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Mar 12, 2021

Competing in a triathlon is one of the most exciting feelings you'll ever get. But, as exhilarating as it is, there are risks involved. Triathlons can be extremely dangerous and it's important to plan ahead and be prepared in case of an emergency. Are you prepared for a triathlon emergency?

In this week's episode Hilary Topper on Air, Hilary speaks with Deanne Eble, partner at the Russo Law Group, P.C.

Deanna will discuss how triathletes can prepare for the unexpected and dangerous risks of the sport. She will offer estate planning advice including tips for what documents you should bring with you and best practices regarding health care proxies, power of attorney, living wills, a last will and testament, and more.

About Deanne Eble

Deanna is a Partner at Russo Law Group, P.C. of Garden City, Islandia, Lido Beach, and Manhattan, New York. She focuses on Elder Law, Estate Planning, Special Needs Planning, and Medicaid Planning, and has practiced in these areas for more than fifteen years. Deanna is a member of the New York State Bar Association, Nassau County Bar Association, Nassau County Women’s Bar Association, Elder Counsel, and is admitted to the New York Bar. She earned her law degree at Hofstra University School of Law. Deanna frequently presents seminars on Elder Law and Estate Planning throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

While attending school, Deanna worked in a nursing home for almost ten years. The experience of working with the families and seeing the challenges presented in trying to care for a loved one inspired her to focus on Elder Law and related practice areas. “Caring for a loved one during an illness can be such a stressful time for everyone involved, and each individual handles that stress in a different way,” says Deanna. “The fact that I can be there for families during times like these, and provide sound legal counsel about how to pay for and provide the necessary care, is what motivates me every day. I take great satisfaction in helping families address their legal needs, so they can focus their energies on spending time with their loved ones.”

As an attorney, Deanna has helped hundreds of families with all levels of planning. She assists families interested in planning in advance for the possibility of incapacity and the need for long-term care. She also helps families in crisis situations—when they have been told that a loved one must enter a nursing home soon or has already been placed in one, and they need to obtain assistance from Medicaid quickly.

Deanna and her husband, Brandon, have been married since April 2001. They have two wonderful boys. Deanna was born on Long Island and now lives in Kings Park. Deanna enjoys baking and spending time with her family.

About the Russo Law Group

Russo Law Group, P.C. is dedicated to providing peace of mind to you and your family. Their team of elder law attorneys, estate planning attorneys, and special needs (disability) attorneys have experience in helping people with their problems. They promise to answer any question with a straight answer. Once they meet with you, they will be able to assist you. For more information about Vincent and the Russo Law Group visit

Podcast Transcription

Hilary - Triathlons are exciting, exhilarating, and a whole lot of fun. I remember my first triathlon, it was as if I were in the Tour de France. It was one of the most exciting things I ever did, but as exciting as triathlons are they are also extremely dangerous. I’m Hilary Topper and you are listening to Hilary Topper on air. Today’s guest is Deanna Eble of the Russo Law Group and she’s gonna talk about estate planning 101 for specifically runners and triathletes. And without further ado, Deanna, Id like to introduce you. And could you just tell us a little bit about yourself your background and your connection to Triathlon?

Deanna - I can. So I’m Deanna Eble of the Russo Law Group. I’ve been here for... I’m going on my 12th year or I just finished my 12th year and I’m doing this for 19 years and my connection to Triathlon is my husband who, with Hilary, are desperately trying to get me to dive in and be one of you. But at the moment, I’m just one of those crazies who get up at 4:30 in the morning to go in wait, watch and cheer. And it’s probably harder for my end because I have to make sure I get the right picture so that when my husband every year at the end of his season does his you know memory book with all these great pictures of each individual stage of the race, he relies on me to have the pictures so it’s not an easy job to run from spot to spot to try and catch him. That is where the connection comes in. And I have to say, you know, he’s done everything from sprint distances up to a full Ironman. He is racing, this would have been his 11th season, but as most of you know, this season really got canceled and for the first time he didn't have any races this year as most of you didn't have any races and I have been at those races and I have watched some tragic things happen. I mean he did the Gran Fondo a number of years ago before his full Ironman and I sat in a little park at the bottom of the George Washington Bridge for 6 hours by myself and watched on more than one occasion, a spouse or loved one get approached by staff at the race because the athlete had gotten injured and they needed to meet that at the hospital. And so, because of some of the things that I’ve seen at the races, I am working with Hilary to try and get the word out that as much as you prepare and get yourself, physically, ready for a race, there are other aspects of the race that you should consider.

