Maria Garcia, 69 and a Westbury resident, recently attended the baby-boomer estate planning program sponsored by Cona Elder Law, an estate planning and elder law firm based in Melville. Recognizing that as she and her 78 year old husband age, they need a plan while they are well and can make informed decisions, she knew it was important to attend. "It's not just for us but to help the whole family,” says Mrs. Garcia.
According to Melissa Negrin-Wiener, Esq., elder law attorney and Cona Elder Law partner, planning ahead is always best as you will have more options and can potentially save more of your assets. In her presentation, Ms. Negrin-Wiener discussed the importance of advance directives, how to plan ahead to preserve assets, and the use of trusts for asset protection. She also covered “emergency asset protection” and what happens when an individual does not plan ahead and now requires long-term care.
Because the laws are constantly changing and every person's situation is different, the speakers emphasized that it's best to review your financial and health care plan every few years.
Another baby-boomer on LI acknowledged that there are so many nuances regarding Medicaid planning and long term care insurance, that it's hard to stay up to date. She appreciated the wealth of information shared at this program.
The first step in baby-boomers’ estate planning should be the execution of advance directives, including a Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and Living Will.
Some of the tips Ms. Negrin-Wiener shared are:
- a Living Will takes the burden off the family in making health care decisions like artificial nutrition and hydration for a loved and is especially helpful if there is a disagreement among siblings
- a Power of Attorney does not continue after death. The person who is designated as the agent can act on the principal’s behalf even if they aren't incapacitated.
- if you don't have advance directives and a health care situation emerges, you may need a guardianship that is costly and time consuming.
- if you split your time between 2 states, such as New York and Florida, it is a good idea to have advance directives executed in both states.
- there are different types of trusts to preserve assets, such as an irrevocable trust to protect asserts and a pooled income trust to preserve income.
- avoid transfer of assets to the kids unless it is part of a comprehensive elder law plan
- if a loved one is in a nursing home, you can still protect one half of their assets with a promissory note
In addition to advance directives and Medicaid planning, Rona Loshak and Natalie Karp, MBA, CLTC and partners at Karp Loshak LTC Insurance Solutions, Roslyn, discussed the benefits of getting a Long Term Care (LTC) insurance. It is estimated that 80% of the population who reach age 80 will need either home care or nursing home care. With LTC insurance, there are more health care choices available, such as home care, assisted living or nursing home care.
"You need to buy the policy when you're younger and healthier," explained Ms. Loshak and Ms. Karp. "With the rules getting stricter, 33% of applicants are denied the insurance." There are many more LTC insurance options than before so it’s best to consult with a LTC specialist who can help you select what is right for you.
A LTC insurance policy also offers tax advantages. For example, NYS residents will get a 20% tax credit on premiums. For business owners, there are also significant Federal tax deductions.
Special guest Elizabeth Smith, CRPC and financial advisor at Morgan Stanley in Melville, discussed the benefits of developing a customized financial plan with a qualified advisor on an annual basis. “A plan is more than just investments,” says Ms. Smith. “Taxes and diversification are an important aspect to be sure you don’t run out of money.”
Cona Elder Law is recognized as a leading elder law and estate planning firm on Long Island. The firm was ranked the #1 Elder Law firm by Long Island Business News for 4 consecutive years (2012 – 2015) and was a finalist in the 2015 HIA Business Achievement Awards. The firm provides creative advocacy and cutting edge planning strategies and has been featured in many publications including: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, L.I. Business News, Investor’s News Daily, USA Today, The Daily News, The New York Post, Kiplinger’s, Reader's Digest and many others. Cona Elder Law attorneys have appeared as guests on WNBC-TV, WABC-TV, CNN-fn, News 12, WLNY News 55 and many radio stations including WOR, WCBS AM, WBAB and WFAN.