Asset Planning for Seniors in New Jersey

Seniors today are remaining spry, exceedingly physically fit, and overtly healthier than our predecessors of decades and centuries past. Although extended life expectancies mean more time to make memories with family members and loved ones, they can also mean that your finances have the potential to expire before you do.

While you may have created an estate plan in your 30s or 40s, it is important to reevaluate the details and all components of that plan if/when you live so long that parts of your plan become null, void, irrelevant or outdated.

At Veitengruber Law, we can provide you with long-term planning guidance for all stages of your life. Even if your current estate plan (Last Will and Testament) was drafted by someone other than our firm, we are more than happy to help you protect your assets.

Medicaid rules are numerous and complex. As you approach age 65 (or if you are currently receiving SSDI and are younger than age 65), we will make sure that you understand all of the rules and eligibility requirements.

Medicaid is associated with something called the “five-year look back period,” which can often be confusing and problematic without the help of an experienced New Jersey asset protection attorney. Although we cannot predict the future (yet!), we do have extensive experience in all of the necessary legal areas that relate to the five-year look back period. These areas include: real estate law, foreclosure law, estate planning and credit repair.

You have undoubtedly worked for many years to support your family and to develop a savings/retirement plan that is very important to you. Whether or not your finances will be enough to support you with an extended life expectancy is something we can help you plan for.

As you age, you may need to address potential for long-term care. While this certainly isn’t something that anyone wishes to contemplate, the necessity for nursing home care is a reality as you age. This need may double if your spouse is also still living. We will help you estimate your potential longevity based on your family history and your individual health history in order to come up with the best plan to protect your assets in the event that long-term care is in your future.

If your original estate plan was completed several decades ago, you may need to revisit the designee for executor of your estate. It is possible that your original designee is no longer living, is in poor health, or is no longer part of your life due to divorce, relocation, death, or other circumstances.

In addition to reviewing your estate executor, we will help you to re-evaluate the beneficiaries named in your will. We will also help you assess all components of your estate plan (and determine if they need to be updated based on your current health and that of your spouse) including: your living will, advanced medical directive, power of attorney, your will and any trusts that you have set up.

To find out how we can protect your property and other assets from potential future events, sit down with our professional asset protection team today for a free consultation.

 

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Foreclosure in the Golden Years: A Real Problem in America

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The baby boomer generation has reached their golden years, and for millions of them, life isn’t quite what they had envisioned. In fact, many elderly Americans are finding themselves suddenly homeless and without a place to go. Their dire living situations have been brought about by several factors combining to create the “perfect storm.”

Over the past 20-30 years, many employers have been eliminating traditional retirement pensions. Many baby boomers simply didn’t save enough money on their own, or have outlived the savings they amassed. People are living longer, but they aren’t making and saving enough money to take care of themselves throughout their extended retirement period.

On top of outliving their savings, today’s older Americans have lived through the housing bubble which caused a recession second only in severity to The Great Depression era. Many elderly people ended up using their homes as a bank, which kept them afloat temporarily through refinances that allowed them to essentially take money from their home.

The result of all of this is nothing short of dire for a huge number of older and elderly Americans who should rightfully be able to retire but have to keep working into their 70s, 80s and 90s in order to keep their homes. All of the baby boomers who reverse mortgaged their homes (took out loans for much more than the value of their home in order to have some cash to meet their living expenses) are now facing lenders who want their money back. Unfortunately, these lenders aren’t taking no for an answer, and many banks refuse to negotiate with the elderly to stretch out their payments, because of the possibility that the debtor will pass away before repaying in full.

For the most part, baby boomers who took reverse mortgages on their homes figured they would just work a little longer to pay off a growing mortgage. However, as often happens in our later years, many people fall ill and are not physically or mentally able to continue working. Disability checks, VA benefits and even help from grown children is often just not enough money to hold on to homes with swelled mortgages that resulted in sky high monthly payments.

What that means for many older Americans is falling behind on the mortgage payments, which leads to them eventually facing foreclosure. The thought of being evicted from your home in your golden years is unfathomable to us here at Veitengruber Law. We want older Americans living in New Jersey to know that they have options, and that we are here to help.

Lenders may not want to negotiate with elderly Americans, but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. By law, no lender can discriminate against a debtor because of his/her age. Simply choosing not to work with elderly borrowers BECAUSE they are older and may not have a lot of years left, is irresponsible and illegal.

Working with our team at Veitengruber Law means that you will no longer have to deal with discriminating lenders – WE will negotiate on your behalf. Our most recent success story involves a disabled veteran who had fallen behind on his mortgage – 83 payments behind! Although he had attempted to modify his loan on his own, his mortgage company (surprise!) wanted nothing to do with him and offered him no solutions other than foreclosure. By working with Veitengruber Law, this disabled vet was able to stay in his home, making payments he can now AFFORD, without putting out any lump sum.

If you need help averting your home from foreclosure, please call us today at (732) 852-7295 for your FREE consultation. We live to keep people like you in your home!

 

 

Image credit: Ulbrecht Hopper

Bankruptcy and SSDI: Will I Lose My Disability Income?

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Americans who have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes have a safety net in place if they happen to become disabled and can no longer work. Having paid into the system entitles all (previously or currently) employed workers to apply for disability benefits if the need arises. If you are someone who is currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance payments, you’ve probably had mixed emotions about your situation.

Naturally, Social Security payments can be quite a relief to anyone afflicted with a chronic, life-altering illness. However, no longer able to perform duties that previously allowed you to work a paying job, it’s easy to become worried about whether you’ll be able to pay your bills. Although Social Security Disability Insurance payments are helpful, most people receive a fraction of what they were previously earning. If you are approved to receive disability insurance payments, the amount you receive is not based on how severe your disability is or how much money you were making when you became disabled. The Social Security Administration averages how much income you paid Social Security taxes on in the past – over many years. They then apply a formula to this average, using percentages called ‘bend points.’ Ultimately, your payments will be a percentage of what you earned throughout your working years.

Most Social Security Disability Insurance payments range from $300 – $2,200/month. In 2014, the maximum disability benefit amount was $2,642/month.

This leaves many people receiving significantly less ‘income’ than they were while working, and can eventually lead to a financial crisis. Previously, paying all of your monthly bills may have been a walk in the park, but if your income was suddenly cut in half or lower, you may quickly start struggling. You may find that it’s barely possible to pay your utility bills, mortgage, minimum credit card payments, and more.

We’ve met with several disabled clients who found themselves in similar situations – not wanting to lose their homes or the ability to properly support their families, they were up in arms about what to do next. Afraid that they would lose their back payments or ongoing Social Security Disability benefits, they were hesitant to file for bankruptcy.

If I File for Bankruptcy, Will I Lose My Disability Income?

You’ll be happy to learn that SSDI payments (including lump sums or back payments) are always exempt in Chapter 7  and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy proceedings.¹ If you are receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income) payments, they are also exempt due to the strict rules about how that money can be used by recipients. In both cases, lump sum payments may have to be tracked in order to prove that they were indeed Social Security benefit payments.

If you receive private, state or other disability payments (NOT from the Social Security Administration), a certain amount of those payments will also likely be protected in a bankruptcy case.

Filing for bankruptcy while receiving disability payments IS POSSIBLE. You will not lose your only source of income. To learn more, please schedule a FREE consultation with my office today (732) 695-3303. We can help you wipe out many of your debts so that living on a fixed income is possible.

 

¹Nolo.com

Image credit: Simon Cunningham