In contrast to many other populations, New Yorkers over the age of 65 often have distinct legal needs that are best served by an experienced Long Island elder law attorney. Over the course of your lifetime, you may have built up assets, and may need advice on how to best protect your wealth. You may also need counsel on how to handle the realities of aging, including qualifying for Medicaid assistance for nursing home care or setting up a health care proxy.
These decisions can be difficult and emotionally fraught. Unfortunately they are necessary in order to protect yourself and all that you have worked for in your life. For example, if you fail to plan, you may be forced to spend down your assets in order to pay for a nursing home.
Winkler Kurtz, LLP understands that these decisions can be challenging. We are experienced in New York elder law, including qualifying for Medicaid assistance, wills and trusts, and probate. To learn more about how we can help you, contact our office today by phone at 631-928-8000 or contact us online at any time to schedule an initial consultation.
How an Elder Law Attorney Can Protect Your Assets
Most of us do not anticipate needing to go to a nursing home, yet as many of us live into our 80’s and beyond, this has become a reality for many New Yorkers. According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 1 in 3 people turning 65 will need care at a skilled nursing facility at some point in their lives. The same report found that the average cost of nursing home care in 2016 was $82,000 — nearly 3 times the annual income of most seniors.
In New York, the median cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $145,092 a year in the greater New York City area including Long Island. A home health aide costs an average of $57,204 per year in the region, while the annual cost of living in an assisted living facility is $70,992. With these high rates, it is little wonder that Medicaid is the primary payer for long-term care in the United States, covering 6 out of 10 nursing home residents.
Even so, Medicare and most private insurance will not cover long-term stays in nursing facilities. While some families have the ability to pay for nursing home costs, or have invested in long-term care insurance, others will need to rely on Medicaid. This need-based program requires participants to meet income and resource limits to be eligible.
For seniors, this typically means spending down their resources in order to qualify for Medicaid so that their nursing home care will be covered. However, there is an alternative: working with an experienced Long Island elder law attorney to protect your assets through Medicaid planning.
Medicaid has a five year “look back” period, which means that if assets are transferred for less than market value for the five years preceding an application, you may be ineligible. There are numerous complex rules regarding Medicaid eligibility for nursing home care in New York. The lawyers of Winkler Kurtz, LLP can work with you to navigate the process and safeguard your assets.
Planning for the Future
Beyond qualifying for Medicaid, an experienced Long Island elder law attorney can work to help you prepare for the next stage in your life. By working collaboratively with an elder law attorney, you can detail your wishes and put in place the legal documents that can help ensure that they are protected.
One of the most important steps that every senior should take is to consult with a lawyer about their estate plan. This can include a variety of legal documents, such as a will, trusts, and powers of attorney.
A last will and testament can ensure that your wishes are followed after death. A well-drafted will may also prevent disputes among family members. In addition, working with a Long Island elder law attorney can help you minimize taxes and avoid probate for certain assets.
Other legal tools may be used to transfer or otherwise protect your assets, such as a trust. There are different types of trusts that can be used to meet a variety of goals, such as special needs trusts to provide for adult children with disabilities.
Finally, if you are concerned about the decisions that may be made if you become incapacitated, powers of attorney and health care proxies are important documents that every senior should have. A power of attorney designates a person, known as an agent, to make decisions on your behalf. A health care proxy allows you to decide the type of life-saving procedures that you will want if you become ill, and names a person to make decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
How a Long Island Elder Law Attorney Can Help
Preparing for what lies ahead is a savvy decision for New York seniors. From protecting your assets to helping you lay out your wishes in the event of your death or disability, a Long Island elder law attorney can counsel you on how to achieve your goals for this next phase of life.
Since 1987, Winkler Kurtz, LLP has helped clients throughout Long Island with their elder law needs. Based in Port Jefferson, we offer a range of services, including estate planning and asset protection. Contact our office today at 631-928-8000 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.