Oct 1, 2017

Cats Inherit Enough to Last Nine Lives


Thanks to their devoted late owner, two cats have more than enough money to last their nine lives. 

New York resident Ellen Frey-Router died in 2015 at age 88. Her will specified that $300,000 of her approximately $3 million estate was to go to her beloved felines, Troy and Tiger. She left instructions for their care that included regular grooming and veterinary visits, and specified that they must "never be caged." She named two of her health aides to care for the cats and manage their money. Troy now lives with Rita Pohila and Tiger, once a stray, has "retired" to Florida with Dahlia Grizzle, who says he's "a wonderful cat."

Frey-Wouter had worked for the United Nations. Her husband predeceased her and the couple had no children. Her only relative, a sister who lives in the Netherlands, will receive any monies left over after the cats pass away. Most of Frey-Wouter's estate went to her lawyer, several charities and her home health aides.

Troy and Tiger's inheritances are modest compared to some cases that made headlines in recent years. Hotel magnate Leona Helmsley left her Maltese $12 million and nothing to her family, although a judge later pared down the dog's inheritance to "just" $2 million. Wealthy Miami Beach resident Gail Posner, daughter of leveraged buyout king Victor Posner, left her dog $11 million, and her son, Brett Carr, $1 million. Stockbroker Muriel Siebert left $100,000 for the care and maintenance of her chihuahua. But by all accounts, the world's richest canine heir is Gunther IV. The German Shepherd inherited his fortune from his sire, Gunther III - who inherited his fortune from his deceased owner, German Countess Karlotta Liebenstein. Liebenstein's original bequest was $80 million, but with wise investments, the pooch's portfolio now stands at about $400 million.

These ridiculous sums aside, many people provide for their pets in their estate plans to ensure that a pet that outlives them does not end up in a shelter, on the street or euthanized. Florida law since 2003 has allowed pets to be named as beneficiaries. See a qualified Florida estate planning attorney to talk about arrangements for your pet.

Sep 24, 2017

Funnyman Jerry Lewis' will no laughing matter for children from first marriage


Jerry Lewis died of heart failure in August at age 91. Over the years the comedian, actor and director gave generous amounts of time and money to “Jerry’s Kids,” children coping with muscular dystrophy. Lewis' generosity did not extend to the children from his first marriage, however: He cut them out of his estate. His 2012 will, now public record, states: “I have intentionally excluded Gary Lewis, Ronald Lewis, Anthony Joseph Lewis, Christopher Joseph Lewis, Scott Anthony Lewis, and Joseph Christopher Lewis and their descendants as beneficiaries of my estate, it being my intention that they shall receive no benefits hereunder.” 


Joseph, the youngest, committed suicide in 2009. The surviving sons, all with his first wife, singer Patti Palmer, are now in their 50s.  Lewis married Palmer in 1944, a few years before his star rose meteorically as a result of his partnership with Dean Martin. The 36-year marriage to Palmer reportedly was not smooth; Lewis admitted he had often been unfaithful. And his relationship with his children was apparently not much better than it was with his spouse. When Joseph died, the sons reportedly blamed their father. Gary told the Daily Mail: “Jerry Lewis is a mean and evil person. He was never loving and caring toward me or my brothers.” Gary maintained that his brother had died, in part, of a broken heart, and that the tragedy might have been averted if his father had reached out to him.


Also disinherited: Suzan Minoret, born in 1952 and allegedly the product of an affair. Lewis never confirmed or denied fatherhood. Minoret is currently homeless and living in Philadelphia.  


According to the will, Lewis’ current wife SanDee Pitnick, who he married in 1983, will get everything. Their adopted daughter, Danielle, is next in line. Danielle was Lewis' manager, and his relationship with her was vastly different from the one he had with his sons. In an interview with Inside Edition, Lewis spoke of his pride in Danielle and his close bond with her. “I don’t have to do anything for her to love me. She loves me already,” he told the interviewer.


There are varying estimates of the value Lewis’ estate. The cash seems shockingly low, perhaps $2 million, including a house in Las Vegas. But there is also a Lewis Family Trust. It is a private document, but experts speculate it could own the movie rights to Lewis' most famous films. That intellectual property could be highly lucrative for Pitnick and Danielle in the future.

Sep 15, 2017

Reverse Mortgage Borrowers Face New Rules Effective October 2, 2017



The Trump Administration has rolled out new rules for federally backed HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) reverse mortgages.  The new rules go into effect October 2, 2017 and will affect new borrowers only. A reverse mortgage allows a person age 62 and over to borrow against his/her home’s equity without having to pay back the loan until the borrower moves, passes away or sells. Many seniors with equity in their homes turn to reverse mortgages to generate needed cash in retirement.


