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A New Jersey trial court grants summary judgment to a nursing home resident’s agent under a power of attorney in a lawsuit by the nursing home for payment of the resident’s unpaid bill and orders that the nursing home pay attorney’s fees and costs. Hampton Ridge Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center v. Wright (N.J. Super. Ct., No. L-2335-16, Nov. 1, 2017).

Charles Douglas was an agent under a power of attorney for his aunt, Idella Wright. Ms. Wright entered a nursing home, and Mr. Douglas signed the admission agreement as the responsible party. Mr. Douglas assigned Ms. Wright’s Social Security payments to the nursing home, but Ms. Wright died owing $18,322 to the nursing home.

The nursing home sued Mr. Douglas for failing to timely apply for Medicaid benefits and to pay the final bill. Mr. Douglas filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that he was not personally liable because New Jersey law prohibits a nursing home from requiring a third-party guarantee as a condition of admission. The trial court granted Mr. Douglas summary judgment and he filed a motion for attorney’s fees.

The New Jersey Superior court orders that the nursing home pay attorney’s fees and costs. The court holds that the claim Mr. Douglas was forced to defend against was brought “in contravention” of the “clear and unambiguous statutory language” insulating third parties from personal financial liability.

This is just a quick note to clarify something that many of my first time clients fail to understand.  The Federal Gift Tax Exemption is $14,000 as of 2016.  This means that you can give to as many individuals as you like $14,000 without having to file a Federal Gift Tax Return.  If, however, you gift more than $14,000 to anyone this year, then you are required to file a Federal Gift Tax Return also known as a Form 709.  That return allows the IRS to keep track of those taxable gifts.  Those gifts then offset your Federal Estate Tax exemption.  So, for example, in 2016 you have a $5,450,000 Estate Tax Exemption.  If you gave $14,001 to someone – then you are required to file a Gift Tax return which will in turn reduce your $5,450,000 Estate Tax return to $5,449,999.  If you gave $5,464,000 ($5,450,000 plus 14,000) then you will have Zero (0) Estate tax exemption left, so when you die anything you leave to someone other than a spouse or charity will be taxed.  Now, this is a simplified explanation of how the gift tax and estate tax exemptions work together.

Please remember one thing however, just because you are allowed to make a $14,000 annual gift for gift tax purposes does not mean that this gift is exempt from Medicaid look-back rules.  Gift Tax/Estate Tax rules are distinct and separate from Medicaid Rules.

If you have any gift tax, estate tax or elder law matters, please do not hesitate to call us.  Remember though, reading this blog does not create an attorney client relationship and does not constitute legal advice for you to rely upon.  If you want us to become your attorney, you must sign an engagement letter.


The New Jersey probate code has two statutes that govern the admission of a Will for an alien.  First, the distinction must be made whether they are a non-resident alien or a resident alien.  N.J.S.A. 3B:3-24 governs situations where the decedent is a resident alien, which N.J.S.A. 3B:3-26 governs where the decedent was a non-resident alien. 

Why would you want to admit a Will to probate in New Jersey for a foreign person?  Well, often times foreigners have real property in New Jersey or a bank/brokerage account here.  In order for the Executor to marshall the assets of the decedent, they must access them and in order to access them they must have authority to do so.  By having the Will admitted to probate in New Jersey, the Executor/trix of the Estate will be able to accomplish this task.

We recently helped a client whose mother was a resident alien and whose Last Will and Testament was probated in a foreign country.  In order to get the Last Will and Testament admitted to probate in New Jersey, we had to file an Order to Show Cause to admit the Will.  In deciding in our favor, the Court relied on   In re De Buck’s Estate, 24 Backes, 80, 4 A.2d 309 , N.J. Err. & App. 1939, the Court addressed a similar situation wherein the original Will was alleged to be unavailable by the proponent of the Will.  The Court found in that case that the circumstances surrounding the inability to produce the Will were suspicious.  The Court found it was not credible that the original will could not be produced in light of the fact that the decedent owned no real property in France.   The Court was of the opinion that a Will would be admitted to probate in France (as it would in New Jersey) if there were real property located there.   The court stated, however, that had proper proof been provided, the court would have admitted a duly authenticated photostatic copy if that had been the case.  It was really interesting that we had to go all the way back to 1939 to find a case on point.  The Court also relied on N.J.S.A. 3B:3-24.  If you ever have a case like this, our firm would be more than happy to help out.

