10 Essential Questions to Ask before Hiring Your Elder Care Attorney

As you age, concerns about your living situation, care needs, and finances start to arise. You might wonder how you will pay for long-term care, what will happen to your assets, or who will take care of you and make decisions on your behalf.

All of these are legitimate questions and concerns and ones you should bring to an elder law attorney. Elder law lawyers focus on the unique legal matters of seniors, and they can help you manage your circumstances today and well into the future.

Regardless of what questions bring you to an attorney, you need to meet with one earlier rather than later. The sooner you get an attorney involved, the easier it will be to put your concerns at ease and get you on the right path.

10 Critical Questions to Ask a Potential Elder Law Attorney in Plainview, NY

You have an attorney in mind, and you have scheduled the consultation. The next step is to create a list of questions. These questions help gauge whether the attorney is a good fit for your needs and addresses any initial concerns you may have. You want to address these questions in the consultation so that the attorney better understands what services you need.

1. Are You a Certified Elder Law Attorney?

An attorney can prove their prowess in elder law by being certified through the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF). NELF helps attorneys understand the requirements regarding their clients better. To remain certified, your attorney must continue their practice focusing on elder law and do specific amounts of continuing education.

To certify, your attorney also must have a license in your state, maintain good standing with the New York State Bar Association, practice law for a minimum of five years, complete 45 hours of continuing education in elder law in the past three years, have references from five attorneys, and pass an examination.

2. How Many Years Have You Practiced Elder Law?

Some attorneys branch out into elder law because they see the growing demand. However, they do not practice exclusively in this area, or they recently opened their practice to that area of the law. Preferably, you want an attorney who has several years of experience. This is because the regulations regarding senior care, estate plans, and long-term care planning change continuously – and you need someone experienced with the case law and changes.

3. Is There a Niche in Elder Law on Which You Focus?

Some attorneys only focus on specialized areas of elder law such as elder abuse, long-term care, Medicare or Medicaid planning, and Social Security. Inquire about what areas of elder law your attorney practices in to make sure they cover not only the services you need, but also the services you may require in the future.

4. Do You Have Experience with Cases like Mine?

Every client and every case is unique. You want an attorney that has experience working on similar issues like yours because they are faster at creating a solution than an attorney venturing into unknown waters.

5. Who Will Handle My Case?

When you meet with an attorney, you should always ask who will be handling the case. The attorney you meet with might represent your case in court, but the back-end work involves a team of professionals such as an accountant, paralegal, secretary, and possibly other attorneys. Therefore, you’ll want to know who exactly you will encounter and who does the work on your case.

6. How Familiar Are You with the State Laws?

Your attorney is a guide through the legal system. You want to know the laws and how they affect you when it comes to areas like Medicaid, Medicare, long-term care planning, nursing home rights, estate planning, asset management, and more.

Your attorney should be well versed in all laws that affect your estate plan and long-term care planning.

7. What Relevant Organizations Do You Participate In?

Your attorney should participate in the organizations that influence elder laws and planning. Examples would be: the Special Needs Alliance, local or state agencies involving elder law, and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.

8. How Familiar Are You with Medicare and Medicaid?

One of the most important services you receive from an elder attorney is Medicare or Medicaid planning. Therefore, you need an attorney that is well versed in these government systems and knows how to plan for long-term care properly.

Medicare is for individuals 65 years and older or those with a qualifying disability. These programs are highly complicated and have strict requirements. Your attorney must understand all of the requirements for Medicare or Medicaid, including assets, custodial care, and the needs-based entitlements from Medicaid.

9. What Happens to My File If You Stop Practicing?

One crucial question clients forget to ask is what happens to their files if their attorneys stops practicing. What if a severe illness strikes your attorney or the attorney retires? Who takes over their cases? Ask about your potential attorney’s contingency plan, and what they have in place in the event they retire or an emergency occurs.

10. What Suggestions Do You Have for Me?

You can get an idea of what your potential attorney has planned for you just by asking for suggestions. What do they suggest you do so that you can qualify for Medicare in the future? How do they suspect they will handle your assets in your estate plan?

Meet with an Elder Law Attorney in Your Area Today

The questions you have about your future should not go unanswered. If you need an elder law or estate planning attorney, meet with attorney Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin.

He can meet with you and discuss your questions, find solutions to your pressing concerns, and help you navigate through the complexities of long-term care planning – including estates, assets, and Medicaid planning.

Schedule a free consultation today at 516-605-0625 or request your appointment online.

A Quick Primer on Elder Law

elder lawAs you age, you face critical decisions that not only impact your quality of life but the life of your loved ones. Some decisions you might make include how you receive medical care, where you live, and what you want when you pass away.

Many decisions you make have legal considerations too, which is why elder law attorneys are there to help. Elder law attorneys are advocates. They help you make plans, offer advice, and draft legal documents you might need to protect yourself, your assets, and your loved ones.

What is Elder Law and How Does It Work in Plainview, NY?

The laws of New York have specialized fields – such as family law, tax law, and corporate law. While you have heard of most of these areas, one you may not have heard about is elder law. Elder law handles the legal issues affecting the elderly.

Some areas that elder law covers include:

  • Guardianship and Financial Administration – If you became incapable of caring for yourself or you were unable to make decisions due to an illness or incapacitation, how would your estate and personal matters be handled. In these instances, the court is called in to appoint a guardian. While in some cases the court might appoint someone you would have picked yourself, in most cases, you may not receive the guardian you intended. Using your rights, you could select a guardian yourself – thus, ensuring the person who handles your healthcare, personal, and financial decisions are one you trust.
  • Advance Directives, Power of Attorney, Living Wills – You have numerous documents that you can draft to help prepare you in case you are incapacitated. An Advance Health Care Directive lets you create wishes for medical treatments if you become incapacitated. This document outlines all care you wish to receive and at what point you want medical professionals to withdraw attention.
  • Health Care or Social Security – Another critical area of elder law is Medicare. With an attorney’s help, you can handle disputes over medical care, learn about your patient rights, and apply for Medicare coverage. Also, most elderly individuals rely on Social Security benefits during retirement. If you have issues with Social Security, your attorney may be able to transfer benefits to spouses and dependents to lessen your estate’s value.
  • Estate Planning One of the more commonly used areas of elder law is estate planning and estate administration. Estate planning involves transferring your property to intended beneficiaries upon your death. Estate planning also comes in many forms, including the traditional Will to the trust. When you meet with an elder law attorney, you will discuss which options are best for your estate based on your wishes, estate value, and New York laws.

What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?

An elder law attorney is an advocate for the elderly. He or she works to protect your rights, but they also handle a variety of legal matters that affect you as you age or become disabled. Your elder law attorney can help with everything from long-term care planning to retirement to Social Security to Medicare and estate planning.

