Understanding Durable Power of Attorney in New Jersey for Seniors

We live our lives and don’t realize the necessity of a durable power of attorney until we start noticing that the person we admired our whole life is struggling. It could be a partner, elder parent or senior family member who forgot to pay the bills for a second month, and when you ask about it, they assure you the payment was made. Or they fall ill, and you want to choose the best medical care possible for them but can’t because you don’t have a power of attorney (POA).   

When you need an experienced elder law attorney in NJ, SCC Legal is ready to help. We have more than 40 years of experience and often encounter circumstances where a power of attorney would have changed the whole outcome of a situation. In this article, we share how a POA fits into estate planning, why you or a loved one need a financial and medical POA, and how our team can help with the legal steps

Understanding Estate Planning: Power of Attorney 

Many people think an estate plan is the same as drawing up a Last Will and Testament. A will is only one part of the estate planning process. The other documents in the estate plan dictate who should make decisions on your behalf while you are still living but incapacitated for various reasons. It includes a healthcare POA or “Living Will” and a durable power of attorney. When your dignity and hard-earned assets are at stake, estate planning cannot wait.  

The Role of Power of Attorney in Managing Elderly Care  

Do you have strong feelings about being kept alive in certain medical circumstances? Who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you are mentally or physically unable to? These questions are answered when you grant someone a medical power of attorney. Also called a “Living Will,” advanced healthcare directive, or proxy directive, it gives you the power to choose who will make medical decisions when you are too ill to make an informed choice.

Financial Power of Attorney: Protecting Your Assets and Interests  

Protect your assets and interests with a financial POA before you become ill or incapacitated, as it comes into effect when you cannot manage your financial affairs. You can select which matters the person you nominated can oversee, including tax matters, real estate transactions, operation of a business entity, or stocks and bonds. Ensure the person nominated for your financial power of attorney is aware of your medical POA preferences if they are not the same nominee.  

Power of Attorney in New Jersey: Legal Steps and Considerations  

In New Jersey, a POA is not durable by default. The law requires a specifically worded statement, and it’s best to appoint experienced NJ estate planning attorneys, when you are setting up a POA. There are several steps to take before a durable power of attorney is legal in NJ.

  • Complete a financial POA form and medical power of attorney forms.
  • Sign the Power of Attorney’s document in the presence of a Notary Public.
  • Keep the original in a safe place where your loved ones can easily access it, and remember to share the details with them.
  • File a copy with the County Clerk’s office and give one to the person you nominated.  

For more information on elder law, or if you want assistance with a durable power of attorney in NJ, please contact our team at SCC Legal today or visit us at: https://www.scclegal.com/

How to Protect Your Assets from Nursing Home Costs

How to Protect Your Assets from Nursing Home Costs

Many of us will have to make the tough decision to place a senior loved one in a nursing home when they become unable to care for themselves. Given the fact that the cost of nursing homes can be as much as $8,000 a month, it’s important to know how to protect your assets from nursing home costs. If you’ve started discussing nursing home care with your family, that means it’s also time to consult a local elder law attorney. Crafting a long term care plan with your elder lawyer can help you ensure the future wellbeing of your senior loved one – and even yourself when the time comes.  

The Importance of Early Asset Planning for Nursing Home Care

Whether it’s for yourself or a loved one, It’s crucial to be realistic about the full financial situation when planning for nursing home care. This doesn’t mean how much income you bring home every month, it means totalling all of your assets including properties, businesses, cars, stocks, savings accounts, 401ks and more. In order to best plan for your long-term care, the elder law attorney you hire needs to understand the full size and scope of your assets portfolio. 

Understanding Medicaid Eligibility and Asset Limits

Once you reach a certain age you might be eligible for Medicaid, which provides free or low-cost healthcare to those who qualify. Applying for Medicaid can be a confusing and complicated process, and you’re required to disclose financial information like income and assets. This information is used to assess your eligibility, and if you’re above the threshold set by the government, you may not qualify. An elder law attorney can talk you through the application process and advise you on your eligibility based on your assets. 

Working with an Elder Law Attorney

Hiring an experienced elder law attorney is always recommended when planning for nursing home costs or related long-term health expenses. They can ensure your assets are protected and won’t be leveraged against nursing home costs. Elder lawyers can assist with Medicaid applications and eligibility. They can also help you budget health costs for your senior loved one. 

