The Top 20 Most Common Estate & Medicaid Planning Mistakes Made In New York


These are the twenty most common estate and Medicaid planning mistakes that we have observed New York clients make over the past 56 years of practicing law in New York . Click on the links for detailed information on each topic:

  1. Believing that you are too young to need a health care proxy.The two famous right-to-die cases involved women in their 20s. At only 21, Karen Quinlan lapsed into a persistent vegetative state after consuming diazepam, dextropropoxyphene, and alcohol at a party. Terri Schiavo was only 26 when she went into a coma when her heart stopping temporarily which cut off oxygen to her brain.
  2. Believing that you are too young to need a power of attorney
  3. Believing that you are too poor to need a will.
  4. Not updating your will, power of attorney, healthcare proxy
    and life insurance after divorce.
  5. Buying real estate with a domestic partner or child without a co-tenancy agreement.
  6. Selling your home in which you have a life estate.
  7. Appointing the wrong person as your power of attorney, executor, children’s guardian, or trustee.
  8. Owning a business w/o limited liability company or corporation for business succession and asset preservation.
  9. Not pre-planning your funeral.
  10. Not signing a prenuptial and using a living trust for a second marriage.
  11. Not providing for your pets with testamentary trusts.
  12. Opening a joint bank account to avoid probate.
  13. Not having gift-giving authority in your power of attorney.
  14. Not taking advantage of the Medicaid exemptions
  15. Not funding your living trust.
  16. Preparing wills, powers of attorney, health care proxies, living trusts and living wills and Medicaid applications yourself without an elder law or estate planning attorney.
  17. Not utilizing life insurance correctly: not having enough coverage, not updating beneficiaries, not using life insurance trusts; not realizing that it is subject to estate; and not realizing that it is not governed by provisions in your will.
  18. Leaving everything to your spouse.
  19. Not making gifts to avoid estate tax and Medicaid.
  20. Not safekeeping your will, power of attorney, living will health care proxy and living trust documents where they are accessible.

Since 1996, has been a comprehensive source of New York legal information, tools and news. New York consumers, small businesses, lawyers and law students are offered a wealth of free services such as forms, newsletters, FAQs and legal checklists. The website and newsletter have been highly recommended for the free information provided on estates, trusts and elder law:

  • “For a wide range of free information – from how to find a lawyer to how to start a business, with a minimum of legalese. The Legal Survival site also offers to e-mail its newsletter to you.” USA Today
  • “This site from Friedman & Ranzenhofer provides excellent information on estate planning. It presents information and articles on tax law and recent court cases, and you can download, for free, forms for making lists for wills and a health care proxy. The estate-planning checklists are very complete, and there is even one for the trustees’ duties. The FAQs on executors and wills are worth the visit too” FORTUNE MAGAZINE
  • “Legal Survival is a very active Web site…where the law is presented in easy-to-understand lay terms for consumers and small business owner: NEW YORK STATE BAR Association NEWS
  • “…very interesting free…electronic newsletters…include…the Legal Survival newsletter, from attorney Robert Friedman, author of several law books and a columnist for the Buffalo News, dealing with developments in such areas as consumer protection, debtor/creditor relations, divorce, estate planning, health, landlord/tenant, personal injury, real estate and small business. Mr. Friedman’s site even includes instructions on how to seek permission to private label the newsletter or reprint its contents…” The American Law Institute America Bar Association

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