Happy New Year to clients, supporters, friends and readers. To celebrate the new year, we’ve ranked our most popular blog posts and website articles from this past year. For blog posts, the original post date is included after each hyperlinked title. Check out the list to see this year’s highlights and tell us what you’d like to see next year. As always, thank you for reading our website and blog!

The Law Office of Donald D. Vanarelli Launches VanarelliLaw.com Website. Posted on March 25, 2015. Earlier this year, we proudly announced the launch of our new website, located at http://VanarelliLaw.com. Hopefully, the new website accomplishes the goal we set for ourselves: to provide the best-possible user experience for website visitors researching elder law issues; estate, trust and gift tax laws; public benefits laws; special needs planning issues; and court procedures, such as probate litigation, will contests and elder mediation.

Will Contests, Probate Litigation and Elder Abuse Actions. This article describes the various kinds of lawsuits our attorneys are involved in, ranging from probate litigation and will contests, to trust actions, guardianship disputes, claims against estate fiduciaries, claims of abuse by agents acting under powers of attorney, joint account litigation, estate accounting challenges, and elder abuse lawsuits.

Attorneys Representing An Estate May Owe A Duty Of Care To Non-Clients Who Are Beneficiaries Of The Estate. Posted on April 17, 2015. In an important case, a New Jersey appeals court ruled that estate attorneys may owe a duty of care to non-clients when the attorneys know, or should know, that the non-clients will rely on the attorneys’ representations.

Top 10 (Actually 9) Noteworthy Cases Involving New Jersey Trusts, Including Special Needs Trusts. Posted on May 30, 2013. This blog post contained a summary of the noteworthy trust cases decided by New Jersey courts in 2012 and 2013, in chronological order.

Ethics Rules Clarified for NY Lawyers Who Use LinkedIn. Posted on March 28, 2015. The New York County Lawyers Association, in Formal Opinion 748, addressed the ethical impact on lawyers of their use of the social media website “LinkedIn.”

Medicaid Eligibility And The Pickle Amendment. Posted on March 30, 2010. This blog post explained how the Pickle Amendment helps recipients who are dual-eligible for both Social Security and SSI benefits to remain eligible for Medicaid even if the dual-eligible becomes ineligible for SSI benefits based on an increase in SSA benefits resulting from a cost-of-living adjustment.

Medicaid Applications and Medicaid Appeals. This article describes how to file for Medicaid benefits, identifies the information and documents required in the application process, and indicates how to file an appeal if an application for Medicaid benefits is incorrectly denied.

Lawsuit May Proceed Against CCRC For Misleading Marketing. Posted on May 28, 2015. Here, a New Jersey appeals court, reversing a trial court order dismissing a complaint filed by the son of a deceased former resident of a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), held that marketing pamphlets distributed by the CCRC could be the basis of a lawsuit alleging consumer fraud and similar claims regarding the CCRCs’ refund policy.

New Jersey Settles Federal Lawsuit, Amending its Medicaid Program to Exclude VA Pension as Countable Income. Posted on February 11, 2015. In 2015, the State of New Jersey entered into a Consent Order agreeing to amend the rules governing its Medicaid program in order to exclude pension benefits paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs when determining an applicant’s eligibility for Medicaid benefits. Our law firm represented the Alma Galletta, the lead plaintiff in this federal class action lawsuit.

Guardianship and Fiduciary Services. This article describes the guardianship process in New Jersey and the various fiduciary services provided to clients by our law firm, such as serving as agent under a power of attorney, trustee, executor or administrator of an estate and the like.

Federal Appeals Court Rules Short-Term Annuities Are Not “Available Resources” Preventing Medicaid Eligibility. Posted on September 3, 2015. In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, reversing an earlier federal district court judgment, ruled that “short-term annuities” purchased by applicants for nursing home Medicaid cannot be treated as an “available resource” preventing Medicaid eligibility.

Social Security Disability Appeals. The Law Office of Donald D. Vanarelli provides services to clients as legal counsel in appealing denial of claims for Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Reduction in PCA Hours Reversed; Assessment Tool Imposed Artificial Cap of 25 Hours of Care. Posted on September 14, 2015. The decision by United Healthcare, a managed care organization, to reduce the Personal Care Assistant (PCA) hours awarded to a disabled Medicaid recipient from forty (40) hours per week to twenty-five (25) hours per week was reversed on appeal.

