In the coming years we will see a marked increase in the number of cases challenging the legality of a will on the grounds of mental incapacitation of the person making the will. Though the reason for the increase in will contests is debatable, the growing number of elders with medical issues affecting their cognition; the transfer of wealth between World War II and baby boomer generations; and the change in the traditional nuclear family certainly play a role. [Read more…]
Most everyone would say that they want to be independent and remain in their own homes as long as possible. This sense of autonomy can be kept in place longer than ever before due to medical advances, assistive devices, and in-home care provided by family members and private caretakers. However, what happens when an elder can no longer remain safely in their home and an adult child is trying to get them the help they need?
Esther is 89 years old. She has lived alone since the death of her husband 23 years ago. She gave up driving two years ago, but is regularly visited by her children and grandchildren, who take care of errands or drive her to handle things herself. Lately, she has been rather unsteady on her feet. Additionally, she has been very forgetful and once left the stove on all night. She is also having trouble remembering to take her medications. There were so many her daughter, Susan, sorts them every week into a pill box. Esther still forgets to take them and sometimes actually doubles up on doses. Susan can see its time for more help but Esther is adamant about not having strangers in the house and doesn’t want to end up in “one of those places…” [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…]
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…]
There are several websites that offer customized, do-it-yourself wills and other estate planning documents. These computer-based services appear to offer the consumer a cost-effective and convenient alternative to visiting an Estate Planning or Elder Law attorney. Or do they? Is online estate planning worth the convenience and initial savings? How do the documents created compare to those that a qualified attorney would produce? [Read more…]
Some people think that Elder Law and Estate Planning attorneys are only useful further down the road. They think, “I’m healthy. I don’t need to worry about those things now.” Even while you are healthy, there is one document that everyone over the age of 18 should have in place: a Health Care Proxy (HCP). A health care proxy is necessary to ensure that someone, a health care agent, will be available to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them on your own because you are incapacitated. Currently, in Worcester County, another form is also worth considering: the Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) form. This medical order works with the HCP to inform your health care agent and your doctors what you actually want to happen in various circumstances. [Read more…]
As we all know, tax season has been in full swing for many weeks now, and it is almost over for some. But, did you know that even if you did not have to file a tax return, as a senior, it may be beneficial for you to do so? Did you know there is a tax credit only available to seniors in Massachusetts who pay rent or real estate taxes? There is, and it is called the Circuit Breaker Tax Credit. Even if you don’t owe any taxes at all, you may be eligible for this credit, and it is just like money in your pocket (Certain counties in Massachusetts, including Worcester and Middlesex, have had tax deadlines extended to May 15th, because they have been declared Federal Disaster Areas due to the recent floodings). [Read more…]
Are you a family member or guardian of someone that suffers from dementia? Is s/he living in a nursing home? Do you know what medications s/he is taking? Do you know what the dosages are? When was the last time those medications were reevaluated to determine if they are helping in any way, or if they are even necessary? These are all important questions to keep in mind and to continue asking the administrators of the nursing home and the physicians who care for your loved one. [Read more…]
Not long ago, I posted a blog on gift transfers and their affect on qualification for MassHealth (Medicaid) for an institutionalized individual. Generally, transferring assets to dispose of property so that you qualify for MassHealth will not actually help you qualify because the state imposes a five-year “look-back” period, in which those assets are counted and used to assess eligibility for MassHealth. Fortunately, there are some exceptions to the general rule. [Read more…]