Retirement for Seniors is Growing Out of Reach

wills and trusts attorney long islandIn earlier generations, retirement was looked at by Americans as their golden years. This may no longer be the case for seniors. It is estimated close to half of all Americans facing retirement age are economically insecure. More than a quarter of all individuals facing retirement have less than $1,000 in savings. The average senior citizen has to pay almost $400 per month to cover basic medical needs. This includes Medicare premiums, supplemental coverage and other medical related expenses. If you are in poor health, it is estimated you will spend over $500 per month in medical related expenses during your retirement.

Seniors Working After Retirement

Working after retirement sounds strange. The purpose of retirement is to not work. It is to enjoy your life. Unfortunately, enjoying your life in America requires having enough money to live on. More and more seniors are finding after they retire their savings, social security and retirement income is inadequate to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. So seniors find themselves retired but still working. Some seniors go back to work at the job they used to have. More often than not, they end up with new or alternative employment which pays them less than they were making before they retired. Having the financial inability to support one’s family in retirement results in seniors being forced to work their entire lives. Retirement requires a financial ability to retire. Without financial portfolios, pensions, 401(k)s, annuities, and sufficient social security payments many seniors will find that retirement does not exist for them.


Retirement was something Americans once looked forward to. For as many as half of the seniors in the United States, this is no longer practical. The impoverishment of senior citizens and their inability to retire and enjoy their remaining years with a modicum of dignity and an enjoyable lifestyle may not exist for a large portion of seniors. This is unfortunate and shameful.

retirement planning attorneyElliot S. Schlissel is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He drafts will and trusts. He probates wills. He assists seniors with estate planning and elder care issues. Feel free to call if you have questions.

Reclusive Heiress’ Estate Settled

wills and trusts lawyersHuguette Clark died in 2011. At the time of her death, she had more than $300,000,000 in assets. There has recently been a tentative settlement agreement worked out between a variety of parties litigating over the late Huguette Clark’s $300,000,000 estate.

Her Life Story

Ms. Clark was born in 1906. She died at the age of 104. She had been residing in a mansion on Fifth Avenue. She had been married once for a short period of time and never had children. Huguette lived most of her life as a recluse. Many of her family members involved in the estate litigation had never even met her.

Ms. Clark had lived for the last twenty years of her life at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. She had entered the hospital in 1991 with a severe case of skin cancer. The skin cancer caused a disfigurement of her face. After extensive plastic surgery to rehabilitate her face, she refused to go back to her spacious apartment on Fifth Avenue. She continued to live in her hospital room until the day she died. She kept the shades closed and the door to her hospital room closed. She spent her time playing with dolls and watching cartoons.

Ms. Clark’s fortune was inherited. Her father, William Andrews Clark, made his fortune by owning copper mines.

Wills That She Left

Huguette Clark executed two different wills in 2005 during a period of six weeks. The first will left all but $5,000,000 of her estate to a variety of family members. The second Will left her family nothing. It left all of her assets to a foundation for the arts and various individuals she knew. These individuals included her lawyer, who was the draftsman of her will, her accountant, her doctor and one of her nurses.

Settlement Worked Out on Her Estate

A lawsuit had been filed by Ms. Clark’s twenty grandnieces and grandnephews. It was their position Ms.Clark was incompetent, there was undue influence and fraud with regard to the execution of the second Will and therefore it should be declared invalid.

A tentative settlement has been worked out on the estate. The New York State Attorney General’s office helped mediate the settlement. Under this agreement, her family would receive $34,500,000, after taxes. The late Ms. Clark’s lawyer, Wallace Bock, her accountant, Irving Kamsler, would receive no inheritance. Ms. Clark’s nurse, Hadassah Peri, would also not inherit any funds from her estate and in addition would have to return the $5,000,000 she was given during Ms. Clark’s life. Although Mrs. Peri received nothing from her estate, she was allowed to keep the more than $30,000,000 she received in gifts during Ms. Clark’s lifetime. Ms. Clark’s lawyer and accountant would also be entitled to keep the gifts they had received during her lifetime. The Corcoran Gallery of Art, where her father’s art collection is maintained, received $10,000,000 under the planning and wills and trusts

Elder Law Estate Plan: What is an elder law estate plan and what are its components?

estate planning lawyerA Trust

Most elder law estate plans are composed of either an Irrevocable Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT) or a Revocable Living Trust (RLT). The MAPT is utilized where protection of assets is required because the senior does not have long term care insurance. Assets need to be protected in the event the senior needs to go into a nursing home and will require Medicaid eligibility to pay for the nursing home expenses. A Revocable Living Trust will protect inheritances from creditors, and in some instances, have a similar impact to a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement.

Pour Over Will

In the event you have a trust written for you, it will be necessary to draft a pour over will to go with this trust. A pour over will pours assets left out of the trust back into the trust at the time of your death. If assets not placed in the trust are kept as joint assets with another individual or have a designated beneficiary, it will eliminate the need for the probate of the pour over will. The pour over will is an emergency device that hopefully will not need to be used.

Advanced Directives

There are several advanced directives. The first is a Power of Attorney. An estate planning power of attorney is designed to name an individual to help you with your financial affairs should you be unable to take care of these affairs on your own. Elder law attorneys draft very user friendly powers of attorney which include powers to change beneficiaries of IRA’s and other insurance contracts, allow the preparation of a trust agreement if one doesn’t exist and to make gifts pursuant to an estate plan.

