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  • IRS Issues Long-Term Care Premium Deductibility Limits for 2022, and They Look Pretty Familiar
    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced the amounts taxpayers of different ages can deduct from their 2022 income as a result of buying long-term care insurance, and the figures are almost the same as in 2021. Many types of medical expenses are deductible from your taxes. To claim the…
  • Medicare Premiums to Increase Dramatically in 2022
    Medicare premiums are rising sharply next year, cutting into the large Social Security cost-of-living increase. The basic monthly premium will jump 15.5 percent, or $21.60, from $148.50 to $170.10 a month. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the premium and other Medicare cost increases on November 12,…
  • Nursing homes can now lift most COVID restrictions on visits
    November 16, 2021 WASHINGTON — The government on Friday directed nursing homes to open their doors wide to visitors, easing many remaining pandemic restrictions while urging residents, families and facility staff to keep their guard up against outbreaks. The new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instructs…
  • What It Means to Need ‘Nursing Home Level of Care’ for Medicaid Eligibility
    When applying for Medicaid’s long-term care coverage, in addition to the strict income and asset limits, you must demonstrate that you need a level care typically provided in a nursing home. Whether you are applying for nursing home coverage or through a Medicaid waiver program for coverage at home, you…
  • It Can Be Scary to Die Without an Estate Plan…the HORRORS of Intestacy
    When I think of something truly terrifying, it’s dying without an estate plan. Although the pandemic encouraged people to consider what would happen at their death, many folks believe that they “have time” or are overcome with feelings of superstition and dread when considering planning for the end of their…
  • How Estate Planning Documents Help Prevent Elder Abuse
      With age comes wisdom and often, vulnerability. While aging is inevitable, it’s often hard to face as previously routine tasks become more difficult or require the assistance of another. Suddenly, keeping up with the latest technology overwhelms an individual who abandons the project in frustration. Minds become addled and…
  • In 2022, Social Security Beneficiaries Will See the Biggest Increase in 39 Years
    The year was 1983: The U.S. invaded Granada. A gallon of gas cost 96 cents.  That year was also the last time that Social Security recipients saw a cost-of-living increase steeper than the one just announced for 2022. This year, Social Security benefits will rise 5.9 percent, the sharpest upsurge…
  • Better Than No Loaf: Medicaid Planning Using “Half a Loaf” Strategies
      It is preferable to conduct long-term care planning well in advance of needing care. However, if you haven’t planned ahead, there are some strategies available to avoid spending all your assets. Three so-called “half a loaf” approaches allow a Medicaid applicant to give away some assets while still qualifying…
  • Estate Planning Reduces Stress During High Anxiety Times
    September 21, 2021 by Tereina Stidd Everyone who lived through September 11, 2001, shares a common experience. Although colored by our individual circumstances, we remember looking at the horrific images of destruction and misery and wondering why this tragedy occurred. Since that fateful day, Americans have flocked to churches, synagogues,…
  • Nursing Homes Grapple with Whether to Force Staff to Get Vaccinated
    As COVID-19 cases start to rise again due to the highly contagious Delta variant, nursing homes are considering requiring staff members to be vaccinated. Only 59 percent of nursing home staff are partially or fully vaccinated nationwide, and the percentages are much lower in some states. While 81 percent of…
  • Delightful Clients
    How likely is it that two new clients with same last name – let’s say Smith – would show up at the same time? It turns out that the first Smith’s son had asked about booking the appointment but didn’t take the offered slot, then another Smith called in shortly…
  • Medicare Would Cover Dental, Vision, and Hearing Under Senate Democrats’ Spending Plan
    The Senate Democrats’ proposal for a $3.5 trillion spending plan includes expanding Medicare to provide dental, vision, and hearing benefits. The proposal is now being negotiated in Congress.  Currently Medicare does not offer much in the way of dental, vision, and hearing benefits. Medicare Part A will cover certain emergency…
  • You May Be Overestimating Your Social Security Benefits
    Studies have found that workers overestimate how much they will receive in Social Security benefits when they retire. Having a good understanding of the realities can help you plan for retirement.  Researchers from the University of Michigan studied the expectations of workers and found great uncertainty about future Social Security benefits…
  • Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning
    July 27, 2021 by Steve Hartnett  Occasionally, those who aren’t Estate Planning attorneys will attempt to do their own Estate Planning. They think they can find a document online or use a friend’s document and can figure it out. Unfortunately, there are many pitfalls one could run across. Let’s look at three…
  • What Issues Do Baby Boomers Face with their Parents’ Estate?
