Elderly man speaking with elder law attorney about his long-term care needs

Know Your Options: The Spectrum of Long-Term Care

Elderly man speaking with elder law attorney about his long-term care needs

You’ve no doubt heard about assisted living and nursing home care, but there are many other long-term care options available. An article by U.S. News & World Report provides an introduction to the types of care now available. You can read the full article here.

Adult Day Care

Adult day care offers relief to family caregivers and a safe, social environment for older adults. It is suitable for people with mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, or other forms of dementia; people who could benefit from speech, music, occupational, or physical therapy; and elders who crave activities and interaction with peers. Adult day care centers for people with dementia occasionally offer nighttime hours in recognition of the fact that some seniors are more active at night.

Aging in Place

The concept behind aging in place is to live independently in your own home and community as you grow older. Home modifications such as widening doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and installing grab bars in bathrooms make aging in place possible. Even people with chronic medical conditions can remain at home longer with the help of home health care aides.

In-Home Health Aide

As the name implies, home health aides provide services in an elder’s own home. For example, certified nursing assistants or patient care assistants under a registered nurse’s direction can provide health-related services such as checking vital signs, changing bandages, and assisting with medications or medical equipment. In addition, home health aides or elder companions can assist with personal chores such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, grocery shopping, transportation, and bathing. You can find in-home health aides through a home-care agency.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

Continuing care retirement communities offer a “tiered” or “one-stop” approach to meeting the needs of aging adults by providing a wide range of care options at a single location. The spectrum of care starts with independent living in single-family condominiums or apartments for relatively healthy adults. As a senior’s daily needs change, he or she can transition to on-site assisted living or nursing home facilities. This convenience comes at a price, however. CCRCs are expensive and often include substantial upfront entrance fees and monthly charges. Upon enrolling in a CCRC, residents typically select from extended (all-inclusive), modified, or fee-for-service contracts.

Elder Co-Housing

Co-housing is a community-focused arrangement that combines private homes with shared gathering spaces. Co-housing communities for those over 55 years of age may be particularly attractive for seniors who want to live among peers who share common interests and hobbies. As of this writing, co-housing options are rather limited. You can learn more about this option by visiting the Cohousing Association of the United States website.

Next time we’ll look at foster care, post-acute care, assisted living, and nursing home care.

pet trust concept: golden retriever laying under a blanked on the bed

Reward Your Pet With the Best Treat of All

pet trust concept: golden retriever laying under a blanked on the bed

According to the American Humane Society, approximately 46 percent of households have at least one dog and 39 percent of households have at least one cat. We love our pets, and they provide us with plenty of love in return. Tragically, however, shelters and veterinarians euthanize approximately 500,000 pets each year when their owners predecease them.

What is a Pet Trust?

How can you be sure your beloved animal companion will receive proper care when you are no longer able to provide it yourself? A trust may be the answer. The main objective of using a trust to care for your pet is to provide a flexible method for managing financial assets for the benefit of any pets that survive you. The appropriate amount of money to fund the trust varies according to your pet’s age, condition and needs.

How Does a Pet Trust Work?

With a properly designed trust, you can also designate a party to act as “caretaker” for your pet. Needless to say, this is a very important decision. Don’t assume the person you choose will accept the responsibility—always ask. You can name alternates if your first choice is unable to serve in this capacity when the time comes. In addition, your trust should provide detailed instructions to your caretaker. This can include everything from your pet’s favorite food and toys to his or her sleeping arrangements.

To learn more about pet trusts, we invite you to contact us for a personal meeting.


Medicaid, Nursing Home Costs and the Rumor Mill


One-half of all Americans who reside in nursing homes receive assistance from Medicaid to pay for their care. This is not surprising, given the extraordinarily high cost of long-term care. The real surprise is that half of all Americans don’t seek Medicaid assistance to cover nursing home costs. There are several reasons for this, but one of the most common can be summed up in a single word: hearsay. Or, if you prefer, the rumor mill. Here are just a few examples of the myths surrounding the use of Medicaid to pay for nursing home care:

  • The healthy spouse will be kicked out of the family home
  • The government will take all of your assets
  • You’ll have to live in an old, dilapidated facility
  • You’ll receive inadequate care, or no care at all

Rumors like these often come from well-meaning family members, friends, and neighbors. While none of them are true, many people believe that they are.

