Winter 2009 Edition

Vol.13 – No.2

What’s New at Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C.?

  • New Wheatfield/Niagara Falls Office. We are pleased to announce the opening of a new branch office at 2768 Niagara Falls Boulevard, Niagara Falls/Wheatfield, NY 14304 to better serve our Northtowns and Niagara County clients. We look forward to serving you from our new office.
  • Our New Blog. Get the latest legal information and tips from Robert Friedman’s “Buffalo Attorneys Blog”, including the New Lead Paint Rules For Renovations, The New “Due On Sale” Law, The New Pool Safety Act, Promissory Notes for Emergency Medicaid Planning ,Landlord Has No Duty To Mitigate and Do Granite Countertops Emit Radon Gas? The blog is on www.WNY-Lawyers.com under “Our Blog”.
  • Friedman Joins Elder Law Academy. Robert Friedman has joined the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. (NAELA). Members of NAELA are attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of aging Americans and individuals of all ages with disabilities. The mission of the NAELA is to establish its members as the premier providers of legal advocacy, guidance and services to enhance the lives of people with special needs and people as they age.

State Senator Ranzenhofer

Dear Clients and Friends:

Your support of my election as New York State Senator for the 61st District to succeed Senator Mary Lou Rath is truly appreciated. I intend to continue to practice law as a trial attorney with Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C., just as I have during the last 20 years that I served as Erie County Legislator.

Please be assured that you will still receive the same timely and efficient service from Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. as in the past. Public and community service has been a tradition at our firm since 1955. It enables us to understand and better appreciate the needs of our clients. The vast majority of our clients are based in the 61st Senate District: Clarence, Akron, Amherst, Tonawanda and all of Genesee County.

Feel free to contact me anytime at 716-542-5444 if you have any questions or concerns.

Thanks again for your confidence in me.

Mike


New Reverse Mortgage Law

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 made changes to reverse mortgages effective October 1, 2008, including higher borrowing limits and protections from aggressive marketing. A homeowner who is at least 62 years old can use a reverse mortgage home to access home equity to obtain a loan that does not have to be repaid until the homeowner moves, sells, or dies. The national limit on the amount a homeowner can borrow is increased from $200,160 to $417,000 ($625,000 in areas with high housing costs). The amount that can be borrowed depends on the home’s value and location, interest rates and the borrower’s age. The new law protects seniors from high fees and aggressive marketing. Fees are capped at two percent of the first $200,000 borrowed and one percent on the balance, with a maximum of $6,000. Lenders are prevented from requiring borrowers to purchase insurance, annuities, or other products as a condition to obtaining a reverse mortgage. Lenders are prohibited from working with other professionals who attempt to sell financial products to seniors as part of the lending process.


How to Save Your Home From Medicaid

Do you fear losing your home to pay for nursing home care? Seventy-five percent of Upstate New York seniors own their homes, which is typically their most valuable asset. There are seven ways to legally save your home.

  1. Purchase a New York State Partnership Long Term Care Insurance policy which allows you to qualify for Medicaid after the coverage ends, regardless of the amount of assets that you own.
  2. Transfer your current home to your children with a life estate deed which gives you the right to live there for the rest of your life. You will still qualify for property tax exemptions.
  3. Purchase a life estate interest in another person’s home or in a new home for full consideration and live there for at least one continuous year.
  4. The primary residence of the nursing home applicant, spouse and minor, disabled or blind children is exempt up to $750,000 in equity. One, two or three family houses, condominiums, cooperatives and mobile homes qualify. These exempt properties may contain a business and two apartments, one of which is a primary residence. Any contiguous property or adjoining home is also exempt. An exempt homestead will lose its exemption if the sole occupant leaves the home and is considered to be in a permanent absent status with no intent to return home. Reverse mortgages and home equity loans can be used to reduce the amount of the equity interest.
  5. Transfer your home to a sibling with an equity interest who has resided in the home for at least one year immediately prior to the date you became institutionalized and who continues to lawfully reside in the home.
  6. Transfer your home to a caretaker child who either: (a) has resided in your home for at least two years immediately prior to the date you became institutionalized or (b) will be providing care pursuant to a personal service/caretaker contract. This is an agreement by the caretaker to provide personal and/or managerial services in exchange for market rate compensation. It should clearly spell-out the duties, responsibilities and compensation of all parties. The value of the home transferred must correspond to the fair market value of the services to be provided.
  7. Create an Irrevocable Living Trust and deed your home into the name of the trust.

Methods #2 and #7 may result in a certain period of ineligibility for Medicaid coverage depending on the value of the real estate, the date of transfer and your age. This is a brief summary of the law and is not a substitute for legal and tax advice. Medicaid laws are constantly changing and subject to various interpretations. Do not take any action without first consulting with an attorney.


Ranzenhofer’s Personal Injury Settlements

Attorney Michael H. Ranzenhofer successfully obtained the following settlements and awards for his clients:

  • $275,000 was awarded to a 33-year-old West Seneca woman who injured her back when she was rear-ended by another car.
  • $250,000 settlement for a 58-year-old Buffalo woman who sustained a neck injury when she was struck by another car.
  • $100,000 on the eve of trial for an 88-year-old Akron woman who injured her shoulder as she was exiting a car driven by her husband.
  • $25,000 in Niagara County for a 29-year-old woman who injured her back when she was struck by another car in Niagara Falls, New York.
  • $24,000 for a 69-year-old Genesee County woman who slipped on water at a Wendy’s restaurant in Batavia, New York and broke her wrist.