    Gail Rubin – Academy Guest BloggerAmerican Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc. ~~~~~~~ I recently had to clear out my parents’ home here in Albuquerque. As a Baby Boomer facing a lifetime of photographs, paperwork, furniture and memorabilia, this has been a daunting challenge. My parents used to split their…
  • It’s Important to Have a Coordinated Estate Plan
    June 15, 2021 by Steve Hartnett  An Estate Plan includes various different moving parts. The Revocable Trust may be the keystone of the plan, but it’s important to consider how the other parts of the plan will work with…or against…the plan. Let’s look at a simple example. John had three children and…
  • Supreme Court to Hear Case That Could Increase the Bite That Medicaid Takes Out of Settlements
    The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case disputing how much states can recoup from Medicaid recipients’ settlements in personal injury cases. The decision has the potential to affect anyone who receives government assistance with their medical care following a disabling injury that results in a lawsuit.  …
  • Dual Eligibility: How Qualifying for Both Medicare and Medicaid Can Help With Costs
    Qualifying for Medicare hardly means free health care — there are still premiums and deductibles. However, people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid (called “dual eligibility”) receive help paying their out-of-pocket costs.  Medicare is a federal program available to anyone 65 or older. It consists of four major parts,…
  • Using Estate Planning to Prepare for Medicaid
    Long-term care involves not only a loss of personal autonomy; it also comes at a tremendous financial price. Proper planning can help your family prepare for the financial toll and protect assets for future generations.  Long-term care can be very expensive, especially around-the-clock nursing home care. Most people end up…
  • Just In Time
    Wow, what a morning. It started with one of our staff expressing her desperate measures to keep birds from coming into her house. Everything is sealed up; the windows are closed, the attic is shut, yet every now and then a new bird pops in and launches yet another quest…
  • Thousands of Elderly and Disabled SSI Recipients Accused of Owning Property That Isn’t Theirs
    In December 2018, the Social Security Administration (SSA) had a nasty surprise for Laura Marshall (not her real name), a 74-year-old woman just scraping by in senior citizen housing in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood: The agency demanded that she repay more than $10,000 in benefits, claiming that she owned…
  • Medicaid’s Home Care Waivers Can Help You Avoid a Nursing Home, But the Line May Be Long
    Medicaid long-term care benefits traditionally pay mainly for nursing home care, but the federal government can grant “waivers” to states allowing them to expand Medicaid to include home and community-based services. The downside is that receiving care in a nursing home is an entitlement, while getting care at home is…
  • Trust Me, You’re Gonna Like This – The See-Through Trust as a Beneficiary
    August 12th, 2019 Jim Blankenship – https://blankenshipfinancial.com/ One area that often gets short shrift in discussions of IRAs and beneficiary designation is the use of a trust as the beneficiary. Part of the reason behind this may be the perceived complexity of trusts in general; at any rate, it’s not…
  • Court Cannot Reform Medicaid Recipient’s Deed Because It Would Affect Medicaid Agency’s Right to Estate Recovery
    A Massachusetts land court rules that a Medicaid recipient’s estate may not reform a deed to treat the recipient’s property as though it was transferred before she died because the reformation would unfairly prejudice the right of the Medicaid agency to recover from her estate. Casey v. Papamechail (Mass. Land Ct., No….
