Raising Awareness of Identity Fraud and Seniors

Identity theft is an unfortunate reality for all of us, but seniors are especially vulnerable to scams, con artists and fraudsters, putting their wellbeing and finances at serious risk. For caregivers, family and anyone who works with the elderly, it’s important to be aware of these issues and provide senior loved ones with advice and assistance to help keep their personal information safe.

Why are the Elderly More Vulnerable? 

There are two main reasons why seniors are targeted for identity fraud. They often have savings or investments, own their home and have good credit, making them a valuable target. They are also less likely to report fraud, often because they are unaware that they have been defrauded, or because they are simply embarrassed about the situation.

What Can You Do as a Caregiver or Family Member? 

Caregivers and family members can play a role in keeping senior loved ones safer from identity fraud. Here are some important red flags to be aware of:

  • If a stranger or acquaintance expresses interest in their financial history, social security information or other sensitive information.
  • If a caregiver, friend or family member expresses sudden interest in their financials or wants greater input into their spending, bank account access etc.
  • Sudden or inexplicable changes to their Last Will and Testament or other legal documents
  • Financial activity that is out of the ordinary, unlikely of the account holder or otherwise unexplained
  • Increases in withdrawals and purchases
  • Bills not being paid
  • Account statements no longer arriving at their address

It’s also important to remind senior loved ones not to share sensitive information (social security or financial) with anyone, especially unsolicited telephone callers, door-to-door salespeople or contractors. Any suspicious activity on bank and other accounts should be reported immediately.

Legal Advice for Seniors and Loved Ones from 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. In addition, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Healthcare 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/

What is a 529 Plan and Should it be Part of Your Estate Planning Strategy?

There are many savings options available that can be used as part of your estate plan, and a 529 plan is one of these options. Here are some insights from your estate planning attorney in New Jersey.

What is a 529 Plan?

This is a college savings plan that is exempt from federal taxes. Introduced in 1996, they are designed to help taxpayers to save more effectively for college expenses. Anyone over the age of 18 can open a 529 plan, whether it’s to save for your child or grandchild’s education, or for your own.

There are two types of 529 plan – a prepaid tuition plan and a college savings investment plan. The one plan is locked to current tuition costs, while the investment plan allows your savings to be invested in widely-held mutual funds to be managed by an investment firm, giving your money the best chance to grow and cover the optimal amount of college costs.

Federal and State Policies on 529 Plans

Each state has its own policies regarding these plans, but they are all subject to federal policies regardless of where you opened the plan or how your account is managed. This means that the account can only be held by one person and can only benefit one person (the beneficiary can be a different person to the account holder). There are no income restrictions on who can own or pay into a 529 plan, and they are not subject to gift taxation.

There are no federal income tax benefits for contributing to a 529 plan, but the benefit comes in the form of the growth of your investment, which is tax-deferred. You also won’t pay state or federal taxes on money that is withdrawn from the account to be used for qualified college expenses.

What if My Child Does Not Go to College or Require the Funds?

If your beneficiary is unable to go to college, chooses not to go or wins a full ride through a scholarship program, what happens to the money in a 529 plan? In these situations, you have a few options. Firstly, you can change the beneficiary of the plan to someone who does need it or hold onto the plan until you have a grandchild. Secondly, you can combine your plan with another plan once a year, giving another child greater coverage of their college expenses. Thirdly, you can use it for non-educational purposes. This last option does mean that you’ll have to pay income tax on the money the investment earned (not the full amount) along with a 10% penalty.

NJ Estate Planning Helps Put Education Savings First 

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

Everything You Need to Know About Medicare Advantage Open Enrolment in 2019

Medicaid planning

Medicare Advantage open enrolment is running from January to March 2019, with the traditional open enrolment period running from mid-October to early December. Here’s a guide to what this means, from your elder law attorney in New Jersey.

Changing Your Coverage – Medicare Advantage Open Enrolment in 2019 

If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage program, you are able to leave your current plan during this period. You can also move onto an alternative plan, like Original Medicare with a Part D prescription plan for medication, or onto a different Medicare Advantage plan – something that has not been allowed in previous years.

You are only allowed to switch once a year and it must happen within this period. If you signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan during the October-December enrolment period and it didn’t work for you, you can change during the January-March period. Once this change is made, however, you will have to stick with it until the next January-March period.

