Author Archives: Ronald A. Fatoullah

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About Ronald A. Fatoullah

Ronald A. Fatoullah is an elder law attorney & founder of Fatoullah & Associates in New York.


EMAIL: rfatoullah@fatoullahlaw.com

BIO: About Ronald

PHONE: 516-466-4422

Why You Should Retain an Attorney to Prepare Your Medicaid Application
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Why You Should Retain an Attorney to Prepare Your Medicaid Application | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and James A. E. Asquith, Esq

{3:33 minutes to read} Many individuals are unaware that if they require long-term care, such care is only covered by Medicare or other primary health insurance for a short time. For example, Medicare may cover up to 100 days of nursing home care so long as the patient needs skilled care. However, if that patient requires care beyond Medicare’s coverage limit, then without any long-term care insurance, that patient would be responsible for the full cost of his care. With many nursing homes charging more than $500.00 per day, such a cost is unaffordable for many. Thus, Medicaid is the only option available to them.

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Understanding Medicaid Personal Care Services
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Understanding Medicaid Personal Care Services | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Stacey Meshnick, Esq.

{4:01 minutes to read} The New York State Medicaid program provides coverage for a category of home care services called Personal Care Services (PCS). Under the Medicaid rules and regulations, personal care services are defined as the assistance of a personal care aide/home attendant with nutritional, environmental support, and personal care functions. According to the regulations, such services must be essential to the maintenance of the patient’s health and safety in his or her own home, ordered by the attending physician, and based on an assessment of the patient’s needs and based upon the appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of services.[1]

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The Interplay Between Medicare and Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage
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The Interplay Between Medicare and Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Stacey Meshnick, Esq. {2:59 minutes to read} Medicare benefits start at age 65, but many people continue working past that age, either by choice or by necessity. It is important to understand how Medicare and employer health coverage work together. Depending upon one’s circumstances, Medicare is either the primary or secondary insurer. The primary insurer pays any medical bills first, up to the limits of its coverage. The secondary payer covers costs which the primary insurer does not cover (although it may not cover all costs).

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Protecting the Assets and Benefits of a Child with Disabilities
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Protecting the Assets and Benefits of a Child with Disabilities | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Yan Lian Kuang-Maoga, Esq. {3:46 minutes to read} Parents of children with disabilities have a lot on their plates. While the day-to-day care of a child with disabilities is paramount, it is also crucial for parents to plan for their child’s financial needs and continuing care. Engaging in proper financial and legal planning is generally done to make sure that the funds available to the child will not jeopardize the child’s eligibility for any governmental benefits, such as Supplement Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. Planning for families of children with disabilities often involves two parts—planning for the child’s money and planning for the parents’ money.

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Elder Law and Personal Injury Actions
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Elder Law and Personal Injury Actions | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Debby Rosenfeld, Esq.

{4:00 minutes to read} Several years ago, Mrs. Flower entered a nursing home because she could no longer care for herself in the community. At the time, she was in her early 90s and had basically gone through most of her assets. The nursing home administration applied for Medicaid on her behalf in order to cover the cost of her long term care. It was a very straightforward case because she was essentially eligible for Medicaid from the get-go. Medicaid is a means-tested program; it will cover the cost of an individual’s long term care provided such person’s assets do not exceed a certain amount. In 2017, one cannot own more than $14,850 in non-exempt assets.

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Who Should Serve as Trustee of an SNT?
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Who Should Serve as Trustee of an SNT? | Ronald A. Fatoullah

Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Eva Schwechter, J.D.

{4:45 minutes to read} A Special Needs Trust (“SNT”) is an important tool that can be used for preserving the financial security and lifestyle of a person with special needs. A properly drafted SNT allows the individual with special needs to benefit from supplemental resources while still qualifying for public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. In many instances, an SNT is funded by a parent or guardian for the benefit of a child with special needs.

Parents need to decide who to name as trustee of an SNT. A trustee is tasked with administering the trust and making all necessary decisions regarding the SNT, including distributions.

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Considerations When a Spouse Needs Nursing Home Care
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Considerations When a Spouse Needs Nursing Home Care | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Stacey Meshnick, Esq.

