The Issue of Nursing Home Evictions

Nursing home evictions are an issue for many elderly people. Reports of evictions and complaints against nursing homes attempting to evict patients are widespread. Nursing homes are businesses and eviction problems often occur for residents when financial issues arise. 

Federal Regulations 

There are federal regulations concerning nursing home evictions. However, it is largely dependent on the state to enforce these regulations. Some residents or their families choose to fight back with complaints and legal action. Unfortunately, many of these cases go unreported as is the case with other types of elder abuse. 

Eviction Guidelines 

Nursing homes do have guidelines that allow for evictions in certain cases. A resident may be evicted but the facility must follow the minimum guidelines of federal and state law to be successful. One reason an elderly person may be evicted is if their clinical or behavioral status puts others in the facility in danger. This is one of the reasons often cited for discharging patients involuntarily. 

Force Discharge 

Force discharges are also commonly attributed to the patient’s care not being paid. This can happen when private pay patients run out of resources and fall back on enrollment in Medicaid.  This program pays substantially less for the same service and the home is looking to replace this lost income.  Another common trigger for eviction notices occurs when Medicare patients change from being a patient under the Medicare program to requalifying under Medicaid.  This transition can mean a reduction in the resources the facility is being paid. 

Involuntary Discharge 

Involuntary discharge can also occur if the facility is unable to meet the resident’s needs or if it is necessary for the resident’s welfare.  A patient’s needs and the facility’s ability to meet those needs should be assessed before the person is admitted to the facility. For this reason, the inability to meet a patient’s needs should be a rare reason for discharge. If it is determined that the person no longer needs the care the nursing home provides, they can be discharged. Finally, if the facility is closing, patients can be legally discharged. 

Be Informed 

It is important for residents and their families to do their homework and be informed about the regulations governing nursing homes. Not only must nursing homes follow these regulations, but they must also follow strict procedural guidelines in order to evict. If these guidelines are not strictly followed, the discharge can be reversed. If a resident is threatened with eviction, this must be done in writing and must include a written reason for the eviction. If you or your family receives a discharge notice, contact an elder law attorney immediately

Even if the resident does not want to stay in that particular facility, it is important to take the discharge notice to an attorney because it may affect the patient’s ability to get into another facility. The window for appeals is short so be sure to contact an attorney quickly in order to give the attorney time to build the case and file the appropriate documents. The Nursing Home Reform Act helps to protect residents. The problem is that many people are uninformed and miss their opportunity to appeal these evictions. Timely response is essential in these cases. 

Living in a nursing home is a difficult experience for many patients and their families. A threat of eviction adds stress to the situation.  Contact our office at 718-979-7477 to schedule an evaluation.  We are your best advocate to enforce your loved one’s rights as a nursing home resident and provide protection within the mandatory time frames.

 

 

The Stress of Caring for Aging Parents Alongside Raising Children

In 2006, Miriam Webster included the term sandwich generation in the dictionary for the first time. Sandwich generation is defined as “a generation of people, typically in their thirties or forties, responsible for bringing up their own children and for the care of their aging parents”. This is occurring because medicine and technology are allowing people to live longer and couples are waiting to start families at a later age. This often leaves people sandwiched between caring for both aging loved ones and young children simultaneously. 

Financial and Time Burdens Placed on the Sandwich Generation

One major issue for the sandwich generation is financial burden. Because many in the sandwich generation may not have anticipated the need to provide for their aging parents, they may be stretched thin financially. Another issue for this group that is often compounded by financial struggle is stress. When pulling double duty of caring for children and aging parents, stress is an understandable and expected side effect. Whatever the living situation of the aging parent, the responsibilities of caring for the aging parent often adds to the already busy schedule related to parenting their own children. The sandwich generation then feels pulled in too many directions. This can often leave them feeling as though they do not have enough of themselves to give to everyone who depends upon them which in turn leads to guilt and burnout. 

Depression in the Sandwich Generation

Stress and financial burdens can contribute to feelings of depression.  Depression can set in when the sandwich generation has little time for hobbies or social interactions, leaving them feeling isolated. The bottom line is that the sandwich generation must recognize these potential problems and find ways to deal with them. Otherwise they will be ineffective in their care for aging parents and their own children and the pressure will continue to mount. 