Estate Planning Techniques to Protect Your Assets

  • Give your loved ones financial gifts now, because even if they don’t need it, they can undoubtedly use it in the future and it will provide them with a bit of extra security. There’s no need to hang on to your money when you have more than enough for yourself. 
  • Transfer your assets into an annuity. This is a way to make yourself eligible for Medicaid, but speak with an estate planning attorney before moving any assets or money. 
  • Set up an irrevocable trust. This is often viewed as the ultimate form of financial protection. If you are someone with a large estate, this is an ideal option to consider.

For more information about how to protect your assets from nursing home costs, or if you have any questions about elder law and estate planning, please contact our team at SCC Legal today or visit our website at: https://www.scclegal.com/

How to Get Power of Attorney for Aging Parents

How to Get Power of Attorney for Aging Parents

Planning for our parents’ future and ensuring their well-being become increasingly important as they age. Creating a power of attorney is a critical component of this planning. The legal right to make decisions on behalf of another person, known as the principal, is granted through a power of attorney. It’s important to understand the process and the many powers of attorney available if you’re looking for information on how to obtain power of attorney for your elderly parents.

In New Jersey, if your parents are mentally capable of understanding and making decisions, you can seek power of attorney for them later on. It is best to have these conversations and make the appropriate plans before any mental capacity deterioration occurs. It’s crucial to take action as soon as you can because waiting until a parent becomes incapable may lead to further legal complications and the requirement for guardianship proceedings.

What Kind of Power of Attorney Is Needed for My Aging Parent? 

You must choose the right kind of power of attorney for your elderly parents, depending on their unique requirements. The two main types of powers of attorney are as follows: 

General Power of Attorney: A general power of attorney gives the agent extensive discretion to handle a range of financial and legal matters on behalf of the principal. To guarantee that the agent acts in the principal’s best interests, creating explicit rules and restrictions is essential. 

Durable Power of Attorney: If the principle of a durable power of attorney loses mental capacity, a power of attorney continues to be valid. To facilitate a smooth transition of decision-making authority in the event of cognitive deterioration, this sort of power of attorney is advised for elderly parents. 

Depending on the specific situation and required level of authority, one should choose between a general and a durable power of attorney. Speaking with an experienced elder law attorney is recommended to evaluate which form would be best for your elderly parents’ circumstances.

Navigating The Power of Attorney Process 

There are several crucial stages involved in obtaining power of attorney for your elderly parents. Here is a general description of what happens: 

Start the Discussion: Talk with your parents about their future goals and preferences for appointing an agent. Having open and honest conversations with them about their concerns will ensure the process is as smooth as possible for everyone involved. 

Select an Agent: The principal must choose a dependable person to serve as their agent. This person must be trustworthy, accountable, and able to make choices that are in their best interests. Talk about your decision with your parents and ensure they know the duties and authority given to the agent. 

Draft and Sign the Power of Attorney Form: To create a power of attorney document that is accepted by the law, you need to work with an experienced lawyer in your state. The agreement must comply with New Jersey law and detail the agent’s authority responsibilities. The document must be created, signed, and notarized as state law requires. 

Inform all Necessary Parties: Provide information regarding the power of attorney agreement to appropriate persons, including financial institutions, healthcare providers, and other relevant organizations. Ensure they understand and recognize the agent’s authority, and give them copies of the document for their records.

How SCC Legal Can Help Your Senior Parents in NJ

Obtaining power of attorney for elderly parents can be challenging and requires attention to detail. The knowledgeable lawyers at SCC Legal, who focus on elder law, can provide appropriate direction and guarantee that all legal requirements are completed. We offer complete legal services that are tailored to the unique requirements of senior citizens and their families. 

Contact us today to see how we can assist you in navigating the process and securing power of attorney for your aging parents in New Jersey or visit our website for more information at: https://www.scclegal.com/

Why Should You Hire An Elder Lawyer?

Why Should You Hire An Elder Lawyer

Do you know all the areas in which working with an elder lawyer can benefit you? Elder law attorneys help their clients with a variety of issues ranging from Medicare applications to long-term care plans to creating a will, and hiring one can help you navigate many of life’s unexpected events. Here are just a few reasons why you should hire a NJ elder lawyer now to help you in the future.

You Require Assistance With Medicaid or Medicare

Medicaid and Medicare applications are notoriously complex to fill out. The worst part is if you submit an erroneous application, you have to start all over again from the beginning. An attorney can help you gather the necessary documentation, provide the required information, and ensure you meet all deadlines to give your application the best chance to succeed. The sooner you get Medicaid or Medicare coverage, the better. 

