Elder Law & Special Needs

Elder Law involves a variety of practice areas that address issues of concern for the elderly, disabled, their families and caregivers.

Meenan & Associates has established a reputation for providing personalized and dedicated legal services to this population, including those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, terminal illness, mental illness, and those seeking a nursing home discharge or dealing with a myriad of end-of-life issues.

Most notably, this firm has successfully litigated against individuals who have stolen assets from elderly or infirm individuals, resulting in the return of hundreds of thousands of dollars to victims of such crimes.

Meenan & Associates can provide a full range of elder law services to address the challenges faced by seniors, persons with disabilities and their families and caregivers, including legal representation in guardianship matters, counseling to assure at home care and services whenneeded, counseling regarding Medicaid eligibility,counseling regarding Medicare coverage, legal services to address elder abuse, and the following:

  • Elder Abuse and Financial Recovery
  • Estate Planning
  • Guardianship
  • Medicare and Medicaid

Elder Abuse and Financial Recovery Cases

The World Health Organization has defined elder abuse as “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person”. Such abuse is a human rights violation. It is estimated that 1 in 10 older people experience abuse each month. While abuse may present itself in many forms, financial abuse is the most prevalent form of abuse.

In 2011, MetLife Mature Market Institute published a study that estimated the annual direct costs associated with financial elder abuse to be approximately $2.9 billion. Many other professionals believe that this estimation is just the tip of the iceberg and that the cost is actually much larger than that. Financial abuse often arises from a trusting relationship, be it a caregiver, family member or neighbor, and often leaves the elder penniless and without a relationship that was important to his or her life.

In addition to this financial and psychological mistreatment, physical and sexual violence is frequently committed by the perpetrator as a means to financial gain. This dehumanizing treatment is a factor that causes many elder abuse crimes to go unreported. The Federal Trade Commission has stated that only 1 in 24 financial elder abuse crimes gets reported.

Meenan & Associates has successfully filed civil actions against such predators to recover assets for elderly victims. In most cases, it is very difficult to criminally prosecute financial elder abuse cases because the elderly victim may be forgetful, confused, or protective of a relative. In such instances, a civil action can be brought to hold predators accountable and recover from them the assets that they have wrongfully obtained.

Meenan & Associates is passionate about defending victims and their families against these horrific human rights abuses. This firm will make sure these perpetrators are held accountable for their actions and that justice is obtained for a victim and/or his or her family.

Estate Planning

Meenan & Associates provides personalized attention to clients so as to ensure that their goals and future plans are properly addressed. Meenan & Associates understands that it takes time to establish an estate plan that’s right for each client and makes sure that each client is provided the appropriate level of attention. The law firm will guide each client through estate planning devices which are appropriate for their situation.

Some examples of the devices considered are as follows:

  • A Health Care Proxy is an important document where one appoints someone they trust to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event that they lose the ability to make those decisions for themselves. The health care agent they appoint should be someone they trust, as that person may one day be in the position of making life and death decisions for them. The health care agent can be anyone they choose – it does not need to be a family member. Health care professionals and facilities, such as doctors and hospitals, must follow the decisions of one’s health care agent.
  • A Living Will is a document that sets forth one’s wishes and choices with respect to life support decisions, such as artificial feeding and hydration. If one is unable to communicate their wishes, the Living Will serves as a statement expressing their wishes and should be followed.
  • A Power of Attorney is a document which appoints an agent who will be entrusted to pay one’s bills, collect one’s income and benefits, and handle all other financial matters. An agent acting under a Power of Attorney can have a lot of powers and access to one’s finances and assets, including real estate. As such, it is important that this individual is trusted.
  • Wills are legal documents that allow one to exercise control over the distribution of their assets after they die. If one does not make a Will, their estate will be divided based on the intestacy laws in the State of New York.
  • Trusts are arrangements by which a trustee takes control over one’s property that is held in the trust. Living trusts are those that are created while one is still alive. Trusts can also be created after one’s death based on the terms of their Will. Trusts can be designed to facilitate many different purposes, for example, to provide for a disabled loved one while not jeopardizing government benefits that they may be receiving, to provide for one’s pets, or to protect one’s legacy from a beneficiary’s creditor or bad financial judgment.

There can be many factors to consider when deciding who to appoint as a health care agent or power of attorney, what authority they should be given, whether the agents should be compensated, whether one should set up a trust and who should be responsible for their estate or trust. These are not easy decisions to make and the firm guides their clients through the many considerations to create an estate plan that meets their particular situation and wishes.

Planning for the future ensures peace of mind and comfort that oneself and their loved ones will be properly cared for as they go on to new pursuits in life. Meenan & Associates can effectively help their clients to plan ahead.


Legal guardians are adult representatives who agree to assume legal responsibility for another person’s financial and property concerns and interests. Where a person becomes disabled or incapacitated and is otherwise no longer able to take care of their personal and financial affairs, a family member, friend or other concerned person or entity can petition the court for the appointment of a guardian. The court will conduct a hearing and other proceedings to determine whether the appointment of a guardian is necessary. The court may appoint a family member or friend or it may appoint an independent professional guardian, depending on the circumstances.

