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Estate Law FAQs

What exactly is “Elder Law”?

It is difficult to formulate a concrete definition of elder law, buy most attorneys agree that elder law can best be defined by the demographics an elder law attorney serves—the elderly and disabled. Any and every issue that these two demographics could conceivably face falls under the umbrella of Elder Law.

Common practice areas under the umbrella include Medicaid planning, estate planning, asset protection planning, guardianship services, estate administration, Medicaid Litigation.

C. Brian Crane and Alvin Luschas, both members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Pennsylvania Elder Law Association, and Eldercounsel, lead the firm’s elder law division.

How can an elder law attorney assist me?

An elder law attorney provides overarching coordination for the financial, legal, and health care decisions that seniors face. Finding and paying for long term care is something that many seniors and their family members fail to plan for, which can result in running out of money or not being able to secure appropriate care. Seniors or their families should seek legal assistance well before there is a need for long-term care of a loved one to plan for what type of long term care is desired and how it will be paid for. While an elder law attorney cannot be a specialist in all facets of a seniors plan for aging, they work in conjunction with other specialists when specific expertise is required.

Elder law attorneys can facilitate the establishment of a medical power of attorney, advanced health care directives in the case of dementia, or aiding in the selection process of the right long-term care facility and assisting in structuring the financial resources that cover the cost of that care.

Can I deed my property to my children so that my assets are protected if I have to enter a long-term care facility?

This requires careful consideration and thorough counsel. The laws in this area have changed dramatically in the past few years. By transferring an asset to a child, relative, or third party, you may inadvertently render yourself ineligible for long-term care assistance and may place your children’s personal assets at risk.

At Luschas, Naparsteck, & Crane, LLP, our attorneys have years of experience in asset protection and Medicaid Planning. Our attorneys will sit down with you and discuss your financial situation. We will discuss your options to develop a unique strategy report with specific recommendations as to how to protect your assets from the costs of long term care.

Can I give away my assets to protect them from the costs of long term care?

Medicaid and gift-given can be risky. For Medicaid to cover the huge expense of nursing-home care, the Medicaid applicant would have to show that they owned nothing more than around $2,400. They would also have to show that they had not given away money or assets over the prior five years. That Medicaid rule –the “look-back period” or the “transfer penalty” –would charge the well-intentioned “gifter” dearly for their generosity. Depending on the size and number of gifts, the penalty could be substantial.

Many wrongly think that there is no penalty for gifts of up to around $15,000 annually. That misunderstanding confuses tax law with Medicaid law (and it also misstates tax law, but that’s another subject). The Medicaid rules are entirely different from the tax rules. In the Medicaid context, gifts of any amount that are given during the look-back period can be penalized.

There are exceptions. These include gifts to spouses and siblings under certain circumstances, disabled children, and children who are caregivers and who live at home with the elder for a span of time. But overall, gifts and Medicaid do not go together. The Medicaid rules are complicated and the consequences for mistakes can be very costly. There are a number of options to protect assets and still qualify for benefits, but these options must be weighed with great care. This is why it’s best to consult attorneys who, like us, are qualified by experience and expertise in Medicaid law.

The sooner you consult a qualified elder law attorney, the more other options may be available. If we can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Can I settle my mother’s estate without an attorney?

This is not advisable. There are many potential pitfalls in administering an estate. The estate administration process requires conformance with various timelines, notice requirements, status reports, clearance letters, and tax filings. Failing to follow these legal requirements can place the administrator and/or executor at personal risk. Our experienced attorneys carefully advise and protect you as the executor/administrator through all stages of estate administration. For over forty years, our firm has been working with families when an individual passes away. Let our experienced attorneys guide you through the estate administration process. Our attorneys are sensitive to the emotional, legal, and practical needs of our clients during this time.

Personal Injury FAQs

What is workers’ compensation?

Workers’ Compensation Act is an entitlement statute which provides for (1) medical expenses which are reasonable and necessary to treat work injury and (2) wage-loss compensation benefits if you are unable to work due to your work injury.

These benefits are paid by private insurance companies (also includes third-party administrators) or the State Workers’ Insurance Fund (a state-run workers’ compensation insurance carrier) self-insured employers.

What are the workers compensation benefits?

If your work causes an injury, illness, or disease, you may be entitled to receive worker’s compensation benefits. No compensation is payable when an injury or death is self-inflicted, or caused by an employee’s violation of the law, including but not limited to the illegal use of drugs or intoxication.

Assuming you have a compensable work injury, the law provides several types of workers’ compensation benefits:

  1. Payment for Lost Wages. Wage-loss benefits are available if it is determined that you are disabled and unable to work or partially disabled and receiving wages less than your pre-injury earnings.
  2. Death Benefits. If the injury results in death, the surviving dependents may be entitled to benefits.
  3. Specific Loss Benefits. If you have lost the permanent use of all or part of your thumb, finger, hand, arm, leg, foot, toe, sight, hearing, or have a serious and permanent disfigurement on your head, face or neck, you may be entitled to a specific loss award.
  4. Medical Care. In the event of a work-related illness or injury, you are entitled, if covered under the Act, to the payment of related reasonable surgical and medical services rendered by a physician or other health care provider.
How much will I be paid for workers compensation wage loss benefits?

