The Challenges of Applying for Medicaid

Medicaid planning

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

What are the top reasons Medicaid applications are rejected?

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

Why SCC Legal Recommends Medicaid Application Help 

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

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

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.

Estate planning for single parents requires special considerations

Elderly woman touching face of young female nurse

For single parents, estate planning is one of the most important things you can do for your children. Creating a comprehensive estate plan ensures your children will be taken care of when you aren’t there to care for them anymore, and it gives you peace of mind. No one likes to think about what will happen if tragedy should strike, or if you’re diagnosed with an illness, and we all have a tendency to delay taking care of important matters like estate planning. We recommend planning your estate now, and for single parents there are certain questions to keep in mind:

  • If something happens to you, who will raise your children until they become adults? Some people nominate their children’s other parent, some people choose their brother or sister, and some people nominate close family friends. Whoever you choose to be their guardian will be responsible for their care until they are legal adults, so it’s definitely not a decision to make lightly.
  • Will your life insurance provide for your children if something happens to you? Being able to provide financially for your children is often a parent’s single biggest concern. Life insurance is an affordable way to ensure your kids are taken care of after your passing, but it’s important to note that children cannot receive money from a life insurance policy. Talk to an estate planning attorney about setting up a trust to provide for your children’s living expenses.
  • What happens if you remarry and become a blended family? Although blended families are very common, remarrying means you’ll need to make some important decisions about who will care for your kids if something happens to you, asset allocation, and more. An estate planning attorney will be able to give you objective advice, and will help you create the best plan for your family.

Don’t delay your estate planning

We understand that single parents have extra responsibilities, extra worries, and extra considerations to think about regarding their children’s futures. An estate planning attorney can help you create a plan that ensures your children will be safe, well-taken care of, and provided for financially once you’re gone. Think of your estate plan as your life jacket – you’d never get on a boat without one, so why would you go through life without an estate plan?

For more information about estate planning, including Last Will and Testament and Power of Attorney, or if you have any questions, please contact SCC Legal today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey have chosen us as their trusted estate planning attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.

Understanding Durable Power of Attorney

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

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

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

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

Why Durable Power of Attorney is essential 

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

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

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

When is the Right Time to Start Planning for Long-Term Care?

long-term care

Do you have plans in place for your long-term care? Long-term care includes things like Medicaid planning, assisted living, home care nurses, any specialized medical care, and more. It’s not something many of us think about before we need it, but planning ahead of time and developing a retirement strategy can make any future life transitions as smooth as possible for both you and your family.

So, when should you start planning? The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers some helpful advice, and in addition, here are a few scenarios that indicate you should contact an elder law attorney:

  • When you have children. Even though you aren’t a senior citizen when your children are first born, it’s still recommended to solidify your long-term care plans, because your children are your dependants and your plans directly affect them, as well as involve them. As your children get older you may often make changes to your long-term care plans, but we recommend putting them in place as soon as you can to prepare for the future.
  • When you’re diagnosed with an illness or a condition. Receiving a diagnosis often serves as a wake-up call for people because there’s so much to think about – your assets, the care you might need in the future, any medical decisions your spouse or your children may need to make on your behalf, and the finances regarding any care you might need. 
  • If you’ve recently been injured. Injuries can range from slip and fall incidents to car accidents to sports injuries, and in order to protect your family and your finances, it’s wise to have a plan in place in the unfortunate event that you suffer a serious injury. 
  • When you turn 50. Experts recommend starting your long-term care planning between the ages of 40 – 50, so if you reach this important milestone and don’t have your legal affairs in order, contact an elder law attorney to find out what you need to do.

Start planning for your future today

Planning for your long-term care requires you to understand your current financial situation, your projected future financial situation, and all the costs associated with long-term care. Being financially prepared for your future is critical, and many people work with an attorney to put a plan in place for their retirement. Attorneys who specialize in long-term care planning can help you develop a comprehensive retirement strategy and a financial plan to secure your future.

For more information about planning for long-term care, including Medicaid assistance and Medicaid planning, please contact us today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their elder law attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.

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

will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice from New Jersey estate planning attorneys

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

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

estate planning

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

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

Contact our New Jersey estate planning attorneys 

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

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

Estate Planning for Your Pets

Pets are a part of the family, but unlike your children or spouse, they cannot legally inherit property or assets. This can be a concern for any animal lover who wants their pet cared for in the event that they pass away. The good news is that there are ways to provide for your furry family members in your estate plan. Here are some insights from a leading estate planning attorney in NJ.

What Pet-Friendly Estate Planning Options Are Available?

Because pets legally cannot inherit, you can’t simply write your pet into your estate plan or Last Will and Testament the way you would with a person. If you do this, those assets will simply be removed and included in your residuary estate and dealt with as if it was left out of the will, likely going to your spouse or nearest human dependents. However, this doesn’t mean that a will is useless in this instance; it can still be used to provide for your pet if it is correctly and legally-worded. You can choose to do the following:

  1. Leave your pet to a loved one of your choice as you would with any other asset, or
  2. Leave your pet to a loved one of your choice along with an amount of money to be used to pay for your pet’s expenses.

The second option is often the best one, as many people may not be able to take on a pet even if they love them, due to financial constraints. However, it’s important to note that even if you say this money should be used to care for that pet, there is nothing legally preventing the beneficiary from spending the money on anything they want. They can also then give up the pet with no legal consequences.

A third and more secure option is to create a pet trust. This is a stronger but more expensive legal tool that works in much the same way as other trusts. You can set down all the details of the food, treatment, and care of your pet, and have an independent trustee to ensure these wishes are carried out, making sure that the money is spent properly and the pet is cared for.