An elder law attorney is more capable of handling sensitive issues as well, including the physical and emotional needs of older adults and even those who are disabled.

Some Ways an Elder Law Attorney Can Help

  • Discussing wills and other estate planning documents, including preparation for minors, adults with special needs, probate, and other estate planning issues that can arise
  • Creating a durable power of attorney
  • Creating a plan for financial planning, housing, and estate or gift tax issues
  • Explaining all nursing home options, resident rights, and filing nursing home claims if necessary
  • Drafting a living will or creating an advance directive, including the Power of Attorney or long-term planning documents
  • Helping locate long-term care facilities or managing assisted living costs
  • Helping apply for government benefits, including Medicare or Social Security
  • Providing help with financial planning and health care planning

What to Consider When Hiring an Elder Law Attorney

An elder law attorney does not always specialize in all areas that affect the elderly. Therefore, you want an attorney that handles the specific area of elder law you need, but also consider what long-term services they may be able to offer you. It is easier if you have established a long-term relationship with an elder law attorney – in case new issues arise.

Find an Elder Law Attorney in New York Today

If you need an elder law attorney or you want to explore your options for elder law services, contact an attorney in New York that has years of experience handling everything from advance directives to real estate, Medicaid, and estate planning.

The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help you with your long-term planning needs. We help with legal and non-legal issues, including nursing home planning, retirement planning, and long-term care insurance.

Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

New York Services Available for the Aging Population

aging father and daughterAging should not be something you fear.

New York is home to the third-largest aging population in the country; therefore, the state has taken measures to ensure those over the age of 65 years have plenty of services in place to help them. Not only has the state worked hard to improve nursing homes and long-term care, but they have created educational opportunities to ensure more qualified caretakers are working in nursing homes.

If you are over the age of 65, you might be surprised to discover how many services are offered to you – and most of these services are free and funded by government programs.

What Services Are Available to Residents in Plainview, NY?

New York is working hard to be the best state for educating family members, patients, and caregivers about how to help their aging loved ones. Whether you are a family member looking for options or you are curious what services are out there for you, here are just some of the programs that are available.

Meal Services for Older Adults

Many individuals living alone over the age of 65 do not receive proper nutrition. The Meal Service for Older Adults delivers healthy, balanced meals to older residents for up to five days per week. They can provide these meals to senior housing, clubs, town halls, and other locations.

Also, some programs can deliver these meals to your home, especially if you are bedridden from a surgery or illness.


  • Community Dining Service: The community dining service is available if you are age 60 or older. Your spouse can receive meals even if they are under 60. Anyone living with you that has a disability under the age of 60 may also participate in the community dining service.
  • Home Meal Delivery Service: For those stuck at home, the home delivered meal option is available for those ages 60 and older. You will need an individual client interview to see if you qualify for this service.

There is no charge for the meal services.

Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP)

This program is funded by the government and includes non-medical services and support for older adults who need help with specific activities like:

  • Bathing and hygiene
  • Dressing
  • Cooking
  • Shopping
  • Personal care

The cost of this service depends on your level of care and income. Some programs offer the care services at a reduced price, and if you are at poverty level, you may receive your service for free.

Foster Grandparent Program

The Foster Grandparent Programs one that provides children and youth with special needs extra assistance, but it also gives those in the community an opportunity to be grandparents to children who need it the most.

In this program, you can help children learn to read, provide them with tutoring, and serve anywhere from 15 to 40 hours per week in schools and afterschool programs.


To participate you must be at least 55 years old, and you must pass a physical examination to prove you are healthy enough to help these children. Then, you can enroll and receive an hourly stipend for your time. You can apply by viewing the list of available programs in your area.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP)

All states have a local ombudsman. The Ombudsman Program is a resource for aging adults and their families looking to find a quality nursing home and assisted living care in the New York boroughs. The program serves all aging adults and those with special needs who require specialized care facilities.

The Ombudsman Program reviews and responds to complaints about local care facilities, and they serve as a quality tool for references when you are looking for a nursing home for yourself or a loved one.

Social Adult Day Services Program

This program helps caretakers get a break during the day or even go to work while their loved one is cared for in a facility.

Adults and disabled individuals can attend these social events and enjoy activities, nutrition, and assistance with their daily care needs. All services in the program are based on the individual needs of the participants.

The cost does vary from program-to-program, but some Medicaid participants can qualify for reimbursement.

Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Program

These services are implemented at local community centers and care facilities, and they are designed to ensure senior citizens receive proper nutrition, daily care, and avoid preventable infections and diseases.

Just some of the services in this program include:

  • Physical fitness and activity programs
  • Routine health screenings for older adults
  • Home injury control and prevention services
  • Nutrition screening and dietary counseling
  • Medication screening, management, and administering programs
  • Mental health screening services
  • Alcohol and substance abuse programs
  • Stress management programs

There is no cost for these services. Instead, when you are enrolled in another program, you can receive these add-on services free.

The Importance of Hiring an Attorney for Long-Term Care Planning

While the state does offer a plethora of services, you still need to enlist the services of an elder law attorney. An attorney can help you create a long-term care plan that protects your loved ones, your assets, and your best interests.

An elder law attorney helps you with all aspects of aging care, including Medicare planning, disability planning, benefits planning, and more.

The increasing costs of long-term care can quickly drain your saving account, and with the increased reliance on nursing homes and other aging care facilities, you need a legal plan in place to protect you. An elder law attorney can help you draft:

  • Estate plans
  • Health care proxies
  • Health care directives
  • Living wills
  • Trusts

Meet with an Elder Law Attorney Today

If you are concerned about health insurance, Medicare, or you would like to plan for your future, speak with an experienced elder law attorney by calling the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C.

We can help you with all your long-term care planning and estate planning concerns.

Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation now at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

The Basics of Elder Law

Elder Woman Young WomanElder law is an area of law about the elderly. An elder law attorney is well-versed in cases that involve seniors and senior rights. Lawyers practicing in elder law focus on the important decisions made later in life, including helping their clients receive care, complete an estate plan, provide protections to loved ones, and even conservatorship.

A Legal Specialist for the Elderly

An elder law attorney works as a specialist. Their focus is on the needs specifically of older adults. These requirements are nowhere near the same as younger adults. They assist in financial and estate planning issues, but also help with day-to-day concerns, such as life planning, Medicare, and assisted living.

An elder law attorney looks out for the best interests of their client, and they handle numerous challenging situations for those clients.

Ways an Elder Law Attorney Can Help You

An elder law advocate can help with multiple tasks, including:

  • Wills and Estate Plans – Estate plans, including making plans for minor and adult children, adults with special needs, probate court, and other estate issues.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – Providing protection for when the unexpected happens, and someone needs to make decisions on a senior citizen’s behalf.
  • Health Care and Planning – From creating a health care power of attorney to planning for government-funded healthcare, patient rights, and long-term care.
  • Advance Directives – Drafting advance directives including long-term planning documents and a durable power of attorney.
  • Nursing Home Rights – For seniors who anticipate that they will live in a nursing home or assisted living center, a lawyer helps explain their rights and even file claims when rights are violated.

