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Donald D Vanarelli

Donald Vanarelli’s Legal Cases

6 total

  • In re Keri

    Practice Area:
    Elder Law
    Date:
    Aug 05, 2004
    Outcome:
    Per Curiam decision in favor of plaintiff
    Description:
    In Keri, an adult child sought guardianship of his mother and her estate and proposed to gift some of her assets to himself and his brother so that mother could qualify for Medicaid while in a nursing home. Reversing lower court decisions, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled, for the first time, that the mother's assets could be transferred to her children as part of an estate plan to help her qualify for government nursing home benefits. This ruling was characterized by the Star Ledger newspaper as having "broad implications for those with elderly relatives suffering from Alzheimer's and other kinds of dementia...".In reversing the Keri trial and appellate court, the NJ Supreme Court eliminated any question as to the continued viability of Medicaid planning as an estate planning tool for guardians.
  • In the Matter of the Trusts to be Established in the Matter of the Estate of Margaret A. Flood, Deceased

    Practice Area:
    Elder Law
    Date:
    Nov 20, 2009
    Outcome:
    Application Granted.
    Description:
    Hon. Patricia Del Bueno Cleary, J.S.C., a Superior Court Judge in Monmouth County, granted my motion authorizing my client, the Administrator of his mother’s intestate estate, to (1) establish two Supplemental Benefits Trusts to protect the intestate shares of the estate which passed to the decedent’s two disabled adult daughters, and (2) fund the trusts with the beneficiaries’ intestate shares. Both of the disabled daughters receive needs-based government benefits, and they would have lost their eligibility for the benefits if their intestate shares were distributed outright to them rather than in trust. Judge Cleary established the trusts after concluding that the intent of the deceased parent was to establish Supplemental Benefits Trusts for her disabled daughters had she not passed away first. Thereafter, the State of New Jersey filed a motion for reconsideration which Judge Cleary denied.
  • G.L. v. Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services and Middlesex County Board of Social Services

    Practice Area:
    Elder Law
    Date:
    Oct 23, 2008
    Outcome:
    Denial of Eligibility for Medicaid Reversed
    Description:
    Plaintiff G.L. received a denial notice from the Middlesex County welfare agency in this case in which the applicant’s Medicaid eligibility plan involved making a loan to a relative. The borrowing relative signed a promissory note agreeing to repay the note in monthly installments, including interest. The note and underlying loan were valid under NJ law. Unfortunately, the agency considered the loan and note to be a gift, resulting in the applicant being incorrectly charged for a penalty period under the Medicaid transfer of resources rules for many months, costing hundreds of thousands of additional dollars to privately pay for care during the penalty period. Most troubling was the reason for the agency’s determination. According to the agency, the loan was determined to be a gift because the loan was made in order to qualify for Medicaid and, under the agency’s incorrect view of the Medicaid law in New Jersey, motivation for making the loan was the principal factor in determining Medicaid eligibility. I filed an appeal of the denial of Medicaid eligibility. In New Jersey, an appeal of a Medicaid denial leads to a trial, called a Fair Hearing, before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). While waiting for a trial date in the administrative forum, I filed a motion for summary judgment on the Medicaid applicant’s behalf, asking that the case be resolved before trial. A summary judgment motion can be granted only when there is no dispute as to the facts in the case, and the party seeking summary judgment is entitled to a decision in his favor as a matter of law. In this case, Administrative Law Judge Joseph Paone agreed with plaintiff's position, and granted summary judgment in favor of the Medicaid applicant. The judge held that (1) the motivation for the loan was irrelevant in determining the status of the loan, and (2) the loan was not a gift under federal law. The result of the ALJ’s decision would be that the Medicaid applicant was eligible for nursing home Medicaid benefits. Middlesex County welfare filed exceptions to the ALJ’s decision. In New Jersey, an ALJ’s decision is subject to plenary review, and can be reversed, by the Director of the State’s Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, the State Medicaid agency. Happily, the Director affirmed the ALJ’s decision.
  • E.F. v. Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services and the Union County Board of Social Services

    Practice Area:
    Elder Law
    Outcome:
    Reversed denial of eligibility for Medicaid
    Description:
    D.F., E.F.'s husband, was appointed as guardian for his wife E.F. in 2006. In January 2007, E.F. was admitted to a nursing home, where she remained until her death. In April 2007, D.F. used the assets in his IRA to purchase a qualified retirement annuity. The annuity met the requirements in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) in that it was irrevocable, non-assignable and transferable. In May 2007, an application for nursing home benefits was filed on E.F.’s behalf. One year later, in May 2008, the state Medicaid agency denied E.F.’s application for benefits, concluding that the annuity was a countable resource and, as a result, E.F. was ineligible for Medicaid due to excess resources. In June 2008, E.F. filed an appeal from the denial of nursing home Medicaid benefits and requested a fair hearing in New Jersey’s Office of Administrative Law. On appeal, E.F. alleged that the denial of nursing home Medicaid benefits should be reversed because an annuity purchased by a community spouse with his IRA assets is an exempt resource under the DRA. The parties stipulated that three companies engaged in the business of purchasing annuities advised the parties by letter that they would not purchase a qualified retirement annuity, and that “any purchase of the annuity would not be a purchase of the annuity contract itself, but would, in fact, be a purchase of the payment stream” from the annuity. While the case was pending, petitioner filed a motion for summary judgment. ALJ Walter M. Braswell entered summary judgment in favor of petitioner, holding that D.F.’s qualified annuity could not be liquidated, and therefore was not countable, because (1) the parties stipulated that there was no secondary market for qualified retirement annuities based on the three letters submitted by the annuity companies, and (2) the income from the annuity, payable to the community spouse, was protected by the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act which provides that “no income of the community spouse shall be deemed available to the institutional spouse.” On May 27, 2009, the Director of the New Jersey’s Medicaid agency reversed and remanded the Judge Braswell’s decision. The Director found there to be a material issue of fact necessitating remand of the case to the Office of Administrative law “for further findings regarding the availability and value of the annuity.” The case was remanded to Judge Braswell for further proceedings. During pretrial proceedings, the state Medicaid agency admitted what the Petitioner had claimed for months: that the community spouse’s retirement annuity cannot be liquidated or sold. As a result, Judge Braswell ruled that “the petitioner’s resources do not exceed the permissible limit for Medicaid eligibility.”As a result, Judge Braswell reversed the decision denying Petitioner’s eligibility for nursing home Medicaid benefits.
  • Saccone v. Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, Docket No. A-49-071841 (September 11, 2014)

    Practice Area:
    Elder Law
    Date:
    Sep 11, 2014
    Outcome:
    Ruling in favor of plaintiff, reversing contrary decisions by lower courts and administrative agencies
    Description:
    New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the disabled child of a retired fireman may have his survivors’ benefits paid into a special needs trust rather than directly to the child, thereby allowing the child to maintain eligibility for Medicaid and other public benefits based on financial need.
  • Galletta v. Velez, Civil No. 13-532 (D.N.J. June 3, 2014),

    Practice Area:
    Elder Law
    Date:
    Jun 03, 2014
    Outcome:
    In favor of plaintiff, reversing a denial of an application for Medicaid benefits
    Description:
    Federal Court ruled that a pension benefit from the Department of Veterans Affairs (“DVA”) may not be counted as income for the purposes of any Medicaid program to the extent that the DVA benefit results from “unusual medical expenses.”