Trial lawyers must know where the ethical line is drawn between properly investigating jurors and improperly communicating with them. In today’s Internet-saturated world, the line is increasingly blurred. Therefore, the ethics committee of the American Bar Association (ABA) recently issued an opinion describing a trial lawyer’s ethical obligation when reviewing jurors’ information on the Internet in.. read more →

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is an historic effort by the government to extend medical insurance coverage to all Americans, increase the quality of care, increase accountability, and reduce cost. It’s been said that the ACA changes the relationship between government, health care providers and all who receive health care in the U.S. However, at.. read more →

As a result of the advocacy efforts by several New Jersey elder law attorneys following a class action lawsuit filed against the State of New Jersey, New Jersey Medicaid’s penalty divisor will be increased to $9,535.62 per month, or $313.50 per day, effective April 1, 2014. The newly increased divisor shall be used for all new or pending.. read more →

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a letter (CMS Letter SMD-14-001) to States with guidance on how to apply Medicaid’s estate recovery and transfer of asset rules to individuals newly eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In general, most of the long-term care rules that apply to traditional.. 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 →

The New Hampshire legislature has enacted a new law that allows nursing homes to sue anyone who received an asset transfer from a nursing home resident, and also makes the resident’s fiduciaries liable for the cost of care under certain circumstances. This new legislation became law on July 2, 2013. The law, enacted under Title.. read more →

The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, recently introduced in the U.S. House and Senate, would permit competent individuals with disabilities to establish their own self-settled special needs trusts. The proposed law should be quickly enacted. Congress legally recognized the use of self-settled Supplemental Needs Trusts (sometimes called Special Needs Trusts) (“SNTs”) in 1993. SNTs allow.. read more →

On October 31, 2013, proposed changes to the process of filing disability claims and appeals with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) were published in the Federal Register. The Federal Register notice can be found here. The proposed changes, which are significant, relate to the filing of informal claims and notices of disagreements. There are.. read more →

A federal district court ruled that banks cannot foreclose on surviving spouses of reverse mortgage holders when the spouses are unable to pay off the mortgages. Bennett v. Donovan, Civil Action No. 11-0498 (District of Columbia, September 30, 2013) The case involved the surviving spouses of three individuals, each of whom who took out a.. read more →

New York recognized the marriage of state residents Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, who wed in Ontario, Canada, in 2007. When Spyer died in 2009, she left her entire estate to Windsor. Windsor sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses, but was barred from doing so by a federal law called.. read more →

Senate Bill 748, entitled the “Veterans Pension Protection Act,” was introduced on April 17, 2013. The bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to consider the resources of individuals applying for VA pension that were disposed of for less than fair market value when determining the eligibility of applicants for pension benefits, including Homebound.. read more →

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has revised its Program Operations Manual System (POMS) to allow first-party trusts to pay for travel expenses incurred by non-beneficiaries in limited cases. In addition, the revised POMS clarifies the rule that payment of some administrative expenses upon early termination of the trust or otherwise, including trustee fees, will not.. read more →

In the New Jersey Advance Directives for Health Care Act, N.J.S.A. 26:2H-53 et seq., the State of New Jersey recognized that a competent adult has a statutory right to plan ahead for health care decisions through the execution of advance medical directives, and to have the wishes expressed in those documents respected. A more recent.. read more →

Until recently, estate planners have typically created estate plans by using a number of sophisticated planning techniques. One common technique involved the creation of a testamentary credit shelter trust in the Last Will and Testament of the spouse who dies first. A credit shelter trust is a trust for the benefit of the spouse, or.. read more →

The so-called “fiscal cliff” legislation enacted last night by Congress made a number of substantial changes to our laws. The new law, called “The American Taxpayer Relief Act“, restored the 39.6% income tax rate for high-income households, increased the capital gains tax rate to 20% for singles with incomes above $400,000 and married couples with.. read more →

New Jersey’s Medicaid rules are complicated, and seem like they’re always changing. One such change in the rules that occurs on a regular basis is the State Medicaid agency’s amendment to the Medicaid program’s “penalty divisor.”  On December 10, 2012, a Medicaid Communication, or notice, was released by the Division of Medical Assistance and Health.. read more →

On October 26, 2012, David McLenachen, Director of the Pension and Fiduciary Division, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), issued Fast Letter 12-23. Described as a clarification of VA policy, this fast letter actually substantially tightened the eligibility criteria for veterans and others residing in senior or independent living facilities who apply for needs-based VA pension.. read more →

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued Revenue Procedure 2012-41 which set forth inflation-adjusted revenue items for 2013. Among other things, the IRS announced that the annual gift tax exclusion amount will increase in 2013 to $14,000 made by a taxpayer to any person who is not the taxpayer’s spouse. Married couples can combine their annual exclusion amounts.. read more →

The settlement of Jimmo v. Sebelius, Docket No. 11-cv-17 (D.Vt., January 18, 2011), a nationwide class-action lawsuit, has resulted in a significant change in Medicare coverage rules. Under the settlement, Medicare will scrap a decades-old practice that required beneficiaries to show medical or functional improvement before Medicare would pay for skilled nursing and therapy services… read more →

In a landmark ruling released on Thursday, June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Affordable Care Act”), President Obama’s health care overhaul passed in 2010.  National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U.S.___ (2012). Congress enacted the Affordable Care Act in order to.. read more →

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently revised four sections of the Program Operations Manual System (POMS).  The POMS is a primary source of information used by Social Security employees to process claims for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Most of the changes to the POMS sections were administrative in nature. However, the.. read more →

Bill No. 1388 was recently introduced in the New Jersey Senate with an identical, companion bill, Bill No. 685, also introduced in the Assembly. This bill amends New Jersey Statute 2A:34-23, concerning child support and alimony, to provide that an obligor’s child support or alimony payments may be modified when an obligor’s income is diminished.. read more →

New Jersey legislators are now considering passage of the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (“UAGPPJA”). This uniform law, promulgated by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 2007, already has been adopted in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and is pending in the legislatures of 13 other.. read more →

In a recent Federal Register Notice, the Social Security Administration (SSA) required lawyers who represent claimants on SSA disability appeals to file appeals electronically. According to the Notice, beginning on March 16, 2012, lawyers must use the SSA Internet Disability Appeals web portal at www.socialsecurity.gov to file reconsiderations or hearings on medically denied Title II.. read more →

Currently, the value of assets passing to heirs upon the death of a U.S. citizen free of federal estate taxes, called the federal estate tax exemption amount, is $5.12 million dollars per person. This federal estate tax exemption amount is valid through the end of 2012. In the past, upon the death of the first.. read more →