Category: Blog

April 20, 2018 Robert Slutsky

What is a perfect score on cognitive testing and what does it mean?  Having represented clients in well over 300 guardianships I have seen the common cognitive tests and how they are interpreted many times. Scoring well on them may or may not represent what you think it does.   On its surface, the Montreal…

April 13, 2018 Robert Slutsky

This week’s blog is off topic for elder law but I feel compelled to put my thoughts in writing. I hope, regardless of your politics or religion, it makes you think, and maybe act.   On April 12, 2018 Many people in the United States observe Yom Hashoah, which is also known as Holocaust Remembrance…

April 6, 2018 Robert Slutsky

While the execution of wills requires formalities like witnesses and a notary, the reality is that much property passes to heirs through other means that often lack the protections of a properly drafted will or trust.   Many bank and investments accounts, as well as real estate, have joint owners who take ownership automatically at…

March 29, 2018 Robert Slutsky

Many eldercare professionals have observed or have in someway been involved in an incapacity proceeding. The roles of the parties are not always clear. As a lawyer involved in over 350 incapacity proceedings the one concern/ambiguity I have always had is the role or counsel appointed for the alleged incapacitated person.   In Pennsylvania the…

March 20, 2018 Robert Slutsky

Long-term care insurance (LTCi) is an important element of good retirement planning, since it offers financial protection against unexpected illness or disability that would otherwise quickly diminish your savings. However, many LTCi plans are simply too expensive for most retirees or people nearing retirement age, and the costs seem to continue to increase.   At…

February 27, 2018 Robert Slutsky

In a (very) rare act of bipartisanship, the United States Congress came to an agreement to avoid the risk of a government shutdown.   There are new Medicare changes under the new budget agreement that have a dramatic impact on health care. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 is a continuing resolution (CR) to keep…

February 20, 2018 Robert Slutsky

Older parents are becoming more common. Whether it is societal, educational, maturity or debt related (academic debt), our society, in general is having families later in life, sometimes much later. But later-in-life parents have special estate planning and retirement considerations.   The first consideration is to make sure you have an estate plan and that…

January 30, 2018 Robert Slutsky

A recent New Jersey appeals court case demonstrates how important it is for families to come up with a long term care plan before an emergency happens. The case involves two brothers who got into a fight over whether to place their mother in a nursing home.  Sadly, this dispute resulted in one brother filing…

January 23, 2018 Robert Slutsky

Oftentimes when I am assisting a family in estates or with guardianships I often find that the decedent/incapacitated person owned unique or troublesome assets.   Difficult Assets in Estates or Guardianships Include:   Timeshares: These are almost impossible to sell once they are issued. If they are premier companies with premier properties there is a…

January 15, 2018 Robert Slutsky

What is a Special Needs Trust? A Special Needs Trust is a trust, authorized under federal law, that holds the funds of a disabled beneficiary and allows the beneficiary to qualify for means tested public benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Were those same assets owned directly by the disabled person, they would…

January 10, 2018 Robert Slutsky

Understand Decisional Capacity: Be aware that capacity is not an all-or-nothing thing. A family member may have some capacities at some times but are gradually losing others. Financial capacity and financial judgment often decline before other functions. So it is important to get help to evaluate capacity. It will help give you a clearer picture…

December 27, 2017 Robert Slutsky

At this time of year most of us reflect on what went well and not as well as we like in the past year and commit to doing better.  This reboot is needed even if we had a great year.  Even if you had some challenges in the last year, I bet you can find…

December 26, 2017 Robert Slutsky

Interested in Learning the New Tax Brackets? 1. Standard Deduction: The new tax law changes the standard deduction to $12,000 on single returns, $18,000 for head-of-household filers and $24,000 on joint returns … up from $6,350, $9,350 and $12,700 in 2017.  Individuals age 65 or older and blind people get even higher standard deductions. Two…

November 27, 2017 admin

Would you like a few tips about Nursing Home Admission Agreements? Common Concerns with Agreements: Concern: Some nursing home admission agreements assume that certain injuries are inevitable.  They limit the care for the resident and force the resident to hire private duty caregivers. Response: Federal law requires the nursing home to provide the care necessary…

November 18, 2017 admin

Is a Roth IRA right for you? A Roth IRA is a different type of IRA and it may work for you.  In its basic form an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) is an account that you can contribute funds free of federal income taxes.  You can contribute up to $5,500 per person (or $6,500 per…

November 1, 2017 admin

Is There a Large Scale Problem with Court Appointed Guardians? In my opinion, the answer to the question of “is there a large scale problem with court appointed guardians” is “no.”  In the 20+ years I’ve been working in elder law and in almost that much time representing a busy Older Adult Protective Services unit,…

October 6, 2017 admin

What Factors Should You Consider When Utilizing Your Retirement Funds? Today few people have defined benefit pensions anymore.  The vast majority of us now rely on 401(k) or IRA self-directed and self-funded retirement plans.  Not only does this put the risk of investing and having enough money to retire on but it also places upon…

January 31, 2017 admin

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article Collapse of Long-Term Care Insurer Reflects Deep Industry Woes. The article focuses on “[t]wo insurance units of Penn Treaty American Corp., which have combined assets of about $600 million and projected long-term-care claims liabilities topping $4 billion,[which] are on track to be liquidated early next year, according…

December 12, 2016 admin

Medicaid Block Grant Proposal Medicaid block grants  . . . again?  Regardless of your political persuasion it is quite evident that benefits for the older and disabled and likely to change when Donald Trump becomes president. Obviously things said during the campaign process do not always materialize. However, the appointments being made to high level…

October 19, 2016 admin

The phrase “asset protection planning” means a variety of things depending on who is asking for protection and the type of professional who hears the question. For example, a financial advisor whose client asks about asset protection will likely want to discuss investment strategy, diversification, “safe” investments, and rates of return, with the aim of…

April 5, 2016 admin

ESTATE OF: WILLIAM F. BINNIG Medicaid Planning: The Importance of a Well Drafted Power of Attorney This is a recent Pennsylvania Superior Court case that highlights how important a power of attorney can be in proper planning. In this case an executor who was also the agent under a power of attorney for the decedent…

February 15, 2016 admin

Who Has Standing to Challenge the Actions of an Agent Under a Power of Attorney? This question is often asked to me when someone is concerned about abuse of an older adult who no longer has the ability to advocate for him or herself. The answer depends largely on whether or not the grantor of…

December 15, 2015 admin

Q: Rob, should I use one of those online legal services to do my estate planning documents? A:  Today, you can learn almost anything online. There are TV channels, websites, apps, programs and old fashioned classes devoted to DIY (Do It Yourself). LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, among other online services, attempt to streamline the process…

November 24, 2015 admin

The Perils and Pitfalls of Doing Asset Protection Planning on Your Own Dealing with long-term care planning is a daunting process. Very complicated state and federal Medicaid laws and regulations present many pitfalls for those who try to engage in that process on their own without working with a competent elder law attorney. A recent…

October 27, 2015 admin

Q: What is the Legal Significance of Scores in Mental Status Exams? A:  In a recent decision in a complicated and long-running guardianship case, an appellate court in Illinois highlights the tricky issue of how should courts value scores given by evaluators on mental status exams in guardianship cases. The opinion in Estate of Koenen, issued…

October 12, 2015 admin

Q  Do I still need life insurance after my kids are out of the house? A  The need for life insurance is very different depending upon your circumstances and so are the types of life insurance to fill those needs. The issue of needing life insurance is a long and drawn out analysis, however, the following…