Reading this post does not constitute nor create an attorney client relationship nor does it constitute legal advice.  If you would like to hire our firm, please contact our office and we will arrange a consultation.

My Dad used to like to say that he was going to spend his last dollar on the last day of his life.  It was a fairly ambitious goal that reflected his desire to get the most out of life and enjoy the fruits of his lifetime of labor.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.  He died of an aneurism before he was even able to fully retire.  That was the bad news. The good news was that he left my Mom in very good financial shape, so she doesn’t have to worry about money (although she still does).

Working hard, saving smart and good estate planning helped my Dad to at least partially reach his goal of security in his later years, even if it was only for his wife.  Not unlike Warren Buffet, my father wanted his children to make their own way, earn their own financial security and not rely on some largesse that may or may not come from Daddy.  Hand in hand with that view was the money he earned belonged to him.  He earned it.  He sacrificed to save it, so why should the government take ANY of it?  The government didn’t earn it, he did.

All of this brings me to the point of this post.  An article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal highlighted the importance as well as the changing nature of estate planning.  The central message of the article is that not only is estate planning crucial to avoiding estate taxes upon your death, but managing your income tax obligations while you are still alive is crucial for preserving your wealth and should be a part of every comprehensive estate plan.  Anyone with a television or an internet connection can tell you that who should be taxed and how much is a hot political topic and the trend is heading higher on both counts.  While higher taxes and newer ways for the government to put its hand into your pocket are the bad news, the good news is that there are a number of tools and strategies that you can employ to structure your financial security and legacy as you see fit.

Each individual and family is different and each requires an attorney who will listen to their wishes, and develop a customized plan that’s right for them.  At Tiboni and Tiboni, we’ll take the time to get to know you, understand your wishes and work with you to create the right plan for you.  IT’S YOUR MONEY!!  YOU worked hard, sacrificed and saved to get where you are financially.  YOU should decide where your hard-earned money goes when your time is up, not some Uncle Sam that lives in Washington, or some other creepy uncle in Trenton or Albany just waiting to get their hands on your cash.

My Dad ran out of time to see the fulfillment of his plan, but he had a plan and that plan is providing for my Mom to this day.  She will never have to worry about financial security.  Give us a call and let us help you to make your plan today!

In 1964 Bob Dylan sang “The times, they are a changin’”.  Those words ring as true today as they did back then.  This past week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the United States Department of Treasury released a joint ruling that stated:

Same sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes.

Whether you currently live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, or one that does not makes no difference, the federal government of the United States of America will recognize your marriage for all tax purposes.

So what does that mean?  It means that all legally married same-sex couples will have clear and unambiguous tax filing guidance across the country.  So, if any same-sex married couple wants to move to another state, any state, their status for filing federal taxes won’t change.  It also provides access to all the benefits, protections and responsibilities available under federal tax law.  This policy change by the IRS and Treasury Department also means that when legally married same-sex couples file their taxes, every category that allows a distinction for being married, including; personal and dependency deductions, contributing to an IRA or other qualified plan, the earned income credit, child tax credit, employee benefits and standard deductions, the same-sex married couple can file either married, filing jointly or married, filing separately.

There’s even more good news: the IRS has a three-year “look-back” policy, so as a same-sex couple that has been legally married for any of that time, you are entitled to file amended returns for each year that qualifies.   There is no obligation to file amended returns but it may be well worth it, if it puts more money back in your pocket!

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that this ruling DOES NOT apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or similar formal relationships recognized under state laws.  Only couples legally married in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, any U.S. territory or a foreign country can benefit from this new rule.

This latest ruling comes on the heels of an announcement by the Department of Defense (DOD) extending benefits to same-sex spouses and civilian employees.  There is rapid change happening in how the federal government is viewing same-sex marriages and it doesn’t look as if it is going to stop here.  Important decisions await in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and a host of other regulatory areas that factor in one’s marital status.

