Tallahassee Estate Planning Law Firm, King & Wood, P.A., write about topics related to elder law, real estate law, business law, and estate planning. They have a diverse law practice experience enabling them to provide a broad range of services.
Virginia County Stepping Up Fight Against Elder Abuse
“After discovering some elder abuse cases are difficult to prosecute, a southwest Virginia community is putting new emphasis on seeking justice for victims.”
The National Council on Aging found that one in 10 Americans over the age of 60 has experienced some type of elder abuse. One southwest Virginia community has placed a new emphasis on seeking justice for those victims.
Wise County, Virginia’s MDT which stands for “multi-disciplinary team,” recently gathered for the very first time.
WJHL.com’s recent article, “Fighting elder abuse with collaboration, new 'MDT team' meets in Wise County, VA,” reports that the new MDT is made up of law enforcement, prosecutors, victim advocates, social workers and prosecutors in Wise County.
Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp said this team is the type of collaboration already used in child abuse cases.
"Well, why can't we do that same thing for elder abuse cases. We have the same difficulties in prosecuting them, they're under reported, they're under prosecuted and the victims have a hard time testifying, " Slemp said.
Elder abuse cases, like child abuse cases, are often hard to prosecute.
Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect and abandonment. The perpetrators of this abuse can be children, other family members, spouses, and staff at nursing homes, assisted living and other facilities.
Slemp said he sees extensive credit card fraud, with people opening up credit cards in the name of the other person and charging those up. The elderly or incapacitated person is then responsible for the credit card debt. He also confirmed what the National Council on Aging found: it’s frequently a family member or caretaker who's doing the abuse. In many instances, the victim doesn’t want that person prosecuted.
In one month alone, Wise County Department of Social Services received approximately 40 reports of adult abuse, neglect and exploitation, of which 85 to 90% are 60 or older.
Slemp hopes the new MDT new team will continue to effect change in fighting elder abuse. He sees it as a first step in a very large movement to protect senior citizens from those who would do them harm.
Reference: WJHL.com (June 28, 2018) “Fighting elder abuse with collaboration, new 'MDT team' meets in Wise County, VA”
“Premiums keep rising, but you may need a policy more than ever.”
An effective way to safeguard your retirement savings from the high price of assisted living, in-home care or the cost of a stay in a nursing home is a long-term-care insurance policy. However, recent premium hikes have many baby boomers concerned that this type of coverage is no longer affordable.
Kiplinger’s recent story, “The Long-Term-Care Insurance Dilemma,” reports that the median cost of one year in a private room in a nursing home was $97,500 in 2017, according to Genworth's Cost of Care Study. A year of assisted living was $45,000, and 44 hours per week of home care–which most people prefer–was $49,000. Care costs have been rising by 3-4% per year over the past five years.
Rising costs have put pressure on long-term-care insurers, and the rates have spiked by at least 50% for most policies purchased between the mid-1970s and 2005. Some price increases are more than 100%. Almost every long-term-care insurer has raised rates at least once, and more rate increases are coming.
Insurers say they made major mistakes when pricing these policies: they thought more people would drop coverage, they overestimated the interest rates they'd earn on their investments and they underestimated the size and length of claims.
But there are ways to make long-term-care insurance more affordable.
First, don't drop your policy if you're hit with an increase. This is because a new policy will cost much more. If you can't afford the higher premiums, your insurer will generally give you several options. If you haven't bought a policy yet, you can still find coverage that protects a significant part of your retirement savings with affordable premiums.
You can reduce your premiums by purchasing a policy with less inflation protection and by getting a shorter benefit period.
The insurance companies have learned from their pricing mistakes and shouldn't have to increase premiums on new policies as much in the future. We hope.
Nonetheless, you should factor in potential increases, when calculating how much insurance you can buy. Plan for a 20% increase every 10 years.
A lawyer for Stan Lee, the creator of many of the most successful Marvel Comics, says his caregiver Keya Morgan "inserted himself into Mr. Lee's life" following the death of Lee’s wife last year.
The petition for the restraining order was filed on Lee's behalf by his attorney Tom Lallas. The lawyer claimed that Morgan ousted him as the 95-year-old's lawyer in February of this year. According to court documents for the order, Morgan seized control of Lee's home and moved him to a condominium. He also hired security guards to keep family members and friends away.
In the petition, Lallas wrote: "Petitioner, along with law enforcement and Adult Protective Services, believes that Mr. Morgan is unduly influencing Mr. Lee and isolating him."
He added details of Lee's severe hearing and vision impairment, saying he requires round-the-clock care, and Morgan's actions amount to "elder abuse".
Lallas noted that Lee has a large estate worth more than $50M. As a result, the attorney said his client is vulnerable to financial predators.
