US Census: Beware Scammers
October 27, 2009
The US Census, conducted every ten years, is underway. You can count on scammers to use the opportunity to try to rip people off.
A Census worker will be coming to your door. They will have an identification badge, a copy of the letter that was previously sent to you by the Census Bureau, a bag or laptop with the Census Bureau insignia, and a hand-held device.
They will ask you for your name so that they can verify your address.
Legitimate census workers will NOT ask for your Social Security number, your credit card number, bank account numbers, or any other confidential information.
If anyone does claim to be with the Census and asks you for your Social Security number, credit card, or bank information, ask them to leave.
Also note that the Census will not contact anyone by email. If you receive an email claiming to be from the Census, it is not legitimate.
Keep an eye on your neighborhood, especially the homes of elderly neighbors. Seniors are particularly susceptible to scam artists.
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Does Your Special Needs Child Really Need a Guardianship?
October 19, 2009
Last week I gave a presentation to Weymouth parents of special needs young adults, and from our conversation, it was clear that the school system was telling them that when a special needs child turns 18, the family must obtain a guardianship. As I’ve written elsewhere, this costs money, involves lawyers, and requires going to court. And for kids with developmental disabilities, there is the daunting clinical team report, which requires coordinating three different professionals.
Fortunately, guardianship (and its accompanying conservatorship) is not necessarily the answer for every family. For lots of kids, a Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney are the way to go. I don’t know why school special ed personnel are not educated on this, but the Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney are much more respectful of the young adult’s autonomy and cost significantly less – thousands of dollars less – with a fraction of the hassle.
To sign her Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney, the young adult needs to have a basic understanding of what she is appointing the named agents to do (usually her parents, but not necessarily – it’s up to her to decide whom to name). Ask yourself: Does she understand that money buys her things? That money must be saved and spent with care? Does she like to have someone help her manage money and make decisions? Does she like to have someone involved with her medical care? Would she like for someone to be able to tell doctors what to do if she can’t tell them herself?
If you think the answer to these questions is “yes,” then meet with a special needs attorney to discuss a Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney instead of guardianship and conservatorship. Technically speaking, the question of whether a person has the requisite mental capacity to sign these documents is a legal one, so the attorney will need to meet with the young adult alone – maybe more than once – to make that determination for herself.
And if the attorney decides that indeed this young adult can create and sign these documents, than the small investment you have made is more than outweighed by the savings of avoiding guardianship and conservatorship – in terms of the young adult’s autonomy and your family’s time, money, and emotional capital.