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Welcome to our Blog!

Our Blog is our way of helping you make sense of what may otherwise be a perplexing or confusing situation in which you may find yourself.  But don't despair.  Although you may think you are the only one experiencing some type of difficulty or hardship, if you look around, you will see that others are as well.  It is said that "what is most personal is most general” — and that is true.

It's in the spirit of making the personal seem more general that we write these blogs so that you gain a better awareness of the issues you may be confronting.  And in the process of gaining awareness, you begin to develop a realistic approach to whatever it is you are seeking to accomplish. Of course, these Blog posts are no substitute for one-on-one legal advise; however, you may find them useful, if for no other reason than to put your concerns into the proper context.  From there, additional research and consultation with legal professionals can follow.

We hope you find these blogs helpful as you navigate through life's many challenges and opportunities!

P.S. if there are any topics you would like us to address, please send us a note to that effect.

Reverse Mortgages - - are they a rip-off?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Aug 31, 2018 | 2 Comments

A reverse mortgage is not inherently a "rip-off," but like any significant financial transaction, you need to look closely at whether it makes sense given your circumstances. They are very expensive up-front, so at a minimum you have to look at a reverse mortgage as a long-term investment. However, if the only way to accomplish your goal of remaining living in your own home is by taking out a reverse mortgage, then this may be a viable and reasonable option for you.

Time to Stop and Smell the Roses

Posted by Anthony Serra | Aug 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

Alzheimer's disease is a terrible condition that robs us of our faculties and ability to function on our own. While we can not prevent this disease, there are a few things we can do in terms of planning for the future that will allow us to live with dignity, including signing a Durable Power of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directive (or Living Will). So take control while you are still in control.

Aretha Franklin reportedly died without a will . . . what does that mean?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Aug 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

The "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin has reportedly died without a will.  As result, the court will now have a great deal to say who will administer the estate and how $80 million in assets will be distributed, having no regard for what Ms. Franklin may have wanted. This can be easily avoided by you doing a simple will that only costs a few hundred dollars.

Why would you need a Geriatric Care Manager?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Aug 02, 2018 | 0 Comments

A Geriatric Care Manger can be a very valuable resource for people who find themselves caring for an elderly family member. Many times, the conflict that exists between family members over how best to care for an elderly parent is rooted in not understanding the needs of the parent or not knowing what all the options are. A Geriatric Care Manager can help by identifying the elderly person's needs and suggesting care options that may not have been otherwise known to the family.

What is an Executor, Guardian and Trustee?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Aug 01, 2018 | 0 Comments

The roles of Executor, Guardian and Trustee as identified in a Last Will & Testament are different and it's important to understand these distinctions so that you select the right people to serve in those roles. You can name the same person for all three roles, but if you want more accountability, it is a good idea to name different people to each role.

. . . so help me God

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jul 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

Believing he had no alternative but to put his client on the witness stand, attorney Nick N. Poop, Esq. turned to his client and whispered, “Ok, Boone, you're up.”  Looking like a dog on the back of a guy riding a bike (wondering what the heck's going on?), Boone meandered his way up to the fro...

No One is Happy When it Comes to a Divorce

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jul 25, 2018 | 0 Comments

A divorce is devastating for the entire family. However, the way a divorce is handled can lessen the emotional trauma and keep the cost to a minimum. If divorcing parties want what is best for their children, they will make a good faith effort to resolve their differences amicably, engaging the mediation process if they need help negotiating a settlement. While people can get divorced from each other as spouses, they cannot divorce each other as the parents to their children.

Can a Person Under Guardianship Still Vote?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jul 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

A full guardianship does not automatically remove a person's right to vote. Under the New Jersey Constitution, the right to vote can only be removed by a judge after a specific finding that the disabled person lacks the capacity to understand the act of voting.

How do you contest a will?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jul 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

Contesting a will is usually based on two claims. Either the testator (person who died) was incompetent at the time he or she signed the will or they were unduly influenced to execute the will they did. Whether the person was incompetent when they signed their will must be supported by clear and credible medical evidence. To prove undue influence, you must show there was a “confidential relationship” between the testator and the person benefiting from the will as well as “suspicious circumstances” surrounding her execution of the will. If you can show those two things, it will be presumed that there was an undue influence. That presumption of undue influence can be rebutted, but that can be difficult.

