Why May is Special for Elder Law Attorneys – Part 2

Adoring A SeniorMay is National Elder Law Month, as designated by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.  It is a way to acknowledge the profession that supports seniors and their families with all of their planning needs. And while that sounds interesting, many people still ask, “What do elder law attorneys do?” In Part 2 of this series, “Why May is Special for Elder Law Attorneys,” we will discuss additional ways elder law attorneys help seniors and their families.

Protection from financial exploitation

According to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), one in nine seniors reported being abused or exploited during the past twelve months. Of those who are abused or exploited, only 1 in 44 cases of financial abuse is reported. Sadly, 90% of the abusers are family members or trusted others.

Exploitation or abuse can take many forms, including telemarketing scams, reports of false lottery winnings, a family member taking advantage of a joint bank account or misusing a power of attorney, or in-home caregivers over billing the senior, charging the senior for personal expenses, or outright stealing from the senior. Elder law attorneys deal with these types of issues regularly, and can help families protect against potential abuse or exploitation. Attorneys also work with banks to ensure accounts are titled correctly, and that the proper legal documentation is registered with each financial institution.

Estate planning documents can also play a big part in preventing financial abuse or exploitation from a family member, professional, or stranger. The documents are the result of thoughtful discussion with the senior about who should have access to the senior’s assets, and under what circumstances access should be granted. An ongoing relationship with the attorney allows the senior to modify the planning documents as needed to reflect changes in the senior’s health or financial circumstances, or a change in the family situation.

Discussing end-of-life wishes

In 2016 the country heard about the plight of a husband in Oregon whose wife had advanced dementia and would no longer take the food she was offered. The husband lost his battle in court to force the nursing home to stop spoon-feeding her. Although her health care directive stated that she did not want artificial food or hydration, the court said that the nursing home had an obligation to provide her basic essential needs, including food and water. As a result, other states have become more aggressive in allowing individuals to specify whether they want to be provided food and water if they are suffering from advanced dementia.

Elder law attorneys routinely discuss issues like this with seniors. A related topic includes where the senior wants to live if care is needed, who should provide that care, and how it will be paid for. Most importantly, attorneys make sure the senior’s wishes are documented properly. This helps alleviate stress that a serious illness can place on the family, especially when decisions about end-of-life care have to be made.

It’s all about the senior

Elder law attorneys focus on needs particular to the senior. While a few of the issues elder law attorneys help with have been highlighted here, there are numerous other areas that they help seniors with every day, including review of facility admission agreements, help with family disputes, and proper distribution of assets upon a loved one’s death (often referred to as probate).

If you would like to learn more or we can be of assistance to you or a family member, please don’t hesitate to call our office at 267-288-5765.

 

 

Choosing the Right Trustee

Choosing the Right Trustee

When planning for your loved ones’ future, you may consider creating a trust to protect assets set aside for them. If you create a trust, you will need a reliable and trustworthy person to name as the trustee who will manage the trust. Choosing the correct trustee is an important decision because he or she will be responsible for carrying out your wishes when managing the trust.

The trustee will be responsible for duties such as managing investments, paying bills, preparing tax returns, and managing other accounts within the trust.

Before choosing a trustee, consider the following points that will help you determine who will be best suited for the role.

1. A trustee must be over the age of eighteen and capable of managing his or her own affairs successfully.

2. The trustee should be completely trustworthy and committed to the beneficiary’s best interests.

3. The trustee should be able to make sound judgments and have a strong understanding of his or her duties as the trustee. While not required, legal or financial expertise is valuable.

4.  If a person is going to be the trustee of a special needs trust, knowledge of public benefits and how to avoid invalidating these benefits is beneficial.

5. The trustee should be someone who is healthy and will be able to continue managing your trust for many years to come.

6.  A trustee should have the time to devote to managing your trust effectively. If the person you are considering is very busy, you should consider other candidates before making your final choice.

7.  If you don’t know someone who would be a suitable trustee, consider hiring a professional trustee or institution to manage your trust. Professional trustees may include a trust company, accountant, lawyer, or investment manager or advisor. However, professional trustees or institutions do charge a fee or percentage to manage your trust.

8.  Consider co-trustees if you would like to have a trusted friend or family member and a professional trustee manage your trust together.

9.  Understand your family dynamics when selecting a trustee. If you are choosing a family member to be the trustee, try to avoid conflicts between family members and explain to other relatives why you have chosen a particular person to be the trustee.

10. If you make a relative or friend your trustee, decide who will be the successor in the event that the person is no longer able to manage your trust.

After you have chosen a trustee, it is advisable to reexamine your choice every few years to ensure that your trustee is still the best choice for your needs. If circumstances change, you may need to assign a different trustee who is better suited to the required responsibilities.

