Gifting Your Home to your Child – The Medicaid Implications

Medicaid planning

For many people, the cost of senior care is challenging or even impossible to manage without the assistance of Medicaid. In order to qualify for Medicaid, you need to keep the value of your assets below a certain limit, and one way that people choose to meet this requirement is by gifting assets, including their homes, away to children and loved ones. But what are the pros and cons of this strategy?

“Spend down” Strategies Help You Qualify for Medicaid 

A “spend down” strategy is where you actively reduce your assets to meet Medicaid requirements. It is an effective way to ensure that you qualify for Medicaid when the need arises – essentially, it means reducing your assets to the point where you qualify in a way that ensures you don’t incur penalties.

While gifting your assets is an effective way to spend down, it has to be done the right way or Medicaid will still penalize you or reject your application. The most significant obstacle to this strategy is the 5-year look-back period. If you have gifted away your home or other assets within the last 5 years, you face a transfer penalty where you are ineligible for Medicaid. Even the $14,000 per year tax-free federal gift allowance is included in this calculation and can affect eligibility.

You are only excluded from this look-back period under very special circumstances, including:

  • If your home has been transferred to your spouse.
  • If you have transferred it to your blind or disabled child under 21 years old.
  • If you have transferred it to a caretaker child – that is, your child who has lived with you for 2 or more years in order to care for you.
  • If you have transferred your home to your sibling who has an equity interest in the house and who has lived with you for 1 year or longer.
  • If you have transferred it into a special needs trust to care for a disabled person under 65 years old.

Speak to a Qualified Elder Law Attorney for a Sound Medicaid Planning Strategy 

Medicaid planning is a complex process and one where a reliable, clear strategy is followed step by step. With the right help, you or your loved one can get the care and financial assistance they need.

Frank R. Campisano is 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, 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/

 

 

 

What to do When You’ve Been Denied Medicaid for Excess Resources

Medicaid planning

There are many reasons someone can be denied access to Medicaid, from missing documentation to incorrectly filled in forms, but one of the most common issues is for having excess resources. Here is some helpful advice on what to do in this situation, from a Medicaid eligibility specialist and elder law attorney in New Jersey.

What are Excess Resources? 

Part of the Medicaid application process includes listing all the assets that you own, including those of your spouse if you are married. This means bank accounts, property, savings bonds, investments and more. Some assets are exempt from this list, like your home, household goods, one vehicle per home and pension. You may also keep up to $8,000 of non-exempt assets, and your spouse can keep a certain amount of assets under the terms of the Community Spouse Resource Allowance, or CSRA.

All of your assets that are non-exempt after this are considered excess resources. If this is above a certain amount (this differs from state to state and may change from year to year depending on legislation), then you will be denied Medicaid as the state feels that you are essentially too wealthy for this type of support.

Why Were You Denied Medicaid? 

There are several reasons why this denial may occur.

  • An error: The agency may have made a mistake when calculating your assets, by classifying an exempt asset as non-exempt, for example. You can appeal an error of this kind within 30 days of the mailing date of your denial.
  • Calculations were correct, but your excess resources are not very high: This means that you just missed qualifying for Medicaid, but that your application can be approved if you reduce your excess resources (by buying an irrevocable burial reserve or spending on nursing care), you should qualify with ease.
  • You applied too far in advance: This often happens to people who apply too soon and simply have too many assets to be considered eligible, especially in circumstances where a nursing home has insisted on an application. This will require the implementation of a well-considered spend-down strategy, where the best choices are outlined to ensure that you achieve Medicaid eligibility upon reapplication at a later point. There are several legal avenues to achieve this while still utilizing your assets to the benefit of yourself and loved ones, and your elder law attorney is critical to developing a reliable strategy for you to follow.

Work with a Qualified and Experienced Elder Law Attorney in NJ to Develop Your Medicaid Strategy 

 

 

Frank R. Campisano is 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, 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/

 

 

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Creating and Managing a Trust

elder law trusts nj

A trust can be a highly functional and useful estate planning tool, helping you provide for dependents more effectively, avoid probate and even reduce taxation on your estate. However, according to your estate planning attorney in New Jersey, a trust is only effective when it is set up and managed properly – and this means avoiding these common mistakes.

