The Challenges of Applying for Medicaid

Medicaid planning

Millions of people use Medicaid to pay for costs related to assisted living, in-home care, and other associated medical costs. While you may not associate Medicaid planning with estate planning, we recommend preparing your Medicaid application the same as you would prepare traditional estate planning documents. Anyone who has been through the Medicaid application process will tell you that it’s arduous, complicated, lengthy, and any errors may cause your application to be rejected. It’s best to work with an experienced legal team who can help you navigate the application process.

What are the top reasons Medicaid applications are rejected?

  • Your application is incomplete and doesn’t contain all the required documents. Unfortunately, incomplete applications are often rejected immediately, meaning you’ve lost valuable time and you’ll have to start over with a new application.
  • Failing to reply to questions about your application. Once your local Medicaid office receives your application, they will contact you if they need further clarification. You only have 10 days to reply to their queries, and if they don’t receive a response from you, you may have to start again from the beginning. 
  • Your income is too high. Every state has different income thresholds that will disqualify you from Medicaid, and we recommend working with an elder law attorney who knows the New Jersey Medicaid Eligibility requirements to increase the chance that your application is accepted.
  • Filing too early or too late. There is a window of time in which you’re eligible to apply for Medicaid, and if your application is submitted too early or too late it will probably be rejected.

Why SCC Legal Recommends Medicaid Application Help 

Working with an experienced Medicaid attorney will save you time, frustration, and money, and can increase the chances that your application is successful. Having a Medicaid application denied can cause emotional and financial stress and you don’t want to go through the application process multiple times.

For more information about Medicaid application assistance, or if you have any questions for us at SCC Legal, please contact us today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their trusted elder law attorneys and estate planning specialists. 

Getting Your Will Together During COVID-19

Last Will and Testament

COVID-19 continues to have profound effects on our country and the way many of us live our lives, and it’s caused many of us to think about things a bit differently. For example, most of us don’t sit around thinking about contacting an elder law attorney to create or update our will. However, when faced with the unfortunate realities of the pandemic, it’s important to be prepared in situations like this. 

How can you best prepare for the worst?

  • Work with an estate planning attorney to create an official Last Will and Testament. This document determines what happens with your assets when you’re no longer here: real estate, money, stocks, cars, and all of your other possessions. It’s important to have a Last Will and Testament in place, because when people pass away without one it can cause conflicts within the family. 
  • Durable Power of Attorney: This document allows someone you designate to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. These are often financial and legal decisions where time is of the essence, and someone you trust will be able to represent you.
  • Beneficiary designations: You can designate beneficiaries to receive specific assets outside of your will. Insurance plans, for example, should always have a designated beneficiary. Ask your estate planning attorney about the details.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney: Similar to Durable Power of Attorney, this document enables someone you choose to make medical decisions on your behalf. At a time when so many people have suffered serious health complications from COVID-19, this is a critical document to have in place. 

It’s time to create or change your will with SCC Legal

COVID-19 has given many of us a different perspective, and we now understand how important it is to be prepared in case of a tragedy. It’s not always pleasant to think about end-of-life situations, but being prepared makes things easier for your family. Having clear instructions on what to do ensures they won’t experience any added stress or emotional strain. We know it can be tempting to put it off for a later time, but we recommend preparing your estate now, and encourage your family members to do the same. 

To learn how SCC Legal can help you update or change your will, if you have any questions about Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, or other estate planning documents, please contact us today. 

How employment law has changed as a result of COVID-19

Employment law

As we continue dealing with the impacts of COVID-19, employment lawyers have been helping millions of people across the country who are out of work, who have important legal questions about various circumstances at their workplaces, and who are facing unique situations we haven’t experienced before. So what are some of the major changes employers have been required to make, and what are the latest developments in employment law? Here are some of the issues we’re asked about frequently:

What changes to my workplace or worksite should my employer implement?

In order to provide a safe environment for all staff, employers have been advised to frequently sanitize high-traffic and common areas, install barriers that reduce foot traffic and congestion throughout, limit the number of people allowed at one time in elevators, escalators, and stairwells, rearrange workstations to adhere to social distancing guidelines, ask all staff to wear a face covering, and limit the number of people allowed in a single meeting room.

Can my employer fire me if I miss work due to COVID-19?

