Why Don’t Celebrities Have Better Estate Planning?

Every time a celebrity dies, I know it’s just a matter of time until we learn how poorly their estate plan has been handled—or not handled, as is so often the case.

In December 2022, DJ  Stephen “Twitch” Boss died without a will and his wife and dance partner Allison Holker has filed a petition in Los Angeles for half of their shared estate.

Chadwick Boseman died without a will—even though he knew of his serious illness and impending death.

When Lisa Marie Presley died, Priscilla Presley filed paperwork shortly after her death to challenge the authenticity of a 2016 amendment to a living trust allegedly made by Lisa Marie. The amendment removed Priscilla as a trustee and named Lisa Marie’s adult children Riley and Benjamin as successor co-trustees, while also removing Barry Siegel, a former business manager.

Priscilla claims the amendment is suspect as the signature isn’t consistent with Lisa Marie’s usual signature, the document was never notarized and the document was never delivered to her as required by the terms of a 2010 arrangement. She also says the date on the amendment is suspicious and it misspells Priscilla’s name.

Lisa Marie’s son Benjamin died in 2020, so her daughter Riley would be a co-trustee of the living trust with Priscilla Presley. Lisa Marie also had twin daughters, now age 14, with her fourth husband Michael Lockwood. They divorced in 2021 but were still battling in family court over finances at the time of her death.

How much is Lisa Marie’s estate worth? In 2018, she filed a lawsuit against Barry Siegel alleging he’d mismanaged her trust, and she’d been left with only $14,000 because of him. Siegel filed a countersuit, alleging she spent all of her fortune and demanding $800,000 in repayment.

Lisa Marie inherited $100 million from her late father Elvis Presley when she was just 25 in 1993.

At the time of his death, Elvis’ estate was valued at $4.9 million, but had grown to $100 million when Lisa Marie took control of it.

According to the Graceland website,  when Elvis died, his will appointed his father Vernon as executor and trustee. The beneficiaries were Elvis’ grandmother Minnie Mae Presley, his father Vernon and his only child, Lisa Marie. Vernon passed in 1979 and Minnie May died in 1980. Lisa Marie Presley was the sole heir to the estate, and his will stated her inheritance was to be held in trust until she turned 25.

At that time, Lisa Marie formed a new trust, The Elvis Presley Trust, to continue the successful management of the estate, with Priscilla Presley and the National Bank of Commerce in Memphis as co-trustees.

Graceland itself is worth at least $10 million, and the entire Elvis Presley estate is valued between $400 – $600 million, according to Rolling Stone Magazine. Priscilla opened Graceland for tours in 1982, which led to the addition of many attractions in the area including a large hotel. Lisa Marie owned and chaired the company, Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) until February 2005, when she sold a major interest in the company. Lisa Marie retained a 15% ownership in the company.

Lisa Marie Presley retained 100% personal ownership of Graceland Mansion itself and her father’s personal effects, but Elvis Presley Enterprises manages the operations of Graceland and its many related properties.

Elvis is big business, and this estate battle is likely to go on for quite some time. The planning done by Elvis and his advisors could have been done for more generations, which may have protected his wealth for a far longer period of time. Back in those days, however, entertainers didn’t think of themselves as “brands” with intellectual property that would increase in value after their deaths.

While we can’t always foresee the future, we can plan for it. I would tell celebrities the same thing I tell my clients:

Create an estate plan that also plans for taxes and long-term care. Have the plan reviewed every three to five years, or when a trigger event occurs, such as death, birth, marriage, or divorce, or if you sell or buy a business or property. Consider the longer-range picture for your family and your wealth as best you can.

National Slam the Scam Day is March 9, 2023

On National Slam the Scam Day and throughout the year, we give you the tools to recognize Social Security-related scams and stop scammers from stealing your money and personal information. Share scam information with your loved ones. Slam the Scam!

Recognize the four basic signs of a scam:

  1. Scammers pretend to be from a familiar organization or agency, like the Social Security Administration. They may email attachments with official-looking logos, seals, signatures, or pictures of employee credentials.
  2. Scammers mention a problem or a prize. They may say your Social Security number was involved in a crime or ask for personal information to process a benefit increase.
  3. Scammers pressure you to act immediately. They may threaten you with arrest or legal action.
  4. Scammers tell you to pay using a gift card, prepaid debit card, cryptocurrency, wire or money transfer, or by mailing cash. They may also tell you to transfer your money to a “safe” account.

Ignore scammers and report criminal behavior. Report Social Security-related scams to the SSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

Visit www.ssa.gov/scam for more information and follow SSA OIG on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to stay up to date on the latest scam tactics. Repost #SlamtheScam information on social media to keep your friends and family safe.

