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 →

Plaintiff Wilson Bermudez was a patient at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation’s West Facility for five weeks, during which his treatment included 24-hour rehabilitative nursing “to address complex medical, nursing, and rehabilitative needs.” When Bermudez later sued Kessler for injuries he allegedly sustained, he included claims under the New Jersey Nursing Home Responsibilities and Rights of.. read more →

In a recent press release, the Internal Revenue Service announced the release of proposed regulations implementing a new federal law authorizing states to offer tax-favored ABLE accounts to people with disabilities who became disabled before age 26. The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) legislation was signed into law in December 2014. ABLE accounts are.. read more →

In Slack v. Wells Fargo Bank, the plaintiff and her brother held title to their late mother’s home as joint tenants with right of survivorship. In 2006, plaintiff’s brother opened a $100,000 line of credit with Wells Fargo Bank, secured by a mortgage on the property. The parties dispute whether plaintiff was aware of the.. read more →

Preparing to be deposed in a civil litigation can be a daunting task. A deposition is a key fact-finding tool of pretrial discovery, in which a party or a witness is asked a series of questions under oath. In a typical case, the questions are asked by the party who is adverse to your case… read more →

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has amended its regulation governing individuals presumed to have been exposed to a herbicide agent, commonly called “Agent Orange,” during the Vietnam era. Specifically, the VA is expanding the regulation to include individuals who performed service in the Air Force or Air Force Reserve under circumstances in which they.. read more →

In Taffaro v. Taffaro, the plaintiff sued his half-sister claiming that she removed decorations and flowers he had placed near their mother’s gravestone. Plaintiff had placed various items at the grave, including a Christmas wreath, a Halloween ghost, and cards, which were “frequently directed towards defendant” and referencing the parties’ previous dispute over their mother’s.. read more →

In a case of first impression, the New Jersey court of appeals held that websites have the right to protect the identities of readers who post comments related to public events. Diane Trawinsky v. John Doe, Docket No. A-0312-14T1 (App. Div., June 3, 2015) Plaintiff, Diane Trawinski, is the wife of former Elmwood Park borough.. read more →

In Singer v. Emeritus Senior Living Center, following a series of falls and the later death of Elizabeth Singer, her family sued the Emeritus Senior Living Residence, claiming that the last of those falls led to Mrs. Singer’s cognitive decline and hastened her death. Plaintiff’s expert was a board certified psychiatrist. At the conclusion of.. read more →

After advocates criticized the Social Security Administration (SSA) for refusing to allow court-established Special Needs Trust to qualify as exempt resources for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) purposes, the SSA has issued an Administrative Message, AM-15032, clarifying its policy regarding these trusts. The Administrative Message explains that the rejection of court-established Special Needs Trust is appropriate.. read more →

In May 2010, Anthony Douglas Elonis’s wife of nearly seven years left him, taking with her their two young children. Elonis was an active user of the social networking web site Facebook. After his family left him, Elonis began “listening to more violent music” and posting on Facebook self-styled “rap” lyrics inspired by the music… read more →

In the C.C. v. Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services case, plaintiff filed an application for nursing home Medicaid benefits which was denied by the Ocean County Board of Social Services. The agency imposed a penalty, or a period of ineligibility, on her application. That is, the agency found that plaintiff sold her residence during.. read more →

In DeSimone v. Springpoint Senior Living, the son of a deceased CCRC resident sued the owner/operator and CEO of five continuing care retirement communities (“CCRCs”) in New Jersey. The suit, which was brought individually and as a class action, alleged violations of the CCRC Act and the Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”), in addition to common.. read more →

The 17th Annual Elder Law Retreat, presented by the New Jersey State Bar Association Elder and Disability Law Section, was held on April 21 – 23, 2015 in Philadelphia, PA. At least two significant events occurred at the Retreat this year. First, I was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing my “advocacy in elder and.. read more →