Dealing with Issues for the Sandwich Generation

In order to be a good caregiver, the sandwich generation must find ways to take care of themselves and to ask for and accept help when necessary. One way for the sandwich generation to find time for themselves is respite care. Respite care provides short-term relief from caregiving responsibilities. Respite care provides a way for caregivers to find time for themselves and take care of other family responsibilities. 

Caregivers should plan ahead for tasks and finances to help tackle stress and financial burdens. Having a family meeting to delegate responsibilities to other family members can be very beneficial. This means giving up some things to the spouse and children. Meeting with siblings or other involved family members to share the task of caring for the aging parent can help to lessen the burden on one person. Having a close friend to talk to about the struggles can also be a very therapeutic way to deal with the stress experienced by the sandwich generation. 

Being a member of the sandwich generation has many challenges. The demands on a person caring for aging parents while also raising their own family can be overwhelming. Self-care is essential to avoiding the pitfalls associated with caregiving. In addition, it is important to remember that it is perfectly acceptable to seek or ask for help in order to maintain mental health and provide good care for everyone. 

Contact our office at 718-979-7477 to begin planning for the financial and long term care of your aging parents today.

 

 

Women and Sleep: Why You Need a Better Night’s Rest

Sleeping is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health and well-being. The amount of sleep you get is particularly crucial if you are a woman.  New studies indicate that for women the traditional recommendation of eight hours is not enough. If you are a woman aged 50 or older, you will likely live longer than the men in that same age group. A longer lifespan presents additional challenges to staying healthy, and as a woman, if you do not get enough quality sleep, it will negatively impact your health. 

Why Do Women Need More Sleep Than Men?

Biological differences between the genders play a role in sleep needs. Neuroscientist research has concluded that women need more than eight hours of sleep each night or they are not well rested. The general reason for this is that the female brain is more active than the male counterpart and requires more rest to recover and repair itself from the damage that was done throughout the day. 

How Does Sleep Help your Body?

While you sleep many things are taking place; the body can recover and repair itself from the happenings of the day. Compounds are being synthesized for energy while cells and organs get replenished. The Mayo Clinic reports that lack of sleep increases the risk of daytime sleepiness, weight gain, heart disease, and reportedly forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be caused by an excess of amyloids (aggregates of proteins) in the brain. As women go into a deep state of sleep, these proteins get cleared from the brain. There is a connection between the quality and quantity of women’s sleep and a healthy brain. Nearly 66% of people living with Alzheimer's are women, and surveys show that 40% of adult Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep per night - the overall average amount of time spent sleeping for all adult Americans is 6.9 hours. Lack of sleep for women has disastrous consequences for their health.

What Are the Additional Benefits of Sleep?

Proper hours and quality sleep decrease stress levels, which is beneficial to cardiovascular health. Good sleep affords women better attention capabilities, better memory function and may increase creativity. Sleep also helps the body to maintain a healthy weight as women with proper rest lose more fat, provided they are eating healthy foods. Plenty of sleep also supports a woman's skin and overall appearance. The adage "beauty rest" is a real thing. 

What Can You Do to Ensure a Better Night’s Sleep?

There are some things that women can do to help improve the quality of their sleep. Exercising on a daily basis is key to proper rest. Turning off the television and putting away the cellular phones at least one hour before bedtime allows your brain to wind down to a more restful state and gets you away from the blue light emissions that can affect the quality of your sleep. Avoid alcohol and coffee before sleeping and develop a healthy bedtime routine. Have a set time for lights out and stick with it.  Make sure your mattress and pillow suit your sleep needs.

Women require more sleep than their male counterparts. Sadly, many women may not know this or have a feeling of guilt if they take the time to sleep more. However, a well-rested woman is capable of being more productive during her day than a tired one. In addition, a well-rested woman has a much better chance of being healthy and disease free. It is essential to take the proper steps to ensure you are getting enough sleep. Taking care of your physical self through adequate sleep is one of the most important things a woman can do - it can help you remain healthier as you age. To have a successful and enjoyable life in your later years, plan for sleep and make it a priority to get enough of it.

Planning for your later years and striving to be fit both physically and mentally are a necessity for successful aging. Women have unique needs that must be addressed. Contact our office at 718-979-7477 and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your long-term planning and care.

Simplify Your Life with a Bill Paying Service for Seniors

If you are a senior or have a loved one who is struggling with the process of paying their household bills, Silver Bills can eliminate the task and alleviate the worry about proper handling of monthly bills. As many baby boomers continue to opt for aging in place, home administrative tasks can become difficult. Family members who would like to help may live out of state or are too busy in their own careers to manage a loved one's household bills. Silver Bills has created a seamless service that will handle bill paying on your behalf.