You Need To Manage Your Estate

Estate planning is one area of specialty for elder lawyers. Despite popular belief, you don’t need to be a senior citizen to get started with managing your estate. It’s recommended that people of all ages work with an estate planning attorney to create a will, and you’ll need to manage your will as the years go by. This includes updating it when you acquire a new property, inherit money or other assets, get married, get divorced, or have children. 

Long-Term Care Decisions Have To Be Made

No one wants to think about going into long-term care, but for many of us it very well may be our reality. Whether you want to move in with family or move into a senior living community, you’ll need to make certain financial, legal, and medical decisions to ensure you have the smoothest transition possible. An elder lawyer can walk through all of the possible scenarios with you and help you decide what’s the best route. 

Power Of Attorney

Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the legal power to act on your behalf when you’re no longer able to, whether it’s for financial decisions, medical decisions, or other decisions. You’ll need to designate the person you want to act on your behalf, and your elder attorney will ensure that the right person is given primary legal responsibility.

For more information about how our elder lawyers can help you, please contact our team at SCC Legal today or visit our website at: https://www.scclegal.com


How To Claim Guardianship Of A Parent

How To Claim Guardianship Of A Parent

An individual usually claims guardianship of a parent when the parent is no longer able to make rational decisions for themselves. It’s most often done due to age, illness, or an unexpected incident. However, claiming guardianship of a parent is not always a simple process. Our elder law attorneys in NJ will explain in more detail how it works. 

Certifications from Two Physicians that the parent is incapacitated

The first step is obtaining a doctor’s certification that attests that it is their professional and medical opinion that the parent is not competent or mentally sound enough to make decisions for themselves. There is a special form the doctor must fill out when claiming guardianship of a parent

File An Official Application For Guardianship

The next step is completing the necessary paperwork and filing the application for guardianship in probate court. Once the application has been filed, the court will begin its review process by conducting standard proceedings to approve or deny your application. They’ll investigate your parent and they’ll also investigate you – your financial circumstances, check for any conflicts of interest, and check if you have a criminal background. 

Go For The Court Procedures

There will be a hearing to decide the outcome of your application. Both parties – you and your parent – must be represented by an attorney, even if everyone is in agreement with the proposed guardianship application. A judge will review your application, take all of the circumstances into consideration, and make a decision. 

Await The Court’s Verdict

While each case is unique and there is no universal timeline, you can expect it to take on average between one to two months from the time your application is filed until the time a decision is reached. If the judge feels they need more evidence or that any of the evidence is unclear, the case can take longer. 

Claiming Guardianship in New Jersey

For a guardianship application to be granted, all parties must be in agreement that the parent who is proposed to be under a guardianship is truly not able to care for themselves due to mental impairment or incapacitation. 

If you’d like to speak with us about how to claim guardianship of a parent, if you would like more information regarding elder law, please visit us at: https://www.scclegal.com/

Responsibilities Of Plenary Guardianship

Plenary Guardianship

Sometimes adults lose the ability to make decisions for themselves due to mental incapacitation from a disease, injury, or illness. When a person’s mental state declines to the point that they aren’t able to understand the choices they’re making, someone needs to step in and assist with financial, legal, and medical decisions. This is called a plenary guardianship – when someone has total control over another person’s decisions. 


A plenary guardianship comes with many responsibilities. Let’s take a look at some of the most common elements of a plenary guardianship

Complete Authority

If complete authority is granted in a plenary guardianship, it means that an individual has the power to make all decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person. These decisions are most often medical, financial, and legal. If you’re drafting your will you can choose who you want to be named as your guardian if a situation arises in which you need one. It’s usually a spouse, an adult child, or a trusted family friend. 

Authority Over Estate

Your plenary guardian will have complete control over your estate and all of your assets. If the doctors tell your plenary guardian that it’s unlikely you’ll recover, they can start distributing the estate as directed by your will. 

Manages Health 

Health decisions are an important part of a plenary guardianship, and you should plan for how you want these decisions made as part of your will. If you don’t, and your guardian doesn’t have any indication as to how you would have wanted to proceed, they’ll make the decisions about your healthcare themselves. 

