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. 

Conservatorships vs. Powers of Attorney: Which Is Right for You?

There are many decisions to make when planning your estate. One common question people have is about Conservatorships vs. Powers of Attorney, and which one is best for their particular situation. While estate planning attorneys can give their professional advice, it’s important to understand the difference between the two options before deciding.

Conservatorships

A Conservatorship is a legal relationship that a judge puts in place when an individual is deemed mentally, physically, or emotionally unable to care for themselves. If you become incapacitated in an accident or fall seriously ill, and aren’t able to care for yourself and make important decisions about your own life, a judge will appoint a conservator who can make these decisions for you.

A Conservatorship isn’t something you can put in place ahead of time. In order to become the conservator of someone else, you must file a petition with the court and the court must decide that the individual in question is unable to care for themselves. The court also decides what types of decisions the conservator is allowed to make on the person’s behalf: medical, financial, and legal, to name a few. Conservatorships have no time limits and if the incapacitated person recovers, the court must decide that they are now able to care for themselves going forward.

Powers of Attorney

Power of Attorney is a legal document you put in place ahead of time as part of a comprehensive estate plan. In this document you nominate other people to make decisions on your behalf if you should become incapacitated, and these can include financial decisions, medical decisions, legal decisions, and more. You can choose which decisions your nominated individuals can make on your behalf, and you can enforce time limits and stipulate specific circumstances. 

Unlike a Conservatorship, Powers of Attorney do not require going to court and getting a judge’s approval, rather they are created and verified as part of your estate planning process. 

Estate planning for digital assets 

One relatively new aspect of estate planning is digital assets. Things like email accounts, social media pages, blogs, websites, and media stored in the Cloud all qualify as digital assets, and you’ll need to decide who gets which assets after you pass away. Many of us now use Cloud services to store our family photos and videos instead of traditional photo albums and physical videos, so your family will want to be able to access these cherished memories. 

If you have any questions about estate planning or would like to learn more, please contact us today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their trusted estate planning attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.

Medicare vs Medicaid: What you NEED to know

There are many things to think about as we get older, and health care may be one of the most important things. Having affordable access to doctors, any specialists you may need to see, medications, and other healthcare services is crucial, and it’s best to know your options about how to access them. Medicare and Medicaid are two major American healthcare systems that people often get mixed up, but they’re quite different, and here’s how.

Medicare

Medicare is a government-run medical insurance program for American citizens of all income levels who are 65+ years old. For older adults there are certain work history requirements that must be met in order to qualify for Medicare, while people of all ages with certain disabilities may also be qualified. 

Medicare coverage is made up of several parts:

  • Hospitalization coverage. As we get older we’re more susceptible to falls, injuries, and certain illnesses. Hospitalization coverage can also include assisted living facilities and other types of care homes. 
  • Medical insurance. Things like routine doctor visits and preventative care, and other outpatient visits are covered by medical insurance. 
  • Prescription medications.
  • Medicare Advantage plans. These plans consist of additional services purchased as supplemental parts of your existing coverage, and they’re often a combination of hospitalization coverage, medical insurance, and prescription medications.

Medicaid

Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is only for people who are below a certain income level. Medicaid is for people of all ages and it covers both routine medical care and long term care, including assisted living facilities. Run by both federal and state governments, Medicaid has strict guidelines and you must provide extensive documentation about their income and financial resources when submitting an application. 

Health care guidance from elder law attorneys 

Planning for your health care may feel overwhelming and confusing, especially when you aren’t clear about your options. In addition to enrolling in Medicare or Medicaid, there are other legal documents you should have in place as you get older, such as Health Care Proxy, that give your family clear instructions on what to do in case you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. An elder law attorney can help you determine your eligibility for either Medicare or Medicaid and can support you through the often-complex application process. They can also help you get all the recommended documents in order to secure your future.

At SCC Legal we specialize in many areas of elder law, including Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament, Medical Directive, and more. For more information about how we can help, please contact us today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey have chosen us as their trusted elder law attorneys. 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.

Why Would I Need an Elder Law Attorney in 2020?

