with guidance memos to provide greater clarity. In addition, one of the simplest ways to prevent family feuds once you’ve passed on is by talking to your loved ones now. Set expectations. If your family has some idea of what goes where, it will set the stage for a more peaceful distribution of assets once you’re gone.

Call the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.

Estate planning can be a complicated and overwhelming process, but it doesn’t have to be. A skilled estate planning attorney will give you peace of mind that your family will be provided for and that your wishes will be honored once you are gone. Call the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin for a free consultation about your estate planning needs today.

May is Older Americans Month

beautiful elderly coupleYou may have never heard of Older Americans Month, but this month-of-awareness has been around for over 50 years. Occurring every year during the month of May, Older Americans Month serves as a time to acknowledge the significance and contributions of our older citizens. At ceremonies, events, and fairs across the nation, we celebrate the older Americans of our past, present, and future.

JFK Helped Establish Older Americans Month in 1963

The significance of this month of awareness becomes more evident when we look at how it began. When it was established in 1963, approximately one-third of all Americans over the age of 65 lived in poverty. This was largely due to the lack of programs to meet their needs. However, their plight was not unnoticed. Concerned people and organizations began advocating for the rights of senior citizens. In April of 1963, president John F. Kennedy met with members of the National Council of Senior Citizens in response to the demand for action. Senior Citizens Month (the original moniker of Older American’s Month) was born from that meeting.

Today’s Older Americans Enjoy the Same Quality of Life as Younger Americans

Every year brings a new theme to Older American’s Month, and this year it is Get Into the Act. This year’s theme focuses on the importance of older American’s being able to take charge of their lives. This applies to taking charge of their health care, getting involved in their communities, and creating positive change in the lives of others. Basically, it celebrates the ability of older Americans to live the same quality of life as younger Americans. People over the age of 65 are working, volunteering, traveling, and engaged in their communities. They are healthy, active, and living longer than ever before. While the longevity and good health of today’s senior citizens is partly because of medical advancements, it is also the result of increased resources, options, and community involvement. When problems arise (whether health-related, financial, or emotional), there are countless programs to address them. Senior citizens no longer need to feel alone, and that is definitely something to celebrate.

Call the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.

Quality of life is the biggest factor impacting our daily lives. Older Americans are especially vulnerable to a reduced quality of life. If they are suffering, they may be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes, they just don’t want to inconvenience others. However, there are countless resources available and nobody should suffer needlessly. A skilled elder care attorney will be your best advocate by protecting your rights and helping you find the assistance you need. Call the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin for a free consultation today.

When Should You Review Your Will?

willCreating a will is one of the most important steps in planning your estate to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Anyone over the age of 18 who has belongings they want to leave to someone should take the time to create a last will and testament. Your will should reflect changes that occur throughout your lifetime, and regular reviews of your documents will help make sure your will is up to date. You should make it a point to review your will if specific life changes occur.

Changes to Your Family

The structure of your family may change in several ways over the course of your lifetime, and whenever a change occurs which affects how you want to distribute your wealth you should consider making changes to your will. For example, you should review your documents whenever your marital status changes if you plan to leave assets to a new spouse or you want to avoid leaving assets to a previous spouse after a divorce. You should also review your will if you have a child or grandchild if you would like to leave anything to those family members. Conversely, if a family member passes away it is a good idea to review your will if you had that person listed in the document as an heir.

Don’t forget your relationship with the executor of your will. If your executor passes away or your relationship changes, you will probably want to change the executor of your estate as listed in your will.

Changes to Your Assets

Another reason for reviewing your will is a change in your personal assets. Your belongings may change by either increasing or decreasing significantly, prompting a review of your will. If you inherit significant assets or otherwise have a large one-time lump sum that you receive for some reason, consider how you would like to distribute this new asset and include those wishes in your will. On the other hand, if you need to spend a large amount of money on medical bills or other expenses, you may want to revisit your will and adjust it accordingly.

Changes to the Laws

Most aspects of your last will and testament fall under the jurisdiction of the state, and it is the state that decides how your assets will be distributed in the absence of a will. The rules that govern estate distribution and taxation are frequently updated, and it can be difficult to stay on top of the current laws.

