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East Hanover New Jersey Elder Law Blog

It is sometimes necessary to appoint a guardian to a child

Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, it may be necessary to appoint a guardian over a child in New Jersey. This person has the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the child, as long as the child is included in the decision-making process to the extent that they can be. A guardian is also responsible for making sure the child's needs are met and that the child's rights are not violated.

All of this being said, a guardian should only be appointed if it is absolutely necessary and the guardian's powers should only be used to the extent that is necessary. Sometimes, guardianship is limited, in that the ward is still capable of making at least some decisions. If the ward is totally incapable of making decisions, then general guardianship might be the preferred choice.

3 reasons to talk to an attorney about a Medicaid application

Perhaps you are starting to think about Medicaid for your parent and are considering completing the application yourself or with help from a friend. However, you should be aware that applying for Medicaid without legal counsel can lead to a denial or inadequate coverage.

The Medicaid application process can be confusing, and doing it on your own can result in some costly mistakes. Instead of taking your next step alone, here are some reasons why you should consider getting the help of an attorney who practices elder law. 

Understanding the Medicaid 'look-back period' in New Jersey

Many people in East Hanover may anticipate that eventually they will need nursing home care. Some of these people are relying on Medicaid benefits to cover the costs of a nursing home, which can be substantial. However, in order to qualify for such a benefit for nursing home care, there is a limit to how much a beneficiary can have in property and income.

Some people may be tempted to just give friends and relatives expensive gifts of cash and other property in an effort to lower their income and assets so they can qualify for Medicaid. However, this strategy can backfire due to the Medicaid "look-back period." Simply put, this is the length of time before a person applies for Medicaid in which the government will go over any financial transactions the person had made. If a particular transaction breaks the look-back rules, then the person may be penalized. In general, the penalties increase how long the person is ineligible for Medicaid.

What are some ways to fund a long-term care plan?

Many people in New Jersey have a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. What makes the situation even sadder is that a person could live with dementia or Alzheimer's for years or even decades, depending on the onset date of the disease.

This means that a person's caregiver (often their spouse) must bear the costs of caring for their loved one's daily needs, which can be significant. Therefore, couples in New Jersey may want to think about long-term care planning when they're younger, before they are affected by such illnesses.

What is the 'caretaker child' exemption in Medicaid planning?

As many adults in New Jersey can attest, caring for an aging parent is a great act of love, but it is also a significant undertaking. Sometimes, an adult child even needs to set their career aside in order to care for their parent's daily needs. Parents understand how hard caregiving can be, and they may want to find some way to compensate their adult child for the care they selflessly give. One option they may have is to transfer ownership of their home to their child. Not only can this compensate the child for the sacrifices made, but it is also a way to preserve Medicaid eligibility through what is referred to as the "caretaker child" exemption.

People can take advantage of this exemption if the proper steps are followed. First of all, the adult child must have resided with their parent for a minimum of 24 months in the house their parent owns. Also, the care given to the parent by the adult child must be done with the purpose of letting the parent remain in their house, instead of residing in a nursing home. The caretaker needs to be a child (either biological or adopted) of the parent, not another relation. Also, the parent's home must be their primary place of residency.

New Jersey law on home care facilities could affect elderly

Since 2004, New Jersey home care service agencies that did not provide medical care have been governed by state laws and regulations. However, legislation passed in 2014 broadened the requirements of these facilities, stating they need to be accredited and could be audited by certified public accountants. These requirements may increase how much people must pay for home care for the elderly.

Back in August, however, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs proposed additional regulations that would put this law into action. There are concerns, however, that doing so will have a negative financial impact on these facilities that do not provide medical care. Moreover, according to some, legislation such as this does not do anything to help the elderly. Some believe the legislation is too vague, and there has not been any proof as to how the proposed goal of the legislation of ensuring these facilities are safe and effective would be met.

How an attorney can help with a Medicaid application

Medicaid is a government health care program for those who need economic assistance for coverage. While it covers many age groups in New Jersey, it is best known for helping the elderly afford health care. The program provides means for expensive health care coverage like nursing homes and home-based care.

Medicaid’s website reports that nursing home expenses can cost between $5,000 and $8,000 per month. It’s extremely expensive, even for those with stable financial backgrounds. A long-term stay can quickly drain retirement savings, and the medical costs of one partner in a relationship will affect his or her spouse.

3 tips to protect your parents' assets in a nursing home

Putting your elderly parent into a care facility is often a painful and difficult decision that comes with both emotional and financial hurdles. Trusting someone else to care for your aging parent and shelling out tens of thousands of dollars a year can be a tough choice to make. 

Due to the price tag of nursing homes, some elderly parents end up bankrupting themselves to cover it. If you are worried about this happening, you should look into asset protection options. Here are some tips for safeguarding your parent's home or other assets. 

What should one know before pursuing a guardianship?

When a person in New Jersey reaches age 18, they will be considered to have reached the age of majority. This is true even if the person has a developmental disability. Once they are 18, their parents are no longer allowed to make decisions for them, even if the person is disabled or still resides with their parents. However, sometimes a person does not have the capability to make their own life choices. When this happens, parents might want to consider appointing a legal guardian for their child.

However, when deciding if they should appoint a guardian for their child, there are some things they should know. First of all, parents are still allowed to play a role in the child's education unless the child expressly states that they don't want their parent to do so.

Planning for care of your disabled child in New Jersey

Parents of special needs children in East Hanover love their child with all their heart, but they understand that, in some cases, their child will be in need of care for their entire life. This may be because of the child's physical health, or it could be due to a developmental disorder. Therefore, parents of special needs children may be concerned about how their child will be cared for financially once they are no longer able to do so.

There are ways to ensure your special needs child is taken care of after you pass away. For example, some parents choose to create special needs trusts, disability trusts, or they may be able to provide protection for their special needs child in their will. If a trust is set up properly, then it may be possible for the child to continue receiving public benefits such as Medicaid, along with trust proceeds, particularly if the type of trust entered into is exempted from Medicaid's five year look-back rule. A properly executed trust may also allow parents of special needs children to receive Medicaid benefits for themselves as well.

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