Hilary - So, he told us wise Runners and triathletes should care about this, but can you talk a little bit about Estate Planning in terms of what we need to prepare to protect ourselves in case, God forbid, something happens during one of these events.

Deanna - Absolutely. So, you know, the stories all the time Hollywood has everybody believing that you someone dies and you have to call the attorney. There’s a reading of the will and the will is so important and when somebody picks up the phone and calls me and asks me for a will because they don’t have a will. My first response to that is yes, I can help you with a will. But do you have a power of attorney? Do you have a healthcare proxy? Do you have a living will? So power of attorney those documents first, are lifetime documents. Those are the documents that are effective in your lifetime. If you are physically or mentally unable to do things for yourself, in your lifetime.

So, a power of attorney is a financial document that is giving a list of people that if you are physically or mentally unable to handle your finances, even if it's on a temporary basis like you are in the hospital and you can’t get to the bank to transfer money. I know a lot of people do a lot of things online these days, but there are still some of us who are old school and you still get a check in the mail. And you may need somebody to deposit it and stuff like that. If you need help with those things and you are physically or mentally unable to do it, if you don't have a power of attorney, naming somebody to do those things for you, then you’re in a Guardianship, and you are in guardianship even if you have a spouse. And that’s spouse is someone that you thought would be able to do it for you. The spouse can step in and handle things on a bank account, but I’ll tell you I’ve done a handful of guardianships in this office and every single one of them was a husband and wife case where we were looking to do things like transfer ownership of a property, can’t unilaterally change the deed from joined ownership to one person owning it. And so, without a power of attorney in place, you are in a, if you don't have the mental capacity to do it, you are in a guardianship Court doing it. Its time consuming and expensive. And it is not the best experience because you’re upon us standing and the judge is questioning you, there’s a lot that goes into it.

So power attorney is so much easier you can name multiple people, you can do a succession of one person, and then others, it’s just such an easy transition, when you have a power of attorney. Health Care Proxy is similar, it is the same concept, but it's for medical decision-making. So you’re brought into the hospital unconscious, and somebody needs to talk to the doctor and make the decisions for you that Health Care proxy is going to help prioritize your decision-makers. In New York state, a medical emergency does have laws that allow for a hierarchy to step in and make emergency medical decisions, but, my example is always, you know like I’m one of three girls. My father died five and a half years ago and I’ll tell you that my mom and the three of us were standing in the hospital. And the doctors were coming to us with different things. His health care proxy said one thing, Doctors were telling us what his current state was and one of my sisters was very adamant that whatever my mother wants is what we should do it. And we, my older sister and I very clearly said, no, that’s not the way that the world works. It’s what he wanted. It was his decision when he already signed all the proxies and everything. So, you know, even though there’s an emergency order in there, it can create animosity and a lot of problems in the Heat of the Moment when you’re dealing with a crisis in the hospital where if you hand over Health Care proxy is a pecking order, and there’s no issue there. So we supplement health care proxy with a living will. The living will is essentially the directions to the family as to what you want Health Care Proxy says, who makes the decision living will give them guidance on what decision to make and so those are very important documents. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do a will. And or consider trust and stuff like that. But in the world that you’re in, where you’re doing a lot of these races and you know, I‘ve heard the stories and been at some of these races where things have happened, you know. My husband did the half Ironman in Atlantic City years ago, and he got up there, he was part of it a team at that time, cuz he had been part of a team with the full Ironman. And he was hearing stories about how the weekend before the race. A group of people went to just practice on the course and someone got hit by a car and died. You know it’s not really want to hear. It’s certainly not what you want to hear as an athlete because that’s a real possibility. But even though many of these courses have limited traffic on them, it’s still traffic, and some people aren’t paying attention. It’s usually Sunday morning, and is the least amount of traffic, but, that doesn’t mean people are being cautious. You’re racing in there and their town in their area and if they didn’t want it to happen, and aren’t very fun of the fact that you’re taking over their town, they could be a little aggressive. So I do have concerns about having stuff for the here-and-now and not necessarily only focus on what happens to you on your passing.

