Recent Articles

Follow Us

Last week I was telling you about Sue, who called about her 90 year old aunt, Amelia. Amelia had hired a home health aide through what she thought was a home health agency. Sue recently learned that the aide had taken Amelia to an attorney who prepared legal documents designating the aide as her agent under power of attorney, health care representative and executor of her will. What can or should Sue do? Amelia won’t show her the documents or tell her anything more. Amelia wants Sue to leave it alone. Sue asked me about guardianship. That’s a tough call. Is Amelia incompetent or simply exercising poor judgment? Everyone has the right to make bad decisions. I told Sue that based on what I was hearing, it is very likely that an attempt to declare Amelia incompetent will fail. It probably will only serve to make Amelia angry and cause her to push Sue away. That’s not so say that in a month or 6 months or a year, that Amelia’s mental state won’t deteriorate to the point that a guardianship may then work. But, who knows whether the aide will have taken all Amelia’s money by then. Let’s go back to the

Sue called regarding her 90 year old aunt, Amelia, who had a series of strokes.  For the past 6 months she had a live in aide assisting her but it was what Sue told me about that aide which was so troubling. Amelia happened to mention that the aide took her to see an attorney who prepared legal documents for her, naming the aide as her agent under power of attorney, representative under her health care directive and executor of her estate in her will.  Amelia refused to let Sue see the documents so she does not know whether the will leaves her assets to the aide.  Sue called to find out what she can or should do. I asked Sue where she found the aide.  She said her aunt found the aide through an agency.  But, then she told me that the agency has refused to do anything about the situation.  That didn’t sound right to me but then Sue told me that Amelia pays the aide directly.  She paid the agency $6000.  That told me what I needed to know.  Amelia didn’t go through a traditional home health agency in which the aide works for the agency.  She hired a

An important decision by federal court judge two weeks ago will have a big impact on many New Jersey assisted living residents – in a positive way.  The case, Galletta v. Velez,  directly addresses the relationship between VA and Medicaid benefits, which don’t always work well together. Some Medicaid programs have a strict income limit of $2163 per month, including New Jersey’s assisted living and home based Medicaid program under its Global Options program.  Certain wartime veterans and the widowed spouses of wartime veterans can qualify for a special pension under the Veterans Administration’s Aid and Attendance program, using the cost of long term care – whether at home with aides or in an assisted living facility – to qualify. The problem arises when that pension is counted as income for Medicaid eligibility purposes.  If Mom has $2000 per month of income from Social Security and a pension but then collects an $1130 per month VA Aid and Attendance pension, does that push her over the $2163 per month income cap for assisted living Medicaid? The State of New Jersey has for many years insisted that part or all of that VA pension counts as income.  Only the part that is for “aid

The bank told Mary they would not honor her mother’s power of attorney (POA),  designating her as agent.  They instead insisted she would need to apply for guardianship.  Last week, I told you that the bank’s position violates New Jersey law. Why?  Because they did not have a specific reason for refusing to honor Mary’s POA.    Instead they said they won’t honor any POA s which are not one of “their own”.  New Jersey’s law on powers of attorney specifically states that “banking institutions shall accept and rely on a power of attorney which conforms to this act and shall permit the agent to act . . . provided that the banking institution shall refuse to rely on [the POA] if (1) the signature of the principal is not genuine, or (2) the employee of the banking institution . . . has received actual notice of the death of the principal, of the revocation of the POA or of the disability of the principal at the time of the execution of the POA.”    The bank is not obligated to rely on the POA if it believes in good faith that one of these reasons is present. The  statute goes on further to

Mary presented to the bank the power of attorney (POA) we had prepared and Mom signed in our office 2 years ago.  It was a general durable power of attorney, giving Mary the ability to do banking on Mom’s behalf as well as other actions she might need to take in the future, such as accessing retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and real estate. We tell clients to anticipate problems.  Financial institutions prefer that their customers sign a POA on their form in their presence.  Why?  Because it is easier for them.  They don’t have to worry about whether the POA is valid, whether the agent has the right to access the account on the principal’s behalf.   The bank told Mary that Mom would need to come into the branch with Mary to acknowledge the POA or sign a new one. That, however, was not possible because Mom has advanced dementia.  She is no longer competent to sign or acknowledge anything.  When Mary told the bank manager this , the manager replied, “well then you’ll need to apply for guardianship to access her account.  We don’t accept outside powers of attorney”. What happened to Mary is not uncommon.  The bank was categorically rejecting

A battle is playing out in Trenton over Governor Christie’s attempt to balance the budget by delaying payments intended to make up for years of underfunding of the State’s government pension system.   I have written in the past about how increasingly scrutinizing New Jersey has been with regard to Medicaid applications.    New Jersey is in dire financial straits and it doesn’t appear to be getting better anytime soon. Another example of cost cutting that could affect the most needy in our society was highlighted in the front page of the Star Ledger yesterday.   There are many aspects to the Medicaid program.   New Jersey for many years has arranged for some of its most severely disabled residents to be housed in institutional settings out of state.  But that is changing under a 2 year old initiative called Returning Home New Jersey. The trend over the past 30 years across the country has been away from institutional settings and more towards smaller community based residential options. New Jersey’s Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) website states the purpose of the Returning Home program is to bring back to the State individuals who have been living in out of state facilities so they can be closer