Morgan was arrested on suspicion of making a false police report, after calling 911 to report a burglary at Lee's home. The call was made shortly after two police officers and a social worker had arrived to check on the elderly Lee’s welfare.
The restraining order was granted just days after Lee posted a video on his Twitter feed informing the public to get in touch with Morgan, if they wanted to speak to him. The tweet claimed that Morgan was the only person with whom he worked. Lee called Morgan his business partner and said they were conquering the world together. A hearing concerning the circumstances of the restraining order was set for July at Los Angeles County Court.
“I have taken great care of Stan Lee for the past many years, and have never had a problem directly with Stan. I have a fantastic relationship with him for the past many years, as he has stated countless times on the record and I literally saved his life once,” Morgan told TMZ. “I will 100% prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the allegations against me are false.”
Lee is responsible for the creation of heroes like Spiderman, Iron Man, and the Hulk. He appeared in public at the premier of Black Panther, as recently as January of this year.
“For decades, wealth advisors would encourage investors to shift their mix of portfolio assets to more conservative investments, as retirement neared. But no more.”
It used to be that the final days of a person’s financial life, were when they reached their 60s or 70s. However, today, that’s just the start.
A generation ago, it would have been unthinkable to have a 90-year-old person still making decisions and still managing the family’s wealth.
Baron’s recent article, “Planning Ahead for Longer Lifespans,” says that people are just living longer, well into their 80s and 90s. But there’s a problem: people, even wealthy ones, aren’t preparing to live longer.
Once people reach their late 50s or early 60s, they’re likely to live into their mid-80s or beyond.
That’s a long period of time, but it’s manageable, if it is planned for.
One of the biggest fears many people have is cognitive decline. Therefore, they need to put a plan in place for managing the family’s investments or the family business, should the head of a family suffer from dementia.
Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is one example. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia.
Those with dementia may have issues with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments, or traveling out of their neighborhoods.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia. That means it’s a very real scenario for many families.
With the legal murkiness around what is “competence”—with even doctors disagreeing on a definition—families should be clear about what should occur in the event of cognitive decline. The fact that many families haven’t done this kind of planning, is already creating a big increase in litigation. Add this to your estate planning and to your family discussions about aging.
“Experts say there are a number of signs and symptoms of elder abuse.”
According to AARP, 65.5% of Georgia’s citizens will be part of the state’s aging population by 2030. As a result, people are looking at ways to improve long-term care and to prevent elder abuse. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed two bills in May to help protect senior citizens from abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
The Albany Herald’s recent article, “Legislation should help prevent elderly abuse,” explains that elder abuse can manifest in different ways. It can occur in a nursing home, an assisted living facility or in a person’s own home with a designated health care provider. It can also be exploitation of a senior’s finances by a family member. If an elderly person is attacked by a care provider or even by another resident in a care facility, that’s elder abuse. It can be malnutrition or dehydration in a nursing home. Elder abuse can also be a fall in an assisted living facility. Another example of abuse is polypharmacy, where a caretaker puts an elderly resident on too many medications to restrain them or to curb their behavior.
Elder abuse is a problem that’s more common than most people think. The National Council on Aging says that an estimated 5 million, or one in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation every year. Experts believe that for every reported case of elder abuse or neglect, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported. An Augusta Chronicle article reported that Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said that more than 3,000 people in Georgia had been charged with crimes against the elderly since 2010.
To help address and prevent elder abuse, Georgia Governor Deal signed into law Senate Bill 406 and House Bill 803. SB 406 requires direct care employees of nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living communities, private home care providers and adult day care centers to do FBI background checks and fingerprinting. HB 803 prohibits the trafficking of older or disabled persons and the practice of shuffling seniors to various facilities to avoid detection by law enforcement.
If a family is looking for a long-term care facility, the Medicare website has a Nursing Home Compare tool that rates every Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country. The website’s ratings look at quality of care indicators like health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. Details on penalties a nursing home has sustained, are also available.
If a relative is already in a long-term care facility, the signs of physical abuse include rough handling, injuries inconsistent with medical diagnosis or explanation and forcing someone to stay in a bed, chair or room. Indicators of financial abuse are missing money or valuables, checks and other documents being signed when the person can’t write, and unpaid bills when someone else is charged with paying for them for the person. Signs of neglect are bed sores or rashes, malnourishment and a lack of appropriate clothing for weather conditions.
“If there is one major factor that favors later retirees, it's education.”
There’s no magic formula for a prosperous retirement. However, following a few simple rules might help: save what you can, don’t spend more than your income, steer clear of debt, invest well and if you are lucky enough, have a job with a guaranteed pension or an employer match to your retirement accounts.
Some people would rather retire later and work more. That is assuming that their health is good and they don't need to take Social Security before age 66.
