Our Elder Law attorneys are compassionate advocates who specialize in long term care planning. 

Elder Law is a specialized field of practice that focuses on the needs of the elderly, the disabled and their families. Working closely with you and your loved ones, our certified elder law attorneys and professionals will develop compassionate strategies that protect your assets, provide for optimal long-term healthcare, and ensure that your assets and final wishes are efficiently passed on to your beneficiaries.

Government Benefit Planning

The estate you’ve worked a lifetime to build can be quickly depleted due to the high cost of medical issues and long-term healthcare. While there are numerous programs and services for the elderly and disabled that cover these costs, finding and understanding them can be overwhelming. We’re here to help you navigate the government benefit maze, file the necessary applications and advocate for you if any issues arise with your application or the benefits you receive.

Medicaid Planning

Families that are confronted with serious long-term healthcare needs are often faced with the prospect of financial devastation. Proper Medicaid planning allows you to minimize the financial burden of expensive long-term healthcare and spare your loved ones the frustration associated with establishing long-term care. We provide a wide range of Medicaid planning services, including capital preservation plans, spend down strategies and crisis intervention advocacy, so you can make a seamless transition from private pay to Medicaid.

Healthcare Coordination

We go above and beyond most law firms by offering a highly experienced team of client care coordinators who advocate for our elderly and disabled clients. Whether your loved one is living at home, an assisted living community or a skilled nursing facility, you’ll be comforted by the fact that their care is supervised by someone who is well-versed on the availability, cost and quality of local resources. Our care coordinators deliver compassionate, hands-on service, including regular visits to ensure your loved one’s needs are being met, and frequent collaboration with geriatric care managers, social workers and other professionals.


Guardianships are frequently used to ensure proper care for individuals with physical or mental disabilities. The appointment of an uncontested guardianship can appear to be a simple proceeding, but the process is often fraught with pitfalls and emotionally demanding situations. We pride ourselves on making this emotional process easier on the family and friends of the proposed ward. If you are considering initiating this process, we can explain your options and offer guidance regarding the court proceeding, and the ongoing judicial oversight of your duties and responsibilities

Estate Planning

We’re here to ensure that your estate planning wishes are realized in a coordinated and thoughtful manner. We accomplish that by designing bespoke strategies built around your specific legal, financial and medical concerns, as well as your family’s unique dynamics. But we’re not just about strategy – our team of certified elder law attorneys and professionals will be right alongside you, actively guiding you and your loved ones through every step of the planning, probate and administration process. We handle a wide range of issues, including:

  • Wills
  • Revocable Living Trusts
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Health Care Directives
  • HIPAA Authorizations
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Life Insurance Trusts
  • Family Limited Partnerships
  • Qualified Personal Residence Trusts
  • Gift Programs
  • Retirement Trusts
  • Minors’ Trusts
  • Special Needs Trusts

Estate Administration

Estate administration is the process of distributing your assets to your heirs or beneficiaries after your death, as well as resolving final obligations such as debts, expenses and taxes. Our attorneys have administered hundreds of estates, including the distribution of probate assets, which must go through a court-supervised process before passing to a beneficiary.

Estate Litigation

Many individuals are overwhelmed by the prospect of resolving a dispute involving the estate of a loved one. Not only are there legal and financial issues to tackle, but emotional ones as well. Our attorneys and former judges frequently find amicable, cost-effective resolutions through the mediation and arbitration process, and when necessary, through litigation.

We handle estate dispute matters in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Colorado, and address a broad range of issues, including:

  • Will Contests
  • Removal of Fiduciaries
  • Trust Reformation
  • Will and Trust Construction
  • Accounting Disputes
  • Improper Disputes
  • Improper Gifts and Transfers
  • Misconduct by Power of Attorney

Trustee Services

In many situations, your loved ones are not in the best position to serve as a trustee, or they lack the time to effectively serve in that capacity. When that happens, smart families and individuals turn to us. Besides bringing our experience and compassion to the table, we’ll ensure that the various professionals that play a role in your trust, including accountants, financial advisors and care management professionals, are acting in unison and in your best interest.

Special Needs Trusts

We offer a full range of services for families with disabled individuals, including drafting and executing special needs trusts, and serving as trustees. Through a special needs trust, a beneficiary can receive gifts, lawsuit settlements and other funds without being denied eligibility for government programs such as SSI and Medicaid. A properly structured special needs trust can also be set up in your last will and testament, as a way for you to leave assets to a disabled relative. We also help our clients establish supplemental benefits trusts, designated to protect the inherited assets of physically or mentally disabled individuals.

Executor Services

When it comes time to execute your last will and testament, our elder law attorneys are there to deliver a trustworthy and unbiased outcome. There are many reasons you might want to engage a trusted advisor to handle this process. Maybe you don’t want to burden your close relatives with the execution of your final wishes, or possibly your family dynamics warrant the use of a trusted advisor to complete the process. Whatever your motivation, you can count on us to deliver an efficient result.

Richard Miller, Esq. and Shawna Kirchner Brown, Esq. will join a panel of distinguished judges and legal professionals for a NJICLE seminar

August 30, 2022

Mandelbaum Barrett Elder Law Chair Richard Miller, Esq. and Associate Shawna Kirchner Brown, Esq. will join a panel of distinguished judges and legal professionals for a New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education on September 29th at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. “Guardians Ad Litem – How They Work and How to Get Appointed” will take a look […]

Congratulations to Donald “Donny” A. Dennison, Esq., who has been elected to serve on the Executive Committee for the New Jersey State Bar Association, Elder and Disability Law Section for 2022-2023.