Elder Law

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


Medicaid Planning

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

Estate Planning

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

Power of Attorney

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

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

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

Guardianship

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

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

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

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

5 Useful Features to Include in Your Asset Protection Trust

Elder Law

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

  • How Do Asset Protection Trusts Work?

A trust is formed between three parties:

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

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

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

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

  1. Lifetime Distributions: 

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

  1. Checks and Balances: 

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

  1. The Right to Change Beneficiaries: 

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

  1. Add Successor Trustees: 

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

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

The Pros and Cons of Converting Life Insurance into a Long-Term Care Benefit

These days, it’s fairly common to see advertisements and articles encouraging seniors to sell their life insurance policies in order to free themselves up from expensive monthly payments, to get much-needed funds to supplement their retirement lifestyle and/or long-term care or to do both. It sounds like a win-win situation. But, is it really? Here’s some insight from a leading elder law attorney in New Jersey.

There are Significant Costs Involved

In the ads, the pros are very clear – you can get rid of a large monthly expense and receive a lump sum that you can use to meet your current needs. There are some cons to this arrangement, however: 

  • First of all, it can be difficult to determine what a good price would be for your policy. So, it’s a challenge to know if you are being treated fairly by the company buying your policy.
  • Secondly, there are usually commissions that have to be paid, which can amount to 30% of your lifetime settlement. This means that you’ll get quite a bit less in the bank than what you are being quoted by the buyer. You’ll also most likely be subject to paying income tax on the amount you receive, while your heirs wouldn’t have to pay income tax on the death benefit they’d receive if you kept your policy in place. 
  • Finally, receiving this lump sum can significantly affect your Medicaid eligibility. This is because it will change the value of your assets that Medicaid and other public assistance programs look at when deciding if you qualify to receive assistance or not.
  • Know All Your Options – Speak to an Elder Law Attorney in NJ

For these reasons, it’s essential to speak to an elder law attorney if you are considering this option. They can evaluate your options and put a financial strategy and Medicaid planning strategy in place to ensure you get the maximum benefits you are entitled to.

If you would like to get the legal assistance you need to protect your assets and long-term 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, health care proxy, and trusts. For a free consultation, please contact us today or visit the website at https://www.scclegal.com/ 

What to Do If You are a Victim of Identity Theft

Identity theft can be devastating, leading to everything from financial losses and ruined credit ratings to endless bureaucratic issues. And it’s more common than you think – in 2017 alone, reports found that 16.7 million Americans became victims of identity fraud. Even more concerning is that seniors are especially vulnerable to this type of fraud, with criminals taking around $36 billion from senior victims each year. Here’s some important information on what to do if you become a victim of identity theft, from your elder law attorney New Jersey.

Step One: Notify Your Financial Institution

Your bank needs to be notified of fraudulent transactions on your credit, debit card or bank accounts as soon as possible. This will help the bank put a stop to the transaction and even recover your lost funds. Keep a record of the banks that you notified, when you spoke to them and who you spoke to, and follow up with them until the issue is solved.

Your bank will also be able to close the account/issue new cards/transfer your account so that your money will be safe from further fraudulent activity.

Step Two: Notify Credit Reporting Bureaus

Place a fraud alert with credit reporting bureaus if you suspect your identity has been stolen or if a data breach has occurred at an organization where your financial or social security details are kept. This will make it more difficult for thieves to use your details to open accounts. These bureaus include Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. It is important to note that placing a fraud alert on your account is free and that it will last one year from activation, so mark your calendar.

Step Three: Notify Government Agencies

If your social security information has been stolen, notify the Social Security Administration by calling in as soon as you can. If your driver’s license has been stolen (even if you don’t drive), let the Department of Motor vehicles know.

Step Four: Make a Police Report

Although the police may not always have the resources to follow up on identity theft issues, it is important to file an official report with them as financial institutions will often request proof of a police report.

Preventing Identity Theft

Of course, it’s important to take a proactive role in protecting your or your senior loved one’s identity. Monitor your credit report once per year or freeze your credit records until you need to access them. Go through your banking and credit card statements each month and look for suspicious or reoccurring charges that you don’t recognize. Don’t leave documentation with sensitive information lying around the house – lock it in a desk or filing cabinet and shred it before disposing of it. And, of course, do not ever give out banking details or social security information over the phone, online or in person unless you have verified that you are dealing with an authorized representative of a specific organization that requires this information.