  1. Not funding your trust: In order to deliver the above benefits, you have to fund the trust by moving assets into it. Without assets, there will be nothing to deliver to the beneficiaries. All assets outside the trust will be subject to standard legal, probate and taxation procedures.
  2. Not having clear instructions: Trusts are fairly complex legal structures and clear instructions are necessary to ensure that it functions in line with your wishes. You need to create instructions around the function of the trust, who you would like to benefit from the trust, how you would like your assets to be divided, and so forth.
  3. Setting up the wrong type of trust: There are quite a few different types of trusts available when you’re creating your estate plan, and each type suits a different goal. For example, one type of trust has different tax implications to another, some can be changed while others cannot be modified at all, and some are better for providing funds to special needs children than others. It’s vital that you work with your estate planning attorney to evaluate different trust options and commit to one that will actually achieve your goals.
  4. Choosing the wrong trustee: Choosing a trustee is an incredibly important choice that deserves serious thought, as appointing the wrong person into this position could destroy your trust. Not only could this lead to abuse of your trust and legal problems, it could destroy relationships as well.
  5. Failing to update your trust: Like any estate planning document, your trust shouldn’t be ignored for your lifetime after you’ve set it up. As your circumstances change and evolve, your trust should be reviewed and adjusted to ensure that it still aligns with your wishes. Significant life events like marriage, divorce, and children are all going times to review your trust, Last Will and Testament and other estate planning documents.

Create or Review Your Trust Today – Speak to 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, 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 needs are big or small. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

When Should I Revise My Will?

Estate Planning Documents

We’re all aware that having a Last Will and Testament is a good idea – after all, it protects assets from taxation and ensures our dependents are properly cared for. But when should your existing Will be revised?

Update Your Last Will and Testament When These Major Life Changes Happen

There are certain life events that have a significant impact on your financial wellbeing or responsibilities, and the changes they bring mean it’s time to update or re-write your Will. Here are a few:

  • Getting married.
  • Getting divorced – ex-spouses are entitled to any inheritance named in your most recent, legal Will.
  • Developing health complications – you or your spouse or your child.
  • Caring for a special needs child.
  • Having children, blending your family or having grandchildren – including providing financial care for a child, inheritance, and naming legal guardians.
  • Moving into another state or country, as you’ll have to comply with different estate and probate laws.
  • Receiving an inheritance.
  • Getting involved with charitable organizations.
  • Significant changes in law (especially regarding estate taxation, etc.).

Other Legal Documents to Update Simultaneously

To ensure that your estate is fully in line with your new Will, your Living Will should also be created or updated. This is a legal document that outlines your desires regarding future medical treatment and care in the event that you are unable to express informed consent, including an advanced directive to ensure that your wishes regarding advanced life-saving care are respected.

Similarly, you should take this opportunity to also create or update your durable Power of Attorney. This is another essential tool that ensures that certain decisions, including financial decisions, are made in line with your wishes in the event that you are incapacitated

Speak to Your Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey today

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, healthcare proxies, Power of Attorney documentation and much more.

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

A Guide to Medicaid Planning When You are Single or Widowed

Elderly woman touching face of young female nurse

When it comes to Medicaid planning, a lot of the focus is on how you can go about protecting your assets through different strategies under existing spousal protection rules – but what about people who are unmarried or widowed? Fortunately, there are solutions, says a leading elder law attorney in New Jersey.

  • Gifting: Gifts made during the look-back period (currently set at 5 years) can make you ineligible for Medicaid for a certain period of time. However, this can form a part of your asset protection strategy. The purchase of an annuity, for example, can ensure that funds are available for care during this period of time without you having to draw on that gift.
  • Exempt transfers: These are assets that you are allowed to gift within the look-back period without compromising your Medicaid eligibility. Only certain types of gifts qualify as exempt transfers, however. These include money or assets given to a child or grandchild under 21 who is disabled, deeding your home to your child who has lived with you as your caregiver for at least 2 years, funding a trust for a disabled family member under 65, or deeding your home to a sibling if they have equity interest in the property and have lived there at least one year. While these are the most common exemptions, there are others that you may qualify for.
  • Purchasing exempt transfers: Some Medicaid planning strategies include purchasing assets that would then qualify as exempt transfers, protecting your financial wellbeing without compromising your Medicaid eligibility. Some assets that may qualify as exempt transfers include burial reserves, medical equipment and even a vehicle.

Effective Medicaid Planning Strategies from Your Elder Law Attorney in New Jersey

Frank R. Campisano is 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, Healthcare Proxy, Power of Attorney documents and trusts.

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

These are the Top Concerns People have About Retirement

Retirement

For many Americans entering retirement, their focus is more on maintaining their current living needs rather than being able to leave a substantial inheritance to their dependents. Retirement should be a relaxing period in which to enjoy your Golden Years, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. Here are the leading concerns for people currently considering or entering retirement, from a leading estate planning attorney in NJ.