June 24, 2022

Donny will be serving as the Legislative Chair and his responsibilities will include presenting new state and federal legislation to the Section for review, facilitating discussions within the Section about the applicable pieces of legislation, and presenting the Section’s position to the State Bar Association if the Section decides as a whole to support / […]

Mandelbaum Barrett Elder Law Chair Richard Miller, Esq. discussed how COVID has compounded the rise in estate litigation in blended families in an interview with ROI-NJ.

April 8, 2022

While no one can control complications that the pandemic brings, Mr. Miller said a lot of trouble could be avoided by people having an estate plan that contemplates the entirety of their family situation.

Donald Dennison, Esq. to speak at the NJSBA's 24th annual Elder and Disability Law Retreat

March 10, 2022

Mandelbaum Barrett Elder Law attorney Donald Dennison, Esq. will be presenting a "Case Law Update" at the New Jersey State Bar Association's 24th annual Elder and Disability Law Retreat on Thursday, March 24th at the New Jersey Law Center (also presented via Zoom).

Donald Dennison to present LGBTQIA+ Lunch & Learn to the Metro YMCA of the Oranges

March 7, 2022

Mandelbaum Barrett Elder Law attorney Donald Dennison, Esq. will be presenting a LGBTQIA+ Lunch & Learn to the Metro YMCA of the Oranges on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022 at 7pm ET via Zoom.

The discussion will cover the importance of estate planning for both married and non-married couples – especially those who have children (minors). It will also touch on New Jersey's Laws Against Discrimination.

Richard Miller, Donald Dennison and Shawna Brown to present to the Passaic County Bar Association

February 9, 2022

The modern American family has undergone drastic changes during the last two generations. Now more than ever before, second or third marriages, each with their own children, unmarried significant others and caregivers who have served as quasi-family members for aging or disabled individuals are becoming more prevalent. As the concept of the American family evolves, so should our approach to effective estate planning counseling.

Shawna Brown to participate in CLE webinar titled "2022 Estate Planning for Non-Married Couples"

January 25, 2022

Regardless of marital status, estate planning is crucial. Are you an attorney who needs to learn more on this topic? One of our experienced Elder Law attorneys Shawna Brown will be participating in a CLE webcast discussing "2022 Estate Planning for Non-Married Couples" on February 16th at 9am ET.

Richard Miller Honored at New Jersey Judiciary's 2020 Pro Bono Attorney Recognition Event

October 29, 2020

Richard Miller was honored at the New Jersey Judiciary’s 2020 Pro Bono Attorney Recognition Event, hosted by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. This annual event recognizes outstanding members of the New Jersey Bar who provide pro bono services which improve the lives of state residents and support the administration of justice. In the past year, Richard […]

Richard Miller and Shawn Brown Presented on NJSBA Webinar on Guardians Ad Litem

September 22, 2020

Richard Miller and Shawna Brown joined a distinguished panel of New Jersey judges and attorneys in the live webinar "Guardians Ad Litem: How They Work and How to Get Appointed," hosted by the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Richard Miller Answers a Readers Question on Inheritance Tax

December 26, 2019

Richard I. Miller answered a readers question on "Can I avoid the inheritance tax for nieces and nephews?" Read what Richard had to say here.

Shawna Brown Answers a Readers Question on "I own a home with Mom. Can she qualify for the Senior Freeze?"

March 28, 2019

Shawna Brown, an Associate in Mandelbaum Barrett's Elder Law Practice Group answered a readers questions about whether or not an elderly mother can apply for the Senior Freeze if she shares a home with her daughter. Click here to read more.

Mandelbaum Barrett's March 2019 Elder Law Alert

March 5, 2019

Mandelbaum Barrett's March Elder Law Newsletter is now available. This month's issue discusses paid family caregivers through Medicaid, protecting your house after you move into a nursing home, and more. Click here to read this month's issue.

Mandelbaum Barrett's February 2019 Elder Law Alert

February 11, 2019

Mandelbaum Barrett's February Elder Law Newsletter is now available. This month's issue discusses Medicaid home care, costs of new long-term care insurance policies, and more. Click here to read this month's issue.

Richard Miller Spoke with ROI-NJ on Divorce and Remarriage Among the Aging Generation

February 1, 2019

Elder Law Chair Richard Miller spoke with ROI-NJ on divorce and remarriage among the aging generation and the financial consequences. Click here to read more.

Mandelbaum Barrett's January 2019 Elder Law Alert

January 7, 2019

The January Elder Law Newsletter is now available. In this issue you can read about Medicare Part B, Understanding Medicare's Hospice Benefit, and more. Click here to read this month's issue.

Mandelbaum Barrett's December 2018 Elder Law Alert

December 6, 2018

The December Elder Law Newsletter is now available. In this issue you can read about Medicare Supplemental Coverage, Nursing Home Surveillance and more. Click here to read this month's issue.