As Wealth Advisor explains in its recent article, “How Much Do You Need To Retire? One Big Bonus,” the more education you have, the more flexibility you’ll have when it comes to working more and saving more. That's the conclusion of a recent study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, which confirms the findings of earlier research.
Education as a work-longevity bonus has been known for a while. However, in recent years, the gap between high school and college-educated workers has broadened. For instance, from 1976-79, the average retirement age was 64 years for high school grads, and almost 65 years for college graduates. By 2010 (through 2016), college grads retired around 66, while those with a high school diploma were retiring earlier than they did nearly 40 years at age 63.
Although this three-year gap between the groups doesn't sound like a big deal, in terms of a demographic divide, it's massive. Those working longer tend to save more, mostly because they’re typically earning more.
Along with gains in longevity and overall medical care, the more educated person usually enjoys a longer period of prosperity in retirement. While this looks like a nice story for those with more education, it also reveals some of the underlying woes of the labor market.
College graduates typically earn more than high school grads, have better healthcare, more disposable income and are less likely to leave the workforce due to illness or injury. One of the reasons people retire early, is because they’re disabled, suffering from chronic illness, or take Social Security at 62 because they lost their job and can’t get hired.
Education is a major factor in the longevity divide. Education improves employability, and a higher income typically raises lifetime income. Not incurring debt for college degrees that don't bring a higher salary, is also a benefit.
Working longer may be the best way for us to improve retirement security. The life expectancy gains that have lengthened the duration of retirement have also made working longer, even more necessary, according to the study. It is important to focus on education that makes you intellectually nimble. How you use your mind—not just your body—has never been more important.
Individuals can claim their Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62 (and get a reduced benefit) or wait and receive a larger benefit. At 70, the maximum benefit is reached, which is about 75% greater than the early benefit at age 62. It’s not hard to do the math to find the break-even point or the age at which total Social Security income received from starting benefits at two different ages is the same.
However, the problem is that you’re looking at Social Security in a vacuum. The average retirement age in the U.S. is age 63, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If you retire before 70 and delay taking your benefits, how are you going to make up for this lost income during those years? Well, you’ll probably spend down your savings at a faster rate, possibly eating a bigger hole in your principal.
Delaying Social Security makes most sense for those who are healthy, still working and looking to replace as much of their earned income as possible. In addition, it would be a greater survivor benefit to a spouse. Some people can also lower their taxes in retirement, by delaying Social Security and tapping their retirement accounts. That would reduce their required minimum distributions (RMDs) and their taxes. However, it’s rare when the amount in taxes you can save in your later years, outweighs the taxes you’ll pay beforehand. Hence, this strategy should be considered only with the help of a legal professional.
You should consider your entire financial picture. This is because each source of income has its advantages. For example, with your personal savings, you have more control and flexibility over your savings than Social Security. With your savings, if you need more or less income, you have the ability to make an adjustment. However, once you take Social Security, you can’t voluntarily adjust the size of your benefit. Other than a spousal or survivor benefit, you can’t name beneficiaries on your Social Security benefit or leave a legacy. With any investment account, you can pass it on to a spouse, other family members, friends or charities.
The objective is to best utilize the advantages of each income source, in a way that helps maximize your income to achieve your financial goals and maximize your flexibility. This is important if you encounter any bumps in the future. Rather than thinking you need to automatically take Social Security at age 62, full retirement age or age 70, look at how every asset, liability, and income source works together in a detailed financial plan. Consider what you can get from sources other than Social Security, including retirement savings, pensions and/or part-time work.
“Kasem and her siblings were banned from seeing or talking to their father, Casey, in the last years of his life. He was isolated and no law prevented the abuse.”
Kerri Kasem, the daughter of late Top 40 DJ Casey Kasem, recently visited the Waynesboro, VA area to speak on elder abuse. She spoke at the Seventh Annual Training of the Greater Augusta Coalition Against Adult Abuse.
The News Virginian reported in its story, “Kasem speaks against elder abuse,” that Kasem presented: “Isolated: How Casey Kasem’s Family fought, changed the law, and survived.”
Kerri Kasem, like her father, is an American radio personality. She hosted Sixx Sense and The Side Show Countdown with Nikki Sixx.
Kasem relayed her family’s story of the fight to see her ailing father. She explained about early warning signs of abuse and prevention. She also provided tips on how law enforcement and Adult Protective Services should approach these cases, for the victim’s rights to be protected.
“I learned very quickly there are no laws in the U.S. protecting adult children,” she said. “There needs to be stronger laws in this country protecting our elderly.”
Kasem fought to see her father and eventually created the Kasem Cares Visitation Legislation. The bill “provides an open path for family members to ask the court to rule on visitation, without incurring the enormous expense and time that comes with a challenge to guardianship or conservatorship,” the website explains. The bill became law in twelve states.
