Climate Change Bill Brings a Bright Spot of Good News for Americans

We welcome any good news in a dismal news cycle, but the healthcare provisions built into the “Inflation Reduction Act” are worth a special mention.

The New York Times calls it “the most substantial changes to health policy since the passage of Obamacare in 2010.”

Passed by the U.S. Senate on August 8 and expected to pass in the House of Representatives on August 12, President Biden says he is looking forward to signing the bill into law. Here’s what we are looking forward to:

What seniors have needed for decades: giving Medicare the power to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies to reduce the astronomical costs charged for many drugs seniors need to stay alive and healthy.

The bill, beginning in 2025, sets a cap of $2,000 yearly for how much seniors pay for drugs. After reaching the cap, funds will come from the federal government, private insurers, and drug companies.

Federal subsidies for people who buy private health insurance through the Obama exchanges will be extended for three additional years, as they were during the coronavirus pandemic. For example, someone who pays about $80 in premiums will continue to pay that amount. These costs would double in 2023 without the bill.

Adult vaccines will be free starting in 2023 for seniors and people on Medicaid.

The bill uses federal subsidies to reduce the cost of health insurance and prescription drugs, insidious economic difficulties suffered by middle class and senior Americans.

Many benefits of this bill may not be evident to the people they help, as they are not visible directly. For instance, people won’t see large medical bills and may not be fully aware of free vaccines. But for the millions of Americans, particularly seniors, who struggle to pay for their prescription medications, the bill will be life-changing.

By design, the legislation will pay for itself and reduce the federal deficit over time while cutting prescription drug costs for the elderly and tightening enforcement on taxes for corporations and the wealthy.

It sounds like good news to us.

Chadwick Boseman

Lack of Estate Planning Turns a Private Life into Public News: Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman, the actor known for performances in “Black Panther” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” was only 43 when he died. Despite knowing he was seriously ill from colon cancer, he did not have a will, so Boseman’s family was tasked with managing his estate in a public manner, the direct opposite of how he lived his life.

The estate had significant expenses and it wasn’t too hard for reporters to find the details because there was no will. Court documents obtained by several news sources reveal the estate was initially valued at $3.8 million before taxes, court fees and funeral expenses. The final amount to be divided between his widow and is parents is $2.5 million.

In October 2020, his widow Taylor Simone Ledward petitioned the court to make her an administrator with limited authority of his estate, and then filed a probate case in Los Angeles.

Chadwick did not have an estate plan with trusts that could have provided the family with privacy, reporters and others were able to access court papers to learn details like the exact amount and breakdown spent on his funeral, moneys used to purchase burial spaces for other family members and the court’s determination on several private matters.

You don’t have to be a celebrity for details of your life to be made public. All probate and administration proceedings are public records, and copies of these documents can be obtained by anyone who shows up at the court. Creditors, family members and anyone who wants to pry into the details of your life can obtain these documents. Having an estate plan with the methods and tools best suited for your estate can keep your life private and minimize estate expenses.

But another lesson from the passing of Chadwick Boseman is that families do have the ability—even celebrity families—to treat each other with kindness and respect. His widow asked the court to divide his estate evenly between herself and Boseman’s parents. Most families facing an estate without a will end up in court, battling for an inheritance. Sadly, this is the exception and not the rule with estates. Having an estate plan can prevent the likelihood of your family facing this situation.

 

We are Open to Serve You, Safely

Our office moved seamlessly to working remotely in March because the firm’s systems were designed to allow attorneys and staff to work in the office, at home, or anywhere. Investing in technology has always been a high value at the firm, and when New York State was “paused,” our clients benefited from our ability to keep working without interruption.

We have never stopped working, but now we, like many of you, are slowly returning to a more “normal” world.

The Law Office of Stephen J. Silverberg continues to provide all services for our clients, through telephone, email, and videoconferencing.

Clients who are comfortable coming to our office will be welcome – we are following all guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and local government.

For clients who are not comfortable coming to our office, we can still serve you. Governor Cuomo, through executive order, has allowed for virtual witnessing of Wills and other estate planning as well as notarizing services. These orders are still in place and allow us to provide clients with a “contact free” estate plan. Consultations, draft reviews, and execution of documents can all be completed without the client needing to leave their house.

We have always considered ourselves a different kind of law firm. We provide Elder Law and estate planning legal services; for some clients we are using complex and highly technical tax and estate planning methods, and for others, we work with fundamental Elder Law and estate planning tools needed to protect individuals, families, and property.

Whatever your Elder Law and estate planning needs, we are here to help. Call us at 516-307-1236 or send an email to sbsilverberg@sjslawpc.com if you have any questions.

Stay well, be safe and stay in touch.