Shawna Brown Answers a Readers Question on What Happens When Someone Who Owes Child Support Gets an Inheritance

October 3, 2018

What happens when someone who owes child support gets an inheritance? Shawna Brown, an Associate in the Firm's Elder Law Practice Group, answers a reader's question on what happens when an ex-spouse has a judgment against them and receives an inheritance. Read what Shawna has to say here.

Mandelbaum Barrett's September 2018 Elder Law Alert

September 24, 2018

Check out our latest Elder Law alert that deals with a recent change to VA benefit rules by the VA. Click here to read more.

Richard Miller Spoke at Brightview Senior Living

September 5, 2018

Richard Miller, Chair of Mandelbaum Barrett's Elder Law Practice Group presented on September 5, 2018, to seniors at Brightview Senior Living in Randolph about "The Myths and Misconceptions of Elder Care Planning."

Richard Miller Answered a Star Ledger Readers Question on the Importance of Having a Will

July 30, 2018

Richard Miller, Chair of the Firm's Elder Law Practice and a Certified Elder Law attorney, recently answered a Star Ledger reader's question on the importance of having a will.

Richard Miller answers NJ.COM Biz Brain Reader's Question on New Jersey Inheritance Tax and the new Governor

October 11, 2017

Richard Miller, the Firm's Elder Law Practice Group Chair and Co-Chair of its Special Needs Practice Group, was recently asked by to answer a reader's question on New Jersey's Inheritance Tax and his thoughts on what the new Governor will do. Read Richard's response here:

Richard Miller to Speak at NJICLE Program on "Handling Contested Guardianships"

September 22, 2017

On Thursday October 5th Richard Miller, Chair of the Firm's Elder Law Practice Group and Co-Chair of its Special Needs Practice Group will be presenting as part of a panel on "Handling Contested Guardianships"at the New Jersey Law Center. This NJICLE course will cover what to do when the matter unavoidably ends up in a courtroom. Attorneys can learn tools to effectively represent their clients and learn about the latest cases dealing with guardianships and what the holdings mean to you!

Richard Miller answers NJ.Com "Biz Brain" question on Lowering an Estates Value Before Death

June 23, 2017

Richard Miller, Chair of the Firm's Elder Law Department, was featured in today's "Biz Brain" section answering a readers question on lowering an estate's value before death. To read the full question and Richard's answer, click here.

Don’t Yet Want Your Heirs to Know About Your Assets? Use a Quiet Trust in Your Estate Plan

September 15, 2022

Trusts are great tools for leaving assets to your heirs while maintaining control over their access to those assets. In many cases, you would tell your beneficiaries that you have made a trust for them. However, this is not always desirable — and this is where a “quiet” trust may be helpful. A quiet trust is […]

How Long Should I Hold on to Important Documents?

September 7, 2022

It is hard to know what documents to trash and when. Before you know it, your spare room, office, basement, or garage is overflowing with boxes of papers that all seem important. Trying to weed through the mess and figure out what to toss? Keep reading. Which Documents Should I Keep? There are some documents […]

How Changes to Portability of the Estate Tax Exemption May Impact You

September 1, 2022

On July 8, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service issued new guidance that allows a deceased person’s estate to elect “portability” of their unused gift and estate tax exemption for up to five years after their death. So, if your spouse passed away less than five years ago, you may be able to file an estate […]

It Pays to Be a Smart Shopper When Buying a Medigap Insurance Policy

August 29, 2022

Medigap premiums for plans from insurance companies offering the same benefits vary widely, so it pays to be a smart shopper. Federal law requires that each insurance company offers the same benefits for each of the Medigap plans lettered A through M, but each company sets its own premium rates. A Medigap insurance company sets […]

What You Should Consider Before Scattering a Loved One’s Ashes

August 26, 2022

Where Do You Want to Scatter the Ashes?   The place you choose to spread your loved one’s ashes is very important. The rules for spreading someone’s ashes are different depending on the type of location.  Is the Area Private or Public Property? The biggest question about location is whether the property is public or […]

Keeping Your Emergency Contacts and Medical Information Updated for First Responders

August 24, 2022

If medical personnel are able to access your medical history during an emergency, it could mean the difference between life and death. But if, for example, you are injured, in shock, suffering from dementia, or are otherwise incapacitated, you may not be able to provide that information yourself. There are several systems readily available to […]

Is a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust Right For You?

August 19, 2022

What is a GRAT? Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs) ­are a mechanism by which wealthier individuals and couples can transfer appreciating assets to their heirs and minimize gift or estate taxes. High-net-worth individuals and couples can use GRATs to freeze the value of their estates and transfer any increase in the value of their assets […]

The Powers and Responsibilities of Representative Payees

August 18, 2022

Do you have a friend or loved one who receives Social Security and is unable to manage her payments? If so, you can request that the Social Security Administration (SSA), the government agency that disburses Social Security, name you as the representative payee for that person. Being a representative payee gives you the power and […]

When Is a Nursing Home Eviction Legal, and What Can I Do?

August 10, 2022

Nursing home evictions, or involuntary discharges or transfers, disrupt the lives of residents, leading to homelessness, separation from familial support systems, and loss of care. As federal law covers all federally funded nursing home residents, nursing home evictions are legal only in particular instances, such as: The nursing home can no longer provide for a resident’s needs. […]

The Ins and Outs of Estate Sales

August 9, 2022

Following the death of a family member, you may find yourself needing to sort through many possessions accumulated over the deceased’s lifetime. An estate sale is one way to distribute those items that you do not want or need quickly and efficiently. While selling someone’s furniture, jewelry, artwork, antiques, and other belongings yourself can mean […]

What is an Executor?

