Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How Student Loan Debt Is Plaguing Older Borrowers

Student loan debtNot only does student loan debt affect young to middle-aged adults, it also seems to be affecting a growing number of older Americans. Specifically, the number of Americans age sixty and older with student loan debt has quadrupled in the last decade—from 700,000 in 2005 to 2.8 million in 2015. Oftentimes, these older generations will take out loans to finance their children or grandchildren’s education. These same older Americans also usually carry other types of debt, such as mortgage, credit card, and auto loan debt. Further, carrying the student loan debt can have serious consequences for older adults, including having their Social Security benefits reduced to pay the debt. Older borrowers must certainly consider how educational loans can impact their future.   

See Karen Demasters, Student Loan Debts Plague Older Americans, Financial Advisor, January 16, 2017. 


January 17, 2017 in Current Events, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Strangers Raise Money to Give 108-Year-Old the Proper End-of-Life Comfort

RauschAfter 108-year-old Carrie Rausch was nearly forced out of her assisted living facility, her daughter and subsequent strangers decided to raise money to help her live her remaining years in comfort. Rausch’s daughter set up a GoFundMe page when her mother outlived her assets and could no longer afford the care she had grown comfortable with. The goal was to raise $40,000, which would cover one year of room and board at the assisted living facility. The goal was exceeded through the generosity of strangers, and all funds above the goal will be donated to Rausch’s church.   

See Supporters Raise over $40G to Keep 108-Year-Old in Home, Fox News, January 12, 2017. 


January 14, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 13, 2017

CLE on Advanced Elder & Advanced Guardianship Laws

CLEThe State Bar of Texas is holding a CLE entitled, 2017 Advanced Elder Law and Advanced Guardianship Law, which will take place April 6–7, 2017, at the Westin Memorial City on 945 Gessner Road in Houston, Texas. Provided below is a description of the event:

We hope you will join us for our upcoming live presentations of 2017 Advanced Elder Law and Advanced Guardianship Law in Houston on April 6-7, 2017 at the Westin Memorial City.

We are leading off this year with our Advanced Elder Law Course on Thursday, followed by Advanced Guardianship Law Course on Friday. Together these courses provide up to 13.25 hours (including 2.5 hours ethics) of MCLE credit while discussing some of the biggest topics in the field today.

Advanced Elder Law will cover:

  • What You Don't Know Can Hurt You: Case Law and Legislative Updates
  • Dealing with MERP Claims Through Probate Proceedings
  • MERP - It Ain't a Lien and Here's Why
  • How to Deal with the Transition Between VA and Medicaid
  • Anatomy of a Will
  • Title Issues on Gift Deeds, Lady Bird Deeds, and Transfer on Death Deeds
  • Communicating Complicated Elder Law Concepts to Clients Who May Have a Hard Time Understanding Complicated Concepts
  • Client Self Defense Against Abuse, Disputes, and Neglect
  • Medicaid Applications - The View from 30,000 Feet
  • Handling Odd Types of Property

Advanced Guardianship Law topics include:

  • Tool Kit for Contested Guardianships
  • Supports and Services - Alternatives to Guardianships
  • Temporary Guardianships and Other Remedies v TROs
  • The Interaction of POA in Guardianships
  • Runaway Ad Litems
  • Fees and Costs in Guardianships; A Trap for the Unwary
  • Effective Use of Management Trusts With or in Lieu of Guardianships: Guardians of the Estate
  • Creditors' Claims in Guardianships

Plus, attending Advanced Guardianship Law will qualify you for Attorney ad Litem certification!

Select rooms have been reserved at the Westin Memorial Hotel for State Bar registrants at the special rate of $189/night. Reserve your room by calling the hotel at 281-501-4300 and asking for the State Bar of Texas room block by March 16th or use the link above.


January 13, 2017 in Conferences & CLE, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hospice Care Linked to Greater Family Satisfaction

Hospice careA recent study of families with terminally ill loved ones shows that they are more satisfied with end-of-life treatment if it involves hospice care. Hospice care was associated with better symptom management, attainment of pain-management goals, and quality end-of-life care. Further, hospice care is linked to a greater likelihood of dying in the location of choice and less distress for caregivers. Those families whose loved one received at least thirty days of hospice care reported higher quality of life outcomes. 

See Hospice Care Linked to Higher Family Satisfaction, Fox News, January 5, 2017. 


