UFT retirees are being advised to apply for and fill out a new Power of Attorney form that will be issued this summer so that in a time of crisis there will be no question about the legal rights of the person they have named to act on their behalf.
This advisory is one of the many ways the UFT Legal Plan with its Elder Law Supplement helps and protects all Retired Teachers Chapter members and their spouses or domestic partners.
The UFT Legal Plan provides access to attorneys who can give advice, answer questions, prepare a will and review documents on members’ behalf. The Elder Law Supplement extends services to assist with health and estate planning and to maximize retiree eligibility for coverage of nursing home and home care costs while preserving assets. These are just a few of the many services the plan offers.
Steven Kramer, a senior associate attorney at the law firm of Feldman, Kramer and Monaco, which administers the plan, encourages retirees to call when in doubt because too often, he says, “We don’t know what we don’t know,” and that can prove to be a legal liability.
Kramer cited a case in which a UFT retiree asked an attorney at his firm to call his father’s second wife, from whom the father was divorced, to tell her the father left her $150,000 in his will. The attorney advised him that divorce can change a beneficiary and, as a result of the call, the retiree learned he was the beneficiary of that sum.
In another instance, a UFT retiree called because he was selling his camper. He learned he needed a bill of sale and, under the plan, one was sent to him free of charge.
Kramer said the question most often asked by retirees is about home care benefits for loved ones. Just as the Power of Attorney form is changing, the rules governing home care will also change this year.
Newsletters, which are sent out three times a year, and annual benefit update meetings, which were held remotely this year, keep retirees informed of any plan changes. The booklet detailing the UFT Legal Plan’s coverage that is sent to members when they retire is also updated and sent out every five years.
Kramer counsels retirees to have patience. The legal process may move slowly when a case is complex, but the attorney will do everything possible and will keep them informed. He also advises retirees to always obtain a copy of anything they sign and to keep it in a safe place. And if they receive a legal document, they should always call for advice about how to handle it.
For complete details about what the UFT Legal Plan covers on the UFT website.
The legal plan’s national office is in Suffolk County on Long Island. It can be reached locally at 631-231-1450. Other New York State residents should call 800-832-5182. Outside New York, call 800-292-8063. For Florida residents, there are two numbers: 954-424-1200 or 800-654-1945. Help is available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Telephone advice and consultations are unlimited.