Estate Planning

Estate planning and estate administration are two critical services that elder law attorneys provide to their clients. This allows the transfer of that person’s property to other family members or even an organization upon his or her death.

An elder law attorney will draft a will, help establish a trust (if necessary), plan for estate taxes, and help with the distribution of assets. In certain cases, the attorney may help his clients through the probate court process or find alternatives to probate.

Medicare Planning

Medicare is something that most seniors will rely on when they retire. Receiving these benefits is not easy, and states have specific rules for Medicare. A lawyer can help elderly individuals plan long-term for their government insurance.

Social Security Benefit Issues

Elder attorneys can also contribute to resolve issues regarding Social Security benefits during retirement. These problems might include applying for benefits, disability, and Social Security, securing benefits, transferring them to spouses and dependents and so forth.

Meet with an Elder Law Attorney in New York

Protecting yourself and your loved ones is critical regardless of age. However, when you get older, you need an advocate that protects your rights to substantial benefits and gives you the opportunity to provide for loved ones in the future as well.

In Long Island, turn to the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. for all your elder law and estate planning needs. Schedule a free consultation today at 516-605-0625 or request an appointment online.

Common Suffolk County Medicaid Issues to Know

Experienced Medicaid Planning Attorney Helping Families in Suffolk County

elderly lady holding a younger lady's handMedicaid planning is something that seniors do to ensure they have funds in place for nursing homes and other medical care in the future. Today, nursing homes are extremely costly, and the elderly with plentiful savings find it quickly diminishing after a short stay in a nursing home.

It is not unusual for a resident to spend up to $100,000 per year on their nursing home care. Therefore, Medicaid planning is a necessity for those who wish to provide for themselves without creating a financial burden on their estate.

Common Issues with Medicaid Planning – and How to Overcome Them

Medicaid planning not only ensures financial protection but helps a senior qualify for Medicaid. Some find the topic controversial, but it is a necessary discussion that you must have with your loved ones and your elder law attorney, especially if you anticipate nursing home care in the future.

Medicaid planning preserves your assets but does not involve hiding those assets as some believe. Instead, it is a strategy that helps you spend down your assets in a way that qualifies you for benefits you need to pay for medical care.

The Look Back Rule

Medicaid has a penalty that can be assessed for up to five years after gifting an asset. Therefore, it is important that you work with an attorney that addresses the look back rule issue in your Medicaid planning. The penalty might exceed the five-year mark causing you to stop gifting assets or hold onto an asset.

The look back was established to ensure that a person does not illegally transfer assets to a family member to qualify for Medicaid benefits. While it is a justified system that prevents abuse, the system complicates Medicaid planning for individuals and their families. An attorney can address the look back issue and help to avoid any penalties.

The Income Cap

There is an income cap for a Medicaid applicant, and if you go over the income cap, you cannot qualify for benefits. Therefore, your attorney may help establish a trust to hold over excess revenue (income over your state or federal income cap).

Using Long-Term Care Insurance

When planning for Medicaid, some wonder if long-term care insurance is ideal. Long-term care insurance does not affect Medicaid eligibility, but it must be used before receiving Medicaid. Deciding how much LTC to purchase and when to use it often requires consulting an attorney and financial advisor.

The Family Home

A big issue with Medicaid planning is the family or marital home. Homes are an asset, and a proper plan can protect the home from the government taking possession of that asset when a person dies in a state of Medicaid recovery. An attorney will establish a plan that ensures the marital or family home is not seized and sold; instead, passed down to loved ones.

Speak with an Attorney Regarding Your Suffolk County Medicaid Issues

To resolve these issues, work with an attorney in Suffolk County that offers Medicaid planning services.

The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help you with your Medicaid planning. First, we will discuss your long-term care needs, options, and how to protect your assets. The look back period is five years, so planning long before you think you will need a nursing home is best.

Schedule a free consultation today at 516-605-0625 or request your consultation online.

How to Find Suffolk County Elder Law Attorneys

Elder Law Legal Team Serving the Elderly of Suffolk County

elder law attorney and advocateToday, living decisions as people age have become increasingly complex. Not only must they decide where they want to live, but how they will manage finances, healthcare, and their estate. Seniors typically find themselves seeking legal advice from an attorney that can cater to these complex necessities.

An attorney specializing in elder law is one who focuses on the area of law relevant to seniors and their loved ones.

Elder law attorneys not only offer valuable advice, but they can help their clients find other professionals and non-legal resources for their needs. Suffolk County elder law attorneys know tax consequences of the decisions they help their clients make; therefore, they often work in close collaboration with local accountants.

Do You Need an Elder Law Attorney?

Legal services are expensive but should be considered as an investment. A consumer should be confident, however, that they need an elder law attorney. Before consulting with a lawyer, they should ask what legal issues they have if there are non-legal resources they need, and how an attorney can resolve their problems.

Then, they should consult with a local elder law attorney.

Tips for Selecting Suffolk County Elder Law Attorneys

There are numerous attorneys in Suffolk County specializing in elder law. Therefore, those seeking legal advice will need to perform due diligence to ensure they have picked the right attorney for their legal concerns. To do so, they should:

  • Consider the lawyer’s experience. Some lawyers offering elder law assistance also work in other fields of law, such as criminal defense, tax law, or bankruptcy. It is best to work with an attorney that does the core of their work in elder law and estate planning. This attorney is more apt to know the latest statutes and case law so that an accurate, legal plan can be established.
  • The complexity of the legal issues. Elder law issues range from Medicare planning to estate plans to setting up a trust. Therefore, some may require complex services that cannot be completed in a few visits. During the consultation, one should ask the attorney how long their issues will take to resolve so that they have an idea of what they are facing.
  • Visiting the local bar association website. Suffolk County has a bar association that is voluntary but offers clients a way to research potential attorneys and ensures they are the proper fit for their needs. Find a bar listed attorney, but also review any pending complaints against that attorney.
  • Request references from the attorney. Once a client has their eyes on a lawyer, they should seek references. When contacting references, ask what services the attorney provided, how long the process took, and their overall satisfaction.

Find a Suffolk County Elder Law Attorney Today

If you need elder law services, such as estate planning or Medicaid planning, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with him at 516-605-0625 or request your appointment online by completing an online contact form.

What if a Trustee is Stealing from the Family Trust?

