Category Archives: Uncategorized

DIY Elder Law Planning: Just Don’t Do It

I love everything DIY (or Do-It-Yourself, for the uninitiated). Give me can of spray paint and a Pinterest DIY Board or blog post, and I’ll be entertained for hours. However, some tasks just don’t lend themselves to DIY. In terms of home repairs, electrical work comes to mind: as accomplished as I feel fixing up our home, it’s probably not worth violating building codes or burning down the house. Needless to say, my husband would not be pleased.

Unfortunately, I have a number of clients come see me when DIY long-term care planning goes awry. Even estate planning attorneys, who prepare wills, trusts, powers of attorney, etc., feel appropriately nervous ‘dabbling’ in areas such as Medicaid and VA Pension planning. It is so important to work with someone who has a solid understanding of the effect any care planning will have on a person’s eligibility for Veterans or Medicaid benefits, as well as the tax, legal, insurance, and practical implications.

Families rarely realize that their plans for an aging relative – which make perfect practical sense – could have a negative impact on the relative’s eligibility for government benefits down the road. Often, the problems are not highlighted until the person’s assets are running low and these benefits become increasingly important.

The bottom line? If you are doing any planning for the care of an elderly or disabled relative, especially, if such care involves the management and/or transfer of assets, consult a knowledgeable elder law attorney first. But if you want to spray paint some vintage furniture? Grab your can of spray paint and DIY-away!

Image © cobracz

Senior Care Center in Seattle Opens Preschool Inside its Facility

old retired man hand while holding newborn infant hand

I love this story!

Many of my clients are seniors, and some suffer from loneliness and depression. They’ve often lost loved ones, and difficulty getting around results in physical and emotional isolation. I am always wondering what changes can be made, top to bottom, to address the problem. This is a great example!

Read the full story here on People Magazine Online:

Preschool Opens Inside Retirement Home Causing Elderly Residents to ‘Come Alive’

I am intrigued by this concept and can’t wait to see the documentary!

VA Proposes New Rules Including Asset Transfer Penalties

Hands holding an American flag

On January 23, 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (the “VA”) proposed new rules for its pension program (including the Aid & Attendance program) that include:

– Penalties on asset transfers within three years of an application for benefits

– Adjustment of the net worth limit to $117,240 (specifically, to match the Medicaid community spouse resource allowance, adjusted annually for cost of living)

– Inclusion of an applicant’s income as part of the net worth analysis

…and a number of other changes.

Under one of the most significant proposals, Veterans (and surviving spouses of Veterans) would no longer be able to transfer assets (outright or in trust) in order to be eligible for the VA Pension, at least not in the three years before application.

The rules are unclear on whether they would apply to prior transfers, that is, those made before the implementation of the rules in final form. Further, as drafted, the transfer rules would penalize the surviving spouse of the Veteran more than the Veteran.  Many practitioners are up in arms about these and other problems with the proposed rules.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Image © maticsandra

Alzheimer’s Disease in the Spotlight at 2015 Academy Awards

Oscar - trofeo dorato

Last night, Julianne Moore took home the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal of a woman suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease in the 2014 film Still Alice, based on the best-selling novel by Lisa Genova.

While I haven’t seen the movie (yet!) I read the book several years ago and was incredibly moved. I help families dealing with dementia all the time. It is hard to imagine what these caregivers are going through on a daily basis, and even harder to imagine what the patient is experiencing. I have been told by many caregivers, through their tears, that it is the most difficult thing they’ve ever had to do.

It must be terrifying to know that your mind, and your memories, are slipping away and there is no treatment or cure that can help. This novel allowed me imagine for a moment how that might feel.

In her acceptance speech, Julianne Moore said that Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia are not a ‘normal part of aging.’ Today, I heard a physician say the same thing – that dementia may be widespread among the elderly, but it is not ‘normal’ and deserves special attention. While it seems a bit trite to say that I hope this movie helps spread awareness about this terrible disease, I hope it does just that.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease:

Alzheimer’s Association

National Institute on Aging

Mayo Clinic

Image © Danilo Rizzuti – Fotolia.com

National Spotlight on Local Retirement Community Park Springs

neighbor

Watching CBS Sunday Morning yesterday, I was so excited to see the residents of Park Springs, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (“CCRC”) located in Stone Mountain, Georgia, being featured! See the video here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/golden-oldies-a-lip-synching-extravaganza/

I am a huge fan of these communities – CCRCs – in large part because I have had many clients from Park Springs speak so highly of the sense of community and friendship they’ve established living there. I have learned that while aging can be an incredibly isolating experience, these communities combat that. They also allow residents to grow older in one place, as they contain various levels of care on the same property, from single-family homes, to condominiums, to assisted living and even skilled nursing care.  This also keeps spouses and partners together if one has higher care needs than the other. (Learn more about CCRCs by clicking the link above.)

Kudos to the residents at Park Springs for an exceptional performance!

Image © Win Nondakowit – Fotolia.com