Articles Tagged with Houston Elder Law

Baby feetLearning that your family will include a special needs child dramatically changes the narrative for families and most don't know what to expect, from providing care to financial planning. The New York Daily News explores the financial planning that needs to take place in "How to prepare a financial plan for families with special needs children."

Experts estimate that raising a child to age 18 costs roughly $250,000 and those parents of children with disabilities and special needs will have costs that could be as much as 10 times more. With these types of financial challenges, here are some key areas to focus on to protect and grow your money.

  • Assemble a team of experts. That team should include an elder law attorney, doctor, accountant, and government benefits specialist to help you understand Social Security, Medicaid, and other state and federal government programs;

Self-management_senior_swimmingThere is an expression among elder law attorneys called being "elderproofed," according to the Huffington Post in "Writing an Eldercare Plan." This takes planning to the next level, and includes things like how the person wises to be cared for, medical treatment preferences, whether they want to be cared for at home or in a facility, and more. These cover the day-to-day decisions to ensure that desires are followed once a person is unable to make those decisions known.

It's very important for seniors and their loved ones to discuss a care plan for the future before disease or dementia come into play, or a crisis causes eldercare services to become urgently needed. Get the plan drafted while the senior is still fully cognizant and rational. They can be signed when other end-of-life documents are put in place.

In truth, everyone wins with early discussions. When the patient is involved in the decisions for his or her potential care, the family has a better understanding of their preferences and are prepared for tough questions.

Decision definitionThe New York State Senate has passed a bill that will make it possible for testimony given by elderly witness to be preserved and used in criminal cases against their abusers, even if the elderly person has passed away or become incapacitated.

WHEC reported in its news article, "Senate passes bill to better protect senior citizens from abuse," that the legislation would allow elderly witnesses who are age 75 or older to be examined conditionally to preserve their testimony for future use.

"We have a responsibility to protect our senior citizens," Gallivan said. "Elder abuse, whether physical, psychological or financial, is on the rise as our senior population continues to grow. This legislation helps ensure those who abuse and exploit the elderly are held accountable and do not go unpunished."

Estate libraryPeople put off thinking about or planning to apply for Medicaid because there is nothing pleasant about it, from coming to terms with being ill and impoverished to sharing a nursing home room with a stranger, according to USA Today in "Navigating Medicaid for elder care can be as painful as the ailments." Depending on the policies of your state, you may not be able to spend your final days or years at home.

Up to 30% of Medicaid funding covers long-term care, which is roughly $100 billion annually. More than two-thirds of older adults will require some personal assistance before they pass away, and nearly 50% will need care to such a level that they'd be eligible for private long-term care insurance or Medicaid.

If you want to explore sheltering assets so you can qualify for Medicaid sooner rather than later, then you should talk to a qualified Medicaid attorney. You don't want to be without expert counsel, especially when making hard decisions on how to allocate money you've saved all your life.

Concerned elderWhen you live on a fixed income, any increases in your living costs present a huge challenge. For Manny Martinez, whose sole income is his monthly Social Security check, even living in rent-controlled senior housing doesn't protect him from being squeezed when costs go up. There are months when he has no choice but to accept food from the very same church food bank where he is a regular volunteer.

Martinez said it doesn't pay to get a part-time job because his rent would increase.

Martinez hasn't had to borrow money, but his situation is similar to many seniors who are struggling to get by, says The Daily Item in "New Report: More seniors falling into debt."

Woman toastingMidlife singles are used to directing their own lives, but many worry about what will happen when they die. With strains of The Beatles' song Eleanor Rigby in their ears, they worry that their funeral will be unattended and sad. This is one problem that has a solution: planning ahead.

The Pew Research Center's 2014 study, A Record Share of Americans Have Never Married, found that there's been a steady increase since 1970 in the share of the U.S. population that remains never married by the time they reach ages 45 to 54.

Forbes' recent article, "Single People Worry: Who'll Be There For Us?" sought advice from some of the funeral industry's leading experts, who offered these recommendations:

Soup can phoneYou might be surprised to learn that your elderly or aging parents are more open to discussing their final wishes and estate planning than you, their adult child. If they have already begun the estate planning process, they have come to terms with their own mortality—or are in the process of doing so. Having these discussions with your parents in advance will provide you with practical information. They will take comfort in knowing that you are prepared for the future.

You will be very appreciative after they pass away for the opportunity you had to ask them the questions that will help you to understand their estate and their wishes.

The Huffington Post's recent article, "What Your Aging Parent Isn't Telling You – I Want to Discuss End-of-Life Issues," offers three tips to help you decide whether it's the right time to discuss end-of-life issues with your parent:

GuitarWife of music legend Glen Campbell, Kim thought that her husband's forgetful moments were part of the normal aging process. Once she realized that his symptoms were not normal, she went to the experts and got the bad but necessary news. In 2011, at age 79, Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. His farewell tour was planned, and his final performance took place on November 20, 2012. A documentary of his Alzheimer's diagnosis and final tour, Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, was released in 2014.

"Getting the diagnosis helped me a lot," Kim Campbell said in a recent telephone interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader, in "Wife of Glen Campbell takes on role of Alzheimer's advocate, speaker." She was candid with the reporter, admitting, "Before the diagnosis, I would get frustrated with him, and irritated and annoyed."

Alzheimer's impacts about half of all people over the age of 85 and kills nearly 100,000 Americans each year. It's named for the German doctor Alois Alzheimer, who discovered the distinctive tangles and plaques of the disease in the brain of a female dementia patient in 1906.

Arm wrestling over moneyA settlement agreement approved today by a probate court judge in Texas has NFL owner Tom Benson's estranged daughter Renee Benson replacing her billionaire father as a trustee overseeing her late mother's assets, as reported by the San Antonio Express News in "Tom Benson's daughter wrestles control of $1 billion trust in settlement."

The trust, valued at approximately $1 billion, was set up in 1980 after Tom Benson's first wife died—but before he took over as the owner of the NFL New Orleans Saints and the NBA New Orleans Pelicans.

Forbes said the elder Benson has a net worth of about $2.2 billion.

MP900407501One of the biggest reasons not to act when you suspect elder abuse is taking place is simply not knowing what to do. We know who to call for domestic violence or when a child is being abused. But for an elderly neighbor? The same kind of help and the same anonymity is in place – something most of us just don't know.

The Avery (NC) Journal-Times' recent article, "Safe steps when suspecting elder abuse," discusses suggestions from the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services to put your mind at ease. In that state, people are encouraged to contact the local Adult Protective Services (APS), where a trained social worker will visit the neighbor and assess the situation.
Last year the state saw more than 24,000 reports of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation, which indicates that many individuals did do something to help their neighbors. But the national statistics say that only 1-in-5 incidents of elder abuse get reported. As a result, many incidents may have gone without any help.

North Carolina's laws require that anyone having reasonable cause to believe that a disabled adult is in need of protective services must make a report to the local Department of Social Services (DSS) APS unit. DSSs are statutorily mandated to receive information reported and determine if the report satisfies the criteria for evaluation. North Carolina law protects adults with disabilities age 18 and older, but the majority of reports involve those who are 60 years of age and older.

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