Rockville Centre Elder Law Blog

Friday, May 24, 2013

Joint Bank Accounts and Medicaid

Joint Bank Accounts and Medicaid Eligibility

Like most governmental benefit programs, there are many myths surrounding Medicaid and eligibility for benefits. One of the most common myths is the belief that only 50% of the funds in a jointly-owned bank account will be considered an asset for the purposes of calculating Medicaid eligibility.

Medicaid is a needs-based program that is administered by the state.  Therefore, many of its eligibility requirements and procedures vary across state lines.  Generally, when an applicant is an owner of a joint bank account the full amount in the account is presumed to belong to the applicant. Regardless of how many other names are listed on the account, 100% of the account balance is typically included when calculating the applicant’s eligibility for Medicaid benefits.    

Why would the state do this? Often, these jointly held bank accounts consist solely of funds contributed by the Medicaid applicant, with the second person added to the account for administrative or convenience purposes, such as writing checks or discussing matters with bank representatives. If a joint owner can document that both parties have contributed funds and the account is truly a “joint” account, the state may value the account differently. Absent clear and convincing evidence, however, the full balance of the joint bank account will be deemed to belong to the applicant.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Veterans’ Non-Service Connected Pension Benefits

Veterans’ Non-Service Connected Pension Benefits

The Veterans’ Administration’s non-service connected pension program can help supplement the income of elderly or disabled veterans. The VA deems any veteran age 65 or older to be permanently and totally disabled. This “disabled” classification entitles senior citizens who are veterans, or their widows, to tax-free pension payments regardless of their actual physical condition, provided they meet the needs-based criteria.

One significant advantage of this program is that, unlike a traditional service-connected pension, there is no requirement that your injury or disability be tied to your time in service. On the other hand, this is a needs-based assistance program, so many veterans may not qualify for benefits.

To qualify for benefits under the program, you must have served on active duty for at least 90 days, and at least one of those days must have been during a time of war. Additionally, you must not have had a dishonorable discharge from the military.

Periods of war time are determined by the U.S. Congress as follows:

  • Mexican Border Period: May 9, 1916 through April 5, 1917, only if you served in Mexico, on its borders or in adjacent waters
  • World War I: April 6th, 1917 through November 11, 1918, or through April 1, 1920 if you served in Russia
  • World War II: December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946    
  • Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam Era: August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1965, or beginning February 28, 1961 you served in Vietnam
  • Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990 through the present

Once qualifying military service is established, you must also pass the income and asset tests. The VA must determine that your net worth is not enough to adequately support you during your lifetime. Your vehicle and primary residence are not counted when determining your net worth.  The VA generally caps net worth, exclusive of your car and primary residence, at $80,000 for a married veteran, or $40,000 for a single person.

Additionally, your countable income must be lower than the available pension amount. Fortunately, countable income is offset by your unreimbursed, recurring health care costs, including prescriptions, insurance premiums or assisted living expenses.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Do I Really Need Advance Directives?

Do I Really Need Advance Directives for Health Care?

Many people are confused by advance directives. They are unsure what type of directives are out there, and whether they even need directives at all, especially if they are young. There are several types of advance directives. One is a living will, which communicates what type of life support and medical treatments, such as ventilators or a feeding tube, you wish to receive. Another type is called a health care power of attorney. In a health care power of attorney, you give someone the power to make health care decisions for you in the event are unable to do so for yourself. A third type of advance directive for health care is a do not resuscitate order. A DNR order is a request that you not receive CPR if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing. Depending on the laws in your state, the health care form you execute could include all three types of health care directives, or you may do each individually.

If you are 18 or over, it’s time to establish your health care directives. Although no one thinks they will be in a medical situation requiring a directive at such a young age, it happens every day in the United States. People of all ages are involved in tragic accidents that couldn’t be foreseen and could result in life support being used. If you plan in advance, you can make sure you receive the type of medical care you wish, and you can avoid a lot of heartache to your family, who may be forced to guess what you would want done.

Many people do not want to do health care directives because they may believe some of the common misperceptions that exist about them. People are often frightened to name someone to make health care decisions for them, because they fear they will give up the right to make decisions for themselves. However, an individual always has the right, if he or she is competent, to revoke the directive or make his or her own decisions.  Some also fear they will not be treated if they have a health care directive. This is also a common myth – the directive simply informs caregivers of the person you designate to make health care decisions and the type of treatment you’d like to receive in various situations.  Planning ahead can ensure that your treatment preferences are carried out while providing some peace of mind to your loved ones who are in a position to direct them.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Passing of Justice Joel K.Asarch, Nassau County Supreme Court Justice

The legal field and the Elder Law bar have suffered a terrible loss in the passing of Guardianship Justice Joel K. Asarch, Supreme Court, Nassau County. He was a great advocate for the elderly and the disabled, a renowned expert in his field throughout the State, and a great mentor and colleague to many of us who appeared before him. He was a local boy as well, from Long Beach, and the South Shore community feels his loss as well. Rest in peace--we will carry the torch as best as we can!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Interesting Article - Nursing Homes - 2013

U.S. News' best nursing homes - 2013: Click here to read more

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hope for Real Estate on South Shore, Nassau County


Judging from the number of new real estate matters that have come into our office in the past few weeks, it appears that Spring has sprung early!  We are hopeful that this market will continue, and that it will be a successful spring season for our recovering South Shore of Long Island!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Recovering and Reviewing Your Estate Planning Documents after Superstorm Sandy

Were your legal documents destroyed or lost in Superstorm Sandy?  Do you know an elderly or disabled person who was displaced as a result of the storm?  How long has it been since you reviewed your assets and your beneficiary designations?

Now is the time to search for and review those documents. Your current estate plan should be reviewed and revised, if necessary, in light of the amendments to the tax laws and Medicaid regulations.  If you cannot locate your Will, health care proxy, or power of attorney, these important documents should be revised and executed immediately.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chief Justice of the NYS Court of Appeals - State of the Judiciary

Had the distinct honor of attending the State of the Judiciary Address for 2013 of NYS Chief Justice Lippman of the NYS Court of Appeals ath the NYS Court of Appeals in Albany on Tuesday, February 5th.  It is hoped that many changes will occur in our court system to improve it while facing the current economic crisis. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


We wish all of our clients, colleagues and friends all the good and prosperity that this Season of Light and Hope offers.  A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!!

Our offices will be closed as of 3pm on Friday, December 21st through Wednesday, December 26th, in observation of Christmas.  We will reopen on Thursday, December 27th at 9am.

Our offices will also be closed on December 31st and New Year's Day.  We will reopen on Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 9am.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

YES, You need a Power of Attorney!

After over 20 years of practicing law, giving seminars, and educating my clients and their families about the pitfalls of not having a good, durable power of attorney, the number of cases of new clients, whose loved ones are in desperate situations because they do not have a power of attorney, is still overwhelming.  Often such circumstances require a Court guardianship proceeding, with hours and costs involved that can certainly be profitable for a law firm, but at the incapacitated person's expense.

Read more . . .

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Attorney Irene V. Villacci represents clients throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties and the surrounding areas, including: Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bronx and Manhattan.

Prior results do not guarantee similar outcome.

© 2019 Irene V. Villacci, Esq., P.C. | Disclaimer
53 N. Park Avenue, Ste. 41, Rockville Centre, NY 11570
| Phone: 516-280-1339

Elder Law / Medicaid Planning | Estate Planning | Probate & Estate Administration | Special Needs Planning | Guardianships | Asset Protection | Residential Real Estate |

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