Contact Estate Planning Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin

It is a good idea to contact a lawyer to make sure you understand the current laws and to make sure your will is worded in the best possible way for your beneficiaries. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lankin is ready to help you determine how to best handle your personal assets. Please contact us through our online contact form, or call us at (516) 605-0625 to speak with an attorney today.

Having the Tough “Talk” with Your Aging Parents

Estate PlanningHaving the difficult “talk” with your aging parents about elderly living arrangements, end-of-life care, and finances during retirement is one discussion most people would rather put off as long as possible. Putting off this talk too long, however, can delay the discussion until it is too late. If your parents become incapacitated and can no longer communicate their wishes, you would be left in the dark about what arrangements they would want.

When Should You Have the Talk?

Correct timing of this important discussion can help avoid many uncomfortable feelings and make sure you know your parents’ wishes in plenty of time before something happens. Discussing their end-of-life requests before they retire can raise these topics before they are overly worried about their own mortality, yet it will let them know you have their best interests at heart.

Try to bring up the topic in normal conversation, such as talking about someone who has recently put their end-of-life plans into effect. By talking about someone else first, it becomes much easier to casually approach the subject with your parents about their own affairs.

What Should You Talk About?

Some things that you will want to discuss with your parents include retirement finances, assisted living arrangements, and medical contact. You need to know where your parents have financial accounts, insurance policies, and other accounts including social media accounts so you can close these properly when the time comes. If your parents don’t have records of these accounts in one place, help them organize the information to make it easier for them to keep track of and for your own future information.

Ask your parents where they would like to live as they age. Do they want to live out their days in the family home with the help of a home health aide, or would they rather live in a retirement community where they can socialize with other elders and not worry about home upkeep? Review their financial situation to make sure their finances will support their wishes.

Also ask your parents about their medical information. Knowing how to contact their doctors or if they have a living will in place will help you in case of a medical emergency.

What Should You Do After the Talk?

Once you and your parents know how they would like to live out their days and you have all of their account information documented, make sure they put everything in writing and leave the information in a place where you can easily find it, such as a bank deposit box.

For help in preparing documents including wills, living wills, or power of attorney documents, contact an attorney for assistance. The experts at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin are ready to help you make sure your parents are cared for according to their wishes during their final days. Call us at (516) 605-0625, or contact us through our online contact form to schedule an appointment today. For your convenience, we can meet at our office or in the comfort of your own home.

Estate Planning 101

Estate PlanningDeciding how to divide your assets and making sure your loved ones receive what you want them to have can be a simple matter. However, this is only possible if you understand the process of estate planning and where to begin. On the other hand, it can be a complicated issue that leaves your grieving family members in a state of confusion as they try to determine what your final wishes are. Proper estate planning can clear up any misunderstandings and prevent further stress and possible arguments among your loved ones regarding your belongings.

What is Estate Planning?

Simply put, estate planning is a way to give your possessions to people after you pass away. Anyone who has something and someone they will be leaving behind has an estate, whether it is worth a few hundred dollars or several million. Through a few official papers including wills, trusts, power of attorney documents, and other directives, you can designate exactly how you want your final assets to be distributed, whether it be among relatives, friends, or charitable organizations. Without these documents, your final assets will be distributed according to the state’s decision, even if that plan is not what you wanted.

What Does Estate Planning Involve?

There are a few different pieces that estate planning entails, including those you can utilize during your lifetime and those that are designed solely for your beneficiaries to access.

Some documents designed to benefit you during your lifetime include:

  • Living will: States what your medical wishes are in case you become incapacitated and unable to communicate what you want to happen in certain circumstances
  • Power of Attorney: Designates someone who can act on your behalf in legal matters
  • Revocable trust: Allows you to have access to deposited funds during your lifetime

Some documents you can create to help your beneficiaries include:

  • Your will: Designed to distribute your assets to your designated beneficiaries upon your death
  • Irrevocable trust: A trust which contains funds that, once deposited, no longer belong to you; deposited funds immediately belong to the trustee
  • Funeral plans: Let your loved ones know what your wishes are regarding your own funeral service

Why Should You Plan Your Estate Now?

It is never too soon to begin planning your estate. Accidents happen. Sudden illnesses occur. Circumstances often take us away from our loved ones before we are prepared to go. If you have people you will leave behind, take the stress and worry of dealing with your final wishes away from them by preparing your estate documents right away.