Attorney Michael H. Ranzenhofer of Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. limits his practice to automobile accident, slip and fall, dog bite and defective product cases. He fights for victims and their families who have serious losses due to personal injury. He takes on the large insurance companies and gets results for his clients. We thank our clients, friends and referring attorneys for the confidence they have shown in us by selecting our law firm.


Free Medicaid Seminar

“Fourteen Ways to Preserve Your Assets with the Medicaid Laws” will be presented at Hospice Buffalo, 225 Como Park Boulevard, Cheektowaga on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Speakers are Attorney Robert Friedman of Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C.; Gina Fedele; and Colleen Fitzhenry of New England Financial. To register, call (716) 542-5444. The Medicaid eligibility requirements for long term care were drastically changed. However, you can preserve your assets, while accessing long term care services through the Medicaid program with the following: (a) Powers of Attorney; (b) Health Care Proxies and Living Wills; (c)Wills; (d) Irrevocable Living Trusts; (e) transferring your home to family members; (f) reverse mortgages; (g) Long Term Care Insurance; (h) Prepaid Funeral Accounts; (i) IRAs and Pensions; (j) properly documented gifts; (k)spousal allowances and transfers; (l) Caregiver Agreements; and (m) annuities and promissory notes. For further information on Medicaid planning, send a stamped (.59), 4″x 9 1/2″ self-addressed envelope to PO Box 31-M, Akron, NY 14001-0031 or visit ” Free Legal Resources” at www.WNY-Lawyers.com.


Our Business and Non-Profit Start-Up Clients

Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C., Attorneys recently represented the following new businesses and non-profit organizations:

  • Healthy Living Support Network, LLC, 8566 Main Street, Williamsville, NY offers a walk-in conference room with elliptical trainers and treadmills; nutrition education and counseling; behavior counseling and fitness instruction, as well as, Walking Book Clubs, Bike Book Clubs and Bike Room Movie Night. There is a registered dietician, licensed social worker and certified personal trainer on staff. Contact Jennifer Baran at 716-580-3402 or www.gohealthy.us.
  • Good Hope Publications, LLC, is a Christian-inspired organization created to promote the needs of local charities and non-profits by publishing and distributing a monthly magazine throughout New York. Each issue will focus on a specific community issue or concern, from Children’s’ Needs and Cancer Awareness, to Animal Rights and Stopping Violence in New York. Additional topics will be Life with God, Family Living, Money and Health. Look for Good Hoppe Publications first issue in March, 2009! For more information contact Karen Doktor at GoodHopePublications@gmail.com.
  • Forte Theatrical Productions, LLC, a local theatre organization founded by Philip Jarosz and Christian Riso is comprised of some of Buffalo’s most talented performers with faces that New York audiences will recognize. Their first production, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, will be presented at the Lancaster Opera House June 12 – 21, 2009.
  • Bright Solutions WNY, LLC provides new, attractive portable LED signs for rent across New York. The rental fee includes programming with the desired message, delivery, set-up and take down. Contact Nancy Kelsch at 716-697-5174 or brightsolutionswny@gmail.com.

If you are buying, selling or starting a business or non-profit organization, contact Attorney Robert Friedman at 716-542-5444 for advice and assistance.


Nursing Home Verdicts

These are recent verdicts for residents against nursing homes:

  • Undetected gastrointestinal bleeding led to resident death (Bernalillo County, New Mexico District Court, $54,000,000).
  • 93-year-old resident choked to death after nurse’s aide gave him the wrong meal (Waterbury County, Connecticut Superior Court, $3,400,000).
  • Resident suffering from dementia drank lye that was left on kitchen counter and sustained burns of his airways (Kings County, New York Supreme Court, $3,000,000).
  • Nursing home did not prevent resident’s pressure ulcers and did not yield to hospital’s care when it could no longer treat the ulcers (Harnett County, North Carolina Superior Court, $638,000).
  • Resident escaped and died of hypothermia because she was not checked hourly (Dutchess County, New York Supreme Court, $350,000).
  • Arthritic resident drowned during unsupervised time in the facility’s hot tub (Clark County, Washington Superior Court, $350,000).
  • Resident at risk for aspiration choked to death after being fed a hot dog (Norfolk County, Massachusetts Superior Court, $112,500).

Disclaimer

While a great deal of care has been taken to provide accurate and current information, the ideas, suggestions, general principles and conclusions presented in this newsletter are subject to local, state and federal laws and regulations, court cases and any revisions of same. The reader is thus urged to consult legal counsel regarding any points of law – this newsletter should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice. The purpose of this newsletter is to give the reader a general understanding of the law – not to provide specific advice. Every effort has been made to achieve accuracy. The law constantly changes and is subject to differing interpretations. Always consult with your attorney and act only on his or her advice. Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. shall not be responsible for any damages resulting from any inaccuracy or omission. This newsletter is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Certain portions of this newsletter may be applicable only to New York State law.

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