The challenge will be for married same-sex couples to navigate all of these changes in the law to maximize the benefit to them and take full advantage as they manage their estate planning to ensure that their families are taken care of and their wishes are carried out.

At Tiboni & Tiboni, we can help you understand the changes, explain how they affect you and your family and help you create an estate plan that maximizes these new benefits.  The times they are a-changin’, with more changes to come.  Every family is unique. Let us assist you, in these exciting times, in crafting a custom estate plan that addresses your family’s specific needs.

The last couple of years have been an amazing time for me, both professionally and personally.   A few years ago, one of my oldest and closest friends, Tom McCarthy (Writer/Director of The Station Agent, The Visitor), asked me to write a script with him.  We worked together for over two years and the end result is a film entitled “Win Win”.  Win Win is a Fox Searchlight and Everest Entertainment Production, starring Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Burt Young, Jeffrey Tambor and Alex Shafer.  The movie is due out in theaters on March 18, 2011.

For those that may not know, I am a practicing Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney with offices located in New Providence, NJ (which happens to be the same location as Mike Flaherty’s office, the lead character in Win Win).  I love practicing law in the area of Elder Law and Estate Planning, which I plan to do into the foreseeable future (so no, I have no plans to go to Hollywood and leave my practice).

For those who have not seen the movie, you may want to stop here before reading about the similarities between Mike and me, I don’t want to ruin anything for you.  For those of you who would like to know some cool trivia feel free to read on.


The movie is loosely based on some of my experiences as an elder law and estate planning attorney in New Providence.  Some of these facts will make more sense after you see the movie. Read the rest of this entry »

Featured on FoxSearchLight.com, February 8, 2011

CameronCook on February 8th, 2011

The cast and crew of Tom McCarthy’s WIN WIN discuss the film with their Sundance audience.

Article on The Alternative Press, February 21, 2011

View article and pictures on TheAlternativePress.com

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – New Providence native and current resident Joe Tiboni wasn’t a good wrestler back in high school.  “Wrestling in high school when not good at it is one of the most humbling experiences.  You’re basically wearing tights and you get beat up in front of your friends and family,” he told The Alternative Press.  The humility that Joe was taught as a wrestler at New Providence High School is still evident today despite his successful law practice on South Street and his new-found stardom as the co-writer of Win-Win, set to hit theaters March 18th.  Tiboni co-wrote the story with childhood friend and wrestling teammate at New Providence High School Tom McCarthy, an award-winning screenwriter for films such as The Station Agent and The Visitor.  “We turned our wrestling humiliation into something positive – – it’s our own form of personal therapy,” Tiboni said.

Tiboni began gathering information for the screenplay several years ago at the encouragement of Tom who urged him to keep a notebook to record in general terms stories of Tiboni’s elder law clients.  “I have fascinating clients with terrific stories.  People who lived through World War II, Holocaust survivors, the Great Depression, people who fought in Vietnam, even the secretary to John Lennon,” Tiboni said.  “It’s a built-in story mill.  As a bonus for helping people, I get to hear their stories,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni create a movie starring award-winning actor Paul Giamatti — and New Providence itself.

Article on Patch.com, By Michelle Colandrea | February 18, 2011

Win Win movie trailer features numerous references to New Providence High School. The film will be out in limited release on March 18. Courtesy of You Tube.


If you aren’t already wearing your favorite New Providence logo high school sweatshirt, it’s time to dig yours out of the closet because this town and its landmark high school are about to be famous.

By now, you’ve probably heard the buzz about Win Win, a new film that features acclaimed actor Paul Giamatti in a hooded green-and-gold New Providence Pioneers sweatshirt and numerous scenes from an eerily familiar high-school gymnasium. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Win Win” Trailer
About the Movie
Win Win is based on the story by Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni. When a disheartened attorney moonlighting as a high school wrestling coach stumbles across a star athlete, things seem to be looking up. That is, until the boy's mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor.
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Contact Info
Tiboni & Tiboni, LLP
166 South Street
New Providence, NJ 07974
Ph: 908-286-1136
Fax: 908-286-1605