Hilary - Yeah, that’s right. I mean it even gets down to the point where what happens if you become incapacitated during an accident and your spouse or your partner needs to get into your social networking sites, so there’s so much...

Deanna - The best example I can give you is, when you think of your races, I guess it’s probably more of the bigger races but when you give your bike at a transition area and everything like that, and if something happens to you, I, as a spectator, I have to have a voucher with your bib number and information on it in order for me to collect your belongings and essentially that’s what you’re doing with the power of attorney and Health Care proxy. Its giving your loved ones a voucher to go in and do things for you and continue your every day the way that you need that every day to continue. You know, Iron Man doesn’t pass over a $6,000 bike to just anyone because of the liabilities and you want to make sure the right people are making your decisions.

Hilary - I would like to open this up to Nicole and Steve and see if you guys have any questions for Deanna.

  • In estate planning where you potentially have a claim issued by creditors against a spouse where the other has died, can you do a transfer of title to the children and retain a life estate in the property? Does that protect you against creditors or you know names from Medicare or for other claims? And if you do something like that, does it also allow you to keep whatever exemptions you have on the property for tax purposes. I’m an attorney but I don’t really do stable that much.

Listen, I’m not understanding if there’s already a claim out there, you know, like what we have to worry about fraudulent conveyance. If there’s a claim out there, already, I’d have to know a little bit more about this, but to answer the second part, there are two ways to transfer property, there are multiple ways, but, in reference to your question, there are two ways I would transfer property in order to maintain the exemptions that someone may be getting for real estate tax exemption. I honestly would do a transfer to an irrevocable trust first. And the reason why I would do a transfer to an irrevocable trust first is that, when you transfer to an irrevocable, trust, if there’s fighting within the family then the grantor can always… there’s always a way in the law for them to manage through the trust, and work through the trust to get the interest back or to cut somebody out. When you do the deed transfer outright to children with a life estate for the parent, yes, they’ll still be able to get their exemptions, but there are two concerns that I have about that. One is if the parent goes into a nursing home and they need to sell the property because the kids can’t maintain two residences, then the children are going to pay a higher... They’re going to pay Capital, if they don’t live in the house, they’re going to pay capital gains on the sale which wouldn’t necessarily happen in a trust…

  • If I transfer a property to a trust, the trust takes the basis that I purchased for?

Yes but if you leave language in the trust to say it is basically implied that the parents have the right to use possess an occupied the premise then they are. It's a grantor trust, first of all, and the fact that they have the right to use occupy and possess the premises will give them the exemption that you’re still looking for. And as a grantor trust is not taking it out of their state so it would be inherited on their desk. But with the deed transfer, you know, I also worry about the children owning it for the reasons of creditor problems. Marital problems. I had a case years ago where Mom and Dad transferred to their three sons. One of the sons passed before Mom and Dad and the daughter-in-law stood for his 1/3 and they were alive and it was their house and they had the right to live there, but because he owns an interest that she sued them for it. So that’s why I usually go trust over deed because there are just so many more protections for the parents in the trust and they have so much more flexibility in the trust than they do with just a deed transfer.

  • I do have a living will and the directives and all of that sort of stuff. I don’t have an actual will at the moment. But my question is when I’m at an event, are there any documents that my spouse should actually have with her during the event, in case something happens to me.

