One Reason Why Public-Benefits Planning is Absolutely Essential for the Frail Elderly and Disabled in New Jersey: 13 of the 20 Highest Property Taxed Counties in the Nation are Located in New Jersey

The next time you must defend the decision either 1) to provide help to families by accelerating eligibility for public benefits based on need, like nursing home Medicaid, or 2) to engage in estate planning to protect yourself and your family from the catastrophic costs of nursing home care, I suggest that you confront the challenger with the economic realities faced by the nursing home resident’s spouse who continues living in the community after the ill spouse is institutionalized. Reality 1: Nursing homes in New Jersey cost an average of $10,000 per month, or $120,000 per year. Reality 2: Real estate taxes and other costs associated with home ownership in New Jersey are the highest in the country. New data released by the Census Bureau this past Tuesday, December 23rd, show that over a three-year period, average homeowners in New York and New Jersey counties paid the most in property taxes in the nation. New Jersey accounted for 13 of the 20 counties with the highest median taxes paid on owner-occupied housing, among counties with populations greater than 20,000. Hunterdon County ranked third in the country with a median tax of $7,708, followed by Bergen (4th, $7,370), Somerset (5th, $7,201), Essex (6th, $7,149), Morris (8th, $6,977), Union (9th, $6,727) and Passaic (10th, $6,673). Result: the community spouse simply cannot afford to remain in his or her home after the ill spouse is admitted to a nursing home on Medicaid because, after institutionalization, the community spouse must survive on the meager resource allowance permitted under the Medicaid rules. In New Jersey, the community spouse resource allowance is simply inadequate to do the job it was designed to do, i.e., to keep the community spouse from becoming impoverished. Contributions from adult children to assist elderly parents are compromising the finances of baby boomers everywhere.