Comprehensive Planning. Lifelong Solutions.

Virginia Has Authorized Programs in Anticipation of the Graying of the State

By Hook Law Center

The latest population projections support researchers’ estimates that there will be more than 1.8 million people over the age of 60 residing in Virginia by 2030, an increase of 33 percent since 2000. Even more dramatic is the number of Virginians who will be over the age of 85 – a 40 percent jump in just ten years.

As part of efforts to deal with the “graying” of Virginia, the 2008 Virginia General Assembly mandated a multi-year planning process for the Virginia Division for the Aging in collaboration with a task force comprised of elder care advocates, educators, and service providers.

The jump in the number of older residents is expected to place an additional burden on senior resources; state offices are putting numerous programs in place in anticipation of future need:

The Virginia Department for the Aging has developed a Lifespan Respite Care Program, expanding their existing efforts to build a network which will offer respite services for caregivers statewide.
Connections gives practical, in-home training to family members caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia.
Virginia Parks and Recreation Society s Senior Resource Group is partnering with Senior Centers to focus on senior care best practices to help seniors stay healthy and independent.

There are numerous resources available in Virginia for seniors and their loved ones which are specifically in place to help support a productive, healthy, independent life.

The elder law attorneys and estate planning lawyers at the Hook Law Center in Virgina Beach and Suffolk, help Virginia families with trust & estate administration, guardianships, long term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. Learn more at

Posted on Friday, December 21st, 2012. Filed under Senior Law News.

Adult Day Care Question

By Hook Law Center

Question: I am the primary caregiver for my elderly mother. I have become aware of the daily stress and emotional and physical impact it is having on my health. What can I do to give myself a break?

Hook Law Center Answer: We recommend you look into an adult day care facility in your area. Adult day care respite is two-fold. It gives the caregivers much needed time to themselves, and it gives the caregivers’ loved ones social and interactive therapy with their peers.

Many adult day services offer such things as:

  • Social activities; music, movies, crafts, excursions;
  • Meals;
  • Fellowship support;
  • Assistance with daily living;
  • Nursing care;
  • Help with activities of daily living;
  • Medications;
  • Physical therapy; and
  • Transportation.

Finding an adult day care provider takes a little investigating on your part. It is important to know what you are getting and that your loved one is comfortable with his or her new surroundings.

First: Ask for recommendations. Check with your local senior center, Area Agency on Aging Services, mental health centers, physician, clinic, family, friends and neighbors. The best recommendation is by someone who has used the adult day care or is familiar with those who run it.

Second: Phone and ask the facility to send you information. Ask specifically to be sent the application, eligibility requirements and payment information. Ask to see the calendar of activities, menus, hours and days of operation to be sure they fit your schedule. Ask about availability of transportation to and from the location and what is the cost. Ask who runs the facility. Is it private, non-profit or a franchise or part of an assisted living facility or a nursing home?

Third: Visit the adult day care facility. Go visit the provider location along with the person for whom you are providing care. See if the staff is friendly. Check that it is clean and odor free. Ask about the experience of the staff. Request a list of references.

Fourth: Find out the cost and payment requirements. A survey from NCOA/NADSA provides the following information on fees: “Fees for Adult Day Care providers range from $25 per day to $70 per day, with the average around $50 per day. Many facilities provide services with a sliding fee scale.”

One last word of advice. Don’t feel guilty about taking your loved one to adult day care.

Posted on Saturday, December 15th, 2012. Filed under Long-Term Care, Medicaid.

Identity Theft Targeting the Elderly Is on the Rise

By Hook Law Center

Identity theft can occur in a number of ways, including someone hacking into an online account, stealing a credit card number or bank account number or other financial documents, applying for loans in someone else’s name, or illegally obtaining birth certificates or driver’s licenses.

Seniors tend to be targeted because they are especially vulnerable in ways that allow for easier opportunities for theft; they may be isolated, they may not be as “web-savvy” as members of a younger demographic, they may be lonely enough to ignore questionable behavior, or they may have dementia or memory loss.

There are countless ways to steal someone’s identity, including:

Mail. Shred all personal documents, including bank and credit card statements, before placing them in the trash. If you receive a solicitation letter asking for a donation, double-check the identity of the sender.

Phishing. Fake emails claiming to be from financial institutions or online companies such as Amazon or eBay ask seniors to “verify” their account information. As a general rule, companies with online payment systems do not email customers to ask for or verify payment, banking or personal information.

Credit card double swiping. It only takes a moment for a thief working behind a counter or cashing out a register bill to quickly swipe a credit card and capture the account numbers. Safety tip: Keep an eye on someone who has control of your credit card, when possible. Regularly check bank statements to ensure that no unauthorized purchases have been made.