July 28, 2022

An executor is the person or institution responsible for managing the administration of a deceased person’s estate. The executor (also called a personal representative) is either named in a will or appointed by the court, if there is no will. In addition to an individual, a bank, trust company, or other institution can serve. Executors are […]

Some Social Security Beneficiaries Can Get Retroactive Payments — But at a Cost

July 26, 2022

If you need a lot of cash on hand upon retirement, Social Security offers a lump-sum payment option that’s worth six months of benefits. However, it comes at a cost. It is important to understand the details before agreeing to the payment. If you have waited beyond your full retirement age (66 for those born […]

Dynasty Trusts: A Tax-Efficient Way to Pass Wealth Down Through the Generations

July 25, 2022

If you want to pass money to future generations without having it subject to gift and estate taxes, then a dynasty trust may be right for you. A dynasty trust allows trust assets to be used for the benefit of multiple generations while keeping the assets out of the grantor’s and the beneficiaries’ taxable estates.  […]

How to Get Into a Nursing Home as a Medicaid Recipient

July 20, 2022

While Medicaid helps pay for nursing home care, being admitted to a nursing home as a Medicaid recipient is not always easy. There are several ways to navigate the process, depending on your situation.  With the median cost of a nursing home room being more than $250 a day, most families need help paying for long-term care. […]

How to Deal with an Estranged Child in Your Estate Plan

July 19, 2022

Unfortunately, not all families get along. If you are having problems with one of your children, you may not want them to benefit from your estate. There are several strategies for dealing with an estranged child in your estate plan. Depending on the level of estrangement and the reasons for the estrangement, the following are […]

Using an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust to Transfer Assets

July 12, 2022

An intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT) is a common estate planning tool that is used by wealthy families to transfer assets from one generation to the next while achieving significant tax savings. IDGTs are especially useful if you have assets that will appreciate significantly over time.   An IDGT is “intentionally defective” because it purposely […]

What to Do if You Want to Leave Your Children Unequal Inheritances

July 11, 2022

Parents usually want to leave their children equal shares of their estate, but equal isn’t always fair. If you plan to provide more (or less) for one child in your estate plan, preparation is important.  It is natural for parents to want to treat their children equally in their estate plan, but there are some […]

Medicare Advantage Plans Often Wrongly Deny Necessary Care, Study Finds

July 8, 2022

In an alarming number of instances, private Medicare Advantage plans are denying coverage for medical services that would be covered under original Medicare, according to a federal investigation. These denials are likely preventing or delaying medically necessary care for tens of thousands of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries each year. The investigation by the Department of Health and […]

Filial Responsibility: Requiring Adult Children to Pay for Aging Parents’ Care

July 6, 2022

Did you know that in many states you could be responsible for your parents’ unpaid medical bills? In fact, more than half of all states currently have laws making adult children financially responsible for their parents, including their parents’ long-term care costs. However, these laws are rarely enforced. Notably, New Jersey does not have filial […]

The Tax Consequences of Selling a House After the Death of a Spouse

July 5, 2022

If your spouse dies, you may have to decide whether or when to sell your house. There are some tax considerations that go into that decision.  The biggest concern when selling property is capital gains taxes.  A capital gain is the difference between the “basis” in property and its selling price. The basis is usually […]

Can My Family Inherit My Season Tickets?

June 17, 2022

Sports fans with season tickets may want their families to enjoy the tickets after they are gone, but passing on these tickets may not be simple.   Getting season tickets to your favorite sport is not always an easy task. Season tickets for some teams can cost a lot of money and require time on […]

Should You Prepare a Medicaid Application Yourself?

June 17, 2022

Navigating the Medicaid application process can be complicated, especially if you are applying for long-term care benefits. Hiring an attorney to help you through the process can be extremely helpful.  Whether you should prepare and file a Medicaid application by yourself or should hire help depends on answers to the following questions: How old is […]

Three Warning Signs That You May Need a Professional Trustee

June 17, 2022

Sometimes a parent or relative of a person with special needs will establish a special needs trust for their family member and decide to serve as the sole trustee of the trust. In other cases, a parent won’t want to serve as trustee, but will ask a close friend or family member to serve without […]

What to Do If Your Medicaid Application Is Denied

June 17, 2022

If you apply for long-term care assistance through Medicaid in New Jersey and your application is denied, the situation may seem hopeless. The good news is that you can appeal the decision. Medicaid is a program for individuals with minimal resources, so it has strict asset eligibility requirements. Qualifying for Medicaid requires navigating the complicated […]

5 Rights That Trust Beneficiaries Have

June 17, 2022

As a trust beneficiary, you may feel that you are at the mercy of the trustee, but depending on the type of trust, beneficiaries may have rights to ensure the trust is properly managed. A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person, called a “settlor” or “grantor,” gives assets to another person (or […]

Why Small Business Owners Need an Estate Plan

June 17, 2022

Running a small business can keep you busy, but it should not keep you from creating an estate plan. Not having a plan in place can cause problems for your business and your family after you are gone. While an estate plan is important for everyone, it is especially important for small business owners. Planning […]

Using a Roth IRA as an Estate Planning Tool

May 9, 2022

A Roth IRA does not have to be used as just a retirement plan; it can also be a way to transfer assets tax-free to the next generation.