{3:42 minutes to read} Nursing home care in the New York Metropolitan area can cost up to $18,000 per month. When one spouse becomes ill and requires nursing home care, the well spouse should seek the proper advice regarding the resulting issues and possible solutions.

When contemplating nursing home admission, a couple should make sure that all of their necessary documentation is in order. If they haven’t already done so, the couple should execute advance directives, namely a Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and Living Will.

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When Your Child with Special Needs Turns 18
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When Your Child with Special Needs Turns 18 | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Eva Schwechter, J.D.

{4:48 minutes to read} Parents of children with special needs face unique challenges in raising their children. One such challenge is the question of what to do when a child with special needs turns 18, the legal age of adulthood. It is during the few years after a child turns 18 that the services and programs associated with the public education system end and are replaced by different benefits targeted toward adults. Managing the transition from services for minors to adult care presents one of the greatest challenges for parents of children with special needs. There are a number of paths the parent can take to ensure that her adult child is best provided for in the future.

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Medicare Observation Status
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Medicare Observation Status | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Stacey Meshnick, Esq.

{4:17 minutes to read} On February 8, 2017, a U.S. district court in Alexander v. Cochran held that the plaintiffs, a class of Medicare beneficiaries, were able to continue their class-action suit challenging their placement as “observation status,” rather than being admitted as “inpatients” to the hospital. The class action suit concerns the rights of these Medicare beneficiaries who were admitted in observation status and therefore did not qualify for coverage of post-hospital skilled nursing care.

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Oversight of Financial Planners: Proposed Rules Delayed
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Oversight of Financial Planners: Proposed Rules Delayed | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Debby Rosenfeld, Esq.

{3:08 minutes to read} Many individuals with assets rely heavily on financial advisors to provide advice or guidance regarding their portfolios. Financial advisers can provide many different services, such as investment management, income tax preparation, and estate planning. The expectation is always that a financial advisor has his/her client’s best interest in mind, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. Sometimes, financial advisors will earn higher commissions if they recommend certain retirement investments with high fees and low returns to their clients.  

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New York Trustee’s Duty to Inform
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New York Trustee’s Duty to Inform | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Yan Lian Kuang-Maoga, Esq.

{3:44 minutes to read} Trusts are widely used for a multitude of reasons. In creating a trust, a legal relationship is established between the named trustee and the beneficiaries of the trust. While a trustee is endowed with many powers over the trust, this trusteeship also comes with many duties. The duty to inform is one that we will explore in this article.

New York State law does not currently require a trustee to disclose any information relating to the trust unless requested to do so by a beneficiary.

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Revisiting One’s Estate Plan in 2017
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Revisiting One’s Estate Plan in 2017 | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Debby Rosenfeld, Esq.

{4:33 minutes to read} Most people procrastinate when it comes to getting their affairs in order. Drafting wills and signing advance directives automatically reminds people of their mortality. We relish our independence and good health, and executing powers of attorney and health care proxies reminds us of potential incapacity down the road. So, when individuals finally address these issues head-on and decide to meet with an attorney, it is disconcerting to hear that estate plans that are drawn up must be revisited after a certain period of time.

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Estate Planning for Parents of Special Needs Children
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Estate Planning for Parents of Special Needs Children | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Eva Schwechter, J.D.

{4:34 minutes to read} For most parents of children with special needs, government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) are an invaluable resource. These programs help to cover some of the care necessary for their child’s health and well-being. These benefits are contingent on a number of eligibility rules with which the applicant/recipient must comply. Many parents are familiar with the basic concepts of these rules, such as the need to keep the child’s assets under a specific resource limit, to refrain from giving the child money outright, and the importance of establishing a supplemental needs trust to protect their child’s assets.

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Don’t Let Life Insurance Affect Your Medicaid Eligibility
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Don’t Let Life Insurance Affect Your Medicaid Eligibility | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Jeffrey P. Gorak, Esq.

