Rental Wheelchair Vans Available from VERC
June 18, 2013
First I’ve ever heard of this concept. What a great idea for people who’ve given up their cars but still occasionally want to get out with family or friends. Love it! Check out VERC’s website for more info.
The Elderly & Special Needs Patients and the Fiscal Cliff
January 9, 2013
In all the fiscal cliff nonsense of the last few weeks, here are a few provisions that affect the elderly and the disabled:
1. Remember how doctors were being threatened with a 27% pay cut for their Medicare patients? That threat went away. For a year. Set your clocks now for December 2013 when we get to watch this debate all over again.
2. Extension of the Medicaid payment of the Medicare Part B deductible for low-income folks. That’s the $99.90 that is deducted from your Social Security check every month. For low-income folks, Medicaid picks up payment for Medicare Part B. That was threatened to disappear. It’s been saved… until December 2013, anyway.
3. CLASS has officially been repealed. This was Ted Kennedy’s project, it was the first national response to our long-term care funding crisis. Lots of folks didn’t like it right from the beginning. Now it’s gone, and so far we still don’t have a national agreement on where we stand as a society on providing for long-term care.
4. Creation of the Commission on Long-Term Care. This outfit is supposed to develop recommendations for a national approach to establishing, implementing,and financing a long-term care system that establishes quality long-term care and supports. American history is littered with study groups whose recommendations and good work are ignored by Congress (sometimes for the good). We will wait to see who is appointed to this commission before we can predict whether their recommendations will be thoughtful and balanced or stilted in one direction. If the Commission is to be staffed in the thoughtful and balanced direction, then I expect that NAELA will advocate to have one of our knowledgeable thought leaders involved.
Nurses & Social Workers – CEU Workshop Series Starts This Week
September 10, 2012
Two-Part Workshop Series: I Want to Go Home! Helping Your Patients Go Home and Stay at Home for as Long as Possible. This Friday 9/14 (Part 1) and next Friday 9/21 (Part 2). Held at Wingate Silver Lake. Doors open at 7:00a, program is 7:30a – 8:45a. Wingate will be serving breakfast. Social workers and nurses will earn 2.5 CEU hours (must attend both mornings). Sponsored by our good friends at North River Home Care.
By attending these workshops, you will learn how to help even frail and/or low-income seniors live at home and remain independent for as long as possible. We will discuss various care options and will explore a variety of options for financial assistance. In addition, we will cover some of the legal matters involved in helping a senior ensure his or her financial and medical wishes will be carried out in the event of incapacity. Ultimately, I hope to provide you with the information you need to prepare your patients for long-term success at home. Armed with this information, you will be able to best serve your patients and further your career.
We held these same workshops in Hingham this past spring. They were quite a success, and we received a great deal of positive feedback from social workers and nurses alike. We are pleased to offer this educational opportunity to our friends further south. I hope you choose to attend these workshops and look forward to spending some time with you.
Space in limited to 20 attendees. To register, please contact Doreen in our office.
Nantasket Beachcombers Club – Bereavement Support Group
July 19, 2012
Now here’s a refreshing idea – a bereavement support group that meets in a place that so many of us find so… well, there just are not enough adjectives to describe how the ocean and Nantasket Beach make us feel. Comforted, comfortable, relaxed, at ease, in tune with ourselves, home.
The Nantasket Beachcombers Club is led by South Shore Hospital’s Robert Zucker, bereavement coordinator for the hospital’s hospice service. He will lead groups on Thursday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30. Meet at the blue playground across from the carousel. Jump on this! He is hosting the group at the beach only into early August.
Here is more information on the Nantasket Beachcombers Club.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Issues Alert for Scams Relating to Recent Affordable Care Act Decision
No sooner had the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Affordable Care Act than scam artists began working the phones. The scam works as follows: Claiming to be from the government, scam artists tell listeners that under the Affordable Care Act, they need to verify some information. For example, they might have the routing number of the person’s bank, and then use that information to get the person to reveal the entire account number. Other times, they have asked for credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, Medicare ID, or other personal information.
The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has again issued a warning not to give out personal or financial information in response to unsolicited phone calls, emails, or knocks on your door. If you get a call from someone who claims to be from the government and who asks for your personal information, hang up. It’s a scam. The government and legitimate organizations with which you do business have the information they need and will not ask you for it. Then, file a complaint at ftc.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP. If you think your identity has been stolen, visit ftc.gov/idtheft or call 1-877-ID-THEFT. You also can file a complaint with your state Attorney General.
(Reprinted from NAELA e-Bulletin 7/18/12.)
Red Sox vs. Yankees this Sunday!
July 5, 2012
Red Sox vs. Yankees this Sunday at Fenway!!! Bid on 4 seats in the State Street Pavilion. Bid here:http://www.biddingforgood.com/
This is a benefit for all the fantastic folks at the Friendship Home.
Democracy + Modern Technology
March 28, 2012
Isn’t it remarkable that every single one of us can listen to Supreme Court arguments live? Live! All of us! And you can read the full transcript later the same day. It’s remarkable, absolutely remarkable. Humans have been organizing ourselves into nation-states for a few thousand years now, and when before in all that history has every single citizen had full, complete, easy access to every word spoken by one of their nation’s highest decision-making bodies? Never.