So there are two different ways that you can answer that. You can either have a physical copy of those documents. Just like in your she should have it in her bag so that if she needs it in an emergency it’s there or even like a healthcare proxy is something that you can you put at an email. So that if you’re in the hospital at least she has it on her phone that she can present it and if she needs to email it to them to print out, it’s easy to access to it so that there’s no question that she can make decisions for you.

  • Are there any problems these days and hospitals with same-sex spouses?

As far as I could see, as long as you’re legally married there’s not an issue. And I mean, I really haven’t even seen major issues with long-time partners. Really, it comes down to the family. So when you’re married, I think that the argument is there that you’re married and they can’t do anything about it when it’s a partner situation and there’s no legal Union, then it’s the family that makes the issues because, in that hierarchy, the family would come before the partner. So that’s the issue. In that situation, a health care proxy is absolutely the most important thing because if the health care proxy says the partners’ name, then the partner takes priority over the hierarchy. I mean with regard to a will Nicole, you should just consider. So, one of the things that people sometimes don’t understand, is that a will is really only used in circumstances where somebody has assets in their name alone and there was no beneficiary on them. So, if you and I owned accounts, jointly, and you passed, even if your will said that your wife gets it, let’s pretend she’s just your partner right now, cuz there are nuances with his house. So let, you know, say Hillary gets it in your will, but if you have a joint with me, then I get it because it’s joint ownership, you named me as beneficiary I get it. Hillary doesn’t have any claim because there’s nothing that would be processed through the well, and the will is also a process that requires getting the court involved. So, you’re subject to the court, calendar, your subject to the fees of the Court. And it also gives an opportunity, depending on your circumstance where somebody whos maybe not named in the will may have a platform to go in and argue that they should have gotten something. So I do a lot of trust work so that we don’t have that opportunity in that platform because a trust it’s not impossible, but it is more difficult to get for a Court in a trust in the area.

Hilary - What about if you went to a race and you are there with your child or a friend. Should they still have your health care proxy?

Deanna - I think they should. I think that you should always make that part of your checklist. You know, my husband has a playlist. He plays every morning at the start for racing. He has that list that he goes through to make sure he has his bike pump and he has his spare tubes in his Gatorade. That’s something that should be part of your list. You know, I’ve even had people Shrink it down or years ago, many years ago, I did something for the bar association, which was called the decision-making day and they cast out a healthcare proxy that was about the size of a business card or maybe two, you know, it was folded. So it was when you opened it was to business card and it was microscopic in that sense, but you could fill it out. It was, you know, it wasn’t as comprehensive as what I might have done in the office but it was still something and it was folded and put in your wallet. And then what happens is when, if something happens to you, the first thing that people do is go through your wallet or like the stuff you have on you, which you wouldn’t have on in a race but it’s still part of your belongings and they would pull out the card and open it and realize, oh, wait, we have people that cuz it has names and phone numbers on it so they would call somebody and say here is that information. Now, I know the one that is a little different because they make you fill out those waivers and everything and the forms will ask you for that information up front, but it’s still an opportunity in the hospital for you to have everything right there. And it’s not a lot to carry. The other thing that you should make sure you have is a list of your medications. And my dad was on a lot of medications and it’s something that I‘m trying to see if we could do in our office. My dad took, I don’t know if anybody remembers it cuz we really do everything with our phones nowadays, but my dad had an address book. That was the size of a business card, but it was like an accordion. And when you opened it up by that had spots to write addresses on both sides and he would write all of his medications on it and then close it up and put it in his wallet so that he had all that information cuz he was on so much but its always helpful to know what kind of medications are unlike. I’m on medications, my husband knows all my medications but couldn’t tell you any of the medications I’m on. So I mean that’s always helpful, I know when I was pregnant with my boys, I was on blood thinners. You know, if I got into an accident or something like that, they needed to know I was on blood thinners so that they didn’t do something drastic, that would create more chaos than needed to be.

Hilary - Well, I think that’s a wrap. I really appreciate your time.

Deanna - You’re very welcome in and again, Hilary has my information. So if anybody wants to reach out because you have further questions, I’m available.