Scott B. Silverberg, Esq.

Scott B. Silverberg, Esq. Elected President New York Chapter Of National Academy Of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)

We are extremely proud to announce that Scott Silverberg has been elected President of the New York chapter of NAELA.

Scott is dedicated to elevating the profession and has been active with NAELA as well as other national and regional legal organizations.

“My goal as President is to build NAELA in terms of impact and membership. Our work with the New York Legislature focuses on protecting seniors and special needs individuals, at the same time we seek to improve the skills of Elder Lawyers,” he commented recently. “I’m excited about taking this leadership role and look forward to a busy and fulfilling term.”

NAELA is a professional organization of attorneys dedicated to  helping clients with the legal issues associated with aging, including probate and estate planning, guardianship/conservatorship, public benefits, health and long-term care planning and special needs.  Scott is a member of the National Board of Directors of NAELA and was previously Vice President of the New York Chapter.

Scott is a member of The Estate Planning Council of Nassau County, a member chapter of the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils (NAEPC).  For the New York State Bar Association, Scott is Chair of the Technology Committee and Vice-Chair of the Practice Management Committee of the Elder Law and Special Needs Section Executive Committee. He is also a member of the Nassau County Bar Association.

Scott focuses his practice on estate planning, Elder Law, and special needs planning. He has attained the L.L.M. (Master of Laws) in Elder Law from the prestigious Stetson University School of Law and is a graduate of Fordham Law School (J.D., 2013). He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Scott is admitted to practice in New York State.

QLAC - Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract

SECURE 2.0 Opens Door for Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts (“QLAC”)

Back in the spring, in a rare show of bipartisan action, the House and Senate passed a law intended to give Americans an incentive to save for retirement. The bill received over 400 votes in the House and over 80 in the Senate. The bill, dubbed SECURE 2.0, is a follow-up to the SECURE Act. Last week, Congressional leaders included SECURE 2.0 in the government funding bill. President Biden signed the bill into law yesterday.

Many articles about SECURE 2.0 focus on the provisions that simplify employee enrollment in retirement plans maintained by the employer, raising the age to begin required minimum distributions (“RMD”) to age 75, and many other positive changes.

However, there are few articles about a provision of great importance to Elder Law attorneys – changes to the funding rules of a Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (“QLAC”) bought in an IRA or qualified plan. There is no change to any other rules or laws governing QLACs.

An article I published in the April/May/June 2016 NAELA News features a more in-depth analysis of QLACs.

A QLAC is an annuity purchased from an insurance company with assets of an IRA. Before SECURE 2.0, the maximum premium for a QLAC could not exceed the lesser of 25% of the account balance or $125,000. The low premium cap severely limited the benefit of the QLAC. Fortunately, SECURE 2.0 removed the percent limitation and raised the maximum premium to $200,000, making QLACs a more attractive strategy.

To qualify as a QLAC, besides the premium limitation, the QLAC must meet these requirements:

  1. The contract provides that distributions under the contract must begin not later than a specified annuity starting date, that is, by the first day of the month next following the 85th anniversary of the employee’s birth;
  2. The contract provides that after distributions under the contract begin, those distributions must satisfy the requirements of this section.
  3. The contract does not provide any commutation benefit, cash surrender right, or other similar feature;
  4. It provides no benefits under the contract after the death of the employee;
  5. When issued, the contract must state that the contract is a QLAC;
  6. The contract is not a variable, indexed, or similar, although a cost-of-living change is allowed.
  7. The issuing insurance company must file annual reports on the QLAC to the IRS and copy participants.

Using a QLAC provides multiple benefits;

  • When buying the QLAC, The account holder can elect to defer the QLAC payments for years but no later than the month after the account holder turns 85 years.
  • QLACs do not count when calculating an individual’s RMD, lowering the RMD.
  • A QLAC is a Medicaid Compliant annuity. Since a retirement account owns it, it is exempt from the “actuarily sound” requirement under DRA, with the state listed as the beneficiary (but more on that). And since a QLACs cannot be surrendered or reduced to cash, and payments under a QLAC do not begin until age 85, it is not an available resource for Medicaid eligibility until the patient turns 85, even in states that require the complete spend down of IRA to receive benefits.; and
  • A QLAC can include various features like a return of premium or a lifetime annuity for a surviving spouse of a disabled child before any repayment to the state. Even if the account owner dies before payments under the QLAC begin, a surviving spouse or disabled child effectively limits a state’s right to recovery.

