We stay on top of our areas of practice by taking 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.
Perhaps the biggest news that affects all of our clients 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, 2011. Estates of individuals valued at up to $5 million are excluded from having to pay estate taxes. (The tax had expired in 2010 and the exclusion was $3.5 million in 2009.) New York State still imposes a tax on estates at a lower level, but it is slowly increasing until it reaches the federal level on April 1, 2017, and Florida has no estate tax of its own. The federal gift tax exclusion amount went up from $1 million in 2010 to $5 million in 2011, and the generation-skipping tax (GST) exclusion amount also increased to $5 million. Meanwhile, the maximum tax rate for estate, gift and GST taxes went down to 35% through 2012.
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 also 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.