Nov
28
2016
0

‘Tis the Season for Stress’ – Special Challenges

Once again the Holiday Season is upon us. ’Tis the season’ for mixed blessings. Along with the joys of the season come the stressors. This year you wonder how you will manage to get everything done. Your “to-do” list, as always, seems never ending with shopping, baking and decorating. This year, however, you know at the top of your priority list is providing the best possible care for your elderly loved one who suffers from increased dementia.

This time of year can likewise create stress for your loved one whose anxiety levels seem to mirror your own. Unlike yourself, however, the dementia affects your loved one’s ability to express himself or herself clearly. Simple changes in routine can cause unexpected anxiety which increases with the inability to verbalize what they are feeling.

In addition to the stress on both caregiver and care recipient, out of town guests add a whole new dynamic. Family members may feel shocked by your loved one’s mental and physical changes. This shock can produce feelings of guilt or anger that may be directed at you. Your loved one may also exhibit additional uneasiness — possibly viewing family members as strangers.

So the question remains, “How do you make it through the holidays and maintain some semblance of peace?” And, equally important, “How do you help your elderly loved one do the same?”

First of all, you may want to do some pre-planning. Waiting until the last minute often leaves a person feeling rushed and harried. To avoid this unnecessary stress, create a list of priorities.

If you plan to take your loved one with you holiday shopping, hit stores early in the day and on weekdays. Most malls and department stores are far less crowded at these times. Also, take along a picture of the person you are shopping for. This provides a reminder to your loved one and an opportunity for their input on the gift. Encourage your loved one to take part in wrapping the gifts when at home. (Be mindful, however, of their frustration levels.)

If you are doing any of the holiday cooking, establish the menu ahead of time. Plan to buy as many of the ingredients as possible a week or two in advance. Also, prepare whatever will keep in the refrigerator or freezer ahead of time so there is less to do on the actual day of your gathering. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask others to bring along a dish. Most guests would be happy to help.

Prepare your visiting family members for potential changes in your loved one’s status. Imagine how drastic changes and declines would seem if you had not been present to witness them. Sharing can help them prepare family and friends for the emotions they may feel when confronted with these changes.

Ultimately, you cannot eliminate stress from every environment. For this reason it is essential that you eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep. With your own stress level in check, you can focus on monitoring the stress levels of your loved one.

If the stress gets overwhelming, consider getting help with your caregiving tasks. Home health care agencies can provide help a few hours a day or a few hours a week. Adult Day Care gives your loved one a safe environment in which to interact with others. If your holiday plans include an over-night visit or extended stay, check into Respite Care.

Sep
28
2016
0

Consider A Joint Checking Account With Your Parents

Many older people insist on handling their own financial affairs without assistance, for as long as as possible. This is admirable, but what if something bad happens to the older person, like a medical event which lands the older person in the hospital, and ready access to cash is needed? And, what if the older person begins to lose capacity and starts to make bad decisions with their money?

For access to immediate cash, a child or other loved one should be a joint owner on a checking account with the older person. If the older person is hospitalized and indisposed for a period of time, the child will be able to take care of finances, and pay bills for their parent. If the older person starts to make bad financial decisions, or is the subject of fraud, the child could shut the account down.

The bank and financial accounts, except for IRAs, should be transferred to the revocable living trust of the older person, with a child or other person named as successor trustee. These transfers to the revocable living trust are completed through the bank or financial institution, and these trust assets are reflected on the schedules of assets attached to the revocable living trust. The trust is set up so that if the older person loses capacity, a doctor’s note is obtained, and the child can act as the new trustee to control the assets for the benefit of the parent.

But what if the parent refuses to cooperate and do any of these things? You should try to maintain a dialogue of communication with the parent, and try to stay informed about what is happening with his daily life. If the parent becomes unusually defensive when asked about his finances, this should be a red flag. At this point, a geriatric social worker may be able to help you communicate with your parent. If the estate plan and finances aren’t properly set up, and the parent loses mental capacity, a court conservatorship may be required for you to be able to gain control of the accounts. The earlier the estate plan and joint checking account is set up, the easier it will be for all concerned.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Young, at 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA www.WalnutCreekElderLaw, 925-256-0298, lawyoung1@gmail.com we practice Elder Law and we help Baby Boomers, Seniors and families through their Elder Care Journey. We help families with long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help Baby Boomers and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

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Feb
01
2016
0

How Much Does The Surviving Spouse Receive In Social Security Benefits?

