05/06/2016










How to Guarantee Your Parents’ Safety in a Retirement Home

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

Ask the Right Questions

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

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

Look Out for the Warning Signs of Bad Care

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

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

Protect Your Loved One with Proper Medicaid Planning

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

Three Easy and Effective Ways to Avoid Probate in New York

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

Probate in New York

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

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

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

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

Avoiding Probate in New York

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

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

1. Joint Ownership

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

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

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

3. A Revocable Living Trust

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

Contact a Long Island Probate Lawyer Today

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

Three Very Important Ways That an Elder Lawyer Can Assist You

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

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

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

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

What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?

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

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

1. Estate planning

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

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

2. Incapacity Planning

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

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

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

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

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

3. Long-Term Care Planning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speak to an Elder Law Attorney About Your Needs

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

Protecting Your Assets From Nursing Home Costs

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

What Does This Mean For You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need Help Protecting Your Assets From Nursing Home Costs?

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

The Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

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

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

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s Disease

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Learn More, Contact an Elder Law Attorney Today

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

Conservatorship in the State of New York Explained

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

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

What is Conservatorship?

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

Who Does Conservatorship Assist?

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

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

How is the Court Involved?

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

What is Expected of Conservators?

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

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

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

Andrew M. Lamkin – Elder Care Attorney

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

Is Long Term Care Insurance Worth It?

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

The Advantages of Long Term Care Insurance

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

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

The Disadvantages of Long Term Care Insurance

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

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

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

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

Purchasing Long Term Care Insurance

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

Need Help Deciding?

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

10 Tips For Keeping Your Estate Plan Up to Date

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visitation Rights for Grandparents

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

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

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

Troxel v. Granville

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

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

Visitation Rights for Grandparents in New York

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

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

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

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

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

Why You Need an Attorney

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

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

Understanding Financial Powers of Attorney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How the New York Probate Process Works

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

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

What is Probate?

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

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

Why is Probate Necessary?

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

Probate laws ensure the following:

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

Testate or Intestate

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

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

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

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

How Probate Is Started

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

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

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

Executor vs. Administrator

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

With regards to estate assets, theses duties include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Probate for Small Estates

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

Contact a Long Island Probate Lawyer Today

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

6 Simple Estate Planning Tips

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

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

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

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

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

Navigate the Complexities of Estate Planning – Speak to an Attorney

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

Comparing Medicare and Medicaid

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

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

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

Here is how Medicare and Medicaid compare:

Medicare

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

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

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

Medicaid

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

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

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

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

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

Other Differences Between Medicare and Medicaid

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

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

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

How Can a New York Medicaid Lawyer Help?

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

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

Who is Responsible for Protecting Your Rights as a Shareholder?

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

How Shareholder Rights Work

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

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

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

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

What to Do When Your Shareholder Rights Are Violated

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

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

Exactly How Does Power of Attorney Work?

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

Types of Power of Attorney

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

How to Establish Power of Attorney

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

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

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

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

The Rise of For-Profit Nursing Homes

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

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

How For-Profit Facilities Cut Corners

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

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

Making a Decision

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

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

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

Types of Abuse by Residents

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

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

What Causes Resident-on-Resident Abuse

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

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

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

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

Top 4 Reasons to Rewrite Your Will

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

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

1. You Are Getting Married

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

2. You Bought a New House

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

3. You Are Having Your First Child

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

4. You Just Received a Life-Threatening Diagnosis

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

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

Experienced Wills and Trusts Lawyer in New York State

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

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

Elder Financial Fraud Explained

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

What Is Elder Financial Fraud?

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

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

Who Is Most Likely to Perpetrate Elder Financial Fraud?

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

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

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

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

What You Can Do to Prevent Elder Financial Fraud

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

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

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

Understanding Health Care Power of Attorney

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

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

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

What Is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

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

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

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

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

Who Should You Choose As Your Proxy?

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

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

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

Legal Assistance with Advanced Health Care Directives

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

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

Finding the Right Retirement Community for Your Loved One

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

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

Questions You Should Ask

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

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

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

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

Contact a Long Island Elder Law Attorney

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

Who Should Be Your Estate Agent?