January 9, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Trump Policies Will Likely Affect the Elderly and Special Needs Populations

Special needs trumpWith the recent election of Donald Trump, the elderly and special needs populations are likely to see changes. The President-elect has claimed that Social Security and Medicare will remain intact and solvent. How he plans to make this happen is something that has younger generations worried about the preservation of the fiscal health. For those who rely on Medicaid, block grants could go into effect, which could create profound changes for individual states, creating uncertainty and concern for planning needs. Additionally, the block grants will potentially affect special needs trusts, reducing or eliminating the benefits they provide. These possible Medicaid changes could also see many older homeowners losing their homes, a legacy for future generations, if the Medicaid program cannot pay for the cost of skilled nursing, keeping them from selling their homes and moving into nursing homes. Ultimately, in the near future, families will become more insular and protective of one another, and there will be high demand for multi-generational planning.  

See Michael Gilfix, How Trump Policies Could Affect the Elderly and Those with Special Needs, Wealth Management, January 6, 2017. 

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


January 8, 2017 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 6, 2017

An Increase in Senior Suicides if Social Security and Medicare Are Cut

Senior suicideExperts warn that if Social Security and Medicare benefits are reduced, then suicide rates among elders could increase. Such an additional financial stress could inadvertently tip the scales for some seniors after forcing them to rely on dwindling personal savings. Elders are also less likely to acknowledge suicidal thoughts than other age groups, making it difficult to seek help at the appropriate time. Compassion can be an efficient way to reduce financial stressors, but all financial advisors should be aware of suicidal signs. 

See Ted Knutson, Senior Suicides Could Rise if Social Security and Medicare Cut, Experts Warn, Financial Advisor, January 5, 2017. 

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


January 6, 2017 in Current Events, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Elders Who Provide Care Live Longer than Their Counterparts

ChildcareGrandparents who help out with childcare or provide support to other community members tend to live longer than other elders who do not care for people. However, having full-time custody of grandchildren can be detrimental to their health, but occasional helping can be beneficial. The study shows that the risk of dying over a twenty-year period was one-third lower for seniors who cared for their grandchildren compared to their counterparts who did not provide any childcare. The same was true for those seniors who supported other adult family members or unrelated members of their community. Specifically, caregiving may improve cognitive functioning as well as physical and mental health.   

See Grandparents Who Help Care for Grandchildren Live Longer than Other Seniors, Fox News, January 3, 2017. 


January 3, 2017 in Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Chronic Stress Erodes Memory

Chronic stressA recent study shows that sustained stress erodes memory with the immune system playing a key role in cognitive impairment. Specifically, the study researched the relationship between chronic stress and short-term memory in mice. The mice that were repeatedly introduced to the aggressive intruder had a difficult time remembering where the escape hole was, whereas the mice who were less stressed, remembered it. Additionally, the chronically stressed mice had evidence of inflammation in their brains, resulting from the immune system’s response to outside pressure. The long-range goal of the study was to eventually help those who are anxious, depressed, and suffer from chronic stress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Researchers ultimately were able to directly link the post-stress memory issues to inflammation caused by the immune system.  

See Long-Term Stress Erodes Memory, Science Bulletin, May 20, 2016. 


January 3, 2017 in Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 2, 2017

How Do You Become a "Superager"?

SuperagerWhy do some elders remain mentally sound while others decline? “Superagers” are those whose memory and attention are above average for their age, more specifically on par with a healthy twenty-five-year-old. A study shows that a set of brain regions, particularly the midcingulate cortex and the anterior insula, distinguishes superagers from their counterparts. These regions were thinner for normal agers, but superagers had regions indistinguishable from those of young adults, untouched by time. Further, these are “emotional” regions, not “cognitive” regions. But, how do you become a superager? Work hard at something. Perform difficult tasks, physical or mental. It is essential, however, to push through bouts of unpleasantness with such intense effort—any superager would.  

See Lisa Feldman Barrett, How to Become a ‘Superager’, N.Y. Times, December 31, 2016. 

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


January 2, 2017 in Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

How Friendship Can Cure Loneliness for Elders

Elder friendshipAs the years go on, our circle of close friends gets smaller and smaller—companions die, move away, or grow ill. It also becomes harder to make new acquaintances, but the capacity to still find warmth in new friendships has true value. Finding someone who understands you and you can put your trust into can be a light in a dark time. As we evolve, we begin to prioritize our friendships—a theory called “socioemotional selectivity.” This theory likens that as people sense they have less time in life, they eliminate superficial relationships to concentrate on those they find meaningful. Perhaps, this is due to the serious toll that isolation and loneliness can take on elders. Studies show that loneliness is associated with higher blood pressure, nursing home admissions, risky health behaviors, and dementia. Elders can also bring wisdom into their late-life friendships, allowing them to be tolerant of imperfections. Ultimately, there is strong evidence to support the idea of friendship saving lives and promoting health. 

See Paula Span, Loneliness Can be Deadly for Elders; Friends Are the Antidote, N.Y. Times, December 30, 2016. 


January 1, 2017 in Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)