In the state of New Jersey the answer is no. If you have been told by a medical professional that you must quarantine and are therefore unable to attend work, your employer cannot fire you for missing work. New Jersey state law also protects you from harassment and discrimination as a result of COVID-19.

Is my employer under any legal obligations in regard to COVID-19?

Yes, your employer is required to provide you with a workplace that is free from hazards that can cause death or serious bodily harm. For COVID-19 this means providing you with necessary PPE, modifying your workplace to allow for social distancing, and allowing you to work remotely where possible. It also means asking staff who tested positive to isolate, including those who may have come in contact with someone who tested positive.

When to speak with an employment lawyer

If you have any concerns about the above-mentioned issues, or if you’re concerned that your employer is engaging in unfair employment practices as a result of COVID-19, we recommend speaking with an employment lawyer as soon as possible. This pandemic has pushed us into unfamiliar territory in regard to employment law, but it’s always best to know your rights as an employee and know what’s required of your employer. 

If you need advice from an employment lawyer, or if you have any questions about your employment rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact SCC Legal today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their trusted employment lawyers. We look forward to hearing from you.

When Do You Need A Business Lawyer For Your Small Business?

business lawyer

Small business owners have so many things to think about on a daily basis, and one common question they ask themselves is: Do I need a small business lawyer?

Many small business owners believe it’s too expensive to hire an attorney, however working with a business lawyer sooner rather than later can help you prevent expensive incidents down the line. Prevention is often cheaper than the cost of remedying mistakes and missteps, and hiring an attorney helps you ensure your bases are covered. 

Here are a few situations for which we recommend consulting with a business lawyer:

  • Your company is being sued by a prospective, a current, or a former employee. While many businesses will deal with lawsuits, they can quickly get messy. You need a professional to keep the situation under control and to act on behalf of your company. Whether it’s a discrimination suit, a hostile work environment suit, or something else, a business lawyer can help.
  • Your business is being investigated at a local or state level for violation of any laws. Certain inspections and investigations are routine, but when someone files a complaint and your local or state government takes action, you need an attorney to guide you through the process.
  • For a sale, a merger, or an acquisition. These are complicated financial transactions that must be done correctly, so whether you’re acquiring another business and its assets, or you’ve decided to sell your business, you’ll need a lawyer.
  • Your business is involved in an environmental issue. The government is increasing regulations around the way small businesses impact the environment. Which means you may be subjected to penalties if you aren’t in compliance, even if you weren’t previously aware of the latest regulations. 

How small business lawyers can help 

In addition to the above issues, small business lawyers can also help you with issues related to copyrights, trademarks, compliance, and more. We recommend finding a trusted business attorney before you actually need one because being prepared is always in your best interest. Unfortunately litigation is something many small business owners will experience at least once, and you want an experienced small business lawyer representing you and your company in court. Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of a potentially messy legal incident to seek the advice of an attorney.

For more information about how our attorneys can help you as a small business owner, or if you have any questions, please contact SCC Legal today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their trusted small business lawyers. We look forward to hearing from you.

Understanding Durable Power of Attorney

It’s never too early to start the estate planning process. While it can be easy to put it off, or to say you’ll get around to it next year, it’s crucial to have a plan in place that will protect and provide for your loved ones if something happens to you. Additionally, many people believe they don’t need to start thinking about estate planning until later in life, or until they experience an injury or an illness, but making all the necessary arrangements now will make things easier for you and your family.  

One document often used in estate planning is Durable Power of Attorney. This is an important document to understand and to have in place, so what is Durable Power of Attorney and how is it used? To start, Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to choose someone to act on your behalf to make legal, financial, or medical decisions. But Power of Attorney is not valid once you become incapacitated, and this is where Durable Power of Attorney becomes important.

Durable Power of Attorney gives someone – a person chosen by you – the authority to make decisions about your medical care and your finances if you become incapacitated, either by injury or illness. With Durable Power of Attorney legally in place, the person you’ve selected to act on your behalf will be able to do essential things like:

  • Pay your bills and deposit checks on your behalf
  • Make medical decisions on your behalf, including decisions about your treatment
  • Manage your bank accounts, assets and investments

Why Durable Power of Attorney is essential 

Durable Power of Attorney is often separated into two categories – finances and healthcare – and you will need to nominate a person to act on your behalf in each area. It can be the same person, or you may have family members who are specialists in these categories who you would trust to make decisions for you if you become unable.  

