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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.

Why Litigate When You Can Mediate

Posted by Anthony Serra | Sep 09, 2019 | 0 Comments

Mediation is a more efficient and less expensive way to resolve conflict than traditional litigation. What can take 6 months to a year in court can be accomplished in a few hours in mediation. Mediation is also confidential and typically results in resolutions that are fair and equitable to all parties which is the ultimate objective of mediation.

How to Provide for a Special Needs Child in Your Will

Posted by Anthony Serra | Sep 05, 2019 | 0 Comments

There is no need to disinherit a special needs child for fear of losing government benefits. A Special Needs Trust can easily be incorporated into your will that allows your child to have access to funds that will enhance his or her life while retaining crucial government benefits life Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.

What is an Elder Law Attorney?

Posted by Anthony Serra | May 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

An Elder Law attorney knows more than just basic estate planning. An effective Elder Law attorney is someone who understands the many issues confronting older adults as they become more dependent on others. Helping to resolve family conflict over care issues and guiding a family in developing an acceptable care plan are also important traits of an effective Elder Law attorney.

Good Faith: The Key to a Successful Mediation

Posted by Anthony Serra | Mar 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

Mediation can be a cost-effective way of resolving conflicts. However, in order to be effective, the parties must enter the mediation process in good faith and with a genuine willingness to compromise their positions and find common ground. Otherwise, the mediation process will not yield a favorable result and the parties will grow increasingly frustrated and overwhelmed. 

When Your Kid Turns Out To Be A Deadbeat

Posted by Anthony Serra | Feb 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

Lending money to children is usually not a very good idea, unless you are not expecting to have it repaid. If you are expecting it to be repaid, make sure you document the transaction in writing and specify exactly how you expect to get repaid. If you expect to get paid from another transaction, like the sale of a home, consider placing a lien or mortgage on the property to ensure that your loan gets paid at the time of the closing rather than waiting to get paid from your child at a later date. The longer your "loan" goes unpaid the less likely it is that you will ever see any of that money again.

Can you obtain guardianship over someone addicted to drugs or alcohol?

Posted by Anthony Serra | Dec 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

It is legally possible to seek Guardianship over someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. However, whether it is the right or wise thing to do is another question. In the right situation with the proper treatment and supports in place, it may be a viable approach to finally getting someone to realize they need to change the way that have been conducting themselves and get help. Treatment is critical, no doubt, but so is admitting there is a problem coupled with the willingness to change.

ABLE Accounts: Now people with disabilities don’t have to live like paupers

Posted by Anthony Serra | Nov 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

With an ABLE account, a person with a disability can now save up to $100,000 without interrupting their Medicaid, SSI or other means-tested government benefits. This is a convenient way to avoid the more costlier option of setting up a Special Needs Trust. ABLE accounts are easy to set up and the costs are minimal and in most cases can be created without involving a lawyer.

No one is immune from Alzheimer's Disease, not even a Supreme Court Justice

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

No one is immune from developing dementia, not even a brilliant Supreme Court Justice. Dementia can be devastating and progress to the point where you are no longer able to manage your own affairs. The best way to plan for this type of condition is to sign a Durable General Power of Attorney and an Advance Medical Directive for Health Care (living will). Take control while you are still in control!

7 tips for when you are buying or selling a home

Posted by Anthony Serra | Oct 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

Buying or selling a home represents one of the largest transactions in which you will ever be involved. For that reason, you want to make sure you have a team of professionals advising you and looking out for your best interests. Of all the professionals you will retain, the attorney is the only one who is hired specifically to protect your interests and under a legal duty to do so.

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.

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