Rumors also spread by people we assume to be knowledgeable about the subject—nursing home intake staff, caregivers, doctors, nurses, and social workers. They might tell you, for instance, that you are too wealthy to receive assistance from Medicaid. Or that once you have moved to a nursing home you can no longer obtain Medicaid assistance to pay for your care. Again, these folks may mean well, but their information is often outdated or simply inaccurate. The fact is, Medicaid planning is complicated and the rules governing eligibility for various programs change constantly. Even lawyers who do not focus on this area of the law may be a source of inaccurate information.

Get the Facts from an Experienced New York Medicaid Planning Attorney

Don’t let rumors and misinformation prevent you from getting the financial assistance you need. Speak with an attorney who helps families obtain Medicaid assistance to pay for nursing home care on a daily basis.

Equal inheritance concept: photo of husband and wife with their young children outside

Should All Your Children Receive Equal Inheritances?

Equal inheritance concept: photo of husband and wife with their young children outside

When it comes to estate planning, you may find yourself questioning whether leaving each of your children an equal share is the right choice. While it may seem like the easiest and fairest option, there are instances where it may not be the wisest approach.

Consider Your Children’s Unique Situations

If you have more than one child, you should be asking yourself the same questions as you build your estate plan. Should you leave each of your children the same amount in your will or trust?

Just like shopping on Black Friday, leaving all your children the same amount can feel like the best approach at first, but there are some instances where it might not be the wisest strategy, or even the fairest.

Factors you might want to consider include:

  • One child earns considerably more than your other children
  • One child has several children of his or her own, while another child does not
  • One of your children serves as your caregiver, runs errands or helps you in other ways much more frequently than your other children

Disappointing Behaviors and Addiction

Sadly, you may have to ask yourself another, more troubling question: Has one of my children disappointed me so often, or behaved so irresponsibly in the past, that I feel like I must disinherit him or her entirely?

In cases where one of your children suffers from drug dependency or severe mental illness, inheriting money may actually do more harm than good.

We understand that this is a tough decision, made all the more difficult by the fact that unequal inheritances can lead to hard feelings and even challenges to your will or trust. If you believe that the best approach is to treat your children differently with regard to inheritances, here are some ways to avoid potential problems:

Avoiding Potential Problems

Take the time to talk to your children about your will (or trust) and its contents. While this can be a hard conversation, explaining your decisions to your children will help them understand why you have made them in the first place. Such a conversation can go a long way toward lessening any shock and the potential for disputes that might occur if your children first learn about the contents of your will or trust after you are gone.

Consider compensating your children who are “there for you” when you need help around the house or running errands while you are still alive. Similarly, if a child is going through a difficult time, such as the loss of a job or a divorce, consider offering financial assistance now instead of later.

You can add various clauses to your will in order to reduce the potential for litigation. For example, you could stipulate that any disputes after you pass away must be mediated rather than litigated. Or a no-contest clause can stipulate that a beneficiary forfeits his or her interests if the will is challenged.

Perhaps most important of all, make sure that you take the necessary steps when you create your will to show you are of “sound mind.” Such steps can include getting an evaluation from a doctor, as well as a psychiatrist, shortly before your documents are signed. If you are making changes to your existing will or trust, this precaution is even more important.

Seek Professional Assistance From a Westchester County Estate Planning Attorney

If you are struggling with the idea of unequal inheritances for your children, we can assist you with making these difficult decisions and help ensure that your wishes will be carried out.


Easing the Stress of Being a Sandwich Generation Caregiver


According to a 2021 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, nearly a quarter of U.S. parents find themselves struggling as part of the “sandwich generation,” those who are caught in a squeeze as they tackle caring for both their own parents and their children.

Being a multigenerational caregiver can be a financial, logistical, and emotional challenge to say the least. Add to that the stigma in the U.S. of care work being considered the responsibility of the family, coupled with moral judgments on what it really means to be a good parent or child. And yet, the burden of providing care to two generations is only expected to grow because not only are the number of people aged 65 and older projected to significantly increase by 2050, but Americans are continuing the trend of having children later in life as well.


TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF. It may seem counterintuitive, but prioritizing self-care is extremely important for caregivers. This can even be as simple as prioritizing your meals, drinking water, and sleeping as regularly as possible. But it is also important to make time for activities you enjoy so you can sustain your own mental health and sanity. Remember, you can’t take care of others properly when you aren’t taking care of yourself.