The organization is advocating for changes in the laws in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin and Virginia.
During her fight, many people contacted her in letters saying they were going through the same ordeal. She hopes the legislation and the Kasem Cares Foundation will help other people.
“I knew there were so many families going through this,” she said. “I couldn’t let them go through that. I knew I had to do something. That’s why I created Kasem Cares.”
“As life spans get longer and longer, there are now more challenges and opportunities involved with navigating transitions before and during retirement. Here's what you need to know.”
A recent WTOP article asked “Are you ready for 8,000 days or more in retirement?” The article notes that the years we spend in retirement are increasing, because we’re staying healthier and living longer. It’s not unlikely for those in their mid-60s today, to have a life expectancy of another 20 to 30 or more years.
Along with this good news come the issues and questions surrounding the transitions before and during retirement. As you near retirement, you may be pondering how you want to spend your days and if you’ll have the savings to live the life you want. Hopefully, if you have been planning, you have a good sense of your cash flow and assets available for retirement.
A complete financial plan addresses cash flow sources and a realistic living budget, as well as Social Security, Medicare, long term care, insurance, taxes and estate planning. It’s critical to envisioning your future retirement. Many professionals believe it’s important to incorporate both quantitative and qualitative planning to allow for a fulfilling retirement and a life well-lived.
At the MIT Age Lab, instead of looking at retirement as an end, they consider a new retirement story that lasts on average for 8,000 days. The MIT Age Lab divides a person’s life into four equal parts of 8,000 days. Each segment lasts approximately 22 years: Learning (birth through college); Growing (start of professional career, relationship/marriage, start young family from your 20s to mid-40s); Maturing (prime career years, bigger homes, raising older children from mid-40s to mid-60s); and Exploring (retirement beginning mid-60s).
In its studies, MIT found that most people only had a vague idea of what they would do in retirement. It is remarkable that many see retirement as a single state. MIT found that without a clear vision, many retirees are unprepared for what comes next. While you may know exactly what you plan to do on Day 1 of retirement, do any of us really have a clear vision of Day 4,000? Initially in retirement, most have resources, good health and time for leisure activities, travel and social connections, along with the desire to pursue new interests.
Individuals and couples also begin addressing crucial “tactical” decisions that include where to live, how you will get around and with whom you will spend your time. That includes planning where and with whom to retire, as well as how much it will cost.
Meet regularly with your attorney to be certain your long-term plan is intact, can accommodate any changes and is in harmony with your estate plan.
When it comes to retirement planning, many only look at accumulating assets and making sure we spend our money wisely. While many retirees are concerned with outliving their wealth, there’s an even greater risk of losing your independence to declining health, being unable to access things you enjoy or need and having fewer friends.
“Establishing a conservatorship of any kind can be complicated and time consuming, especially for someone with no legal training. Most experts say it’s wise to consult an attorney.”
When someone can no longer care for himself, or their estate is in disarray, a conservatorship is granted by a court to a caregiver or to a guardian. This is a pretty drastic action, but it’s usually necessary when nothing was arranged in advance, such as a trust, powers of attorney, or healthcare directives.
The San Diego Union-Tribune’s recent article asks, “What is conservatorship and how do I get it? According to the article, the San Diego Superior Court website conservatorship page has an overview of the types of conservatorships available. It also contains downloadable forms, links, FAQs, and an outline of steps required to set up a conservatorship. Something similar to this service may be found on the California Courts website.
Seeking conservatorship is pretty much the point of last resort. A conservatorship of an estate can be avoided, if a person prepares in advance and creates a trust and arranges for appropriate powers of attorney with family members. These can be used without court intervention.
However, setting up a conservatorship for a person may be unavoidable, if a parent or other loved one—even a person who’s signed an advanced care directive and appointed an agent for power of attorney—becomes uncooperative, refuses to accept help, won’t go to a doctor, doesn’t eat properly, fails to maintain appropriate personal hygiene, or has become the victim of a scam artist.
Getting a conservatorship can be difficult, especially if the individual requiring assistance refuses and challenges the action in court. In that instance, they may hire an attorney of their own, or receive a court-appointed lawyer, to fight this.
When a conservatorship of a person or estate is granted, it is not the end of the work for a conservator. In both situations, the court will follow up with investigator visits to make sure the conservatee or the estate are being cared for or managed properly. In the case of a conservatorship of an estate, there must be an accounting of all assets.
Talk to an experienced elder law attorney and do some advance planning, long before you need help. This can avoid issues later that would require any type of conservatorship.
Have your attorney create the documents, so that court action and drawn-out and costly legal actions aren’t required. This could include placing assets in a trust, setting up children with powers of attorney, naming an agent and writing an advance health-care directive.