Elder Law

Monday, May 15, 2017

Helping Loved Ones Who Can No Longer Manage Their Own Finances

There comes a time in many people’s lives when they can no longer handle their day-to-day affairs, including the financial aspects of their life. Financial demands are difficult to deal with even for healthy adults, so older Americans sometimes struggle due to changes in life circumstances or health issues.

How Can I Tell if There is a Problem?

Several things may signify that your loved one is having trouble keeping up with daily financial demands.
Read more . . .

Monday, December 26, 2016

Turning Over the Keys: Helping older drivers make the tough decision

We all want to be in control, to go where we want at our leisure.  As we age, however, our senses and reaction times begin to slow which can make getting behind the wheel increasingly hazardous. It is important to be realistic about the driving abilities of loved ones as they reach a certain stage and to prepare accordingly. Not only will it keep seniors safe, but planning ahead will help them financially as they make other arrangements for transportation.

The first step is to reduce the need to drive. Find ways to bring the things they need right to them, like ordering groceries online for delivery and encouraging in-home appointments. Suggest that they invite friends and family over for regular visits instead of going out. They may be surprised by how many things are possible from the comfort of their own home.

For the times your loved ones need to, or want to, venture elsewhere, look into other transportation options. Although there is usually no need to quit driving all at once, look to family, friends, taxis, and public transportation when you can, especially for longer trips. Use the money you’ve been saving, along with what would have been spent on gas, on alternate modes of transportation. Their town may even have designated senior transportation services. 

The time to start making this transition may be sooner than you or your loved ones think. Don’t wait until an accident leaves them with no alternative. It may be time to start talking about limiting driving if they report noticing subtle difficulties, like trouble reading traffic signs or delayed breaking. Keep an eye out for small dings in your loved one’s car or surrounding items, like the mailbox or garage door, along with slower response time or difficulty finding their way around familiar territory. Ask them to watch for these things as well.

Asking a loved one to turn over their keys can be tough but with an open dialogue, the right support system and reasonable alternatives in place to ensure that they can continue to live an active lifestyle, a smooth transition is feasible.  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Elder Abuse and Invasion of Privacy on Social Media

Q: What level of privacy and care are nursing home residents entitled to from their caregivers?

When the time comes to place a loved one in a nursing home it’s difficult under the best circumstances-- even if the person expressed this wish to their estate planning attorney. Fortunately, with skilled

Read more . . .

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Elder Caring Coordination" Grows in Popularity

How can families resolve differences over elder care without litigation?

Can an elderly parent continue to live alone? Is it time to take away a parent's driver's license? What if one sibling is stuck with providing most of the care for an elderly parent?

Even the most harmonious families can become deeply divided over these and other elder care issues. In families where tensions are already frayed, disagreements can lead to crises and lawsuits.

A program known as "elder caring coordination," available in Indiana and recently adopted in Florida seeks to reduce the harm to seniors resulting from so-called "“high-conflict family dynamics.”

Caring for Elderly Parents and Keeping Siblings Out of Court

The project seeks to use alternative dispute resolution techniques to mediate disputes between warring family members.

Read more . . .

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Overcoming the Financial Burden Long-Term Care

Can you afford to pay for long-term care if you need a nursing home or adult day care?

For decades, the stigma surrounding putting a parent in a nursing home drove many families to make great sacrifices in order to keep elderly family members at home in their declining years.

Today, not only has that stigma somewhat lifted, but 4 out of 10 people surveyed believe that they will not need long-term care and/or that the government’s Medicare program will pay for their long-term care if they do. Unfortunately, this mindset may present devastating financial consequences down the line for the majority of Americans.

First, the U.S.

Read more . . .

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Indiana Senator Presses Congress for More Action Against Elder Abuse

Known as the “silent epidemic,” the federal government estimates as many as 1 in 9 Americans over age 60 has experienced some form of elder abuse. Of course, elder abuse can include physical and sexual assault, it can also involve much more subtle types of harm. From financial exploitation to neglect, elder abuse continues to be a growing problem in the United States -- particularly as the largest generation, the Baby Boomers, continues to age.

Fortunately for the state of Indiana, our Congressional senators are keenly aware of the problem and its impact on the state’s most vulnerable residents. Late last year, Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly became one of several U.

Read more . . .

