9.18.20 - 10.6.20   vol. 16

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Elder Law and Special Needs Planning after the Pandemic

By Bernard A. Krooks


The “new normal” seems to be on everyone’s mind.  What it means and how it will affect all of us remains to be seen.  One thing seems for sure, things will not be the same for perhaps a very long time, if ever.  This will impact our everyday lives the way few events in history have.


Social distancing

In the legal world, technology has had a positive effect in allowing us to reach our clients in ways we could not have done so before the crisis. The evolution of virtual meetings has allowed us to deliver services to clients in remote locations or medical facility settings that would not have been possible before video technology became acceptable for both the lawyer and client.  This is a real game-changer, in a positive way, in the way we practice law.


Long-term care

It has been difficult for families, as well as elder law attorneys, over the past few months to connect with clients in long-term care facilities. It is certainly understandable that hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have had to restrict access in order to save lives and reduce exposure for all parties.  Given the significant concentration of COVID-19 cases within nursing homes and the inability for families to be with loved ones in person, a radical shift in the delivery of long-term care services is likely on the horizon.


For now, this may lead to more people wanting to receive assistance in their homes instead of moving into a long-term care facility such as a nursing home or assisted living.   But are people going to be comfortable allowing non-family members into their homes to provide care?  New York, unlike many states, has always had an accessible home health care program under Medicaid.  How will this change?  Unfortunately, during the pandemic, New York enacted legislation that would make it much more difficult for people to access Medicaid home care services.  How will this interplay with the new normal? This is an opportunity for our government to step up to the plate and help people stay in their homes while receiving the care that they need.  Perhaps New York State should postpone the effective date of the new stringent rules, or maybe even repeal them before they take effect.  More on these changes in a future column.


Finally, I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to all the medical personnel who have made huge sacrifices during this incredibly difficult time.  On behalf of all of us, thank you.


Bernard A. Krooks, Esq., is a founding partner of Littman Krooks LLP and has been honored as one of the “Best Lawyers” in America for each of the last seven years. He is past President of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and past President of the New York Chapter of NAELA. Mr. Krooks has also served as chair of the Elder Law Section of the New York State Bar Association. He has been selected as a “New York Super Lawyer” since 2006. Mr. Krooks may be reached at (914-684-2100) or by visiting the firm’s website at www.elderlawnewyork.com.