How a Bill Paying Service Works

At your direction, Silver Bills will mail you an enrollment packet. You will need to provide bills and one voided check to Silver Bills in the envelope they provide. Silver Bills then converts your bills to “ebills”. Once enrolled in the service you will have a dedicated customer service representative that will assist you with any concerns or questions. Silver Bill’s service will receive, review, and ensure that your bills are paid. The service guarantees that you will not incur late fees or penalties.

Benefits of Utilizing a Bill Paying Service

Automating your bills through a bill paying service is becoming more commonplace particularly for seniors 75 and older. A bill paying service means you will no longer need to go to the mailbox or PO Box on a regular basis to look for bills. You will also not need to purchase stamps, worry about due dates, or write checks.  Once a month you will receive a statement showing your bills have been paid. There are no contracts; you can cancel your service at any time. Silver Bills uses the same 256-bit encryption used by banks so that your transactions are secure. 

Additional  Information and Tips

Silver Bills is one of a growing number of daily money management companies. The services are typically expensive ($100 and up, per month) but the peace of mind a family can have knowing the day-to-day bills are being correctly handled is worth the price to many. The American Association of Daily Money Managers is an online resource that can help you find the right professional service for you or your loved one. Always ask for references and check accreditations before allowing access to your banking information.  You should also be aware that these bill paying services do not act as accountants or financial advisers. They are similar to having a personal financial assistant with the added bonus of consumer advocacy because they look for bill errors and potential fraud.

There are many reasons that accurate bill paying becomes unmanageable for seniors. Silver Bills and services like them can help. Talk with your family or advisor to see if it is the right choice for you. Contact our office at 718-979-7477 if you have any questions or would like assistance with your financial planning needs.If you are a senior or have a loved one who is struggling with the process of paying their household bills, Silver Bills can eliminate the task and alleviate the worry about proper handling of monthly bills. As many baby boomers continue to opt for aging in place, home administrative tasks can become difficult. Family members who would like to help may live out of state or are too busy in their own careers to manage a loved one's household bills. Silver Bills has created a seamless service that will handle bill paying on your behalf.

How a Bill Paying Service Works

At your direction, Silver Bills will mail you an enrollment packet. You will need to provide bills and one voided check to Silver Bills in the envelope they provide. Silver Bills then converts your bills to “ebills”. Once enrolled in the service you will have a dedicated customer service representative that will assist you with any concerns or questions. Silver Bill’s service will receive, review, and ensure that your bills are paid. The service guarantees that you will not incur late fees or penalties.

Benefits of Utilizing a Bill Paying Service

Automating your bills through a bill paying service is becoming more commonplace particularly for seniors 75 and older. A bill paying service means you will no longer need to go to the mailbox or PO Box on a regular basis to look for bills. You will also not need to purchase stamps, worry about due dates, or write checks.  Once a month you will receive a statement showing your bills have been paid. There are no contracts; you can cancel your service at any time. Silver Bills uses the same 256-bit encryption used by banks so that your transactions are secure. 

Additional  Information and Tips

Silver Bills is one of a growing number of daily money management companies. The services are typically expensive ($100 and up, per month) but the peace of mind a family can have knowing the day-to-day bills are being correctly handled is worth the price to many. The American Association of Daily Money Managers is an online resource that can help you find the right professional service for you or your loved one. Always ask for references and check accreditations before allowing access to your banking information.  You should also be aware that these bill paying services do not act as accountants or financial advisers. They are similar to having a personal financial assistant with the added bonus of consumer advocacy because they look for bill errors and potential fraud.

There are many reasons that accurate bill paying becomes unmanageable for seniors. Silver Bills and services like them can help. Talk with your family or advisor to see if it is the right choice for you. Contact our office at 718-979-7477 if you have any questions or would like assistance with your financial planning needs.

The Potential Cost of Wedded Bliss

When people marry for the second, third, or fourth (or more) time, losing assets to pay for their new spouse’s serious illness is probably the last thing on their minds when they say “I do.” But that could very well happen.

Current costs for long-term care facilities can run between $70,000 – $150,000 annually. Studies show that 70% of Americans will need that kind of care, perhaps for three years or longer, in their life.