Need Legal Assistance for Elder Law Issues? Speak to a Compassionate 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 to Medicaid assistance and Medicaid planning, 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 https://www.scclegal.com/

Business Owners Need More Than Just an Elder Lawyer to Do Estate Planning

Elder Law

As a small business owner or a family business owner, your company is your legacy – a means to provide for your family and valued employees, giving them financial security and a rewarding career. But the reality is that all that can quickly fall apart if you don’t have the right estate plan.

Is an Elder Law Attorney Enough?

There are many different specialties in law and elder law attorneys offer clients services with considerable practical value. They specifically deal with issues that are highly relevant to small business owners, including:

  • Creating a Last Will and Testament
  • Creating Power of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy documentation
  • Developing Medicaid asset protection strategies 
  • Handling long-term care insurance and planning
  • Creating trusts
  • Inheritance tax avoidance

They deliver expertise, counsel and representation around many important legal and financial issues that affect seniors and their loved ones – but the reality is that this isn’t enough when you own a small business or run a family business.

NJ Business Succession Planning Protects You, Your Legacy and Your Loved Ones

It’s always difficult to consider a time in which you’ll no longer be around – but it’s essential to do so if you want to continue to achieve the goals that you set out to do when you started your own business. 

Without strategic business succession planning, family-owned and small businesses face a high risk of failure once the owner retires or passes away, being vulnerable to issues such as confusion over who will take on what role, who should or will inherit control over the business, and even family infighting. 

With larger organizations, business succession planning is seen as a given – a way to ensure the smooth running and stability of a business whatever may occur – but small businesses often overlook these benefits because it’s an uncomfortable conversation. In fact, around 58% of small business owners have no succession plan at all.

And it’s not just about protecting the company you’ve built from the ground up – it’s about effectively dealing with tax issues and skills development, and developing a strategy of what to do when or if there is no family member or employee available to take on the role. And this isn’t just about your sons and daughters, but the generations that come after them too. It’s not about walking away from your company or stepping back in your role; it’s about ensuring you have the flexibility and peace of mind to define your role as you get older.

Who Do I Call? An Elder Lawyer for Businessmen

Elder lawyers who also specialize in business law will help you develop an estate plan and business succession plan that helps secure the future of your business and delivers the peace of mind you need to focus on growing and managing your company. You’ll receive the highest quality legal expertise and guidance you need from Frank R. Campisano. In addition to NJ business succession planning, 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 https://www.scclegal.com/

What is an Elder Law Attorney? Do I Need One?

Elder Law

Here is some important insight into this law specialization from an elder law attorney in New Jersey.

Firstly, an elder law attorney works to protect the rights of seniors and their families in areas such as age-related health concerns, wills and trusts, long-term care, elder abuse, and Medicaid planning or disputes. Most of the time, this work is about drawing up legal protection for seniors and their assets rather than working in court. The majority of work in this field includes:

  • Helping seniors draw up or manage their Last Will and Testament, healthcare proxy, Power of Attorney documents, working on inheritance tax issues or drawing up trusts.
  • Assisting family members with legal documentation for guardianship to help them care for, provide for and protect senior loved ones with dementia or other conditions that mean that they are unable to care for themselves.
  • Helping seniors plan for their long-term care needs and developing a strategy to ensure Medicaid qualification, to apply for Medicaid or to challenge a Medicaid dispute. Elder law attorneys are a good source of information when dealing with complex Medicaid issues, such as when one spouse has to move into long-term care while the other is independent.
  • Assisting senior veterans with accessing the benefits due to them, challenging disputes and developing a strategy to ensure quality long-term care.
  • Providing estate planning advice and support, including gift tax matters.
  • Providing legal advice and advocacy in the event of senior fraud or elder abuse, whether by a family member, caregiver, nursing home, or other person.

If you’d like any advice or legal support regarding any of these issues or any other legal issues that affect seniors, it’s advisable to speak to an elder law attorney.

Get Legal Advice and Support 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 https://www.scclegal.com/

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