I’ve written about Pet Trusts in a previous blog. They have many benefits for pet owners concerned about what would happen should their animal outlive them. However, until recently, Pet Trusts were not available in Massachusetts. New Massachusetts legislation took effect on April 7th, 2011, bringing this important Estate Planning tool to the Bay State. The remainder of this week’s blog was edited from an article written by Attorney Gina Barry of Bacon Wilson, P.C. in Springfield. [Read more…]
My friend’s father spent several days in a hospital recently due to a heart condition. His treatment was excellent and he recovered and was discharged appropriately and in a good time frame. He has returned to his activities unscathed. But, there are many patients who are not so lucky…
Joanne suffered a stroke two days ago. Although they expect her to make a near full recovery, the incident shook the family. Her grandson found her on the floor while taking in her newspaper. The hospital is planning to discharge tomorrow, feeling that they have done their duty to perform tests and diagnose what caused her stroke. Joanne’s daughter, Kerri, doesn’t agree with the doctor, but decides that “the doctor knows best,” and is happy to have her mother go home. Joanne’s son, Ben, feels quite differently and adamantly opposes the discharge plans and feels that Joanne should undergo more testing and some time should be taken to develop better rehab options and to get a plan in place to avoid this from happening again. In the end he doesn’t push the subject, because, “Kerri should make the decisions for mom. She’s the daughter, right?”
Many are discharged from the hospital too early, and their health can suffer. Hospitals have strong financial incentives to discharge Medicare patients as quickly as possible. Huh? Wouldn’t the hospital make more in fees if it held a patient longer? Not necessarily, Medicare generally pays hospitals flat rates based on the type of medical problem being treated. So, if the hospital spends less money on your care than Medicare pays, it makes money.
To protect your parent from being discharged too quickly, Medicare gives you (yes, YOU) the right to appeal hospital discharge decisions. At or near admission, and usually again before discharge, a hospital must give you a notice which explains that the patient may appeal if the patient or their representative (either with the patient’s permission or through a Health Care Proxy) believes they are being discharged too soon. The notice also explains how to file an appeal.
Know your rights. If you think your parent, or loved one, is not ready to leave the hospital, discuss your concerns with the doctor and the hospital staff. If your concerns are not resolved, file an appeal and ask for an expedited review. Be an informed and effective advocate – be involved in their care.
This week’s blog is guest post from Micha Shalev, owner of Dodge Park Rest Home in Worcester.
Adult children and caregivers play an important role in helping older people avoid scams. Oftentimes seniors are lonely and looking for someone to talk to, and unfortunately scammers prey on this. Sit down and talk to your elderly parents. Remind them not to give out personal or financial information to a stranger — no matter how friendly or persistent the caller or visitor is. Even if someone claims to represent a well-known charity, your loved one should hang up the phone.
Here are some of the con artists’ favorite senior-directed scams:
Telemarketing Fraud – Fabulous offers – A scammer will call or send a letter or e-mail alerting you that you’ve won a big prize or that you can buy a product, perhaps prescription drugs, at a great price. Hang up the phone.
Health Insurance Fraud and Fraudulent “Anti-Aging” Products.
- Never sign blank insurance claim forms.
- Never give blanket authorization to a medical provider to bill for services rendered.
- Ask your medical providers what they will charge and what you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket.
- Give your insurance/Medicare identification only to those who have provided you with medical services.
Counterfeit Prescription Drugs frauds – Use caution when purchasing drugs on the Internet. Do not purchase medications from unlicensed online distributors or those who sell medications without a prescription. Reputable online pharmacies will have a seal of approval called the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS), provided by the Association of Boards of Pharmacy in the United States.
Funeral and Cemetery Fraud – Be an informed consumer. Take time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who may offer some perspective to help make difficult decisions. Funeral homes are required to provide detailed general price lists over the phone or in writing.
Reverse Mortgage Scams – Reverse mortgage scams are engineered by unscrupulous professionals in a multitude of real estate, financial services, and related entities to steal the equity from the property of unsuspecting senior citizens aged 62 or older or to use these seniors to unwittingly aid the fraudsters in stealing equity from a flipped property. Reverse Mortgages themselves are not scams, but some have preyed upon unsuspecting seniors and taken advantage of good intentions.
