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 →

By notice contained in Medicaid Communication 14 – 15 issued on December 19, 2014, the State of New Jersey formally announced the official end of the Medicaid Medically-Needy program. Medically-Needy Medicaid no longer accepted applications after November 30, 2014. Beginning on December 1, 2014, individuals seeking Medicaid to pay nursing home costs as well as home.. read more →

Earlier in December, Congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014, or the ABLE Act. The ABLE Act provides individuals with special needs and disabilities to own tax-free savings accounts while preserving their needs-based government benefits. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law. Beginning in 2015, the disabled and.. read more →

Plaintiff, D.W., is a 48 year-old woman with Down’s Syndrome and the mental capacity of a 4-year-old. She requires care 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. She resides with her sister who works full-time. D.W. participates in the Personal Preference Program (PPP) administered by the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS)… 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 →

 Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Effective 1-1-15  SSI Federal Benefit Rate           SSI Resource Maximum For an Individual – $733.00                   2,000.00 For a Couple – $1,100.00                      3,000.00 New Jersey State Supplement: New Jersey supplements the federal benefit rate with additional money. The payment received by SSI recipients each month includes.. 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 →

An appeals court in Maryland has upheld the criminal conviction of a daughter who withdrew funds from a joint account with her father, holding that her father did not intend to make a gift when he put his daughter’s name on his bank account. Wagner v. State of Maryland. Marion Wagner was 84 years old,.. read more →

Reversing a trial court, an appeals court ruled that a beneficiary’s Social Security benefits, though deposited each month into a special needs trust, were correctly counted as income by Louisiana’s Medicaid agency. Moore v. Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals (La.App.Ct.1st Cir., No. 2014CA0422, Nov. 7, 2014). Jess Moore, a disabled resident of Louisiana, lived in.. read more →

What is SSI? SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a federal program that provides monthly cash payments to people who are aged (65 or older), as well as for blind or disabled people of any age, including children. To qualify, an applicant must have little or no income and few resources. 2015 Cost-of-Living Increase The.. read more →

Elder Law College 2014  Presented by the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education Thu, Dec 18 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM Location: Crowne Plaza 690 Route 46 East Fairfield, New Jersey 07004 973-227-9200 If you have an interest in representing the graying segment of our population, this is the course for you. In just one day,.. read more →

The following notice appeared in the November 15, 2014 RAO Bulletin: To align VA’s healthcare program with the financial assessment requirements for other federal healthcare programs, the VA has approved a process change to cease collection of veterans’ net worth information for purposes of means testing for health benefits. Effective Jan. 1, 2015, VA will.. read more →

Clients often come to my office seeking a solution to the following problem: the client has lost Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid coverage due to the receipt of Social Security benefits on a parent’s record based upon the retirement, death or disability of the parent. The client asks if it’s possible to continue receiving.. read more →

Contrary to popular opinion, under the law of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states, an unlimited gifting authority in a power of attorney does not protect the agent from criminal liability for self-dealing. A recent appeals court decision in Pennsylvania demonstrates this legal principal. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Patton David L. Patton was arrested in.. read more →