In this case, a surviving spouse’s claim to her deceased spouse’s life insurance proceeds was rejected by an appeals court in New Jersey because the deceased spouse named others as beneficiaries. Fromageot v. Fromageot, Docket No. A-1099-13T1 (App. Div.,  December 2, 2015) The decedent, Paul Fromageot (“Paul”), had two life insurance policies. One was a.. read more →

Disability benefits are available to claimants under both disability benefit programs established under the Social Security Act (the “Act”), i.e., the regular Social Security disability program under Title II of the Act, and the Supplemental Security Income program under Title XVI of the Act. Social Security Disability (“SSD”) Benefits: Social Security Disability benefits are available.. read more →

Attorney Who Provided Flawed Medicaid Planning Advice Liable For Legal Malpractice

Marie Brissette and her husband consulted attorney Edward Ryan for advice about how to protect their home from a Medicaid lien in the event that either needed long-term care. Ryan advised them to transfer the title to their property to their four adult children with reserved life estates. The Brissettes followed Ryan’s advice, transferring the.. read more →

A court in Connecticut ruled that the administrator of an estate lacked standing to appeal the denial of an application for Medicaid benefits because no appeal of the denial was filed before the decedent died.  Freese v. Department of Social Services (Conn. Super. Ct., No. CV14-6047417S, June 1, 2015). Plaintiff, Kathleen Freese, claimed that the defendant, Department.. read more →

In a case of first impression, a trial judge in Ocean County ruled that victims of domestic elder abuse can use New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act to obtain restraining orders against their abusers. J.C. v. B.S., Docket No. FV-15-352-16 (Chan. Div., Family Part, Ocean County, September 14, 2015) In an unpublished opinion, Superior.. read more →

The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires periodic reports from all recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. If the SSI recipient has a representative payee, the payee is obligated to make the report. Recipients who are legally incompetent are not responsible for reporting, but their payees are. Required reports must be completed in order for eligibility for SSI benefits.. read more →

On March 9, 2015, I blogged about an Appellate Division case holding that marriage does not create a presumptive right to a deceased spouse’s life insurance benefits. That blog can be found here. In In re Estate of Matchuk, the Appellate Division extended that holding to funds in a deceased spouse’s retirement accounts. In Matchuk,.. read more →

An appeals court holds that the Massachusetts Medicaid is not required to recognize the reformation of an applicant’s trust after the original trust was considered an available asset. Needham v. Director of Medicaid (Mass. Ct. App., No. 14-P-182, Oct. 20, 2015). Maurice Needham, a Massachusetts resident, created two trusts. The first, a revocable trust, held the family.. read more →

The decedent, Tracy Solivan, had been disabled at birth as a result of medical malpractice at a Hudson County hospital. Her parents had obtained a $172,400 settlement on her behalf, which was held in the Hudson County Surrogate’s account until she turned eighteen. In 2002, after she turned 18, Tracy Solivan’s mother was appointed as.. read more →

In this case, an Ocean County judge ruled that litigants in domestic violence cases who want to introduce evidence contained on their cell phones, such as texts, emails, social media messages, or audio/visual evidence, must first provide such evidence to the court and the adversary in tangible form, such as on a printout or a.. read more →

After plaintiffs lost the money they had invested in what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme, they sued the attorney who represented the Ponzi scheme operator. The Ponzi scheme operator, Antoinette Hodgson, had claimed to own a real estate investment business. During the time period in which the plaintiffs invested with Hodgson, the defendant.. read more →

Medicare is the federal government’s principal health care insurance program for people 65 years of age and over. In addition, the program covers people of any age who are permanently disabled or who have end-stage renal disease (people with kidney ailments that require dialysis or a kidney transplant). The Medicare program insures 49 million Americans.. read more →

The 18th Annual Elder and Disability Law Symposium was held on September 29, 2015 at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, NJ. As in past years, I presented the case law update at the opening plenary session. This year I presented 30 elder and special needs law cases. Following is a summary of of my.. read more →

Sylvia Fishbein and her husband created the Fishbein Revocable Trust in 1994. In 2005, following Mr. Fishbein’s death, Mrs. Fishbein executed a pour-over will, an advance directive naming her stepdaughter Leslie as her healthcare representative, and a power of attorney naming her nephew Eugene as her agent. In 2011, Mrs. Fishbein fractured her hip and.. read more →

The decedent, William Anton, was survived by his wife, with whom he was in the midst of divorce proceedings, and by his three children. A few weeks before his death, Mr. Anton, along with his son-in-law Keith, met with an estate attorney. After Mr. Anton told the attorney that he did not know where his.. read more →

In April of this year, I received the Marilyn Askin Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Elder and Disability Law Section during its annual retreat in Philadelphia, PA. The Lifetime Achievement Award, the Elder and Disability Law Section’s highest honor, is bestowed on an attorney with an established history of distinguished.. read more →

Nancy Gimenez-Watson was a resident of Brighton Gardens of Edison, an assisted living facility (ALF) operated by Sunrise Senior Living and its parent company. Mrs. Watson was in the “Reminiscence Plus” program for residents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In April 2008, Mrs. Watson choked on her food. After a Brighton Gardens nurse administered.. read more →