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

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

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

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

Who Should Be Your Estate Agent?

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

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

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

Before Selecting an Agent, Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney

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

What Is the Estate Attorney’s Role?

Long Island Estate Attorney - Lamkin Elder LawMost individuals are easily lured by the idea of saving time and money by creating their own estate plan using those do-it-yourself kits or websites. Unfortunately, these alternatives rarely generate a suitable estate plan that accomplishes all of their objectives. In fact, the only way to truly have an effective estate plan is by hiring a qualified estate lawyer that can interpret the laws that bear on tax rights, wills, probate, property, etc. Most importantly, these programs and forms do not offer the legal advice necessary to ensure the estate plan is correct or in accordance with New York State laws.

You Can Still Save While Hiring an Attorney

Save time and money by preparing for your meeting with an estate planning attorney early on. You can organize your information before the meeting – including assets, liabilities, titles and your feelings regarding how you want to provide for family members once you are gone. When you schedule your consultation, you can ask if there is a questionnaire the attorney uses and request that it be sent early so that you can complete it.

Also, have copies of important documents ready, such as your previous will (if any), powers of attorney, life insurance policies, employment and retirement benefits, divorce decrees and any prenuptial agreements.

During the Consultation

Do not be shy about requesting information regarding legal fees and how those fees will be used. You should also carefully review the written agreement between you and the attorney and the provisions for how things will be handled if you are dissatisfied with their service. Engagement letters are a critical component in every attorney-client relationship.

Consider Your Estate Attorney Your Advocate

An estate attorney is your advocate. They are there to protect your loved ones and your estate long after you pass. Because you have spent your entire life achieving your own personal goals, it is important that you have advice and direction from a legal professional. An attorney is an essential component in implementing a well-drafted, legal estate plan that meets your wishes and handles all personal objectives and concerns you may have. Instead of putting your wishes at risk with a do-it-yourself form, you may find that the benefits more than outweigh the costs of hiring a professional.

Speak With a New York Estate Planning Attorney Today

Learn more about how an estate lawyer can help you achieve your goals – including long-term planning. Contact attorney Andrew M. Lamkin today at 516-605-0625 or fill out an online contact form.

The Basics of Estate Administration

Long Island Estate Planning Attorney - Lamkin Elder LawWhen a person dies owning specific assets in their name alone, the estate must then be opened by a representative to handle those assets and settle all of the decedent’s affairs. The estate is opened in the courts with a petition alongside a death certificate. An attorney should always draft such a petition and ensure matters are done properly.

If the decedent dies testate, the original will must be then filed alongside that petition. This procedure is referred to as the “probate” procedure. As long as the will is notarized, it will be considered self-proving. If not, then two witness signatures must also be present on the will in order to make it valid. After the will has been probated, the letters of testamentary will be issued to the estate’s personal representative – also referred to as the executor.

What if the Decedent Passes Without a Will?

Dying without a will, or intestate, requires the personal representative to receive letters of administration. These letters will only be granted to specific individuals in a prioritized order, which includes:

  1. Residuary legatees
  2. Surviving spouses
  3. Intestate heirs (those with the closest relation get first preference)
  4. Creditors
  5. Other fit individuals

The Duties of the Personal Representative

The estate’s personal representative has many roles, and they are required to use the estate’s assets to pay all debts and obligations, estate taxes, inheritance taxes and to communicate with the beneficiaries of the estate. Just some of the duties that they will be required to fulfill include:

  • Safeguarding and Collecting the Estate’s Assets – They must collect and safeguard assets from theft, vandalism, and destruction. That may mean changing the locks on the decedent’s home, renting a safety deposit box for jewelry and small items, or locking items into a storage unit.
  • Advertising – A personal representative is also required to advertise in a legal newspaper with general circulation. The advertisement must include the decedent’s name, address of the representative and the contact information of the estate attorney.
  • Notification – Executors must then notify all beneficiaries about the death of the decedent within several months of receiving the grant letters. A copy of the will can be included if the death occurred in testate.
  • Filing Inventory – The executor will create an inventory of the estate’s assets not only for tax purposes, but for purpose of distribution later.
  • Status – An executor must keep the state comprised of their actions, including any tax returns and applicable taxes due.
  • Payments – The executor must then also pay all expenses, taxes and other creditor debts from the estate’s assets. This may require selling or liquidating particular assets in order to pay these obligations. In addition, the executor must pay all court filing fees and costs of administration as well as any attorney’s fees applicable to the estate.

