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/

 

 

 

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/

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/

Inside Reverse Mortgage Scams

Medicaid Application

Reverse mortgages are a useful tool for seniors who often have significant equity in their homes (they have often made significant progress in paying off their homes) and want to be able to access that money to convert it into supplemental income. This is a fairly complex process, leaving the door open to scam artists and unscrupulous lenders to target seniors and mislead them – to the point where many people have lost their homes. Here’s some essential information about identifying and avoiding these dangerous scams, from a leading elder law attorney in New Jersey.

How a Legal Reverse Mortgage Works 

Essentially, this works in the reverse to a regular mortgage – instead of taking out a loan and paying it back, the lender makes payments to you. The most common reverse mortgage product is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HCEM), issued by private lenders and insured by the Federal Housing Administration. To qualify, you have to meet certain criteria including being a homeowner of 62 years or older, have a certain amount of equity in your home, and that you reside in the property that you’re applying for. There is a limit on how much of your equity you can access through this loan – currently set at $636,150.

How to Spot Reverse Mortgage Scams 

Keep your eyes peeled for these warning signs:

  • High-pressure sales tactics: Some mortgage brokers use strong-arm tactics to sign people up for reverse mortgages, whether they need them or not – and they specifically target the elderly. Unsolicited visits and phone calls by mortgage brokers should be ignored. According to the FBI, other sales tactics include approaching seniors through local churches and investment seminars.
  • Misrepresenting the risk: With any loan comes risk – never trust someone who offers a reverse mortgage and tells you that there are no risks involved. All reverse mortgages become due and payable at some point and this can mean you lose your home – if the property is transferred or sold, if the borrower moves out of the home, or if the borrower doesn’t meet the mortgage obligations (insurance premiums, property tax payments etc.)
  • Misleading advertising: A reverse mortgage is not free money or free income – it is still a loan with very strict conditions, fees and structure. Any advertisement that states otherwise this is misleading and designed to take advantage of people who don’t have a clear understanding of loan structures.
  • Encouragement to take out a lump sum early: Taking out a lump sum in your early 60s often leads to the amount being used up quickly – leaving you with nothing in your later years. As a result, many seniors don’t have the money to pay the insurance and property taxes required by the lender, which forces the loan to become due and your home into foreclosure.

If you are considering a reverse mortgage, it’s always best to do a lot of research on the risks and benefits yourself and speak to your elder law attorney or a trusted financial advisor before taking on a potentially risky loan. This way, you get the right information and the best financial program for your needs.

Consult with a Leading Elder Law Attorney in NJ Today 

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/

Benefits for Elderly Veterans in New Jersey

The Department of Veterans Affairs is continually adjusting benefits to better suit veteran’s needs as they change – especially as the population of veterans ages. With over 12.4 million veterans over the age of 65 in the USA and over 413 veterans and their families in New Jersey, it’s important to know what the VA can offer in terms of assistance. Here are some insights from a leading elder law attorney in NJ.

The Aid & Attendance and Housebound Program 

Housebound and the A&A are pension programs where veterans receive monthly monetary assistance. To qualify, candidates must have fulfilled 90 days of active service and have an income below the qualifying threshold. These programs are designed to assist veterans who require assistance with daily tasks, are in nursing homes, are bedridden or have other complex needs. Depending on the circumstances, a veteran may apply for one of the programs but not both, and they can assist families of veterans who qualify.

The New Jersey Transportation Program 

This program offers free transportation to VA medical centers, clinics, hospitals and private physicians, as well as VA Regional Offices and local Veteran Service Offices. All you have to do is contact the NJ State Veterans Service Officer and they will assist with transportation needs.

Housing Benefits for Veterans 

Elderly veterans looking for an affordable housing solution can apply for the state’s three Veteran Memorial Homes situated in Menlo Park, Paramus and Vineland. Qualifying veterans must have been honorably discharged, and benefits under specific circumstances be extended to accommodate widows of veterans and Gold Star parents. There are also additional services that veterans can access, including occupational, speech and physical therapy programs, as well as support groups and counselling services.

Enjoy the Fresh Air 

Benefits are not limited to healthcare and housing services, as the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife also offers benefits to veterans that include a selection of free licenses to qualified disabled veterans, from fishing and hunting licenses to trout stamps.

Access the Benefits You Deserve – Speak to a Leading Elder Law Attorney in NJ 

Frank R. Campisano is highly experienced and compassionate elder law attorney with considerable knowledge of veterans’ benefits, including assisting with applications, appeals and other Veterans and elder law issues.

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

 

Essential Things To Consider In Your Retirement Plan

Retirement plans aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions. Instead, they should be developed around your particular needs and assets, so that you have a strategy that works for you. However, there are a few key things that every retirement plan should consider if you want to spend your golden years in comfort. Here they are, from an experienced elder law attorney in New Jersey.

