Elder Law Lawyers Serving New Jersey and New York
Since 1975, the law firm of The Manna Helmy Law Group has helped hundreds of elderly people and their families deal successfully with their legal issues. We are passionate about helping our clients plan for Medicaid, assisted living, nursing home financing and long-term care.
Dedicated to Meeting All Your Elder Law Needs
Our Ridgewood elder law attorneys provide advice and services in the areas of:
- Estate planning, including will creation
- Estate tax minimization strategies
- Medicaid strategies
- Nursing home plans
- Reverse mortgage issues
- Guardianships and conservatorships
- Other elder law services
A Personalized Approach Tailored to Fit Your Unique Situation
Our attorneys create a personalized solution for each client. After all, the elderly person and family members will have to live with the result. It must be appropriate for the client’s medical and financial situation and reflect the client’s basic values.
We place the highest priority on developing solutions that enable the elderly person to live in dignity, comfort and financial security.
Changes in Medicaid Eligibility: Deficit Reduction Act of 2005
President Bush signed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 into law on February 8, 2006. This law has created the harshest and most sweeping changes in Medicaid eligibility ever. It COMPLETELY exposes the life savings of most middle class seniors to nursing home and other long-term care costs. For these individuals, all of their wealth is literally on the line.
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 places the vast majority of seniors in an extremely dangerous position if they decide to make any gifts at all and wind up broke in a nursing home within five years. We’re not talking about only large gifts made to children or other family members, as is usually the case, but birthday and holiday gifts to family members and friends, as well as contributions to religious organizations, churches, political parties and the like. All gifts and contributions can inadvertently create long periods of time in which the patient is in a no man’s land, with no money and no government program to pay for his/her long-term care.
Keeping this in mind, we help people as they age, and as their medical and financial needs change to make sure that all of their legal needs are met. The field of elder law has developed to meet these changing medical, financial and legal needs.
Qualifying for Medicaid
Many elder law problems concern the transfer and reconfiguration of assets in an effort to qualify for Medicaid. Sometimes, these tasks must be done rapidly in order to accelerate Medicaid eligibility. It is important to understand all of the ramifications of any such move. You may have to consider Medicaid, gift tax, income tax, capital gains tax and estate tax ramifications. Before making any long-term care and Medicaid decisions, there must be a very careful analysis of all of these factors. One wrong step can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Types of Elder Abuse
Financial abuse – Elderly people often get taken advantage of financially. Someone may improperly use the elder’s finances for their personal benefit. This could include forging their signature on a check or document, getting them to sign a document through unjust means, and having the elder withdraw cash to use for their benefit.
Physical abuse – This type of abuse is more common than people would believe. This may include hitting, shoving, or beating an elderly person. If the elderly person is injured, threatened, or inappropriately handled, it falls under physical abuse.
Nursing home abuse – When elder people need to move into nursing homes, there is often nursing home abuse as the nursing home fails to meet the proper standard of care for these patients.
Sexual abuse – This includes any unwanted sexual contact or action including touching, assault, rape, and more. Elderly people are vulnerable targets to these acts as they are frail.
Neglect – This is the most common form of elder abuse and involves the lack of proper care especially with a party refusing to provide food, clothing, water and shelter.
If you suspect elder abuse, it’s important to talk to an attorney right away. Our elder law team can help provide elders with the legal advice they need and give the best advice possible. We have experience with these types of cases which gives us the experience needed to help fight your case.
A Multidisciplinary Approach
New Jersey elder law attorney Michael A. Manna is uniquely qualified to analyze your options for Medicaid and estate and gift tax planning. He has an accounting background, estate and gift tax knowledge, trust and estate law expertise, and an extensive understanding of Medicaid law and regulations.
With this knowledge base, The Manna Helmy Law Group takes a multidisciplinary approach to elder law. We understand how a financial transaction or asset restructuring affects other issues such as taxation, eligibility for Medicaid and nursing home placement. This thoughtful and considered approach is essential for the protection of the elderly person’s assets, interests and peace of mind.