Unlike a traditional IRA, contributions to a Roth IRA are taxed, which means that the distributions are tax-free. Also, unlike a traditional IRA, you are also not required to take any distributions on a Roth IRA, regardless of your age. If you don't need the money for retirement, you can leave all of it in the IRA to grow tax-free and eventually pass on to your heirs.

How Long Does an Executor's Job Take?

April 26, 2022

Being the executor of an estate can be a time-consuming job, depending on the size and complexity of the estate. While a simple estate can take a few months and not require a huge time commitment, if there are problems, the job can drag on for years.

An executor is the person responsible for managing the administration of a deceased individual's estate. Although the time and effort involved will vary with the size of the estate, even if you are the executor of a small estate you will have important duties that must be performed correctly or you may be liable to the estate or the beneficiaries.

If You Don't Want an IRA Distribution, You Can Donate It to Charity

April 19, 2022

Not everyone wants to take the required minimum distributions from their retirement accounts right away. If you don't want your distribution, one option is to donate it to charity and get a tax deduction.

You are required to begin taking distributions from your tax-deferred IRA when you reach age 72 (70 ½ if you turned 70 ½ in 2019 or before) even if you don't need the money. The distributions are added to your income and taxed at your highest marginal rate, perhaps even at a higher rate than your other income if you're right at the threshold between two rates. You're more likely to have to pay a higher rate on this income if you are still working.

What Is Undue Influence?

April 18, 2022

Saying that there has been "undue influence" is often used as a reason to contest a will or estate plan, but what does it mean?

Undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure on an individual, causing that individual to act contrary to his or her wishes and to the benefit of the influencer or the influencer's friends. The pressure can take the form of deception, harassment, threats, or isolation. Often the influencer separates the individual from their loved ones in order to coerce. The elderly and infirm can be especially susceptible to undue influence.

Arbitration Clause in Last Will and Testament Found to be Unenforceable by New Jersey Superior Court

April 11, 2022

Both lawyers and non-lawyers alike are familiar with arbitration clauses found in contracts. Whether the arbitration clause is found in a nursing home admissions agreement, or everyday "adhesion contracts" (for example, contracts governing the use and enjoyment of social media platforms), arbitration clauses can be found nearly everywhere – except a Last Will and Testament according to a recent New Jersey Superior Court decision.

What is Elder Law?

March 4, 2022

When I was admitted to the New Jersey State Bar four (4) years ago, I dove into the practice of elder law headfirst and I don't regret it. Since that time, I have encountered a re-occurring question from both practitioners and non-practitioners alike: "what is elder law?" It is a fair question, and in the spirit of full transparency, the name is somewhat of a misnomer.

When referring to the general practice area we call "elder law" the term "elder" encompasses both the traditional definition of an elderly person, as well as those who are disabled of any age. This expanded definition of "elder" sometimes creates confusion and leads both lawyers and non-lawyers alike to ask what exactly it is we do.

What Happens to a Medicaid Recipient If the Community Spouse Dies First?

February 28, 2022

When one spouse is in a nursing home and applying for Medicaid, planning has to take into account the possibility that the spouse who is not in the nursing home (the "community spouse") may pass away first. This is because the community spouse's death may cause assets to pass to the nursing home spouse and render him or her ineligible for Medicaid.

Incentive Trusts: Ensuring That an Inheritance Will Be Well Spent

February 25, 2022

Many parents or grandparents with sizable amounts of money to pass on to their heirs are apprehensive about the effect it many have on their children or grandchildren. In some instances, they fear that the recipients will misspend the funds on drugs, fancy cars or failing businesses. In other cases, the fear is simply that their children will lose their drive to achieve and overcome barriers that may present themselves if there's no financial necessity to do so.

You Can Now Compare Nursing Homes on Staff Turnover Rates and Weekend Help

February 23, 2022

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will add data on staff turnover rates and weekend staffing levels to its Care Compare website, giving consumers another tool when choosing a nursing home.

The official Medicare website includes a nursing home rating system. Care Compare (previously called Nursing Home Compare) offers up to five-star ratings of nursing homes based on health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. Users can search for nursing homes by location and directly compare how they measure up.

Annual Contribution Ceiling for ABLE Accounts Rises and More States Add Programs

February 16, 2022

The maximum amount that can be contributed each year to an ABLE account for a person with disabilities rose $1,000 to $16,000 on January 1, 2022. The figure, which is tied to the inflation-adjusted value of the IRS's gift tax exclusion, had been stuck at $15,000 since 2018. Meanwhile, all but four states now offer ABLE programs.

Congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014, amending the Internal Revenue Code to allow families to create new tax savings plans, modeled after the popular 529 savings plans for higher education, that allow money to be set aside for or a person with special needs to pay for disability related expenses. This money can grow tax-free over time and is used to pay for qualifying expenses toward the care and support of the special needs beneficiary.

How Much Should a Trustee Be Compensated?

February 15, 2022

Serving as a trustee of a trust can be a huge responsibility, so trustees are entitled to compensation for their work. The amount of compensation depends on the type of trustee and the complexity of the trust.

