|December 02, 2013||Senior Living & Care... What To Do With So Many Choices? What Does It All Mean?||no comments|
|September 11, 2013||Quick and Easy Access: My Social Security Account!||no comments|
|August 29, 2013||It’s Not Easy Being a Trustee||no comments|
|August 27, 2013||Documenting Your Finances is the Best Medicine to Avoid Problems With Medicaid||no comments|
As we age we will find ourselves either making or assisting in complex and important decisions about where we, a family member or even a friend should be living. Changes in physical functioning, mental capabilities, life interests, financial situation, and social supports all affect what type of place is appropriate, and most importantly, where an individual may ultimately live being content and the happiest.
Often times, many do not know how to begin this process and some of terms may be daunting and confusing. To assist with this, below are some terms frequently used with information about each.
Stefans Law Group, PC can provide the legal assistance and professional guidance to assist you through these instrumental times. Take a few minutes to find out how we can help you at Stefans Law Group. We welcome the opportunity to discuss any questions you may have regarding these topics and your estate planning needs. Contact us today at (516) 692-2744 to schedule an appointment to discuss how you can begin preparing for you and your family today!
9 MILLION. That is the number of benefit verification letters the Social Security Administration (SSA) processed in the last year. While they were processing, you were waiting…and waiting. But the wait is finally over! SSA has launched an online service called my Social Security account to ensure that the over 60 million Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients have the ability to immediately request and receive their benefit verification letter.
The new site is a valuable resource for anyone over the age of 18, especially those who need quick and instantaneous access to their Social Security information. My Social Security account allows a Social Security beneficiary or a SSI recipient to quickly retrieve their benefit verification letter that may assist them in obtaining other benefits. Recipients no longer have to wait in lines at the SSA office or remain on hold for long periods of time. And they especially do not have to wait around for the mailman to deliver their benefit letter. My Social Security account gives immediate access to information for faster results.
The SSA’s launch of their online service not only cuts down on wait time but it also boosts people’s confidence in the SSA. Social Security beneficiaries and SSI recipients are able to handle their own requests without having to spend all day speaking with a SSA employee hoping they get what they need. The quicker and easier it is to do something, the happier and less stressed people are. My Social Security account provides people with the immediate results they are looking for in the comfort of their home.
What if you are not receiving Social Security benefits or SSI? There is no need to worry because my Social Security account provides access to any individual over the age of 18. An individual can sign up for my Social Security account and immediately take advantage of the online service to get their personalized Social Security statement.
My Social Security account is designed to provide faster service to a greater number of people. The SSA has developed this site to provide people with efficient assistance without sacrificing customer service. This valuable resource will cut down on wait time and speed up results.
Now you can spend your days doing something you enjoy instead of waiting for the SSA!
Receive the information you need and the sound advice you seek to make important financial decisions about your elder care & social security benefits, special needs or Medicaid planning by scheduling a confidential consultation with a full service law firm that will tailor its representation to meet all your health care, estate planning and elder care needs. Call us toll free at (800) 882-3625 or, if you prefer, fill out our intake form and we will contact you. Let our family help your family.
Some estate plans may require extra attention and protection for special needs family members. An important option to consider is the creation of a Special Needs Trust (SNT). A SNT is a unique trust that gives special needs family members the ability to have funds (placed in trust for their benefit), without jeopardizing government benefits. The trust is specifically worded so that the trustees may only supplement, but not pay for, what government benefits would cover.
The trustees who manage these trusts are sometimes responsible for more than they realize. They have an obligation when it comes to following the rules of a particular trust, and acting in the best interest of the beneficiary.
In the article below, a corporate trustee was found to have misspent almost $200,000 because they failed to adhere to the trust, and adequately investigate whether there were government benefits available for those things the money was spent on
Elder Law and Special Needs Estate Planning attorneys at the Stefans Law Group, P.C., have the experience and the know-how to help you create and manage a SNT, and to help you avoid potential problems down the road. Call (516) 692 – 2744, and make an appointment with us today so we can discuss your needs.
Please read the article below to find out what happened to one trustee when they mistakenly spent trust funds on behalf of the trust beneficiary.
