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

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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Should an SSI Recipient Refuse an Inheritance?
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Should an SSI Recipient Refuse an Inheritance? | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Stacey Meshnick, Esq. {3:35 minutes to read} Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries must comply with very stringent income and asset rules in order to receive their benefits. One of the most basic rules is that a single SSI beneficiary may not possess more than $2,000 in countable resources. Therefore, when an SSI beneficiary discovers that he or she will receive an inheritance, the first reaction may be to refuse it. But this refusal, also known as a disclaimer, may not be the best solution.

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Medicaid and the Undue Hardship Exception
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Medicaid and the Undue Hardship Exception | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Stacey Meshnick, Esq. {3:51 minutes to read} When an individual in a nursing home applies for Medicaid benefits, the Medicaid agency will examine the applicant’s financial statements to determine if any assets were transferred during the five years prior to application. If assets were transferred to someone other than a spouse or a disabled child for less than fair market value, the agency will impose a period of ineligibility, i.e., a penalty period. The individual will not be eligible for Medicaid benefits and will be required to pay privately until the penalty period expires.

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Special Needs Trusts: Beyond Medicaid and SSI
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Special Needs Trusts: Beyond Medicaid and SSI | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Debby Rosenfeld, Esq. Many of our clients seek guidance with respect to planning for their children with special needs. “Special needs” can cover a host of different types of disabilities. Some children will be able to live a full life with social and economic opportunities, but simply need more supervision and hands-on asset management. Other individuals may require far more intervention, including a myriad of governmental benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) and Medicaid.

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Powers of Attorney: Trust Your Agent
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Powers of Attorney: Trust Your Agent  | Evan Schwartz

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Debby Rosenfeld, Esq. {3:46 minutes to read} When offering legal advice, one of the first things we recommend to our clients is that they must have a well-drafted power of attorney. A power of attorney is a document whereby the person signing the power (the “principal”) authorizes another person or persons (the “agent(s)”) to sign and act on his or her behalf with respect to financial matters. Having a power of attorney is imperative in case an individual should become incapacitated in the future.

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How to Choose a Trustee
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How to Choose a Trustee | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Debby Rosenfeld, Esq. {4:35 minutes to read} When an individual creates a trust, he is required to appoint a separate person or entity, a “trustee,” to manage the trust either currently or in the future, depending on the type of trust. Choosing the right trustee is crucial to making sure one’s wishes are carried out. The choice is important because being a trustee can be a difficult job; the duties include making proper investments, paying bills, keeping accounts, and preparing tax returns.

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Understanding Grantor Trusts
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Understanding Grantor Trusts | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Debby Rosenfeld, Esq. {5:35 minutes to read} People utilize trusts for a myriad of reasons.
  • Some clients like the idea of all of their assets being held under one umbrella. The trust is viewed as a big envelope or bucket into which all of a person’s assets are transferred; this allows for centralized asset management.
  • The purposes of this article are to explain what a grantor trust is and to help clarify some misconceptions.

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What You Should Know About “UTMA” and Gifting to Minors
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What You Should Know About “UTMA” and Gifting to Minors | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Stacey Meshnick, Esq. {4:20 minutes to read} Parents and grandparents often want to make gifts to minor children and grandchildren. The Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (“UTMA”) allows any adult such as a parent or grandparent to establish custodial accounts for a minor child, into which money can be deposited as a gift. Any adult may make the gift, and any adult or bank/trust company may act as custodian.

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Breaking It Down: What the Lack of a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Means for You
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Breaking It Down: What the Lack of a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Means for You | Ronald A. Fatoullah

By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Eva Schwechter, J.D. {2:42 minutes to read} It was announced in October that Social Security beneficiaries will not receive a Cost of Living Adjustment for 2016. This is only the third time in the past 40 years that the government has not increased Social Security benefits. It is important for the average Social Security and Medicare beneficiary to understand how this news affects him or her, both in terms of income and health care premiums.

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