As a champion of elder law, Andrew M. Lamkin is prepared to help you start planning your estate documents now. If you are ready to take the first step toward making sure your loved ones are left with the memories and inheritance you want them to have, please contact us via our online contact form or call us at (516) 605-0625 to speak with us now about preparing your official estate papers.

Estate Planning in a Second Marriage

A married couple planning their retirement lifeSecond marriages and blended families can be a challenge. Now that you are ready to plan your estate, the challenges continue. How do you divide an estate equally among the constellation of heirs titled “His, Hers, and Ours?” These decisions can seem overwhelming, but planning and good advice will ensure that your family will be cared for even after you are gone.

Don’t Wait

Talking about what will happen after your death is not usually a topic of conversation for the dinner table; however, it needs to be addressed. Should you or your spouse die without a will, the probate court will decide how your estate should be divided and, in the event that both spouses die together, that court will decide who has custody of any minor children. Probate court can take years to settle an estate and costs often eat up a sizeable portion of the estate that could have benefited your heirs.

Get Advice

There is more to planning your estate than just having a will, although that is a significant part of your planning. You will need to talk to an estate planning attorney to make sure that your heirs are properly taken care of and that the legal documents drawn up do not interfere with any other contractual obligations that you may have. Divorce settlements, parenting plans, alimony, and child support all factor into how your estate will be settled. For example, your divorce settlement may require you to designate your ex-spouse as the beneficiary of your retirement benefits. You may have brought a significant amount of debt or a significant asset to your second marriage. A properly planned estate will take tax issues, inheritances, and sheltering assets into consideration to keep them from being claimed as payment for medical bills.

Write Out Your Wishes

Before documents are drawn up and filed with the court, there are many things that need to be considered as you plan your estate. Have you raised a stepchild for most of his or her life and you consider him or her an equal heir with your biological children? Is there a portion of your estate that you would like to designate as college tuition for children or grandchildren? Do you wish to allow your spouse to benefit from your estate, but then want the assets to go to your children once your spouse passes on? These are the things you should be ready to discuss with your spouse and attorney.

It’s Too Important

You may be tempted to put off planning your estate, but procrastinating could be disastrous for your family. You may be considering using a free online legal form, or a piece of software to plan your estate, but your family is too important to leave anything to chance.

There are many options available to ensure that your wishes are followed and that your heirs are provided for. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin is here to help guide you through the process of planning your estate. Call 516-605-0625 or contact us online to schedule an appointment at your home or in the office.

Care Management for Your Aging Parents

multigenerational famillyOften, the responsibility of caring for aging parents falls on the adult children. Many times, only one sibling accepts the responsibility, even though there are other siblings in the family.

As the parent’s health further declines, the adult child must also maintain the parent’s finances, pay the bills, and be the parent’s main source of social interaction. Additionally, weekly doctors’ appointments and trips to the pharmacy can be overwhelming, not to mention the paperwork required by medical insurance, Medicare, or and other sources.

The stress of caring for your aging parent, while at the same time supporting your own family, can strain your relationship with your parent, your spouse, and your children; however, you’re not alone. There is help for what has been termed the “sandwich generation,” people age 40 to 60 who care for an aging parent in addition to caring for their own families. Rather than allowing the stress of caring for your elderly parent to ruin your relationships, seek help from an elder care management professional.

What is elder care management?

Elder Care Management is not health care. Rather, it is a service or set of services designed to help family members make sense of the elder care system and get the help needed to properly and compassionately care for their aging parents. Sometimes called geriatric care management, these agencies work with the aging individual’s family to safeguard the patient’s well being and quality of life for as long as possible.

What is the role of elder care management?

Elder care management services educate caregivers about the services available to them and their parent. They also provide support and guidance, ensuring that the decisions that must be made for the aging parent lead to an optimal life. They assist caregivers in problem solving and mapping long term care plans. Some elder care management services also provide coaching for family caregivers.

What are the benefits of using elder care management services?