  • Revocable Trusts Are Not Always Treated the Same as an Individual
    June 1, 2021 by Steve Hartnett  A revocable trust is usually treated the same as the individual who created the trust. For federal income tax purposes, a revocable trust is a “grantor trust” under section 676 of the Code. Therefore, all items of income and expense of the trust flow through to…
  • How to Start a Funeral Planning Conversation
    May 27, 2021 by Gail Rubin Estate planning attorneys see it all the time. Most clients avoid the funeral planning conversation, even though advance planning can reduce stress at a time of grief, save money and head off family conflict. We have ample evidence that humans have a 100% mortality rate. It’s…
  • How You Can End Up in Medicare’s Donut Hole, and How You Get Out
    Medicare prescription drug (Part D) plans can have a coverage gap—called the “donut hole”–which limits how much Medicare will pay for your drugs until you pay a certain amount out of pocket. Although the gap has gotten much smaller since Medicare Part D was introduced in 2006, there still may be…
  • “Last Will and Testament” Origin
    Have you ever wondered why the dispositive instrument in which you express your wishes is called a “Last Will and Testament?” Few people, including Estate Planning attorneys, know the reason. In fact, the history is a little muddy. Occasionally, clients will ask this question. Now you’ll know the answer! It’s…
  • Saying Medicaid Estate Recovery Keeps Families in Poverty, Advocacy Groups Call for Abolishing It
    To qualify for Medicaid coverage of long-term care, you must satisfy very complicated financial eligibility rules—rules that often can be traps for the unwary. One of the most significant traps is Medicaid’s right to recover its expenses from your estate after you die – a practice known as “estate recovery.” Under…
  • Fair Isn’t Always Equal and Vice Versa
    When deciding how to split your assets among your children at death, there are many different factors to consider. Equality is certainly one of those factors. But it’s not the only factor. Fair doesn’t always mean equal and vice versa. Here are some situations in which some parents might think…
  • President Biden Proposes Billions in Increased Funding for Home Health Care
    President Biden has introduced a plan to spend $400 billion over eight years on home and community-based care for the elderly and people with disabilities. The money would go to expand access to care and support higher-paying caregiving jobs.  As the elderly population grows, our long-term care system is becoming…
  • Use It Before It’s Gone
    April 20, 2021 by Steve Hartnett The current estate tax exemption is $11.7 million. This is a record high. The “permanent” exclusion is $5 million and is adjusted for inflation from a 2011 base year. Then the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act temporarily doubled it. At the end of 2025, the doubling…
  • Rockland Resident Victim Of Grandparent Scam: Ramapo Police
    Plus there’s a new twist. Tell the senior citizens of your acquaintance to beware. Lanning Taliaferro, Patch StaffPosted Mon, Apr 19, 2021 at 2:44 pm ET RAMAPO, NY — A Ramapo resident was recently the victim of the now-classic grandparent scam, police said. The con artist took a significant amount from a senior…
  • How an Irrevocable Trust Is Superior to Gifting
    If you would like to pass on your assets during your lifetime, you may want to consider an Irrevocable Trust. While simply giving something now to someone you love sounds best, an Irrevocable Trust has proven to be a better way to preserve those assets for the future.  Trust Me…
  • IRS Announces That Face Masks and Related Purchases Are Tax Deductible
    The IRS has announced that the tax deduction for medical expenses includes amounts spent on face masks, sanitizer and other products purchased to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  If you have significant medical expenses, you may be able to deduct them from your taxes. Many types of medical expenses are…
  • How to Dispose of “Stuff”
    March 9, 2021 by Steve Hartnett  Even wealthy clients are often most concerned about the possessions which they have around them. They may have financial accounts with lots of zeros, yet they are most concerned about the things which they have collected or been given over the years. At first glance, this…
  • How to Use Estate Planning to Prepare for Medicaid
    Long-term care involves not only a loss of personal autonomy; it also comes at a tremendous financial price. Proper planning can help your family prepare for the financial toll and protect assets for future generations.  Long-term care can be very expensive, especially around-the-clock nursing home care. Most people end up…
  • Beneficiary Designations and the SECURE Act Basics
    February 9, 2021 by Steve Hartnett  Clients spend lots of time, money, and energy planning their estates. Estate Planning attorneys help them by counseling these clients and preparing various documents to meet the goals of the client, such as a Will or Trust. An increasing part of American wealth is governed by…
  • You can do this.
    I’m the first point of contact at Haas & Zaltz, LLP. This means that when you call in, I’m usually the first one you’ll meet. I welcome your questions, then ask mine, and convey our client process, tailored to your specific needs. I’m not a lawyer (although I play one…
  • UPDATE: Major Changes to Community Medicaid Coming Soon
    In the shadows of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature quietly made significant changes to New York’s Medicaid rules, making it harder for New Yorkers to obtain Medicaid benefits for long-term care. Community Medicaid, the program which provides care for clients at home, represents the…
  • Preparing for the Unexpected…and the Eventual
    If you were asked to sum up this past year in one word, what would it be? I know my choice: Uncertainty. COVID-19 delivered a whirlwind of unpredictability that we are still desperate to manage. With so many facing death and economic hardship, our need for control first expressed itself…