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Will the State Enforce Mandatory Arbitration Clauses in New York Nursing Homes?

The use of arbitration clauses by companies in all aspects of daily living has spread immensely across the country. The United States Supreme Court has recently held that the use of arbitration clauses is fully enforceable, and nearly impossible to overturn. With that being said, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has limited the use of these clauses by implementing a new rule that restricts any nursing home receiving federal funding from requiring residents to resolve disputes in arbitration rather than in court. While the rule does not forbid arbitration completely, it does restrict the use of pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements. The rule will take effect over all nursing home admissions agreements signed after November 28, 2016.

The new rule ensures that a patient is no longer required to settle their dispute in arbitration, which can be costly. Instead, the patient can take their disputes to court which can be a more cost effective route of bringing a claim. A claim brought in arbitration can cost a patient upwards of tree-times as much as bringing an action within the court system due to the increased cost of fees for the arbitrators.

On the other side, nursing homes argue that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stepped outside of their statutory authority as the rule does nothing to protect the residents’ health and safety. The nursing homes also argue that the additional cost to them of fighting these claims in court will force some nursing homes to close.

The New York Times reports that this new rule will not only save patients money in filing a claim, but it will restrict nursing homes from keeping embarrassing practices hidden in arbitration. The switch from arbitration to the court system means that all claims will become public rather than privately adjudicated. It is believed by patients that this transparency will ensure that the nursing homes will provide adequate services.

While the rule only applies to nursing homes receiving federal funding, New York State Public Health Law provides a statutory cause of action for nursing home residents as a result of injuries in any nursing home in New York State. Currently, a case is seeking review from the New York State Court of Appeals to determine whether the New York Statute makes an arbitration clause invalid. In this case, the trial court ruled that the statute invalidated the arbitration clause signed by an elderly woman who sued a nursing home after falling and breaking her hip. The NYS Court of Appeals overturned this decision by stating that the Federal Arbitration Act of preempts the state law because the nursing home engages in interstate commerce. A decision is expected in January 2017 as to whether the NYS Court of Appeals will grant a hearing on the decision.

Taking proper care of the disabled and elderly in our society who depend on us is of the utmost importance. If you have questions about the care of a disabled or elderly loved one, contact the experienced New York elder law attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. at (718) 210-4744 for the quality representation that you deserve.

The Musical Icon Prince May Have Died Without a Will

According to documents obtained by People Magazine, Prince did not have a Last Will and Testament. Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson filed an Emergency Petition in a Minnesota Court seeking the appointmeprincent of a Special Administrator.

Sources report Prince’s sister as stating, “I do not know of the existence of a Will and have no reason to believe that the Decedent executed testamentary documents in any form,” states the document, which was filed in Carver County Minnesota.

An Administrator is appointed to settle an estate after a person has died.  A petition must be filed with the court and a personal representative must be appointed.  The personal representative is responsible for the following:

  • Collection, inventory, and appraisal of assets of the person who has died.
  • Protection of the estate’s assets.
  • Payment of decedent’s debts.
  • Distribution of the remaining assets to the proper parties as provided by law.

According to a survey conducted by FindLaw.com, 35% of those surveyed had a Will but individuals over the age of 65 did execute a Will. Without a Will, property passes according to the State’s intestacy laws.

Some sources believe that Prince’s current estate is valued at over $300 million dollars. The failure to execute a Will may result in his property being distributed in a manner contrary to what he may have wanted during his life.

If you or a loved one needs a Last Will and Testament or other Advanced Directives, contact the experienced attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. at (718) 210-4744 to ensure that your property passes to those you choose and not according to the laws of intestacy.

Operation Cocoon

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Customs and Border Protection Agency are working together to combat a new trend of drug traffickers who fool seniors into becoming international drug mules.  Traffickers either forge a relationship with seniors or promise inheritance or other monetary incentives.  In targeting the elderly, traffickers hope that the drugs pass through security undetected.  This scheme has worked to some degree because eighty-three U.S. citizens who fell victim to drug trafficking tricks have been arrested in foreign countries since 2013.