Wage-loss benefits are equal to approximately two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to a weekly maximum. Workers’ compensation wage-loss benefits can be offset for 50% of Social Security (old age) benefits, the employer-paid portion of a retirement pension, severance pay, unemployment compensation, or other earnings the employee receives. The Workers’ compensation act does not provide for a cost-of-living increase in wage-loss benefits.

How do I get my workers compensation benefits?

Prompt reporting of your work injury is critical. Report any injury or work-related illness to your employer or supervisor immediately. This is important. Failure to notify the employer can result in the delay or denial of benefits.

The employer then may choose to either accept or deny the claim. If your claim is denied, you have the right to file a petition with the bureau for a hearing before a Workers Compensation Judge. Once again, there are time frames that must be followed. Failure to timely file a claim petition could preclude you from benefits.

What should I do if I am involved in a motor vehicle accident?

A motor vehicle accident is a painful, frightening, and confusing experience for any person. If you or a friend or family member is involved in an accident:

  • Notify emergency personnel if there are injuries.
  • Immediately notify the police. (Be careful in relating the events to the police, to ensure an accurate, sequential account and do not admit to any liability.)
  • From either the police or the other persons at the scene, gather the names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, the vehicle makes/models, license number, and insurance information of the persons involved in the accident.
  • If someone other than the owner was driving the other motor vehicle, be sure to get the above information for the owner as well.
  • If there were any witnesses to the accident, ask for names, addresses, and phone numbers. If they are not willing to reveal that information, write down their license plate number and motor vehicle model, make and color.
  • If you have a camera or a cell phone with a camera, take pictures of your vehicle, the other vehicle, and the scene of the accident.
  • If you have any bruises or physical conditions that are noticeable, take pictures of the physical condition as soon as possible.
  • If you are injured, obtain the necessary medical treatment as soon as possible.
  • Remember everything you say is subject to being written down by hospital personnel and may be used against you at a later date.
  • Do not give any statement to the insurance adjuster until you have had the opportunity to speak with an attorney.
  • As soon as possible, call the experienced, highly skilled, and caring, local, and accessible attorneys of Luschas, Naparsteck, and Crane, LLP, for assistance and guidance through this emotional turmoil.

Real Estate FAQs

Does it cost more for me to use an Attorney rather than an Abstract Company when I’m buying a house or refinancing?

No. On a home purchase or a refinance, there are no attorney fees for the title search or settlement. Title insurance premiums are highly regulated and are approved by the Pennsylvania Insurance Commission. These premiums are required by the state to be the same for Attorneys and Abstract Companies. Our firm has been handling all types of real estate transactions for over forty years. Let our experience work for you at no cost.

With Luschas, Naparsteck, and Crane, LLP, you get an experienced real estate attorney reviewing your contract, protecting your interests, insuring the title, and conducting the settlement for the same cost as an abstract company.

What is title insurance?

If you are borrowing money from a bank to purchase a house, the bank will likely require you to obtain title insurance. Lender’s title insurance protects the lender against problems with the title to your property. Specifically, it protects the lender against undiscovered liens or defects in the title prior to the time of purchase. Title insurance insures the record title and protects a lender from losses arising from defects occurring prior to the date of the policy. Therefore, it differs from other types of insurance because it is retrospective in nature. It also differs from other types of insurance because there is only a single premium charge for title insurance, but the protection lasts for as long as you own the property. There are different title insurance policies that protect both lenders as well as owners.

Title insurance premiums are highly regulated and are approved by the Pennsylvania Insurance Commission. These premiums are required by the state to be the same for Attorneys and Abstract Companies. With Luschas, Naparsteck, and Crane, LLP, you get an experienced real estate attorney reviewing your contract, protecting your interests, insuring the title, and conducting the settlement for the same cost as an abstract company.

Business Law FAQs

How will I know what form of business entity I will need to form for my business?

There are several types of partnerships. A general partnership consists of two or more people who, unless declared otherwise, are each personally and equally liable for the company’s liabilities. A limited partnership consists of one or more general partners, each of whom has full and equal liability, and any number of limited partners, who have limited liabilities. Partnerships enable each member to share work and costs, with less total up-front expense than when forming a corporation. Partnerships are easily converted to corporations as the business becomes more successful. The corporate business structure can save money in taxes, provide
greater business flexibility, and make it easier to seek outside investment. When entering into a partnership or corporation of any kind, consult our attorneys at Luschas, Naparsteck, and Crane LLP, who are very knowledgeable in drafting partnership agreements, safeguarding personal assets against the claims of creditors and lawsuits, as well as knowing when and how to form a corporation and what form of the corporation a business should become to best serve its purposes.

Family Law FAQs

I am contemplating divorce. Do I need my own lawyer or can I just get one of those no-fault divorces advertised in the newspaper?

The process of divorce is a very emotionally charged, life-altering event for any individual. Decisions need to be made, not quickly, but from a base of knowledge. It is important to understand your legal rights and obligations before you obtain a divorce. There are substantial rights you may inadvertently waive if you do not assert them before a divorce is finalized. There are services that market themselves as offering a no-fault divorce; however, these same services do not offer assistance with custody, visitation, alimony, child support, economic and financial issues that result from the dissolution of a marriage. It is important to understand what rights you may have if you are involved in a divorce. Our attorneys Luschas, Naparsteck, and Crane, LLP, are experienced and knowledgeable and offer a complete range of family law services, from amicable out-of-court settlements to highly litigated cases. Our attorneys are good listeners and offer concern and understanding with their legal counsel.

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