Elder Law and Estate Planning Lawyers Helping Settle Estate Issues

trustee certificationSadly, it happens more often than people realize. A person trusted with the task of managing family assets and funds decides to take advantage of that access. When a trustee steals from the family trust, you might wonder what legal options you have to stop it, but also how to return the funds and assets that were stolen.

In this instance, the law does have protections. The trustee has an obligation to the trust and the beneficiaries of that trust, known as a fiduciary duty. When that duty is breached, there are legal ramifications.

The Legal Duty of the Trustee

A trustee must use their best efforts to meet the terms of the trust and the deceased who set up that trust. That includes managing all assets, distributing them to the beneficiaries, handling expenses and creditors, and ensuring the taxes and wills are sent to probate.

When the acts of the trustee appear to breach this duty, beneficiaries have options. However, to take official legal action, the beneficiaries must have substantial evidence and proof that the trustee is violating this duty. Mistakes are not a breach of duty. Instead, there must be evidence that the trustee is not making legal requirements, acting impartially, using unreasonable judgment, or is willfully ignoring the state’s laws.

The Consequences of Breach of Duty

A breach of duty carries civil consequences. If the trustee is considered in violation of his or her obligation, the civil consequences vary depending on the extent of the violation, the funds stolen, and how the funds were used. Some civil charges that the trustee could face include:

  • Constructive fraud
  • Tort of deliberate omission or alteration of the facts
  • Fines and repayment to beneficiaries
  • Removal as trustee of the trust

How Do You Report a Suspected Breach?

If you suspect that a trustee is breaching his or her duty, you must report it to an investigative agency. You do not need to be a beneficiary of that trust to report him or her, either. Most people are aware of financial abuse, and sometimes agencies may consider your complaint a nuisance or annoyance. Naturally, you must only complain if you have evidence of fraud.

To file a complaint that is heard, it is best that you meet with an estate attorney. An attorney can assess whether the trustee is incompetent or is breaching his or her duty. If a violation is determined, then your attorney can help you take the proper actions against the trustee and the court to protect the trust and beneficiaries associated with that trust.

Speak with a Long Island Estate Attorney

If you suspect that your trust’s trustee is abusing his or her power, or you feel that they have breached an obligation, you must contact an attorney.

We will closely review your case and will work with you throughout the entire process. Don’t delay in calling us. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your case. Contact us at 516-605-0625 for a free consultation about your trust issues or request information online.

Facts to Know About Medicare Planning

Estate Planning Attorney Assisting NY Families with Medicare Concerns

medicare planningMedicare planning is an essential component for any estate plan. After all, there will come a time when you need to use Medicare to cover your medical costs and medical-related expenses – and, Medicare is there for seniors who qualify. Applying for Medicare and ensuring that you will be approved is a highly daunting task. Therefore, it is in your best interest to speak with an estate planning attorney who has experience handling Medicare applications.

Facts About Medicare that You Need to Know

To create an effective Medicare plan, you need to know the facts. These include:

1. Medicare is for Seniors and the Disabled Only

To qualify for Medicare, you must meet the terms of this federally funded health insurance program. For starters, you must be 65 years or older to qualify. If you have a qualifying disability or end-stage renal disease, then you can receive benefits below the 65-year cut-off.

Medicare is given through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and it works as an entitlement program. Therefore, you must meet strict eligibility requirements to qualify.

2. There Are Four Parts to Medicare

Medicare comes in four parts, which go from Part A to Part D. Each part has its own healthcare benefits. For example, Medicare Part A offers hospital insurance, while Medicare Part D is what covers your prescriptions, and is optional. Medicare Part B provides you with preventative and other needed medical care services.

3. You Could Receive Part A Benefits Automatically

Most of those who qualify for Medicare are not forced to pay the premium for Part A insurance. If you have paid your taxes for more than ten years, and those taxes included Medicare, then you are eligible to receive that portion of the coverage for free.

4. You Need to Plan for Prescription Coverage

When creating a Medicare plan, you need to realize that Part A and Part B only cover hospital and preventative care. These Parts do not address your prescriptions, of which you are likely going to have plenty. Without insurance, prescriptions could cost several hundreds of dollars.

Therefore, you will want to plan for Medicare Part D coverage, as well, so that you can have coverage for your much-needed medications.

5. You Will Need Long-Term Care Eventually

A clear majority of those over the age of 65 will need some sort of long-term care. Therefore, ignoring Medicare planning could put you in jeopardy or leave you without the essential coverage required.

6. Your Estate Plan Will Dictate Your Eligibility

Sometimes, your financial situation plays a role in your qualifications for federal programs. If you are considering Medicaid planning for a disabled child, you must be cautious about any inheritance that he or she will receive. Therefore, let your estate planning attorney assess the situation and determine which route is best.

Speak with an Elder Law Attorney Today

For your estate plan, complete with Medicare planning, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today to explore your options. Schedule a free consultation now at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

What Are My Options for End of Life Care?

Elder Care Attorney Helping Families in New York with End of Life Care Planning

end of life care optionsPart of elder planning and estate planning is creating an end-of-life care plan. While no one wants to admit their own mortality, having a plan in place that tells loved ones what you would like for end-of-life care is critical. This ensures that family members do not have to go through the trouble of designating care options for you, and also ensures that you receive the care you wanted. With a properly funded estate plan, you could also ensure that there are funds available to pay for your end-of-life care wishes, so that loved ones do not have to shoulder the burden.

Exploring Options for End of Life Care

Today, there are numerous options when it comes to care options. Decades ago, you would have access to only one or two. Also, most insurance companies now help with the costs of these services – depending on the coverage and type of insurance you have, of course.

Some options to investigate for your plan include:

  • Palliative Care – Doctors provide this treatment to those who are seriously ill, but who are waiting to see if a cure is still possible. It is the ideal approach if you have pulmonary disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, or heart failure. In some instances, you receive treatment at the hospital or a special facility, while your doctor works on controlling and curing the condition.
  • Hospice Care – Hospice care is designed for patients who have a serious illness or condition for which there is no cure; this care is provided to those who need end-of-life care and support. Hospice offers comprehensive comfort care, but also supports the family. Hospice is available for those who have six months or less to live and can be done in-home or at a hospice care facility.
  • Hospital ICU Treatments – Sometimes, patients’ conditions require that they be treated in an intensive care unit (ICU) or coronary care unit (CCU). These offer specialized care for patients who are seriously ill, and the staff are trained for these conditions. The patient is provided with expert medical support and comfort care, and he or she may have the option of skipping or stopping treatment entirely.
  • Nursing Homes – A nursing home is also used for end-of-life care when a person is not seriously ill or does not require around-the-clock medical attention. A nursing home will have a plan in place so that, when the time comes, it can provide care without the need to receive permission from a medical provider.
  • Home Care – At home, you can receive care from family and friends, or have a care provider come to your home and provide you with end-of-life comfort care. In this situation, caretakers are there to keep you as comfortable as possible and prepare for your passing. This may include administering IV fluids, pain medications, and more.

