Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do you offer legal services in a language(s) other than English?
Yes, Veronica speaks, reads and writes fluent Spanish.
Q: My legal issue is not listed, could you still assist me?
In the area of Elder Law, our office also handles
- Estate planning (trusts, wills and other planning documents)
- Asset protection (including emergency planning)
- Medicaid planning
- Probate issues
- Administration and management of trusts and estate
- Long-term care placements in nursing home and long term care communities
- Special Needs planning (see below)
If you believe your legal issue has some relation to elder law, trusts and estates, or family law, feel free to give the office a call.
Q: Why do I need a will?
- If you or a loved one dies without a Last Will and Testament (known as “intestate” or “intestacy”) the person’s estate (property- real or personal that they possess at death) cannot be distributed to heirs or whomever you would have otherwise decided should inherit. The estate/assets would have to go through a process called “Intestate Administration”- if worth $30,000 or more. New York State law would govern how the estate is distributed- since the deceased’s wishes are unknown and there is no Will.
- A validly executed Last Will and Testament needs to be admitted to a process known as “Probate” only if the Estate/assets is worth more than $30,000.00. In order for the terms of the Will to take effect and for the Executor to act, it must go through probate. An Executor is the person named in the Will who is entrusted with carrying out the Testator’s (the deceased’s) explicit wishes.
Q: What can I do if a loved one becomes incapacitated without having executed Advanced Directives?
If a loved one becomes incapacitated to the point where they are unable to have discussions about or make decisions regarding financial, health and other personal matters and have no advanced directives in place, you can seek guardianship over the person through an “Article 81” proceeding in Supreme Court. A hearing would take place and the Court would determine whether your loved one is an “Incapacitated Person” and appoint you or another person, if so desired, as the person’s Guardian of the person and/or property for an indefinite period of time.
Q: Is it true that I need to have “a lot of money” to have an estate plan?
No, not true at all. We all have possessions that have a value to us, either monetarily or sentimentally, that we would want to bequeath (give) away to people when we die. What matters is the value we give to our possessions, not the value they actually have or that others give to them. Additionally, advanced health care directives are important irrespective of socio-economic standing.
Q: Can your office assist me if my loved one needs to enter a nursing home or an assisted living facility?
Yes. Preparing for long term care can be a daunting process as there are many factors, financial and otherwise, that are taken into consideration. Each case is evaluated based on the particular facts and circumstances.
Q: If I have a minor or adult child with special needs, can I do something to protect them legally and financially?
Yes. "Special needs" can mean a mental, developmental, cognitive and/or physical disability. The specific legal instrument used to protect these minors or adult children with special needs, is a "Special Needs Trust." This trust allows the special needs individual to preserve their eligibility for government benefits that they are receiving or entitled to receive.
The funds in the trust, usually funded by a parent, grandparent or other adult, can be utilized for the following (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Annual medical checkup
- To purchase materials for hobbies or recreational activities
- To plan and purchase trips and vacations
- To provide and pay for entertainment, like movies, live shows, or sporting events
- To buy property or services that better the special needs individual's quality of life, like a computer, laptop, furniture or electronics
- Athletic entertainment or competitions
- Special dietary foods
- A personal needs aide