Our experienced Stark & Stark New Jersey elder law attorneys help clients like you, and your family, address the unique legal challenges presented by aging and illness. Our elder law attorneys in New Jersey & Pennsylvania also advocate for individuals of all ages with special needs and their families to maximize access to medical care, housing, social programs, and public benefits. Our elder law services include:
Funding Long-Term Care Costs
Medicare and Medicare Supplemental health insurance policies will not cover the cost of most long-term care.
Where possible, we work closely with our clients’ financial professionals and care managers to help optimize the use of available assets for as long as possible. Nonetheless, the high cost of long-term care makes it virtually impossible for most people to self-insure indefinitely.
When appropriate, we work with our clients’ insurance professionals to help design and select a long-term care insurance policy. Our New Jersey & Pennsylvania elder law attorneys have evaluated many types of policies and are able to help minimize the cost of the policy by suggesting appropriate types and levels of coverage. Where a client’s heath and financial ability permit, long-term care insurance can be an excellent solution.
When insurance and life savings are not enough, Medicaid is available to subsidize the cost of long-term care. Medicaid is a needs-based program, however, with extremely strict and complex qualification rules that demands professional assistance.
The strategies employed to maximize the availability of Medicaid and other public benefits are unique to each individual. Drawing on our experience and expertise, we work with our clients, their families, and their financial advisors to design a plan that will result in eligibility for Medicaid to subsidize the cost of long-term care in a skilled nursing facility, assisted living facility, or in the home. Through this process, we advise and guide our clients through the maze of intricate Medicaid qualification requirements.
In tandem with our clients and their families, we prepare and submit applications for Medicaid in a manner designed to maximize the likelihood of success. When questions or requests for more information arise, we are there to actively advocate for Medicaid eligibility with social service agencies and with the State. Where necessary, we will aggressively appeal Medicaid denials and represent clients tirelessly in administrative law hearings and in State and Federal Courts.
Special Needs Trusts
Special Needs Trusts allow disabled individuals under the age of 65 to retain the use of their own assets while also preserving their eligibility for public benefits. These types of Trusts are particularly useful when a disabled individual is about to receive a sum of money, typically resulting from a personal injury or divorce settlement or an inheritance. Working with our clients, we are able to tailor the Special Needs Trust to their particular financial and care needs. Our role continue, as we work with the Trustee to ensure that the Special Needs Trust is administered properly to avoid jeopardizing eligibility for public benefits.
Supplemental Needs Trusts
Not to be confused with Special Needs Trusts, Supplemental Needs Trusts allow individuals to establish Trusts for children or other beneficiaries who are, or may in the future be, reliant on public benefits. A Supplemental Needs Trusts allows the Trust assets to be used for the disabled beneficiary, while preserving eligibility for public benefits. We use our experience to help guide our clients through the process of designing Supplemental Needs Trusts that are tailored for the individual beneficiary’s unique health and financial needs. Thereafter, our elder law attorneys in NJ & PA work with the Trustee to ensure that the Supplemental Needs Trust is administered properly to achieve the intended result.
Long-Term Care Advocacy
We are often called upon to advise clients, and advocate on their behalf, in disputes with long-term care providers. Residents of long-term care facilities have defined rights, including the right to receive quality care and to be protected in matters of admission, transfer, and discharge.
Disputes also arise with long-term care insurance companies. The most common area of dispute is in determining whether the insured has met the medical criteria necessary to receive benefits under the policy.
Guardianships, Conservatorships, and other Protective Arrangements
A Guardianship is a legal proceeding to declare that an individual is incapacitated and to request the appointment of a Guardian. A Conservatorship is a legal action to appoint a Conservator for an individual with diminished capacity, but who is not incapacitated.
While we often represent the individual seeking to establish the Guardianship or Conservatorship, we often represent the Ward or Conservatee or family members seeking to support or oppose the action.
After the establishment of a Guardianship or Conservatorship, we assist the Guardian or Conservator to ensure compliance with ongoing reporting requirements to the Court and to assist with the termination of a Guardianship or Conservatorship.
