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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Sep
14
2011
0

Elder Abuse – Criminal and Civil – Red Flags

In California, civil and criminal Elder Abuse Laws pertain to persons 65 years of age or older. Under the criminal statutes, elder abuse can occur when someone causes the elder to suffer mentally or physically. Under the civil statutes, abuse can mean neglect, causing financial abuse, abandonment, and physical harm or mental suffering. In addition, under the civil statutes, elder abuse can mean deprivation of care by the custodian of goods or services that the elder needs to avoid mental suffering or pain.

There are red flags to be on the outlook for regarding possible elder abuse, which many of us have seen. One red flag could be that the older person is not given the opportunity to speak for herself. Another red flag could be that the care giver or family member expresses anger toward the elder. A painful red flag is the isolation socially, of the older person. If you see signs of elder abuse, you should report it.

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.

Sep
13
2011
0

Alzheimer’s Planning – Long Term Relationship

We do Alzheimer’s planning in our lawfirm. This type of long term care planning includes, in part, the preparation of estate planning documents. These specialized documents contain required, updated language for asset protection and government benefits planning regarding Medi-Cal and the VA Aid and Attendance Improved Pension Benefit. Part of the planning may also include asset protection of the home and monetary assets.  

However, a big part of Alzheimer’s planning involves working with the family of the loved one who is afflicted with this disease. Alzheimer’s disease can last many years, and our relationship with the families we represent can be very long. As an example, my mother in law, who has Alzheimer’s disease, and who turns 90 next month, has been in a board and care facility for the last 10 years. Other than the disease, she is fairly healthy for a 90 year old.  She does not recognize her three “girls”, but she is being well cared for.  

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments and services that will make life more bearable for the Alzheimer’s patient, and his or her family.  We offer  support for our clients and their families, regarding resources for care as part of the  long term care planning. We also encourage our clients and their families to become knowledgeable about the disease. For additional information regarding Alzheimer’s planning, please feel free to contact our office.

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.

Jul
19
2011
0

VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefits w/o The Sale of Annuities

The VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit is available for wartime veterans or their surviving spouses. For 2011, a single veteran can receive up to $1,644 per month, and $1,949 if married. The widowed spouse can receive up to $1,056 per month. This benefit is most helpful for payment of in home care, assisted living facility and board and care costs.

For qualification, the VA takes into account, among other things, income and assets. If the applicant’s income and assets are too high, he may not qualify. That is where planning by your elder law attorney, who is certified by the VA, comes in. In addition, when we plan for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit, we also plan for Medi-Cal benefits at the same time. Medi-Cal pays for nursing home costs after your Medicare days are used up. Nursing homes in our area can cost upwards of $7,500 or more per month. If you plan for VA alone, without taking into account the more stringent Medi-Cal rules at the same time, you may become eligible for VA but ineligible for Medi-Cal.

Beware of being asked to purchase an annuity to qualify for VA. We have been informed by clients and others that there are annuity salesmen out there, who are also usually not certified by the VA, who will ask you to purchase an annuity for VA qualification. I understand that they usually do not tell you about the annuity at first. The purpose for the sale of an annuity, from a legal perspective, is at best unclear, and is generally viewed by the elder law legal community as unnecessary.  Your elder law attorney can best help you with asset protection and planning, within the Medi-Cal and VA regulations, without the sale of annuities. Medi-Cal also has stringent requirements about annuities, which could make the Medi-Cal applicant either ineligible for Medi-Cal, or require him to pay more than necessary in the share of cost, which money goes from the applicant to the nursing home.  We receive calls from individuals, and their families, who are quite angry that they have purchased an annuity for VA qualification, angry that they do not understand what the purpose of the annuity was, and would like to know how to reverse the process. Your elder law attorney, who is certified by the VA, can best help you with long term care planning, asset protection, VA and Medi-Cal qualification, and estate planning at the same time, legitimately and within the regulations.

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.

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

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.

This information is not to be taken as legal advice, and you are encouraged to see an elder law attorney, who is certified by the VA, for professional advice.

Jul
11
2011
0

Swimming With Grandchildren Without A Pool!

I can’t help myself talking about our grandkids, at least one more time. My wife and I have two grandchildren, a boy 4 and a girl 2 ½. Both kids “stayed over” a couple of weekends ago. They arrived on Saturday morning with their little suitcases packed, which included their swimsuits. They wanted to swim with us in our community pool, but that plan was thwarted when we found out the pool pump was broken.

