Age-Friendly Communities Conference Coming on March 11th

There’s a nationwide effort to encourage towns and cities to develop initiatives and programs that will make their communities more “age-friendly,” to encourage people to remain a part of the local community as they get on in years. Community initiatives have included outdoor upgrades such as better lighting, more benches, and better crosswalks, as well as expanded senior centers, broader library services, inter-generational local events and ventures, and expanded transportation options. The Grotta Fund for Senior Care and the Taub Foundation are co-sponsoring  the 2020 Age-Friendly Communities Conference for professionals and lay volunteers who are involved with — or want to get involved with — these efforts. The event will take place March 11th in Whippany, NJ. You can read more about it, and register, HERE.  Professional CLE credits will be available.

Click here to learn more about age-friendly initiatives. In fact, it isn’t just going on in the USA — the World health Organization has identified “age friendly” as a major important goal for communities around the world. Take a look.

Aging in place involves a partnership between people and local government, and people and their families or trusted support network. There are a variety of sources people can turn to, for help in assembling the team and making sure that structures are in place to enable them to age in place — geriatric care managers (aging & life care specialists), interior designers and contractors who can make a home more age-friendly, elder law attorneys, financial advisors, and visiting nurse services, to name just a few.

For advice about elder care and senior planning, call us at …… 732-382-6070

Medicaid Stakeholders Attend the Big MAAC

New Jersey FamilyCare’s Medicaid program has many components that serve different population groups of people who are aged, disabled or poor. Did you know that there is a Medical Assistance Advisory Committee (MACC) which meets regularly and is required to hold quarterly public forums? On February 5th, along with other members of New Jersey NAELA, I attended the first MAAC (Medical Assistance Advisory Committee) meeting of the year.  MAAC meets quarterly outside of Trenton to discuss issues related to Medicaid and to take stakeholder input. It was quite a lively meeting.

In the audience there were attorneys, non-profit advocates, members of County Boards of Social Services, representatives of the Medicaid Managed Care Organizations and several Medicaid enrollees.  Here are some of the issues discussed  at the meeting:

— implementation of S499 and how that relates to denials of Medicaid applications for failure to provide certain information;

— Transitioning Medicaid/ MLTSS  recipients from a nursing home to a home in the community and how to assure continuity of care when the person switches from one program to the other;

— reductions in Private Duty Nursing and Personal Care Assistant (home health aide) hours for certain enrollees;

— how enrollees transition from one way of having Medicaid eligibility to another.

— an update on the Coronavirus, and many other topics.

I asked questions and expressed concern about how the State was implementing S499’s provision about giving extensions to applicants to obtain documentation.  I also commented on the importance of planning ahead for Medicare eligibility when a Medicaid recipient is eligible under the ACA.

Stakeholders at the meeting have a chance to ask questions of the state officials who are responsible for the Medicaid program, and they also have a chance to make recommendations for future MAAC meeting presentations.  If you have a concern about the Medicaid program in New Jersey, consider attending these meetings, or bringing them to the attention of your elder law attorney or another organization who can bring the concern to the MAAC.

Call us for advice on medicaid eligibility planning, applications and appeals ……… 732-382-6070

After the Wedding Bells Have Rung Again, Update your Estate Plan

It is surprising how often we hear of situations in which a person passed away unexpectedly or had a catastrophic accident or stoke, and various family members or good friends start trying to find out information or even start trying to gain access to assets without any authority to do so. Oftentimes, energy is fruitlessly spent before legal advice is obtained. Sometimes, tremendous fights ensue. These issues are bad enough when the individual has no spouse or no children  — there may be a certain group of nieces, nephews or cousins who believe they are the rightful heirs or the rightful decision-makers — but the issues can be magnified where there are  children from a prior relationship as well as a current spouse.

Once a person is divorced, any prior designation of their now ex-spouse as a fiduciary in a Will or Power of Attorney or Health Care proxy is deemed to be voided. In some circumstances, that can leave the individual without any fiduciary. Remarriage by itself doesn’t grant actual fiduciary authority to one spouse over the other. Signing a new set of estate planning documents is very important. The individual can specify who has the decision-making authority in the event of incapacity, and who will be the Executor of the Estate.  A carefully written set of documents will address any necessary interplay between the second spouse and the individual’s children. Are adult children entitled to continue to live in the marital home if their parent is now incapacitated or deceased? Are they required to pay expenses or rent? If the incapacitated parent was supporting adult children, is the Agent under Power of Attorney obligated to continue this pattern?  Many issues can be addressed through careful planning and signed legal documents.

If an individual becomes incapacitated and never signed any power of attorney, there may be a need for someone to pursue Guardianship to attain authority to make decisions and handle real property and other assets. At times, we have to dash into court with a petition for some emergency authority. In situations where there is a second spouse and children from a prior relationship, a guardianship action may become contested, leading to extensive and expensive litigation over who is entitled and best suited to be appointed as Guardian.

A spoken statement doesn’t create a Will. A spoken promise doesn’t create a power of attorney. A person’s belief that they were authorized to handle someone’s financial matters doesn’t translate into authority without a writing.

Thoughtful estate planning can go a long way to prevent crises and litigation, and thoughtful updating of estate plans on a regular basis — especially after a major life event such as marriage — can help ensure that your wishes will be carried out.

Call us about creating first time or updated estate plans .. 732-382-6070

 

Marinaro is new NAELA Federal Policy Co-Chair

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys held its annual meeting in Fort Worth, Texas last week. Lauren S. Marinaro was selected as the incoming Co-Chair of NAELA’s Federal Policy Committee.

Marinaro is  President of the New Jersey Chapter of NAELA (NJ-NAELA), which advocates on legislative and policy matters that affect senior citizens and people with disabilities in New Jersey. She’s a Partner with Fink Rosner Ershow-Levenberg in Clark. She  attended the NAELA Annual Meeting and Trust Workshop in Ft. Worth, Texas on May 8-10th. While there, she participated in discussion groups on various Trust topics, facilitated a workshop on NAELA State Chapter advocacy and growth, and was announced as the 2019-2020 Federal Policy Committee co-Chair. The members of both state and national NAELA are attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of aging Americans and individuals of all ages with special needs. Established in 1987, NAELA’s mission is to educate, inspire, serve, and provide community to attorneys with practices in elder and special needs law. The organization also provide plenty of information for the public who may need such legal services.

Among the “hot topics” in Federal Policy that Lauren will work on through her activity with NAELA for 2019-2020 and beyond are monitoring 1115 Medicaid Waivers, fighting for improved spousal impoverishment standards for community-based Medicaid, supporting the Money Follows the Person initiative, protecting inherited IRAs for disabled and vulnerable heirs, and civil rights initiatives for disabled individuals and the elderly. Read more by clicking on those links, and contact Lauren or your legislators if these issues are of interest to you.

For advice on elder care senior planning and special needs, contact us at 732-382-6070