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 →

On December 12, 2014, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 (NDAA). Among other provisions in the NDAA, Section 624 protects the disabled children of military families by allowing their parents’ survivor benefits to go into a special needs trust. This new law permits a disabled child to benefit from a parent’s military.. read more →

On December 3rd, I presented at the 72nd Semi-Annual Tax and Estate Planning Forum sponsored by the NJ Institute for Continuing Legal Education. My presentation focused on recent developments in planning for disabled beneficiaries, including my recent victory in the New Jersey Supreme Court in the Thomas Saccone v. Board of Trustees of the Police and.. read more →

New Jersey Medicaid may not count IRAs, 401(k) and pension plans owned by the spouse of an applicant in determining eligibility if funds may be withdrawn only by borrowing against the retirement assets. Avery v. Union County Division of Social Services Rose Avery admitted her husband, Friend Avery, to a nursing home in July 1997. After.. read more →

NAELA Aids Win for Children With Disabilities of Retired New Jersey Police and Firefighters New Jersey Supreme Court decision allows survivor benefits to be designated to a special needs trust. The New Jersey supreme court’s decision to allow children with disabilities of retired police and firefighters to receive their parent’s survivor benefits without the risk.. read more →

Appearing Above, Left to Right: NAELA Board member Ron Landsman, Esq., CAP, who filed a brief for the Special Needs Alliance and argued the cause before the Court; NAELA member Donald Vanarelli, CELA, CAP, who represented Mr. Saccone and argued before the Court; and NAELA members Robert F. Brogan, CELA, CAP, and Dan Jurkovic, CELA,.. read more →

Court OKs Trusts for Disabled Kids of Cops and Firefighters NJ Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, author of the majority opinion in Thomas Saccone v. Board of Trustees of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System For Plaintiff-Appellant Thomas Saccone: Donald D. Vanarelli (Law Office of Donald D. Vanarelli, attorney; Mr. Vanarelli and Whitney W. Bremer,.. read more →

(In the midst of my oral argument before the New Jersey Supreme Court held on February 4, 2014 on behalf of Thomas Saccone. A video of the entire oral argument can be found on my website here.)  Reversing contrary decisions by lower courts and administrative agencies, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the disabled.. read more →

  Summary of Presentation: Pensions and Special Needs Trusts Special Needs Trusts (SNTs): Special needs trusts are estate planning devices that are specifically permitted under federal and state Medicaid law, which further New Jersey’s public policy regarding the rights of the disabled. Types of SNTs: Special needs trusts may be “first party” or “self-settled” trusts.. read more →

Video of Oral Argument before the New Jersey Supreme Court in Thomas Saccone v. Board of Trustees of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System held on February 4, 2014 in Trenton, NJ. Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq., legal counsel for Thomas Saccone, a retired Newark, NJ fireman with a severely disabled adult child who receives Medicaid.. read more →

This is the agenda posted outside the New Jersey Supreme Court on Thursday, February 4, 2014 when the Court heard oral argument in Saccone v. Board of Trustees of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System in which the Court will decide whether public employees should be allowed to direct their pensions’ death benefits to special-needs.. read more →

(A news report published in the New Jersey Law Journal on yesterday’s oral argument in the New Jersey Supreme Court is republished in full below.) Court Weighs Designating Trusts as Beneficiaries in State Pension Plans Michael Booth, New Jersey Law Journal, February 04, 2014 New Jersey’s high court is deciding whether public employees should be.. read more →

On February 4, 2014, Donald Vanarelli, Esq. argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court on behalf of Thomas Saccone in a case entitled Thomas Saccone v. Board of Trustees of the Police & Firemen’s Retirement System. Legal counsel for four disability rights organizations filed amicus curiae, or friend of the court, briefs on behalf of Mr… read more →

(From the website of the New Jersey Judiciary)  The following is the Supreme Court’s schedule for oral arguments on Feb. 4, 2014. The issues before the Supreme Court are outlined in the Appellate Division opinion in each case. (The following statements of issues on appeal are prepared by the Office of the Clerk for the.. read more →

On March 13, 2013, the highest court of our state granted my Petition for Certification, in which I asked the Supreme Court to consider the case of a retired fireman and his continuing battle to conduct estate planning for the benefit of his severely disabled son. This is the second time the Supreme Court has.. read more →

A federal district court judge in New Jersey granted a Medicaid applicant’s motion for a preliminary injunction, thereby enjoining the State from counting an annuity owned by her husband as an available resource in determining her eligibility for Medicaid. Flamini v. Velez, Civil No. 1:12-cv-07304 (D.N.J. July 19, 2013) Elizabeth Flamini entered a skilled nursing.. read more →

Recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court granted a Petition for Certification I filed asking the Court to review a decision of the appellate division denying a request by my client, a retired fireman, to designate as beneficiary of his public pension death benefits a special needs trust he established in his Last Will and Testament. This.. read more →

Earlier this year the New York State Legislature, prompted by the Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team, amended Section 369 of the Social Services Law to increase New York’s right to recover money from the estate of a deceased Medicaid recipient. The amendment expands the definition of the term “estate” in the Medicaid Law to include non-probate.. read more →

Thomas Saccone is a retired Newark, NJ firefighter. He and his wife’s only son, Anthony, suffers from severe mental disabilities. Tom is a long-standing estate planning client of my law firm. Tom has shown himself to be a devoted husband and father who is relentless in his efforts to plan his estate in order to.. read more →

The Treasury Department and the four major benefit agencies, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Railroad Retirement Board, are jointly releasing new rules which prevent banks from seizing Social Security and other federal benefits from customers facing debt collectors. The new rules would.. read more →

In Rodbart v. County of Union, 2009 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 3084 (December 21, 2009), Union County was sued by three retirees who expected the County to pay their Medicare Part B premiums for life if they accepted early retirement. Two of the retirees were former Union County assistant prosecutors and the other served as.. read more →

In May of this year, the Internal Revenue Service provided guidance on when a taxpayer may avoid the 10% penalty on IRA distributions before age 59 by claiming to be disabled. In Chief Counsel Advice 200922041, the IRS explained the meaning of “disabled” as it relates to Internal Revenue Code 72(m)(7), the disability exception to.. read more →

The battle for a secure retirement is about to get even tougher. Several new surveys of company executives show that they plan to reduce or suspend their company’s retirement-plan contributions this year.  Dozens of employers in the past year have already slashed such costs.  The trend means one important thing for workers: smaller nest eggs,.. read more →

A new Supreme Court decision illustrates the importance of making sure your beneficiary designations are up-to-date.  The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that a plan administrator properly distributed benefits under an ERISA pension plan to a deceased participant’s ex-spouse, as she was the only designated beneficiary, even though she had waived her interest in plan.. read more →

Congress approved legislation that would allow retirees to defer withdrawals from their 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts in 2009 without triggering a penalty. President Bush is expected to sign the bill. Ordinarily, seniors age 70½ and older are required to withdraw a minimum amount from their tax-deferred retirement savings plans every year and pay.. read more →