If you are a senior and feel you may have been the victim of identity theft, contact an elder law attorney to explore any remedial measures you may be able to take to minimize the damage.

The elder law attorneys and estate planning lawyers at the Hook Law Center in Virgina Beach and Suffolk, help Virginia families with trust & estate administration, guardianships, long term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. Learn more at

Posted on Saturday, December 8th, 2012. Filed under Senior Law News.

How to Approach Your Parents About Their Estate Plan

By Hook Law Center

Hook Law Center often hears from children who are concerned that their parents may not have an estate plan in place. Many children are concerned that they would not be able to assist their parents in the event a parent had a disability such as a stroke or dementia. Understandably, these subjects may be hard for children to discuss with their parents as children do not want to appear greedy, and the parents may fear loss of control or independence

How can an individual approach their parents about these issues? First, we recommend individuals update their estate plan including properly executed durable power of attorneys and advance medical directives. After individuals complete their plan, they often feel they can approach their parents by referring to the work they have completed with an elder law attorney. We also recommend asking about a general durable power of attorney and advance medical directive rather than a will. Those documents plan for the parents care while they are still alive and show a desire to see parents cared for while they are still here rather than focusing on who will get assets after the parents have passed.

Posted on Friday, November 23rd, 2012. Filed under Estate Planning.

Elder Care Research Gaining Traction

By Hook Law Center

Researchers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics interview people every day to see how they managed the tasks of the previous day – everything from work to child care to running errands. They contacted more than 12,000 U.S. respondents for the report known as “The American Time Use Survey.”

Though the BLS started the survey in 2003, only in the last year did they include questions for the respondents about caring for elderly family members. What they have since found has surprised many: 39.8 million people above the age of 15 report they are regularly providing unpaid care to someone over 65. More than 23 percent of respondents between 45 and 64 consider themselves “elder care providers,” meaning, researchers assume, an adult child who provides some level of care for an aged parent or parents. One-third of them care for two or more older people. Some 23 percent of those elder-person caregivers report that they also have a minor child in their households – meaning that they are what is called “the sandwich generation,” caring for someone older as well as someone younger.

As America “grays,” the subject of elder care is gaining traction. The resources required – financial, emotional, time-based – will continue to be examined.

The elder law attorneys and estate planning lawyers at the Hook Law Center in Virgina Beach and Suffolk, help Virginia families with trust & estate administration, guardianships, long term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. Learn more at

Posted on Wednesday, November 14th, 2012. Filed under Senior Law News.

Women and Estate Planning

By Hook Law Center

When people hear the term “estate planning,” they often think of a wealthy older gentleman managing extensive business and personal assets. But estate planning is a smart step for everyone, especially women.

Women generally step out of the workforce earlier and more frequently than men do in order to care for children or other family members, earn less on the dollar than men in the same fields, and outlive their male counterparts by several years. Women over the age of 65 outnumber older men 22.4 million to 16.5 million. Older women are a significant section of the U.S. population, and their living standards are often compromised during their retirement years. Estate planning can change that.

What can a woman do to oversee her own estate planning? Work with an established estate planning attorney to set up a retirement fund according to the latest tax guidelines, and make sure there are assets under her name. Work with her estate planner to create a will to address what will happen to those assets upon her death, and consider additional documentation, including a living trust to hold assets in the case of incapacity, a power of attorney, and an advance medical directive. A comprehensive estate planning approach might also include exploring potential long-term care insurance plans.

It is never too soon to begin protecting one’s assets and planning for the future.

The elder law attorneys and estate planning lawyers at the Hook Law Center in Virgina Beach and Suffolk, help Virginia families with trust & estate administration, guardianships, long term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. Learn more at

Posted on Sunday, October 21st, 2012. Filed under Estate Planning.

Choosing Guardianship for Your Child

By Hook Law Center

One of the last things a parent wants to think about is what will happen to a child if something were to happen. However, deciding who shall serve as a guardian in such a scenario may be one of the most important things you can do to preserve your peace of mind, and provide for the safety and care of your child. There are numerous issues to consider when choosing a guardian, including:

Connection. How comfortable is your child with the potential guardian? It would be prudent to ensure your child has some level of comfort and a connection to their potential guardian.

Location. Does the location of the potential guardian ensure that your child will remain in a familiar environment, or will your child have to relocate?  What might location mean for extended family and friends?  It is important to understand your child so as to determine how he or she will adjust to the changes around him or her.

Resources. Is the potential guardian able to care for your child financially, emotionally and physically? While the potential guardian may dearly love your child, you must assess whether the guardian would be able to physically and financially provide for your child.