  • Debt: Debt isn’t always a bad thing – but only when you are earning money. Reducing your debt as much as possible before retirement will reduce drain on your income and reduce interest you have to pay back, which means more money to spend on yourself.
  • Lifestyle expenses: Think about what you want your retirement experience to be, and consider the expenses involved to help build an estimate of how much money you will need. This includes travelling to see the world, or to visit loved ones, as well as where you would like to retire to (a luxurious CCRC community, a state with lovely weather, etc.), and so on.
  • Income: In addition to traditional income streams like investments and retirement annuities, many retirees also plan for additional forms of income like opening a small business, royalty streams, and websites.
  • Medical care: This is one of the biggest concerns and spending areas for seniors, and solid retirement plans include comprehensive insurance for long-term care. Think about what kind of care option you would prefer if you needed it – nursing home, in home care, care through a family member, or assisted living? Each option comes with a different cost that should be calculated into your plan.
  • Estate planning: This is about ensuring that your assets go where you want them to go after you pass, as well as who you would like to step in to assist you if you become incapacitated. This makes it a very important part of retirement planning. By legally appointing a trusted person to carry out your legal and medical choices under circumstances you determine, and by ensuring the people of your choice benefit from your life’s work, estate planning actively protects your rights and assets.

Compassionate legal advice from an experienced NJ elder law attorney 

Frank R. Campisano is 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 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/

Winter Safety Tips For Seniors

estate planning attorney

It’s getting cold out there and, while for some of us the snow creates a winter wonderland, for others – like the elderly – the winter weather can become dangerous. Here are some tips from your elder law attorney in New Jersey on senior safety this season.

  1. Wear good footwear: Slip and fall injuries are common this time of year, and the elderly are especially at risk. Reflexes slow with age and, combined with frailness, the elderly are especially vulnerable to broken bones and medical complications. Try to avoid going out until the roads have been cleared, wear shoes with non-skid soles, and replace worn walker/walking cane tips. It’s also important to take the shoes off as soon as you get inside, as melted snow off the soles can increase slipping risks.
  2. Prepare for power outages: Storms can knock out power, leaving seniors – who are especially vulnerable to the cold – without adequate heating. Stock up on warm blankets, firewood for fireplaces/stoves, and keep batteries for flashlights handy. Another good idea is to keep a stock of non-perishable food items that can be prepared without electricity.
  3. Check your carbon monoxide sensors: Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas given off from heating equipment (including furnaces) if they are not operating properly/fully burning their fuel. It is very dangerous and breathing it in can lead to illness and even death. Sensors should be installed in the home and checked annually to ensure that the alarms are working.
  4. Emergency driving kit: For seniors who are still driving, it’s best to avoid going out on the road in poor conditions. However, even in good winter conditions disaster can strike – even if it’s just a flat tire. An emergency safety kit like the AAA Severe Weather Travel Kit is essential and should be kept in the car at all times.
  5. Be aware of isolation: In the wintertime, many elderly people find it’s easy to become isolated from friends and family, and depression is a real concern. If you have elderly family members or neighbors, try check in on them as often as you can either by phone or in person.

Take care of your elderly loved one – Speak to an elder law attorney in New Jersey 

If you would like assistance in protecting the health and rights of an elderly loved one, 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, he can assist you with all estate planning documents, such as a Last Will and Testament, Financial Power of Attorney documents, Medical Directives and Healthcare Proxy documentation. For more compassionate legal guidance and a free consultation, please contact us or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/ today.

Why You Need A Healthcare Advocate

Preparing for a doctor’s visit can become daunting when you’re possibly facing serious health concerns. While writing down questions ahead of your visit, revisiting your medical insurance information and completing paperwork ahead of time is important, there is one more thing for you to consider – having a healthcare advocate with you. Here is a brief guide from a leading elder law attorney in New Jersey.

What is a healthcare advocate? 

A healthcare advocate can be a friend, family member or anyone you trust – even your caregiver. Their role is to come with you to any medical appointments and ask questions and take down information about your care needs.

Why are healthcare advocates important? 

As we grow older, we’re more likely to face serious health concerns, and more likely to require assistance in understanding our options, dealing with illness and even making healthcare decisions. Your healthcare advocate is there to offer strength and support, to give your situation a clear second set of eyes and ears, and to ensure that you have all the information you need to understand your health concerns and treatment options. Essentially, they are there to help ensure that you can focus on your care and get exactly the medical treatment you prefer.

Doctors and physicians support healthcare advocacy 

For most physicians, the idea of a healthcare advocate is a positive one, as they not only provide emotional support to patients, but because they can help convey and record important information about medical care and medicines. While this is especially important for very elderly patients as well as those with dementia conditions, they are a good idea for anyone who needs someone to accurately take in a physician’s diagnosis.