Parents can appoint a guardian for minor children to care for the children, should something happen to the parents. Likewise, an adult individual can appoint someone to be their guardian in the future should such a need arise.

The area of law dealing with guardianship is complicated. Meenan & Associates understands the laws governed by Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law and has a proven reputation for effectively assisting individuals with guardianship matters.

Furthermore, Meenan & Associates understands that guardians are held to a very high standard of conduct and must adhere to the court’s financial reporting requirements and other ethical considerations. One of the most complex aspects of the guardian’s responsibilities is accounting to the court, which can be equally overwhelming for both lay persons and professional guardians alike. Meenan & Associates can provide effective assistance in these matters.

Guardians may also require legal representation to deal with other issues which may arise, for example, financial exploitation, relocation from a nursing home back to the community, elder abuse, the sale of real property, or modification of the guardianship powers.

Meenan & Associates is experienced in dealing with all phases of guardianship, including litigation in a guardianship context, and have the necessary skills and knowledge to guide and assist families and guardians through the process.

Medicare and Medicaid Planning

Medicare and Medicaid are both government programs that assist with paying for health care costs. The major difference between the two is that only Medicaid covers long-term care, whether at home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home.

Medicare is a health insurance program for individuals 65 years of age and older, or persons who have received Social Security disability benefits for 24 months. Supplemental insurance fills the gaps in Medicare coverage for many. Unlike Medicaid, Medicare does not have income or resource limitations for coverage, and eligibility is based on a person having paid into the Social Security system.

While Medicare does not cover everything, it does cover a substantial amount of services that may include inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, limited home health care, hospice care, doctor visits, preventative treatments, and prescriptions. However, these benefits are administered in three different parts: Part A, Part B, and Part D, not all of which each person may be enrolled in. Meenan & Associates can assist its clients in understanding Medicare coverage, the benefits that are available to them, and important enrollment deadlines in order to avoid penalties.

Unexpected changes in health can result in devastating financial consequences due to the extraordinary costs of long-term care. Medicaid is available to assist with the cost of long-term care for those individuals who meet the financial eligibility guidelines. The income and resource eligibility rules can be complex and difficult for individuals to assess and understand. Meenan & Associates can help clients assess their eligibility for Medicaid, as well as assist them through all steps of the application process. Meenan & Associates can also inform clients about lesser-known programs administered by Medicaid that clients may not be aware of, such as the Traumatic Brain Injury Medicaid Waiver program that offers many additional benefits, and help clients navigate the application process for those programs.

In addition, persons who are not eligible for Medicaid because of their assets and income, can become eligible for Medicaid with proper planning. Planning in advance is the greatest asset one can carry into his/her future. Proper planning can help those who may need long-term care to preserve, maximize and transfer income and assets in an appropriate manner to ensure Medicaid eligibility.

Meenan & Associates can assist with all steps of the Medicaid planning process, including:

  • Life Estates
  • Transfer of the Home
  • Asset Protection Trusts
  • Supplemental Needs Trusts
  • Pooled Trusts
  • Gift & Promissory Note

Special Needs

Representing disabled persons or persons with special needs requires an in-depth understanding of their needs, abilities and goals. We represent disabled and special needs people in all areas of special needs planning, always keeping in mind their capabilities and strengths.

We help individuals who are disabled or have special needs to become eligible for the services and government benefits that will improve their quality of life, including Medicaid and benefits under the Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities.   Where necessary, we help individuals who have too many assets or income to qualify for benefits become eligible for those benefits, using planning strategies such as supplemental needs trusts, Medicaid asset protection trusts and pooled income trusts.

For disabled persons with capacity to understand legal documents, we help them to put their affairs in order, by making sure they have the basic foundational estate planning documents, such as a will, health care proxy and power of attorney. If a person’s disabilities render them unable to understand these documents, then a guardianship proceeding may be necessary. For some individuals with special needs, such as developmentally disabled individuals whose disability commenced before age twenty-two, we may file for guardianship in Surrogate’s Court under Article 17-A of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act. In other cases, we file for guardianship in Supreme Court under Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law, a guardianship that allows more flexibility and can be tailored to the specific needs of the person who needs a guardian.

We also are very experienced at drafting and obtaining the necessary government approvals for supplemental needs trusts, also known as special needs trusts. We also can advise trustees of such trusts on how to properly administer such trusts and prepare the annual accountings required to be provided to Medicaid and/or the court. In cases where there are no family members able to serve as trustee of such trusts, attorneys at our firm are experienced at serving as trustees of supplemental needs trusts.

New York Office
299 Broadway, Suite 1310
New York, NY 10007
By Appointment Only

Tampa office
1725 East Fifth Avenue
Tampa, FL 33605
By Appointment Only