  • Debt: Americans of every age are increasingly in debt, with total debt hitting a new high of $13 trillion in 2017. For people entering retirement, this is of special concern because their period of earning income is limited. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), 60% of households in 2016 headed by an adult of retirement age (65) are carrying debt, with an average of $31,300.
  • Maintaining a stream of income: For many retired or retirement-age Americans, a leading concern is how to keep money flowing into the household – primary in order to meet day-to-day expenses. Simply put, they are concerned that Social Security income will be enough – or that these benefits will even continue to exist.
  • Medical expenses: Medical costs in the USA are high, and it’s no surprise that according to an analysis by Fidelity in 2017, a healthy 65-year old couple can expect to need $275,000 to cover their healthcare retirement costs. Expenses like this can easily throw even a conscientious retirement plan into chaos.
  • Saving enough: Another big concern for retired or retirement age Americans is that they simply haven’t saved enough. People are living longer than ever before, with around 25% of today’s 65-year-olds predicted to live to 90, and Americans are worried that they will outlive their savings.

With any of these concerns, there are solutions available. With the right legal asset protection through estate planning, Medicaid planning, and financial planning, retirement plans can be put on track to deliver the peace of mind you deserve in your retirement.

Expert Solutions from Your Estate Planning Attorney 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 plan for retirement, make a business succession plan, draft your Last Will and Testament or Power of Attorney, form a Living trust or 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 business is big or small. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

Elder Law Advice for Alzheimer’s Patients

Elder Law

If you or a loved one have received a diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease, creating a legal plan for the future is an essential step for ensuring that medical care and financial assets are managed properly. It’s best to address this plan as early as possible, ensuring that the necessary people are as prepared as possible and that you can focus on enjoying your life, family, and friends.

What Should Your Legal Plan Include?

Legal planning can look complex but it’s really about gathering all the right information into one place in a legally clear and binding format to ensure that any issues and challenges can be managed effectively, quickly and with minimal hassle as they arise. Generally, your legal plan should include the following:

  • Medical Power of Attorney or Healthcare Proxy: This is a legal document that names a person of your choice to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so. These decisions will be made in line with your wishes, and you can include details on all your medical care wishes from the kind of long-term care you have planned for to whether or not you want to receive extreme lifesaving measures.
  • Financial Power of Attorney: Similar to the document mentioned above, this names a person to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so yourself. Again, you can outline your wishes in detail within the document in order to guide the person who will speak on your behalf.
  • Legal capacity: This refers to the ability to make rational decisions and is important to include in your legal documentation, as it will come into effect in the later stages of the disease. Your attorney can assist you in creating a document that defines the conditions under which you no longer have the legal capacity – and this is when your medical and financial Power of Attorney documents will come into effect. Simply creating this document does not affect your legal rights – in reality, it helps protect your rights by ensuring that decisions about your health and financial assets are held to the legal plan that you create.
  • Updating existing documents: If you have a Last Will and Testament, a trust or other elements of an estate plan, now is a good time to gather them, review them and update them as necessary. You will need to gather a complete list of your property and other assets and decide on how you would like them to be protected or distributed.
  • Long-term care: Long-term care plans are especially essential, and even if you have no need for care at present, it’s important that you evaluate your options and put in place legal instructions as to your preferences if and when the need for them arises. This includes looking into different care options and facilities to determine a good fit, as well as putting in place a plan to pay for your preferred care option.

Compassionate Legal Advice and Planning from Your Elder Law Attorney New Jersey 

Frank R. Campisano is a highly experienced and compassionate elder law attorney with considerable knowledge of estate planning, retirement planning, and Medicaid issues. Experienced in elder law, compassionate and committed to his clients, you’ll receive the highest quality legal expertise and guidance. In addition to sound elder law advice, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney documents, medical directives and trusts.

For a free consultation, please contact us today or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

How New Laws Support the Reporting of Financial Elder Abuse

Medicaid Application

In May this year, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law, and it contains some elements that are critical to reporting financial elder abuse. This is vital to protecting seniors and their assets, as financial abuse that targets the elderly is reported by the National Council on Aging to cost seniors between $2.9 – $36.5 billion each year and carries severe emotional trauma. In fact, these numbers are thought to be much higher specifically because seniors are unlikely to report these crimes.

The law includes a section from a previous stand-alone bill from Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) which incentivizes financial institutions to report financial abuse of the elderly (age 65 and up) that they witness. It also provides immunity from any lawsuit alleging elder financial abuse if the financial institution reports it to federal or state law enforcement. This is an important step because financial institutions are often the first to witness this form of abuse through elderly clients making unusual transactions that may indicate a scam.

Working Together is Key to Protecting the Elderly from Financial Abuse 

The elderly are especially vulnerable to financial scams and abuse, and it is often difficult if not impossible to recover from such an event, making it essential that each element of the community work together to prevent and report these incidents. Programs such as the Senior$afe program in Maine encourage this by helping state regulators, financial institutions and legal organizations to work together to educate employees on how to spot financial elder abuse and report it effectively to law enforcement. Similar programs are in place in counties across the country, helping to protect vulnerable citizens. It is also essential that elderly people and their families have someone they can trust to talk to about financial planning to help prevent them from falling victim to a scam.