Donald D. Vanarelli, a Westfield, NJ attorney whose primary area of practice is Elder Law and Special Needs Planning, is celebrating 15 Years of being rated AV Preeminent Westfield, NJ – May 7, 2015 – Attorney  Donald D. Vanarelli announces his 15th Anniversary of having been recommended by peers and selected by Martindale-Hubbell for their highest possible rating: the AV Preeminent rating. Less than 1% of.. read more →

After reading about the Macallan Group d/b/a/ Home Care Assistance of Red Bank, New Jersey from a “value pack coupon” she received, Gale Rosenthal contracted with them to provide home aides to assist her in her home. According to the coupon advertisement she received, the aides were bonded and insured. After she discovered that jewelry.. read more →

State Bar Association’s Elder and Disability Law Section Presents its Highest Honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, to New Jersey Attorney Westfield, NJ – April 30, 2015 —Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq. 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,.. read more →

The New Jersey appeals court reversed a trial court’s dismissal of a legal malpractice action brought by beneficiaries of an estate against the attorney representing the estate, holding that estate attorneys may owe a duty of care to non-clients when the attorneys know, or should know, that non-clients will rely on the attorneys’ representations. Higgins.. read more →

A federal district court ruled that a public housing authority properly counted distributions from a special needs trust as income in concluding that the beneficiary of the trust was ineligible for a Section 8 housing voucher. DeCambre v. Brookline Housing Authority (D. Mass., No. 14-13425-WGY, March 25, 2015) Kimberly DeCambre, a disabled, 59 year old resident.. read more →

A Pennsylvania appeals court held that beneficiaries omitted from trust have standing to sue the attorney who prepared the trust as third-party beneficiaries if they can show they were intended beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate. Agnew v. Ross (PA Superior Ct., No. 2195 EDA 2014, February 2, 2015) In 2003, Robert H. Agnew hired attorney Daniel.. read more →

A New Jersey appellate court ruled that a person who is incapacitated may still be able to express a preference as to his or her choice of a guardian or place of residence, both of which are entitled to consideration by the court. Matter of the Guardianship of Walter J. Macak, 377 N.J. Super. 167.. read more →

On March 10, 2015, the New York County Lawyers Association (“NYCLA”) weighed in on the ethics of using the social media website “LinkedIn” for professional self-promotion by lawyers. Formal Opinion 748 addresses the ethical implications of LinkedIn profiles. Specifically, the opinion addresses (1) whether a LinkedIn Profile is considered “Attorney Advertising,” (2) when it is.. read more →

  The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act became law on December 19, 2014. The new law creates an option for people with disabilities and their families to save for the future, while protecting eligibility for public benefits, without creating a special needs trust or similar estate planning instrument. What is an ABLE Account? .. read more →

Leading NJ Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney continues to set industry standards for best practices. Westfield, NJ – March 26, 2015 — The Law Office of Donald D. Vanarelli, a leading provider of legal services for seniors, the disabled and their families in New Jersey and New York, today announced the launch of its.. read more →

New Jersey’s Appellate Court ruled that, under the appropriate circumstances, it is equitable to require a disabled 89 year old veteran to receive end-of-life care in a VA facility against his wishes rather than at home in order to use his limited income to continue paying alimony to his ex-wives. .Rizzolo v. Rizzolo, 2015 NJ Super.. read more →

New Jersey appeals court holds that divorce and equitable distribution of marital assets may be ordered after the death of one spouse to prevent unjust enrichment and fraud. Estate of Beltra v. Beltra Plaintiff Milagros Beltra filed for divorce from her 34 year marriage to defendant Enrique Beltra. Plaintiff was terminally ill and passed away 6.. read more →

A trial court in Bergen County held that a parent’s promise to leave assets to an adult child does not give rise to an enforceable claim of interference with anticipated inheritance since parents are not prohibited from disinheriting their children under New Jersey law notwithstanding promises to the contrary made during the parent’s life.  Gong.. read more →

As a general rule, an attorney hired to prepare a will or trust for a client is usually not liable to the beneficiaries of the will or trust because the beneficiaries are not clients of the attorney. But there are exceptions to the general rule. The general rule and its exceptions are demonstrated in two.. read more →