Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Questions Remain in Joan Rivers' Death

Joan rivers

Although Joan Rivers passed away on September 4th, details surrounding her death are still unfolding.  According to the Guardian Liberty Voice of Las Vegas, Rivers was undergoing endoscopic surgery at a clinic in New York when her respiratory system became compromised.  She was then rushed into the emergency room where she fell into a coma and placed on life support.  Shortly thereafter, her daughter Melissa authorized medical staff to discontinue life support.  New York health officials are continuing to investigate the clinic where Rivers’ final surgical procedure occurred. 

“It is very likely that Melissa Rivers was following the wish of her mother when she took her off life support . . . In New York, relatives cannot make end of life decisions automatically.  An advance directive must be in place and proper procedure must be followed prior to execution.  In this case, we can assume that Rivers had planned ahead.”

Rivers was outspoken about aging, death and estate taxation.  She once said that show business had hardened her to the point that she was not afraid of dying.  Thus, it is fair to say that Joan Rivers was not shy when it came to estate planning.  While her death may have come as a shock to fans, it was something that Rivers was ready to face, and planned in advance.  

See UltraTrust.com Exposes Postmortem Why Joan Rivers Joked About Her Estate Plan and Paying Taxes—Now Estimated at $45M, Insurance News Net, Sept. 18, 2014. 

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 19, 2014 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

End of Life Plans Made Easy With LastingMatters Organizer

Organizer

End of life decisions are difficult conversations to have with family and friends, and thus, avoided by many people for fear of placing an undue burden on their loved ones. While children, attorneys, and financial advisors often ask, people still find it difficult to discuss medical and financial directives.  They simultaneously overlook significant issues frequently arising after death. 

Barbara Sedoric has crafted a innovative solution to help families decipher the important details when the unthinkable does occur.  The LastingMatters Organizer enables individuals to document and leave all-inclusive and easy-to-use instructions (in print or online) that can inform and guide their loved ones after death.  Topics covered range from funeral plans and obituaries, to online passwords and details concerning family traditions and genealogy. 

The Organizer is a tool that can help anyone, at any age, by diminishing the costs, time, and the stress of family pressures surrounding the grieving process. Conversely, the graphics, the pointed questions, and the Organizer’s thoroughness make it easy and intuitive for someone to complete.

Special thanks to Barbara Sedoric (LastingMatters President and Founder) for bringing this to my attention.

September 16, 2014 in Books, Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Home Video Reveals Elder Abuse by Home Care Aides

Elder Care

Peter Mazza needed assistance with daily activities at the age of 99, but wanted to live out his days at his home in Staten Island, N.Y. To honor Mazza’s wishes, his family hired home-health aides through Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Partners in Care. The family had previously had a bad experience with home health aides so they installed video cameras in the home prior to hiring the new aides, and say that they informed both the company and the aides of the presence of the cameras.

Mazza sustained injuries due to a fall in April and died in a nursing home in June. Mazza's family claims that the cameras reveal multiple incidences of severe abuse and neglect, including an aide refusing to assist Mazza to reach his walker, which resulted in the fall that caused his injuries. The family is currently suing Partners in Care. The company has fired or suspended the aides involved.

See Frank Donnelly, Shocking Video at Center of Lawsuit Alleging Home Health Aides Abused 99-Year-Old Staten Island Man, SILive, Sept. 9, 2014.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 13, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Considering Future Healthcare Needs Before Giving Gifts

GiftMany individuals enjoy giving gifts to their family members while alive rather than waiting to pass the wealth through inheritance. Gifting while alive can bring the added benefit of experiencing the happiness the gift brings. However, with rising healthcare cost, there are many uncertainties about whether an individual nearing retirement can really afford to give gifts and still have enough to get through retirement with healthcare costs covered. Here are three things to consider before gifting early inheritance to family members:

  1. Plan for the worst and don’t trust the average costs of healthcare needs: Plain high for both medical costs and length of needed care.
  2. Don’t view the gift as an investment: Giving gifts to adult children does not secure a financial resource in the future, as the children may not be able to return the favor if the need arises.
  3. Don’t limit gifting options to financial gifts: Consider gifting family heirlooms or services, such as assisting with home repairs or childcare, instead of giving monetary gifts.

See Elizabeth O’Brien, Don’t Give Gifts to Your Heirs Until You’ve Answered This Question, Market Watch, Sept. 11, 2014.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 12, 2014 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Planning for Your Special Needs Child

Special needs 2

According to the Census Bureau, more than 56 million Americans have some type of disability.  For parents who have a child with a disability, the fear is, “What happens when we’re gone?”  One answer is to set up a trust for the child. 