We felt horrible, and did not have a little pool for them. What we did have was a large plastic storage container, which held about 20 gallons of water. We also had large and small “Super Soaker” squirt guns, and Grandma had all sizes of plastic measuring cups. The kids put their swim suits on, filled the storage container with water, and climbed inside the container! They played with the hose, the squirt guns and the measuring cups for hours. Every once in awhile they would climb out of the container and lie on their towels in the sun to dry off. When they were dry they would climb back into the container and have more fun! I guess we don’t really need a pool, but I am off to Target to find something for them to use at our house.

There is probably no legal point to all of this, (other than to include your grandchildren in your estate plans) but I just had to share with you how fun it is being grandparents!  

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.

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

Jul
06
2011
0

My Grandchildren are Too Cute!

When I was younger and people started to talk about their grandchildren, I would practically plug my ears. Now that we have two grandchildren, ages 4 and 2, I am the one who can’t stop talking about them.

So, since I can’t stop myself, I must tell you a story about my granddaughter, Edie. She will be 3 this coming September. Grandma and I were watching both grandchildren a few weekends ago, and Edie was on my lap. I was opening a package that came in the mail, and when I opened the package, bubble wrap came out. My granddaughter said to me, “BaPa, cut a small piece for me.” So I cut a small piece for her and said, “Like this?” She said, “Yes, not pop it! Pop it! Pop It!” I started to pop the little bubbles for her, and she couldn’t stop laughing. It made me laugh that she was laughting, and I was also laughing at how this little girl could give me orders which I would immediately comply with.

I felt like my life was made at that moment. My granddaughter and I were both happy and laughing. I was also astonished that this little girl at age 2  1/2 would know about these things and could tell me what to do like that! I just can’t imagine that other grandchildren are that smart. (ha ha)

I hope you didn’t plug your ears. Thank you, BaPa, Mike Young.

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.

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

Jun
27
2011
0

Protecting Senior Finances With Estate Planning

It is highly recommended for the older person, that their estate planning documents be put in place as early as possible, in order to help guard against elder financial abuse. It is when the older person begins to show signs of a loss of mental capacity, that financial predators step in to take advantage of the older person. We have been seeing more and more of this lately, possibly because of a downturn in the economy.  

Older persons should consider preparing their estate plans right away, especially for instance, if there are beginning signs of dementia, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease or cancer, or if the older person has fallen. You will be able to pick who you know and trust as your health care agent and agent under your financial durable power of attorney while you still have good mental capacity.

If you are uncomfortable with appointing family members for these rolls, consider appointing a professional fiduciary. California has a rigid licensing program for professional fiduciaries, and they can be used in these positions in order to avoid financial abuse. Professionial fiduciaries are able to assist early on with bill paying and money management.

Unfortunately, the highest percentage of financial abuse and exploitation of the older person, involves the elder’s family members. Many times it is a child who has been dependent for support on the older parent. This child is usually unemployable, in financial straights, won’t work and many times has substance abuse problems. Many times they will badger their parent into giving them money. The parent gives in, just to get them off of his or her back. I have seen children who are completely exasperated that their parents are living so long! The children want their inheritance now, and don’t see why they should have to wait!

Other signs of elder financial abuse can include large bank withdrawals that the older person cannot explain, or a new friend or housekeeper gaining access to bank accounts. Another sign of problems is that bills are not being paid.

When the estate planning documents are being prepared, also consider asset protection and government benefits planning language to be included in the various documents. If the older person loses capacity, the asset protection plan can still be implemented.

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.

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

Mar
21
2011
0

Where’s Your Cane Dad?

When my elderly father would come to visit me, I would ask, “Where’s your cane Dad?” He would say that he didn’t need it, and that he was trying to build up his strength. He needed to use his cane though, because he would hang onto me or my brother, or hang onto whatever was close to him, like a lampost, etc.  One evening on a weeknight at about 3:00 a.m., my father called me to tell me that he had fallen. It was bad, in that he cut his head, and we had to take him to the emergency room.  He was badly shaken, and it took a long time for him to recuperate.

Injuries from falls from older people is a real concern. Statistics show that once an older person has fallen, they are likely to fall again, unless precautions are taken. Injuries are the fifth leading cause of death among older people, and 80% of those injuries are the result of falling. For older women, falls can more often cause bone fractures because of osteoporosis.  My older clients remind me of my parents, and I encourage them to use their canes or walkers.

We often receive calls from the loved ones of older persons who have fallen.  Many times it is a wake up call to get things in order, such as wills, trusts and other estate planning documents. The concern for planning for long term care for the older client becomes more critical.

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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