Vanarelli & Li, LLC provides Special Needs Trusts and Disability Planning Attorney Services throughout the State of New Jersey. See:

Elder Law topics covered in this video include Guardianships, Conservatorships, Power of Attorney, Representative Payeeships (SSA and SSI), Joint Tenancies (including joint bank accounts), Advance Medical Directives (living wills), Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders, Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts, Family Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, and more.

Disability Planning is the first video in a 4-part series that discuss crucial NJ Elder Law topics.  Call 908-232-7400 or visit for additional information.

The YouTube Channel for Vanarelli & Li, LLC is located at:

 Disability Planning for New Jersey Residents

By Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq.

Planning for Substitute Decision-Making
  1. Capacity – A critical threshold issue.
  2. Legal devices for substitute decision-making: 1. Court-supervised; 2. Voluntary
Court-Imposed Substitute Decision-Making
  • Guardianships
  • Conservatorships
Nature and Use of Guardianship

A guardianship is a legal mechanism designed to provide surrogate decision-making and financial management for a person who is no longer able to govern him/herself and who has not made alternate voluntary arrangements.

Characteristics of Guardianships: Voluntary; and Imposed by Court.

Guardianships are only for persons who are legally incompetent – medical evidence needed. Alternate voluntary arrangements either not made or ineffective.

Voluntary Substitute Decision-Making
  • Representative Payeeships (SSA, SSI)
  • Joint Tenancies (Inc. joint bank accts.)
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Advance Medical Directives (Living Wills)
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders
  • Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts
  • Family Limited Partnerships and Limited Liability Companies
Powers of Attorney
  • The most important, simplest and least expensive estate document.
  • A power of attorney is a mechanism by which the principal authorizes an agent to manage the principal’s financial affairs if the principal becomes incapacitated.
Characteristics of Powers of Attorney
  • Creates Fiduciary Relationship
  • General vs. Special
  • Durable vs. Springing
  • Sole Agent vs. Joint Agents
  • Termination- death, revocation or expiration
Powers Conferred in Powers of Attorney
  • banking transactions
  • to make gifts, including gifts to the agent
  • prepare and sign tax returns
  • to create, amend and fund trusts
  • change beneficiaries
  • to execute contracts, leases and deeds
  • to loan or borrow money
  • to engage in long-term care planning
Advance Medical Directives (“Living Wills”)

The right to make decisions about medical treatment is a fundamental right protected under the federal and state constitutions.

Living Wills In New Jersey

N.J. law recognizes 3 planning devices:

  1. Instruction Directive
  2. Proxy Directive POA for Health Care
  3. Combined Directive

Religious preferences may be presented.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders prohibit cardiopulmonary resuscitation when the lungs or heart stop working. DNR orders are normally applicable only in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities. EMS personnel are generally required to attempt resuscitation.

Practitioner Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

Medical orders that help give seriously ill or frail patients more control over end-of-life care. Signed by both the doctor and patient/surrogate. POLST Orders can prevent unwanted or ineffective treatment, reduce patient and family suffering and ensure patient wishes are honored.

Psychiatric Advance Directive (PAD)

Psychiatric Advance Directive: Allows a person to specify important information for caregivers in the event of a mental health crisis.


A trust is one of the most important estate planning tools. A trust is a legal relationship in which a person transfers property to one or more trustees who own the property as fiduciaries. The trustees must use the property only as set forth in the trust agreement, or as provided by law.

Providing for Persons with Disabilities: Special Needs Trusts

Purpose – To preserve the disabled person’s eligibility for needs-based governmental benefits (SSI, Medicaid, DDD services) while providing a vehicle to hold funds owned by disabled person, or funds contributed by the parents or other third parties, to supplement public benefits.

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