A New York trial court requires a trustee to reimburse a special needs trust for nearly $180,000 that was misspent on private caregivers, cab rides, and medications that could have been obtained from government sources. Liranzo v. LI Jewish Education / Research (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Kings Cty., No. 28863/1996, June 25, 2013).
Eirol Liranzo was injured as a child. In 2003, $422,012.54 remaining from the settlement of his personal injury lawsuit was placed into a special needs trust for his benefit. The trustees were authorized to spend not less than $1,500 a month on Eirol's living expenses, but the trust also specifically stated that the trustees must make a good-faith effort to determine whether Medicaid would cover home health care services prior to expending trust funds for that purpose. The trust also required the trustees to take Eirol's eligibility for government benefits into account before making discretionary payments to him or his family.
By 2009, only $3,253.03 remained in the trust. When BNY Mellon, the trustee, filed an order requesting that the court approve its account and release it as trustee, the court opened an investigation. The independent examiner discovered that BNY Mellon had paid for $118,064.50 worth of home health care without making an inquiry into whether Eirol could qualify for Medicaid payments for his care. BNY Mellon had also paid for $56,320 worth of cab fares for Eirol's family and had made payments to the family that rendered Eirol ineligible for SSI and Medicaid.
The Supreme Court of New York, Kings County, rules that BNY Mellon must repay the trust for $176,905.99 that it improperly spent while it was trustee. The court finds that "it is clear that the trustee relegated [its duties] to others, failing to make the necessary inquiries to ensure the longevity of the Trust Fund. It is clear to the Court that BNY breached its duty under the Trust agreement and failed to properly administer the Trust."
It’s easy (and very important) to keep detailed records of expenses for your family member who are approaching the sunset years of their lives. Whether it be assisting with grocery shopping, or providing a home for your aging loved ones, documentation of costs and reimbursements must be maintained in order to pass a possible later Medicaid inspection.
While many of us generously and willingly give this support, the Medicaid penalty and look-back period for skilled nursing facilities is five years! That means that Medicaid can look at the last five years, and based on whatever proof you might have, make a decision as to what might be a gift and what might be a reimbursement for a loan (see the article below).
As part of any Medicaid plan, we constantly encourage our clients to develop a financial recording strategy that works best for them, as long as it clear and consistent. For example, we recommend using a computer spreadsheet program. This allows you to keep everything neat and organized, and it will even do the math for you! But remember to keep all receipts and bank records.
If you don’t prefer a computer, another great alternative is a black and white composition notebook. This keeps everything at your fingerprints, and you can’t rip the pages out (plus you can staple receipts and other documents as needed).
Whether you have a good system in place, or you just realized you might be running into a problem, the Stefans Law Group, P.C. is ready to help you with all aspects of Elder Care and Medicaid Planning. Give us a call at (516) 692 – 2744 to make an appointment with our Elder Law attorney and Geriatric Case Manager.
In the meantime, read below to see what happens when one family failed to keep the proper documentation.
Medicaid Applicant's Son Failed to Prove Father's Gift Was Reimbursemen
A New York appeals court holds that a Medicaid applicant's son did not prove that his father who transferred money to him before entering a nursing home was reimbursing him for expenses or had a history of giving, so the father is subject to a penalty period. Donvito v. Shah (N.Y. Sup. Ct., App. Div., 4th Dept., No. 663, 12-02248, July 19, 2013).
Nicholas Donvito gave $54,162.05 to his son and his son's family between June 2007 and August 2008. The last transfer was for $6,500 and took place one month after Mr. Donvito suffered a stroke. Mr. Donvito entered a nursing home in October 2008. Two years later he applied for Medicaid. The state imposed a seven-month penalty period due to the transfers.
Mr. Donvito's son appealed the penalty period, arguing the last transfer was reimbursement for purchases he made on his father's behalf. He also argued his father had a history of giving money and was not motivated by a desire to qualify for Medicaid. The hearing officer affirmed the state's decision, and Mr. Donvito's son appealed.
The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, rules that the penalty period is valid. According to the court, Mr Donvito's son did not offer any proof, such as receipts or credit card bills, that he purchased items for his father. In addition, the court finds that with respect to the other transfers, Mr. Donvito's son did not establish that Mr. Donvito was not motivated, at least in part, by a desire to qualify for Medicaid.
For the full text of this decision, go to: