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Spotlight on….Monet Binder

Business Name and Position: Monet Binder Law, Owner

Location: Brooklyn and Queens

Number of Employees: 1

Years in Business: Over 21

  1. What is the focus of your practice?

To provide comprehensive planning for my clients and their families. I help them get their affairs in order through estate planning and elder law planning.

2. Won’t having a will take care of all that?

That is a big misconception. A will only works after you’re gone. What if you lose capacity and cannot care for yourself while you’re still living? You need to have a legally valid health care proxy and also a power of attorney in place. A will is just the beginning. Over 70% of the aging population will need some form of elder care, and a will is just part of what is necessary.  When we’re talking about elder care, we’re focusing on long term care, such as home care or a nursing home.

3. You mention on your website that you offer a will “al pi halacha.” What does that mean?

The Torah has an order of inheritance that flows through the male heirs. Now, what if someone doesn’t have male heirs or wants to make modifications? The halachic will, which is approved by the Bais HaVaad Rabbanim of Lakewood, allows an individual to leave their belongings to anyone they wish and allows their beneficiaries to receive that inheritance without violating halacha. With the right planning, families do not have to worry about their will not complying with halacha.

4. Can you give some examples of matters that your firm handles

We provide a comprehensive power of attorney with provisions that prepare for the possibility of losing capacity or becoming disabled.  People need to give authority to a trustworthy person who can make financial and medical decisions for them when they are no longer able to do so. We also provide health care proxies as well as halachic health care proxies which allow your trusted agent to consult with a reliable rabbinical authority of your choosing when there are end of life concerns and religious issues which need special consideration. We offer probate and real estate legal services and assist with planning for those with special needs.

5. How do you plan for special needs?

Often people with special needs are on government assistance programs and are receiving government benefits.  If they inherit wealth from a well-meaning family member, this can cause them to lose those benefits. Even a small inheritance can wipe all of their support, leaving them vulnerable. Also, parents caring for special needs children need to plan for those children once they are no longer around to care for them. Trust-based planning helps protect these special children. We help them with their Special Needs Trust planning to put everything in order and plan for their future.

6. Can you elaborate on the specifics of elder law?

Elder law refers to the type or area of practice that concentrates on the needs of the aging population, including planning for incapacity and disability. There is also a focus on Medicaid planning and long-term care planning. Nursing homes generally charge $140-160,000 a year; it’s an exorbitant amount. These expenses can wipe out families financially. The cost of home health care with aids is also expensive. There are various planning tools to shelter assets from the high costs of long-term care. Long-term care disability insurance could be helpful for those who can qualify, and trust-based planning, which can include revocable and irrevocable trust, allow a person to reallocate their assets thereby shielding them from creditors such as Medicaid.

7. How can seniors protect their assets under Medicaid?

Medicaid is misunderstood by many people. People can qualify for Medicaid, but they need to have a low income and assets. With an irrevocable trust plan, though, we can help them shield their income and assets to qualify and avoid Medicaid recovery.

8. At what age should we be looking into this?

50 is a good time.  By age 60, you should look at it more seriously, and by 70 you are treading into risky territory, because you may be facing capacity issues. Every year the laws get more and more complicated due to new legislation and HIPAA regulations, so the right planning needs to be done in advance.

My clients are beginning to plan earlier than they used to, and this is because people understand that they need to protect valuable assets they’ve worked hard for, like their home. We help them transfer their homes with an irrevocable trust so they can ensure their children will receive it when they’re gone. This is not something that can be done last minute. There is a five-year look back period for nursing home Medicaid, so people need to plan in advance to avoid having assets taken from them.

9. What advice can you give our readers for their future planning?

It is very important to hire an experienced estate planning attorney and elder law attorney. You cannot do this on your own or hire another attorney who practices in other areas of the law. I know there are many kits offered online that claim to draft wills and other important legal documents easily, but this is not the way to go. Wills and other legal documents must follow specific guidelines. If these are not followed exactly, the court will reject it and you are left unprotected. This is a very specialized field of law, and it requires the right professional to handle it.

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