In a previous post, we discussed what you should do about Social Security benefits after someone dies. But with regard to married couples, how much will the surviving spouse receive? Generally speaking, the surviving spouse will receive 100% of the deceased spouse’s Social Security benefit, as long as that amount is greater than the surviving spouse’s benefit.  As a result, the surviving spouse will continue to receive either his or her own benefit, or the deceased spouse’s benefit, whichever is greater. But, the surviving spouse will not receive both benefits.  A one-time death benefit payment of $255 will also be paid to the surviving spouse by Social Security.

Another requirement is that the surviving spouse must be age 60 or older. The surviving spouse can also be 50 or older provided that he or she is disabled from a disability that began no later than 7 years after the deceased spouse’s death. The surviving spouse must also have been married to the deceased spouse for at least 9 months, and not be currently remarried where the marriage occurred before he/she turned age 60.

An ex-spouse may also collect survivor benefits under certain circumstances.  The ex-spouse must have been married to the deceased ex-spouse at least 10 years.  The age 60 or age 50 with a disability requirements as discussed above, are the same as the married surviving spouse.  Also, the ex-spouse must not be remarried in a marriage that occurred before age 60. Be sure to contact Social Security with regard to your specific case. An in-person meeting at the Social Security office is the best way for you to proceed.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Young, at 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA www.WalnutCreekElderLaw, 925-256-0298, lawyoung1@gmail.com we practice Elder Law and we help Baby Boomers, Seniors and families through their Elder Care Journey. We help families with long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help Baby Boomers and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

Jan
29
2016
0

Consider a Line of Credit On Your Home

The home is usually our clients’ most valuable asset. For Medi-Cal planning purposes, we have discussed in previous blogs how you can set up your Long Term Care Plan to ensure that you can transfer your home to your spouse or to you children without Medi-Cal penalty, and at the same time protect your home from a Medi-Cal lien.

But in the meantime, what if you need cash and you want to tap into the equity in your home? How will a line of credit affect your eligibility for Medi-Cal? Generally speaking, if you take a lump sum from the line of credit on your home, that lump sum may be treated as an asset which could negatively affect your eligibility for Medi-Cal. However, if you draw down on your line of credit as needed, for specific purposes, your eligibility for Medi-Cal should not be affected. So for instance, if you draw money down from your line of credit to pay for a roof repair, or to make payments for in-home-care, your line of credit would not be counted for Medi-Cal eligibility purposes should you need to go into a nursing home. As a result, it may be a good idea to check into getting a line of credit on your home. And by doing so, we should still be able to protect your home under Medi-Cal regulations.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see your elder law attorney. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Young, at 1931 San Miguel Dr., Ste. 220, Walnut Creek, CA www.WalnutCreekElderLaw, 925-256-0298, lawyoung1@gmail.com we practice Elder Law and we help Baby Boomers, Seniors and families through their Elder Care Journey. We help families with long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also help Baby Boomers and families get their “Ducks in a Row” in order help them qualify for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefit.

Jan
07
2013
0

BEWARE OF SCAMMERS WHO PREY ON SENIORS

Scammers are consistently targeting older people. An older client of ours in Walnut Creek called us to ask how she could be taken to the airport so that she could give a courier $2,500 for a service fee. The service fee was apparently to ensure that she would receive $25,000 that she was told she won in a contest. Our client said that she had made the check out and was ready to have it delivered, and that it had to be delivered no later than 3:00 p.m. that afternoon. We instructed our client to do nothing. We followed up by calling the person back who called her. It was an obvious scam, and we contacted the FBI.

Another client told us that she received an e-mail, purportedly from her grandson, stating that he was in Europe and needed money wired to him right away. The e-mail stated that the grandson had been robbed, had no money, and was living in the street waiting for the money to be wired to him. This was a ridiculous story and an obvious scam Please do not respond to e-mails like these or click their links.

In another case, a man who was almost 90 years old and who was suffering from some dementia, was the victim of a scam involving time shares. An unscrupulous salesman sold the senior a number of time shares, which the older person would never be able to use. Fortunately, the timeshare contracts were reversed by his daughter, but not without a lot of time and effort.

These stories are very disheartening to me, as an Elder Law Attorney in Walnut Creek, who for many years has endeavored to help seniors keep what they have earned. We do this through the preparation of asset protection plans, revocable living trusts, powers of attorney and wills, and assistance with applications for Medi-Cal and the VA Aid and attendance Pension Benefit.

Written Michael J. Young, elder law attorney and probate attorney in Walnut Creek, CA and former in-house counsel for title insurance companies. www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com LawYoung1@Gmail.com 1931 San Miguel Dr., Suite 220, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. 925-256-0298. Mr. Young serves Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, including the cities of Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc. Mr. Young advises clients regarding Probates, Probates with Real Estate, Medi-Cal, nursing homes, asset protection, the VA Aid and attendance pension benefit, and long term care planning. Mr. Young is an Elder Law Attorney and Probate Attorney with offices in Walnut Creek, CA. Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney, Walnut Creek Probate Attorney.

