Q: My relative passed away without a will.  Who will inherit?
A: There is a statute (law) that provides the order of succession.  It lists the people related to the deceased starting with spouse, children, siblings, parents, nieces and nephews, etc.  The estate is inherited by relatives according to this list.  Consult a lawyer for specifics.

Q: I was named as executor in my father’s will.  He passed away a month ago.  What do I need to do?
A: If your father passed away with assets in his name alone (besides for real estate), as executor, you will begin a court proceeding called probate where the will is filed in court together with many other documents.  This process precedes the distribution of any of the decedent’s assets.  Consult an attorney for details.

Q: I have too much money to get Medicaid to cover homecare but I cannot afford private pay for an aide, what can I do?
A: A pooled income trust is one tool an elder lawyer can use to keep income within allowable limits.  The surplus income goes into the trust where it may be used to pay bills.

Q: Do I need a Health Care Proxy?
A: A New York State Health Care Proxy is a form that you may sign appointing an agent to make health care decisions for you in the event you may not be able to on your own.  It needs to be signed before two witnesses but it does not need to be notarized.  Everyone over 18 should have one.  It can prevent confusion in the future.

Q: My daughter wants me to sign a Power of Attorney.  I am worried about relinquishing control over my financial affairs.  Should I sign it?
A: A New York State Power of Attorney is a powerful tool you may use to appoint an agent to make financial and many other decisions for you.  You should always consult a lawyer of your choosing to discuss the purpose and use of the power of attorney before signing one.

Q: My elderly uncle seems disoriented at times and is starting to show signs of dementia.  May I assist him with paying his bills, hiring home help, etc.?
A: Whenever issues of capacity are involved, it is imperative to consult a lawyer who may advise on the proper channels towards arranging assistance for a possibly incapacitated person.  He may not have the capacity to consent to your help and legal issues/ liabilities may arise from your good intentions.

Q: If I or my spouse move to a nursing home, will we be able to keep our house?  Will we be able to leave it to our children after we pass away?
A: Your home is a valuable asset and with proper estate planning, should be preserved for your beneficiaries, even if nursing home care is needed.  Consult an attorney to find out how to achieve your goals.

All answers are for general informational use only.  Consult an attorney for advice on particular circumstances.