Only after everything is completed, and often several months to a year after the decedent has passed, is the estate officially closed and assets are distributed.

Navigate the Complexities of Estate Administration – Speak to an Attorney

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

Assessing the Legal Aspects of Organ and Tissue Donation

Long Island Estate Planning Attorney - Lamkin Elder LawEstate planning often involves the preparation of Last Wills and Testaments, Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives for Health Care. It can also involve discussions and planning for long-term care. During that meeting, the option for tissue and organ donation should also be explored. An attorney’s main role is to get their client thinking about potential issues, including guardianship of special needs children, inheritance of property, what to do during incapacitation, etc. When a person is in a coma or legally suffering from “brain death” it is also an attorney’s job to ask how they want their organs and tissues handled.

Unfortunately, tissue and organ donation does not always become a topic of discussion. That is because some clients or even attorneys are too uncomfortable talking about it. It is important, however, that individuals understand that it is a viable option.

Opening the Discussion

By raising the issue of tissue and organ donation, and assisting clients with understanding their rights in regards to making provisions for doing such, an attorney can have a big impact on their clients’ lives as well as on the community.

In New York, competent individuals over the age of 18 years can authorize the donation of their own organs and tissues. This decision can be as quick as becoming a donor on their driver’s license. The driver’s license will then indicate that the individual is a legal “organ donor” and doctors at a hospital facility will be able to carry out their wishes.

Also, an individual can obtain an organ donor card from the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) by calling 1-800-donors-7 or by going to the core.org website to receive their card. The card must be signed not only by the donor, but in the presence of two witnesses.

Powers of Attorney and Organ Donations

Agents under the Powers of Attorney can also make anatomical gifts as long as they have the consent to do so by the individual. Parties that are authorized under New York law to make anatomical gifts include:

  • Spouses
  • An adult sibling
  • An adult child
  • A guardian of that individual
  • Parent of the individual
  • Anyone with the legal authority to donate the organs and tissues

Agreeing to the anatomical gift can be done in writing or via a recorded message.

The Last Will and Testament can also have specific language pertaining to organ donation wishes. Once the testator dies, the anatomical gift can be given without the need for probate.

Speak with a New York Estate Planning Attorney

If you want to become an organ or tissue donor, you can have language placed under your Powers of Attorney documents and in your Last Will and Testament regarding your wishes. Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin can assist you with drafting your will or revising it to address your organ and tissue donation concerns. Contact him for a free consultation at 516-605-0625 or contact us online.

How to Avoid Inheritance Disputes: 3 Expert Tips

After your death, the last thing you want is your loved ones to fight over your assets and liabilities.  The courts and anyone in the probate system also want these processes to go as smoothly as possible. Even with the best intentions, there are disputes that could arise. And, these disputes can often turn bitter – especially when the emotions of loss are driving everyone’s opinions.

There are things you can do to help lessen the likelihood that your loved ones will have drawn-out courtroom battles and bitter disputes.

Creating an Excellent, Well-Articulated Will

Having a will isn’t always enough – especially if your will is full of holes or missing critical information. Naturally, a will is better than no will at all, because leaving your heirs to figure out inheritance on their own can always lead to disaster.

What Happens if You Don’t Have a Will?

If you do not have an estate plan, the state’s laws will determine how your estate is distributed amongst your family. These intestacy laws can vary, but often involve first your marital status and then surviving children. If you did not want a certain child to inherit something, but didn’t have an estate plan dictating that, you will not be able to say much after you are deceased.