Depending on the trust, a trustee's duties can include managing trust assets, making distributions to beneficiaries, paying taxes, and creating an annual report of all income and distributions. Performing these tasks can involve a lot of work, so it makes sense that trustees are compensated for their time.

How to Give Gifts to Your Grandchildren

February 9, 2022

Gifting assets to your grandchildren can do more than help your descendants get a good start in life — it can also reduce the size of your estate and the tax that will be due upon your death.

Perhaps the simplest approach to gifting is to give the grandchild an outright gift. You may give each grandchild up to $16,000 a year (in 2022) without having to report the gifts. If you're married, both you and your spouse can make such gifts. For example, a married couple with four grandchildren may give away up to $128,000 a year with no gift tax implications. In addition, the gifts will not count as taxable income to your grandchildren (although the earnings on the gifts if they are invested will be taxed). Just remember that any gift can interfere with Medicaid eligibility.

New Jersey Drastically Expands the Medicaid Workability Program Opening the Doors of Eligibility to Thousands of Residents

February 8, 2022

In New Jersey, Medicaid, specifically, New Jersey Family Care, is an umbrella term that encompasses various Medicaid programs designed to accommodate people with different asset and/or income circumstances. The one common thread that binds all Medicaid programs together, however, is that no matter the program, Medicaid is a form of means-tested benefits. In other words, in order to obtain Medicaid coverage under one of New Jersey's various Medicaid programs, an applicant's income and/or assets (resources) are measured against certain federal poverty guidelines that are modified from year to year based on the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

You Can Just Say No: Declining to Act as an Agent Under a Power of Attorney or Advance Directive for Healthcare Decision Making

February 4, 2022

Acting as an agent under a power of attorney and/or advance directive for healthcare decision making is a big responsibility and it isn't something everyone can take on. It is possible to resign or refuse the position(s) when necessary.

When referring to a power of attorney in this article, the focus is on financial powers of attorney. Medical powers of attorney, also known as "living wills" or "advance directives", are separate documents and as such, should be distinguished from financial powers of attorney.

Two Underutilized Government Programs for Seniors May Prove Particularly Beneficial During Challenging Financial Times

January 31, 2022

One of the roles of an elder law attorney is to assist individuals and families navigate the maze of government programs established to assist the aged, blind or otherwise disabled. This article highlights two such programs that are very useful for those who qualify.

Elder Law Analysis: Creditor Claims in New Jersey

January 31, 2022

To enforce any property claim it is necessary for a personal representative of the estate to be appointed. Absent a personal representative there is no one to formally notice or enforce the claim against if the judgment is pursued.

The Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning

January 27, 2022

Elder law and estate planning serve two different — but equally vital — functions. The main difference is that elder law is focused on preserving your assets during your lifetime, while estate planning concentrates on what happens to your assets after you die.

Estate Planning for a Single Person

January 24, 2022

If you are single, you may not think you need to plan your estate, but single people are in as much need of a plan as anyone else. Estate planning not only involves determining where your assets will go when you die — it also helps you plan for what will happen should you become incapacitated, perhaps as the result of a stroke, dementia, or injury. If you don't make a plan, you will have no say in what happens to you or your assets.

You Can ‘Cure' a Medicaid Penalty by Returning a Gift

January 20, 2022

In general, a New Jersey resident is eligible for Medicaid if his assets do not exceed the State's resource limit. However, an applicant cannot simply give money away to bring himself under the limit. He will be subject to a Medicaid penalty if he gives or transfers assets to others within five years of applying for Medicaid. The penalty is a period of time the applicant is ineligible for Medicaid and is determined by dividing the amount transferred by what Medicaid determines to be the average monthly cost of a New Jersey nursing home. The current divisor in New Jersey for the purpose of calculating a Medicaid penalty is $361.20 per day.

Recipients of Supplemental Security Income Now Have 50 Extra Days to Appeal Benefits Cuts

January 18, 2022

People facing a reduction, suspension, or other change to their Supplemental Security Income (SSI) now have more time to file an appeal, in a concession by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to delays and difficulties wrought by the COVID-19 crisis.

Why You May Need a Trust in Addition to a Power of Attorney

January 17, 2022

While everyone should have a durable power of attorney that appoints someone to act for them if they become incapacitated, in some circumstances it is not enough. In these cases, a revocable trust can help.

ALF Medicaid vs. SNF Medicaid

January 11, 2022

Assisted living facilities are a housing option for people who can still live independently, but who need some assistance with their daily activities. Costs can vary greatly depending on location and services offered. Medicare won't pay for this type of care, but Medicaid will, subject to the assisted living resident meeting certain requirements.

ABLE Accounts vs. Special Needs Trusts: Why Not Have It All?

January 7, 2022

If you have a child with disabilities, it is crucial to set money aside for the child's future. At the same time, you need to consider your child's access to public benefit programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as well as the state and federal tax implications. The two major vehicles to accomplish these goals, ABLE accounts and special needs trusts (SNTs), each have their advantages and limitations. Using them in tandem may be the optimal strategy for your child with special needs.

Annual Gift Tax and Estate Tax Exclusions Are Increasing in 2022

January 4, 2022

The amount you can gift to any one person without filing a gift tax form is increasing to $16,000 in 2022, the first increase since 2018. The federal estate tax exclusion is also climbing to more than $12 million per individual.

