Archer’s Elder & Disability Law Practice focuses on the needs of two populations of individuals: those who may anticipate physical and/or mental decline as they grow into their mature years, and those who may be physically or cognitively disabled, due to a variety of causes.
Various aspects of New Jersey law define the term “elderly” to include any person 60 years of age or older. Federal programs, such as Medicare and Social Security become available to individuals as they grow through their 60s. As people grow older and live longer than earlier generations did, new legal issues and concerns arise that are specifically related to aging. At Archer, we can provide legal experience and advice to help clients to achieve the security and peace of mind that they desire as they approach the “Autumn of their years.”
Elder Law differs from, but nevertheless enhances traditional Estate Planning. Elder Law includes planning and decision-making related to the increasing health care needs that often arise with aging. Prudent and careful use and preservation of assets are crucial to the planning needs of seniors. While everyone hopes that aging will not lead to incapacity, the possibility of age-related incapacity is something everyone should consider. Our experienced elder law attorneys can advise clients in connection with the following Elder Law issues:
Advance Directives, health-care proxies, and durable powers of attorney
The right to make and express decisions about how much health care intervention a person wants or needs has been highlighted nationally and internationally by court decisions from Karen Ann Quinlan (1976) to Terri Schiavo (2005), and the acclaimed PBS broadcast of Bill Moyers’ On Our Own Terms. Our attorneys are uniquely qualified to prepare the appropriate documents to meet our clients’ individual needs and concerns, and the ability to control their own medical treatment.
As the children of the 1940s, 50s and 60s find themselves caught between the needs of aging parents and growing children, they also find themselves facing a growing and confusing mélange of public programs, such as PAAD, Senior Gold, and the New Jersey property tax freeze. We help them to understand what programs apply to them, and how best to access the programs that address their needs.
Elder Abuse and Elder Rights
Abuse and neglect by family members and/or caregivers cross all cultural boundaries. Our attorneys are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse and neglect, and experienced with the necessary steps to enforce the elder’s rights.
Financial Exploitation and Senior Scams
Seniors accustomed to a lifestyle of hard work and saving can be unprepared to deal with exploitation by family and friends, or scams perpetrated by unscrupulous persons. We provide individualized counsel to our elder clients to alert them to risky behavior and to avoid falling victim to exploiters and con-artists.
Guardianship and Conservatorship
Although we encourage and assist our clients to plan ahead to ensure the maximum possible control over how their future needs will be addressed, advance planning is not always possible. Strokes and debilitating illnesses can strike unexpectedly. In such instances, court-supervised arrangements are available to protect both the person and the estate (assets) of the elderly and disabled. Our attorneys regularly handle guardianship and conservatorship proceedings when incapacity strikes suddenly.
Long-Term Care Planning
We advise clients regarding the availability of government benefit programs in the event of incapacity, including Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, CCPED, Global Options and similar programs. We advise clients about the use of lifetime gifting and irrevocable trusts in connection with asset management, and the use of long-term care insurance. We even assist clients and their families with the often confusing placement choices between and among nursing homes, assisted living residences, continuing care retirement communities, and various home and community-based options. We have extensive experience with the contractual provisions and avoiding the hidden pitfalls related to each of these choices.
Medicaid eligibility/Fair Hearings
In the event that a client’s asset picture is such that Medicaid benefits can be applied for, we vigorously represent that client in obtaining such benefits. Our attorneys are experienced in representing applicants in fair hearings before the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, and have guided clients through the complexities of a Medicaid application to favorable results.
Social Security, Medicare and Medicare Part D
Medicare and the relatively new prescription drug program known as Medicare Part D can often be confusing to people unaccustomed to dealing with government agencies and gaining access to public benefits. Our attorneys help elders understand that these are not welfare programs, but insurance programs they have paid into through payroll withholding. We vigorously represent clients in securing the benefits they have earned.
Widely advertised, but little understood, reverse mortgages may be appropriate for some seniors to maintain their lifestyle, but are not the best choice for everyone. Our attorneys can make individual assessments of clients’ needs, and advise them of the appropriateness of this option in their particular circumstances. If a reverse mortgage is the right choice, we will perform a careful and thorough review of the legal documents, and explain the terms in language our client understands.
Whether clients come to us with minor or adult disabled children, or are individuals who have themselves become disabled through traumatic injury or illness, we counsel them in the areas of long range habilitation planning; appropriate residential, educational and workplace accommodations; and asset protection for the lifetime care and support of the disabled person through appropriate special need trust planning. We also counsel and assist disabled persons in obtaining benefits through available State and Federal programs, such as the New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury Fund and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).