Medical Marijuana and NJ Elder Law

medical marijuana

The State of New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) is designed to regulate and oversee marijuana distribution for medical use, a program that impacts seniors. There’s still quite a lot of confusion or misunderstanding about this program and medical marijuana use for seniors, so here’s some insight from a leading elder law attorney in New Jersey.

What is Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana is very different from the street drug, which can be compromised in terms of quality and safety. Instead, this drug is developed from a specially-farmed cannabis Inca plant. It is grown under very specific conditions by licensed growers that are strictly regulated. The plant is then harvested and developed into different drugs and consumables to treat certain conditions and symptoms. Qualifying patients are restricted to 3 ounces per month that can be collected from state-licensed dispensaries.

Who Can Prescribe Medical Marijuana for Seniors?

In order for a doctor or physician to prescribe marijuana, they have to be approved by the MMP, so this may mean having to visit a new specialist. The doctor will have to examine your medical files to determine that there is a genuine need for this medication. It is also important to ensure that there is a low risk of negative interactions with other prescribed medications.

The patient will also have to meet certain criteria for receiving this prescription, including registering with the MMP, which can take some time and will require identification photographs, government-issued ID, and proof of NJ residency. Upon your application being approved, senior citizens, veterans, SSD, and SSI beneficiaries as well as Medicaid and Disability beneficiaries receive a discounted MMP card. 

Senior caregivers are also able to apply on behalf of their patient(s).

What Conditions Qualify a Senior for Medical Marijuana Prescription?

Seniors can apply for medical marijuana on the basis of a range of debilitating conditions, including chronic pain, glaucoma, anxiety, PTSD, muscular dystrophy, IBS, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, cancer, and terminal illnesses with 12 months to live, among others. As these criteria can change at any time, it is important to speak to your physician to find out if you or your senior loved one qualify. 

Need Legal Advice? Speak to Your Elder Law Attorney in New Jersey

Experienced in elder law, compassionate and committed to his clients, you’ll receive the highest quality legal expertise and guidance you need from Frank R. Campisano when you need Medicaid planning or Medicaid assistance

In addition, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Health Care Proxy/Medical Directive, Power of Attorney documents and trusts. 

For more compassionate legal guidance and a free consultation, please contact us or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

Inside the NJ Digital Estate Planning Law

digital estate

When it comes to estate planning, we often focus on physical assets like life insurance, savings accounts, property, and investments, forgetting that our digital assets are important too. Recently, New Jersey passed the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Access Act, a law that has an important impact on your estate planning. Here’s what you need to know, from an estate planning attorney in New Jersey.

What Is the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Access Act?

This new law empowers individuals to determine what level of access heirs and next of kin can have to their digital assets when they die. Previously, this was determined by each digital company’s individual policies, but now the choice is in your hands. Essentially, this means you can decide whether or not your next of kin can access your social media accounts, email accounts, and other online accounts after your passing.

This Act also prioritizes online tools that digital services providers allow users to set personally through their platforms. So, it’s important to not only make your wishes clear in your estate plan, but also your accounts. For example, Facebook has a legacy feature that lets you choose a designated person who will be able to access your account when you die. And, this will override any other executor in this particular area, including your Last Will and Testament.

Why Is it Important to Include Digital Assets in Estate Planning?

As the world and our lives become more digital, these assets have become more and more important and powerful, making including them in your estate plan increasingly critical. While this may not be so important for, say, your social media accounts, access to email accounts has had a far-reaching impact on probate and estate processes.

It has cost plaintiffs years of costly litigation in a number of states as people struggle to gain access into email accounts in order to access statements, information, and protocols to unlock and utilize physical accounts that require management through the estate. This Act is designed to both prevent this type of litigation and speed up the process of distributing estates to heirs and loved ones.

Comprehensive Physical and Digital Estate Planning in New Jersey

Frank R. Campisano is an experienced estate planning attorney with a long history of service and loyalty to his New Jersey clients. In addition to assisting you with creating, storing or updating your Last Will and Testament, he can assist you with 529 plans, college savings strategies, developing trusts, healthcare proxies, Power of Attorney documentation, and much more. 