Speak with an Elder Law Attorney to Explore Your End-of-Life Care Options

Prevent your loved ones from having to make the hard decisions about your end of life care. Instead, create a detailed plan that dictates how you want your life to end and which options are available, and then plan financially so that performing these care procedures is financially feasible.

Schedule a consultation now with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. by calling 516-605-0625 or contact him online with your questions.

What is the Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid?

Long Island Attorneys Discuss Medicare & Medicaid for Estate Planning

Discussing Medicare and MedicaidWhen undergoing estate planning, the topic of medical care comes up. Most consumers do not know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, however. It does not help that some professionals and websites use the terms interchangeably. While they sound similar, these are two very different government programs.

Medicare is for the elderly, while Medicaid is for those in poverty. The differences extend well beyond this, though – especially in terms of who can enroll, who runs the programs, how the programs work, how they are funded, and the benefits given to those enrolled.

Who Receives Medicare and Who Can Receive Medicaid?

Older individuals receive Medicare, while low-income families receive Medicaid. If a person is older and lower income, he or she may receive benefits from both.

A person is only eligible to receive Medicare if he or she is a minimum of 65 years or older, and has paid payroll taxes specifically for Medicare for a period of 10 years or more. His or her income does not matter. If he or she paid the payroll taxes and is over the age limit, that individual can qualify for Medicare. A person is only eligible for Medicaid when his or her income or financial status dips below a specified income limit.

There are exceptions for both plans. For example, people can qualify for Medicare when they are disabled, even if they are younger than 65 years. When individuals are older than 65, but never paid payroll taxes, they could still qualify for Medicare, but their premiums are higher than those of people who did pay taxes during their younger years.

Being low income is not enough to qualify for Medicaid in all situations. Sometimes, a person who is pregnant, a child, or a disabled individual may qualify for Medicaid; but, his or her income must be less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which changes annually.

Who Runs the Medicare Program?

The federal government runs the Medicare program. That is why the rules and benefits are uniform for Medicare across all states, since the federal government creates these rules.

Medicaid, on the other hand, is a state-run program. Each state has its own rules for how it allows individuals to qualify, what benefits are to be received, and more. While the Medicaid program is state-run, that state must meet the minimum standards set by the federal government to receive funding for its programs.

Insurance Versus Social Welfare

Most importantly, Medicare is an insurance program, which is why it is critical for an elderly person to include it in his or her estate plan. Medicaid, on the other hand, is considered a social welfare program.

Speak with an Elder Law Attorney to Plan for Medicare

What many do not realize is that their estate plan could disqualify them from government benefits. If you are planning your future or the future of a disabled child, you must know the difference between these government plans to ensure that your plan does not eliminate one’s abilities to qualify for aid.

To learn about your options, schedule a free consultation with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today by calling us at 516-605-0625 or scheduling a consultation online.

The Value of Hiring an Elder Law Attorney

Estate Planning Attorney Helping Families in Long Island Avoid Probate

elder law attorneyEveryone wants to pass on something to their children or other family members. You want everything that you have saved to go to those you love. The last thing you want is to give what you have worked so hard for to the government by paying out numerous probate fees. Even more so, you don’t want your family members to wait months (in some cases, years) to receive their inheritance.

Avoiding the issues of probate court (along with the costs) is much easier than you might realize. With the help of an estate planning attorney in Long Island, NY, you have a few options at your disposal.

Top Three Ways to Avoid Probate Court

1. Create a Living Trust

The easiest and most common way to avoid probate court is to establish a living trust. A living trust is the alternative to a living will. A living will distributes your assets upon death, but a living trust holds the assets and property in the trust. The trustee who manages these assets is someone whom you select, and the trustee works for the benefit of your beneficiaries.

A living trust avoids probate because your assets are owned and distributed by the trust – not your estate. There is no need to probate a will with a living trust, which saves your beneficiaries an extensive amount of money and time.

2. Naming Beneficiaries on Designation Forms

When you create a new bank account, sign up for a retirement account, or another financial account, you are handed a designation form. In this designation form, you pick a person to inherit the account in the event of your death.

A living will does not handle these types of accounts; therefore, these items would not pass through probate court if they had designation forms already completed. The bank account you have open now most likely has a beneficiary designation; so, it is in your best interest to review that designation and ensure that the person whom you selected is still the desired recipient.

Many people do not take the time to name a beneficiary for their bank accounts. It only takes a few seconds. If you have not named anyone, visit the financial institution where you bank or have retirement and investment accounts and designate someone.

3. Joint Tenancy with a Right of Survivorship

Another way to avoid sending real estate through probate is to hold that property jointly. You can do this with a significant other or a spouse. Owning the property jointly allows it to pass to your spouse or partner automatically upon your death.

If the property is not defined in ownership clearly, however, you may not be able to pass it to a spouse. It is best to consult with an attorney before assuming your family home or any real estate you own can be passed this way, because some state laws specifically prohibit such actions.

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney in Long Island Today

If you want to avoid the pitfalls and costs of probate court, speak with an estate planning attorney. An attorney can review your estate and suggest cost-saving methods for avoiding probate. Schedule a consultation today with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. by calling 516-605-0625 or requesting an appointment online.

How Does Capacity Affect Elder Law Cases?

elderly man and younger manCapacity is a very difficult term in the elder law section of the statute. While it is clear what makes a person capable of making decisions, that definition does not always play out as smoothly in real life. For example, people can seem to be capable of making decisions, but later it is discovered that they suffered from diminished capacity. When this happens, estate plans can become contested, and decisions reversed – whether the individual intended for that to happen or not.

What is Diminished Capacity?

Diminished capacity is a hot topic for contested estate plans. And, defining it depends on the circumstances at hand. The definition can also vary depending on what state you live in and what the statute says. When drafting an estate plan, your attorney will have to ensure that the plan and your capacity meet all state statutes – otherwise, your will could be contested.

To make a valid will, the individual who is making the will (known as the testator), must have the ability to understand several things, including:

  1. The nature and extent of the property that is owned.
  2. The natural objects that are within ownership.
  3. The decisions that are being made in the will.
  4. The ability to help connect the dots to create a rational estate plan.

A person doesn’t need to be capable of making day-to-day business transactions and decisions after the will goes into effect, but he or she must have the capacity at the time when the will is drafted and signed.

