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Law Offices of Barton P. Levine - New York Office
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Medicaid and Financial Planning - One of the biggest challenges in planning for the future, especially as we near retirement age, is understanding how or even if we should plan for Medicaid and Medicare. After all, most of us have been told our entire adult lives that long term insurance policies and our retirement plans are the winning combination. Unfortunately, much has changed in recent years and what we’re left with is a series of questions that are difficult to answer. Medicaid Medicaid, simply stated, is the healthcare safety net in the U.S. It covers low income and needy people while also covering many disabled and the elderly. Many seniors, working under the belief that early planning and long term care insurance is the solution, have found themselves relying on Medicaid. Whether it’s because they’re uninsurable, their retirement accounts have taken a hit in the recent recession or simply find that their other policies aren’t enough, Medicaid is the viable solution. Qualifying, while sold to the Ameri

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Affordable Senior Housing? - Even the best laid plans for retirement are sometimes not what we thought they’d be. Few of us can take a step back, look at our overall retirement plans and say,  “Ah, just as I d hoped.” Whether it’s the tough recession that took a chunk of our savings or even something as random as a hurricane tearing through the home we were going to grow old in, there are many who are now looking to a Plan B. Healthcare, housing, retirement funding – these are universal needs we all have in common.. Not only that, but we’re living longer and the number of baby boomers retiring at the same time make it clear that there’s much more to this renewed retirement focus than we thought. In fact, 10,000 baby boomers are reaching age 65 every day. Over the next three decades, the number of people in the United States who are 65 or older will more than double, increasing from 40 million to more than 85 million. Boomers and Income A recent report shows that 40 percent of those 65 years old and

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Your Mortgage Affects Estate Planning - Remember your first home your purchased? The overwhelming excitement of opening the front door for the first time to a house that was really yours? Or maybe the skipped heartbeats when you signed the paperwork that promised you’d pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for the benefit of that home? Scary times, right? Exciting, but scary. Of course, you go through the lengthy process of legalities and financial considerations. There are surveys, appraisals, mortgages, insurance, closing costs and much more. Still, they move forward knowing it’s the last phase before they create their new home from the house they’ve just purchased. That’s how it should be, right? But what happens when you fall short on your closing costs or down payment? What happens if you realize you didn’t save enough to cover those initial expenses? Should your retirement or other financial vehicles you’re building as part of your total estate plan be an option? For some, it is an option and they t

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Understanding Differences: Medicaid Rules and Gift Tax Rules - Planning for retirement has its challenges and when it comes to medical care and taxes, it’s easy to get confused. The Medicaid 5 year look back period and spend down requirements often get twisted into various estate tax and gift tax limits, but rarely, if ever, are the two ever part of any single estate plan. This week, we explore these very different financial dynamics that many retirees face. The truth is, those who are concerned about the federal and gift taxes aren’t likely going to need Medicaid. Medicaid Rules 5 Year Look Back Period Medicaid’s rules are quite specific. The five year look back period is the investigation the government does as part of its approval process. When a person applies for Medicaid, the application asks if the applicant made any transfers to others within the five years preceding the application. If there have been transfers, it will affect their approval and will likely result in penalties. There are exclusions, including transfers of money bet

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Women and Estate Planning - Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg March is Women’s History Month. It’s a wonderful time to pay tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to the fellow humans, nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society. Congress passed Pub L. 97-28 in 1981, officially making March the annual women’s history month. Many resolutions have been passed since then, which further allow us to celebrate all that’s good and right in this world, courtesy of those amazing women. When we think of the great women throughout history, names like Mother Teresa, First Ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, Condoleezza Rice, Lady Dianna, Lauren Bacall and many others come to mind. In the legal industry, women make up approximately 36 percent of American lawyers – and that number is increasing every year. We thought it would be a fine time to kick off Women’s History Month with a few estate planning tips for women. Women, whether they’re single, married, widowed or divorced, need an estate