For a free estate planning consultation, please contact us today and speak to Frank R. Campisano or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

Your Guide to Proactive Medicaid Planning in 2020

Elderly woman touching face of young female nurse

The senior population is growing, with over 47 million people in the USA aged 65 and above. Obviously, as we age, our need for high-quality, accessible healthcare becomes critical. Medicaid plays an important role in providing seniors with quality long-term care. But, accessing this care can be a complex process. Your elder law and estate planning attorney can assist you in not only understanding your options, but also proactively implementing a strategy to ensure that you can access these options when the time comes that you need them.


Why Being Proactive About Medicaid Planning Matters

Medicaid is a federal program that provides coverage for the costs associated with long term care and healthcare for seniors. However, it is incredibly complex. Each year, Medicaid is tweaked and changed, all to help define the limits of who as well as what services are eligible for these benefits. Even the simplest errors or oversights in your application can mean you get denied benefits, which can be devastating.

As a result, legal specialists are often the most valuable resource in not only understanding this system, but for putting Medicaid planning strategies in place to ensure that when you need the benefits offered by Medicaid, you have the best possible chance of being positioned correctly to meet their very strict and complicated criteria.

Medicaid Planning Needs to be Customized

There is no one-size-fits-all Medicaid planning solution, and your estate planning attorney should tailor your strategy to you or your loved one’s financial position and needs. For example, if you are married, your strategy needs to include the possibility of one spouse being able to live independently at home while the other requires long-term care. You also need to consider how to manage assets to ensure that they are passed on to your children and grandchildren, rather than them being absorbed by costly penalties when you apply for Medicaid.

Being proactive about Medicaid planning is not about waiting until you or a loved one needs to access these benefits. Rather, it is about taking an active role to ensure peace of mind about your health and assets when that time comes.

Find Out More About Medicaid Planning – Book a Free Consultation with Your Estate Planning Attorney Today

At Sedita, Campisano and Campisano in New Jersey, otherwise known as SCC Legal, estate planning attorney Frank Campisano is ready to assist you with all your Medicaid and estate planning needs, including planning for Medicaid eligibility, business succession planning, personal estate plans, your Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, trusts or minimizing inheritance tax on your estate.

Contact us today and let us deliver expert estate planning advice to take care of all your Medicaid and estate planning needs. For more information, please visit our website at:http://www.scclegal.com/

Why Would I Need an Elder Law Attorney in 2020?

Elder Law

Elder law issues are complex. As the population over 65 in the USA grows, it is more important than ever before that the rights and needs of seniors and their loved ones are professionally protected and provided for. Here are just 4 of the reasons why it’s a good idea to hire an elder law attorney in New Jersey:


Medicaid Planning

Medicaid planning is one of the fastest-growing elder law services for a number of reasons; the increasing cost of senior long-term care and the complex implementation of Medicare on a state and federal level being two of the most important. The reality is that effective financial planning has to be implemented years before a loved one’s reliance on Medicare is anticipated. The job of an elder care attorney is to help you develop a plan that will ensure that when you or a loved one reaches the age where Medicare is necessary, that everything is in place to ensure eligibility to the appropriate level of care. This includes planning for assets, spousal provisions, and that critical 5-year look-back period.

Estate Planning

While you can – and should – develop your estate plan as soon as you start accumulating assets, estate planning is particularly critical for seniors. An elder law attorney can ensure that your Last Will and Testament is up to date, accurate, and legally-binding (most, if not all, DIY wills are highly problematic and flawed). He will also check that you have suitable provisions in place for not only your spouse and/or loved ones, but also even your pets, be it in the form of an inheritance, conditions in your will or by creating a trust.

Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney documents become increasingly important as we age, and are designed to ensure our financial and medical wishes are met in the event that we can’t advocate for ourselves. This document provides for important issues, including the following: 

  1. Who should handle your finances?
  2. Who should be provided for?
  3. What advanced life-saving measures do you want (or do not want)? and 
  4. How you would like your long-term care needs to be met? 

