Kathleen Scott Chasar - FAQ / About Us
When you need a lawyer that brings a personal touch, you should consult with Kathleen Scott Chasar
. Her law office in Ewing, New Jersey stands ready to help you with all your family and elder legal issues.
Kathleen is very easy to deal with and makes it comfortable for her clients to understand exactly what has to be done and why it has to be done. She is available to visit nursing homes, personal residences, and hospitals to make sure her clients' needs are met. Her goal is to develop long-term relationships with her clients.
Experience You Can Count On
Kathleen graduated with a B.S. in Finance from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. She later graduated from law school at Widener University in Delaware. She brings this financial and legal expertise to bear on all her cases.
Q: What documents do I need to bring?
A: Bring the following paperwork to your consultation: Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, and Living Will or Health Care Directive.
Q: What age should I be starting this?
A: Clients should start organizing this information in their late 50s or early 60s.
Three Documents Everyone Needs
The document by which a person directs his or her estate (property) to be distributed upon death. This document also names who will be the executor of your estate and oversees the distribution to your beneficiaries. If you die without a Last Will and Testament, hereafter "Will", and you are a resident of the State of New Jersey, state law provides the manner for distribution of your property.
Often people who hold assets jointly with their spouse believe that when one dies the estate will pass to the other. This may be true in most instances, however, if spouses die simultaneously, in a common accident or disaster or within 120 hours of each other the results may change. Additionally, if there is no Will, there could arise a situation if all assets are not in joint names and there are children or step-children, or the parent of the deceased spouse is still alive. Another problem could arise if the surviving spouse is incompetent.
A small but over looked asset could be the family automobile. Only an executor/exectrix (person named in the Will to administer the estate) or administrator (person appointed by the Court if there is no Will) can transfer title on a vehicle. If title to the automobile is in the name of the deceased spouse you cannot transfer title or sell the automobile until either an executor is sworn in or an administrator is appointed by the Court.
If there is a challenge to an inheritance and there is no Will an administrator will have to be appointed by the State. The administrator could be an attorney appointed by the Court. This will incur additional expenses to the estate as the estate will have to pay the attorney's fees. If an administrator is appointed he will have to be bonded. Depending on the size of the estate the cost for an administrator to be bonded could be anywhere from $500 to $5,000. If you have a Will and an executor is named, the appointment of an administrator will not be necessary, and your estate does not have to incur these costs.
An instrument granting someone authority to act as agent or attorney in-fact for the grantor. This document gives the agent the power to transact business for the grantor. This document can be effective upon signing or upon the grantor being declared incompetent. Again, the spouse automatically assumes that they can act as agent for their spouse. This is not always the case. Most pension plans, insurance companies, banks (if account in only one spouse's name) and Social Security, to name a few, will only deal directly with the person. Without a signed Power of Attorney they will not deal with the other spouse.
Additionally, if a spouse becomes incompetent and there is no Power of Attorney, the other spouse has to apply to the Court for Guardianship. This could cost $3000 to $5000 in legal fees and takes from three to six months depending on the Court's calendar.
An instrument, signed with the formalities necessary for a Will, by which a person states the intention to refuse medical treatment and to release healthcare providers from all liability if the person becomes both terminally ill and unable to communicate. Again, without this document the hospital or Doctor has no obligation to listen to the spouse's directives regarding the care and treatment of the other spouse.
A Supplemental Needs Trust is a term for a type of special needs trust. Supplemental needs trusts are compliant with provisions of US state and federal law and are designed to provide benefits to, and protect the assets of, individuals with physical, psychiatric, or intellectual disabilities, and still allow such persons to be qualified for and receive governmental health care benefits, especially long-term nursing care benefits, under the medicaid welfare program.
One significant governmental benefit which is available only through Medicaid is long-term nursing care which includes care for the physically disabled and the mentally disabled. Long-term nursing care can be extremely expensive. To qualify for Medicaid and its long-term nursing care benefits, the applicant must be "poor" and there is a limit to the countable assets which he or she can own. To qualify for Medicaid, the applicant must meet the asset guidelines for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI allows a single applicant to own no more than $2,000 in countable assets and a married applicant to own no more than $3,000 in countable assets. Certain assets are specifically exempted and are not countable, i.e., the house the spouse is residing in and one car.
A trust is a legal arrangement in which legal title to assets is held by a trustee under certain defined restrictions of a governing instrument, usually a written trust agreement, for the benefit of another party known as the beneficiary. Supplemental trusts can be used as a vehicle to make assets available to a beneficiary but still significantly restrict them.
In general, with limited exceptions, regardless of the purposes, provisions, or discretion contained in the trust, a self-settled trust which is created after August 11, 1993, will be treated as an available asset which can disqualify the settlor-beneficiary from Medicaid. 42U.S.C.§1396p(d)(2)(c). This means that generally a person cannot create his or her own trust, transfer his or her own assets into the trust, and still be qualified for Medicaid. However, spouses can leave property in a supplemental special needs trust at their death to care for their surviving spouses and not have the trust property considered as assets available for Medicaid. 42U.S.C.§1396p(d)(2)(A)(ii).
The main benefit of the special needs trust is to provide a quality of life for the Medicaid beneficiary. Assets can be held in the trust and used to pay for the beneficiary's special or supplemental needs which the government does not provide, while Medicaid pays the significant medical bills.
