We stay on top of our areas of practice by taking and presenting mandatory Continuing Legal Education courses in New York and Florida, by belonging to various attorney organizations, by writing articles on topics of interest in our practice areas, and by staying in close contact with other lawyers who practice the same types of law. Following are a few of the newer issues affecting our areas of practice:
For articles written on timely legal topics by Joanne Fanizza, please see the "In the media" page.
Joanne presented a Continuing Legal Education course with some of her dual-admitted colleagues in November 2019 entitled, "Tax, Real Estate and Ethical Considerations for Florida/New York Snowbirds". The CLE course addressed the various legal issues that retired, dual or seasonal residents face in each state. Joanne's contribution to the half-day CLE was, "Issue-Spotting for the New York Lawyer Whose Clients May Be Considering a Change in Domicile to Florida". She discussed Florida's unique homestead laws and some of the problems that arise in drafting estate plans, and the Florida probate process.
Perhaps one of the most important laws that affected virtually all Americans was Congress' passage of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare". We have devoted a special page on this website to that law, in an effort to dispel the myths, misinformation and mysteries associated with this pro-consumer law. Please see the "Health care reform" page.
Congress passed a law on the taxation of estates and gifts effective January 1, 2018. As of January 1, 2020, estates of individuals valued at up to $11,700,000 are excluded from having to pay estate taxes. For couples, that amount is $23,400,000. New York State imposes a tax on estates at a lower level, which is $5,850,000, and Florida has no estate tax of its own. The new federal law shelters estate, gift tax and generation-skipping taxes (GST) of up to $11,700,000, with a gift tax credit maximum of $4,425,800. The tax rate for estate, gift and GST taxes is 40%; and the annual exclusion rate (meaning, the amount an individual can gift, or give away, to each individual without reporting on a gift tax return), is $15,000.
The Florida Legislature amended its Power of Attorney Law in early 2016 to add new requirements to authorize specific types of powers. New York passed its most recent changes to the durable power of attorney law in 2020, which becomes effective in June 2021. Both New York and Florida also recently passed "Digital Assets" laws that address the ability of agents under powers of attorney and personal representatives/executors to have access to the principal's online accounts and social media.
New York has also modified its Community Medicaid (at home) program, establishing a look-back period on transfers of property -- which did not exist in years past. This was designed to address state budgetary shortfalls. The new standards were scheduled to begin in October 2020, but COVID-related laws pushed back the implementation date. At this time, we are unsure when they will go into effect.
The New York Legislature passed an End of Life Counsel bill in August 2010 that requires health care practitioners to give patients with terminal illnesses information about treatments and counseling available for palliative and end-of-life care. The law was designed to ensure that patients and their surrogates who are dealing with terminal illnesses receive the best information available for their care, including information on hospice, pain management, and palliative sedation. It also ensures that if a patient is not interested in receiving the information, it will not be forced on him or her.
Another new law in New York, effective June 1, 2010, serves as a "default" health care proxy in the event a person lacks the ability to make their own health care decisions and does not already have a health care proxy. Article 29-CC of the Public Health Law determines the priority of persons who may act on behalf of individuals who cannot make their own decisions. While this law has the best intentions of appointing surrogate decision-makers when an individual has not done so himself/herself with a health care proxy, we strongly recommend our clients have an updated, valid health care proxy so that their choices are honored. Don't let the state decide who should make your health care decisions for you when you cannot do so yourself!
Recently, Joanne Fanizza was admitted to practice in new jurisdictions or qualified for new areas of practice as noted below:
Joanne was admitted to practice in the federal courts on Long Island in March 2010. She was admitted to the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, on March 17, 2010.
Joanne was accredited by the Veterans Administration in March 2010 for the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for veterans benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). She has previously taken the mandatory Continuing Legal Education requirements to qualify her to handle claims regarding VA benefits, which include compensation and pension benefits. Pension benefits include housebound benefits and Aid & Attendance, as well as benefits available to dependents and survivors. She is honored to be able to assist those who served our country so selflessly.
If you have a question pertaining to any of the aforementioned areas of practice, we are qualified to assist you. Call the New York office at (631) 647-9595 or the Florida office at (954) 565-5445 to schedule an appointment.