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 →

A New Jersey appeals court rejected a surviving spouse’s public policy argument to adopt a rule that marriage creates a “presumptive right” to a deceased spouse’s life insurance benefits when someone else was designated as the beneficiary of the policy, holding that the creation of any such presumptive right would have to come from the.. read more →

On January 23, 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued proposed regulations related to the administration of its needs-based pension program. The proposed new rules impose many new detrimental restrictions on wartime Veterans and their families. The proposed new rules include the following changes:    VA Proposal: A three-year look-back on gifts and other transfers.. read more →

Here are checks from the State of New Jersey issued to plaintiffs’ counsel as a result of the award of attorneys fees granted by the federal court in the Galletta v. Velez class action lawsuit:: As I reported in an earlier blog post, earlier this month a Consent Order was filed in federal district court in New.. read more →

Under federal and state regulations, the State of California must make an eligibility determination within 45 days after a Medicaid application is filed. Unfortunately, California often fails to meet the 45 day deadline. However, a recent ruling by a state court ends the processing delay by compelling California to meet the timeline established by Medicaid.. read more →

In February 2015, a Consent Order was filed in New Jersey federal district court, concluding a hard-fought class action lawsuit. In the Order, the State of New Jersey agreed to amend its Medicaid program on a State-Wide basis to exclude pension benefits paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) when determining an applicant’s eligibility for.. read more →

A New York trial court ruled that residents of a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) breached their contract when they applied for Medicaid before spending down their assets.  Good Shepherd Villages v. Yezzi (NY Slip Op 51900 – NY: Supreme Court, Broome 2014).  Peter and Hazel Yezzi signed a contract with Good Shepard Village (the “Good.. read more →

On February 3, 2015, U.S. Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-05) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) in the House, along with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) in the Senate introduced the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act of 2015 (H.R.670/S.349). This legislation would enable a disabled individual’s assets to be held in a trust and.. read more →

Plaintiffs John J. Robertelli and Gabriel Adamo, two New Jersey defense counsel charged with ethics violations involving the use of Facebook in a litigation, lost their bid to dismiss the ethics charges. Plaintiffs’ law firm represented defendants Borough of Oakland, the Borough of Oakland Police Department, and a police sergeant in a lawsuit filed by.. read more →

On January 23, 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published proposed regulations in the Federal Register which, if adopted, would amend its rules governing entitlement to VA pension benefits. The VA says the intention of the proposed changes is “to maintain the integrity of VA’s needs-based benefit programs, and to clarify and address issues.. read more →

Two years ago, in 2013, a federal judge in New Jersey granted a preliminary injunction to Elizabeth Flamini, a Medicaid applicant who successfully sued for an injunction preventing the State of New Jersey from counting an annuity owned by Mrs. Flamini’s husband Angelo as an available resource in determining Medicaid eligibility. Flamini v. Velez  ,.. read more →

Below, in chronological order, is ElderLawAnswers‘ annual roundup of the top 10 elder law decisions for 2014. I’m happy to report that one of my cases, entitled Galletta v. Velez, is included in the “Top 10” list as No. 5 below. In the Galletta case, I represented the plaintiff, Alma Galletta, in a putative class action lawsuit filed in New Jersey federal district.. read more →

Florida’s Supreme Court ruled that non-lawyers who engage in various Medicaid planning activities are engaging in the unlicensed practice of law. The Florida Bar Re: Advisory Opinion — Medicaid Planning Activities by Nonlawyers (Fla., No. SC14-211, Jan. 15, 2015). The Elder Law Section of the Florida State Bar asked the Florida Bar Association to consider whether.. read more →

Historically, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not release the new pension rates until January or February of the following year. Thus, the new pension rates for 2015 have not been released officially yet. However, aged and disabled veterans who receive VA pension benefits will receive a marginal increase in their benefit checks in the.. read more →

An Administrative Law Judge found a Medicaid applicant eligible for benefits even though the applicant was impoverished because her spouse gambled away a substantial inheritance. M.Y v. Union County Board of Social Services M.Y., a 96 year old woman, suffered from dementia, could not care for her own needs, and was destitute. She was admitted.. read more →

To be eligible for Medicaid, applicants must meet two requirements: financial requirements and medical requirements. I’ve posted many articles on this blog over the years discussing the financial requirements of the Medicaid program in New Jersey, and offering various strategies to accelerate financial eligibility for the program. However, I have surprising few posts discussing Medicaid’s.. read more →