Lifetime Care Planning
Our objective as elder law counselors is to assist clients in avoiding the need for Guardianship proceedings by planning for their incapacity with such documents as Durable Powers of Attorney, Revocable (Living) Trusts, Proxy Directives (Health Care Powers of Attorney), and Instruction Directives (Living Wills).
Durable Powers of Attorney and Revocable Trusts are used to authorize others to manage an individual’s financial affairs during any period of incapacity. To be effective, Durable Powers of Attorney and Revocable Trusts must be designed to meet each client’s unique needs.
Our PA & NJ elder law attorneys work with our clients to create Instruction Directives (Living Wills) that will express their individual end-of-life choices. Proxy Directives (Heath Care Powers of Attorney) authorize others to manage a client’s health care during any period when the client lacks medical decision-making authority.
Integral to our role of assisting clients in the planning process, we are often required to assess an individual’s level of capacity to determine whether the individual has the capacity required for any proposed legal action. By definition, we are called upon to assess the capacity of a proposed Conservatee or of the alleged incapacitated person in a Guardianship action.
Trust and Estate Planning
As Trust and Estate planners, we are involved in much more than merely directing the disposition of an individual’s assets upon death. We listen carefully to our clients and then work with them to design the most efficient and cost-effective way of accomplishing their objectives. Lifetime Care Planning and Long-Term Care Planning are both integral components of any Trust and Estate Plan.
To help ensure that our clients’ assets will be distributed as intended, we also help them coordinate the titling of their assets and beneficiary designations to avoid having those subvert their intent.
We also help our clients assess whether an inheritance should remain in a protective Trust for any of the intended beneficiaries. Examples of beneficiaries for whom protective trusts are needed include:
- Beneficiaries who are minors
- Beneficiaries who are dependent on needs-based public assistance, such as SSI and Medicaid
- Beneficiaries with developmental disabilities
- Beneficiaries with cognitive impairment
- Beneficiaries with over-spending or other financial challenges
- Beneficiaries with poor judgment
- Beneficiaries suffering with substance abuse issues
- Beneficiaries who are compulsive gamblers
Trust and Estate Administration
Our experienced elder law attorneys in Pennsylvania & New Jersey actively counsel executors and administrators of estates and trustees of trusts to help them meet their fiduciary obligations to their respective beneficiaries. In that capacity, we help fiduciaries properly identify, gather, and protect the assets of the estate or trust under their control. We educate and inform our fiduciary clients so that they become familiar with the statutory requirements imposed on a fiduciary in the investment, disbursement, and distribution of the assets under their control. Our fiduciary clients also become well versed in the tax compliance requirements to which they are subject. When an estate or trust is ready to be distributed, we are there for the preparation and presentation of the fiduciary’s accounting to the beneficiaries, and to the court when necessary.
Estates and trusts are often the subject of disputes between and among the beneficiaries and fiduciaries. When those arise, we work tirelessly toward a resolution, both as advocates and as mediators.
Disputes also arise when seniors are subject to duress by a caregiver, friend, family member, or financial advisor, seeking to gain financial advantage. We have the skill and expertise needed to assess such claims and to take all steps necessary to protect the vulnerable senior from abuse.
Several of our shareholders hold the professional distinction of being Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELA), a designation certified by the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF). The CELA designation is held by less than 500 attorneys nationwide. To become a CELA, an attorney must:
- Be currently licensed to practice law, and a member in good standing, of the bar of at least one state;
- Have practiced law for at five years, focusing their practice in the area of Elder Law;
- Must meet continuing legal education criteria in excess of that required to be a member of the state bar;
- Be recommended by five other elder law attorneys; and
- Pass a stringent substantive certification examination.
Our experience and perseverance allow us to help our clients navigate this extremely complex area of law. We are committed to helping our clients secure the best possible health care while maintaining the highest possible level of dignity and personal autonomy, and preserving the maximum amount of financial assets allowable under the law. Whether you require a New Jersey or Pennsylvania Elder Law Attorney, we have you covered.
Speak with a Stark & Stark elder law attorney in New Jersey or Pennsylvania today.
Call 866-512-7895 or contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Stark & Stark elder law attorney.