Archive for October, 2011
ELDER ABUSE: SEVEN WARNING SIGNS
Many of us have elderly parents or grandparents who may be susceptible to abuse. Here are some warning signs to consider:
(1) Deliberate isolation of an older adult which results in the caregiver having total control.
(2) Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to an elder’s affairs and possessions.
(3) Power of Attorney given or recent changes of Will when the person is incapable of making such decision.
(4) Sudden changes in bank accounts or banking practice, including unexplained withdrawals of large sums of money by a person accompanying the elder.
(5) Abrupt changes in Real Estate Deeds or other Financial Documents.
(6) Missing personal belongings such as art, silverware or jewelry.
(7) Placement in nursing home or residential care facility which is not commensurate with alleged size of estate.
An excellent way to protect against potential abuse is to have strong estate planning documents in place and open communication about the elder’s wishes and the contents of those documents with close family members. If you have a concern about a family member or close friend, call us for a confidential consultation.
PERILS OF “DO IT YOURSELF” ESTATE PLANNING
How many times have I heard the following: “I only have ‘a few thousand dollars.’ Why should I pay a lawyer to help me prepare an estate plan? I’ll just add my “son/daughter/grandchild to my accounts.” Let’s see how that works out.
Marginally senile great-grandfather places all his possessions – “a few thousand dollars” into a joint bank account with ne’er-do-well, 18 year old great grandson. Great grandson takes all the money and buys a nice new Corvette. Did that work?
Mom puts all her possessions – “a few thousand dollars’” into a joint bank account with loving daughter. A few months later, mom needs to be placed into a nursing home due to physical disabilities. Daughter, fearing all mom’s money will be “seized by Medicaid” or “taken by the nursing home” withdraws all the money and puts it into an account in her own name, then applies for Medicaid without mentioning the transfer. Did that work?
Man puts all his possessions – “a few thousand dollars” into a joint bank account with brother. Brother has a drinking problem, causes a car accident while driving drunk, and is sued. He has no insurance, and all his assets, including Man’s accounts, are taken to satisfy judgment. Did that work?
Dad puts all his possessions – “a few thousand dollars” into a joint bank account with son. Dad is in a car accident and suffers brain trauma. Who has authority to care for dad? Moreover, son is only 16. Who has authority to pay dad’s bills? Did that work?
Grandmother puts all her possessions – “a few thousand dollars” into a joint bank account with grandson whom she cherishes. Grandson is blind. Grandson was eligible for government medical assistance and work programs because of his financial need, but won’t be when grandma dies. Did that work?
Need I go on? These things cannot be discovered, or appropriately planned for, by an on-line “form.” Discovering these critical issues takes counseling. Creatively planning solutions that are acceptable to the client takes additional counseling. It is for that counseling that we are paid.
OCTOBER IS NATIONAL DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH AND NATIONAL DOWN SYNDROME AWARENESS MONTH!
This month we honor two groups of “special” Americans. National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates the many accomplishments of employees with disabilities. This effort to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment began in 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
October is also National Down Syndrome Awareness month. Created in 1981 to raise awareness about the abilities of people with Down syndrome, the celebration is highlighted by the Buddy Walk®, which was established in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). Today, the Buddy Walk program is supported nationally by NDSS and organized at the local level by parent support groups, schools and other organizations and individuals. Last year alone, more than 285,000 people participated in a Buddy Walk and the walks raised over $11.2 million to benefit individuals with Down syndrome. To find a Buddy Walk near you, visit www.buddywalk.org.
At Cramer Law Center, P.L., we think this is an ideal time to discuss the importance of Special Needs Planning. If your family includes a special needs child or adult, we hope your plan includes provisions for your loved one’s care when you are no longer able to provide it. If you do not have a special needs plan in place, we hope you will make an appointment with us at your earliest convenience to learn how we can use a wide range of tools, including a Special Needs Trust, to protect your loved one’s financial and emotional future.