EMBRACE COMMUNITY SUPPORT. Finding support and utilizing community resources can be a complete game changer for caregivers. Community relationships can come from something as simple as accepting an extra set of hands when they’re offered, to signing up for programs in your community that provide assistance services. It can also be important for caregivers to connect with each other because who will better understand what you are dealing with on a day-to-day basis than someone in your shoes? So, seek out support groups or have open conversations with people in your life who you know are dealing with similar stresses.

SHARE THE LOAD. Caregiving tasks can be delegated. You don’t have to do it all on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask other family members for help. Consider also reaching out to friends and neighbors. You may be surprised how willing those close to you are to lend a hand and offer support when you need it the most. And, assuming it fits into your budget, you can also seek out hired help for tasks that are adding stress, simply because you never seem to have time – like cleaning the house.

At the end of the day, care doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. There are ways for caregivers to ease their stress while still being there to care for the ones they love.

Nursing home

How to Make Sure a Nursing Home is Right for You or Your Loved Ones

Nursing home

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right nursing home for you or your loved one. Here are a few you won’t want to forget:


When you arrive for your tour of the facility, start with a few basic observations. Check for non-skid floors and handrails. Note if the walkways are clear or if there are wheelchairs and other obstructions in the way that could lead to residents tripping and injuring themselves. Beyond safety concerns, observe whether dumpsters are concealed and relatively clean, whether the grounds are quiet or noisy, where there are seating areas, and whether the area feels relaxing and comfortable enough to spend time in.


Make a point of asking current residents whether or not they enjoy living at the facility. Consider asking them about the food, what they do day-to-day, any activities they take part in, and whether they feel cared for. The facility may appear beautiful on the outside, but listening to the first-hand accounts of the residents will be a great way to make sure it is the perfect fit for you and your family.


During your visit, talk to a range of employees. It can be informative to hear from and speak with people working in different departments and different levels within the community. Ask the employees about the facility, their jobs, and the management. In your conversations, note if the staff knows details like the residents’ names. While you don’t want to come off too aggressive, it’s important to get a sense of the facility’s culture.


Or, at least check out the menu. While you shouldn’t be expecting a Michelin Star meal, ask about the variety of the food offered. The food should be appetizing, healthy, and fresh. Sit in the dining room while you’re there so you can observe how the staff and residents interact.


Stop along the way and note the sounds you hear, such as laughter or music versus silence or sounds of distress. Note any smells that stand out. The facility should be well ventilated and smell clean instead of musty or stale.


COVID-19 introduced a whole new set of considerations for families looking into nursing home care. When you visit each facility, look for investments such as room cleaners with HEPA filters and the use of PPE. Federal regulations also mandate that nursing homes have an infection control and prevention program with written standards. At minimum, the facility should have a part-time staff member who is trained in infection prevention.


When you schedule a guided visit during a weekday, you are likely seeing the facility at its very best. But before your loved one moves in, it can be very informative to visit on a weekend or in off-hours so you can ensure the experience you had during the guided visit is maintained when the facility is not on high-alert.

For more tips and ideas of what you should consider when choosing the right facility for you or your loved one, check out this AARP article about inspecting prospective nursing homes.

assets and wills

Sentimental Assets and Your Will

assets and wills

Emotions can run high after a loved one dies, particularly if your family’s assets include items with sentimental value, and the last thing you want is for your family to start fighting after you pass away.

Defuse Conflict Over Sentimental Items Before You Pass Away

How can you prevent your heirs from fighting over items with sentimental value? Many people believe that a statement in a will or trust that basically says “tangible personal property should be divided as my heirs see fit” will solve the problem. However, this can lead to a host of potential conflicts. A better approach is to put specific items that you believe are of interest to certain family members in writing, and then discuss your decisions in advance with your family. In this way, many emotionally charged disputes can be avoided.

What if you are convinced that a former spouse, one of your children, or the spouse of one of your children will cause trouble no matter what you specify in your will? In this case, you might want to consider a no contest clause. In essence, this clause makes the risk of challenging your will outweigh the potential benefit of doing so. A no contest clause generally stipulates that if a beneficiary contests the will’s provisions or its validity, his or interest in the will is forfeited. It is important to note, however, that you have to leave the heir in question enough of an inheritance to motivate him or her not to challenge the will.

When a Challenge to Your Will is Inevitable

The good news is that, generally speaking, challenging a will isn’t easy. And that’s especially true if there is a valid document in place that was drafted by an experienced attorney, signed by you, and duly executed according to your state’s law. Even in cases without all those dotted “i”s and crossed “t”s, successfully overcoming a will can prove difficult. However, it does happen.