  • Receiving support reduces stress, anxiety, and resentment that can be part of caring for your aging parent. This allows you to be a son or daughter, rather than a parent, to your parent.
  • Utilizing elder care management services can help your parent live at home and remain independent as long as possible.
  • Elder care management professionals understand the system and can help you make informed decisions about what must be done for your parent and when.
  • When necessary, these professionals make outside referrals to other agencies and professionals, such as estate planning professionals and attorneys.
  • Some services provided by elder care management services can be paid for using medical insurance or Medicare.

Final Thoughts

Elder care management services are a wonderful resource that can help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with taking care of your aging parents. These professionals understand that caring for an aging parent can be overwhelming for individuals who are also raising their own children, maintaining a home, or considering their own retirement.

The Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin are available as a further resource to help you with any legal issues that your elderly parent might be facing. Call us today or fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

10 Easy Ways to Help Protect Your Aging Parents

Elderly mother with daughterMany adult children feel helpless as their parents age. Caring for an elderly parent can be both time-consuming and expensive. However, there are a few simple and cheap things that people can do to keep aging parents safe.

1. Keep floors and walkways clear.

Many elderly people have trouble picking up things from the ground. However, these obstacles present a fall risk. Visiting a parent once a week and picking things up around the house can prevent accidents.

2. Install grab bars in key places.

Many elderly people fall while getting out of bed, in and out of a bath, and other similar places. Placing grab bars will make aging parents feel safer getting up and down while preventing falls.

3. Go for a walk.

Many seniors become more sedentary as they lose balance and strength. Walking, swimming, and other light exercise will keep aging parents fit and capable for much longer. Even taking your aging relative for a weekly walk in the park can make a huge difference.

4. Perform simple repairs.

Simple things like fixing a doorknob or changing a light bulb can make a huge difference in the safety of an elderly person’s home. It’s also important to routinely check smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and other home safety devices.

5. Help manage their medication.

Over-medication and under-medication are both common in elderly people. This is easily prevented by helping the elderly person measure out their pills into daily pill boxes. In addition, review medications occasionally to ensure that they are not taking medications that cause side effects such as loss of balance that may interfere with their independence and safety.

6. Install nightlights.

Poor vision is a common problem for aging parents. Unfortunately, many falls occur when a person fails to see obstacles in their path at night. Nightlights can help prevent these falls. In addition, ensure that your relative has their eyesight checked and is wearing glasses that correct their vision.

7. Review their credit report.

Financial scams and identity theft are both common among the elderly. An occasional credit check or setting up credit alerts can let you know if your parent credit is free from any fraud or scams.

8. Secure their residence.

Elderly people cannot fight back against intruders. Make sure there are functional locks, peep holes, good outdoor lighting, and other safety devices to keep them safe.

9. Help them plan for the future.

Many aging people are reluctant to make plans for future infirmity and death. Talk about a will, do not resuscitate order, power of attorney, living will, and other plans for the future. It’s important to get your relative’s wishes in writing while they are still capable of good decision making.

10. Check on them regularly.

Elderly people are much safer if someone routinely calls or stops by to make sure they’re okay. If falls are a concern, consider getting a life alert button or similar service.

Caring for an elderly relative can be difficult. It’s important to contact a lawyer if you have any concerns about their future and their ability to care for themselves. Call the elder law experts at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin or fill out our online contact form today if you have any concerns about your aging parents.


5 Steps to Finding Happiness in Retirement

retired coupleRetirement is a major step in life. You switch from a life of routine to doing whatever you want, while depending only on yourself. Fortunately, the right moves can make this time liberating rather than scary. Here are five steps to finding happiness in your golden years.

1. Wait to Retire

If you work longer, then you will have more time to save and prepare for retirement. Social Security benefits also increase for each year that you wait to retire up to age 70. You can retire and receive reduced benefits starting at 62, but the higher payments will let you use your savings for things such as vacations rather than everyday essentials. Remember to apply for Social Security three months before you plan to retire.

2. Save

Start to save for your retirement as soon as possible so that interest can accumulate. Even if you just finished college, you should save as much as you can. IRAs, 401ks, and other investment accounts have some very nice tax benefits. You should also work hard to pay off debts like a mortgage or car payment before retirement. Extra bills will leave you with less money to enjoy later.

3. Downsize

Minimize your expenses whenever possible. In many cases, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to be happy. For example, you could buy a cheap used car with cash instead of worrying about car payments. Many people move into smaller houses, condos, or apartments at retirement since their children no longer live with them and they need less space.