If you need assistance preparing a trust or choosing the right trustee, contact Newman Elder Law. If you want to learn more about our elder law services, click here.

Source:

http://www.elderlawanswers.com/how-to-choose-a-trustee-15384

Tips on How to Declutter

Tips on How to Declutter The mid to later part of the 20th century has given us many inventions, from the computer to the iPod and much more.  Of course, it’s the “much more” that is cluttering up homes across the country. From old LPs to books that have never been read, we all have items that are taking up space in our homes. It is especially true for the seniors. Many have lived through times of scarcity and feel that they should hang on to items, no matter their level of usefulness. Others have mobility and cognitive issues to deal with and have trouble deciding what to keep and what to get rid of.

What compels people to keep things?  Often there are memories attached to many things. Gifts from friends who have since died, pictures of family members from years gone by, letters from past lovers are a part of a person’s life. Then there is hope, as in, “I hope to lose weight, I hope to get time to read those books, I hope to pick up that hobby again.” Then there is not wanting to be wasteful, as in “I may need that plastic container one day.” Never mind the fact that there are 23 plastic containers in the kitchen, some of which don’t have lids.

So, how do you conquer the clutter?  The short answer is one item at a time. The long answer is that you need to talk to your children or grandchildren about clearing out the house. This talk will be easier if a move to smaller quarters or to an assisted living facility is being planned, since you know that you can’t bring everything to the new place.

Once you are on board with decluttering how do you get started?

One Room, One Closet or One Drawer at a Time

Since it can be overwhelming to get rid of years and years of accumulated belongings, it is best to start with one room, such as the bedroom or the kitchen.  Go through a drawer or closet until you have cleared out all the items that are in the way of the things you use more often.  Throw away what isn’t useful and set aside the rest.  Do the same with the next drawer or the next part of the room.

Set aside some items to give away or sell

Invariably, you will come across something that you don’t want to give to a thrift store or throw out. Maybe a grandchild, a friend or adult child would like it. Or you feel that you could make some money selling the item either online or at a yard sale.  Take this opportunity to ask friends and family members if anyone wants the antique gravy boat or salt and pepper shakers from Disneyland. Give away the items that people want, sell whatever remains that can be sold, and what’s left can go to a thrift store. Most thrift stores will pick up from your home, so you just need to schedule a pick up date and time and let them know how much “stuff” you have to donate.

Leave a Giveaway Box

Despite your best efforts to tackle clutter, new things become old things that become relegated to closets and drawers. Having a giveaway box nearby will help keep the clutter from getting out of hand. When you find something that needs to go, put it in the box. When the box is full, take it to a thrift store or sell the items, so that someone will put the items you no longer need to good use.

Since one person’s “junk” may be another person’s treasure, the best way for someone to find that treasure is get rid of your junk.

Sources:

https://www.caregiverstress.com/aging-issues/senior-hoarding/10-reasons-seniors-keep-stuff/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201403/why-people-hold-stuff

Life as a solo senior

Lonely old man staring out of a windowBaby Boomers are known for many things, two of which will affect them as they age, namely they have the highest divorce rates and the highest rates of childless marriages.  Since many boomers don’t have a spouse or children, many will face aging issues without the help of family members or close friend.  In addition, many Boomers and Generation X’ers have never been married or had a companion and they too will face aging issues alone.

Continue Reading Life as a solo senior

What is Undue Influence and How an Elder Law Attorney Can Help

When a person has diminished mental capacity, is ill or isolated, they become more vulnerable to those who might do them harm.

At times, people take advantage of those who are elderly or vulnerable for financial gain or control over assets. One form of exploitation is undue influence.

Undue influence is not typically considered a crime in and of itself, but acts as the means for committing a crime. It is commonly recognized by the misuse of one’s influence to substitute his or her own will for the will of another. The influencer takes advantage of his or her position of power over another person and the consequences can be very destructive.

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How You Benefit from Powers of Attorney

A health care power of attorney is an essential part of your estate plan.

A health care power of attorney is an essential part of your estate plan.

When planning for the future of an elderly family member or child with special needs, you should consider preparing a powers of attorney. Powers of attorney are a simple and inexpensive way to help manage financial and medical accounts if you or your loved one is no longer able to make decisions clearly.  For reasons of simplicity and clarity, it is usually better to have separate financial and medical powers of attorney.

Powers of attorney eliminates the worry and stress of managing financial and medical accounts during a time of incapacitation. Powers of attorney are prepared by your attorney and give control over financial and medical accounts to an agent, who is normally a family member or trusted friend. The agent is then granted legal authority to manage the principal’s accounts, usually while he or she is unable to.

Continue Reading How You Benefit from Powers of Attorney