The Various Levels of Diminished Capacity

There are three facets of diminished capacity, and all attorneys who practice estate law (and other fields of law) must understand the levels of diminished capacity. These levels include:

  • Testamentary Capacity – This is regarding the testator at the time when a will is created. The individual must be able to understand the nature of the will, what it entails, and how it will affect family and understand what property is really “theirs.” Basically, he or she must be of sound mind at the time when the estate plan was created.
  • Donative Capacity – This refers to a person’s mental capacity at the time when he or she donates or gives a gift to someone. This can also affect your estate plan if you plan to donate your estate to charity. You will need to show that you have an understanding of the extent of your gift, and be of sound mind to agree to donate your estate.
  • Contractual Capacity – This is what refers to a person’s capacity at the time when he or she enters into a contract. You must understand the nature and effect of the contract, and what will be transacted upon the agreement.
  • Capacity to Execute a Durable Power of Attorney – This is critical in estate planning. You must meet a standard of capacity when creating and executing a durable power of attorney. You must not be under pressure from anyone to assign them power of attorney, and you must understand the effect of giving that individual power will have on your estate.
  • Decisional Capacity in Health Care – This is the capacity that allows you to make decisions regarding your own health care. If you have assigned an agent, he or she will take over decision-making once you are deemed incapable of making decisions on your own. This often means if you are unable to understand the benefits and risks or alternatives that are proposed to you by a medical professional in order to make a sound healthcare decision.

Concerned About Capacity Issues? Talk with an Attorney Today

If you are concerned with capacity issues or you want to ensure that your estate plan is drafted while you are considered of “sound mind,” speak with an estate planning attorney immediately to get started. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your estate plan. Call today to schedule a free consultation at 516-605-0625, or ask a question online.

Does the Illness Matter With End of Life Care?

Nurse with an Elderly WomanEnd of life care is important – especially as you age or if you are diagnosed with a particular condition that will degenerate your capabilities over time. Even if you have been diagnosed for some time, it is never too late to start your end of life care plan and use Advanced Directives. These are legal documents that help ensure that you receive the care you want (or do not want) if you become incapacitated or cannot make decisions on your own.

One question that you may have, however, is if the illness you are suffering will impact your end of life care decisions. In some ways, the illness you suffer from could affect what decisions you make while doing end-of-life care planning, but in other ways, it will not. In order to fully understand how your illness will (or will not) affect your planning, you must first assess what you need.

Three Most Utilized Documents

When you start end of life care planning, you will begin with three essential documents:

  1. A Living Will – This goes over the care that you would like to receive if you cannot make medical decisions on your own. This can include life-prolonging procedures (if you want any life-prolonging procedures done), blood transfusion issues, religious faiths that will play a role in your care, and the name of the individual who will facilitate your medical wishes.
  2. Healthcare Surrogate – This form will designate an agent who will make decisions about your health issues if you cannot do so yourself. He or she can have limited authority, and you can decide what he or she is allowed to decide – and even split that authority between two individuals. You will need to name the surrogate while you are still competent. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with a condition that will lead to incompetency, now is the time to designate the surrogate.
  3. Durable Power of Attorney – This will outline the power that you give to another person when he or she acts on your behalf. You must authorize this person in writing, and do so before you are considered incompetent. The power of attorney is what gives someone the authority to handle your finances, as well as healthcare matters.

How an Illness Plays a Role

When you are diagnosed with an illness, it can play a role in your end of life care plan. If you have already established an end of life care plan, you may need to reassess and see if it reflects your new diagnosis. For example, if a person has cancer and he or she does not wish to be put on life-prolonging devices, then that individual may need to adjust the end of life care plan to reflect that – if it doesn’t state such already.

You may also want to change your healthcare agent or even your durable power of attorney – or assign one if you have not done so already after a diagnosis.

In most cases, you will need to consult with your current physician (the one treating your illness) to come up with a care plan or suggested care based on your illness. Your physician can advise you about life-prolonging procedures, your prognosis, etc.

Speak with an Elder Law Attorney First

If you are establishing an end of life care plan, you will want to speak with an elder law attorney in New York first. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with all aspects of your end of life plan – including durable powers of attorney, healthcare agents, and even creating an estate plan. Schedule a free consultation now at 516-605-0625, or ask a question online to get started.

Inheritance Laws and Your Rights: Things You Need to Know

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

Understanding the Inheritance Hierarchy Without a Will

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

Spouse and Children

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

Parents and Siblings

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

Other Relatives by Marriage or Blood

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

Limitations to the Hierarchy

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

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

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

How to Guarantee Your Parents’ Safety in a Retirement Home

elderly woman with kidsYou 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 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.

The Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

elderly coupleThere 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.

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 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 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.

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

Home with front porchAs 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.

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.

How to Avoid Court with Your Aging Parents


Judge's Gavel

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

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

Three Ways to Avoid Going to Court

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

Avoid Family Disputes Altogether with a Sound Estate Plan

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

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

5 Red Flags of Elder Financial Abuse by Relatives & Caregivers

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

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

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

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

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

New York Estate Planning Assistance & Legal Advice

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

Why Winter Weather is Tough for the Elderly

Car with winter tyres installed on light alloy wheels in snowy oMany may not appreciate the environmental climate changes that commonly occur anywhere from fall to spring. For older citizens, ice and snow pose possible fall hazards that could result in broken bones. Journeying outdoors while wearing non-skid boots or having a companion reduces fall risks. However, colder indoor and outdoor temperatures also present additional dangers. Even with mild temperature decreases, winds lower outdoor temperatures even further. A 30 degree sunny day drops quickly to 15 degrees when 30 mile per hour winds occur. The National Institute on Aging advises that cold weather and precipitation carry potential hazards of hypothermia and overexertion.

Risk of Hypothermia

The term hypothermia refers to a condition that occurs when someone’s body temperature drops beneath the normal range and remains lowered for an extended length of time. As people age, the ability to maintain a normal body temperature decreases. Cardiovascular conditions that affect blood circulation contribute to the problem. Older people oftentimes become less active, which generates less body heat. These factors may put an elderly person in danger despite being exposed to even milder cold temperatures.

Hypothermia Symptoms

When the body temperature falls to 96 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, the symptoms of hypothermia may begin. Initially, the affected person may look or sound confused. Reaction time diminishes. The individual may complain of feeling sleepy. Speech becomes slurred and overall shivering accompanies a stiffening of the limbs, which slows physical movement. The pulse also weakens. The condition represents an emergency that requires immediate medical intervention.

Prevention Tips

  • When the weather turns cold, older people should wear layers of loose clothing. Each layer serves to trap warm air and thus keep the body warmer.
  • Wearing gloves, mittens, hats, or scarves prevents body heat from escaping via the hands and head.
  • Before going outdoors, stretch indoors to raise body temperature.
  • Indoors, wearing long underwear beneath normal clothing traps body heat. Elderly residents might additionally consider wearing socks and slippers. Use afghans or blankets to prevent heat loss from arms, legs, and shoulders.
  • Keep thermostats set to a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. While many are tempted to reduce indoor heat for financial reasons, the action could trigger hypothermia. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides the elderly with funding that assists with heating costs.
  • Consult with a healthcare provider to help assess medications that may contribute to hypothermia. Have the prescriptions or dosages altered if needed.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages before venturing outdoors. While alcohol creates the illusion of warming the body, blood vessels actually expand, which allows heat to circulate away from internal organs where it is needed most.