No-one likes to think of a time in which they are unable to voice these issues themselves, but it is so much harder on families and loved ones involved when there are no clear and legal directions for them to take.

Guardianship

An elder law attorney in New Jersey can assist you if you need to apply for guardianship over a loved one. They will inform you of the requirements and the responsibilities of this position, guide you through the legal process, and help you ensure that it is the right option for your loved one’s needs.

Need an Elder Law Attorney in New Jersey? Get a Free Consultation Today

Frank R. Campisano is a highly experienced and compassionate elder law attorney with considerable knowledge of Medicaid issues. In addition to planning ahead financially for Medicaid eligibility, he is also able to assist with applications, appeals, and other Medicaid issues. If you or a family member needs assistance with their Medicaid planning or protecting their assets effectively, don’t hesitate to get help today. In addition, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney documents, and trusts.

For a free consultation and Medicaid assistance or NJ estate planning, please contact us today and speak to Frank R. Campisano or visit our website at: http://www.scclegal.com/

Estate Planning for Your Pets

Pets are a part of the family, but unlike your children or spouse, they cannot legally inherit property or assets. This can be a concern for any animal lover who wants their pet cared for in the event that they pass away. The good news is that there are ways to provide for your furry family members in your estate plan. Here are some insights from a leading estate planning attorney in NJ.

What Pet-Friendly Estate Planning Options Are Available?

Because pets legally cannot inherit, you can’t simply write your pet into your estate plan or Last Will and Testament the way you would with a person. If you do this, those assets will simply be removed and included in your residuary estate and dealt with as if it was left out of the will, likely going to your spouse or nearest human dependents. However, this doesn’t mean that a will is useless in this instance; it can still be used to provide for your pet if it is correctly and legally-worded. You can choose to do the following:

  1. Leave your pet to a loved one of your choice as you would with any other asset, or
  2. Leave your pet to a loved one of your choice along with an amount of money to be used to pay for your pet’s expenses.

The second option is often the best one, as many people may not be able to take on a pet even if they love them, due to financial constraints. However, it’s important to note that even if you say this money should be used to care for that pet, there is nothing legally preventing the beneficiary from spending the money on anything they want. They can also then give up the pet with no legal consequences.

A third and more secure option is to create a pet trust. This is a stronger but more expensive legal tool that works in much the same way as other trusts. You can set down all the details of the food, treatment, and care of your pet, and have an independent trustee to ensure these wishes are carried out, making sure that the money is spent properly and the pet is cared for.

This also allows you to make additional provisions, for example, where any left over money should go once the pet passes, or who should care for the pet in the event that the original caretaker passes away or is unable to fulfill the requirements of the trust. 

Include Your Furry Family Member in Your Estate Plan – Speak to Your Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey

Frank R. Campisano is an experienced estate planning attorney with a long history of service and loyalty to his New Jersey clients. In addition to assisting you with creating, storing or updating your Last Will and Testament, he can assist you with developing trusts to care for your pets, healthcare proxies, Power of Attorney documentation, and much more. 

For a free consultation on estate planning for pets, please contact us today and speak to Frank R. Campisano or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

What’s Better for Senior Couples – Marriage or Cohabitation?

When someone finds a partner when they’re both in their senior years, the choice between marriage and cohabitation is a more complex one. Individual and religious preferences aside, these two options carry serious financial and tax implications that should be considered. Here’s some insight from a leading elder law attorney in New Jersey.

The reality is that there are benefits and drawbacks to either choice – many seniors refuse to get married because they don’t want to affect the cost of their healthcare, compromise their Medicaid planning, reduce their retirement benefits, raise their taxes or have to redo their entire estate plans. Similarly, some seniors still choose marriage to take advantage of the tax breaks it offers as well as the benefits and protections. It really comes down to the importance of knowing how these choices affect your individual position to see what works best for both people in the relationship.