If one spouse in a marriage becomes ill, the assets of both spouses are, by and large, required to be spent on the ill spouse’s care before Medicaid benefits become available. This could be a big problem, especially if money that the well spouse had saved for her children’s’ inheritances goes to pay for the ill new spouse’s care instead.

With careful planning, this can be avoided. Financial arrangements can be made to protect the estate of the well spouse and to ensure that the spouse who needs care will be responsible to pay his or her own way.

The benefits rules do provide that the spouse who does not need care yet may keep an allowance of a certain sum for that spouse’s benefit. This is known as the “Community Spouse Resource Allowance” (CSRA). But many find that the CSRA is too small to permit the well spouse to maintain their standard of living, pay for retirement, and still leave enough for the children to inherit.

Any planning or shifting of assets must be done very carefully and only after consulting with experienced professionals knowledgeable about Medicaid asset protection strategies.

The Medicaid rules heavily penalize transfers of assets made without receiving value in return. Gifts, in other words. Assets can be protected, though, by a number of strategies that are permitted by the Medicaid rules. Some or all of the well spouse’s assets could buy a Medicaid-compliant annuity. This would provide an income stream for the well spouse, without the assets being otherwise deemed available to pay for the ill spouse’s care.

In turn, the assets of the spouse needing care could be transferred to people whom that person especially trusts: a trustee, or an agent for financial affairs, or a family member or beneficiary. That kind of transfer would be subject to penalty, but planned-for, using the strategies permitted under the Medicaid rules. Some relief from penalties can be achieved using existing Medicaid rules.  

There are also insurance products available to provide for long-term care coverage, which any newly married couple—or everybody, really—ought to consider. Find advice on various insurance options here.

The best strategy of all, is to consult an experienced elder law attorney . The sooner the consult, the more options available and the more money that can be saved.

When we embark on the adventure of marriage, nobody can tell what the future has in store. But with thoughtful planning, assisted by qualified elder law attorneys, you can relax and let the nuptial celebrations begin.

If you would like to schedule a consultation to learn more and begin implementing planning to protect your assets and family, contact us at 718-979-7477.

How to Steer Clear of Probate Court

Many people have been told that it is important for people to “avoid probate.” However, just because people may have heard that term, doesn’t mean they know exactly what probate means, why it can be a problem or how to avoid it successfully.

What is Probate?

The term probate most literally means “to prove” a will. Today it covers the entire legal process necessary to settle a person’s estate after they die. The appointed representative (usually a family member) opens the probate case in court. With the court’s help, they will work through all of the financial business that the decedent left behind. For example, probate includes disposing of personal property, money, real property or anything else that the deceased owned at the time of their death. Probate also deals with any debts that were in existence at the time of death.

Why is Probate Such a Negative Thing?

Probate is not inherently evil. It is simply a system that was created to oversee the process of identifying and inventorying the deceased person's property and settlement of the estate. Here’s why you should avoid probate, if possible:

Lack of Privacy

Probate cases are filed in the court and are in the public record. If for any reason a person wants to maintain a sense of privacy after they die, it could be a good idea to avoid probating the estate in court. Famous people or other potentially controversial people usually don’t want their financial and family affairs dragged out into the open.

Probate Can Create Family Disagreements

One reason that wills and estates probate takes place in court is to allow interested persons the chance to represent their claim on the estate by challenging or contesting a will that does not favor them. For people with complicated family dynamics, unpopular second marriages or estranged loved ones, avoiding probate should be a top priority. When an estate is executed through non-probate channels, it becomes much less likely that the will is successfully challenged.

Probate is Slow

Like most things that end up in court, probate can be time-consuming. In more complex estates, the entire process can last months or years. Moreover, while the family waits for this time to pass, the decedent’s assets or property may be slowly losing value or be lost completely.

Probate is Costly

Probating an estate requires the help of a competent probate lawyer to facilitate the matter. Since the process requires court appearances and extensive paperwork, the legal fees can mount up quickly. You can avoid much or all of this cost with proper pre-planning.

How Can Families Prevent the Need for Probate?

Creating a smart estate plan is the best way to avoid probate. You and your attorney can work together to draft the proper legal documents and carefully time asset transfers. 

Trust Planning

A trust is an instrument which dictates the management or distribution of property. The property is transferred in title to the trust during the owner’s lifetime. The property owner also chooses someone to act as trustee, an appointed fiduciary who will manage the trust property and any distributions after the death of the trust’s creator.

With a trust in place, there is no need to involve the court in any way. There is nothing to file, and it does not require the probate court.