Health Care Proxy/Living Will

Health Care Proxy is an individual named to make medical decisions in the event you are unable to make those decisions on your own. The living will provides a road map to family members and loved ones concerning the termination of life support under circumstances where three doctors have certified there is irreversible brain damage and that you will never gain consciousness.

Funeral And Burial Instructions

This involves preparing a hand written note laying out your final instructions to your next of kin concerning your funeral and internment. Distribution of jewelry and personal items in the household such as furniture, photographs and memorabilia is best handled in a personal note to the executor and next of kin. These items are not usually dealt with in a will or trust.costs of dying on Long Island

Medicaid Planning; Medicaid Asset Protection Trust

medicaid elder care attorneyMedicaid Asset Protection Trusts (MAPT) are the best way to preserve assets should you be unable to purchase long term care insurance. Sometimes family members presume putting their assets in joint names with their children will help them should they be forced to go into a nursing home and apply for Medicaid. This is a mistake! Putting assets in the name of children or outright transfers to children can create more problems than they solve. The children may end up getting divorced. Creditors may attack these assets to satisfy debts. They may also have other liabilities or problems which impact on these assets and can cause them to be lost. Children also can spend the money!

Should you need assistance because a family member needs to go into a nursing home, the best way to deal with this situation would be to contact an elder law attorney in your community and have him or her lay out a plan to protect your families assets. The best way to do long term planning is not to wait until the last minute but to meet with an elder care lawyer and put a long term estate plan in motion.

How do Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts Work?

MAPT must be an irrevocable trust. The principle must not be available to the income beneficiary for it to be protected. Family homes are ideal assets to be placed in these trusts. The trust can virtually handle any transactions the individual who placed his or her assets in the trust for had previously dealt with. However, the individual who creates the trust cannot be trustee. In most cases a parent names one of his or her children as trustee. The parent maintains control of the trust by having the authority to change the trustee in the event they are dissatisfied with the trustee’s actions.

MAPT Look Back Period

The MAPT is subject to a five year look back period. All assets transferred during this five year period will still be considered a resource for nursing home payments. However, it should be noted if you prepared a MAPT and you transferred resources four years prior to entering a nursing home, you would only be self-paying at the nursing home for a period of one year. You will have accumulated four years of the five year look back period.

IRA’s And MAPT’s

Individual Retirement Accounts, 401(k)’s, 403 (b)’s and pension plans assets are never placed in the MAPT. This is because the principle of all of these retirement plans are exempt from Medicaid’s five year look back period. It addition these types of assets are considered testamentary substitutes. They do not go through probate, they go directly to the individual named as the beneficiary of these assets.

About The Author

estate planning and administration for New YorkersElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. For more than 37 years Elliot and his staff of attorneys have represented seniors with regard to drafting wills, trusts and estate plans. In addition, Elliot assists his clients with regard to nursing home issues and Medicaid planning.

Five Easy Steps To Financing And Care For Your Elderly Parents

Worried about how to take care of your aging parents’ health care and livelihood expenses? To save oneself from stress and worry in the years ahead, financial planning and investment in family insurance is the smart option.

Now, you have five easy steps to help you tide over these worries.

If you plan in advance, then finance in the later years is not as stressful. Once retired, your elderly parents do not have a regular income and you would need to subsidise their daily expenses and health care.

Recent studies with several households reflect this new trend of the younger generation needing to plan for their parent’s old age, with increasing life spans bringing with it geriatric ailments requiring specific healthcare and recession having swallowed up their parents’ hard earned savings. With worries of one’s own impending retirement, college costs for children, it is worrisome indeed and without correct and timely planning or investment in the correct schemes which will give returns at the time one needs them the most, one could face extremely trying times ahead. However, if one is prepared legally, saves smart and invests in the correct healthcare insurance, looking after one’s own family needs as well as that of aged parents need not be a burden.

Keeping in mind these five steps should definitely help:

  • Handle memory loss or illness in old age by assigning power of attorney for important decisions. One cannot plan for Alzeimer’s or dementia, it creeps up on you so, a smart way to pre-empt the agony of legal wrangles with property and decisions regarding life threatening diseases even, is to have a clear power of attorney assigned while your parents are able bodied and have clarity of thought.
  • Get expert help on financial planning and improved savings. There are several schemes in the market today but one needs to figure out early, even from an expert at your workplace which would be the financial plan best suited to your needs and family.
  • Choose the correct insurance policy for your family which gives you maximum benefits and remember the earlier one invests in an insurance scheme, the lower the premium and greater the benefits. Competition between insurance companies will have insurance advisors knocking on your door dispensing free advice. All one has to do is study the options and take an informed decision.
  • Research financial and care resources on the net and in libraries as one needs to know the different aspects of the policies, the different types of healthcare schemes available and the benefits of each.
  • Get a professional financial advisor today! As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm. In this case, it is the early investor who will have less grey hair himself while caring for a silver haired parent! Tax relief for dependent parents is still a matter of debate so a wiser option would be to save well and save now.

Marie is an accomplished financial consultant writing about socio-economic problems as well as legal and financial articles on debt, bankruptcy, loan, stock market, binary brokers, credit card, personal injury on various websites. She has been writing for the last 5 years.