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Whenever I talk to families about how to get Medicaid approved, there are so many elements to a successful application and so many confusing requirements that the tendency is to relax a bit, thinking the job is done when we first get the application approved. One example is with respect to the $2000 asset limit. One must spend down to less than $2000 in assets by the close of business on the last day of the month directly preceding the month we want Medicaid to start - known as the Medicaid pick up date.  I constantly must remind families, however, that once you get to that number to achieve eligibility, you must keep under $2000 at the end of each and every month thereafter to maintain eligibility. The same thing must be done in the case of a qualified income trust, which must be used when an applicant’s income exceeds the income cap or limit ($2742 per month in 2023).  It is not enough to use it correctly the first month.  If you forget to pass the right amount thru it in any one month, then you run the risk of losing Medicaid benefits in any month you are deficientThere are other ways to lose

In this third post of three, I go back to the problem caused by the death of an owner of real estate and the subsequent deaths of the next two people who were to inherit that property.  As I explained last week, A died in 1994 and her interest in her home passed by way of intestacy to her daughter, B.  When B died, by intestacy her share passed to her half brother, C.  C had a will leaving everything to his spouse.  By the time anyone realized that the fact the property was still in A’s name was a problem, they were about to close. The title company which planned to issue a title insurance policy to the buyer was concerned about the issue of taxes, specifically estate and/or inheritance taxes.  If there remained any unpaid taxes then the title company could be on the hook if it issued a policy, which is why they required proof that either the taxes had been paid or there were none due. Last week I explained that although there currently is no New Jersey estate tax, there was at the time that A, B and C died.  No estate tax was due, however, because

In my post last week I began to tell you about a real estate sale that we were asked to help finalize because the deceased owner’s estate administration process had never been completed.  Actually, the person who inherited ownership had also died as did the person who inherited it from that person. As I stated last week, the problem came to a head because the insurance company that insures the property for the buyer would not issue the policy without certain issues being addressed.  One was figuring out the rightful heirs to the property and having a person (executor or administrator) appointed by the Surrogate to be able to sign the necessary paperwork on behalf of each estate. The other concern, however, was estate and inheritance tax.  Inheritance tax is determined based on the relationship of the heir to the person who died.  Class A beneficiaries are exempt from tax.  Spouses, children and grandchildren are Class A.  That meant that when A died and left the house to her daughter B, we did not need to worry about inheritance tax.  Under intestacy law, B’s share passed to her half sibling, C since she had no spouse or children.  C was a Class C beneficiary subject to inheritance tax.  C’s will left

I wrote two posts last November about a common problem we see.  A real estate transaction is about to close when someone - usually the title company - determines that no one has been appointed as administrator or executor with authority to sign the closing documents on behalf of the deceased owner. Things, however, can become more complicated when we add estate and inheritance taxes to the mix.   A recent case in our office highlights the problem.  The sale of a home owned in part by a someone who died 30 years ago couldn’t close because the estate administration process had not been completed. We’ll refer to that owner as “A”.  A died without a will and left an only child, “B”.  B died 15 years later, having never finished estate administration, including transferring title to the property to herself.  B did not leave a will either.  According to New Jersey’s intestacy statute, her estate passed to her half sibling, C (who was not A’s child).  C died 3 years after B with a will leaving everything to a surviving spouse. While the 3 estate all needed to go thru the estate administration process, the more complicated problem to unwind is estate tax and inheritance tax.  Although none of the estates was

In my post last week I told you about a financial scam involving artificial intelligence (AI).  This type of imposter scam is expected to result in losses approaching $2.6 billion.  As I explained, voice cloning has become very easy to do with technological advances.  A distressed call from a family member can sound authentic.  There are, however, some easy things that we all can do to protect ourselves from falling prey to these scams.  For one thing, just being more aware helps to be on a heightened alert to be able to spot a scam. If someone calls asking for money or any personal information be skeptical.  Don’t get caught up in the story why because there always must be some story explaining why you should comply with the request even if it is made by someone you think you know.   You need to verify what you are hearing.  But how?  You might think that caller ID would be sufficient. Unfortunately just because caller ID shows a call coming from my granddaughter doesn’t necessarily mean anything. That can be faked as well.  I can, however place a call to my granddaughter’s cellphone number.  If she anwers the phone and says she did not call me then I know I’ve identified a potential

I most recently wrote about financial scams in this blog back in October but a recent story on the tv news caught my eye. I wanted to share it here as another example of the “dark side” of technology to which seniors especially can be susceptible. It involves voice cloning. Advances in technology have also made fraud easier to pull off. In this case artificial intelligence (AI) allows for someone to create fake audio of someone’s voice and it doesn’t require any special equipment. It’s something almost anyone can do online and can fool friends and family of the person whose voice is “faked”. Here’s how it works. You might get a phone call from your granddaughter who is in trouble. She needs money wired or electronically transferred. Maybe a kidnapper gets on the phone and says he’ll return her for a ransom. It sounds like your granddaughter’s voice, except it’s not. Scammers are able to find real audio of your granddaughter on social media. AI technology allows them to create new audio of your granddaughter that sounds just like her. This type of capability is readily available on the internet for anyone to use. The FTC is now warning the general public