Protect Elderly Citizens Through Effective Advice and Planning from an Elder law Attorney in New Jersey 

If you would like to help your loved one get the legal assistance they need to protect their assets and wellbeing, speak to elder law attorney Frank R. Campisano today. Experienced in elder law and estate planning, he is compassionate and committed to his clients, ensuring that you’ll receive the highest quality legal expertise and guidance. In addition to sound elder law advice on preventing elder abuse, Medicaid assistance and Medicaid planning, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney documents, medical directives and trusts. For a free consultation, please contact us today or visit the website at http://www.scclegal.com/

Can I Create a Trust While in Debt?

elder law trusts nj

If you’re in debt, you’re not alone. In fact, 2017 statistics showed that the total debt for American households reached a massive $12.84 trillion, with 4 out of 5 people living in the red. For most people, their debt is usually in the form of mortgages and student loan debt, but credit card, auto and medical debt are also common – with medical debt being the leading cause of personal bankruptcy filings in the USA. Being in debt makes smart financial planning even more critical – so how to trusts work into this plan?

Will a Trust Protect My Assets? 

The most popular reason for creating a trust is to protect assets from taxation and lengthy probate processes, ensuring that beneficiaries are provided for. However, a trust cannot protect your assets from creditors. If you or one of your beneficiaries file for bankruptcy, for example, the trust could be seized by creditors to pay off debts. However, there are types of trusts that can offer asset protection in these circumstances.

Irrevocable Trusts for Asset Protection 

Unlike a revocable trust, an irrevocable trust can offer the type of asset protection you may be looking for. Once someone has created an irrevocable trust, they no longer legally own the assets within the trust and cannot control the distribution of those assets. The trust also cannot be modified by the creator of the trust. This means that future creditors cannot access these assets to settle a claim against your debt.

However, it is important to remember that a court can overturn the transfer of assets into a trust if it determines that the purpose of the transfer was to defraud creditors. This means that the transfer of the assets was fraudulent, and this can carry serious legal penalties. This makes it essential that you work with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that you have effective, legal asset protection.

Plan for Asset Protection with a Leading NJ Estate Planning Attorney 

You deserve a legal solution that is uniquely tailored to your needs, so speak to New Jersey estate planning attorney Frank R. Campisano today. Whether you want to create a trust to reduce estate taxes or provide for your dependents, require a Last Will and Testament or are interested in updating more complex estate planning documents such as Medical Directives and Powers of Attorney documents, he can ensure that the right legal documentation is developed in order to meet your specific wishes.

For peace of mind estate planning or advice on creating your Last Will and Testament, please contact Frank R. Campisano or visit our website today at http://www.scclegal.com/

Is it Enough to Just Have a Will?

Did you know that according to research by the AARP (formerly known as the American Association for Retired Persons), 6 in 10 American adults don’t have a Last Will and Testament? The statistics get worse in the younger segments of society, with a massive 78% of Millennials (adults between 18-36) and 64% of Generation Xers (age 37-52) without a Will or any form of estate plan. So, it’s easy to think that if you do have a Last Will and Testament, you’re doing really well in terms of planning for the future.

A Last Will and Testament is the Foundation of Your Estate Plan 

While a Last Will and Testament is an important document that every single adult should have, it’s a very simple and limited tool in many ways. This means that if you have anything other than very basic planning needs, it’s not enough to accomplish what you want to do with your estate. For this, you need estate planning – a comprehensive strategy for determining:

  • The distribution of your assets
  • How your assets should be managed in the event of disability or you become unable to manage your own financial decisions
  • How your healthcare should be managed in the event that you become unable to manage these decisions yourself
  • How best to manage your financial assets to save you and your heirs substantial legal fees and taxation
  • How to minimize the probate process (which can be lengthy even in the event of an uncontested Will)

In this way, an estate plan is also an estate plan. It allows you to set up specific trusts that work for your particular needs (for example, a trust that minimizes taxation on your estate or provides specific care for a loved one with special needs or provides for minor children) and manage your finances in a way that ensures your heirs receive your hard-earned assets – not the state.

This doesn’t mean that estate plans are only for the wealthy – no matter the size or complexity of your assets, the most important thing is to develop a plan that suits you and provides for your loved ones.

Regularly Review Your Will and Estate Plan with Your Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey 

Estate plans need to be kept up-to-date as our lives change and evolve, whether you’re starting a new business, buying investment property, or expanding your family. 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, set up Trusts 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. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

 

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