Creating a Valid Will is Important

Writing your intentions on paper and signing it isn’t enough. Instead, you need a will that is well-drafted and in accordance with the state’s laws. If your will is not valid, the courts will not honor your requests. A few things you must have present in order for your will to be valid under New York state laws include:

  • You must be at least 18 years old;
  • You must be of sound mind and body when writing the will;
  • You cannot be coerced into the will;
  • You must have had the intentions to create that estate plan;
  • You must have all assets listed and assign them to heirs;
  • You must have an estate plan that is signed, dated and witnessed.

Skipping Over Probate

Probate court is not automatically avoided with a will. Instead, your property will still go through probate where the court will then transfer property in accordance with your will. These processes are costly and lengthy – sometimes lasting anywhere from six months to a few years. Your estate planning attorney can advise you as to how you can avoid probate, such as establishing a revocable living trust or assigning death beneficiaries on specific accounts.

Create Durable Powers of Attorney and Living Wills

Inheritance disputes often come later in life, especially when an elderly loved one is no longer able to make decisions for themselves. By having living wills and durable powers of attorney already present, you can avoid these disputes regarding your estate and even your health care.

Meet With a Long Island Estate Planning Attorney to Dispute-Proof Your Plan

If you do not want your loved ones fighting over assets and decisions, meet with an attorney from the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. We can assess your risks, assets and liabilities and help draft a will that is as dispute-proof as possible. Contact us at 516-605-0625 or fill out an online contact form to get started.

Can I Disinherit My Spouse?

You have spent the time and money creating an estate plan, but now you are going through a divorce. This is by far one of the most emotionally and legally trying times any person will ever go through. Not only do you have a myriad of legal documents to deal with, and requirements that can be daunting, but you may accidentally forget about updating your estate plan. Neglecting this very important step could mean that your ex-spouse will still inherit all of your property – which may not be what you intended post-divorce.

Most individuals in a divorce situation do not want their ex-spouse inheriting anything from their estate, which is why it is imperative you speak with an estate planning attorney to disinherit your spouse.

Marital Property and Assets

New York law requires equitable distribution of marital assets, which means all marital assets and liabilities are split equally in the eyes of the law – but not necessarily 50/50. Regardless of who paid for it or whose name is on the asset, the asset is still a marital asset if it was received or acquired during the marriage.

During the divorce process, you will split these marital assets. Some of these may have been associated with an estate plan, which means you will need to update your estate plan not only to reflect the spouse you are disinheriting, but the change in assets. If you are not selling and splitting the profits of those assets, then they would remain in your estate plan and your ex would still be able to receive their share of that property – whether you attempted to disinherit them or not.

Revising Your Will Is Key

Revising your estate plan is the only way you can disinherit a spouse. If you have not created a will, then now is the time to sit down with an estate planning attorney and do so. Your will can create specific instructions regarding your intentions to disinherit your ex-spouse. Because state intestate succession laws will take over if you do not have an estate plan or updated plan, this is an imperative step. You must decide who will inherit from you and who will not – and dictate that within your estate plan for the courts.

The most important feature of an estate plan is clarity. Then you will be able to clearly identify who should inherit property and assets after your death. You will also want to revise your life insurance policies, retirement plans and other documents that list your soon-to-be ex as your beneficiary – because even your estate plan cannot protect against those.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney in Long Island, NY Today

If you are going through a divorce, protect your assets from your ex-spouse by speaking with an estate planning attorney. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with revising or creating a new estate plan that specifies who will inherit your assets. Schedule a consultation at 516-605-0625 or contact us online with your questions.

Purchasing a Grave: 5 Things to Consider First

No one likes to think about it, but purchasing a plot for graves is still an important part of the estate planning process. Unfortunately, it is not something people do every day and there is little information out there that tells consumers how they can protect themselves against gravesite scams or to ensure they get fair treatment. Furthermore, gravesite purchases are extremely costly and most individuals are unaware of what they are getting or what they are signing up for when they purchase them.

If you are purchasing a gravesite for yourself or if you and your spouse are purchasing together, there are still a few things you will need to consider first.

Land Ownership

When you purchase a gravesite, it is not the same as purchasing land outright. You do not usually own the land your gravesite is on; instead, someone else has ownership, but you are purchasing an easement or license that allows you to bury a body into that plot. It is best that you clarify if you are purchasing the easement or the land when buying.

