Individuals receiving means-tested government benefits such as SSI are understandably concerned regarding the payments that will be provided to individuals and families under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act “CARES Act”. While payments will be made directly from the United States Treasury, and not Social Security, individuals currently receiving government benefits may wonder if receipt of those relief payments will be counted against them in this uncertain time when financial assistance is so desperately needed. Specifically, individuals receiving SSI may be concerned that the relief payment provided under the CARES Act will raise their assets over the $2,000 threshold and result in a reduction of other government benefits. Although the Social Security Administration is expected to issue an Emergency Memo in the next few days providing definitive guidance on this issue, in the interim, it is our understanding that SSA will treat the CARES Act relief payments the same way it treats tax refunds. Thus, the payments will not be countable for purposes of income/asset eligibility under 26 U.S.C § 6409. This is good news for individuals currently receiving governmental benefits. Information regarding the CARES Act payments is regularly updated and clarified on SSA.gov. Fitzgerald & Sadove PLLC is monitoring that guidance on a daily basis and is here for you and your family. Stay healthy and safe!
As the novel coronavirus (“COVID19”) sweeps the nation, Fitzgerald & Sadove PLLC is monitoring developments that may impact our clients’ well-being.
1. Estate Planning. This is a good time to review your existing estate plan to ensure that it is current and that no changes to named agents and beneficiaries are necessary. If your family situation or finances have changed, make sure to contact your estate planning attorney to update your documents, such as Wills, Trusts, and Advance Directives. We also recommend that, particularly in this time of great uncertainty, our clients review all of their current beneficiary designations, not only on their estate planning documents, but on all life insurance policies, retirement accounts, bank accounts, etc.
2. Advance Directives. We recommend executing a Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and other Advance Directives. A Health Care Proxy allows you to name someone who can make all medical decisions for you if you can no longer make these decisions for yourself. Similarly, a Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a trusted individual who can act on your behalf in connection with your legal and financial matters. Having these documents in place for yourself, however, is simply not enough. If you have college-aged or young adult children, it is vitally important that they, too, execute Advance Directives.
Do not let document execution be a concern. With the current challenges posed by COVID19, New York State has authorized the use of videoconferencing for Notary acknowledgement to ensure that attorneys and clients can take care of important business while practicing social distancing. Call us with any questions or concerns that you may have.
Do you have a child over the age of 18? Is he or she planning on attending college next year? Once your child turns 18, s/he has reached the age of majority. At this point, you, as a parent, are no longer the legal guardian of your adult child and you are unable to make medical or financial decisions for that adult child. Although you may be paying tuition and supporting your child, without the proper documentation in place, you will no longer legally have access to:
Your child’s medical records
You cannot obtain the medical status of your child if s/he is admitted to a hospital
You cannot make health care decisions for your child, if s/he becomes injured or incapacitated
You cannot schedule doctor’s appointments for your child or assist with filling prescriptions
You cannot assist your child with banking/finances unless already named on the account
You will not have access to his/her grades, making communication with the school more difficult
In order to ensure that you are able to assist your child with financial and medial decisions, there are several important documents, such as a power of attorney, health care proxy, FERPA forms and other advance directives, that will assist your college student in creating an appropriate estate plan to meet their needs.
Power of Attorney: Enables your adult child to appoint an agent to assist with financial decisions. This can include powers to file taxes, access to bank accounts and pay bills on behalf of your child. A power of attorney that is properly executed in the state in which the child has full-time residency is usually honored throughout the United States. However, it is also recommended to contact an attorney in the state in which your child is attending school to confirm that the documents will be valid in that state.
Health Care Proxy: Allows your adult child to designate an agent to make medical decisions on his or her behalf if s/he is incapable of doing so.
HIPAA Authorization: Allows a healthcare provider to disclose an individual’s confidential medical information to the adult (“Agent”) named on the form.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”): Authorization allowing a parent or trusted adult access a student’s educational records.
Additionally, individual schools often have particular forms to complete that are unique to that school. Contact your child’s school to confirm that you complete any school-specific forms and file them the registrar and health offices on campus.
The experienced attorneys at Fitzgerald & Sadove PLLC can assist you in creating the appropriate documents for you and your child, to ensure the seamless transition from high school to college. So before you pack up the car make sure you have all the necessary documents in place to have a successful college experience!