By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Medicaid Attorney
I just read a New Jersey ethics opinion today that I would like to share with you. Applying for Medicaid can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Many clients want to find somebody affordable to guide them through the process. I get it and agree with that approach. But what ends up happening is that some people hire so-called “Medicaid application advisors” that are often times no less costly than a lawyer, and they rely on them to take care of everything to qualify for Medicaid. In virtually all cases, these advisors have no legal background in estate planning, guardianship, and/or elder law, and they therefore provide inadequate or incomplete advice for their clients, leaving Medicaid applicants facing potentially devastatingly penalty periods, or unnecessarily advise families to spend down resources to become Medicaid eligible. Even those advisors who may be well meaning in the Medicaid application process end up unnecessarily costing you much of your life savings. And it didn’t have to end up this way.
It is because of this poor legal advice that the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law stepped in about the role of a Medicaid advisor and what he or she can and cannot do. A Medicaid advisor can provide information on required documentation, assist in counting assets, submit the Medicaid application, and communicate with an agency and the individual. But, legal advice on becoming eligible for Medicaid benefits, including estate planning, trust creation, guardianship applications, etc, are considered the unauthorized practice of law, which not only carry criminal penalties for those who engage in this but can also carry civil penalties for consumer fraud. For most individuals who require help protecting assets and becoming Medicaid eligible, you need the services of a seasoned Medicaid attorney to assist you with your estate and asset protection planning.
To discuss your NJ Medicaid matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.