Elder Law Issues
AUGUST 24, 2009 VOLUME 16, NUMBER 52 According to the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicaid trust funds, it looks like the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security next year will be, well, zero. In other words retirees, those on Social Security Disability and even Supplemental Security Income recipients will see no increase
AUGUST 17, 2009 VOLUME 16, NUMBER 51 Imagine that you are trying to change the title on your bank account into the name of the living trust you and your spouse just set up. The nice lady at the bank is telling you that you need to get a new tax identification number for the
AUGUST 10, 2009 VOLUME 16, NUMBER 50 When you name someone as your health care agent, you literally entrust them with life-and-death decisions. When you are the agent the job can sometimes seem overwhelming. Sometimes health care decisions must be made by someone who was not even designated in a power of attorney. A “surrogate”
AUGUST 3, 2009 VOLUME 16, NUMBER 49 You would like to make sure that your children get along after you are no longer around to tell them to behave, wouldn’t you? Although you may not anticipate any disagreements, you know that money can change relationships, and you have seen how the death of a parent
JUNE 22, 2009 VOLUME 16, NUMBER 45 A lawyer’s job is, of course, to help his or her client to accomplish the client’s goals. Sometimes, though, the client’s capacity may be diminished, and particularly in the elder law practice. What should the lawyer do when the client seems to be vulnerable to financial exploitation, or
JUNE 15, 2009 VOLUME 16, NUMBER 44 Tranquilino Ventura was a child when his father died, and just fourteen years old when a lawsuit arising from his father’s death was settled. The total settlement, after costs and fees, exceeded $500,000. When Mr. Ventura turned eighteen he found out that the money was all gone. Mr.
JUNE 8, 2009 VOLUME 16, NUMBER 43 Want to learn about why you need a trust? No problem: there is a class for that, and they’ll even buy you lunch if you’ll just listen to their pitch. Want to learn whether you need a trust? It’s a little harder to locate good advice, but still there are
JUNE 1, 2009 VOLUME 16, NUMBER 42 Dear client: It has been wonderful working with you. We are pleased that your estate plan is completed, and simultaneously saddened that we will not be seeing much of you for a couple years. Please remember to get in touch with us if there are major life changes.
APRIL 27, 2009 VOLUME 16, NUMBER 38 Who has the obligation to get a proper Medicaid application filed for someone in a nursing home? Can the nursing home resident’s children, spouse, guardian or conservator be forced to pay for care after the patient’s money has run out but before the state Medicaid agency receives the
APRIL 20, 2009 VOLUME 16, NUMBER 37 When it comes time to complete estate planning, our clients usually have clear ideas about who should receive their property, what health care decisions they would want made — even how they feel about cremation, burial, organ donation and most of the other issues that must be addressed.
APRIL 13, 2009 VOLUME 16, NUMBER 36 Is it just us, or is the incidence of family disputes over funeral and burial arrangements on the rise? A recent court case from Indiana makes us think maybe there are still more variations on a theme we thought had long since been played out. Sherman Warren died
APRIL 28, 2008 VOLUME 15, NUMBER 44 There is no doubt that in today’s economy some extra income would be welcome, especially if you are struggling to pay for long term care. Many people aren’t aware that the Veteran’s Administration (VA) has a special program, called “Aid and Attendance,” that pays additional income to Veterans
APRIL 21, 2008 VOLUME 15, NUMBER 43 We apologize. We like to think that we bring you the most interesting, useful and thought-provoking elder law cases, news stories and trends each week. Somehow we completely missed a great case last year. With thanks to our friend Prof. Rebecca Morgan for calling it to our attention,
APRIL 14, 2008 VOLUME 15, NUMBER 42 We see the same sad story time and again. Sometimes there are small variations, but it almost always starts the same way. Aging parents (or other relatives) need assistance with their finances and their care. As those needs increase, family members begin — often with the very best
APRIL 7, 2008 VOLUME 15, NUMBER 41 Quite often we see revocable living trusts fail because individuals do not understand the importance of changing ownership of assets to the trust. In most cases that means the unnecessary expense of a probate proceeding that could have been avoided. Sometimes the effects are more dramatic, as in