What to Consider When Weighing Up Cohabitation and Marriage as a Senior:

Housing: 

When you are cohabiting, living together means developing an agreement about housing, the associated costs, and each person’s rights. One person may agree to sell their home or rent it and move into the other’s property, which will have tax implications. When only one person’s name is on the deed, cohabiting partners have fewer rights, including legal rights if the property is sold after the partner passes or if the relationship dissolves. Here, married couples have more protection but will still need to sort out the implications of selling a property or purchasing a new asset.

Estate Planning: 

Senior couples tend to have far more complex estate plans than newlyweds in their 20s, which may include adult children and grandkids, wills and trusts, properties, investment portfolios, insurance, and 401ks. If you choose to cohabit, then your estate plan may only need minor changes depending on whether or not you want to sell an asset or you want to name your partner as a beneficiary in your Will. If you choose to marry, your estate plan will need to be extensively redone to determine your spouse’s rights and benefits from your estate, and to determine the impact of their debt if they have any. This should be done by an experienced elder law attorney who can talk you through the different tax and financial implications of your options to ensure that the estate plan is properly developed to protect the assets and people involved.

Medicaid Planning: 

It’s a good idea for seniors to commit to Medicaid planning in their retirement – this is a customized strategy based on your assets to ensure that Medicaid care can be accessed and penalties avoided. This strategy will remain largely unchanged if you choose to cohabit (although you should talk to your elder law attorney about it when they work on your estate plan), but may need extensive revision if you choose to marry. This is because your new spouse and the assets you gain in the marriage will be evaluated when you or your spouse applies for Medicaid.

Whether you decide on marriage or cohabitation is a personal choice, but it is important to know exactly how these choices will impact your estate plan and financial situation, which is where your elder law attorney can help. They can rework your documents and even introduce useful cohabitation contracts that will ensure that both parties are properly protected, giving you peace of mind with either choice.

Find Out How Marriage or Cohabitation Affects Your Finances and Rights – Speak to an Elder Law Attorney in New Jersey

Frank R. Campisano is a highly experienced and compassionate elder law attorney with considerable knowledge of Medicaid issues. In addition to planning ahead financially for Medicaid eligibility, he is also able to assist with applications, appeals, and other Medicaid issues. If you or a family member needs assistance with their Medicaid planning or protecting their assets effectively, don’t hesitate to get help today.

In addition, he can also help you to prepare additional estate planning documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Healthcare Proxy, Power of Attorney documents, and trusts.

For a free consultation and Medicaid assistance, please contact us today and speak to Frank R. Campisano or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

Should You Have a Medicaid-Qualified Annuity for Your Spouse?

Medicaid planning

A Medicaid-qualified annuity is a useful tool for protecting your assets for a spouse when the other spouse is applying for Medicaid. As with all Medicaid planning, it’s best to consult with your elder law attorney in New Jersey to see if it’s right for you.

  • Excess Resources in the Medicaid Application Process

Your estate is made up of a range of assets, all of which will be considered in the Medicaid application process, which covers a lookback period of 5 years from the date of the application. This means that any Medicaid planning strategy has to begin well before any benefits are required.

In order to qualify for Medicaid, you’ll need to be below their threshold, so any assets over this threshold are excessive resources. Essentially, these need to be removed from the household for more than 5 years before you make a Medicaid application. A Medicaid-qualified annuity can do this.

  • What are the Benefits of a Medicaid-Qualified Annuity?

A Medicaid-qualified annuity is a good option for spouses where only one spouse requires Medicaid, as it can be used to provide income for them. Without this type of measure in place, a household’s excess resources would be used for nursing home or long-term care instead.

This annuity is a single premium immediate annuity, which means that you pay in a lump sum (your excess resources) in return for a stream of income in the form of monthly payments until the lump sum runs out.

  • What are the Requirements of a Medicaid-Qualified Annuity?

There are legal requirements that define whether or not an annuity product is Medicaid-qualified. This includes:

  • That it has to be an immediate annuity,
  • That it pays income in equal installments (usually monthly),
  • That it has no balloon payments at the end,
  • That the terms of the annuity do not extend beyond the receiving spouse’s 

life expectancy, and

  • That it is irrevocable and non-assignable.

