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East Hanover New Jersey Elder Law Blog

New Jersey attorneys stand by your side in a Medicaid appeal

A person in New Jersey in need of nursing home care, they may be relying on Medicaid to help finance the care they need. However, it is the unfortunate fact that sometimes a person's initial application for Medicaid is denied, even if they have spent the time to try to develop a strong Medicaid planning strategy. This can be incredibly discouraging, but it does not have to be the end of the story. This is because it is possible to appeal a denied claim for Medicaid benefits.

A Medicaid appeal begins with the filing of the appeal with the New Jersey Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS). Following that the person pursuing the appeal will have a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). At this hearing, the person can be represented by an attorney.

What elder law documents should one have besides a will?

A person in New Jersey might take the wise step of executing a will, but that is not the only document they should have in their estate planning arsenal. This blog has discussed the importance of including a living will, health care power of attorney and financial power of attorney in one's estate plan. However, there are other elder law documents a person might want to consider drafting, to make sure their estate plan meets their wishes.

One document that may be worth having is a "Physician orders for life sustaining treatment" (POLST). This is a form a person fills out with their physician, and once signed is included in the person's medical records. Medical professionals must abide by a person's POLST when providing care. Not all states have POLST forms, so New Jersey residents interested in executing one will want to seek guidance to determine whether it is an option for them.

Remember your dog in your estate plan

You should never assume your assets will go where you want them if you do not mention them in your estate plan. This is particularly true for pets. Many people leave their pets out of their estate plans, assuming a family member will take in the animal, but that is not always what happens

Most legal professionals would recommend creating a pet trust rather than including provisions in your will. Ultimately, you just need some kind of plan in place, and that involves talking to your loved ones ahead of time. You need to include all your loved ones in your estate plan, even your furry loved ones. 

Points to consider when making guardianship decisions

Sometimes, as a last resort, a person in New Jersey may have to have a guardian appointed to an adult child who is incapacitated or has special needs. It is essential that, when choosing a guardian, a person does not rush into making a guardianship decision. The following are some points a person might want to consider when selecting a guardian for their special needs child.

Of course, parents will want to determine who will be an appropriate guardian and successor guardian. These individuals will be responsible for making prudent decisions on behalf of the protected person. It is important that parents discuss guardianship with prospective guardians to ensure the prospective guardian is willing and able to take on these responsibilities.

New Jersey caregivers to get more support from state

In the state of New Jersey alone there are an estimated 1.75 million individuals fulfilling a caregiver role. Most of them are doing so unpaid. Whether taking care of a family member or friend, it is a difficult, stressful, and exhausting duty and tasks can include basic needs such as assistance with dressing, cooking, or running errands. In situations involving special needs patients, a caregiver may operate necessary medical equipment, dress wounds, or monitor and manage prescription medication-- often, with no training.

While changes in Medicaid rules have allowed patients more access to care at home, the need for qualified caregivers continues to grow. On December 17, 2018, the New Jersey Assembly unanimously approved a bill that would create a task force for the purpose of identifying creative solutions to offset financial losses suffered by unpaid caregivers. One such solution is a state tax credit. The goal is to create state resources and support that will alleviate some of the stress that can come from this role. Currently, the bill is awaiting signature from Governor Phil Murphy.

How can one protect assets from the five-year lookback period?

Not everyone in New Jersey has, or can afford, long-term care insurance, which can be used for paying for nursing home care. Nevertheless, people should have a plan for how they will afford a stay in a nursing home, should they need it in their old age. This is when Medicaid planning becomes important.

Medicaid eligibility is based on a means test, which in general means that a person cannot have more than a certain, nominal, amount of assets and income to qualify for benefits. In addition, there is a five-year "lookback" period. This means that a person cannot give away their assets within five years of applying for benefits, in order to meet the means test. Any transfer of assets made within the five-year-lookback period may make it so that the applicant cannot be eligible for Medicaid for a certain number of years.

The basics of Medicaid in New Jersey

Many people in New Jersey and across the nation take the step of establishing a long-term care plan for how they want to pay for the health care services they or a loved one will need as they age. Some people will want to utilize Medicaid services as a means of affording health care services. It is important to have a basic understanding of what Medicaid is, so you can determine if it is right for you.

Medicaid is a means-tested government insurance program that provides qualifying individuals with financial resources to pay for certain medical expenses and other health services. Like health insurance programs, Medicaid reimburses health care providers for the costs of the services they provide rather than paying the recipient of services directly. Health care providers are not required to accept patients with Medicaid.

Things a will cannot do

At the end of the day, you cannot afford to delay writing your will. Approximately 64 percent of Americans still lacked a will as of 2015. In the event you pass away without such a document, then your loved ones may not get the assets you want them to have. 

There are numerous types of estate planning documents, and that is for good reason. While most Americans are familiar with wills, there are additional documents, such as trusts, you need to consider. There are specific things wills cannot accomplish, so you need to review all your options to ensure every asset you own has coverage. 

Choosing the least-restrictive alternative in guardianship

When a person is appointed as a guardian over another person, making medical decisions on behalf of that individual can be difficult. After all, while guardianship in New Jersey is seen as a last resort, guardians still have the duty to make decisions the incapacitated individual would have wanted for themselves. Therefore, there are principles New Jersey guardians should abide by. One of these principles is choosing the least restrictive alternative when it comes to medical care.

When a guardian makes medical decisions on behalf of the protected individual, among several considerations they must choose the least restrictive alternative. This is because, while they must protect that individual, they also want that to ensure that individual has the opportunity to be as independent as much as is safely possible. Of course, the degree of independence a protected individual can have will vary greatly depending on that individual's specific situation.

A special needs trust can help those who need government benefits

When a person in East Hanover is engaged in the estate planning process, they may be thinking not just about how their assets will be passed on to loved ones, but also how they will meet their financial needs as they age. Many seniors anticipate relying on Medicaid or other government benefits to pay for their long-term care needs. However, a person must have limited financial resources to qualify for such benefits.

This could present a conundrum to people who have property they want their loved ones to inherit or who anticipate receiving a substantial inheritance themselves, but also want to qualify for government benefits when the time comes. They do not want to have to impoverish themselves to qualify for benefits, leaving their loved ones with no inheritance at all. For this reason, some people choose to establish a special needs trust.

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