For someone diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, outdoor activities could put an unnecessary strain on the heart and increase the risk of heart attack. These activities may include walking through snow drifts or wet snow. Lifting heavy shovels filled with wet snow are also ill-advised.

Prevent Overexertion

  • Dress properly.
  • Get a ride to the intended destination if possible.
  • If possible, find someone else to shovel the snow.
  • Take it slow and stop for frequent breaks during the activity.
  • Shovel small amounts of snow with each scoop.

The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist your family with a variety of legal and non-legal matters concerning the elderly. Call us today or fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

What Exactly is Elder Law?

Daughter with her Elderly MotherElder law is focused primarily on the needs and laws governing the treatment of the elderly. Unique legal issues can plague older adults as well as their families, and elder law attorneys are well versed in the protections available for the elderly.

Not long ago, elder law was not a specialization for attorneys. Many people sought the advice of a general attorney for their will and estate planning as well as their business contracts. In elder law, the attorney is specialized and knowledgeable about the laws regarding the elderly.

Long-Term Care

Elderly family members might need to be in a nursing home as they the ability to care for themselves. It can be tough for family members to navigate the complicated arena of health insurance, as well as Medicaid, without an adviser who knows the qualifications of insurance programs. Before seniors are unable to care for themselves, they can see an elder law attorney to plan for the future, too.

Estate Planning

This is commonly known as creating a will, but there is more to the process. There are probate and tax issues to consider. It does not matter how much money or what kind of property will change hands. The planning should be done with the guidance of an elder law attorney who will advise you on the documents you need.

Living Trusts

A living trust is essentially the same as a will but with a slight difference. A will only becomes active after the person has died. A living trust dictates your preferences in the case that you are alive but no longer able to make sound decisions. It can be helpful to plan finances as well as living arrangements in case you are unable to do so. An elder law attorney can help you protect your assets, appoint a trustee, and other complex tasks.

Fraud, Neglect, and Protection

Unfortunately, elder abuse is a real threat to seniors. It can come in the form of fraud, neglect, or outright abuse. An elder law attorney will be able to find the right resources for seniors who are being exploited. In some cases, it can be nursing home abuse. Sadly, not every nursing home has the best interests of the senior at the forefront. Seniors can be the target for frauds from family as well as strangers. An elder law attorney will be able to protect a senior from these issues.


When an older adult loses the ability to make decisions, someone has to step in to fill that void. Often, it is a family member. In other cases, the court has to appoint a guardian to make decisions. An older adult can decide who should be their guardian long before it is a necessity. An elder law attorney can help with the process.

In elder law, it is important to have a New York state elder law attorney who is familiar with the intricacies of the law. The attorney should know about local resources and be able to direct the senior and his or her family to the correct organizations for help.

We will be able to help protect you or your family member, as well as help you navigate the confusing rules and regulations. Call us today or fill out our online contact form, and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Handling Elderly Loved Ones with Deteriorating Driving Skills

The ability to drive is more than a skill. It is a symbol of a person’s independence. Thus, when people get to an age that driving may no longer be advisable, the situation needs to be approached with care. Though this type of conversation is not bound to be easy, failure to have it could result in the elderly person or someone else being injured or even killed.

Taking a Sensitive Approach

No one wants to give up his or her freedom. Not driving because of old age may seem like good sense, but much more is at stake for the person giving up the keys. Aging forces people to face many changes, and admitting to an inability to drive is one of the more difficult ones. Remain compassionate when talking to an elderly person about this topic, and be prepared to listen to a range of emotions. Consider what it would feel like to suddenly have to rely on others to go to the store, the post office, visit friends, etc. It can feel humiliating.

Here are some tips about approaching this delicate topic:

  • Set aside some quiet time to have the discussion.
  • Encourage honest feelings of fear, sadness, or anger.
  • Listen and reflect on what the person says to show understanding.
  • Offer empathy not judgment.
  • Don’t aim for immediate resolution; plan to talk again in a few days.

Know the Signs That Someone May Need to Stop Driving

Unless the elderly person suffers from a condition that renders him or her from making a sound decision, you cannot force someone to stop driving. Ultimately, your role is to be supportive not forceful. You can stay alert for signs that the person may need to stop driving, including:

  • An increased number of traffic citations
  • Trouble switching pedals
  • Slow response times
  • Episodes of disorientation and confusion
  • Limited mobility that could affect steering

Avoid telling that the person that he or she needs to stop driving. Inquire about how the driving process has been going and bring up something that brought on the concern, such as a recent fender bender. Don’t make general comments that friends and neighbors can help give rides to places; actually find out what services are available to the elderly, such as driving services from organizations like the YMCA. Once it is clear that a conversation needs to happen, plan to do it soon. Waiting could be catastrophic.

The Bottom Line

Life transitions are not always easy. Recognizing that it is time to stop driving can be very difficult to accept for some people. Having supportive family can make the process easier.

If you or your loved one needs assistance with elder law, including wills, estate planning, or retirement, call the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today at (516) 605-0625 or fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Reporting Elder Abuse in Long Island, NY

The extent to which older Americans are victims of elder abuse is difficult to accurately pinpoint. Estimates range between one million and two million for the number of people 65 years of age or older who have been abused or exploited, but the actual numbers are probably much higher. There is a shocking reason for this lack of clarity: It is estimated that only one out of every six incidents of elder abuse is reported.

Categories of Elder Abuse and Their Effect on Victims

Forms of elder abuse include the following:

  • Physical abuse that involves the use of force such as hitting, slapping, kicking, and pushing.
  • Emotional abuse occurs when the abuser intimidates, threatens, ridicules, or scares the victim. Emotional abuse may also include isolating the victim from friends and relatives.
  • Neglect occurs when food, clothing, shelter, and medical care are withheld from the victim.
  • Sexual abuse occurs when the elderly victim is forced to watch or participate in sexual acts.
  • Abandonment occurs when the person responsible for an elderly person’s care leaves the victim alone without arranging for someone else to care for the person.
  • Financial abuse covers a wide array of activities including theft, misappropriation, embezzlement, or misuse of an elder’s real or personal property.

Recognizing the Signs of Elder Abuse

Breaking the cycle of unreported cases of elder abuse begins with recognizing signs that an elderly friend, relative, neighbor, or acquaintance might be a victim in need of help. One of the difficulties in recognizing the signs of elder abuse is differentiating between abuse and dementia, frailty, or other conditions normally associated with the aging process.