Frequently Asked Questions About Elder Law
What questions should I ask an elder law attorney?
Some of the questions you can bring to our lawyers include:
- What steps can I take today to afford health care when I’m older?
- How can I plan for a disability?
- What are my options if I cannot live independently?
- How do I make a will?
- Can I grant powers of attorney to my family member?
- What is the best way to help my aging parents?
You can also ask your attorney questions about their experience and their approach to help you determine if they are someone whom you trust with these important matters. At our firm, you can rest assured that we will provide accurate information and honest advice to help you prepare for the rest of your life.
What information do elder law attorneys look for?
When meeting with your lawyer for the first time, it can be helpful to have some basic information ready to discuss. Your lawyer can use these details to customize a solution for you.
First, gather documentation that details your current financial standing, including your retirement savings or pension, income, Social Security benefits, credit card balances, loans and mortgages, property tax records and special assets like a business. In addition, if you have a trust or will, bring a copy of your documents with you. Finally, make a list of questions or issues that are personally significant to you.
What is the difference between elder law and estate planning?
Estate planning and elder law overlap in many ways. They both involve thinking about your future, your health and your financial security. Both areas can benefit you during life.
However, elder law specifically focuses on your golden years, whereas the main goal of estate planning is for the end of your life and thereafter. Elder law can involve guardianships, retirement planning, assisted living, nursing home care, Medicaid planning and other late-life needs. It is wise to incorporate your estate planning and elder law strategies to have a cohesive plan for your future.
How can I protect my elderly parents’ money?
As parents age, their income and savings often diminish as their living expenses rise sharply. Sadly, some people also attempt to take advantage of seniors – especially seniors who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s or mental incapacitation. Adult children often seek legal tools to ensure their parents can afford to have the quality of life they deserve.
One option is to request a court-approved guardianship for your loved one if they are no longer capable of managing their finances. This option allows the guardian to control the elder’s finances for their benefit.
Another option is to work with your parent and their lawyer to help create a trust, plan for retirement and establish financial powers of attorney. These tools can safeguard assets for the future while your parent still maintains financial independence.
Depending on your parent’s situation, some methods may be more effective and appropriate than others. Our attorneys can help address your concerns about your parent’s finances.
Do I need to plan for Medicaid now?
Sooner is better when it comes to preparing for Medicaid eligibility. To qualify for Medicaid, your income and assets must remain below a certain threshold. Through proactive asset management strategies, you can qualify for Medicaid without spending down your life savings. However, because there is a five-year lookback period, you can’t wait until the last minute. Talk to our lawyers about how to start planning now.
Do I need a lawyer to apply for Medicaid?
Once you know you’re eligible for Medicaid, the application process is fairly straightforward. You don’t need a lawyer to apply. However, our attorneys are available to help, including answering any questions, gathering and submitting the appropriate documentation and avoiding snags in the process. We can also address wrongful denials.
The bulk of a lawyer’s value comes from planning for Medicaid eligibility, which is something that ideally should be done years in advance.
What does Medicaid cover?
Medicaid coverage varies by state. In New Jersey, the Medicaid program (also known as NJ FamilyCare) provides mandatory coverage for hospital care, lab and diagnostic tests, home health care services and short-term nursing home care. Adults needing longer nursing home care may be eligible for the Medicaid Managed Long Term Services and Supports program. Additional coverage may be available under specific Medicaid programs for hospice, no-cost prescriptions, psychiatric care and other services. Our attorneys can help you sort through which programs you qualify for and how to obtain coverage for the care and treatment you need.
We Are Here to Help. Contact Our Elder Care Attorneys Serving Bergen County and Beyond.
We are committed to helping you and your loved ones plan for the future. Contact our Ridgewood elder law lawyers online or call 201-345-3018 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your situation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey and New York.