Manages Wealth

Even when your incapacitated, the bills still need to be paid. In a plenary guardianship, your guardian is responsible for your finances, including personal accounts and any businesses you own. It’s essential to appoint someone you trust to be your guardian, especially if you’re an entrepreneur or you own a business, because this person will be in charge of critical financial decisions. 

For more information about plenary guardianship, or if you have any elder law questions, please contact our team at SCC Legal today or visit our website at: https://www.scclegal.com/

Exploring Elder Financial Abuse

Exploring Elder Financial Abuse

Unfortunately, elder financial abuse is all too common and we see cases of it frequently. If you want to protect your senior loved ones, it’s best to be aware of what to look out for and how you can prevent any financial abuse from happening. In this article, our elder law attorneys in NJ will outline the signs of elder financial abuse and how to successfully avoid it. 

What is Elder Financial Abuse?

According to the CDC, elder financial abuse is, “The illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an older individual’s resources by a caregiver or other person in a trusting relationship, for the benefit of someone other than the older individual.

This includes depriving an older person of rightful access to, information about, or use of, personal benefits, resources, belongings, or assets. Examples include forgery, misuse or theft of money or possessions; use of coercion or deception to surrender finances or property; or improper use of guardianship or power of attorney.”

Signs of Elder Financial Abuse: What to Look Out For

Elderly people who have some type of cognitive impairment, like Alzheimer’s disease, are the most vulnerable to financial abuse. However, even mentally-sound older adults often fall prey to financial abuse from people they know and trust. Here are several signs to look out for:

  • Checks written to “cash”
  • They transfer their assets to friends who are assisting them with their finances
  • They can’t explain their current financial situation, or they make excuses when you ask
  • You notice unpaid bills piling up, despite them being able to afford to pay them previously 
  • They start uncharacteristically spending money, or giving it away more frequently

How to Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones

The first step is having a discussion with them about their vulnerabilities. Fair warning, they’ll likely give you resistance on this. Oftentimes, older adults have trouble accepting that they’re not completely in control of their lives anymore. However, it’s a conversation that must be had. When having the conversation, it’s important to reiterate that anyone could fall victim to financial abuse and you are assisting with the situation because you care. To reduce the chances of elder financial abuse, we recommend that seniors simplify their finances, develop a network of trusted people to monitor financial activity, and draft a financial Power of Attorney (PoA) to legally reduce the risk of abuse. 

For more information about how to detect and prevent elder financial abuse, or if you have any questions about creating a financial Power of Attorney for your loved one, please contact our team at SCC Legal today or visit us at: https://www.scclegal.com/

When Is It Time to Hire an Elder Law Attorney?

Elder Law Attorney

Elder law attorneys handle a wide range of issues, and despite common misconceptions, you don’t only need to hire an elder law attorney when a loved one is near the end of their life. Attorneys for seniors help with many different aspects of growing older and aging. Having an experienced elder care lawyer on your side can make things much easier for you and your family. Here are some strong indicators that it may be time to hire an elder lawyer: 

You Need Help with Medicaid or Medicare

Medicaid and Medicare applications are notoriously difficult. You must meet specific criteria, provide certain documentation, and any mistakes with your application means you have to start over from the beginning. Starting from scratch can cause severe delays to you being accepted and gaining coverage. 

Elder lawyers are well-versed in Medicaid and Medicare applications, and they can help you or your loved one complete the application, gather the necessary documentation, and ensure they meet all eligibility criteria before submitting the application. 

You Need To Make Estate Planning Decisions

We recommend that people of all ages create an estate plan, but it’s especially important for older adults. Elder law attorneys can assist you with drawing up your living will, trusts, and powers of attorney. These documents are essential and give your family explicit instructions on what to do with your assets when you’re no longer here. 

Estate plans are important for everyone, particularly if you have complex finances, a blended family, or numerous assets. Don’t let the court decide what happens to your assets when you’re gone, work with an attorney to create an estate plan today. 

It’s Time To Make Long-Term Care Decisions

Many of us will need some type of long-term care at a certain stage in our life. Whether it’s an in-home health aide, an assisted living community, or another type of elder care, it’s important to think about what you want to happen if a time comes when you’re no longer able to make your own healthcare decisions. You need to appoint someone to be your healthcare proxy, and decide who you want making your medical and financial decisions if there comes a point when you can’t. 

If you’d like more information about when to hire an elder law attorney, please contact our team at SCC Legal or visit our website at: https://www.scclegal.com/

Guardianship abuse: what it entails and how to avoid it

Guardianship abuse is a type of elder abuse that occurs when a person who has been appointed as a guardian abuses their power. Unfortunately, guardianship abuse is much more common than you might think.