Challenging a will must be done in a formal process called a will contest, or caveat. Caveat proceedings are most common in cases where more than one document exists and the beneficiaries disagree as to which is the “true will.” Contests can also arise when there are holographic (i.e. handwritten) wills, confusing written statements, uncertain verbal statements, surprising or grossly unfair provisions, apparent deathbed revisions, or questions about the circumstances under which a will was made.

As a general rule, if your beneficiaries wish to start a caveat process, they must successfully allege one of the following claims:

Lack of Testamentary Capacity — The testator (i.e. the deceased) was not of sound mind when the will was made, did not know the value of their estate, or otherwise did not understand the consequences and effects of the will.

Invalid Execution — The will was not executed according to the laws of your state. This argument is raised when there are questions about the capacity and/or signatures of either the testator or the witnesses. The court will typically presume that the will was properly executed, so the caveator (the person challenging the will) must overcome that presumption, usually with the help of their attorney.

Negligent Execution — A clerk or attorney made a mistake when drafting or executing the will, thereby accidentally contradicting your intentions.

Undue Influence — The caveator claims you were coerced, wrongfully pressured, or subjected to duress when making the will.

Fraud — The will is fraudulent or a forgery. Caveators may also argue that your intentions were colored by fraud. For example, let’s say you disinherit your nephew because your niece falsely accuses him of stealing your money.

A Second Will — The caveator believes there is another document that supplements or supersedes the purported will.

If you have questions about how you can start protecting assets of sentimental value or how the caveat process works, our office is here to help.

Retired Couple Sitting Outdoors At Home Having Morning Coffee Together

Can You Still Retire Comfortably on a Million Dollars?

Retired Couple Sitting Outdoors At Home Having Morning Coffee Together

Once upon a time, amassing a million dollars for retirement meant that your golden years would be very golden indeed. But what about now—is a million dollars still enough money to enjoy a luxurious retirement?

The good news is that more than 20 million people in the United States have over a million dollars. The bad news is that depending on your lifestyle, and how you want to live in retirement, one million may not be enough. Today, the opportunities for what once might have been considered a retirement on par with the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” could require closer to one million dollars, perhaps more.

Why? One reason is that in today’s economic climate, a million dollars translates into a sustainable annual income of $30,000-$40,000. That’s down from over a decade ago, where a million dollars could generate approximately $70,000-$80,000 in sustainable annual income.

While a sustainable annual income of $30,000-$40,000 is nothing to sneer at, a successful retirement depends on proper management and prudent decisions. One of the classic mistakes is to make a major purchase upon retirement, such as a boat or membership in a private golf club.

The consensus among investment professionals is that a million dollars can still provide you with a comfortable retirement, but proper planning, realistic expectations, and a sustainable cash flow are the keys to success.

One realistic expectation to set when saving for retirement is the expense that comes with funding long-term care costs. Americans are living longer than ever before. And while this is great news, it comes with a downside. For example, the median annual cost of a private room in a nursing home has hit six figures in the U.S. at $111,000 in 2022, and the cost of nursing home care and other types of long-term care are expected to rise dramatically in the future. Sadly, many families exhaust their life savings within a year or two of a family member entering a nursing home. Meaning your one or two million dollar nest egg could disappear in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, we can help you obtain the care you need without losing the assets you have worked a lifetime to build.

Contact a New York Estate Planning Lawyer

One way to ensure you and your family are protected for the future is to start pre-planning now. Together, we can use a wide range of tools to help you create a plan that will give you the peace of mind by knowing you will be able to receive the care you need in the future, without losing your life savings.

retirement downsizing

If You’re Thinking of Downsizing Your Home in Retirement, Avoid These Common Mistakes

retirement downsizing

Perhaps you have considered selling your current home, buying a smaller one, and using the difference to help fund your retirement. A recent article on Investopedia.com explores this approach and details the mistakes you must avoid.

Here are some of the highlights.

Overestimating Your Current Home’s Value

Many people overestimate how much their current home is actually worth because of what friends and neighbors say they received for the sale their homes. To get a realistic sense of your home’s value, visit websites like Zillow.com and Realtor.com to learn the prices of recently sold properties in your area. Online “estimators” from banks like JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America will also provide useful information. Bear in mind that prices and estimates shown on these and other sites may not take into account the specific features sought by prospective buyers. Consulting local real estate agents or independent appraisers can address this problem. You should also ask these real estate professionals about inexpensive spruce-ups that will increase your home’s curb appeal and value. Most experts agree that the cost of major renovations will not be recouped unless your home is in extremely poor condition.

