On Friday, June 24th, New York became the largest state to legalize same-sex marriage. The law will take effect on July 25th, granting marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. While the legislation is a major milestone in the national gay rights movement, it may be financially problematic for couples who decide to tie the knot.
On March 30, 2011, New York’s Final Budget Legislation amended Section 369 of the Social Services Law.
The Department of Social Services has a claim against the estate of any Medicaid recipient in the amount of Medicaid assistance issued. The value of the deceased recipient’s estate is used to repay the Medicaid benefits. This new amendment expands the list of assets that are considered to be in an individual’s “estate.” After the death of a Medicaid recipient, the Department of Social Services will be seeking to collect recovery on assets that were not previously permitted.
As spring rolls around and we get ready for warmer weather, our thoughts turn to spring cleaning. Take this time to clean up your current estate planning documents and determine if they need to be revised. It is suggested that your estate planning documents be reviewed every five years to make sure they still comply with your wishes. If any of the categories listed below apply to you, it may be a good idea to embrace the season and make the necessary changes to your Last Will and Testament, Living Will/Health Care Proxy or Power of Attorney documents.
HoganWillig’s Estate Department represented two siblings in a hotly contested and litigated estate. The siblings were alleged out-of-wedlock children of the decedent. Our position was that the decedent had a long-standing relationship with our clients’ mother, even though he was married with marital children. Although the decedent had not completed a genetic blood test during his lifetime, we were able to have genetic testing completed of the known marital children against the DNA of the out-of-wedlock children to show evidence of a genetic link between all of the children.
In March of this year, Governor Paterson signed into law the Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHCDA). The law allows family members to make medical decisions, including decisions about withholding or ending life-sustaining treatment, on behalf of individuals who have lost their ability to make such decisions and have not prepared advance health care directives (such as a Health Care Proxy or Living Will).
As a follow up to our notice of last week, it would appear that no deal has been reached for the extension of the current Federal Estate Tax. Instead, the Federal Estate Tax expired 12/31/09 and we will move into 2010 with the Federal Estate Tax repeal in place.
While the House recently passed a bill to reinstate the estate tax in 2010, last week the Senate rejected a measure to temporarily extend it.
As we previously announced, the House of Representatives voted to permanently extend the present 45% estate tax rate, and the $3.5 million (per person) exclusion from estate taxes.
Last week, the House voted 225 to 220 to permanently extend the estate and gift tax in its current form. This means that the first $3.5 million of an individual’s gross estate – and the first $1 million of gifts made during an individual’s lifetime – would be exempt from tax. The highest rate applied to the taxable portion of an estate would remain at 45%.
A Power of Attorney is an important document that allows you (“the principal”) to appoint an agent to make decisions concerning your legal and financial matters in the event you are unable to do so for yourself. If you have not executed a Power of Attorney document and you become incapacitated, a guardianship court proceeding will be required to authorize someone to make legal decisions on your behalf. A guardianship proceeding can take several months and cost several thousand dollars to complete. The good news is that creation of a valid Power of Attorney can avoid the necessity of a guardianship proceeding. As such, the execution of a Power of Attorney document is a very important estate planning tool.
Uncertainty in life is a certainty. Our lives are in a constant state of flux, which requires planning in order to be in a position to address the unforeseen. Estate Planning and Asset Protection applies to almost everyone, regardless of age. As a person ages, they may be concerned about planning for the cost of their care while continuing to maintain their lifestyle, and about transferring their wealth to their children with minimal tax consequences.