Operation Cocoon, an initiative to identify seniors before leaving the U.S. as drug mules,  has been successful in preventing some seniors from boarding international flights and facing jail time in a foreign country.  According to the New York Times, approximately 272 kilograms of methamphetamine, 209 kilograms of cocaine, 4 kilograms of ecstasy, and 11 kilograms of heroin have been confiscated under Operation Cocoon.

Some seniors, though, have not been so lucky.  One such man, J. Bryon Martin, is now serving a six-year jail term abroad for smuggling almost 2 kilograms of cocaine.  Mr. Martin, a seventy-seven-year-old retired pastor from Maine, met an individual he knew as “Joy,” who eventually asked for his help in transporting what he thought were real estate papers.  Mr. Martin trusted “Joy” because they had an online relationship for about five years before she asked him to travel to Peru and then onto London.  During Mr. Martin’s layover in Spain, authorities opened up the packages thought to contain paperwork, and found the drugs.

Operation Cocoon has helped prevent many seniors from traveling abroad as drug mules, but there is still progress that needs to be made.  One challenge for authorities is the fact that drug traffickers are not typically located within U.S. borders.  Traffickers are also savvy and seem to know ways in avoiding detection.

The initiative must start at home: caring for our elderly and choosing the best care specialists is essential in preventing our older loved ones from being victimized.  The Law Offices of Hobson-Williams, P.C., help clients protect their loved ones and are experienced in handling other elder law and guardianship issues. The attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. are available for consultation by calling 866-825-1529.

Special Needs Trust Can Provide Effective Financial Relief for the Disabled Elderly.

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsFederal and State law provide a number of programs to help a person with disabilities.  Such programs include. Security Income and Medicaid. Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a federal program that provides monthly cash payments to people in need. SSI is for individuals who are 65 or older, as well as for blind or disabled people of any age, including children.

However, to qualify for SSI and Medicaid an applicant must own less than $2,000 in assets. The value of your home does not count if you live in it. Usually, the value of your car does not count and the value of certain other resources, such as personal items or a burial plot, may not count either. Continue reading “Special Needs Trust Can Provide Effective Financial Relief for the Disabled Elderly.”

Dividing Caregiving Responsibilities between Siblings

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsCaring for an elderly parent or family member is a serious responsibility to take on and can bring joy and purpose into one’s life but may also cause both emotional and financial strain on a caregiver and his/her family. Having another person such as a sibling to help rely on, can help make things easier, but it can also lead to conflict and resentment. It is important to understand the issues that may arise when two or more adult siblings are caring for an elderly parent, and the best ways to resolve problems.

The main question that is usually asked between siblings taking care of a sole elderly parent is: “Who will be the primary caregiver, and what factors go into the decision?” One of the main factors taken into consideration is the proximity of the siblings in regards to the elderly parent’s home. Yet there are plenty of other factors that siblings should consider while creating a plan for the caregiving. Such as:

  • Work Schedules
  • Individual’s Family Income
  • Individual’s Personal Skills such as day-to-day hands on care or the financial planning and organizing

The best way to avoid conflict and confusion is to communicate openly and often. Good communication is probably the most important factor in making these decisions. Ideally, responsibilities will be divided in whatever way feels fair to everyone involved, and arriving at the best outcome depends on communication.

Finally, as with most things, careful planning will save a lot of headaches and keep your loved one as best protected as possible. Just as the schedule of doctor’s appointments and daily medications needs to be kept track of, so should the finances be kept in careful order and hiring an experienced attorney can make all the difference. If you are splitting responsibilities for caring for a loved one, or believe that you will be taking on such a responsibility in the near future, contact a skilled elder law attorney to help ensure that the right steps are taken to protect your loved one.