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May
31
2012
0

Probates with Real Estate –

PROBATE is a court proceeding that is used to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries at the time of your death. Probates are complex, and require that numerous forms and regulations be followed, before the court will sign an order distributing your assets to your beneficiaries or heirs. 

A probate with regard to your home and other real estate assets can usually be avoided with the use of revocable living trusts. To do this, title to your home would be transfered on the County Record from yourself, to yourself as trustee under your revocable living trust. For instance, the deed would be from John Doe to John Doe as Trustee of the John Doe Revocable Living Trust dated January 15, 2012. The terms of the trust will state who the home will be distributed to after you die, and this transfer can be completed on the County Record without a probate. 

However, not everybody passes away with their home in a revocable living trust. There are many occasions where individuals will pass away with their home in their name alone, and they may or may not have a will. A probate will probably be required whether they have a will or not. The terms of the will determine who the beneficiaries of the home will be. If there is no will, the home will be distributed to the “heirs at law” of the decedent.

With regard to real estate, a probate is required to clear the title so that the property can be distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs of the decedent, or so that the property can be sold and the proceeds of sale distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs. Clients will ask me why a probate would be required if the decedent has a will naming somebody as a beneficiary. To find the answer to this, we first need to first look at the County Record to see who the record owner is for the home. The last deed of record could be in the name of John Doe. John Doe is now deceased, so who can sign a deed from John Doe to his beneficiary? The answer is no one, which is why a court order would be required.

Written Michael J. Young, elder law attorney and probate attorney in Walnut Creek, CA and former in-house counsel for title insurance companies. www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com LawYoung1@Gmail.com 1931 San Miguel Dr., Suite 220, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. 925-256-0298. Mr. Young serves Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, including the cities of Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc. Mr. Young advises clients regarding Probates, Probates with Real Estate, Medi-Cal, nursing homes, asset protection, the VA Aid and attendance pension benefit, and long term care planning. Mr. Young is an Elder Law Attorney and Probate Attorney with offices in Walnut Creek, CA. Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney, Walnut Creek Probate Attorney

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Apr
19
2012
0

The Importance of an “Elder Law” Durable Power of Attorney

     Does your Financial Durable Power of Attorney (financial DPA) contain asset protection and government benefits qualification language? It probably does not, unless it was prepared by an elder law attorney. If you lose mental capacity, your spouse or children may be prevented from gifting your assets to themselves, in order to help you qualify for Medi-Cal or for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension benefit.

If your financial DPA contains any gifting language at all, it is probably limited to the annual gift tax exclusion amount, which is $13,000 per person this year. This language is usually of little help for Medi-Cal qualification. In addition, the language will probably not allow for gifting to the ”attorney in fact”, who is the person acting for you.  Specialized language is required under the law in order to allow for any gifting to the person acting as the “attorney in fact.” This specialized language usually does not appear in a “regular” financial durable power of attorney.

For instance, the home can easily be established as an exempt asset for Medi-Cal qualification. If the home is in the name of the Medi-Cal applicant who has lost mental capacity, and we want to transfer the home to a child and reserve a life estate to the applicant in order to avoid a Medi-Cal lien, most financial durable powers of attorney will not allow for this. Most financial durable powers of attorney will allow a transfer only upon receipt of consideration from a sale for fair market value of the real property.

To give another example, the Medi-Cal applicant, under the regulations, is allowed to own a life insurance policy, with a pay on death figure in any amount. However, in order to qualify for Medi-Cal, the applicant’s life insurance policy cannot have more than $1500 cash value. If there is a $5,000 cash value, for instance, the Medi-Cal applicant cannot qualify. The remedy is to liquidate the cash from the policy and then gift it out. What do you do however if the Medi-Cal applicant has lost capacity? We need to then look at the powers in the financial durable power of attorney. However, although most financial DPAs may allow for a liquidation of the cash value, they will not allow you to gift the cash out. The Medi-Cal applicant can only retain $2,000 in non qualified accounts, and if the cash from the policy cannot be gifted, it would have to be spent before qualification for Medi-Cal can be obtained.

The financial DPA in an elder law context, is also coordinated with the revocable living trust of the applicant. There should be specialized asset protection language in the trust, which refers to the financial DPA. This specialized language will allow the attorney in fact to “stand in the shoes” of the maker of the trust, for all purposes, including for Medi-Cal qualification. This technique is allowed by law, and provides the greatest amount of flexibility for the family who is helping the older person who has lost capacity, when we are applying for Medi-Cal.

