Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ask Math Not Facts to Detect Cognitive Impairment Early

MathResearchers of dementia and cognitive impairment warn that many individuals can still recall common facts, such as the date or who the president is, in the early stages of impairment. However, losing ability to do simply math and understanding finances can come earlier in the development of diseases such as  Alzheimer's. Detecting declining ability to handle finances early can help protect older individuals from exploitation.

See Tara Siegel Bernard, As Cognition Slips, Financial Skills Are Often the First to Go, New York Times, Apr. 24, 2015.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 26, 2015 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 24, 2015

When It’s The Right Call To Put IRA's In A Trust

IRA PictureFor certain high net worth individuals it may be beneficial to place an IRA into a trust fund for the protection of the IRA and beneficiaries from potential bankruptcy and other creditors. Inherited IRA’s do not have these protections so forming a trust might be worth the expense if any problems down the line might be foreseen including divorce and financial difficulties. In addition, trusts offer greater control over the disposition of the assets which might add to the appeal of using a trust. While this is not an issue that will apply to many clients, it is still worth keeping in mind for the right situation.

See Kenneth Roberts, Why You Should Put Your IRA In A Trust, Market Watch, Mar. 27, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

April 24, 2015 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Scamming Seniors

Fraud 1

Many senior citizens have worked hard for their retirement, and plan to spend their golden years traveling, spending time with family, or pursuing second careers.  However, con artists are creating schemes that threaten their accumulated wealth.  Below are a few of these plots:

  1. IRS Scam. Senior citizens are receiving phone calls from scammers claiming to be IRS agents.  They claim to be calling about unpaid back taxes and threaten the senior with anything from lawsuits to arrest. 
  2. Health Care Scam.  People call as health care or Medicare representatives to gain access to personal information.  They will then use this information to call back at a later date and say they spoke with a relative and it is okay to give them their Social Security numbers or driver’s license numbers.  In many cases, they use the information to bill Medicare and pocket the money.
  3. Great-Grandchild Scam.  Scammers will call seniors and pretend to be a grandchild or great-grandchild and ask for money.  Oftentimes, they know just enough information from the Internet to get the senior to open up.
  4. Prescription Scams.  Due to the rising costs of prescription drugs, many seniors are going online to purchase their medicines.  Yet, these drugs can be counterfeit, making this an extremely dangerous scam.  In other circumstances, fraudsters take the money without delivering the drugs.
  5. Obituary Scam.  In this scam, fraudsters read obituaries from the paper and call the deceased relative’s family demanding money for a supposed outstanding debt that the deceased left behind. 

See Ana Gonzalez Ribeiro, 7 Costly Scams That Target Senior Citizens, Bankrate, 2015.

April 22, 2015 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Section 8 Eligibility Lost Due to Special Needs Trust Payments

Gavel2After receiving a $330,000 settlement for personal injury claims, 59-year-old Kimberly DeCambre became the beneficiary of a court-established special needs trust. DeCambre also received Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, and a Section 8 housing voucher. Her Section 8 eligibility was revoked by the Brookline Housing Authority (BHA) due to trust disbursements in excess of $60,000 in one year. DeCambre sued the BHA claiming disability discrimination and due process violations. One of her arguments was that the BHA's determination was improper because if her settlement had been in a lump sum instead of in a trust it would not have counted as income.

In DeCambre v. Brookline Housing Authority, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts affirmed the BHA's denial of benefits finding the determination reasonable, but noted that "until the rules and regulations are clarified, public housing authorities should provide clear guidance and instruction for potential tenants with regard to their financial planning and spending."

See SNT Payments Cause Section 8 Ineligibility, Elder Law Answers, Apr. 13, 2015.

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

April 21, 2015 in Elder Law, New Cases, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Estate Planners Should Prepare for Dementia


As the baby boomer generation continues to age, issues with dementia and Alzheimer’s will become more prevalent.  “Diminishing capacity is a big problem for financial advisers, and can cause the elderly to make unwise financial decisions.”  Clients should plan ahead by including a “dementia protocol” in their estate plan.   Having a dementia protocol in place is a good way to be prepared for any situation where an elderly client might lose capacity.

See Barbara A. Friedberg, Advisors Should Consider a ‘Dementia Protocol,’ Investopedia, 2015.     