4. Stay Busy

Make new friends, reconnect with old ones, and spend time with family. Find a hobby, go on a fun vacation, or volunteer. Many colleges offer free or discounted classes to senior citizens so that they can expand their minds. You can even get a part-time job to help keep you active, healthy, and happy.

5. Prepare or Update Legal Documents

No one wants to think about death or illness, but it’s a necessary part of life. Prepare or update important legal documents such as a will and power of attorney, and review the beneficiaries on retirement plans and insurance. This way, you can make decisions about your own funeral arrangements and make sure that family members will be cared for. Planning ahead saves relatives from the stress of making arrangements while grieving. You also get peace of mind from knowing that a person you trust will make decisions if you are incapacitated.

Contact Us

Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. at (516) 605-0625 for more help with finding happiness in retirement. We specialize in elder law and estate planning, including Wills and Trusts, Medicaid planning, and estate administration. Call us today or fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Keeping Seniors Safe While Driving

Elderly woman drivingWith more people living longer lives, there are now more seniors on the road who continue to use their vehicle for transportation. Approximately 35 million licensed drivers are over the age of 65, which is a 20% increase from the last decade. To ensure that your loved ones are still safe while driving and are not a threat to themselves or other motorists, here are a few tips to follow for important preventative measures.

Take Online Screening Assessments

Online screening assessments are now offered through AAA to evaluate the senior’s driving record, medical history, and vision to determine if they’re still safe to drive. A representative will then drive with the client and assess their skills behind the wheel before sitting down with the senior and their family to discuss if they should limit their time on the road. A driving school may also be recommended where the senior can complete a course, which will also help to lower their insurance.

Purchase a Smaller Vehicle

Many people over the age of 65 struggle to reach the pedals or see over the steering wheel of their vehicle, which can limit their visibility and lead to an accident. Seniors often prefer to drive larger cars that they’ve owned for several decades but may now be a challenge to maneuver. It’s important to trade in the vehicle for a smaller model that will allow them to have more control of the car. The senior should also have a higher seating position for an enhanced view of the road. Family or friends should help them to have a strong understanding of the controls on the new vehicle and feel comfortable operating it. Assistive devices can also be installed on the car to help the senior see blind spots, improve their parking ability, or compensate for disabilities.

Limit Driving Times

It can be difficult for loved ones to speak to seniors about their safety on the road, but it’s important to do so before it’s too late. Discuss your concern for their reaction time or cognitive abilities while stressing the importance that they limit the time of day that they’re on the road. Encourage the senior to avoid driving during the night or in rush hour traffic, which is when they may be more prone to an accident.

Reduce Prescription Drug Medication

Seniors can cause accidents due to limitations with their hearing and vision, but prescription medications can also cause problems. Some medications are more likely to cause fatigue or dizziness and they can make it difficult for seniors to feel alert while on the road. Talk to their physician and discuss switching medications or limiting the amount that they take each day to improve their driving abilities.

If the individual is at a high risk of having a heart attack or a stroke, it may be time to discuss discontinuing driving altogether. Observe their behavior while driving with them to determine if they should have their keys taken permanently due to their current health condition.

At Lamkin Law, we are concerned about elders and elder laws. Contact us today by calling or filling out our online contact form and we will return your inquiry within 24 hours.

5 Red Flags of Elder Financial Abuse by Relatives & Caregivers

Elder abuse - nursing homeMany people know that seniors are susceptible to consumer fraud, telemarketing ploys, and internet scams, but fewer know that by far the biggest threat to an elderly person’s financial security is financial abuse by relatives, friends, and caregivers. In fact, the National Center on Elder Abuse has found that there are over 20,000 substantiated cases of caregiver financial elder abuse in the country each year, accounting for about 20% of all types of elder abuse in the United States.

How does financial elder abuse happen? Very simply, relatives and other caregivers take advantage of a senior’s trust, loneliness, emotional vulnerability, and/or deteriorating mental clarity in order to funnel off their savings, retirement funds, property, or other assets. In some cases, caregivers may slowly force themselves into positions of power or insinuate themselves into wills.