What is the Mini Mental State Exam?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jul 09, 2018 | 0 Comments

A Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE) is a face to face screening assessment that is conducted to detect a person's cognitive impairment and whether they may have dementia. It's a useful tool, but it cannot tell you whether the person has Alzheimer's Disease, or an organic brain disorder or has had a stroke or even a urinary track infection. Further diagnostic testing is always necessary.

Do you need to file for guardianship when your disabled child turns 18?  

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jul 06, 2018 | 0 Comments

When a child turns 18, they are presumed to be competent which can only be altered by a court Order through a process called guardianship. When you apply to become someone's legal guardian, you are, in effect, asking the court to declare the person incapacitated and to appoint you (a parent or sibling for example) as their legal guardian. However, incapacitation is not an all or nothing proposition and a person may have limited capacity to do certain things, in which case imposition of something called a "limited" guardianship or conservatorship might be indicated which are less restrictive than a full guardianship.

The Poverty of Loneliness

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jul 05, 2018 | 0 Comments

Feeling lonely affects everyone at all ages, though especially the elderly who no longer feel valued or useful in society. Feelings of loneliness, isolation and abandonment can also have a deleterious impact on our mental as well as physical well-being. A healthy response is to develop meaningful relationships and connections with people across all generations.

Elder Abuse:  What to Look for and How to Respond?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jul 03, 2018 | 0 Comments

Elder abuse can occur in many forms, involving a range of physical, psychological, sexual and financial abuse and neglect. The challenge, in many cases, is that it is difficult to detect and often occurs within the trusted confines of family, friends, neighbors, care givers and care facilities. It also exploits people who may be frail and vulnerable, as well as physically and mentally compromised. But there are ways you can help.

What is the difference between a Special Needs Trust and a Supplemental Benefits Trust?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jul 02, 2018 | 0 Comments

Special Needs Trusts and a Supplemental Benefits Trusts are similar in the sense that they are both intended to preserve "means tested" governmental benefits for a disabled person. However, Special Needs Trusts are funded with the disabled person's own money while Supplemental Benefits Trust are funded with other people's money. Because of that distinction, Special Needs Trusts have a pay-back provision for Medicaid while Supplemental Benefits Trusts do not have a pay-back provision when the disabled person dies.

Should you do a “sweep” for underground storage tanks (UST) before you buy a home?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jun 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

Unless you are purchasing a condominium, or townhouse or cooperative, it is a very good idea to have a sweep done of the property to make sure there are no undisclosed underground tanks. The removal of tanks and surrounding soil can be very expensive so these issues need to be addressed before closing. Once you close, it is too late to go back to the seller.

At what age should your children get your money?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jun 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

If something were to happen to you, obviously you would want your children to inherit your money, but at what age are your children mature enough to handle the money? In his latest blog, Mr. Serra addresses factors to take into consideration in making this important decision.

What is the Difference Between Mediation and Arbitration?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jun 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

At first glance, mediation and arbitration look the same, but they differ in many respects. Mediation is a voluntary process that is intended to facilitate a settlement between the parties, whereas arbitration is more of an informal adjudicatory process whereby the arbitrator decides who wins and who loses.

Can you Undo a Guardianship?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jun 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

Can you reverse a judicial determination that a person is incapacitated? The simple answer is yes –a person who has been declared incapacitated by a court can be restored to full or partial capacity. However, the process is not easy. Let's first look at the facts and then we can consider the law.

I just wanted to be held like that.

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jun 16, 2018 | 2 Comments

I had a case once involving an elderly gentleman (we'll call him Harry) who had dementia and throat cancer. His medical condition was precarious and getting to the point where he was no longer able to swallow.  So we were faced with whether or not to insert a feeding tube.  Of course, without a f...

When Sibling Rivalry Comes Back to Bite Us

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jun 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

When sibling rivalry can come back and hurt us in terms of how we are cared for in the future. That's why it is important to select which child you want in charge of managing your affairs and making medical decisions for you when and if you are unable to do so on your own.

How much does it cost to sell your home?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Jun 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

It is a good idea to get a firm understanding of what it will cost to sell your home before you put your home on the market. This Blog gives you a general list of the various costs and cash outlays that are associated with selling your home.

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