Another factor that can hinder the recognition of elder abuse is the reliance that is placed on information or explanations offered by caregivers who might also be the abusers. This might occur when the elder is unable to communicate because of a mental or physical condition.

Common signs of elder abuse that should not automatically be dismissed as age-related occurrences include:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Failure to take medications
  • Caregiver’s refusal to allow the elderly person to be alone with other people
  • The reluctance of the elder to speak in the presence of another person
  • Unpaid bill
  • Missing jewelry or other valuables
  • Unusual financial transactions
  • Presence of suspicious or unexplained legal documents

Reporting Suspicions of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse in New York is investigated by the county Department of Social Services Adult Protective Services workers. A report of suspected elder abuse can be made by calling the central helpline of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services at 1-844-697-3505.

Depending upon the preference of the person making the call, the operator will provide the telephone number for the local county Adult Protective Services unit having jurisdiction, or the caller may provide information to the operator about the elderly victim to be forwarded to the local APS unit for investigation.

Contact an Elder Law Attorney

The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. might be able to protect you or a family member from elder abuse through estate planning for asset protection, durable powers of attorney, and health care proxies, and guidance to assist you in reporting the abuse and recovering damages. Contact us today at (516) 605-0625 for a free consultation or fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Tips for Naming an Executor in Long Island, NY

When you consider who to name as an executor of your will, keep in mind that the job of executor is very time-consuming and requires many difficult decisions in order to faithfully carry out the wishes of the deceased. The executor’s job starts upon the death of the decedent and ends once all of the directions contained in the will have been completed and the estate is closed under applicable law.

First, the will must enter probate, the judicial system in place to determine the validity of the will. Subsequently, a determination is made regarding creditors, taxes, the identity of the beneficiaries, and the extent to which each beneficiary inherits from the estate. Additional variables can complicate the job of the executor, including an estate tax audit or a legal challenge to the will. In total, the executor’s role could last from one to several years.

Honest, Vigilant, and Detail Oriented

Given constantly changing tax laws, the enormous amount of personal property in some estates, and the potential for unhappy heirs, the potential executor should have a few basic qualities. First, for the sake of those who will inherit, the executor candidate should be honest and diplomatic. Depending on the estate, the executor may have quite a bit of work to do to get the job done right. Not everyone is good at keeping track of the many items of personal property that might be found in the attic or the basement. Staying focused on the process of taking inventory of the estate and meeting deadlines can be crucial to the work of the executor. When you are thinking of someone to be your executor, ask yourself whether this is someone who can efficiently meet deadlines and yet maintain harmony with all interested parties.

A Younger, Responsible Family Member or Friend

Who knows you better than your family or your best friend? Probably nobody is more familiar with your intentions than your loved ones. In addition, these people in your life might also have the best idea of where all your assets might be located. If you don’t have a family member or a close friend, consider making a list of all the people you do know and start to narrow down that list. During this process, you will probably figure out those who would be best suited for the role of executor.

One problem people commonly run into as they grow older is that their contemporaries start to pass away due to sickness and old age. This is one reason why many people opt for an executor who is younger in age yet responsible. Look to your social circle and identify the younger people within it.

Someone With Experience

Educational and professional background could also be relevant to choosing an executor. While it is true that anyone can hire an expert for consultation on estate issues, the job may be best handled by someone who has related experience, such as an attorney or an accountant. Such people would have familiarity with the issues that may come up, and they also have liability insurance, just in case something goes wrong.

Other Considerations

Some lawyers advise their clients to avoid naming a specific bank or trust company in the will, but rather to appoint someone to interview these institutions and negotiate fees if necessary.

Another popular idea for people with many children is to name all of the children as co-executors. This is generally not recommended, as it will result in arguments, with the larger share of work being done by one or two of the siblings. In addition, if all of the children are co-executors, all of their signatures will be needed when papers need to be signed. This can result is great inconvenience and delay. The better choice is to name one child in that role, while others can be named as alternates.

Of course, the cost of an executor’s services should be considered when naming a person in that role. You should consult with an attorney to gain an understanding of how much applicable state laws will allow fees to be charged to the estate.

Lastly, you should discuss the role of executor with the person you would like to name prior to signing documents. In addition, you should discuss the matter with family members who were not chosen to avoid any hurt feelings.

Contact Us

To discuss your estate plan, call the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, PC today at (516) 605-0625 or fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Estate Planning Documents You Should Have

Family with elderly parentsPlanning for death is an uncomfortable but necessary part of life. By planning ahead, family members and loved ones can move on after your death without worrying about financial issues. The purpose of estate planning is to decide what happens to a person, their belongings, property, and funds when they become incapacitated or die. Without a plan, families will often have to go through a lengthy and expensive legal process at a stressful time, and assets may not be distributed according to a deceased’s wishes. Read on to find out what estate planning documents all individuals should have.

Living Will, Power of Attorney, and HIPAA Release

A living will is a legal document that details a person’s wishes regarding medical treatments in the event he or she becomes incapacitated. A power of attorney document provides authorization for an individual to act on behalf of a person’s private affairs under certain circumstances. Finally, a HIPAA form authorizes the release of medical records to a person, such as a spouse, to help them make medical decisions on a loved one’s behalf.

Funeral Plans

Ideally, every person should leave a document for his or her loved ones expressing their wishes on how they should be buried and who should be notified in the event of their death. This includes where the funeral should be held, what type of ceremony, where the person would like to be buried, and how they want to be buried.

Wills, Trusts, and Deeds

Choosing between a will and trust will depend on a person’s assets. A will specifies the persons that assets should go to when a person dies; however, it doesn’t specify tax and liability issues. Trusts transfer ownership of assets instead of money. Beneficiaries named in insurance policies or retirement accounts supersede wills and trusts. A deed transfers property rights to a person after death. People who die with assets and no wills, trusts, or deeds will have their property divided according to state laws.

Insurance Policies and Retirement Accounts

Each retirement account and insurance plan including pensions, annuities, and life insurance policies should name beneficiaries. After a person has passed, money remaining in these accounts will pass to the named beneficiary without the hassle or cost of probate court. This may also include social security payments in certain cases.

Bank, Savings, Heirlooms, and Other Items

People should name beneficiaries for all of their bank and saving accounts including money markets, mutual funds accounts, stocks, and bonds. After a person’s death, money in these accounts will pass to the beneficiary without the need for probate process. People should also specify in a will or trust the people to whom precious items should go after their death. Executors of wills and trusts should also know the location of these items.

Why Hire an Estate Planning Attorney?

An estate planning attorney such as Andrew Lamkin, Esq. can help people legally determine how assets should be distributed after they have passed away. Mr. Lamkin can also guide clients with minimizing taxes and costs. To find out more about estate planning, call or fill out our contact form.

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