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Music the Cure-All for Alzheimer’s - When Glen Campbell came forward in 2011 to announce he had Alzheimer’s disease, it was a blow for his fans. Many of us remember the music from the 70s that defined his career. You can’t think Glen Campbell without Rhinestone Cowboy coming to mind. Now, though, he’s going to be remembered for something else, as well: how music has soothed his soul during his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Until last night, most of us also hadn’t seen much in the media about Campbell. But when Tim McGraw stepped onto the Academy Awards stage and belted out the song that’s part of his “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me” documentary, it put the importance of Alzheimer’s disease, elder care and the role music has on the human condition in the limelight. And we think that’s a good thing. James Keach, part of the creative team for the documentary said it best, I had my cameras in there, he said. Sometimes Glen would stop and say, I m so sorry. I can t remember. The interesting thing to me is

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Does Massive Anthem Cyber Attack Affect Medicare, Medicaid? - Eighty million people. That’s right, the massive cyber attack against Anthem Insurance last week likely will affect up to 80 million Americans; to what extent is not known. Not only is that overwhelming, but it’s also indicative of just how difficult it can be to protect privacy in our technological age. But what about Medicaid and Medicare? Were those records affected? And what, if anything, should you do if you’re concerned about your coverage or that of a loved one? The one thing most everyone agrees on is that the timing couldn’t be worse. It’s likely going to result in massive costs associated with repairing the overall Obamacare system, if not nationwide, then certainly in some states (current estimates are at least 14 states, those most believe it’s going to affect the systems nationally). Damage control in terms of customer faith is important, as well. Plus, it comes with just one week remaining in the open enrollment period for new customers under the Affordable C

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Highest Tax Rate in the World? - Today, President Obama will release the specifics associated with changing the inheritance and capital gains taxes. It’s not likely to pass, courtesy of our Republican Congress; however, if by some strange chance it does pass, the United States would have the highest inheritance and capital gains tax rates in the industrialized world. If you watched the State of the Union address, you may recall his plan that would eliminate the step-up basis at death for taxes on capital gains; and the top capital gains rate would jump to 28% from 20%. As it is now, when one dies, the increase in the valuation of the assets from when it was originally purchased is not taxed. The president’s plan would tax estates and impose the regular capital gains tax on inherited assets, whether they’re proper, stocks or even a business. High Tax Rate Bottom line: it could bring the collective death tax rate to a whopping 57 percent and could potentially mean a 68 percent rate when state inheritance taxes ar

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The Roth IRA: Simple, Effective for Estate Planning - The Roth IRA has been hailed as one of the best estate planning tools around, and for good reason. It’s ideal for transferring wealth, has no income tax penalties for heirs when they withdraw and it’s versatile, too. Still, it’s important to keep in mind a few important elements that keep the simplicity intact. One of the biggest challenges, not only in estate planning but in family dynamics as a whole, is remembering not every family member may be as well off as others. An heir could find a heavy tax burden as a result of inheriting those assets. Best to make accommodations and address the situation ahead of time, but you don’t have to make uncomfortable concessions that aren’t beneficial for you. Your estate planning attorney can help with that important consideration as you do what you can to maximize the benefits for your heirs while not defeating your purposes. Taxes And speaking of things that aren’t always beneficial, don’t forget estate taxes. With the Obama Admi

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A Look at New York’s Telemedicine Law - It’s official. As of January 1, a new law in New York went into effect. It addresses the growing popularity of telemedicine. It also cements the 22nd state to have enacted a telemedicine statute. But how well will it fare and is it possible New York’s tweaked it enough so that its success will overshadow all other states? This week, we take a look at this new law, sponsored by Senator Catharine Young (R) and signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D). New York’s Telemedicine Law This was a bill that gained bi-partisan support with the sole purpose of ensuring patient access to telemedicine services through the private sector. The law is clear: commercial insurers are required to cover services delivered through telemedicine and telehealth. Further, there are patient protections built into it, including a rule that deductibles, co-insurance fees or any other conditions and costs are not to be tacked if they differ from already-existing conditions applicable to traditio
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