The changes in SECURE 2.0 make the QLAC an essential tool in protecting retirement accounts from long term care expenses and providing a spousal benefit.

#elderlawyerny #estateplanninglawyer #taxattorney #retirementplanning #specialneeds #inheritance #estate planning #estateplanningattorney #legalneeds #newyorklawyer #longislandelderlaw #longislandestateplanningattorney #taxplanninglawyer #roslynestateplanninglawyer #nassauestateplanninglawyer #elderlawnassau #elderlawnewyork

Scott B. Silverberg Keynote Speaker at the 24th Annual Elder and Disability Law Symposium

The New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, a division of the New Jersey State Bar Association, welcomed Scott Silverberg as the keynote speaker for the 24th annual Elder and Disability Law Symposium in early December. His presentation focused on New York’s Medicaid Home Care Program, the legal challenges facing patients and what Elder Law attorneys need to know to successfully represent their clients. Scott was among a distinguished panel of attorneys participating in the online program, which was attended by more than 100 New Jersey attorneys.

Thinking About Getting A Shingles Vaccination – Don’t Do it Now

If you are on Medicare and are considering getting a shingles vaccination before the year ends, read this first.

Definitely get the vaccine if your doctor recommends it. But what you may not know: the shingles vaccine is not currently covered by Original Medicare (Medicare Part A or B).

For some people, Medicare B may cover the visit to the doctor to get a prescription for the shingles vaccine—but don’t count on it.

In response, many physicians are telling patients to go to pharmacies for the shingles vaccine, since the cost and co-pays are lower than what the physician charges.

And wait, there’s more: Medigap plans don’t cover the shingles vaccine because they don’t include prescription drug coverage.

The shingles vaccine is given in two doses. The cost of each dose can range from $50 to more as much as $160. If your drug plan doesn’t cover the vaccination, this cost adds up fast.

But there’s good news: Beginning January 1, 2023, all vaccines will be free under Medicare— including shingles vaccines. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, people with Medicare drug coverage will pay nothing out-of-pocket for adult vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — including the shingles vaccine and Tetanus-Diphtheria-Whooping Cough vaccine.

Can you wait until January? That’s a question to ask your doctor. But you should know what your costs will be in advance.

Medicare Enrollment Season: What You Need to Know Now

I’m happy to learn that the CMS is combatting the misleading ads targeting seniors to switch from traditional Medicare plans to private Medicare Advantage plans. The number of mailers, television ads, robocalls, and emails has exploded – I received more marketing messages about Medicare this year than I did from candidates – and we all know how saturated our airwaves, phones, and mailboxes were with political ads.

Joe Namath and William Shatner should think twice about these ads. Enough said.

What should you know about traditional Medicare versus Medicare Advantage?

From October 15 to December 7, Medicare beneficiaries may change from traditional Medicare to Medicare Advantage or vice versa or switch between Advantage plans. It might be an opportunity to improve coverage, but it’s hard to know what’s best.

A recent article from The New York Times discussed a Kaiser Family Foundation report of a recent literature review comparing Advantage and traditional Medicare that looked at 62 published studies. It revealed that Advantage plans performed better only on a few measures. Beneficiaries were more likely to use preventive services like an annual wellness visit and flu and pneumonia vaccinations.

Traditional Medicare beneficiaries experienced fewer affordability problems if they had supplemental Medigap policies but ran into affordability problems if they lacked Medigap policies. They were also more likely to use high-quality hospitals and nursing homes.

Neither difference has led to significant shifts among programs either way.

A reason for changing Advantage plans is that consumers can compare them to find the best coverage. Few beneficiaries reportedly changed plans, meaning they’re either highly satisfied or making changes is just too complicated. There are 38 Advantage plans this year!

This year, as we do every year, our office offers a free evaluation for Medicare beneficiaries because we know how daunting it can be to find the right plan. Medicare Advantage and traditional Medicare work differently and picking the wrong plan can have significant and lasting health and financial consequences.

Advantage plans are simpler. They include prescription drug plans; you don’t need a separate supplemental policy. These plans might seem cheaper as many have low or no monthly premiums, but you must still pay the Medicare Part B premiums. There is a cap on out-of-pocket expenses beginning in 2023, and beneficiaries will pay no more than $8,300 in in-network expenses, excluding drugs, or $12,450 if your plan allows the use of out-of-network providers.

Only a third of Advantage plans allow this option. Most plans allow only the use of in-network providers.

Advantage plans offer vision, dental, and hearing, and some offer gym memberships or transportation. But you must look at benefits, consider if your providers are in the plan, and read the fine print. A plan offering dental coverage, but the coverage is only one cleaning a year, doesn’t do you much good if you need extensive dental care.

