A DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order is Legal in New Jersey Without a Terminal Illness

HNW Elder Law, Estate Planning

  We’ve all heard about a “Do Not Resuscitate Order” (DNR) but probably don’t know (precisely) what it means, or how it applies to you in real life. A DNR order alerts emergency personnel that you do not wish to receive Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of a medical emergency. It is a medical order that must be signed by a doctor. DNR orders are used primarily by people who are already critically ill and feel strongly that they do not want life-prolonging treatment when close to death. If you do not have a DNR order, emergency medical personnel must use all available measures, no matter how invasive, to save your life. Awhile back a client wanted to create …

New Jersey Adopts a New Law Which Will Allow You to Die With Dignity and on Your Terms

HNW Elder Law, Estate Planning

The State Legislature recently adopted a law entitled  “Aid and Dying for the Terminally Ill Act” which will allow a qualified terminally ill patient to self-administer medication to end his/her life in a humane and dignified manner. The new law provides that New Jersey’s long standing commitment to individual dignity, informed consent and the fundamental right of a competent adult to make healthcare decisions about whether to have life prolonged through medical or surgical procedures withdrawn and withheld is to be honored and affirmed.  As a result, a qualified terminally ill patient under appropriate safeguards and limitations can obtain medication that the patient may choose to self-administer in order to bring about the patient’s humane and dignified death. As I …

Don’t Blow It! You Can Still Make a Late and Inexpensive Portability Election to Eliminate and/or Reduce Future Estate Death Taxes

HNW Elder Law, Estate Administration and Probate

“Portability” (I’ll explain its definition later in the blog) allows the personal representative of an estate to preserve a deceased spouse’s unused federal estate and/or gift tax exemption amount for later use by the surviving spouse which may be applied against future gifts by the spouse and/or his or her federal taxable estate upon death. In order to preserve portability, a personal representative is required to make an election on a timely filed IRS Form 706, following the death of the first spouse. If Form 706 is not filed within nine months of a decedent’s death or within 15 months if a request for an extension of time to file the return was timely obtained, a personal representative may be …

No Contest Clause in Will Can Be (Un)enforceable in New Jersey

HNW Elder Law, Will Contest and Probate Litigation

Many clients want to avoid challenges to their Last Will and Trust.  They are generally concerned about some family member who is “all about the money”.  They’re thinking their Will should include a no-contest clause to protect their good kids from greedy or unstable siblings, other children, etc.  Perhaps over the years there’s been hints that assets in the family really came from other donors, etc.  Parents envision others going after what he/she thinks is theirs and making the lives of beneficiaries miserable after the person is gone. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon your position) a no-contest clause is not enforceable in New Jersey. Also known as an in terrorem clause, it specifies that any interested party who contests an …

Bringing Legal Action Against a Trustee Because the Trust is Performing Poorly in the Market

HNW Elder Law, Will Contest and Probate Litigation

Who is Responsible When a Trust Shows Poor Economic Performance? Poor performance from trusts, coupled with today’s financial and accounting scandals, have fueled investor concerns over potential problems with stewardship by banks and other trustees. While the stock market is often a factor in poor performance, fiduciary negligence may also come into play and you may have reason to consider a trust challenge. A financial advisor and other interested persons should direct trust beneficiaries to an attorney who has no prior relationship in the trust and who can objectively review the trust’s performance, assessing whether the financial advisor has properly fulfilled its fiduciary obligations as a trustee of a family’s wealth. Trustee Performance Historically, trustees have been quasi-family members, picked …

A Legal Guardian Can Create a Trust for the Benefit of a Minor Child  

HNW Elder Law, Guardianship Law

Question A parent dies with a large estate and leaves behind a minor child(ren). The decedent was divorced when he/she died. How can the surviving parent, if appointed legal guardian, protect the child’s estate from wasteful decisions and actions. The Law The guardian statute(s) provide procedure for setting up a trust on behalf of a minor child. Codified at N.J.S.A. §3B:12-54.1, a parent  or guardian may apply to the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Probate Part to get permission to set up a protective trust for the benefit of a minor child or children when they would otherwise be receiving assets from an intestate estate when they are under 18 years of age. The application to the Surrogate’s Office can be …

Creditors of an Estate Can Sue Beneficiaries and the Executor if the Debt is Not Paid

HNW Elder Law, Estate Administration and Probate

A creditor of a deceased person is allowed to file a claim against an estate if his/her claim is timely filed with the surrogate’s office before an order barring creditors is made. But what happens if they fail to do this? Well, an option is for that creditor to chase any and all assets distributed to the beneficiaries by the estate representative. Our Chancery court has the jurisdiction to order the executor to produce a refunding bond from the beneficiary and if they fail to do so the creditor can sue both the beneficiary and the executor for the value of their unpaid claim. The law is as follows on the proper closing of an estate and payment to creditors. …

Oh No, I’m Getting Money; Now What Do I Do?

HNW Elder Law, Special Needs Trusts for Minor Children and Adults

I get quite a few calls from attorneys who have settled cases or obtained judgments in favor of their clients to compensate them for pain and suffering resulting from slip and falls, car accidents, medical malpractice etc. The amount recovered might be small, say $10,000.00. In other cases, it can be substantial, say $1,000,000.00 or more. In each case the attorneys have brought the matter to a successful conclusion, no doubt getting the very best result they can for their client. So, why are they reaching out to me? The reason is that in many cases their clients are receiving “needs based” government benefits; an example, Medicaid.  Receipt of settlement money will in each case cause their client to lose …

Short-Term Care Insurance:  An Alternative to the Long-Term Care Variety

HNW Elder Care Law, Elder Law

Truth be told, I really had never heard about short term care insurance. I’m a really big advocate for long term care insurance though many clients choose not to purchase it. Generally the reasons offered are price and/or insurability. So an alternate solution for some people who may need care in the future but are unable to buy long-term care insurance is short-term care insurance that will cover nursing home and/or home care for one year or less. These policies are more popular because long-term care premiums are expensive. This type of insurance is generally cheaper because it covers less time. Purchasers can choose the length of coverage they want, up to one year. The underwriting and medical qualifications are …

Guardianship and Your Right to Vote

HNW Elder Law, Guardianship Law

A colleague who knows of my extensive guardianship law background asked if he was correct in his thinking that a person declared to be incapacitated continues to retain the right to vote unless that right is specifically taken away in the judgment of guardianship. He is correct. Under NJ law, an incapacitated person retains the right to vote unless the guardianship judgment states otherwise. However, that is not the law in about 10 States so if there’s a possibility that the person may not stay in New Jersey it may make sense to have the judgment specifically state that the person retains the right to vote wherever he/she resides. To explain the New Jersey Constitution states that “no person who …