Looking Forward: Possible Policy Changes in Medicaid/Medicare

This last month has been a whirlwind of activity and conflict as the newly elected president and congress have clashed over potential changes to the Affordable Care Act and health insurance. Many Americans are wary of what sorts of agenda items might be upcoming, and how it will affect them. It is likely that one of the next big items that the federal government will be legislating will be Medicare and Medicaid.

As these are issues that are constantly in flux, I would encourage you to do independent research for the most up-to-date information. Read more

Protecting the Rights and Wishes of an Elderly Client

When I am meeting with elderly clients they often have a son, daughter, or relative with them in a supportive role. While having a trusted love one at your side can be comforting and helpful, there are times that as an attorney I need to speak to the client alone and make sure that their wishes are understood and respected. This is an ethical practice that protects my client as well as their family members. Read more

Maximizing Social Security Retirement Benefits for Married Baby Boomers

Baby boomers (those born between 1946-1964) are rapidly reaching retirement age. For the next 17 years, an average of more than 10,000 boomers per month will turn 65. This huge population of people needs to make decisions about when to start receiving their Social Security retirement benefits. Some have already elected to start receiving benefits as early as age 62. Many couples don’t realize how many options they have to maximize their benefits, both for themselves and for their spouses, by delaying election.
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Understanding the Costs of Dementia

What is dementia? Dementia is a broad term used to describe a general decline in memory or other thinking skills in the elderly. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which is a specific illness that accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Symptoms of dementia may include memory loss, confusion, and disorientation, as well as mood and personality changes. Dementia is often thought of as a normal part of aging, but that is not true. If you observe these symptoms in yourself or in a loved one, please seek medical treatment right away. Read more

Co-Owned Automobiles and Estate Planning

What happens to cars in Estate Planning? Most of the time, people don’t spend time thinking about what happens to their vehicles when they are planning their estates, especially if it is co-owned with a partner. Unless the car is an “heirloom” item it is unlikely that it will be kept for a long time, and those that do last tend to lose their value. However, a co-owned automobile can cause problems with your estate if it has not been properly titled.

What can go wrong? Consider the situation of a one of my clients, whose spouse died suddenly, leaving two relatively new vehicles. Read more

Protecting the Elderly: Warning Signs of Financial Abuse

Financial exploitation of the elderly is a serious problem. In the United States 5% of the elderly experience financial abuse each year. However, there are steps you can take to recognize and protect your loved ones.

What exactly is financial elder abuse? Elder abuse can describe any act which causes harm or distress to an older person, particularly when there is an expectation of trust. That abuse is financial abuse when it involves taking or misusing the victim’s assets for personal gain. Read more

The Importance of a Power of Attorney

Why is a Power of Attorney necessary? Many seniors struggle with handling their finances and may be at risk of false advertising, scams, and identity theft. To help guard against these dangers, individuals can establish a Power of Attorney where they (the Principal) identify another person (the Agent) to act on the principal’s behalf and help to manage their finances. The Agent is usually a spouse, a relative, or a trusted friend.

What exactly does a Power of Attorney do? A Power of Attorney grants legal authority to the Agent to perform various tasks on the Principal’s behalf. North Carolina has adopted a “durability” statute that allows this power to continue even after the mental incapacity of the Principal. The result is a “Durable Power of Attorney”–a document that continues to be valid until a stated termination date or death of the Principal.

What are the benefits of a Power of Attorney?

  1. You choose someone you trust to help manage your finances.
  2. Avoids the necessity for the court to appoint a guardian if you become incapacitated –  a process that is costly and often stressful.
  3. Provides family and friends with direction about your wishes and expectations.

Nobody can predict exactly what challenges we will face as we age. A good goal is to have a Durable Power of Attorney in place that names trustworthy agents to be at your side when you need them the most.