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 It simply requires that other beneficiaries must agree to assets being withdrawn from the trust.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 http://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: 

  1. 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.
  1. 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. 
  1. 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 http://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 http://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 http://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 http://www.scclegal.com/

Reverse Mortgages – Are They a Good Choice for Seniors?

Elder Law

If you’re considering a reverse mortgage (also known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) as a means to supplement your retirement plan, it’s important to know the pros and cons. Here are some insights from your elder law attorney in New Jersey.

The Pros

  • You don’t have to make any payments on these loans until you die or move.
  • Your credit record is not a big concern, as the key factors are the value of the home, the loan amount and your age as the borrower.
  • If the value of the property drops, your heirs won’t owe more than the value of the home when it is sold. If the value goes up, your heirs may inherit some money from the sale of the home after the debt is paid.
  • You can shop around as there are many different reverse mortgage products on the market, so you can get good rates with a bit of research and guidance.
  • It’s a good source of tax-free income if your money is tied up in your property and you don’t have a lot of cash flow from retirement funds or investments.

The Cons

  • Unlike a traditional mortgage, the amount you borrow will increase over time.
  • Your heirs will not inherit your property, but will inherit the debt of the loan, which would be paid off by selling the house. This will considerably reduce their inheritance.
  • There is no annual tax deduction of the interest.
  • You cannot leave your home for one year. If you leave after a year, the loan must be paid in full.
  • You have to be 62 years old or older.
  • The interest is still fairly high, and if you have good credit, good cash flow from other investments or other assets outside your home, there are better options like home equity loans or a second mortgage.

Make an Informed Choice and Protect Your Assets – Speak to Your Elder Law Attorney in NJ

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/

Single or Widowed? Here are Some Medicaid Planning Tips

Medicaid planning

Much of the Medicaid planning advice available focuses on protecting the assets of a spouse when their partner is in a nursing home or long-term care, but this isn’t particularly relevant to widow and widowers or seniors who are unmarried. Here’s some insight into how to plan for Medicaid benefits in these circumstances, from a leading elder law attorney in New Jersey.

Gifting strategies

Here, the assistance of an elder law attorney is important because any missteps in your gifting strategy, especially during the critical 5-year look-back period, could easily leave a senior ineligible for Medicaid assistance for a significant period of time.

Instead, you can invest in a different asset protection strategy that can help fund long-term care. For example, by purchasing an annuity, funds can be ensured to provide necessary care during the period where you are ineligible for Medicaid, preserving the much higher gift amount.

Exempt Transfers to Protect Assets

Unlike gifts, some transfers are exempt from consideration or penalties during the look-back period, so it’s important to take full advantage of these exceptions. This can include starting a trust to support a disabled loved one or to fund a family member’s education, or to transfer the home into the name of a family caregiver. Again, these transfers have to be done correctly in order to ensure the most benefit without incurring any penalties.

Some Assets are Purchase Exempt

Just like some transfers are exempt from the look-back period, some purchases are also excluded when considering Medicaid eligibility. These can be used as part of a spend-down strategy to better qualify for Medicaid care. Examples of this type of asset include burial plots, vehicles and even medical equipment.

Develop an Effective Medicaid Planning Strategy with Your Elder Law Attorney in NJ

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, 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/

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/

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/

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