Phony Mortgage Offers. If you have a bigger mortgage than you can afford comfortably, watch out for companies that offer to negotiate a payment plan or loan modification. The fraudster might claim to be affiliated with your lender. You might be told to pay upfront fees. If you’re having trouble making your payments, call your lender, an attorney, or find a housing counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Phony banks. Watch out for callers who claim to be from your bank or credit card company. They’ll tell you they’ve noticed suspicious activity on your credit card and want to check it with you. You’ll know the call is not legitimate if the caller asks for your credit card or Social Security number to confirm he’s talking to the right person.
Phony emails. Beware of e-mails from what purports to be a trusted institution asking for your Social Security number or account numbers. Phony Bank of America and Citibank messages are common. One prevalent scheme is an e-mail promising you a tax refund from the IRS — except the IRS doesn’t e-mail taxpayers.
Investment schemes. If you think you can tell a con artist from a legitimate adviser, consider this finding from a major study: Investment-fraud victims are more financially literate than nonvictims. The hook: a promise of high returns with little risk.
Micha Shalev MHA is the owner of Dodge Park Rest Home at 101 Randolph Road in Worcester. He can be reached at 508-853-8180 or by e-mail at email@example.com or view more information online at www.dodgepark.com.
Harry and Sophie retired about ten years ago. They live in a small house in Shrewsbury with no mortgage and had primarily been living off of their Social Security, retirement accounts, and their personal savings. In the past few years they have all but exhausted their savings due to unexpected medical costs. They have been living off of their credit cards. Just one of Harry’s prescriptions alone is more than $120/month. Their rising debt has topped $230,000. They can barely pay the minimum on their credit cards and have been considering tapping into their retirement funds to try to pay off some of their debt. Their children try to help but Harry does not want to let them know just how bad it is. This is not how they pictured their golden years… [Read more…]
Many seniors currently need assistance paying their bills and managing their finances, or may need help sometime in the future. It’s important to have a trustworthy person authorized to manage your finances should you be unable to do so yourself. Are joint bank accounts a good option? [Read more…]
The Safe Driving Law has officially become effective in Massachusetts as of Sept. 30, 2010. Massachusetts now joins an increasingly growing number of states that ban texting while driving. However, a major part of this bill is also targeted at elderly drivers who are over the age of 75.
On June 2, 2009, a 93-year-old driver hurt a mother and toddler in a stroller when he drove his car into a Danvers Wal-Mart. He stepped on the gas pedal because he thought he was stepping on the brake. The next day, a 73-year-old Middleboro driver accidentally drove her minivan into a crowd of people attending a Vietnam War Memorial in Plymouth. As a result, eight people went to the hospital. Read this blog for more information. In an effort to reduce the number of accidents involving elderly drivers, Massachusetts legislators passed the new Safe Driving Law. [Read more…]
This week I’m reposting a fantastic article from ElderLawAnswers about the dangers of online do-it-yourselfing when it comes to planning your estate. Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware!)
One of the most prominent sellers of do-it-yourself wills and other estate planning documents, is the target of a class action lawsuit in California charging that the company engages in deceptive business practices and is practicing law without a license.
The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on May 27, 2010, by Katherine Webster, who is the niece of the late Anthony J. Ferrantino and the executor of Mr. Ferrantino’s estate. [Read more…]
With the ongoing splintering of American families, more and more grandparents find themselves assuming greater responsibilities with their grandchildren. But what happens when divorce, death, custody disputes or family arguments leave the grandparents out of the familial equation? Do grandparents have any rights to visit their grandchildren once a nuclear family has been dissolved? [Read more…]
Occasionally, I run across a great article written by someone else. Today is one of those days and I just had to share it with you. Clients are often confused when they come in for initial consultations and have preconceived notions about planning their estates based on things that they’ve heard from their friends, neighbors, hairdresser, etc. Most of the time the information shared is incorrect, or at least incorrectly applied to their situation. This article does a great job of debunking the most popular “myths” of estate planning. I only added one little thought in bold below. Thank you to my colleague, Attorney Gina Barry, from Bacon & Wilson in Springfield for putting this article together…. and as far as I know unicorns are still mythical creatures. [Read more…]
The issue of hoarding has recently gathered a great deal of attention, particularly due to news reports and popular television shows. However, hoarding is not a new or a small problem. The problem of hoarding has been documented since the turn of the century and is thought to significantly affect nearly 15 million Americans, many of them elderly. A great article recently appeared in the Boston Herald dealing with the clinical aspects of Hoarding. Unfortunately, research has been lacking in this area – until now. [Read more…]