It can be difficult to protect your elder loved ones from financial abuse and to make certain that all they have worked for is protected and used appropriately. One of the best things you can do to protect the seniors in your life from these issues is to be familiar with common elder abuse red flags:

  1. A caregiver is taking a strange amount of interest in the senior and his or her financial affairs.
  2. You observe a sudden uptick in back transactions or credit card transactions that the senior cannot explain.
  3. A caregiver is isolating the senior from other relatives and friends.
  4. Your senior’s bills, such as utility bills or nursing home bills, are suddenly not being paid.
  5. A caregiver without obvious means suddenly has a change in lifestyle or suddenly makes several large purchases.
  6. Your senior has a sudden and unexplained change in lifestyle, or suddenly begins receiving gifts from a certain relative or caregiver.
  7. A caregiver begins accompanying the senior to the bank, signing checks, or writing checks on behalf of the senior.
  8. The senior is confused about his or her finances or where certain amounts of money went.
  9. The senior has a sudden change in personality or mood, either in general or when around a certain caregiver.
  10. The senior is suddenly reluctant to discuss financial matters or matters of his or her estate.
  11. You suddenly lose access to your senior loved one’s bank account or credit card information.
  12. The senior or caregiver unexpectedly wishes to make changes to the senior’s will, power of attorney, or other estate planning documents.

One of the best ways to protect against elder financial abuse is to talk with your senior loved ones about their financial plans, estate planning, and long-term care wishes. Having a plan in place and having their money protected can make it more difficult for caregivers to steal, while also making it easier for you to detect financial abuse if it begins to happen. In addition, consider talking to your elderly loved ones about the prevalence and dangers of elder abuse so that they too can recognize warning signs.

New York Estate Planning Assistance & Legal Advice

The Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin are here to help you with a wide range of elder law issues, including estate planning and protection against elder financial abuse. To learn more about our services, or to speak with an attorney, please call (516) 605-0625 or fill out our online contact form.

Six Considerations When Choosing a Legal Guardian for your Minor Children

guardianshipFor the parents of minor children, one of the most important aspects of your will is naming a legal guardian for your kids in the event that you and your spouse are no longer able to care for them. While it can be extremely difficult to choose who will raise your children in an emergency, you do not want to leave the decision up to the courts.

Below, we’ve listed six important considerations for parents who are choosing their children’s legal guardians.

  • Does the guardian share your values? Even if you have a guardian in mind who is loving and eager to help, it may be a deal-breaker if they do not share your religious background, cultural background, or your basic values. Speak with your potential guardian about their values and whether they would be willing to raise your children according to your wishes.
  • Will the guardian have the financial means to care for your children? If you do not have a plan to furnish your guardian with an appropriate amount of money to raise your children, you will have to consider your guardian’s financial situation. Do they already have children? Are they financially secure? Would your contributions be enough to ease the financial burden of expanding their family?
  • How big will the transition be for your children? Whoever is chosen as the guardian is not the only important factor. You should also consider whether your children will have to move states and school systems. Choosing a guardian in your town or community, even if it is not a close relative, may be easier on your kids than choosing a guardian across the country, away from familiar faces, and away from friends and activities.
  • How old is the guardian? Many parents automatically wish to list their own parents as legal guardians. However, they may not be taking the age and health of their parents into account. If your parents are 65 years old when your children are toddlers, your kids might have to transition through several different homes and caregivers before they turn 18.
  • Is your guardian already a parent? It may be a bonus to know that your guardian has experience raising children and being a parent. It may also be a bonus if your guardian has children that are close with your children. However, you should also ask yourself if your guardian will be able to care for your children in addition to theirs, or if your children’s interests may clash or compete with your guardian’s children’s interests.
  • Do the guardian and your children have a strong relationship? This may be one of the biggest and most important considerations. Simply ask yourself if both the guardian and your children would be happy and healthy living and growing together. This one consideration could outweigh a number of the others.

Choosing a legal guardian for your children is a tough and complicated decision, but it is an extremely important one to make. While you may not be able to care for your children after you are gone, you do have the power to make sure they are raised by someone you love, trust, and admire.

Designate a Legal Guardian in Your Will Today

Are you ready to draw up your will and establish a legal guardian for your minor children? The Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin are here to help. Call a New York estate plan attorney today to get started: (516) 605-0625 or fill out our online contact form.