Planning for the future of your family, and planning for various care contingencies, is part of being a parent. Working with a qualified estate planning attorney, you can structure a guardianship that works best for your family and evaluate your current estate plan, which can include, but is not limited to, life insurance policies, designation of beneficiaries, trusts, and of course, your Last Will and Testament. This will empower you with control to make decisions that will ensure your child is taken care of in the way you would deem proper in the event something happens to you.

The elder law attorneys and estate planning lawyers at the Hook Law Center in Virgina Beach and Suffolk, help Virginia families with trust & estate administration, guardianships, long term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. Learn more at

Posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012. Filed under Senior Law News.

In Case of An Emergency

By Hook Law Center

We never know when an emergency situation might happen. Because of this, it is important for every person to carry emergency contact information in a wallet or purse.

If a person has a cell phone, then it’s easy to list people one would like to have contacted in the event of an emergency. Many people indicate their emergency contact information under the entry “ICE” (an acronym for “In Case of Emergency”) and then list the person’s name and telephone number. This is an excellent idea, and every cell phone user should identify the user’s emergency contacts. This is important because an individual could, for example, have an elderly parent’s phone number in the contact list for convenience, but the individual would not want the parent to be the first one contacted in the event of an emergency. An e-mail circulated a few years ago reported that that using the ICE entry could result in viruses being passed to cell phones or premium charges being billed to the phone; this was proven to be a hoax.

Many people, however, do not have cell phones, particularly the elderly. Further, cell phones can be lost, damaged, or emergency medical personnel may not have the time or the ability to access the contact list. As a result, everyone should have an up-to-date listing of the emergency contact numbers in their wallet or purse. This is why Oast & Hook provides every client who executes an Advance Medical Directive (AMD) with a wallet card that includes the telephone numbers of the agents under the AMD. This also serves as an emergency notification card.

An advance medical directive (AMD) is a healthcare power of attorney and a living will. Why should you to register your AMD? Research has found that 75% of the time you need your AMD, it is not available, for example, when you are in a hospital emergency room. Oast & Hook can register your AMD with DocuBank, a company that ensures that your AMD is available worldwide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012. Filed under Estate Planning.

Seniors and Driving

By Hook Law Center

As individuals age, often the most important sign of independence is the ability to drive. There are increasing conflicts between public safely concerns and the rights of older Americans to retain their privilege to drive.

There are over 20 million drivers age 70 and older, with that number expected to increase to 30 million by 2030. Unfortunately, drivers age 85 years and older now exceed 16-year-old drivers in the number of fatalities per mile driven, and they almost match teenage drivers in rates of insurance claims for property damage. With no national standards for driver licensing, states have been developing their own policies with respect to the licensing of senior drivers. Seniors who have lost their licenses are hiring lawyers, getting therapy to prepare for road tests, and being coached to pass written tests. Some older drivers are using false licenses in order to stay on the road, according to Harold Kocken, senior director of driver licensing for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

Some incidents have prompted legislatures to enact tougher laws with respect to older drivers. In St. Petersburg, Florida, a 93-year-old man drove up to a toll booth, apparently oblivious to the fact that the dead body of a pedestrian that he had hit down the road was embedded in his windshield. As a result of this incident, two Florida lawmakers proposed legislation that would require physicians to report to the state licensing authorities those people age 75 years and older who may be unfit to drive. Advocacy groups for seniors (including AARP in Florida) were successful in removing the age requirement in the proposed bill, and the bill did not pass. Currently Florida is one of many states that have a confidential voluntary, but not mandatory, reporting program for physicians with knowledge of those may be unable to drive due to physical or mental disabilities. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has now instituted the Florida GrandDriver® program ( to promote senior driver safety, and to enhance the ability of seniors to get around when and where they want. Many advocacy groups oppose testing requirements based on age, and questions exist regarding the best way to identify dangerous drivers. Virginia currently requires drivers age 80 and older to submit to a vision test.

Posted on Monday, September 17th, 2012. Filed under Senior Law News.

Advance Medical Directives

By Hook Law Center

Question – Is it important to have an advance medical directive as part of your estate plan?

Answer – Yes, an advance medical directive is an important piece of one’s estate plan. One of the fundamental rights enjoyed by every American is the right to bodily integrity; individuals have the right to decide what treatment they receive and what treatment they refuse. No one can do anything to an individual’s body that they do not authorize. The advance medical directive is an important legal tool that continues this protection after a person is no longer capable of making reasoned judgments. Recent changes in Virginia law have now established that the advanced medical directive is the primary means by which one controls what happens to oneself from the moment one is found by a physicians to be incapacitated until either recovery or death. Because this is often the period in which one requires the most extensive medical treatment, it only makes sense for individuals to make their wishes clear beforehand.

Posted on Wednesday, August 15th, 2012. Filed under Estate Planning.
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