The benefits of a highly detailed, comprehensive power of attorney are numerous. Unfortunately, many powers of attorney are more general in nature and can actually cause more problems than they solve, especially for our senior population. This issue of the ElderCounselor highlights the benefits of a comprehensive, detailed power of attorney, including some of the provisions that should be included. A proper starting point is to emphasize that the proper use of a power of attorney as an estate planning and elder law document depends on the reliability and honesty of the appointed agent.
No one likes to think about the possibility of their own disability or the disability of a loved one. However, as the statistics below demonstrate, we should all plan for at least a temporary disability. This issue of The ElderCounselorTM examines the eye-opening statistics surrounding disability and some of the common disability planning options. Disability planning is one area where we can give each and every person and family we work with great comfort in knowing that, if they or a loved one becomes disabled, they will be prepared.
Late in 2014, the ABLE (“Achieving a Better Life Experience”) Act was signed into law. The law is aimed at achieving a manner in which those with special needs can save money without losing needs based public benefits such as SSI or Medicaid . This is an important issue and, perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the Act is that it brings attention to this valuable community and addresses a serious struggle that they face. The fact that the ABLE act had strong bi-partisan support is encouraging for the special needs community and those who serve it.
While an ABLE account does not replace other tools, like special needs trusts, it is a tool that adds an option for us in serving our clients with special needs. In this issue of the ElderCounselor, we will discuss the new law, when it applies, its limitations and its uses. We are hopeful this will give you a general understanding of the Act.
Individuals with special needs often face “quality of life” challenges compared to those without special needs. Many times individuals with special needs require added expenses to meet those needs. The added financial burden often leads individuals with special needs to depend on public benefits to help them meet those costs. Unfortunately, public benefits often fail to meet all of the needs of a disabled individual. However, the supplemental needs of those individuals (meaning needs not covered by public benefits) can be met by using funds held in a Special Needs Trust (SNT).
As many of you know, May was National Elder Law Month. The National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) has declared this month the time for Elder Law attorneys across the nation to take time out of their busy practices to help educate the public about Elder Law and how an Elder Law attorney can help seniors and their families by offering solutions to the unique issues that come with aging. This issue of The ElderCounselor™ will discuss a debilitating condition that many Americans eventually face as they age: dementia. First, we will describe what dementia is and what it isn’t. Then we will turn our focus to its costs to the individual, the family and our nation. As Elder Law attorneys we are specially situated to help find solutions to many of the problems this condition brings with it. While we can’t stop dementia, we can help protect those in its clutches while the medical world continues to seek prevention, treatment and reversal of the condition.
In honor of “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month,” proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in March 1987, this month’s issue of The ElderCounselor™ examines the unique planning requirements of families who have loved ones with special needs. Understanding the pitfalls associated with special needs planning is a must for all who assist families with children, grandchildren or other loved ones (such as parents) with special needs.
As Happy New Year! 2013 was an important year for news that affected our senior, Veteran and disabled populations. Many stories affecting these groups made national headlines. This edition of the ElderCounselorTM will review some of the top stories that made headlines in 2013 and why they may continue to do so in 2014.
Most of us know of someone who has been diagnosed with dementia. It is a costly, heart-breaking and life-altering syndrome that is nearly doubling in numbers of people affected worldwide every 20 years . Dementia has affected the likes of Norman Rockwell, E.B. White, Rita Hayworth, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan, Charles Bronson, Margaret Thatcher and many other well-known people. It does not discriminate based on station in life, and its effects are widely dispersed. This edition of the ElderCounselorTM will focus on recent findings as to economic, financial and societal impacts of dementia as well as what an Elder Law attorney can do to help.
One of the greatest concerns for the elderly we serve and their families is that of long term care. Two-thirds of seniors will need care at some point in their life and many have not planned for this likelihood. It is an emotional and unpleasant topic to broach, but helping those we serve to plan ahead empowers them. This issue of the ElderCounselor™ newsletter will focus on information necessary to assist elderly in making decisions that will likely eventually affect them and their loved ones.
Legislators were very busy New Year’s Eve and into the early morning hours of New Year’s Day to draft and ultimately pass legislation to avoid what was commonly referred to as “The Fiscal Cliff.” But what really happened? In summary, not much new was passed, but rather the legislation in large part made permanent the system of estate and income tax that has been in effect for the past two years. The new law did put off for two months some important spending cuts that must take place due to a process called “sequestration.” It is these additional cuts that could have a significant impact on our senior population and their loved ones.