April 20, 2015 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

DOJ Rolls Out Elder Justice Website

DOJThe United States Department of Justice has launched the Elder Justice Website, as part of the Elder Justice Initiative designed to provide a coordinated federal response by emphasizing various public health and social service approaches to the prevention, detection, and treatment of elder abuse.  The Elder Justice Act represents Congress’s first attempt at comprehensive legislation to address abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the elderly at the federal level. 

On the Elder Justice Website, individuals will find information about how to go about reporting elder abuse and financial exploitation.  The website is intended to serve as a “dynamic resource” and will be updated to reflect any changes in the law and current news in the elder justice field.

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

April 19, 2015 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Congress Ends Coverage of Medicare Part B Deductible

Medicare taxMedicare beneficiaries typically purchase “Medigap” insurance, which pays for most of Medicare’s deductibles and copayments.  However, Congress recently passed legislation that will no longer allow Medigap plans to offer coverage of the Medicare Part B deductible, beginning in 2020.  Current Medigap policyholders and those buying policies before 2020 will still be eligible for the deductible coverage after that date. 

This new change is to help pay for the “doc fix” legislation that overhauls the way Medicare pays doctors and that is expected to cost $200 billion over 10 years.  The reasoning behind making Medicare beneficiaries pay the deductible themselves is that it will make them rethink the decision to go to a doctor and perhaps costing the Medicare system superfluous expenses.

See Congress Schedules End to Insurance Coverage of Medicare Part B Deductible, Elder Law Answers, Apr. 17, 2015. 

April 18, 2015 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Caretaker Found Guilty of Murder

Crime scene tapeLast year 92-year-old William Collins was found dead; and on Wednesday, a six-person jury ruled the cause of death a homicide.  Collins was killed by blunt force trauma to the head and his caretaker, Judith Marc, was found to be responsible.  “He had a will naming her the executor and all the inheritance of the house and a bunch of other things of his.  She also had two other people she had also taken care of in the past that were also dead,” coroner Robert Allen said.  

See Monroe County Coroner’s Inquest Finds Caregiver Responsible For Death, 69 News, Apr. 15, 2015.  

April 17, 2015 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Iowa Case Explores Issues of Sex, Consent, Dementia

GavelOpening statements were heard last week in an Iowa criminal case that is exploring a question that is still unresolved in the scientific community of whether, when, or how dementia patients can consent to sex.  Henry Rayhons is charged with third-degree felony sexual abuse for allegedly having sex with his wife in her nursing home room last year. Rayhons' wife had severe Alzheimer's and doctors had recommended that Rayhorn no longer engage in sexual relations with her. Rayhorn denies having sex on the day charged and has said that his wife continued to ask for sexual contact.

Experts are split on the issue, with some saying that continued sexual relations is healthy for dementia patients and that safeguards can be put in place by nursing home staff to ensure the individual understands what is happening and is not being harmed. Other experts say that they are unable to consent and their desires are a primal response absent the understanding needed to give consent.

See Pam Belluck, Sex, Dementia and a Husband on Trial at Age 78, New York Times, Apr. 13, 2015.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret and Adam T. Uszynski (Meier, Bradicich & Moore, LLP, Victoria, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 16, 2015 in Elder Law, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Luxurious Amenities to Lure Medicare Patients

Nursing homeIn a cutthroat race for Medicare dollars, nursing homes are luring patients who are leaving a hospital and need short-term rehabilitation with luxuries such as decadent baths and calming waterfalls.  Yet, even as nursing homes invest in lavish living quarters, the quality of care is very uneven.  Many of the homes are unable to provide the intensive medical care that rehabilitation requires.

The Department of Health and Human Services released a report in 2014 indicating that 22 percent of Medicare patients who stayed in a nursing facility for 35 days or less experienced harm as a result of their medical care.  Experts say that nursing homes were not built for this purpose; many patients leave hospitals with acute medical needs. 

Competition for these patients has become intense because Medicare pays 84 percent more for short-term patients than nursing homes generally get from Medicaid for long-term patients. 

See Katie Thomas, In Race for Medicare Dollars, Nursing Home Care May Lag, The New York Times, Apr. 14, 2015.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret for bringing this article to my attention.

April 15, 2015 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)