What Are a Special Needs Trustee's Record-Keeping Duties?

December 27, 2021

One of the most important roles in a special needs plan is that of trustee, the person who administers a special needs trust (SNT). Of a trustee's many responsibilities, record-keeping is perhaps the most crucial. Because the trustee is managing accounts on behalf of someone else, every decision must be recorded with a paper or digital record. Here's a detailed look at the types of records the trustee must maintain.

Supportive Housing Programs Offer Integrated Solutions for People with Mental Disabilities

December 23, 2021

Since the 1960s there has been steady reformation of mental health care in the United States. One of the most visible signs of this effort is the movement away from treatment in large state mental hospitals and towards community care. But "community care" encompasses a great number of programs, from treatment provided in group homes to interaction with a social worker to job training and other vocational training centers. One of the programs on the cutting edge of community mental health is called "supportive housing," and it incorporates not only housing but social services and medical care as well.

IRS Issues Long-Term Care Premium Deductibility Limits for 2022, and They Look Pretty Familiar

December 22, 2021

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced the amounts taxpayers of different ages can deduct from their 2022 income as a result of buying long-term care insurance, and the figures are almost the same as in 2021.

Many types of medical expenses are deductible from your taxes. To claim the deduction, your total unreimbursed medical expenses (which can include premiums for "qualified" long-term care insurance policies), have to be more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income in 2022.

5 Estate Planning Tips for the Non-Traditional Family (Which Odds Are Includes Yours)

December 16, 2021

Is your family of the "Leave It to Beaver" variety — opposite-gender parents, the first marriage for each, one or more kids, all healthy and thriving? If so, your estate plan will probably be pretty straightforward. But if not, it's not as simple and you have a lot of company.

The percentage of married households in the United States fell from 75 percent in 1960 to 49 percent in 2020. About 40 percent of all marriages end in divorce. Nearly 80 percent of people who divorce remarry — accounting for a pretty large proportion of the 49 percent of American households that are married.

Can You Be Buried With Your Pet?

December 13, 2021

Pets are often regarded as a part of the family and increasingly their needs are accounted for in planning decisions. There is health insurance for pets, and most states allow for "pet trusts" to ensure that a cherished animal will be cared for after the owner's demise. But can you and your pet spend eternity with each other as well? The answer depends on what state you are in and on the meaning of "with."

Most states either have laws specifically prohibiting pets and humans to be buried together or are silent on the issue. But a growing number of states are adopting laws allowing some form of combined burial.

The Affordable Care Act's Estate Recovery Catch-22

December 13, 2021

Medicaid is a federal program administered through the states at the county level, and created under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 1396 to 1396 w-5. The various Medicaid programs in New Jersey all fall under the umbrella of "NJ Family Care." The most recent major expansion of the Medicaid program at the federal level occurred on March 23, 2010 when the Affordable Care Act a/k/a "Obamacare" was signed into law.

What It Means to Need ‘Nursing Home Level of Care' for Medicaid Eligibility

December 10, 2021

When applying for Medicaid's long-term care coverage, in addition to the strict income and asset limits, you must demonstrate that you need a level care typically provided in a nursing home.

Who Makes Health Care Decisions If You Can't?

December 7, 2021

Being able to make health care decisions for ourselves is so important to us, but what happens if you become incapacitated and are unable to voice your opinion? If you don't have a health care proxy or guardian in place, state law chooses who can make those decisions.

Medicare Premiums to Increase Dramatically in 2022

December 6, 2021

Medicare premiums are rising sharply next year, cutting into the large Social Security cost-of-living increase. The basic monthly premium will jump 15.5 percent, or $21.60, from $148.50 to $170.10 a month.

Decisions to Make for Your Power of Attorney

November 24, 2021

A power of attorney may seem like a simple document, but there are several important decisions that need to be made when creating one. From whom to appoint to what powers to grant, care and consideration should be put into each choice.

The Benefits of Including an LLC as Part of Your Estate Plan

November 22, 2021

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are an important tool for small business owners, but they can also be useful in estate planning. An LLC can help you pass assets to your children while avoiding gift and estate taxes.

Hiring a Caregiver: Should You Employ One Yourself or Go Through an Agency?

November 16, 2021

Most seniors prefer to stay at home as long as possible rather than move into a nursing home. For many families, this means eventually hiring a caregiver to look after an aging relative. There are two main ways to hire someone: directly or through a home health agency.

COVID Vaccination Information Added to Medicare's Nursing Home Compare Site

November 12, 2021

Individuals who are researching nursing homes can now see staff and resident vaccination rates along with other quality and safety measure information at Medicare's Nursing Home Compare website.

The 6 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes

November 11, 2021

If you're like most people, you have the best of intentions regarding how you want your estate distributed when you die or your affairs handled should you become incapacitated. Unfortunately, without proper planning, your best intentions may not be enough. Here are six of the most common estate planning mistakes people make.

This National Long-Term Care Awareness Month, Make The Decision to be Proactive About Future Planning

November 5, 2021

November is National Long-Term Care Awareness month! Here are our top five tips for anyone considering a long-term care placement:

How to Use Intrafamily Loans as Part of Your Estate Plan

October 18, 2021

When interest rates are low, intrafamily loans can be a good way to assist a relative (typically a child) with purchasing a house or a family business, and in certain circumstances they can be used to gift money to the next generation.