The one major advantage of traditional Medicare; there are no network restrictions. You can see any doctor or provider that accepts Medicare and use any hospital or clinic. Medicare also avoids the delays and frustration of requiring “prior authorization,” which most, if not all, Advantage plans require.

You can appeal a denial or pay out-of-pocket. Still, only 1% of beneficiaries do, according to a 2018 report from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. It might indicate many Advantage Medicare beneficiaries are going without care or paying out-of-pocket costs themselves.

Something to consider; another report from the DOHHS Office of Inspector General found that traditional Medicare would approve 13% of services denied by Advantage plans.

Traditional Medicare sets no cap on out-of-pocket expenses, so the 20% co-pay can add up quickly for hospitalizations or expensive tests and procedures. Most beneficiaries rely on Medigap policies to cover those costs. They either buy a policy or have supplementary coverage through an employer or Medicaid.

Your best bet: call our office for a free Medicare evaluation, use Medicare’s website or its toll-free number – 1-800-MEDICARE, or contact the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, a federally funded program with volunteers that help assess Medicare drug plans.

Our recommendation: don’t wait. December 7 will be here before you know it.



Reference: New York Times “Medicare Advantage or Just Medicare?”

Celebrating Veterans Day

Today we honor American veterans for their service to protect our country and maintain our democracy with respect, honor, and gratitude.

Sadly, many veterans struggle after serving our country, so today we ask you, if you can, to help the many veterans who struggle with financial, physical, and mental health challenges.

We encourage our clients, friends, and colleagues to consider making a donation to a Veterans organization, as so many of the nearly 100,000 veterans living on Long Island continue struggle to meet basic needs.

Please join us in supporting these organizations so they can do their important work of helping our veterans:




Nassau County’s Veterans Services Agency

VFW – Albertson, NY

American Legion – Williston Park

Happy Veterans Day – and to all veterans, thank you for your service.


Best Law Firm Recognition from U.S. News – Best Law Firms in 2023

We are very pleased to announce that the Law Office of Stephen J. Silverberg has been named to the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” New York Metro in Elder Law for 2023. This is the eighth year the Roslyn Heights Elder Law firm has been recognized for our professional excellence.

The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. In addition to information from these surveys, the 2023 rankings incorporate 12.2 million evaluations of more than 115,00 individual leading lawyers from more than 22,000 firms. The 2023 “Best Law Firm” rankings feature law firms that have demonstrated consistently impressive performance ratings by clients and peers. The process addresses expertise, responsiveness, in-depth understanding of business, integrity, cost-effectiveness, civility, and positive referrals.

The “Best Law Firm” distinction follows Stephen J. Silverberg’s Best Lawyers 2022 accolade, presented by
U. S. News – Best Lawyers of America for his dedication in protecting the rights of seniors and their families and disabled individuals.

IRS Raises Tax Brackets and Standard Deduction in Response to Inflation

In the largest automatic adjustment to the standard deduction since core features of the tax system were indexed to inflation in 1985, the IRS has increased key tax code parameters for 2023 to reflect high inflation rates.

The top 37% top marginal tax rate will apply to individual income above $578,125 and married couples’ income above $693,750 as thresholds increase 7%, according to a recent article from The Wall Street Journal, “Inflation Causes IRS to Raise Tax Brackets, Standard Deduction by 7%”

The standard deduction will also increase to $27,700 for married couples and $13,850 for individuals, up about 7% for 2023. The maximum contribution to a healthcare flexible spending account will increase too, from $2,850 in 2022 to $3,050 in 2023.

The tax code adjustments are unusually high because inflation is now higher than it has been for the past forty years.

The goal is to prevent inflation from causing tax increases. They will appear as lower tax withholdings from paychecks as early as January 2023 and create larger take-home pay early next year.

The six tax brackets are below the top 37% bracket, with thresholds for married couples (double the individual taxpayer thresholds). These rates apply to taxable income.

In 2023, for individuals in 2023, the rates will be:

  • 10% bracket goes up to $11,000,
  • 12% bracket goes up to $44,725,
  • 22% bracket goes up to $95,375,
  • 24% bracket goes up to $182,100,
  • 32% bracket goes up to $231,250,
  • 35% bracket goes up to the top-bracket threshold.

The federal estate and gift tax unified exemption increases in 2023 to $12.92 million, and the annual gift tax exclusion rises to $17,000. Those who have used their unified credit can make up to $900,000 in gifts tax-free.

Reference: The Wall Street Journal (October 18, 2022) “Inflation Causes IRS to Raise Tax Brackets, Standard Deduction by 7%”