{4:50 minutes to read} A life insurance policy is a contract between an individual (the insured) and an insurance company (the insurer) where the insured pays a premium in exchange for the insurer’s promise to pay a certain sum of money (the death benefit) to the designated beneficiaries on the death of the insured.

The two most common types of life insurance policies are 1) term life insurance and 2) whole life insurance.

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Passing Your Home to Your Children
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Passing Your Home to Your Children | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Stacey Meshnick, Esq.

{3:53 minutes to read} Giving your house to your children can have potential tax consequences, but there are ways to accomplish this transfer without the negative side effects. The best method to use will depend on your individual circumstances and needs.

The simplest way to give your house to your children is to name them as beneficiaries in your will. If you are a New York resident, as long as the total value of your estate is under $4,187,500 (until April 2017), no estate taxes will be imposed.

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Deductibility or Long Term Care Insurance and the 2017 Limitations
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Deductibility or Long Term Care Insurance and the 2017 Limitations | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By: Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Elizabeth Forspan, Esq.

{4:22 minutes to read} Many people wisely choose to purchase a long-term care insurance policy which will pay for all or some of the costs of long-term care services, such as care at home or in a skilled nursing facility. It is important to understand that the government provides certain incentives, in the form of tax deductions and credits, for those who purchased and continue to pay for such policies. There are tremendous added tax benefits that individuals with such policies must understand before “tax time” rolls around.

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Reducing Capital Gains Taxes
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Reducing Capital Gains Taxes | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Debby Rosenfeld, Esq.

{5:26 minutes to read} The capital gains tax (“CGT”) is a tax imposed on the profit that is realized by an individual when he or she sells certain types of assets. The most common capital gains are realized from the sale of stocks, bonds, precious metals and real property. Although it is often said that nothing in life is certain except death and taxes, the one tax a person may be able to avoid or minimize the most through planning is the tax on capital gains.

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The Nuts and Bolts of a Will Execution
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The Nuts and Bolts of a Will Execution | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Debby Rosenfeld, Esq.

{3:49 minutes to read} As many know, the Last Will and Testament is a document in which a person (the “testator”) articulates to whom he/she wishes to leave all of his/her assets upon death. Wills are official documents, and they often mean a great deal to the respective testator. Because a will is such an important document, it must meet the legal requirements set forth by the state in which the testator resides in order to be valid.

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Using Trusts to Manage Bequests
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Using Trusts to Manage Bequests | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Yan Lian Kuang-Maoga, Esq.

{3:21 minutes to read} The concept of controlling one’s heirs from the grave may be difficult to fathom. However, there are many circumstances in which it is necessary to set some control over the inheritance to an heir in order to protect him or her. Trusts are often used to set the appropriate level of control and to provide peace of mind to the creator of the trust. Trusts are also used for estate tax planning purposes.

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Online Fundraising May Affect Medicaid Eligibility
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Online Fundraising May Affect Medicaid Eligibility | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Yan Lian Kuang-Maoga, Esq.

{2:44 minutes to read} A medical crisis obviously causes emotional strain but often can be a financial burden for the sick and his or her family as well. In this age of technology, many online fundraising methods are available to secure financial support for the individual suffering from an illness. These methods can reach many people very quickly and therefore often result in significant funds being raised. While these fundraising efforts are great options to secure financial support for those affected, such fundraising accounts must be set up properly so as not to affect the medical benefits of the intended beneficiary.

How to Avoid Undue Influence in Estate Planning
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How to Avoid Undue Influence in Estate Planning | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Eva Schwechter, J.D.

{3:31 minutes to read} Most people have heard the term “undue influence” in connection with a will or an estate plan, but what does it mean and how can it be avoided?  

Undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure on an individual, causing that individual to act contrary to his wishes and to the benefit of the influencer. The pressure can take the form of deception, harassment, threats or isolation.

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Four Myths About Medicaid’s Long-term Care Coverage
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Four Myths About Medicaid’s Long-term Care Coverage | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Yan Lian Kuang-Maoga, Esq.