However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself, your family and your assets. Guardianship is an essential part of a comprehensive estate plan, and if you haven’t spoken with an elder lawyer yet, we recommend you do so soon.

Continue reading “Guardianship abuse: what it entails and how to avoid it”

Estate Planning: 5 Crucial Mistakes to Avoid Litigation

estate planning

With large amounts of money at stake, some otherwise good and kind people can exhibit behaviors that are based on want and greed. At SCC Legal, we’ve seen our share of horror shows in estate litigation cases over our many years handling all aspects of elder law. If there is no last Will or Testament, no proper estate plan in place when mom or dad passes, children or other family members may begin to fight over who deserves, or who controls what assets.

When siblings or other beneficiaries engage in clearly dishonest behavior, or refuse to be transparent during estate administration or guardianship proceedings, other beneficiaries may suspect they are being cheated. Sometimes these remaining children have moved far away and are finding it difficult to keep tabs on the distribution of assets here in New Jersey. In these cases, parties have little choice but to engage a qualified NJ elder law attorney to represent their interests, and protect their rights under the law. For many, it is a matter of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars that is at risk, if they don’t do something legally, and do it quickly.

How to Minimize Infighting Over Your Estate and Assets

Even with a legal estate executor or administrator these cases can get ugly, ending up in a courtroom. That’s why it’s important to have a DETAILED estate plan in place, especially if you own valuable real estate, significant stock or collectable assets, or a business that needs to survive you. A well thought out estate plan coupled with an EFFECTIVE will, can help ensure your final wishes are met, your loved ones are cared for after your passing and avoids nasty litigation cases that could break up your family – if it is done correctly

With most things, it helps to know what not to do first. You’d be surprised to see how one simple mistake in your estate plan can end in a costly court battle. Here are five of the most common estate planning mistakes to avoid provided by the SCC Legal team in Fairfield, NJ. 

  1. Thinking you’re too young to create an estate plan. Estate planning should be thought of before passing away in order to give you ample time to create a plan you’re comfortable with. As soon as you start to live independently and gather assets, you should start planning your estate. This will ensure your property goes to the people most important to you, who need it most – not to those the state selects.
  2. Excluding the Advance Healthcare Directive. This is a legal document giving the person of your choosing the ability to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be unable to. If you have strong feelings about whether you prefer to be kept alive (or not) in certain medical situations like a coma, this is a very important document to consider when creating your plan.
  3. Forgetting to add your business to your estate plan. For many people, their business is more than their livelihood – it’s their passion. However, it is often forgotten about when it comes to estate planning. Consider what would happen to your business if you passed away – who should it go to? Is there someone who can buy it? How will this affect your heirs?
  4. Taking a DIY approach to estate planning. In reality, the technical side of estate planning is very complex – it’s not as simple as leaving certain assets to certain people. The tax side, for example, needs to be managed very carefully in order to ensure the least amount of tax possible is levied on your estate. This will have a significant effect on the outcome of your estate and needs to be addressed by a professional who knows this system intimately and can give you solid advice.
  5. Choosing a problematic executor. This is the person who will be responsible for administering your estate and, as such, should not benefit from the distribution of your estate. It’s very important the chosen person knows you and your family well, supports your views and has the ability to perform their duties without any issues. An estate planning lawyer can help you decide who will fit this position, explain their duties and even help add a third party who can assist the executor, such as a bank trust department.

Avoid Estate Litigation by Using a NJ Estate Planning Attorney

As we mentioned above, estate litigations can destroy relationships between your surviving family members and rack up substantial legal and court costs. The best way to keep your heirs out of this type of situation after you pass away is to ensure you work with a reputable estate planning attorney to create a solid estate plan and last Will or Testament.

Frank Campisano is an estate planning attorney at Sedita, Campisano and Campisano (SCC Legal) in New Jersey, who brings an exceptional level of patience and compassion to this often emotional process. With many years of experience, he can assist you in developing a plan that addresses all your requirements, ensuring your hard work and assets go to the people you love, rather than to the government or other greedy family members. At SCC Legal, trust is the key – and we’ll give you all the time, advice and expertise you need to ensure your wishes are carried out. 

For more information about estate planning and litigation, or to book an appointment with Frank Campisano, please contact us today or visit our website at: https://www.scclegal.com/

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