For each client, the Law Firm prepares a comprehensive evaluation of the client’s unique family and financial situation and offers planning recommendations designed to provide assets to pay for all needed care while preserving the client’s estate for his/her surviving spouse and heirs to the maximum extent possible. In addition to planning for the possibility of long-term disability, we advise clients and their families after such disability occurs. Medicaid and other needs-based public benefit eligibility rules change almost daily; as they become increasingly complex there are pitfalls for the unwary, but there are also opportunities for the astute planner. The Firm is available to prepare the Medicaid application itself and see it through the often lengthy approval process.
At both the federal level in the Medicare program and at the state level in the Medicaid program, government workers often deny benefits to which applicants are entitled. The Law Firm represents clients in the confusing administrative process to secure benefits which the system wrongly denied.
The Law Firm assists individuals and families in planning their estates. This involves not only reducing estate taxes, but also protecting the estate during life. We prepare wills designed to reduce or eliminate federal estate taxes, powers of attorney drafted to permit the effective management of assets and personal affairs, and advance medical directives (living wills) giving instructions to health care providers in the event of incapacity. Various kinds of revocable and irrevocable trusts are also prepared, if appropriate. We also advise heirs and fiduciaries on the process of probating estates. Probate administration includes filing the petition for appointment of the executor/trix, preparing and filing the inventory of estate assets, paying decedent’s debts, distributing assets, filing tax returns, and filing an account with the Probate Court.
Denials of initial claims for Social Security and SSI disability benefits are common. However, with proper legal representation, over 60% of initial denials are reversed on appeal. As a former Social Security claim representative, Mr. Vanarelli has years of experience adjudicating claims for Social Security, SSI, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
The Law Firm helps clients with disabilities plan for their long-term needs. The Law Firm also advises parents and other family members who wish to provide for disabled family members while preserving eligibility for Medicaid and other public benefits. The Firm provides planning options, drafts special needs trusts and other documents as appropriate, and advises trustees on issues of trust administration.
The Law Firm represents people seeking guardianship of relatives who can no longer handle their own affairs. We also represent proposed wards who may object to the guardianship. The Law Firm also serves as guardian or agent under a power of attorney.
The Law Office of Donald D. Vanarelli represents veterans and their families seeking compensation or pension benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). VA compensation is a disability benefit to compensate veterans for service-connected disabilities. VA pension is a needs-based benefit paid to veterans who served during a period of wartime, have limited income and resources, and are over age 65 or totally disabled.
The Law Firm handles all family law matters, from the initial interview through appeal, by providing high quality legal services. Success may be achieved through litigation, or through alternative strategies such as mediation or collaborative practice; however, our focus remains on achieving client goals.
The Law Firm serves as impartial mediator in divorce and family law cases, and in estate, probate and elder litigation. Divorce mediation is an alternative to the usual method of obtaining a divorce: fighting in court through attorneys. Instead of court, the parties meet together in a private and confidential environment, with a family mediator who assists the couple in negotiating and reaching agreement on the five issues of divorce: alimony, property distribution, custody, visitation and child support. In addition, the Law Firm has developed a special expertise in estate, probate and elder mediation. Central to the practice of elder mediation is the recognition that the elder or disabled person, often at the center of the conflict, is the most important participant: his or her voice must be heard if the conflict is to be resolved. Mediation is guided by the concept of self-determination – decision-making authority in the mediation process rests with the disputing parties.
As a collaborative law attorney, Mr. Vanarelli is specially trained in techniques designed to help the parties in a lawsuit settle their dispute. Collaborative Law is a new model of conflict resolution. All participants agree to work together respectfully, honestly, and in good faith to try to find mutually-satisfying solutions. No one may go to court, or even threaten to do so, and if that should occur, the collaborative law process terminates and both lawyers are disqualified from any further involvement in the case. Collaborative Law has been used most frequently by divorcing couples as a way to reach agreement on all of the issues in their divorce without resorting to filing a lawsuit in court.
State and federal laws provide legal protection to residents of nursing homes. The Law Firm has been successful in utilizing the various nursing home laws to advocate on behalf of clients residing in nursing homes. When necessary, the Law Firm initiates legal action to protect the client’s rights. The Law Firm also represents litigating parties involved in will contests, guardianship disputes and other estate litigation.
Communicating with Clients and Other Professionals
All clients of the Law Firm and others receive periodic reports via newsletters which keep them up-to-date on legal developments affecting them. New planning techniques are often discussed. The Law Firm also conducts seminars on a wide variety of elder law, estate planning and family law topics.