Preventing Problems Through Elder Care and Estate Planning

Location, Location, Location: It’s Not Just For Real Estate!

A safe deposit box may not be the best place for important papers

A safe deposit box may not be the best place for important papers

Chances are, when you hear the words, “Location, Location, Location,” you think of real estate.   These are not the only professionals interested in location, however!  Your Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney will tell you that the location of your important papers can make the difference between a care plan that is followed, and a care plan that is not followed.  If your loved ones don’t know where to find your health care power of attorney, living will, or estate planning documents, they won’t be able to use them in time of need.

Location, is not the end of the subject, however.  It doesn’t do any good to tell someone where to find your estate plan if no one will be able to easily access it. For example, if you put your plan in a safety deposit box, the bank is not going to let just anyone access it after you pass away. Even if a family member goes to the bank with the key, unless the bank has prior authorization to allow that person to access your box after you pass away the bank will turn him or her away. A court order will be needed to access the box.

To request a free copy of my checklist of 25 documents every person should keep in a safe place, or to schedule a consultation to learn more about estate planning or elder law needs, fill out the form below:

Medicare Payment for Rehab After Hospital Stays

I want my clients who are eligible for Medicare (and their families) to understand that whenever they go to a hospital, it is important to know and to clarify their billing status.  Hospitals are increasingly categorizing stays as for “observation” or “outpatient” even if the patient is in the hospital for several days.  This is because hospitals have a large financial incentive to classify an individual as outpatient.  (An outpatient stay is covered under Part B of Medicare.  An inpatient stay is covered under Part A of Medicare.)

The rub for you is that, under the Medicare statute, an individual must have an inpatient stay in the hospital of at least three consecutive days, not counting the day of discharge, in order to meet Medicare criteria for coverage of post-acute care in a skilled nursing facility (SNF).   Most elderly clients these days are discharged to what we call “rehab.”   The bottom line for my clients is that, if you or your loved one is not “admitted” to the hospital in the first place, Medicare will not pay for “rehab.”

 HERE is a page with self-help resources if you find yourself being impacted by this issue personally.   Additionally, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) is requesting your help in lobbying to eliminate this loophole that is being used to deprive patients of reimbursement for legitimate and cost saving health care measures.    HERE is a link to a page on the web site of NAELA where you can learn more and sign on to support legislation designed to fight this technicality.

If you find yourself needing my assistance with an issue related to Medicare, feel free to contact me using the contact form below.

Don’t Wait to Plan Your Estate!

An estate planning lawyer waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend.

The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him in front of the service station. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump.

“Sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”

The estate planning lawyer chuckled, “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my business.”

Don’t Wait to Plan Your Estate!

You never know when it will be too late.

Dali melting clock

 

When to suspect Undue Influence or Exploitation of Vulnerable Adult

Has an aged friend or loved one had a shift of attitude or begun acting strangely?  Elder Abuse doesn’t necessarily leave physical bruises.   Abuse includes any kind of abuse of power and exploitation of a vulnerable adult.  It is not always obvious or easy to put your finger on.   Indeed, the elderly person themselves may not even realize they are being abused or exploited.   For example, suppose an elderly person needs some help shopping and happens to purchase a gift for their helper while they are out.  Where is the line between a reasonable gift, versus being taken advantage of?   Sometimes that is not an easy thing to tell.  This post gives some signs to look for.

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Peace Of Mind

You’ve established what will happen to your business if something happens to you.

Check.

You’ve executed your will.

Check.

You have a durable power of attorney.

Check.

Health Care Power of Attorney.  Check.

Life insurance documents.

Check.

And so on.  The July 2, 2011, edition of the Wall Street Journal has a list of “25 documents you need before you die.”  That list is worth repeating, as I have done below.  Please print this and use it as a checklist to guide creation of a book to help those who are left behind after you win the lottery and leave for your new life .

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Do I Need a Trust?

I like the simple way my colleague Joy Rosenthal, an attorney mediator in New York City, describes a trust:

A trust is a simple concept – imagine a pot of money. The person who puts the money into the pot is called the grantor. The person who is in charge of distributing the money is called the trustee. And the person who will actually receive the money is called the beneficiary. Once you have these three elements, you have a trust. Notice that the money in the pot is separated from that of either the grantor or the trustee. However, the grantor can be (and often is) the trustee.

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Elder Law is for Every Adult

Elder law is about more than old age. Elder law is about the planning and care that every person needs in order to be prepared for disability or illness.  Disability Planning 101:  Regardless of age, each of us must prepare for the worst.  “What are some of these needs,” you ask?  Every legal jurisdiction is different, and this article is not intended as specific legal advice.  Nevertheless, there are some common themes that everyone must think about if they want to ease the stress of some of  life’s worst case scenarios.

Legal Representation In Elder Cases

Alexandria Skinner does provide legal advice and representation in elder issues (including drafting of wills, trusts, and powers of attorney), in contested guardianship cases, and in probate matters.   These services are provided with the goal of helping clients achieve peace of mind and aiming for the best possible quality of life.   Her fees for legal representation are the same as for mediation, and are outlined HERE.

Mediation and legal representation are completely different functions and cannot be performed by the same person in the same case.  However, hiring Skinner as an attorney does not stop you from mediating a conflict.  If hired as an attorney, Skinner can give legal advice and can assist you as your advocate during any later mediation.

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