Wednesday, March 18, 2015
There is an interesting new YouTube video available, with charismatic, high-profile actors encouraging all of us to initiate "The Talk" about how we -- or our loved ones -- want to handle the possibility, indeed probability, that someday we will need long-term care. Rob Lowe, Maria Shriver, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Angela Bassett, Zachary Quinto and Jim Nantz admit the difficulties of talking about growing old, often using vivid tidbits from their own lives or families to emphasize the importance of breaking past the barriers of denial.
I like the video. It is simple, direct. But, at the same time, I find the initial video, while interesting, to be a lacking in specifics about what it means to "talk" about long-term-care planning. The 2-minute video is actually part of a series created by Genworth, the major seller of long-term care insurance, and if you hit the right (wrong?) buttons you are directed to Genworth websites that offer more details, especially about -- surprise, surprise -- buying long-term care insurance.
I suspect that many people will panic if they hear "pay some money now" in order to buy LTC insurance, as even a part of the "solution." See what you think:
Thursday, February 26, 2015
The movie, Still Alice, has been released. Starring Julianne Moore in the role of the lead character, the movie is based on the book by the same name written by Lisa Genova. The book and movie are about a professor who has early onset Alzheimer's. The synopsis from the movie's website describes the movie this way:
Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease, Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring.
Saturday, January 31, 2015
My colleague and great friend, Professor Laurel Terry, shared Paul Sullivan's Wealth Matters column from the New York Times, that uses the new movie Still Alice as a reminder of the importance of family conversation:
"For anyone who has ever watched a family member disappear into Alzheimer’s, Ms. Moore’s performance is gripping, particularly as her tricks to stall her decline inevitably fail and the later stages of the disease consume her. Yet the movie is also a great vessel to explore many of the financial issues that families need to address when someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any other disease that causes cognitive impairment."
The column continues with thoughts from financial professionals, who sometimes observe the early signs of a long-time client's decline:
"Thomas Mingone, managing partner at Capital Management Group of New York, said he had clients whose mental slide had been apparent to the advisers, accountants and lawyers in the room but not to the client. Since advisers are bound by a fiduciary duty to protect their clients’ privacy, Mr. Mingone said he can’t simply call up their children to let them know. With a client who seems to be slipping but lives alone and sees family members infrequently, Mr. Mingone said he suggests a family meeting, which allows him to connect with his client’s children. Other times, he said, just asking clients how they are doing brings the problem out.
'Sometimes when you bring this up with clients, it’s a relief to them,' he said."
For additional realities, including the problem of end-of-life decision-making and care choices, read "In Alzheimer's Cases, Financial Ruin and Abuse Are Always Lurking."
Sunday, September 7, 2014
One of the challenges of teaching a course called Wills, Trusts, and Estates, is drawing diagrams to chart intestate succession in an effort to explain what happens when you don't create an estate plan (or your written estate plan has gaps or defects). I'm always looking for good stories to incentivize my students.
That's one reason why I found "The Heir's Not Apparent" by Randy Kennedy so interesting, as the New York Times writer describes the search for missing heirs of American photographer Vivian Maier, who died in 2009, apparently without a will. According to the article, a suit to establish the rights of a previously unknown heir, a first cousin in France, has been filed by Virginia attorney David Deal (himself a photographer), "who said he became fascinated with Maier's life in law school and took it upon himself to try to track down an heir."
Maier's post-death fame as a "street photographer" has created a market for her huge cache of mostly unpublished photos, part of which was purchased by an individual for $380 in a thrift auction in Chicago. However, the suit rests on the premise that "[u]nder federal copyright law, owning a photographer's negative or a print is distinct from owning the copyright itself. The copyright owner controls whether images can be reproduced and sold."
A 2014 documentary, Finding Vivian Maier, helps to give "color" to her interesting story of a life quietly filled with black and white photographs.