If you become incapacitated and haven’t chosen a durable power of attorney, decisions about your medical care may be made by doctors and your family will not have a say. Families that find themselves in this situation often go to court in order to be allowed to make decisions about their loved one’s care, causing them additional distress during an already difficult time. The same is true for your financial decisions – families are left having to petition the court to gain access to their loved one’s finances. 

For more information about estate planning, including Last Will and Testament and Power of Attorney, please contact us today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their estate planning attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.

5 Important Reasons to Avoid a Do-It-Yourself Will

will

When it comes to your will, advice from an estate planning attorney ensures your wishes are carried out exactly as you desire, leaving no room for confusion or misinterpretation. We’ve seen the rise of do-it-yourself wills over the last few years, but it’s important to understand what can go wrong with this method:

1. A will must be signed and witnessed following proper protocol in order to be valid in a court of law. Simply typing your last wishes up on a piece of paper while you’re home alone and signing it will not hold up with a judge, and its validity can be contested.

2. Making changes to your will must follow proper protocol, or else they may be considered invalid. It’s common to make changes to your will, but you can’t just re-draft your will on your own. Enlisting the help of an estate planning attorney to make amends to your will ensures these changes are honored when the time comes.

3. You must follow proper protocol when having your will witnessed. This includes having two independent adults present at the same time, neither one of whom can be listed as the beneficiary of your will. When done under the guidance of an estate planning attorney there is little room for doubt as to whether proper procedure was followed. 

4. Misspelled names might render your will invalid. Our eyes tend to gloss over spelling errors quite easily, especially if it’s a name that you see often. Having a professional set of eyes read your will can catch costly spelling errors and other mistakes. 

5. Your will affects the family members you leave behind. An incorrectly executed will can eliminate your family’s income source, cause them to lose their home, and leave behind a frustrating, confusing mess. 

Our affairs are rarely as straightforward as we think they are. The DIY route may seem tempting due to the convenience, but it’s recommended to invest a little more time and money by enlisting the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. They can prepare you for circumstances you probably have not thought of, and ensure your will truly fulfills your last wishes.

Advice from New Jersey estate planning attorneys

If you have questions about estate planning, or you’re ready to draw up your will, please contact us today. Discover why we’re New Jersey’s most trusted estate planning attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.

What are Medicaid Transfer Penalties?

medicaid

Medicaid can be a complicated system, and you may benefit from speaking with an elder law attorney who can help clear up any confusion you might have. It’s normal to want to complete all the Medicaid enrollment paperwork yourself, however, in order to avoid a Medicaid transfer penalty, we recommend speaking with an attorney who specializes in elder law.

To understand what a Medicaid transfer penalty is, let’s go back a few steps. In order to be eligible for Medicaid, you cannot have recently transferred assets, because the government wants to prevent seniors from simply giving away all their assets to family and friends, then enrolling in long-term care paid for by Medicaid. 

When a new application is submitted, Medicaid’s system reviews the applicant’s past financial information within a specific frame of time, known as the look-back period. Each state has slightly varying look-back periods, and in New Jersey it’s five years, meaning all the applicant’s financial information dating back five years will be thoroughly examined. 

What exactly are they looking for? They’re looking for any gifts the applicant gave, or any assets the applicant transferred, for less than what is called fair market value. If any assets or money changed hands for less than the fair market value during the five-year look-back period, the applicant will be ineligible for Medicaid for a certain period of time, known as the penalty period.

For example, if you give your adult daughter a car worth $100,000 and in return your daughter pays you $200, Medicaid will delay covering the cost of any of your expenses, because if you had received a fair market value price for the car you could have used that money to pay for your care instead of enrolling in Medicaid. The delay in covering your care is the Medicaid transfer penalty, and the length of the penalty period depends on the total amount of assets transferred and gifts given. 

Incurring a Medicaid transfer penalty means you are responsible for the full cost of your care until the delay is over. For seniors on a budget this can be difficult and stressful, especially those with more complex medical needs.