How Many Burials in the Same Plot?

Some cemeteries will only allow one individual to be buried in a plot, while others will allow a maximum of two individuals to be buried in the same plot – as long as they are buried on top of one another. However, double-deep plots often come with an extra fee. For couples, sharing a plot may be ideal, but it is a big consideration to make. After all, if you are to split later on, you still share a grave plot, but may not wish to be buried next to one another.

Maintenance Fees

There is typically a one-time maintenance fee you must pay when purchasing a plot at a cemetery. This fee is often referred to as the endowment fee in the contract and the prices will vary depending on the cemetery you select. You will want to ask about the endowment fee to see if that is in addition to the plot purchase or included in the purchase price. Most of the times it is not included and you will have to pay it after you have selected and started the purchase process.

Grave Marker Restrictions

Even if you purchase a gravesite, you could be restricted as to what types of grave markers you can actually place. Some will allow standing headstones, while others will only allow the use of flat plaques. You will want to clarify this when purchasing, especially if you are also preordering a gravestone or thinking about the type of gravestone you wish to place at the site. Ask about any applicable regulations, including size restrictions and material types.

Reselling Your Site

Most importantly, you want to ask about the transferability of the gravesite. If you want to sell the plot, you typically should be able to sell it to anyone you would like, but there are some cemeteries that request to review the purchaser and they reserve the right to refuse to resell.

Enlist the Assistance of an Estate Planning Attorney

If you are picking out a gravesite for purchase as part of your estate plan, enlist the assistance of an attorney. An attorney can help assess the purchase agreement and also make stipulations in your estate plan in regards to the newly purchased gravesite. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today regarding your estate plan by calling 516-605-0625 or contacting us online for a consultation.

Who to Call for Elder Abuse

senior-living-blog-close-up-nursing-home-residents

Unfortunately, elderly abuse is becoming a growing problem in the United States. Despite the fact that most people know they must respect their elders and it is wrong, elderly individuals are taken advantage of and abused across multiple cultures residing in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is estimated that one out of every 10 elderly Americans is mistreated by a loved one or stranger.

Elder abuse can take on numerous forms, including mental, emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse. The abuse can be by a family member or a caregiver. The abuse can also include abandonment, neglect or misallocation of funds by a professional. Loved ones that suspect elder abuse should contact the authorities and report the abuse immediately.

Family Members Abusing Loved Ones

The reason elder abuse is so widely underreported is because of the personal relationship between the abuser and the abused. Frail family members are unlikely to contact strangers to report their abuse or mistreatment, especially if it is a loved one committing the abuse. Also, most elderly individuals are unaware of their options and do not even know about the abuse prevention and protection programs available to them – so they just accept the abuse and assume they have nowhere to turn.

The National Adult Protective Services Association states that there has been a dramatic increase of elder abuse across the country since the 1980s, but there has not been a unified approach to correct the problem still to this date. There is no one federal agency that is solely tasked with helping the elderly and addressing abuse or mistreatment; the states have been tasked with the job instead.

Every state has its own program for elder and adult abuse protective services, but a lot of that work falls on the shoulders of already overworked social service and health department professionals.

Finding Where to Turn

To report any form of elder abuse, the National Center of Elder Abuse’s State Resources help find state agencies that are tasked with overseeing these types of cases. Even if mistreatment is suspected, family members or friends should report that behavior and initiate an investigation to protect the individual from further abuse. Also the agency can help locate additional resources for caregivers that are overwhelmed and unable to care for their loved one.

Elder abuse is like any other type of violence. If the abuse is severe or it is an emergency situation, individuals can contact the police or even call 911 for help. Families and elderly loved ones injured by caregivers may need to also enlist the services of an attorney to help with compensation.

Was Your Loved One Injured? Speak with an Elder Law Attorney

Sometimes guardianship issues arise during elder abuse cases. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist with guardianship requests and help further protect elderly individuals who are being abused by loved ones or their caregivers. Contact us at 516-605-0625 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.

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.