Rampulla & Newstad LLP

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I start estate planning?

It’s never too early to start planning, in fact the earlier the better. Our clients range in age and economic status because an estate plan can grow and change with you. It’s better to plan ahead today and protect your family and assets, then to be in a crisis tomorrow with no one and nothing protected.

Additionally, the stages of planning can look different for everyone. It all depends on your needs and objectives. For example, if you are new parents you will want to make sure you have a will that names a guardian for your minor child in the event something happens to you and your spouse. Or, if you are retired and thinking of Medicaid pre-planning, we can help your establish a plan now that will allow you to start Medicaid without penalty when you need it in the future.

Your best plan of action is to contact our office so we can learn more about your unique needs. During our face-to-face meeting, we will be able to advise you on the best course of action for you and your loved ones!

Why is it important to plan ahead for long term care?

It is important to plan ahead for your eventual long term care needs for several reasons. First, the cost of care is extremely high in this part of the country. Creating a plan now that will allow you to save for your care needs in the future will protect you and your family’s interests in the long run.

Additionally, Medicaid has what is known as a “look back period” when determining your eligibility for benefits. This period of time is roughly five years before you apply and is a policy in place to prevent people from simply giving away their money right before they apply in an effort to qualify. If you make a transfer within the five years prior to your application you will receive a penalty after you’re found eligible. The penalty will be a delay in the start of your benefits, at the moment you need them the most. However, planning ahead today can make sure that no transfers appear in the look back period and ensure your payments begin as soon as you need them.
What does assisted living and nursing home care cost?

In the state of New York, the median annual cost of a private room in a nursing home was more than $158,796 in 2021. In the state of New Jersey, the median annual cost of a private room in a nursing home was more than $145,812 in 2021. The cost of nursing home care and other types of long-term care are expected to rise dramatically in the future. Sadly, many families exhaust their life savings within a year or two of a family member entering a nursing home. Fortunately, we can help you obtain the care you need without losing the assets you have worked a lifetime to build.

What is probate?
Probate is a court process by which estate assets are distributed after a person passes away. Probate can be a long, expensive, and frustrating process. It is also a process that becomes a matter of public record, meaning anyone can obtain information about the decedent’s finances and debts. For these and other reasons, many people seek to avoid the prospect of their estates being probated, and there are a number of ways to accomplish this. Our office can help you plan ahead so you can protect your family from the probate process after you pass away.
Am I protected if my assets are in a trust?
Many of our clients start with what we call a living trust or a revocable living trust. These trusts are great for their intended purpose which is to avoid probate, but they do not offer protection in any way, shape, or form. Unless you have some type of asset protection trust as well, you will not be protected simply because your assets are in a trust. Your Trust will work for its intended purpose, but that intended purpose was only to avoid probate and never to protect your assets.
Will I lose my house if I need Medicaid?

Your house is actually an asset that is exempt from Medicaid. In other words, your home is exempt for purposes of qualifying for Medicaid. Therefore, you can own a nice home, a large home, or an expensive home, and Medicaid will disregard that home as part of the application process, as long as your equity is less that the statutory allowance.

However, the problem comes after you pass away. At that point, Medicaid may put a lien on your home and recover every penny they paid out in benefits on your behalf. You won’t lose your home, but your home will be subject to what is referred to as the State recovery lien and you will lose the equivalent value in your home against the amount Medicaid paid on your behalf while you were alive.

In essence, we consider your home to always be at risk, and if you choose to work with our firm it will be one of the largest assets that we will take immediate steps to protect.