Shawna A. Brown is an Associate in the Firm’s Elder Law, Trusts & Estates and Special Needs Practice Groups. She focuses her practice on estate and trust litigation, including contested and uncontested probate, trust and accounting proceedings. Shawna is frequently appointed to serve as court-appointed attorney or temporary guardian for alleged incapacitated persons in guardianship proceedings. She also assists clients with estate planning and estate administration matters.

Prior to joining Mandelbaum Barrett, Shawna practiced for 10 years at a New York City law firm where she counseled the Public Administrator of New York County in connection with estate administration. This experience provides a vital benefit as she can advise clients and other colleagues regarding the differences between New York and New Jersey estate law and interplay between estates requiring administration in both states.

Shawna enjoys educating the community about estate and guardianship issues. She has lectured to various community organizations as well as to attorneys through New Jersey’s Institute for Continuing Legal Education.  She also writes articles on various key Elder Law topics.

  • New Jersey, 2008
  • New York, 2009

  • New York Law School, J.D., 2008
  • Rutgers College, New Brunswick, B.A., 2005

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 […]

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.

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.

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.

Supreme Court to Hear Case That Could Increase the Bite That Medicaid Takes Out of Settlements

October 11, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case disputing how much states can recoup from Medicaid recipients' settlements in personal injury cases. The decision has the potential to affect anyone who receives government assistance with their medical care following a disabling injury that results in a lawsuit.

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.

The Perils and Pitfalls of Do-It-Yourself Special Needs Planning

October 7, 2021

Among the costs of caring for a dependent with special needs are the fees for professional advice. Some families are tempted to save on these costs by setting up a plan on their own.

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.

Pandemic Payments Now Won't Affect SSI Benefits or Eligibility at All

September 22, 2021

Pandemic-related financial assistance will no longer affect an individual's eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or the benefit amount, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced. The assistance includes a long list of pandemic payments, ranging from COVID-19 relief checks to state unemployment assistance.

Leaving an IRA to a Special Needs Trust Is No Longer Such a Bad Idea

September 16, 2021

The SECURE Act, passed at the end of 2019, changed a number of rules regarding inherited IRAs, making it more difficult for most beneficiaries to save on taxes by "stretching" distributions over many years. However, an exception to the new rules potentially changes advice that special needs planners often give clients.

Never Say Never: Navigating the Appeals Process if You've Been Denied Social Security Disability Benefits

September 7, 2021

The United States has two federal government benefits programs to help people with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Fact or Fiction: I Know This Much Is True

May 3, 2021

HBO's I Know This Much Is True chronicles the lives of identical twins Dominick and Thomas Birdsey, both played by Mark Ruffalo.

Fact or Fiction: Reviewing 2021 Golden Globe Nominated Films about Elder Law and Special Needs Issues

March 12, 2021

March 12, 2021 By Richard I. Miller This year’s Golden Globe nominees included four films that directly relate to the issues handled by our elder law and special needs attorneys. In the coming weeks we will discuss each film, and analyze whether the facts, storylines and legal issues they present are realistic, or pure fiction. […]

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 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.

Shawna Brown Answers a NJ.com 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 nj.com 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.

Shawna Brown to Speak at Progressive Comprehensive Services, LLC on Special Needs Trusts Funds, Guardianship and More

March 14, 2019

Shawna Brown, an Associate at Mandelbaum Barrett will be speaking at a special interactive family event hosted by Progressive Comprehensive Services, LLC on the ABLE-ACT, Special Needs Trusts Funds and Guardianship. To learn more about this event or to register, click here.

Shawna Brown Answers a NJ.com 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 NJ.com 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.