Important Things to do Before You Switch Medicare Plans 

If you are planning to change your Medicare plan, check to make sure that your preferred medical providers (doctor, local hospital, etc.) are part of the network for that plan in 2019. Also, confirm with them that any medications you are taking are also covered by the plan you want to take.

Be Aware of Fraud 

From April 2019, Medicare will be sending out new ID cards. This is a measure designed to protect beneficiaries from identity theft and fraud. You will receive this new card during the year and you’ll notice it does not have your social security number on it. Instead, it will have a unique but randomly generated ID number. You can use your old card until the new one arrives, and it is important to properly destroy the old card once the new one is in use. When destroying the cars, make sure that your social security number is made unreadable.

Need Help Applying for Medicaid or Qualifying for Coverage? Speak to 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 and Medicaid assistance or NJ estate planning, please contact us today and speak to Frank R. Campisano.

Incentive Trusts – Giving You Greater Control Over Your Estate

If you want to have the advantages of a trust but greater control over the assets within it, an incentive trust may be the right tool for your estate plan. Here is a quick guide to how these trusts work and the different benefits they offer, from an estate planning attorney in New Jersey.

What is an Incentive Trust? 

This is a legally binding trust where the trustee holds and manages the assets granted to the trust by the grantor. Unlike other trusts, the trustee must adhere to specific requirements and meet certain conditions that the grantor sets out in the formation of the trust in order to receive funds.

These trusts are therefore useful as a means of the grantor to provide funds for a specific purpose for a trustee. For example, a grandparent may want to leave an inheritance to a grandchild but not want them to become reliant on the funds for their living. The trust can then be set up to only provide funds when the grandchild has achieved a certain level of education.

Another good use of this type of trust is to ensure that your children or grandchildren are ready to handle their inheritance before they receive it. This can mean portioning it out at different stages of their life according to their age or life events (graduation, marriage, first child) and specifying different uses for it (buying a property, funding education or healthcare, or even funding their retirement).

Passing on Family Values and Responsibility, Not Ruling from the Grave 

Because an incentive trust gives the grantor very specific control over the distribution of the trust’s assets, it can be used to rule from the grave – which is understandable but not advisable. After all, it is difficult to know or understand the personal challenges and economic conditions facing the generations that come after us.

However, if done with careful thought and input from trusted advisors, these trusts can support your heirs rather than control them. By aligning your conditions with your values and allowing trustees to develop their own sense of financial responsibility, your heirs can be guided to their own success.

Develop an Estate Plan that Supports and Cares for Loved Ones with Your 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 make 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.

Let us deliver expert estate planning advice to take care of all your wishes – whether your needs are big or small. For more information, contact us today.

Your IRA is a Powerful Estate Planning Tool

When we first think of estate planning tools, we tend to think of Wills, trusts and financial directives – but we forget about one very useful tool that’s often just sitting on the back-burner: your Individual Retirement Annuity (IRA).

As a retirement planning tool, IRAs are well-known for their benefits, including IRA assets being compounded on a tax-deferred or even tax-free basis (Roth IRAs). For those of us who are fortunate enough not to require their IRA to fund their retirement, however, it can be used to the benefit of your heirs by changing it into a so-called “stretch IRA”.

How Can I Change My IRA into a Stretch IRA? 

This is simply a matter of naming a beneficiary who will take many years before they qualify for the benefits – a much younger spouse, a child or even a grandchild. For minors, it’s best to speak to your estate planning attorney about developing a trust that allows this strategy, as it gives you more control over the use and distribution of the IRA funds). Your spouse is able to roll the funds over to their own IRA after they inherit, which enables the funds to keep growing (tax-deferred or tax-free) until they decide to utilize them. As a result of the compound growth on these accounts, the longer the benefits are deferred, the more substantial they will become. This could form a significant lump sum for your loved one, allowing them to:

  • Fund their eventual retirement
  • Take a lump sum distribution of the IRA’s balance
  • Withdraw the funds by the end of the year of the 5th anniversary of your death
  • Withdraw the funds over your “remaining” life expectancy as cucullated by the IRS
  • Or hold the funds in an inherited IRA to spread the required monthly distributions over their own life expectancy. (Often the choice that maximizes the benefits of this strategy).

Is this the Right Estate Planning Strategy for You? Speak to Your 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 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/

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/

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