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Helping Seniors Spot Investment Fraud

It is a sad reality, but reality nonetheless: scammers love to target the elderly. Perhaps it is due to their trusting nature, presumably large savings account, or even their difficulty hearing over the phone that makes them vulnerable – but seniors account for roughly $2.6 billion in lost assets due to investment fraud each year.
Read more . . .

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Lawmakers to Take Aim at Elder Abuse, Financial Exploitation

In the words of Indiana’s Director of Adult Protective Services, elder financial abuse is “a drain on our resources if we don’t get a handle on it” – and, from the looks of it, Indiana authorities are far from having a handle on this widespread and devastating problem.

According to the details of one recent case, a 79-year old woman had enlisted the services of a home-based healthcare provider – who proceeded to rack up over $110,000 in stolen funds for everything ranging from a 60” television to divorce court fees. Yet, several years went by before anyone realized what had happened – at which point the money was long gone.

Unfortunately, elder financial abuse is one of the lowest priorities for law enforcement, as cases involving physical harm and neglect take precedent. According to national averages, as little as 1 in 44 cases of financial exploitation ever come to the attention of authorities – and unraveling the financial mess can be a daunting task in and of itself. Moreover, data suggests that as many as 1 in 10 victims of financial exploitation actually end up needing state and federal benefits to continue accessing long-term care – presumably due to the complete depletion of the individual’s assets by wayward caregivers.

In Indiana, data from 2010 reveals that 1,277 official criminal complaints of elder abuse were launched statewide – compared with just 110 bank robberies, for perspective. While those bank robberies involved an aggregate total asset loss of $1 million, the alleged elder abuse involved a sum as large as $38 million – and those are just the cases we know about.

Many in the Indiana legal community have been advocating for an increase in funding for Adult Protective Services – but so far, efforts have been all but futile. Currently, there is a bill awaiting review by the Indiana legislature, however it merely “urges the Legislative Council to assign the topic of APS, including that of “appropriate funding,” to a study committee later this year.”

If you are concerned about financial protection in the golden years, you should consult with qualified estate planning and elder law attorney.

Monday, October 26, 2015

8 Things to Consider When Selecting a Caregiver for Your Senior Parent

As a child of a senior citizen, you are faced with many choices in helping to care for your parent. You want the very best care for your mother or father, but you also have to take into consideration your personal needs, family obligations and finances.

When choosing a caregiver for a loved one, there are a number of things to take into consideration.

  1. Time. Do you require part- or full-time care for your parent? Are you looking for a caregiver to come into your home? Will your parent live with the caregiver or will you put your parent into a senior care facility? According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, 58 percent of care recipients live in their own home and 20 percent live with the caregiver. You should consider your current arrangement but also take time to identify some alternatives in the event that the requirements of care should change in the future.
  2. Family ties. If you have siblings, they probably want to be involved in the decision of your parent’s care. If you have a sibling who lives far away, sharing in the care responsibilities or decision-making process may prove to be a challenge. It’s important that you open up the lines of communication with your parents and your siblings so everyone is aware and in agreement about the best course of care.
  3. Specialized care. Some caregivers and care facilities specialize in specific conditions or treatments. For instance, there are special residences for those with Alzheimer’s and others for those suffering from various types of cancer. If your parent suffers from a disease or physical ailment, you may want to take this into consideration during the selection process
  4. Social interaction. Many seniors fear that caregivers or care facilities will be isolating, limiting their social interaction with friends and loved ones. It’s important to keep this in mind throughout the process and identify the activities that he or she may enjoy such as playing games, exercising or cooking. Make sure to inquire about the caregiver’s ability to allow social interaction. Someone who is able to accommodate your parent’s individual preferences or cultural activities will likely be a better fit for your mother or father.
  5. Credentials. Obviously, it is important to make sure that the person or team who cares for your parent has the required credentials. Run background checks and look at facility reviews to ensure you are dealing with licensed, accredited individuals. You may choose to run an independent background check or check references for added peace of mind.
  6. Scope of care. If you are looking for a live-in caregiver, that person is responsible for more than just keeping an eye on your mother or father—he or she may be responsible for preparing meals, distributing medication, transporting your parent, or managing the home. Facilities typically have multidisciplinary personnel to care for residents, but an individual will likely need to complete a variety of tasks and have a broad skill set to do it all.
  7. Money.Talk to your parent about the financial arrangements that he or she may have in place. If this isn’t an option, you will likely need to discuss the options with your siblings or your parent’s lawyer—or check your mother’s or father’s estate plan—to find out more about available assets and how to make financial choices pertaining to your parent’s care.
  8. Prepare. Upon meeting the prospective caregiver or visiting a facility, it is important to have questions prepared ahead of time so you can gather all of the information necessary to make an informed choice. Finally, be prepared to listen to your parent’s concerns or observations so you can consider their input in the decision. If he or she is able, they will likely want to make the choice themselves.