For the typical borrower, the new rules increase the upfront cost of the loan while decreasing the amount of funds available. The main changes are:

  • The initial mortgage insurance premium for all borrowers will be 2%. Prior to the new rule, borrowers tapping less than 60% of home equity in the first year paid an initial premium of .5%, and those borrowing more than 60% paid 2.5%.
  • For all borrowers, the ongoing annual premium will drop  from 1.25% to .5% of the outstanding mortgage balance.
  • The amount that borrowers may access, while still pegged to age and ongoing interest rates, will decline for most. At current interest rates, the average borrower will be able to tap about 58% of the value of the home, down from 64%.


According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, these changes are needed to ensure the continued viability of the federal reverse mortgage program. Last year, the program was $7.7 billion in the red. Without these changes, a bailout from Congress would be necessary.

Seniors should exercise caution when considering a reverse mortgage. Without sufficient information, a reverse mortgage can place a borrower in significant financial peril. Read more about deceptive reverse mortgage advertising here.


Read more about the October 2 changes to the HECM program here. 


Read HUD information on federally backed reverse mortgages here.

Sep 12, 2017

"Elder Orphans" Need to Plan

The future of America's "elder orphans" is getting increasing attention as we live longer, many of us without the support of a spouse, children, or other close relatives. The 2012 U.S. Census reveals that about  one third of adults ages 45 to 63 are single, a 50% increase from 1980. About 19% of women ages 40-44 have no children, as compared to 10% in 1980. More women than men are likely to stay, or become single. About 80% of women are single after age 85.


Elder orphans obviously face many challenges, not the least of which is who will care for them as they age. Maria Torroella Carney, Chief of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and North Shore University Hospital in New York, has been speaking out on the issue. She suggests those at risk of aging without a spouse or children should start thinking about lifestyle changes that address these challenges. Some of her suggestions appearing in a USA Today article are:
  • Identify an individual who can help make health care decisions for you. It could be a friend or a family member. Have a health care surrogate drawn up for you.
  • Think about where you will be living. Can you get to stores and activities if you can no longer drive?
  • Check out delivery services for medicines, groceries, etc.
  • Check out resources such as recreational facilities, classes and senior centers so that you can be socially active.
  • Think about relocating to be near those who can be supportive.
  • Consider “mending fences” with estranged family members, and reaching out to more distant relatives to establish relationships.


Elder advocate and author Carol Marak, herself aging without a spouse, partner or children, has put together a virtual community for elder orphans. Her Facebook support group welcomes what Marak calls the "solo ager" - individuals over age 55 without a spouse, and who do not receive any support from offspring. In a recent interview on National Public Radio's Here and Now, Marak says the Facebook group involves people "...mostly just sharing what they're feeling each day. We discuss transportation options, emotional things that might be affecting us, how we are feeling about not having children — although most of us are grateful to not have children, because we have members who have been really estranged from their families, which is hard. So, it's just a great place to come and feel accepted, and find friendship and connection. What's so wonderful is that when you start a discussion, you're always going to have someone participate. And you can also pull it offline if you wish, and private message someone, and then take it from there. Many of us are breaking off and starting our own face-to-face groups, which is really, I think, the next step for all of us." 


As of September 2017, the group had 6,357 members. You can listen to Marak's radio interview here.

The Karp Law Firm Offices Have Re-Opened

Sept. 12, 2017

We hope you and yours came through Hurricane Irma safely!

The Karp Law Firm Offices Are Now Open
Palm Beach Gardens - Boynton Beach - Port St. Lucie

We will be seeing everyone with a scheduled appointment. Phones and email are operational.

Please contact us if:
  • You wish to schedule an appointment at any of our offices.
  • You rescheduled your appointment due to the hurricane and would like an appointment sooner than the rescheduled date.

Palm Beach Gardens (561) 625-1100
Boynton Beach (561) 752-4550
Port St. Lucie (772) 343-8411
Email: klf@karplaw.com

Thank you for your patience! 

The Attorneys & Staff of The Karp Law Firm
 

Sep 9, 2017

Nursing Home Residents, Family Can Call On Their Ombudsman for Help


Being a resident in a long-term care facility does not mean giving up your legal rights. In fact, anyone who lives in a nursing facility gains certain rights. You can see a summary of those rights here, and read the full Florida Statutes here.


Of course, problems do arise. Justice in Aging, a nonprofit advocacy organization, has compiled a list of the 20 most common complaints. Among them are: disregarding a resident's preferences; improper use of restraints; imposing visiting hours on family and friends; refusal to readmit after a hospital stay; and threatening eviction after refusing medical treatment.

If a resident's legal rights are being violated, or if a resident encounters any other quality-of-life problems with regard to staff, service, food, medication, privacy, etc., the resident, family, or any other interested person should go through staff members, then up the chain of command if necessary. If the problem cannot be resolved, the facility's ombudsman should be contacted. An ombudsman advocates for residents and investigates any issues brought to his/her attention to protect residents' legal rights, safety, health and welfare. The ombudsman is authorized to negotiate with the facility as well as tap the resources of the appropriate state agencies. Complaints are kept confidential, and the ombudsman's services are free of charge. Per the federal Older Americans Act, every facility must have an ombudsman.