This also allows you to make additional provisions, for example, where any left over money should go once the pet passes, or who should care for the pet in the event that the original caretaker passes away or is unable to fulfill the requirements of the trust. 

Include Your Furry Family Member in Your Estate Plan – Speak to Your Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey

Frank R. Campisano is an experienced estate planning attorney with a long history of service and loyalty to his New Jersey clients. In addition to assisting you with creating, storing or updating your Last Will and Testament, he can assist you with developing trusts to care for your pets, healthcare proxies, Power of Attorney documentation, and much more. 

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

What’s Better for Senior Couples – Marriage or Cohabitation?

When someone finds a partner when they’re both in their senior years, the choice between marriage and cohabitation is a more complex one. Individual and religious preferences aside, these two options carry serious financial and tax implications that should be considered. Here’s some insight from a leading elder law attorney in New Jersey.

The reality is that there are benefits and drawbacks to either choice – many seniors refuse to get married because they don’t want to affect the cost of their healthcare, compromise their Medicaid planning, reduce their retirement benefits, raise their taxes or have to redo their entire estate plans. Similarly, some seniors still choose marriage to take advantage of the tax breaks it offers as well as the benefits and protections. It really comes down to the importance of knowing how these choices affect your individual position to see what works best for both people in the relationship.

What to Consider When Weighing Up Cohabitation and Marriage as a Senior:

Housing: 

When you are cohabiting, living together means developing an agreement about housing, the associated costs, and each person’s rights. One person may agree to sell their home or rent it and move into the other’s property, which will have tax implications. When only one person’s name is on the deed, cohabiting partners have fewer rights, including legal rights if the property is sold after the partner passes or if the relationship dissolves. Here, married couples have more protection but will still need to sort out the implications of selling a property or purchasing a new asset.

Estate Planning: 

Senior couples tend to have far more complex estate plans than newlyweds in their 20s, which may include adult children and grandkids, wills and trusts, properties, investment portfolios, insurance, and 401ks. If you choose to cohabit, then your estate plan may only need minor changes depending on whether or not you want to sell an asset or you want to name your partner as a beneficiary in your Will. If you choose to marry, your estate plan will need to be extensively redone to determine your spouse’s rights and benefits from your estate, and to determine the impact of their debt if they have any. This should be done by an experienced elder law attorney who can talk you through the different tax and financial implications of your options to ensure that the estate plan is properly developed to protect the assets and people involved.

Medicaid Planning: 

It’s a good idea for seniors to commit to Medicaid planning in their retirement – this is a customized strategy based on your assets to ensure that Medicaid care can be accessed and penalties avoided. This strategy will remain largely unchanged if you choose to cohabit (although you should talk to your elder law attorney about it when they work on your estate plan), but may need extensive revision if you choose to marry. This is because your new spouse and the assets you gain in the marriage will be evaluated when you or your spouse applies for Medicaid.

Whether you decide on marriage or cohabitation is a personal choice, but it is important to know exactly how these choices will impact your estate plan and financial situation, which is where your elder law attorney can help. They can rework your documents and even introduce useful cohabitation contracts that will ensure that both parties are properly protected, giving you peace of mind with either choice.

Find Out How Marriage or Cohabitation Affects Your Finances and Rights – Speak to an Elder Law Attorney in New Jersey

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, he can also help you to 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 https://www.scclegal.com/

Am I Entitled to Part of My Biological Parent’s Estate?

It’s perfectly natural to wonder what your rights are to your deceased parent’s estate. Well, the reality is that there’s no straightforward answer – it changes from case to case. Here’s some insight into this emotional and complex issue from an estate planning attorney in New Jersey:

  • Did Your Parent Die Without a Last Will and Testament?

If your parent had a valid Last Will and Testament at the time of their death, then whatever is contained in that document is legally binding. This means that their assets pass to their heirs in accordance with the instructions contained in the Will, regardless of who is mentioned or who is not. In some cases, a Will can be contested and your estate planning attorney will be able to determine whether or not you have a case.

However, when a person dies intestate (in other words without a valid Will) then it is a completely different story. In these cases, beneficiaries of the estate are determined by the courts in accordance with state law. These laws will not take into account anything other than a valid Last Will and Testament, so it doesn’t matter if a person has spoken about their wishes or not. This is why it’s incredibly important to have a professionally-drafted Last Will and Testament.

In these cases, beneficiaries are designated from immediate family outwards. For example, if a parent dies leaving a spouse and children of that spouse, the spouse inherits 25% (no less than $50,000 and no more than $200,000, plus ½ the remaining balance) and the rest is split equally amongst the children. If someone dies without a spouse but has children, the assets are split equally amongst the children.

  • Assets That Pass Without a Will

In some cases, assets can pass directly to a child without regard to the Last Will and Testament. This is often the case with property, where a child is named on the deed of the property. In this case, the property belongs to the person named on the deed and this cannot be affected by a Will, as you can’t grant assets you do not own legally. The same is true of the named beneficiary on an insurance policy or 401k.

Again, this makes it very important to have a professional-drafted Will, as having conflicting legal documents can lead to confusion and infighting in what is usually a very emotional time. An estate planning attorney will not only ensure that everything is perfectly clear in your own estate plan, but will also assist you with understanding and representing you in a claim against a poorly-drafted Will.

Understand Your Rights – Speak to an Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey

At Sedita, Campisano and Campisano in New Jersey, estate planning attorney Frank Campisano is ready to assist you with all your estate planning needs, whether you need to draft a business succession plan, a personal estate plan, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, a Living trust or to minimize inheritance tax on your estate. He can also assist in the event of Will disputes.

Contact us today and let us deliver expert estate planning advice to take care of all your wishes – whether your needs are big or small. For more information, please visit our website at https://www.scclegal.com/.

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