My legal career is primarily dedicated to representing and promoting the rights of individuals with disabilities and their families, with a concentration in guardianship law.
As the mother of an individual with developmental disabilities, I have a life-long commitment to disability law. My experiences in this most challenging role, provide me with an inside perspective into the daily obstacles and issues faced by individuals with disabilities and their family members, and the special long term planning considerations.
I am one of eight children. I worked my way through college, ultimately graduating Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. degree. I graduated from Rutgers School of Law –Camden in 2004, receiving multiple Dean’s list awards and an invitation to serve as a teacher’s aide in the Legal Research and Writing Department during my second year of law school.
I hold a Juris Doctorate from Rutgers School of Law Camden and am a member of the Florida and New Jersey State Bar Associations. I am also admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. I am the recipient of the Rutgers University School of Law Pro Bono Public Service Award, and the Zack Academic Award for Alternate Dispute Resolution.
I am a former law clerk at the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law and staff attorney with a private non-profit organization, serving individuals with disabilities.
During law school, I chaired, co-founded, and served as President and Vice President of the Ocean County Family Support Organization, Inc., which serves the needs of children with special emotional and behavioral health needs in Ocean County, New Jersey. I am a member of the Martin County Bar Association. I am a solo attorney practicing in St Lucie and Martin Counties, Florida; and Ocean, Monmouth, and Burlington Counties, New Jersey. I am certified to teach at Indian River State College.
Distinguishing my firm is my practice of providing direct one on one client contact on a regular and sustained basis. You will not be referred to an associate, or relegated to having questions answered by support staff. I also make home visits and can schedule visits outside of regular business hours.
RECENT OR UPCOMING EVENTS: Upcoming event: February 24, 2018, 9 to 12:30 Treasure Coast Transition Fair at the Knight Center for Emerging Technology on the IRSC campus in Fort Pierce. February 27, 2018, 6:30 p.m. presentation on guardianship at the Florida Atlantic University Port St Lucie Campus.
RECENT FLORIDA ANNUAL PLAN REPORT PLAN DATE CHANGE: Effective 7/1/17, the legislature enacted law that reverts to the prior reporting time frames. For reporting periods done on a calendar year basis the plan must be filed no later than 4/1 each year. Fiscal year filers must file within 90 days after the last day of the anniversary month that the letters of guardianship were signed. As an example, if the letters were signed on 6/15, the plan must be filed within 90 days after 6/30; stated differently it must be filed by 9/30. The physician report that must be filed with the annual plan rule has not changed. It requires that the doctor have examined the adult ward no more than 90 days before (180 days for minors) the beginning of the applicable reporting period. The reversion to the prior filing deadline has eliminated the problem resulting from the preceding statutory change which resulted in a limited 30 day window for the doctor examination.
ST LUCIE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT UPDATE: Guardianship education video may be requested in lieu of attending college course. Level II background and criminal investigations are now required. However waiver may be appropriate in certain circumstances. Many changes have transpired, including the availability of the video offering a great cost savings to families.
NEW JERSEY LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: DDD clients and/or his-her families are now able to submit an affidavit from a practicing physician or licensed psychologist having made a personal examination of the alleged incapacitated person; and one of a list of documents, including an individualized education plan ("IEP") prepared no more than two years before the date of the verified complaint. Previously, a certification from the DDD Regional Administrator indicating the alleged incapacitated person was receiving functional services from DDD was permitted in lieu of the second physician affidavit. For unknown reason, the DDD Regional Administrator certifications were no longer issued. The intent of this change is to ease the paperwork burden and expense of filing on families that need to file for guardianship.
Health Care Proxies
Power of Attorney
Third Party Special Needs Trusts
Social Security Appeals
Information and Referral
AWARDS– RUTGERS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW Zack Academic Award for Alternate Dispute Resolution
Pro Bono Public Service Award
MEMBERSHIPS Florida State Bar Association New Jersey State Bar Association Martin County Bar Association Guardianship Committee for the Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar
SERVICES OFFERED: Guardianship Basic Estate Planning Social Security Appeals Attorney Notary Information and Referral
Florida office: 3020 SE Farley Rd. Port St Lucie, Florida 34952 772-618-3737 Office visits may be arranged in Stuart, Florida by appointment only.
New Jersey office: 14B Franklin Ln. Whiting, New Jersey 08759 609-709-6511
Practice committed to representing people with disabilities and their families.
GUARDIAN ADVOCACY IN FLORIDA
In Florida, prior to a child’s 18thbirthday, parents maintain the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of their child. However, when a child reaches the age of 18, the law considers them adults, regardless of disabilities. Consequently, parents no longer have the legal authority to make decisions for them.
When a guardianship is appropriate, only a court can appoint a Guardian Advocate for any person over the age of 18. Therefore, it is necessary to file for guardianship with the court.
Under Florida law, a circuit court may appoint a guardian advocate without an adjudication of incapacity for a person with developmental disabilities if that person lacks the capacity to do some, but not all, of tasks essential to care for their person, property, or estate; or if the person has voluntarily petitioned for the appointment of a guardian advocate.
Practically, being appointed guardian advocate, allows parents to make important decisions for their child. Examples of the types of decisions a guardian advocate may make on behalf of their ward include, but are not limited to, medical, financial, educational, and residential.
GUARDIANSHIP FOR “DDD” CLIENTS IN NEW JERSEY
In New Jersey, prior to a child’s 18th birthday, parents are automatically the child’s guardians. However when children reach 18, the law considers our sons or daughters emancipated, regardless of their disabilities. When a guardianship is appropriate, only a court can appoint a Guardian for any person over the age of 18. Therefore, to properly continue to advocate for our children’s needs, it is necessary to file for guardianship with the court.
If your child is receiving services, or been deemed eligible to receive services upon attaining age 21, from the Division of Developmental Disabilities (“DDD”), a wait list exists for guardianship services. Unfortunately, it can take many years before your child’s case reaches the top of this list. Equally unfortunate, the DDD no longer offers any financial assistance in the form of a stipend, that you could previously use to retain a private attorney to perform this service. The DDD and the New Jersey Judiciary offer guides to assist parents to apply to the court without the assistance of an attorney. But, these guides suggest that if at all possible, you retain an attorney to assist you. Legislative work to correct problems with previously available Regional Administrator Certifications called for in Court Rules and Statutes has recently been legislatively corrected. See the above New Jersey Legislative update.
The same practical decision making authority a guardian advocate acquires under Florida law, apply to guardians under New Jersey law.
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO RETAIN MY SERVICES, PLEASE CALL ME. FLORIDA OFFICE TELEPHONE: 772 618 3737. NEW JERSEY OFFICE TELEPHONE: 609 709 6511.
Member: Florida and New Jersey State Bar Associations. Martin County Bar Association. Florida Elder Law Section Guardianship Committee.