Advice from New Jersey elder law attorneys 

The Medicaid transfer penalty system does have exceptions and exemptions, and if you’re unsure about how it works, we are happy to talk through your specific situation step by step. We are proud to be trusted attorneys in many areas of elder law, including healthcare proxy, power of attorney, medical directive, and Medicaid, so please contact us today and let us know how we can help. 

5 Important Documents to Have in Place for Estate Planning during COVID-19

estate planning

If you’re searching for a dependable estate planning attorney in New Jersey, we are here to help. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the lives of people across our country, we want to ensure you are prepared if you or someone in your family contracts the virus. Don’t leave your family open to medical and financial risks – get these five estate planning documents in place today:

  1. Guardianship: If you have children under the age of 18, you want to know they will be taken care of if you become ill and need to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time. A Guardianship appoints someone to take care of your children if you become unable to care for them, often a relative or a close family friend, and you can rest assured that your children will be in capable hands if something should happen to you.
  2. Healthcare Power of Attorney: If you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself, you don’t want decisions to be made by the courts. This document appoints someone in your family to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
  3. Living Will: In this document you can specify the types of medical care you do or do not want in certain situations, so you don’t leave your family guessing if tragedy should strike. You don’t want your family feeling confused and uncertain if something happens to you and they are required to make decisions on your behalf.
  4. Revocable Living Trust: This document is crucial, because it allows you to allocate your assets, including money and property, in the event you should pass away. Family feuds over assets are unfortunately very common, but you can avoid this and remove any doubt by creating a Revocable Living Trust.
  5. Durable Financial Power of Attorney: If the unthinkable happens, would your family face financial strain? This document appoints a trusted person to pay bills, make deposits, and other important transactions on your behalf.

Contact our New Jersey estate planning attorneys 

When it comes to estate planning it’s always best to be prepared. These documents are a crucial part of your family life and you deserve to have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that if tragedy strikes, your affairs are in place. It’s simply too risky to wait until it’s too late.

We are standing by and ready to help. Contact us today for assistance with Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Trusts, and more. Discover why we’re trusted estate planning attorneys in New Jersey. We look forward to hearing from you.

3 tips for people in the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program

medicaid

Are you in need of an elder law attorney in New Jersey? Elder law covers a range of issues from estate planning to Last Will and Testament to Power of Attorney and many more. Every family is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, especially when it comes to complex issues like the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program.

If you or a loved one are a member of the QMB program, and you’re still receiving bills from medical providers for items and services that should be covered, you may find these three tips helpful:

  1. Tell the provider(s) that you’re enrolled in the QMB program, which means you cannot be charged for certain things including co-payments, coinsurance, and Medicare deductibles. The provider(s) may request a copy of your QMB card, and if you’ve already paid for items or services that are covered by the QMB Program, you can claim a refund.
  2. If a medical provider continues to bill you, please call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and speak to a Medicare representative, who can request that the medical provider stop billing you. The Medicare representative can also assist you with claiming a refund for items or services you’ve already paid for.
  3. File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) if you’re having problems with a debt collector. You can reach the CFPB toll-free at (855) 411-2372.

If you’ve taken the above steps and still think you’re being charged for items and services you shouldn’t have to pay for, please contact our office and we’ll be happy to discuss your situation with you. The QMB program and all the paperwork that accompanies is very complex, and can often be confusing and can leave you feeling frustrated. Rather than spending weeks or months going back and forth with a Medicare representative, speak with us today and we’ll work on obtaining a resolution. 

Do you need an elder law attorney in New Jersey? 

Matters involving your family are often delicate and sensitive, and you deserve someone who will be thorough and understanding. No two elder law cases are the same, and we pride ourselves on providing personalized and compassionate advice and representation to all of our clients. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get your family’s affairs in order – be proactive and help your family stay prepared.

We are standing by and ready to handle your case with the care and attention it deserves. Our experienced team can assist with Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, estate planning and much more. Please contact us today if you need an elder law attorney in New Jersey.

The Pros and Cons of a Miller Trust

miller trust

Firstly, what is a Miller Trust? 

Texas falls under the list of states that have an “income-cap” and makes an allowance for a Miller Trust. Should the applicant’s income be more than the “income-cap”, the applicant’s initial income needs to be adjusted downward. 

By redirecting income to the Miller trust, and lowering the initial income, this will allow for the applicant to qualify for the Medicaid program.

Continue reading “The Pros and Cons of a Miller Trust”

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