This means that if the spouse receiving the income dies during the period before the annuity is fully paid out, any remaining money will be used to pay the other’s spouse’s Medicaid bills first before it will go to a beneficiary.

Is This the Right Medicaid Planning Option for You? Speak to an Elder Law Attorney in New Jersey

Frank R. Campisano is a highly experienced and compassionate elder law attorney with considerable knowledge of Medicaid issues. In addition to Medicaid planning, he is also able to assist with applications, appeals, and other Medicaid issues. If you or a family member needs assistance with their Medicaid planning or protecting their assets effectively, don’t hesitate to get help today.

In addition, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney documents, and trusts.

For a free consultation with an NJ elder law specialist for Medicaid assistance, please contact us today, and speak to Frank R. Campisano or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/.

Am I Entitled to Part of My Biological Parent’s Estate?

It’s perfectly natural to wonder what your rights are to your deceased parent’s estate. Well, the reality is that there’s no straightforward answer – it changes from case to case. Here’s some insight into this emotional and complex issue from an estate planning attorney in New Jersey:

  • Did Your Parent Die Without a Last Will and Testament?

If your parent had a valid Last Will and Testament at the time of their death, then whatever is contained in that document is legally binding. This means that their assets pass to their heirs in accordance with the instructions contained in the Will, regardless of who is mentioned or who is not. In some cases, a Will can be contested and your estate planning attorney will be able to determine whether or not you have a case.

However, when a person dies intestate (in other words without a valid Will) then it is a completely different story. In these cases, beneficiaries of the estate are determined by the courts in accordance with state law. These laws will not take into account anything other than a valid Last Will and Testament, so it doesn’t matter if a person has spoken about their wishes or not. This is why it’s incredibly important to have a professionally-drafted Last Will and Testament.

In these cases, beneficiaries are designated from immediate family outwards. For example, if a parent dies leaving a spouse and children of that spouse, the spouse inherits 25% (no less than $50,000 and no more than $200,000, plus ½ the remaining balance) and the rest is split equally amongst the children. If someone dies without a spouse but has children, the assets are split equally amongst the children.

  • Assets That Pass Without a Will

In some cases, assets can pass directly to a child without regard to the Last Will and Testament. This is often the case with property, where a child is named on the deed of the property. In this case, the property belongs to the person named on the deed and this cannot be affected by a Will, as you can’t grant assets you do not own legally. The same is true of the named beneficiary on an insurance policy or 401k.

Again, this makes it very important to have a professional-drafted Will, as having conflicting legal documents can lead to confusion and infighting in what is usually a very emotional time. An estate planning attorney will not only ensure that everything is perfectly clear in your own estate plan, but will also assist you with understanding and representing you in a claim against a poorly-drafted Will.

Understand Your Rights – Speak to an Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey

At Sedita, Campisano and Campisano in New Jersey, estate planning attorney Frank Campisano is ready to assist you with all your estate planning needs, whether you need to draft a business succession plan, a personal estate plan, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, a Living trust or to minimize inheritance tax on your estate. He can also assist in the event of Will disputes.

Contact us today and let us deliver expert estate planning advice to take care of all your wishes – whether your needs are big or small. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/.

What is the Role of a Trust Protector

elder law trusts nj

A trust can fulfill many useful estate planning goals, from providing for your family and planning for your golden years to protecting your hard-earned assets from taxation. One of the roles that you might consider adding to your trust is a trust protector. Here’s some insight into this position, from an estate planning attorney in New Jersey.

  • What is a Trust Protector?

A trust protector is a person you appoint to watch over your trust in the long-term, specifically to ensure that the trust or the goals of the trust aren’t compromised or negatively affected by changes to laws or the circumstances surrounding the trust. They are usually an independent third party who specializes in this field, for instance, your estate planning attorney.

  • What Do They Do?

The role of the trust protector is usually to oversee irrevocable living trusts, which are trusts where the grantor cannot simply make changes to the terms of the trust, as they are permanent. Of course, no one can see into the future and, if something should happen that affects the ability of the trust to fulfil its goal, the trust protector – and only the trust protector – can step in and take action.

