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July Roundup: Hospice, Alzheimer’s and More

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July roundup

At Fleming & Curti, PLC, we are keenly interested in more than the legal aspects of estate planning and also care about broader developments surrounding people who are aging and/or coping with disability. Maybe that’s because we’re naturally curious. But more likely it’s because the firm and most of the attorneys are licensed fiduciaries, and it’s part of the job.

We serve as guardian, conservator, trustee, and agent under power of attorney. That means we are responsible for assuring that the people we serve have the highest possible quality of life — up to and including the end. Our July roundup includes several developments that stem from that side of our practice. If you would like us to address a topic or see a news item out there that might be of interest to our readership, please let us know.

Hospice: Often Misunderstood Service

Actress Valerie Harper has been battling cancer since at least 2013, and it appears the illness is progressing. The “Rhoda” star’s husband shared that doctors have recommended Hospice care, but he can’t bring himself to put her there. His position reflects some common misunderstandings about Hospice, and fans quickly pointed that out in responses to his post.

Hospice is generally provided when doctors believe a patient’s life expectancy does not exceed six months. Although facilities do provide hospice care, “Hospice” is a service, not a place. Being on Hospice means treatment shifts from life-prolonging to comfort care. Medicare covers it, and services include home visits by doctors, nurses, social worker, caregivers; medication for pain and other symptoms; equipment and medical supplies; inpatient care, needed; respite care for caregivers; and grief and loss counseling. In many circumstances, the extra help is a great relief, and patients and families are grateful.

Doctors don’t know everything, though. Patients on Hospice sometimes get better and resume regular treatment.

Hospice: Often Underutilized Service

The reality is that people are getting Hospice services too late. The median stay is just 24 days. That’s according to BJ Miller, a hospice and palliative medicine physician, who wrote an opinion piece for CNN on things he wishes he could share with patients and caregivers. One of them: don’t wait for your doctor to bring up Hospice. Ask the doctor: “Would you be surprised if I died in the next year?” If the answer is no, it may be time to consider Hospice.

He explains: “The healthcare system is wired to extend physical life, without much regard to the psychological, spiritual, or financial costs. . . . [I]t’s well known that doctors tend to presume you want aggressive care, even when care geared toward your comfort may be more in line with your wishes. Unless you say otherwise, the doctor’s presumption rules the day. This means that at some point you may need to say ‘no’ to that next treatment. So be sure to look up now and again and check that the care you’re getting is the care that suits you.”

Developments in Alzheimer’s Research

The Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference took place this month in Los Angeles. Each year, the conference breaks news about Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Here are some of the more interesting developments:

Read more coverage here.

Your Safe Deposit Box Is Not Safe

You may not want to keep anything important, including your estate planning documents, in a safe deposit box. Here’s why: if the items go missing, there may be no hope of recovering them or anything from the financial institution that lost them. That’s according to a New York Times article, which featured people who have sued banks over valuables that went missing with heartbreaking results. As the story says, “There are no federal laws governing the boxes; no rules require banks to compensate customers if their property is stolen or destroyed.” And the fine print in leasing contracts often limits the bank’s liability. If you have a box, ask the bank for the contract that governs (it might not be the one you signed), and ask yourself if you are comfortable with the terms.


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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.