Joint Title

Another way to avoid probate hassles is by placing your assets into joint ownership with your future beneficiaries. This way, when you pass away, the ownership interest will automatically transfer to the joint owner.

Payable-On-Death and Transfer-On-Death

Payments on death accounts (POD) have a designation which names a person who will receive the assets in the account when the original account owner dies. At the same time, transfer on death (TOD) is a designation on the title or deed to a piece of real estate or a car which will automatically change ownership once the owner dies.

Don’t Be Tempted to Give Away Your Assets

Some people assume that the easiest way to avoid probate is to give everything away before you die. However, doing this could cause problems for seniors when they may need to qualify for assistance for long-term care.

Hopefully, these tips will help you and your family plan responsibly for the future.

Our firm specializes in trust planning and helping you avoid probate. Contact our office to learn more or to schedule your consultation.

The Senior Safe Act: Financial Protection for Elders

The Senior Safe Act, signed into law by President Trump in 2018, is designed to protect our elders from financial abuse from either within a family or support system, or by scam artists preying upon them. Tens of billions of dollars each year are illegally taken from US seniors and these numbers only reflect the crimes being reported.

Issue and Percentage of Cases Reported

  • Third-party abuse/exploitation: 27%

  • Account distributions: 26%

  • Family member, trustee or power of attorney taking advantage: 23%

  • Diminished capacity: 12%

  • Combined diminished capacity and third-party abuse: 12%

  • Fraud: 6.30%

  • Elder exploitation: 5.70%

  • Friend, housekeeper or caretaker taking advantage: <1%

  • Excessive withdrawals: <1%

SOURCE: North American Securities Administrators Association

Often a senior does not report financial abuse or identity theft because they are unaware, embarrassed, or worse, they think that someone will deem them mentally unfit and they might be “put away” as a consequence of having been exploited.  While these are real issues and fears experienced by elderly people, the scale of financial exploitation is so great it has to be addressed.  This is why the enacted Senior Safe Act, coupled with the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (signed into law October 2017), as well as two Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) rule changes (which have already taken effect), will provide the legal protections and financial industry framework our senior population need and deserve. One of the most important aspects of the new FINRA rules is the ability for member firms to place a temporary hold on disbursement of funds or securities when there is a reasonable belief that a senior is experiencing financial exploitation, thus protecting assets before they are taken from the senior. This new rule, in conjunction with the Senior Safe Act, can help keep seniors’ assets from vanishing.

The Senior Safe Act, which was originally initiated by Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine, is based on the already existing program in that state with the same name. Similar to the Maine program, the federal legislation allows insurance and financial advisors to report incidence of suspected cases of financial fraud involving their senior clients to financial institutions, who in turn could pass the suspicions on to the proper authorities.  

As long as the insurance and financial institutions elevate concerns in good faith and their employees have received the proper training, the law will protect the institution and its workers from liability in a civil or administrative proceeding where information had been presented to authorities in the hopes of protecting a senior client from financial abuses or identity theft. The training includes a collaborative effort between state and federal regulators, financial firms and legal organizations, credit unions, broker-dealers, insurance companies and agencies, and investment advisers to educate employees on how to spot and report suspected elder financial abuse.

Seniors who are most active in communicating with a trusted professional third party about their finances are the least likely to fall victim to financial fraud. Counter-intuitively, most financial fraud happens to seniors who do not display signs of cognitive impairment. Senior participation with professional and properly trained employees of financial institutions is the back-story of this bill. All of the legal protections of the Senior Safe Act will achieve nothing if there is no participation by seniors.

It is advisable to find a trusted professional adviser to help protect against financial abuse and identity theft. The Senior Safe Act should make it much easier for seniors to find a properly trained individual who will monitor their financial accounts and be able to report signs of potential trouble to authorities. That trusted individual will be able to identify the warning signs of common scams and educate seniors as to how best to protect themselves; such as how often to check credit ratings for signs of identity theft, reviewing financial statements, identifying common phone and online scams, and more. The laws are in place to help seniors stay protected. Get protected by becoming more involved in your own personal financial world.

Contact our office to schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning.

Happy 2019!

Holiday Wishes & Office Hours

We wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season, and we look forward to serving you in the New Year!

As the holidays are approaching, we wanted to reach out to let you know about our office closure. We will be closed December 21 through January 1 for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to allow our team to spend time with family and loved ones.