This is cause for real celebration. It doesn’t matter what you think of the Affordable Care Act. It’s the fact that we can also listen to every word spoken in the Supreme Court that is astonishing. Talk about empowering.
December 21, 2011
Most Americans don’t realize that they have an estate. Most people think that an “estate” includes a mansion in the hills, a private jet, or millions of dollars in investment accounts. But the true definition of “estate” is a person’s possessions or property—regardless of the size or amount. Everybody has an estate; and if you own a home, have a retirement account, or have any personal property of value you should consider creating a trust for your “estate.”
Trusts come in lots of flavors. They can accomplish all sorts of fancy tax planning, can include certain family members but not others, can run scholarships or foundations – the things you can do with a trust are endless. But most clients in my office need what I call the “plain vanilla” trust. That’s a straight-forward revocable family trust. Mind you, it’s still twenty pages long and takes hours to put together, but within the world of trusts, this is the simple one. The one that most of us should have, the one that I have set up for my family.
A revocable family trust serves two main purposes. The first goal – the one everyone thinks about – is that it will distribute your stuff after you die. It substitutes for the will. Within your trust, you do what you typically think of as the will’s job – you say how your want your estate distributed after you die. Usually people split their assets equally among their children, but that’s not always the case. We can designate whomever you want and in whatever portions you want under your trust (we can do that under a will, too, but right now we are talking about trusts).
So why would we use a trust instead of a will? Simple answer: it will save your family lots of headaches. If you don’t direct your assets to a trust, and instead just leave all your assets in your own name, then when you die those assets will be governed by your will. So far so good. But after you die, there has to be a legal process of changing title on your assets from your name to the people you’ve named in your will. That legal process is called the “probate process.” It requires that your children work with an attorney, go through the court’s system (which can take at least a year, quite often longer), complete lots of paperwork, and spend plenty of money on court fees and attorney’s fees. If you instead set up a trust now and take the time to transfer your assets to your trust now, then after your death, your children have precious little to do. The trust will already own the assets. Now the trustee (probably one of your children) just has to review bank statements, sell the home, and cut checks to all your beneficiaries. The trustee will have some work to do, but an awful lot less work compared to taking all of your assets through the probate process.
Another reason to have a trust – and this is the reason that no one thinks about except us lawyers who think of all the “what if’s” – is to protect you while you are living. If you transfer your assets to your trust now, and you go on vacation or are in the hospital or develop dementia, then your successor trustee (usually a child, sometimes a sibling or best friend) can take over managing your assets. Bills will be paid, that CD will be renewed when the maturity notice comes in the mail, etc. Your successor trustee steps into your shoes and manages your money, so things continue seamlessly, even though you are unable to manage your own affairs. What a relief.
I should clarify what it means to “transfer your assets to your trust.” That’s really a fancy way of saying that you are “changing the name” on your accounts. For example, if you have a money market at the bank in your name, then after you sign the trust, I would tell you to call the bank and have them change the owner of the money market from you individually to the revocable family trust that you just signed. They will probably have you complete a new signature card.
Since you will be the trustee of your trust, nothing will feel any different on a day to day basis – you are still the one accessing your accounts, reviewing statements, paying bills, etc. The difference is that you have a Plan. If you need help managing your assets during your lifetime, you have empowered your successor trustee to step in and take care of you. And you have lined up your assets so that your family will not have to deal with the hassle and cost of probate after you pass away. A plan. Feels good, doesn’t it?
Thrown into the Deep End
May 18, 2010
Did you see Michelle Singletary’s column this weekend in the Boston Globe? I like her column, The Color of Money. She writes in a straight-forward, honest manner, with guidance targeted at “regular folks” like myself.
This weekend she wrote about essentially being thrown into the deep end of the pool of elder care. If you read her column, you saw that her feelings, questions, fears, and sense of being overwhelmed and without direction are those very same feelings that most children of seniors (or healthier spouses of seniors) are experiencing every day.
While I can’t make your parent or spouse healthier, and I can’t bring back their memory skills, I can make it easier for you to handle your new caretaking role. The elder law attorney’s job has many aspects – for one, I help elders stretch out their assets to stay at home for as long as possible.
How do I do this? We look at MassHealth benefits and Veterans Benefits as a way of bringing more help into the home. We look at selling the home and building an in-law apartment on a child’s house. We explore setting up a contract between parent and child that allows the child to quit her job and care for her parent but still earn some income. And if nursing home is a possibility, we explore ways to maintain a healthy spouse at home and also explore various methods of safely and legally transferring some assets to children.
But the elder law attorney’s role goes beyond this – my job is also to pull in other professionals who can help you become a better – and more sane – caregiver. I may invite in an Alzheimer’s coach to teach a family how to work with a family member who is changing before their eyes; a geriatric nurse to guide a thoughtful conversation on wishes for end of life care; a geriatric care manager to create and manage a schedule of home health aides – and more.
I can’t get you out of the deep end of the pool. Life takes our parents and spouses in certain directions. But I can teach you how to swim.
This Made Me Laugh
May 12, 2010
Talking to a client this afternoon, and he mentions that he is attending an annual get-together tonight with some friends. The way he describes it: “A bunch of old men getting together and telling lies.” I love it!!