While the idea seems simple, only 21 percent of parents with special-needs kids say they are familiar with the planning steps, many families avoiding the process altogether.  Yet once parents start planning they feel much more relieved, “The parents feel a lot more confident with the day-to-day challenges, knowing that they have this.” 

One significant aspect of a special-needs trust is that it allows families to prepare funds for children with a disability while maintaining eligibility for government benefits as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.  Leaving money outright or naming children as the beneficiary of insurance policies can disqualify them from receiving benefits. 

See Cherice Chen, Protecting Special Needs Kids Financially, USA Today, Aug. 23, 2014.

September 11, 2014 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mental Incapacity Planning With State Specific PADs

Mental HealthPsychiatric Advance Directives (PADs) are useful tools to plan for mental incapacity, by not only naming a proxy that can speak on the person’s behalf but also by directing treatment decisions. However, all PADs are not created the same way. Some states require that a state specific PAD form to be used while others will recognize a general form. More information on PADs and access to PAD forms for a specific state can be found here.

See Linda Wasmer Andrews, A Guide to Psychiatric Advance Directives, CNN, Feb. 17, 2014.

September 9, 2014 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, Resource Links | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Article on Filial Responsibility

Filial responsibility

Christina Lesher (Law Offices of Christina Lesher), Andrea Wilson (The Methodist Hospital System), and Kerrie Wesley (Law Office of Kerrie A. Wesley) recently published an article entitled, Whose Bill is it Anyway? Adult Children’s Responsibility to Care for Parents, Estate Planning and Community Property Law Journal, Vol. 6 No. 2, 247-278 (2014).  Provided below is a portion of the article’s introduction:

Over the next few decades, the elderly population of the United States will expand exponentially, as the Baby Boomer generation ages.  Though Social Security and other government programs have aided in sustaining the financial stability of Americans for the better part of a century, the system now lacks resources.  As more of the work force retires, fewer tax dollars go into the system to maintain a population that will likely have a longer life expectancy than any generation before it.  Seeking a solution to this problem, some have proposed a utilization of filial responsibility statutes, which place a heightened level of responsibility for the welfare of the elderly on family members, rather than on the government. 

In recent years, there has been growing discussion of filial responsibility statutes among legal scholars.  If such policies were effectively implemented, they could potentially ease the burden on government coffers.  However, these laws also come with the potential for a significant impact on Medicaid eligibility.  This article aims to provide an overview of filial responsibility laws and to explain how it factors into Medicaid estate planning. 

September 4, 2014 in Articles, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Article on Developments in the World of HIPAA

Brian cohan

Brian J. Cohan (Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) recently published an article entitled, “Something Wicked this Way Comes HIPAA and Her Sister HITECH” . . . HHS Compliance and Enforcement and Other Developments in the World of HIPAA, Estate Planning and Community Property Law Journal, Vol. 6 No. 2, 221-245 (2014).  Provided below is the article’s introduction:

Prior to the enactment of the Health Insurance Portability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), there were generally no accepted standards or requirements for protecting personal health care information.  The healthcare industry adopted new technologies to pay claims, determine eligibility, and provide and share general health information; thus, the potential for security breaches and risks have increased exponentially.  HIPAA and its supporting regulations are the legislature’s attempt to provide the privacy and security safeguards necessary for the efficient transmission of this confidential information. 

September 3, 2014 in Articles, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 1, 2014

New Form 2848

FormsThe new Form 2848 titled, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, has been released by the IRS. The new Form now has room for the information of four representatives to be entered, but only two representatives will receive communications from the IRS.

See Mel Schwarz, Dustin Stamper, Shamik Trivedi, IRS Issues New Power of Attorney Form, Mondaq, Aug. 27, 2014.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 1, 2014 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Beyond the Five-Star Nursing Home Rating System

Nursing home

I previously discussed the recent New York Times investigative report on Medicare’s deceiving five-star rating system for nursing home systems. 

The real problem is that nursing homes are measuring the incorrect things; a wise consumer should view the five-star system as only one tool in the search for the best possible facility.  While the five-star system may be a good reference, do not stop there.  Visit facilities and look beyond the lobby.  Talk to residents and their families.  Talk to nurses and aides. 

It is also important to keep in mind that Medicare is mostly rating safety rather than quality.  Medicare says very little about whether a facility provides high-quality, person-centered care that responds to individual needs of its patients and residents. 

The Medicare rating system may be best used as an initial screen to help which facilities to look at more closely.  While it is easy for facilities to game numbers, Medicare is measuring the wrong things.

See Howard Gleckman, Looking Beyond Medicare’s Nursing Home Ratings: What to Know Before Picking a Facility, Forbes, Aug. 27, 2014.

August 28, 2014 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)