What can a healthcare advocate do? 

Your healthcare advocate can:

  • Ask questions about your medical condition and treatment options, and voice your concerns.
  • Compile an accurate medications list, including how to take different medications.
  • Assist with paperwork and insurance matters.
  • Create a timeline for treatment.
  • Help with transportation to appointments.
  • Research medical treatments, procedures, doctors, etc.

Get legal assistance from your NJ elder law attorney 

If you would like legal assistance for yourself or elderly loved one, 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, Financial Power of Attorney documents, Medical Directives and Healthcare Proxy documentation. For more compassionate legal guidance and a free consultation, please contact us and visit our website today at https://www.scclegal.com/.

Know your legal rights in nursing homes

Elderly woman touching face of young female nurse

Nursing homes are private residential facilities that provide the medical and general care required by their residents, whether they are elderly, infirm or suffering from a medical condition. The federal government has established certain regulations and policies to ensure that these facilities uphold the rights of their residents, and it’s important for residents and their families to be aware of their rights while living in these facilities to ensure that they are not infringed upon. Here is a brief guide from a leading elder law attorney in New Jersey.

Four levels of healthcare facility 

Nursing homes are categorized into four different groups according to the level of care and services they provide. This includes low-level care facilities, for example, adult boarding facilities, up to those that provide the highest level of nursing home care in the form of skilled nursing facilities. Each type of facility will be subjected to a different set of policies and regulations, which residents or their legal proxies are required to read and acknowledge their receipt of the policy in writing.

Important rights for nursing home residents

The list of rights residents of nursing homes are entitled to is justifiably extensive, and it is important to be aware of them, as residents are often in a more vulnerable state that opens them to opportunities for serious physical, emotional and financial abuse. Some of the most important of these rights include:

  • The right to see family, ombudspersons, resident advocates, doctors, service providers and state/government representatives.
  • The right to privacy for their medical and personal records.
  • The right to keep and use personal possessions unless they pose a safety risk.
  • The right to apply for and utilize Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
  • The right to receive the same treatment whether you are paying privately or through Medicare/Medicaid.
  • The right to choose their own physician.
  • They must not be kept apart from other residents against their will.
  • The right to be free from physical, mental or financial abuse.
  • The right to stay in the nursing home unless it is deemed necessary for their welfare or no longer require their services.
  • The right to 30 days’ notice to appeal a proposed discharge or transfer.

 

Compassionate legal advice on Medicare, elder rights and law in NJ 

If you would like assistance in understanding your rights and protecting the rights of an elderly loved one, 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, Financial Power of Attorney documents, Medical Directives and Healthcare Proxy documentation. For more compassionate legal guidance and a free consultation, please contact us or visit our website today.

Problems that can arise with a handwritten or DIY Last Will and Testament

With templates of legal documents readily available online, it’s no surprise that many people are creating their Last Will and Testaments themselves. After all, it’s an easy way to save some money, right? In fact, these wills can quickly become a costly disaster. Here are some of the problems with DIY wills, from a top NJ estate planning attorney.

  • Using a single tool for a complex financial situation: No matter how simple you think your will should be, the fact is that there are more and often better tools out there to get you the results you want than a will on its own. There are family trusts that allow you to bypass estate tax, legal mechanisms that can help you determine the rules for the use of your assets, and so forth. While a will is useful, it is not always the best single solution even for small, simple estates.
  • Misinterpretation of language/lack of clarity: Anyone who has ever had to read a legal document knows just exactly how much effort needs to go into the language used in the document to ensure there are no conflicts, loopholes or confusion. DIY wills often lack this element, and missing or incorrect clauses made them vulnerable to misinterpretation. This means your will could end up contested in court by fighting loved ones, or that your wishes are misinterpreted or ignored.
  • Not covering all your bases: Estate planning attorneys have the experience needed to ensure that your will comprehensively covers your estate. DIY wills often fall victim to missing assets and accounts, forgotten provisions, or excluded beneficiaries. With an attorney, no stone will be left unturned and everything from your spouse and children to your pets and favorite charity will be included.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all solution: DIY wills treat every person’s estate as equal – and yet none of us have the same financial needs, obligations and responsibilities as anyone else. Blended families, single people, wealthy people, people needing Medicaid planning, people with pets, people with sick spouses, new families… all of us have an entirely unique financial situation and only a unique financial solution will ensure that our wishes for our estates are properly met.

Professional estate planning in New Jersey ensures your wishes are met 

You deserve a legal solution that is uniquely tailored to your needs, speak to New Jersey estate planning attorney Frank R. Campisano today. Whether you want to create a Last Will and Testament or are interested in updating more complex estate planning documents such as trusts, Medical Directive and Power 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/

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