Underestimating the Cost of Your New Home

You can use the online tools and real estate professionals mentioned above to get a sense of what you’ll have to pay for the type of home you want to buy. If you plan to move to a new area, such as a place you’ve always enjoyed visiting, it’s important to spend a significant amount of time there. This will give you a feel for what it’s like to actually live in the area. Renting a property for a year or so before buying may be the wisest approach.

Ignoring the Tax Implications of Your Move

Most couples are currently able to exclude up to $500,000 in gains from the sale of their home, while singles can typically exclude up to $250,000. Your tax bracket and the length of time you’ve lived in your current home could impact whether taxes will be due upon its sale. You can find detailed information about this issue in IRS Publication 523.

You should also consider factors beyond income taxes on your home’s sale, particularly if you are moving to a different state. Lower property taxes in your desired destination could be offset by higher sales and income taxes. Similarly, pensions and withdrawals from retirement accounts could be taxed at a higher rate than where you live now. A particular state’s revenue or tax department website is a good source for this important information.

Ignoring Closing Costs

If you haven’t bought or sold a home in quite a while, you may have forgotten about all of the closing costs involved. Title insurance, recording fees, legal fees… the list of miscellaneous charges can seem endless. In addition, if you use a real estate agent, commissions can be as high as 6% according to Realtor.com. In addition, don’t forget about the cost of moving your belongings to your new home.

The bottom line is this: Do your research and run the numbers carefully before downsizing. You may find ways to save a significant amount of money on your move, or perhaps you’ll realize that you should stay where you are for now.

Spendthrift Trust

The Objectives and Benefits of a Spendthrift Trust

Spendthrift Trust

A spendthrift trust is typically used to prevent a beneficiary from receiving his or her inheritance all at once. There are several reasons why a grantor (the person who creates the trust) might want to consider such an approach. The most obvious reason is that the grantor believes the beneficiary will quickly squander the inheritance. That is, the beneficiary is a spendthrift.

Other reasons to consider a spendthrift trust include:

  • The beneficiary (or the beneficiary’s spouse) has many debts and, consequently, the inheritance could be lost to creditors
  • The beneficiary’s marriage is troubled and seems likely to end in divorce
  • The beneficiary’s friends are spendthrifts (or worse) and have undue influence over the beneficiary’s behavior
  • The beneficiary is simply “not good with money”
  • The beneficiary suffers from alcohol or drug addiction

How does a spendthrift trust protect the beneficiary’s inheritance in situations like these? First, the beneficiary cannot access the assets in the trust, or promise them to someone else. Thus, creditors and other threats cannot reach the trust’s assets either. In addition, since the beneficiary’s inheritance can be distributed in specified amounts over time, the entire inheritance cannot be lost all at once. Of course, the portion that is distributed would be vulnerable unless other protective measures are taken.

The Role of the Trustee

It is crucial to choose one’s trustee carefully because the terms of the trust give the trustee control over trust assets and their distribution to the beneficiary. Similarly, it is extremely important to outline the trustee’s authority in detail. Here are some examples of factors to consider when setting the terms of the spendthrift trust:

  • Should the trustee be instructed to make fixed payments according to a specified schedule, or does the trustee have some discretion to choose the amount and timing of distributions?
  • Should the trustee make distributions in cash or provide the beneficiary with goods and services instead?
  • Can the trustee withhold distributions if the beneficiary behaves inappropriately? If so, what types of behavior would trigger the withholding of assets?

Given the importance of the trustee’s role in administering the trust and managing the beneficiary’s inheritance, the choice of trustee should not be taken lightly. The decision to serve as trustee should not be taken lightly either. In certain situations, the trustee could very well be performing the role of mentor, or disciplinarian, or even parent. In addition, the trustee can be held legally and financially responsible for failing to follow the mandates of the trust.

Other factors to consider when creating a spendthrift trust include how and when the trust will end, what will happen if the beneficiary “grows up” and develops the maturity to manage the inheritance, and what should be done with trust assets if the beneficiary passes away.

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney

If you want to leave a loved one an inheritance but are concerned about his or her ability to manage it, we can help you determine whether a spendthrift trust is a good solution.