Choosing a caregiver for your parent is an important decision that weighs heavily on most adult children but with the right planning and guidance, you can make the best choice for your family. Once you find the right person, make sure to follow up as care continues and to check in with your mother or father to ensure the caregiver is the perfect fit.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Elder Abuse in the State of Indiana

What is elder abuse?

People are living longer than ever before. With increasing lifespan comes the undeniable fact that more and more elderly people will be unable to care for themselves. Some of these people will be cared for in long-term care facilities and others will be cared for by their loved ones in a home setting. While it may seem safer to be cared for by a loved one at home, it seems that the great majority of the elderly who are abused suffer mistreatment at the hands of their families and friends. The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC) recently held a conference addressing many of the issues posed by elder abuse in the state.

Elder abuse is the willful or negligent mistreatment of a vulnerable older person that results in harm or the risk of harm. Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, financial and may stem from neglect as well as intervention. This abuse is illegal in all 50 states and is often regulated by an agency devoted to protecting vulnerable adults, such as Adult Protective Services. Unfortunately, many of the abused never speak up , either because they are either embarrassed, afraid, unaware, or unable to communicate.

Although elder abuse can go undetected, there are signs to look out for. Unexplained injuries, suspicious financial transactions, and changes in the relationship between the elder and the caregiver often point to abuse of some kind. In Indiana, local prosecutors handle the work of Adult Protective Services. There are only about 40 investigators in the state and last year they handled approximately 10,000 cases. Needless to say, the agency is understaffed. IPAC has determined that they are in need of more investigators but are unsure of the exact number. The above-mentioned conference can be seen as the first step to reforming Indiana’s elder care system. It brought together professionals from various fields to discuss important issues relating to elder care. IPAC hopes to have a clearer picture of what reforms are needed by the beginning of the coming legislative session.

Elder abuse is a huge problem across the country. Fortunately, you can take estate planning measures to decrease your chances of becoming a target. Contact Gerald Winter of Winters Law Firm in Porter County and Valparaiso, Indiana to learn more by calling 219.307.4373.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Medicare Premiums Expected to Rise Up to 52 Percent for Some Seniors

What changes to Medicare laws are expected in the future?

As seniors continue the post-retirement financial planning process, the annual Medicare Trustees Report released at the end of July purports to show a dramatic increase in Medicare Part B premium costs – up to 52 percent in some instances. Moreover, the Trustees  Report shows that Medicare Part B deductibles are also expected to rise – also up to 52 percent for some seniors. In sum, certain groups of Medicare Part B recipients could see a concurrent rise in both monthly premium and out-of-pocket expenses.

Medicare Part B Coverage

For those who are just beginning to plan for retirement and long-term care, understanding Medicare and its various components, as well as the role of Medicaid in long-term care planning, can be overwhelming. In general, Medicare is available for senior citizens who have paid into the program for a sufficient number of years during their employment history. The program works much like a private insurer, and is administered by private management companies. It consists of several parts, each assigned a letter, with each component covering a different segment of comprehensive healthcare.

Medicare Part B is an essential component of healthcare coverage that spans a wide variety of everyday services, including doctor visits and surgical procedures. What it does not cover, however, is long-term care services beyond 120 days.

For those in need of long-term care services, including round-the-clock skilled nursing services in a nursing home setting, it may be necessary to begin planning for eventual Medicaid eligibility. Medicaid, which covers the costs of a nursing home stay, is available for those who meet the financial requirements of enrollment. These requirements tend to change year to year, so it is important to meet with a reputable elder law attorney to keep current with the latest information.

If you are in need of elder law advice or would like to speak to a reputable attorney about your options in estate planning, please contact the Winters Law Firm in Valparaiso, Indiana. We serve clients throughout Northwest Indiana and can be reached at 219.307.4373.

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