Remember that if existing estate planning documents are not updated before the older person loses capacity, we may have to resort to a court proceeding to modify the language in the documents. This process is expensive and is not always guaranteed. The best approach is to pre-planning, and to have your estate planning documents updated as early as possible by a qualified elder law attorney, who practices full time in this area of the law. 

Written Michael J. Young, elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA. www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com mike@WalnutCreekElderLaw.com. 1931 San Miguel Dr., Suite 220, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. 925-256-0298. Mr. Young serves Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, including the cities of Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc. Mr. Young advises clients regarding Medi-Cal, nursing homes, asset protection, the VA Aid and attendance pension benefit, and long term care planning. Mr. Young is a Concord Elder Law Attorney with offices in Walnut Creek, CA.

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Oct
17
2011
0

What Is The Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning?

I practice Elder Law and represent the older client and their families. When clients come to see me, their concerns are not so much about what happens when they die, but more about ’What happens if they don’t die.’

Of course, they want to make sure that their assets pass to their family with a minimum of expenses and taxes. But the bigger and more complicated question is, “What happens if I don’t die?” As we know, Americans are living longer all the time. The infirmities of old age may require that we have in home care assistance, or go to an assisted living facility, board and care home or eventually a to a nursing home.  We are of course concerned about how we pay for these costs. A regular estate plan does not address these needs. An elder law attorney can prepare a long term care plan for you, and address these needs. He will also address the concern of passing assets to their family.

To put it another way, a regular estate plan insures that if you die, your assets will be passed on to your family the way you want. The operative word is “if”. A  regular estate plan will not help preserve assets so that hopefully there will be something left when you die to pass on to your family. As we know, the assets of the older client could be depleted by a nursing home stay or lengthy illness, which could leave their spouse or heirs with nothing.  

If you have sufficient assets to pay for long-term care or nursing home costs without running out of funds, then a regualr estate planning attorney may be all you need. However, if you cannot afford the cost of a lenghty nursing home stay, of around $90,000 per year or $180,000 per year for a couple, or more, then an elder law attorney would be able to help you.

For a real life example, Mary and Jim have about $300,000 in assets and a home worth around $500,000. Jim needs assistance and uses a wheelchair. Mary has been providing for his care, but recently has shown signs of forgetfulness and confusion. She has been diagnosed by her doctor as having early signs of dementia.   

An estate plan is of course important to Jim and Mary, but this won’t help them deal with the problems they are presently dealing with. They want to tackle the issue of how they will be able to afford the cost of nursing home care should either one or both of them need it. They want to establish how they will be taken care of should Mary’s dementia become more advanced. They want to find out if if they can stay in their home with assistance.

This couple needs a life plan, specific to them, to meet their needs for the future. Jim and Mary need to seek the advice of an elder law attorney.

Written Michael J. Young, elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA. www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com mike@WalnutCreekElderLaw.com. 1931 San Miguel Dr., Suite 220, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. 925-256-0298. Mr. Young serves Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, including the cities of Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc. Mr. Young advises clients regarding Medi-Cal, nursing homes, asset protection, the VA Aid and attendance pension benefit, and long term care planning. Mr. Young is a Concord Elder Law Attorney with offices in Walnut Creek, CA.

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Sep
19
2011
0

Brentwood Elder Law Attorney

Michael J. Young, elder law attorney, represents many older clients in Brentwood, CA. Mr. Young practices in the areas of  estate planning, long term care planing, government benefits planning and asset protection. Author of The Alzheimer’s Legal Survival Kit and The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Veteran’s Benefits, Mr. Young helps his clients plan for the VA Aid & Attandance Pension Benefit for wartime veterans, and for Medi-Cal.  Both of these publications are available through Mr. Young’s website at www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com The Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit, (A&A) can help pay the costs for in home care, assisted living facilities and board and care. Medi-Cal pays for skilled nursing costs. Both programs are income and needs based, and they have different rules for qualification, gifting and asset protection. As a result, for the veteran, both must be planned for at the same time. Mr. Young’s long term care planning and estate planning emphasizes not only on ‘what happens when you die’, but ‘what happens if you don’t die.’

For additional information, please feel free to contact Mr. Young’s office at 925-256-0298 and his website at www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see an elder law attorney for your particular situation. 

Written Michael J. Young, lawyoung1@gmail.com, elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA. www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com mike@WalnutCreekElderLaw.com. 1931 San Miguel Dr., Suite 220, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. 925-256-0298. Mr. Young serves Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, including the cities of Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc.

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