Legal news of note for seniors

The following are some notable points which you should review to see if any of these changes will apply to you or will impact your personal or financial health.

Medicaid: In February 2011 there will be a full 5-year look back for all gifts given by any applicant for Medicaid (with a few limited exceptions). Don't throw away your bank records, financial statements, tax returns, and other financial records, until they are more than 5 years old.

Power of Attorney: There is a new Power of Attorney law that came into effect as of Sept. 12, 2010, which superseded the previous law that went into effect in September 2009. Under the new law, any previous signed power of attorney is still valid (but only if signed and notarized before the Sept. 12). If you haven't checked for a while, be sure you still have your original Power of Attorney in a good, secure and fireproof place. If you need to draft a new Power of Attorney, be sure that you use the form dated effective Sept. 12.

Estate Taxes: As of Jan. 1, 2011, in New York State, any estate more than $1 million dollars may be subject to both federal and state estate/inheritance tax. Unless the law is changed-and that is quite possible-special planning should be done if your total and/or combined financial estate(s), including life insurance and retirement accounts, may be over that amount. The first $1 million will be tax-free, but amounts over that may be subject to both Federal and State estate tax, depending on the law in effect at some later date.

Health Care Directives: And finally, be sure to check to see if you have the appropriate advance health care directives in your files. We strongly urge that each person have named a Health Care Proxy (principal and alternate agent) and execute a Living Will if that meets with your beliefs and wishes

The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620. Information is also periodically provided by the Behavioral Health Services North Caregiver Resource Center. They may be reached at 565-4543 or 565-4625.

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