This is a very important role in the event of something like a crash in the stock market. If investments are falling alarmingly, it can be viewed as an emergency situation. Beneficiaries and grantors can’t access these assets directly to protect them, but the trust protector can.

The extent to which a trust protector can act depends on the powers that the grantor of the trust bestows on them, so it differs from trust to trust and depends a lot on what you, the grantor, permits. Some trust protectors can remove and replace existing trustees, settle disputes between trustees and/or beneficiaries, alter trust provisions, approve or veto investment decisions, or approve or veto discretionary distributions. Essentially, they are there to provide objective and expert oversight. 

In addition, this role can be expanded to provide assistance to grantors and beneficiaries, as you can empower them to modify your trust according to your wishes as grantor without having to formally amend the trust documentation, they can modify the trust after your death to keep it in line with your original goals (for instance, adding a new grandchild as a beneficiary), and maintaining the legal protection and tax benefits that caused you to create the trust in the first place.

Advice on Trusts, Wills, Power of Attorney and More from Your Estate Planning Attorney in NJ

At Sedita, Campisano and Campisano in New Jersey, estate planning attorney Frank Campisano is ready to assist you with all your estate planning needs, whether you need to make a business succession plan, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Medical Directive, a Living trust or to minimize inheritance tax on your estate.

Contact us today and let us deliver expert estate planning advice to take care of all your wishes – whether your estate is big or small. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

5 Useful Features to Include in Your Asset Protection Trust

Elder Law

Asset protection trusts are very useful legal tools for planning your retirement while saving your assets from a nursing home or Medicaid spend-down, undue influence, and even scam artists. Here’s some advice for making these trusts as effective and rewarding as possible, from an elder law attorney in New Jersey. 

  • How Do Asset Protection Trusts Work?

A trust is formed between three parties:

  1. The grantor (the person who is putting assets into the trust), 
  2. The beneficiary (the person who will receive income and other benefits from the trust), and 
  3. The trustee (the person who will manage the trust). 

In an asset protection trust, the grantor and the beneficiary can be the same person, so you can continue earning benefits from your trust. The trustee should be your elder law attorney; as they are licensed, bonded, and insured for this position. And, they are independent. The trust can be revocable or irrevocable, and both options have pros and cons. Your elder law attorney can help you decide what would deliver the best protection for your assets.

  • Features to Consider
  1. The Right to Receive Income: 

Often, trusts are used to provide regular income as well as to protect assets from taxation or Medicaid. This allows you to have access to dividends and investment income while still keeping those assets protected. This income can then be reported as individual income, which is taxed at a lower rate than trust income. It also helps reduce capital gains taxes.

  1. Lifetime Distributions: 

A trust can be tailored to allow the trustee to distribute assets to beneficiaries within the trustee’s lifetime. This is a useful option that allows the assets of the trust to be utilized in the event of unforeseen emergency expenses or to increase income during retirement.

  1. Checks and Balances: 

Checks and balances are there to ensure that the lifetime distributions clause isn’t abused, and is an important safeguard in the event of multiple beneficiaries. It simply requires that other beneficiaries must agree to assets being withdrawn from the trust.

  1. The Right to Change Beneficiaries: 

This feature allows clients to make changes to beneficiaries even when their trust is irrevocable. This is especially useful in the event of a divorce or marriage.

  1. Add Successor Trustees: 

If you use an elder law attorney to act as the trustee, this can be handled by their firm. But, it’s always a good idea to add your own trustees for your peace of mind. This is the person who will take over as trustee if the original trustee can no longer hold this position.

Speak to a Leading Elder Law Attorney in NJ Today for Advice on Your Trust
If you would like assistance in understanding and creating an asset protection trust, speak to Frank R. Campisano today. Experienced in elder law, compassionate and committed to his clients, you’ll receive the highest quality legal expertise and guidance that will help you secure better care. In addition, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney documents, and trusts. For more compassionate legal guidance and a free consultation with an elder law attorney in New Jersey, please contact us or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

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