The 18th Annual Elder and Disability Law Symposium was held on September 29, 2015 at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, NJ. As in past years, I presented the case law update at the opening plenary session. This year I summarized 30 elder and disability law cases decided from September 2014 through August.. read more →

(Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq. in the midst of oral argument before the New Jersey Supreme Court. A video of the entire oral argument can be found on the Law Office of Donald D. Vanarelli website.) ‘Elder and Disability Law Update’ and ‘Veteran Benefits Workshop’ to be presented by leading NJ Elder Law and Estate Planning.. read more →

The decision by respondent, United Healthcare, a managed care organization, to reduce the Personal Care Assistant (PCA) hours awarded to petitioner, C.S., from forty (40) hours per week to twenty-five (25) hours per week was reversed on appeal. C.S. v. United Healthcare, 2015 WL 4410104 (June 4, 2015, N.J. Adm.) C.S. is eighty-eight (88) years old. She began.. read more →

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  for the Third Judicial Circuit ruled this week that a school district in suburban Philadelphia was within its rights to fire Natalie Munroe, an English teacher in the district who blogged that her students were “rude, disengaged, lazy whiners.”  Munroe v. Central Bucks School District (3d Cir., September 4, 2015) Natalie.. read more →

Eddie and Aidaliz Jones married in 1998. They had a child in 2003, and were later divorced in 2009. When Eddie died, he was survived by his minor child as well as an emancipated adult child from a prior relationship. Before the marriage, Eddie Jones enrolled under a group life insurance policy through the Police.. read more →

In a 2 to 1 precedential decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversing an earlier federal district court judgment, the court ruled that “short-term annuities” purchased by applicants for nursing home Medicaid cannot be treated as an “available resource” that prevent Medicaid eligibility. Zahner v. Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Human.. read more →

Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq. will be speaking at the “First Annual End Of Life Conference: Legal and Practical Issues in Advance Care Planning” presented by the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the NJ Law Center in New Brunswick, NJ This program,.. read more →

The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, affirmed a decision of the Director of New Jersey Medicaid reversing a ruling of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who reduced C.W.’s Medicaid ineligibility penalty previously assessed for transferring assets for less than fair market value. C.W. v. Divison of Medical Assistance and Health Services, Docket No. A-2352-13T2.. read more →

Following the death of Kenneth Kanter, his son contested the validity of Mr. Kanter’s will and several quitclaim deeds Mr. Kanter had purportedly executed. These documents were drafted and/or prepared by the decedent’s brother, Sidney Kanter, who is a suspended New Jersey attorney. The parties mediated the case and reached a settlement of the matter… read more →

The Supreme Court of the State of North Dakota ruled that a lower court properly rejected a preference expressed by an incapacitated person for the appointment of a guardian when the incapacitated person could not provide the basis for the expressed preference. In the Matter of B.K.J, an Incapacitated Person, 2015 ND 191 (Docket No… read more →

Immediately after the sudden death of her husband, Elizabeth Greenstein was approached by a rabbi who convinced her to purchase two cemetery plots. Shortly after burying the decedent in one of the plots, his wife realized the plots were “poorly situated and exceedingly small.” She then purchased a larger family plot and sought to move.. read more →

In a recent case involving a holographic will, the California Supreme Court overturned an historical rule in the probate laws of California and most other States (including New Jersey) barring the admission of extrinsic evidence to reform an unambiguous will, thereby permitting reformation of an unambiguous will to correct a mistake. Estate of Duke, S199435 (July.. read more →

A federal district court concluded that a decision of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to permanently discontinue a recipient’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits because of temporary mismanagement of a special needs trust required remand to the agency for reconsideration of whether the trust is forever an includable resource. Elias v. Colvin (M.D. Pa., No. 3:15-CV-263,.. read more →

Federal court rules that federal law does not require a State to disregard a transfer of a life estates by a Medicaid applicant to a disabled veteran.   Pike ex rel. Estate of Pike v. Sebelius (D. R.I., No. CA 13-392 S, July 16, 2015). The late mother of plaintiff F. Norris Pike transferred of two life.. read more →

E.A. began residing in a home owned by her adult daughter, B.C., in September 2004. From September 2004 to June 2005, B.C. received no compensation for any caregiver services or lodging provided to her mother. From June 2005 to September 2006, B.C. received E.A.’s Social Security benefits of approximately $1500 per month to offset the.. read more →

(The following excerpt is a portion of a brief prepared by my Law Firm in support of a successful application we filed in Court seeking an Order admitting a letter to probate as the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. The letter was handwritten by the decedent and altered with extensive cross-outs and additions,) The technical requirements.. read more →

New legal ethics guidelines developed by the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association impose a duty of technology competence on New York lawyers. Although they are advisory in nature, the guidelines state that all New York lawyers must develop appropriate social media skills. For example, Guideline No. 1 recognizes.. read more →

Following a daughter’s application to be appointed as guardian for her father, her brother objected and sought to be appointed as the guardian. Middlesex County Judge Frank M. Ciuffani held a four-day trial, during which it was established that the siblings had a contentious relationship and that the daughter had been named alternate executor under.. read more →