APRIL 30, 2007 VOLUME 14, NUMBER 44 Several times over the past few years (most recently in Safety for the Older Driver: Is Skills Training the Answer?) we have reported on an issue of great concern to seniors—the effect of aging on the ability to drive. Now Congress has gotten interested in the topic, if a
APRIL 23, 2007 VOLUME 14, NUMBER 43 Individuals with disabilities, confused and vulnerable seniors and patients recovering from medical procedures often end up staying in nursing homes for weeks, months or years. Quality of care in those facilities is obviously important, and yet difficult to monitor. The good news: since most nursing homes accept Medicare
APRIL 16, 2007 VOLUME 14, NUMBER 42 Ironies abound as the leading edge of the “Baby Boom” generation heads into its 60s (and retirement). The generation that vowed never to trust anyone over 30 will shortly have to figure out minimum distribution rules from Individual Retirement Accounts, Medicare’s Part D coverage and its limitations, and
APRIL 9, 2007 VOLUME 14, NUMBER 41 Mark Glasser and Suzanne Glasser Matthews, brother and sister, have spent the last two years battling for physical and financial control over their mother, Lillian Glasser. The 86-year-old Mrs. Glasser, who at one point had an estimated net worth of $25 million, has been the subject of proceedings
APRIL 2, 2007 VOLUME 14, NUMBER 40 When Mary Brewton entered a Louisiana nursing home in January, 2003, her husband Marvin stayed in their family home. The value of the home was not considered in calculating her eligibility for Medicaid assistance with the nursing home costs, and so she qualified immediately. When her husband moved
NOVEMBER 27, 2006 VOLUME 14, NUMBER 22 Laura Carnese had suffered a stroke, and (as it turned out) had only a few weeks to live. A friend and relative by marriage, Charles Carnese, happened to be a lawyer; he arranged for a former associate, attorney Anthony J. Barker, to visit with Ms. Carnese and help
NOVEMBER 20, 2006 VOLUME 14, NUMBER 21 Medicare Part D (the prescription drug benefit plan begun last year) includes an annual “election period” from November 15 through the end of the calendar year. Seniors—many of whom struggled to understand the program a year ago and waded through reams of information to select the most promising
NOVEMBER 13, 2006 VOLUME 14, NUMBER 20 Even as the recent national election was ramping up late last summer, Congress passed and the President signed the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Billed as a great boon to most workers, the Act may not have nearly the advertised effect—primarily because of a continuing shift away from
NOVEMBER 6, 2006 VOLUME 14, NUMBER 19 James Marier was married to his wife Kathleen for twelve years, until the couple divorced. As often happens, Mr. Marier continued to maintain a good relationship with his step-daughter, Tracy Marks. Her children called Mr. Marier “Grandpa Jim,” and he continued to spend holidays with his ex-wife, his
APRIL 24, 2006 VOLUME 13, NUMBER 43 Sarah Ann Ester Straw went to her lawyer, N. Frank Lanocha, to have a will prepared. According to Mr. Lanocha, she wanted to leave the bulk of her estate to the lawyer’s daughter, Teresa Lanocha-Sisson. He prepared a will that did exactly that—in fact, it left $1,000 to
APRIL 17, 2006 VOLUME 13, NUMBER 42 June Miller once told the trust officer at her bank that she loved her son Warren Miller but that she didn’t like him very much. That might have been her motivation for making a number of changes to her estate plan in the last few years of her
APRIL 10, 2006 VOLUME 13, NUMBER 41 As many states have become more aggressive about recovering the costs of Medicaid care from the estates of deceased beneficiaries, one issue has appeared to be insoluble. Federal law permits states to make a claim against property held in joint tenancy at the time of a Medicaid recipient’s
APRIL 3, 2006 VOLUME 13, NUMBER 40 Five years ago the Arizona Legislature adopted an interesting new law. Modeled on a similar law in Missouri, the “beneficiary deed” statute permitted property owners to designate who would receive their property on death—much like a “payable on death” bank account. Now the state legislature has revisited beneficiary
APRIL 25, 2005 VOLUME 12, NUMBER 43 The Medicaid worker was helpful, seemed to understand the question and knew the answer. The applicant’s guardian/conservator asked the right question. Unfortunately, the worker’s answer was just plain wrong. When the guardian/conservator relied on that wrong information, he lost out—and lost the Medicaid recipient’s home after her death.
APRIL 18, 2005 VOLUME 12, NUMBER 42 Samuel Paschall apparently posed some risk to himself and to the other residents of The Washington Home in Washington, D.C. From the day of his first admission to the nursing facility he had been closely monitored because he was difficult to handle, and becoming more so as time