Passing on Assets Outside of Probate: PODs and TODs

October 13, 2021

For a variety of reasons, people sometimes want some or all of their assets to pass directly to specific individuals upon their deaths, outside of probate. One way to accomplish this is to set up a "payable on death" (POD) account for money in a bank account or a "transfer on death" (TOD) account if funds are in a brokerage account.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Write a Will?

October 8, 2021

A will is a legal document that directs who will receive your property when you die. The legal requirements are pretty simple. In order for your will to be valid, you must know what property you have and what it means to leave it to someone, then sign the document and have it witnessed according to the laws of your state.

Make Sure Your Estate Plan and Other Essential Documents Are Safe from Disasters

October 5, 2021

It's an unfortunate reality that with the increasing number of natural disasters across the country, including fires, floods, and hurricanes, the chance that you could lose your house and possessions has become more likely. In the event of such a calamity, it is important that your estate planning and other important documents are beyond reach and easily retrievable.

Medicaid's Bias for Institutionalized Care May Be Shifting under President Biden's Proposed American Jobs Plan

September 27, 2021

Medicaid is a federal program, administered through the states at the county level, and created under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. S. 1396 to 1396 w-5. The various Medicaid programs in New Jersey (all falling under the umbrella of NJ Family Care) are overseen by the Department of Human Services' Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services ("DMAHS").

Recreational Cannabis Has Come to New Jersey, but the State's Medical Marijuana Program Remains Largely Inaccessible to Populations Most in Need

September 17, 2021

New Jersey's Medical Marijuana Program is administered through the State Department of Health's Division of Medicinal Marijuana. New Jersey was the fourteenth (14) state to legalize medical marijuana in January 2010 when the Legislature passed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act ("CUMMA"), also known as S 88.

What's in a Name: Why the Title on Your Financial Accounts Matter

February 10, 2021

A name often defines who we are and sometimes, even, who we become. The same is true for the name on your financial accounts. One of the biggest myths and misconceptions of estate planning is that a Will controls the disposition of all assets at death. This is not the case and could lead to […]

A Primer On New Jersey's Court Rules for Guardianships

February 9, 2021

In New Jersey, a child is considered an emancipated person at age 18, irrespective of the severity of disability. As a result, parents of special needs children no longer have the legal right to make medical, legal, financial or personal decisions for children over age 18 even if the child is unable to do so him or herself. Parents often must be appointed guardian for their disabled child to acquire the legal authority to oversee and assist with the child's affairs.

Should Medicaid Beneficiaries Worry About Their COVID-19 Stimulus Payments Counting as Income?

January 25, 2021

On December 27, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, an economic relief bill intended to help offset the financial crisis caused by COVID-19. This act includes a round of $600 stimulus checks for a large number of Americans, including many Medicaid recipients and applicants who are concerned about […]

How To Contest a Will in New Jersey

February 27, 2020

A will directs how one’s estate should be distributed after a person passes away. Ordinarily, a will is admitted to probate and the wishes of the decedent are followed without issue. However, there are occasions where the validity of the will is questioned by family members or potential beneficiaries. A will contest is a formal […]

How to Become a Legal Guardian in New Jersey

February 5, 2020

When a loved one loses the ability to make informed and reasonable decisions, pursuing a guardianship may become necessary. A guardianship appoints one or more individuals to handle the affairs of another. Guardianship requires a court proceeding and ongoing judicial oversight.  The guardianship process begins by obtaining a report from two doctors who examine the alleged incapacitated […]

Small Estate Threshold Raised in New York

January 22, 2020

Probate and administration proceedings in New York State can be time-consuming and costly, but New York law allows for a simplified proceeding called voluntary administration for small estates with a value below a certain threshold. Recently, the threshold was expanded from estates valued at less than $30,000 to include all estates under $50,000. Voluntary administration […]

Recognizing, Preventing, And Reporting Elder Abuse In Nursing Homes

January 13, 2020

By Andrew R. Bronsnick Our senior years should be a time of comfort, security and safety. Sadly, many older Americans are being victimized by those who should be caring for them. Here’s what to do if you discover elder abuse. The United States has a shocking elder abuse problem, and it’s only getting worse. The […]

Are Self-Driving Automobiles the Future for the Elderly and Disabled?

November 11, 2019

I was recently in the market for a new car. A number of my friends purchased a Tesla so I decided to go for a test drive to see what all the hype is about. Out of curiosity, I asked the sales rep what segment of the population is buying Teslas. Besides environmentalists and techno geeks, the […]

Richard Miller Answers "Biz Brain" Question on the Inheritance Tax in New Jersey

June 21, 2017

Richard Miller, Chair of the Firm's Elder Law Department, is featured in the June 21, 2017 "Biz Brain" section where he answers a readers question on the inheritance tax.

On behalf of the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, Inc., and the 30+ family members in attendance last night, I want to thank you for your most informative presentation. As expected, you were terrific in explaining often confusing topics for many of our families and showed them patience and respect as the true professional that you are. We heard from a few families today that called to thank us for inviting you as they felt it was a very valuable session. Next week when we reconvene, I will get more feedback and will inform them of the waived consultation fee. I hope that many of them use your talk last night as the impetus to stop procrastination. I love Mandelbaum and they are my “go to” law firm for everything legal for all my clients an family.
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