Florida has seventeen local ombudsman councils. To identify the council closest to you, check out this clickable map. To locate the ombudsman office in states other than Florida, click here.

If you'd like to consider being trained to do this important work, check out the Department of Elder Affairs' Frequently Asked Questions.

Sep 7, 2017

HURRICANE IRMA OFFICE CLOSURE FRI. 9/8 & MON. 9/11


To ensure the safety or our clients and staff
The Karp Law Firm Offices will be CLOSED
Friday, September 8 and Monday, September 11

After the storm passes we will evaluate the situation. 
We hope to re-open on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

To protect the integrity of our office systems, our computers and phone system will be down during the storm. We will have limited ability to send and receive phone calls and emails. If you need to get in touch with us, try using this temporary email address, which we hope (but cannot guarantee) will be operational: TheKarpLawFirm@gmail.com

Thank you for your patience, and stay safe!

The Attorneys and Staff of The Karp Law Firm

Sep 4, 2017

Social Workers, Case Managers Attend Karp Law Firm Professional Workshops

In August the Karp Law Firm sponsored Breakfast Workshops for social workers and case managers. Over 100 professionals enjoyed breakfast, networked, and learned about changes in Medicaid and V.A. Benefits from speakers, Florida Bar Certified Elder Law Attorneys Joseph Karp and Genny Bernstein.

Thank you to the beautiful facilities who hosted these events: The Brennity at Tradition in Port St. Lucie; HarborChase in Palm Beach Gardens; and Allegro in Boynton Beach.

L-R: Kolette Koch, HarborChase Director of Life Enrichment; Attorney Genny Bernstein; Karp Law Firm Case Manager Deeanna Farrington; Irv Seldin of Visiting Angels; and Keven Carroll, HarborChase Marketing Director  

Karp Law Firm staff greet arrivals at HarborChase. L-R: Assistant Case Manager Zamara Rosete; Attorney Jonathan Karp; Firm Administrator Audrey Yeager; Attorney Joseph Karp

Attorney Joseph Karp speaks at The Brennity


Sep 3, 2017

MyRA retirement savings program now terminated

The Obama Administration introduced the myRA program in 2014. Designed to help low- to middle-income earners with no workplace retirement plans begin saving for retirement, the myRA program was open to married couples and individuals with adjusted gross incomes up to $191,000 and $129,000, respectively. The no-fee accounts were a type of Roth IRA that could be opened with as little as $25, and were backed up by Treasury Bonds.

Now, the Trump Administration is discontinuing the program, citing insufficient participation. According to the Treasury Department, 30,000 accounts were established since 2015, with investments totaling $34 million. With total administrative costs at $10 million annually, the program is considered too costly to continue.

At this point, those with existing myRA accounts can close their accounts, paying income taxes on any earnings. Or, they can roll over their accounts into a traditional Roth IRA. The Treasury Department has instructions on how to proceed. Click here for more information.

Aug 22, 2017

Luxe Living for Seniors a New Trend


While the majority of Americans worry about having enough money just to last their lifetime, there's a vastly smaller group with a different set of concerns: Ultra-wealthy seniors who live in luxurious surroundings, and want to keep it that way. It's that group that's starting to catch the eye of developers.

Enter a new housing market: upscale, boutique-style living that goes above and beyond the traditional senior living community in furnishings and services. Not surprisingly, Manhattan is where the new trend is getting its start.


For example, Bloomberg reports that Maplewood Senior Living, which owns assisted living properties nationwide, has invested with Omega Healthcare Investors to build luxury housing for aging individuals on 93rd Street and Second Avenue, on Manhattan’s east side. Assisted living, enhanced care and memory care units will be available. With high-end finishes and furnishings throughout, the 23-story building will have a doorman, movie theater, salon, spa, heated indoor swimming pool, library, and a skypark indoor garden on the 16th floor. Maplewood's own farm will supply food, so the property's various dining venues will provide farm-to-table gourmet fare. Staff, who will not wear clinical-looking clothing, will be able to arrange for Broadway tickets and restaurant reservations. The building is set to open in 2019.


I bet I know your next question. Here's the answer: Units start at $12,000 per month. 

Manhattan's midtown area, at Lexington Avenue and 56th Street, is also getting an upscale property for seniors. Welltower Inc. and Hines' 16-story project will feature luxury apartments with 10-foot ceilings. The developers are consulting with designers to produce an environment that is as safety-conscious as it is sumptuous. Carpet and wall colors and patterns will not be too contrasting or confusing. Handrails will be integrated with hallway wainscotting. During the day, hallway lighting will have a blueish cast to promote wakefulness; in the evening, it will have a yellow tint to promote sleep. Bloomberg reports that rent for some units will exceed $20,000 per month.
 

Can you afford this kind of lifestyle but don't want to move to New York? Not to worry. Similar projects are being eyed for Miami, Los Angeles and London.

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