Top 10 New Jersey Elder Law and Special Needs Trust Cases Decided in 2015. Posted on October 1, 2015. In this blog post, I summarized the top elder and disability law cases decided from September 2014 through August 2015.

Lifetime Achievement Award Presented to Donald D. Vanarelli, New Jersey Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney. Posted on April 30, 2015. In this post, I described my surprise and delight upon receiving the Marilyn Askin Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Elder and Disability Law Section. The Lifetime Achievement Award, the Elder and Disability Law Section’s highest honor, is bestowed on an attorney with an established history of distinguished service who has made significant contributions in the field of elder and disability law throughout his or her career.

Court Rejects Alleged Incapacitated Person’s Preference for Guardian When Basis for Preference Was Not Provided. Posted on August 24, 2015. The Supreme Court of the State of North Dakota ruled that a lower court properly rejected an incapacitated person’s expressed preference for the appointment of a guardian because the incapacitated person could not provide the basis for the preference.

Another Caregiver Agreement Rejected By New Jersey Medicaid. Posted on July 21, 2015. The Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, New Jersey’s state Medicaid agency, has consistently rejected caregiver contracts between Medicaid applicants and their adult children in recent years, and this case is just another example of this trend.

Disabled Vet Ordered Into VA Nursing Home Against His Wishes So His Limited Income Can Be Used To Pay Alimony. Posted on March 20, 2015. A New Jersey appeals court required 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.

Medicaid Eligibility Under The “Undue Hardship” Exception. Posted on February 20, 2013. This post describes the “undue hardship” exception in the Medicaid regulations. In the event a penalty is imposed as a result of a asset transfer for less than fair market value, a Medicaid applicant may seek a waiver of the penalty based upon “undue hardship,” which exists when application of the transfer of assets rules would deprive the individual of medical care such that his/her health or life would be endangered.

Attorney Who Provided Flawed Medicaid Planning Advice by Counseling Against Life Estate Liable For Legal Malpractice. Posted on November 24, 2015. The court held that an attorney could be sued for legal malpractice for incorrectly advising an elderly client not to retain a life estate in real property transferred to an adult child.

Appeals Court Rules Against Teacher Who Blogged That Her Students Were “Rude, Disengaged, Lazy Whiners”. Posted on September 9, 2015. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that a school district in suburban Philadelphia was within its rights to fire an English teacher who blogged that her students were “rude, disengaged, lazy whiners.”

Adult Child Has No Legal Right To An Inheritance Since New Jersey Law Permits Parents To Disinherit Their Children. Posted on March 11, 2015. This post describes a trial court’s ruling 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.

NJ Supreme Court Permits Disabled Child of Retired Fireman to Designate Special Needs Trust as Beneficiary of State Pension Plan. Posted on September 14, 2014. In a case that I litigated for six years through various lower courts and administrative agencies, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the disabled adult child of a retired fireman may have his survivors’ benefits paid to a special needs trust rather than directly to the child, thereby allowing the child to maintain eligibility for Medicaid and other public benefits based on financial need.

Getting a “Conformed,” but Unsigned, Copy of a Last Will and Testament Admitted to Probate in New Jersey. Posted on March 4, 2014. This case described our law firm’s success in getting an unsigned copy of a Last Will and Testament admitted to probate.

Divorce and Equitable Distribution Ordered After Spouse’s Death to Prevent Unjust Enrichment and Fraud. Posted on March 18, 2015. A New Jersey appeals court held that divorce and equitable distribution of marital assets may be ordered after the death of one spouse to prevent unjust enrichment and fraud.

Thank you for making these our top stories of 2015. We promise many new and exciting things to come in 2016! We also hope you will consider the advice that these articles and blog posts offer. Please consider attending one of our seminars. As always, if you or a loved one need long-term care and require eligibility for Medicaid or other public benefits, or need advice about estate or special needs planning, or want to file for guardianship or Social Security benefits, or if you are involved in a probate litigation, will contest, contested guardianship, or an elder abuse trial, please contact us for a consultation, either via email, at dvanarelli@VanarelliLaw.com, or via phone, at (908) 232-7400.

For additional information concerning NJ elder law and special needs planning visit: https://vanarellilaw.com/legal-services/