Issue 07
April 2011

From the purchase of your first home to planning your estate for your grandchildren – we strive to be your family attorney. In this monthly newsletter we will focus on relevant changes in the law that may affect you personally, or your business.  We will help detail how these changes may affect you, how you may take advantage of new changes in the law, as well as provide you with things to consider as you approach different milestones throughout your life. This newsletter will also serve as an outlet to keep you informed on all that is happening with Valerie A. Shivers, P.C..

In This Issue


  1. Welcome Newest Member...
  2. Long Term Care Insurance...
  3. Estate Planning 101...
  4. The Life Estate...

Focus Areas


Elder Law

  • Medicaid Planning
  • Guardianships
  • Veterans Benefits

Estate Planning & Administration

  • Wills & Trusts
  • Will Probate
  • Estate Administration
  • Advanced Directives
  • Special Needs Planning

Real Estate

  • Residential
  • Commercial

About Us


Valerie A. Shivers, P.C. is a full service law firm that specializes in legal issues related to protecting your family assets, as well as growing your personal wealth & real estate.  We pride ourselves in ensuring that there is a plan in place to properly secure your estate and prevent unnecessary tax penalties when acquiring new assets or transferring your current assets to your beneficiaries.

 What's New...


Welcome to the newest member of the Valerie A. Shivers, P.C. family!

Valerie A. Shivers, P.C. would like to welcome and introduce the newest member of our Team, Polly Ann Case. Polly Ann has been in the legal sector for over 25 years. She possesses a well-rounded and knowledgeable sense of the real estate market, as well as a passion for estate planning and assisting our elderly clientele. Along with her charm and charisma, she is a great asset to our Team and sets high standards for customer service and client satisfaction.

Thank you!

Valerie A. Shivers, P.C. would like to say “thank you” to all of the generous hearts who took the time to either donate and/or participate in the successful 2011 Polar Bear Plunge in Support of Nick Croce and his fight against cancer. With your support we raised over $23,000.00 for the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation.

 Elder Law Spotlight


Long Term Care Insurance…

The average cost of a nursing home on Long Island can cost upwards of $12,000 per month. As a result, many people find themselves depleting all of their assets in an effort to afford necessary care.

As a result many individuals are looking to long-term care insurance to cover this risk. Most policies now cover home care assistance as well as nursing home care. The biggest issue with policies nowadays is the cost. Premiums are out of reach for most seniors due to age and/or health. A solution to this problem is to purchase policies at an early age, while an individual is young and healthy.

If you are interested in purchasing a long term care insurance policy please contact our offices and we will put you in contact with a licensed reputable insurance broker.

For more information on long term care insurance policies please refer to

 Estate Planning Spotlight

Estate Planning 101…

1. Regardless of your net worth, it's important to have a basic estate plan in place.

Having an estate plan ensures that your family and finances are protected while you are alive and your financial goals are met after you die.

2. A basic estate plan consists of many different documents.


a.        A Last Will and Testament;

b.       A Durable Power of Attorney;

c.        A Health Care Proxy; and

d.       A Living Will.

3. Try to keep an inventory of your assets.

Your assets include your investments, retirement savings, insurance policies, and real estate or business interests. It’s important to think about: Whom do you want to inherit your assets? Whom do you want handling your financial affairs if you're ever incapacitated? Whom do you want making medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself?

4. Everybody needs a Last Will and Testament.

a.        A Last Will and Testament dictates where you want your assets distributed when you die;

b.       A Last Will and Testament is the best place to name a guardian for your minor children;

c.        Dying without a Last Will and Testament can be expensive for your heirs; and

d.       Even if you have a Trust in place, you still need a Last Will and Testament to control and distribute any assets you may own outside of the Trust.

5. Trusts aren't just for the wealthy.

Trusts are legal mechanisms that let you put conditions on how and when your assets will be distributed upon your death. They also allow you to reduce your estate and gift taxes and to distribute assets to your heirs without the cost, delay and publicity of probate court, which administers wills. Some also offer greater protection of your assets from creditors and lawsuits.

6. Discussing your estate plans with your heirs may prevent disputes or confusion.

Inheritance can be a loaded issue. By being clear about your intentions, you help dispel potential conflicts after you're gone.

7. The federal estate tax exemption -- the amount you may leave to heirs free of federal tax -- changes regularly.

The estate tax hit $3.5 million in 2009, but was phased out completely in 2010, but only for a year. The new tax in 2011 was reinstated at 5 million.  

8. You may leave an unlimited amount of money to your spouse tax-free, but this isn't always the best tactic.

By leaving all your assets to your spouse, you don't use your estate tax exemption and instead increase your surviving spouse's taxable estate. That means your children are likely to pay more in estate taxes if your spouse leaves them the money when he or she dies. Plus, it defers the tough decisions about the distribution of your assets until your spouse's death.

9. There are two easy ways to give gifts tax-free and reduce your estate.

You may give up to $13,000 a year to an individual (or $26,000 if you're married and giving the gift with your spouse). You may also pay an unlimited amount of medical and education bills for someone if you pay the expenses directly to the institutions where they were incurred.

10. There are ways to give charitable gifts that keep on giving.

If you donate to a charitable gift fund or community foundation, your investment grows tax-free and you can select the charities to which contributions are given both before and after you die.

 Real Estate Spotlight


Real Estate and Medicaid Planning Collide….The Life Estate…

When handled early enough, a transfer of your home to a child while retaining a life estate can be an effective way to protect the equity in your home while still maintaining the right to reside in the home for the rest of your life (and maintain all property exemptions).

It’s important to note, however, that a life estate has a monetary value. Therefore the treatment of a life estate at the time of a Medicaid application is critical. There are important rules regarding life estates which should be reviewed with an elder law attorney. When considering whether or not to transfer your home while retaining a life estate, you should discuss the following:

  • Right to Use Property For Your Life
  • Medicaid Transfer Penalty
  • Life Estate Value for Medicaid Eligibility Rules
  • Medicaid Treatment of Income Producing Property
  • Medicaid Estate Recovery
  • Capital Gains Tax Consequences
  • Gift and Estate Tax Consequences
  • Transferring your home to an Irrevocable Trust


Please feel free to send your issues, questions or concerns to, or submit a question on our website to be addressed in upcoming editions of this newsletter.