When a special needs trust is created and funded by someone other than the beneficiary, the trust can provide the trustee with much greater latitude to make distributions. Furthermore, the government
is not entitled to recover any expenditures made for the beneficiary from the trust corpus remaining at the end of the beneficiary's life.
At the end of the beneficiary's life, the balance remaining in the trust can be distributed directly to the remainder beneficiaries of the trust with no right for the government to first receive reimbursement for the expenditures it made for the beneficiary during that person's life. If, however, the trust is drafted with an unnecessary "payback" provision, the trustee must comply with this direction which creates an enforceable right in favor of the government.
A third-party special needs trust should not be drafted as a general support trust or mandate distribution of current income to the beneficiary. In such a case, the trust can be deemed to be "available" and can disqualify the beneficiary from Medicaid. The Medicaid beneficiary should not be given any power to revoke the trust or direct the trustee to make distributions to the beneficiary.
Medicare does not cover long term care for any of its beneficiaries. Though Medicare does cover LIMITED skilled nursing facility care and home health care, it does not cover care for long periods of time and does not cover either intermediate or custodial care. Currently, Medicare will allow a maximum of 100 days rehabilitation after a hospital stay. This 100 days is only given if the patient is showing improvement and will eventually be allowed to return home. The patient is evaluated every 20 days to determine if he/she can stay in the facility.
Additionally, Medigap insurance policies will not pay for nursing home care. The only insurance that will pay for long term nursing home care is a long-term care insurance policy. Consider the following facts about
long-term care insurance:
- Annual premiums range from $1,000 to $6,000 depending on the insured's age and the options chosen.
- Benefit payments are restricted.
- Scope of coverage is limited.
- Certain diseases, such as Alzheimer's (a far too frequent cause of nursing home admissions) may be excluded.
- Qualification requirements are tough to satisfy - you may not be able to purchase insurance if you already have chronic health problems.
Here are some features you should look for when contemplating long term care insurance:
- A daily nursing home benefit of a least 50%, and preferably 80% of the current local cost of care in a nursing home (New Jersey approximately $313 a day).
- A waiting period of no more than 100 days.
- A benefit period of at least two years.
- Benefits for custodial care, home health care, and/or assisted living.
- Guaranteed lifetime ability to renew the insurance policy.
- Specific coverage for Alzheimer's disease and dementia
- Inflation protection.
As with any insurance policy, the better the coverage, the more the cost.
Medicaid is a medical assistance program that provides for coverage of a variety of medical services for eligible persons and is responsible for payment of those services. The only exception is a patient in a Medicaid approved nursing facility who may be required to contribute part of his/her income toward the cost of care. Medicaid in Mercer County is overseen by the Mercer County Board of Social Services, 200 Woolverton St., P.O. Box
1450, Trenton, N.J. 08650, (609) 989-4320. Which Board of Social Services you will be dealing with will be dependent upon the nursing home your loved one is in. The nursing home usually wants you to deal with the Board of Social Services of the County where the nursing home is located.
A. Citizen of or legal alien status in the United States.
B. Residency in the State ofNew Jersey.
C. Must be over 65 years of age, or if under 65, must be determined disabled or blind by the Social Security Administration or the New Jersey Disability Review Section.
Your countable resources must be under $2,000.00/$4,000.00, depending on the program, before you are eligible for Medicaid. Resources that exist at the first of each month from the date of application are used to establish resource eligibility.
The resources for the spouse living at home effective, January 1, 2015, are as follows:
The current amount protected for the community spouse (the spouse that remains in the home) is the greater of $23,844.00 or one-half of the couple's countable resources, not to exceed $119,220.00. Not included in this figure is the home as long as the community spouse resides in it (and equity in the home is under $828,000.00), one motor vehicle, personal effects and household goods. All resources above these amounts must be used to
pay for the nursing home before Medicaid will become effective.
Your spouse at home is not required to support you in the nursing home or use part of his or her income to pay for your care. The spouse at home is allowed to keep all of his or her own income, regardless of the amount, and that income is not included in determining your eligibility for Medicaid. Federal law has established a protected income level for your spouse.
Effective January, 2015 this allowance is $1,966.25.00 per month ($1,821.25 was the amount in 2009 - shows what a small increase the government allows) this includes shelter expenses of $514.00 per month. Allowable shelter expenses include real estate taxes, condominium fees, rent, mortgage. Also included in the $1966.25 is a utility allowance up to $411.00 (per month, heat and electric), $29.00 for telephone, and reasonable homeowners insurance expense. (Water and sewer taxes are not allowed). What this means is if you can prove that the housing expenses, for the community spouse is over $514.00 a month you will be allowed to keep that amount from your spouse's income, who is in the nursing home, BUT ONLY IF THE COMMUNITY SPOUSE'S INCOME cannot cover his/her housing cost.
In addition, if the community spouse needs more income than the standard income allowances because of exceptional circumstances that result in significant fmancial duress, you may request a HEARING to allow your spouse to have more monthly income, after you apply for Medicaid. But you are faced with a housing cap of $2,980.50 per month. Duress, can be your spouse needs home health care, and large medical bills (most of the exceptions are health related).
The spouse in the nursing home will be allowed to keep $35.00 per month from his or her income to pay for their personal needs. This money is put into a Personal Needs Account (PNA) that is handled by the nursing home.