{4:38 minutes to read} Long-term care is not cheap. The cost of employing a home care attendant in the New York City area ranges from $15 to $25 an hour and a nursing home bed runs from approximately $13,000 to $17,000 per month. Finding the right solution to help pay for long-term care is critical. While Medicare gets most of the news coverage, Medicaid still remains a mystery to many individuals.

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Avoiding Dangers of IRA Required Minimum Distributions
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Avoiding Dangers of IRA Required Minimum Distributions | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Jeffrey P. Gorak, Esq.

{4:17 minutes to read} This year the first of the 75 million baby boomers began turning 70. This is a critical age for retirees, because it is at this age (70½) that the IRS requires individuals to begin taking Required Minimum Distributions (“RMDs”) from their tax-deferred retirement accounts, including 401(k) accounts and traditional individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”). Careful planning on RMDs is a must, as failure to withdraw RMDs can trigger harsh penalties. Furthermore, improper timing of withdrawals can result in a higher tax bracket for a retiree.

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The Importance of Preparing for the Future
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The Importance of Preparing for the Future | Ron Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah

When people are in the midst of their child-rearing years, they typically don’t worry about costs that they might incur in their post-retirement years. Life is in the now, and between carpooling, piano lessons and other extracurricular activities, summer camp, and the cost of tuition, time is limited and there are few extra funds to address the potential health care costs that may arise in the future.

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The Importance of Maintaining a Special Needs Plan
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The Importance of Maintaining a Special Needs Plan | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Eva Schwechter, J.D.

{4:31 minutes to read} Anyone who has a family member or loved one with special needs can appreciate the importance of meeting with an attorney and establishing an appropriate plan. However, as we all know, circumstances change! It is also important to stay in close contact with your attorney throughout your life. In case you haven’t thought of checking in with your special needs planner in a while, here are five events that should trigger an immediate call to your attorney.

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Misconceptions About Irrevocable Medicaid Trusts
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Misconceptions About Irrevocable Medicaid Trusts | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Yan Lian Kuang-Maoga, Esq.

Elder care attorneys use trusts for a variety of reasons, and the type of trust that is chosen depends on the goal of the particular client. Irrevocable trusts, in particular, are excellent vehicles for preserving an individual’s assets in anticipation of long-term care, such as Medicaid. However, many people have developed a wariness of irrevocable trusts based on two common misconceptions.

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Understanding Medicaid’s Five-Year Look-Back
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Understanding Medicaid’s Five-Year Look-Back | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Debby Rosenfeld, Esq.

{3:40 minutes to read} Medicaid, unlike Medicare, is a means-based program, so an individual is only eligible for benefits if the assets he owns are minimal. Furthermore, the government does not want someone to be able to gift all of his assets so that he can be eligible for Medicaid the next day. Accordingly, in the context of Medicaid, a penalty is imposed on any applicant who has made certain uncompensated transfers (gifts) within a specified period of time.

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Choose Your Fiduciary Wisely
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Choose Your Fiduciary Wisely | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By: Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Elizabeth Forspan, Esq.

When we create or revise our estate plans, we are faced with some very important decisions. The selection of the appropriate person to serve as one’s fiduciary is a choice which can have significant implications.

A fiduciary can take various forms: in your Last Will and Testament, your fiduciary is called the executor. Your executor is responsible for administering your estate and “wrapping up” your affairs after you die.

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Will a Divorce Revoke My Will?
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Will a Divorce Revoke My Will? | Ron Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Yan Lian Kuang-Maoga, Esq.

How does a divorce affect a will? The good news is that a divorce will revoke all revocable bequests to a former spouse and any of your appointments of your former spouse. However, you cannot rely on this automatic revocation alone. It is always recommended that you review your estate plan after a divorce, or even better, once you have begun to contemplate one.

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Planning for the Non-Traditional Family
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By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Eva Schwechter, J.D.

Estate planning is important for every family. However, planning is especially critical for “non-traditional” family units. While traditional families are protected to a certain extent by laws and statutes, non-traditional families must be more proactive in their estate planning, to ensure loved ones are protected and provided for.

One example of laws that protect the traditional family are the laws of intestacy. The laws of intestacy are the laws governing the circumstance where one passes away without a will or trust.

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