Comprehensive Planning. Lifelong Solutions.

How caregivers can deal with behavioral changes of loved ones with dementia

By Hook Law Center

There is ample research to suggest that family caregivers are more distressed by behavioral problems and changes in the personality of their loved ones than by their physical disabilities. For instance, while it may prove challenging for family members to physically pick up the body of a loved one who has suffered a stroke and has physical limitations, matters are made even more difficult if the loved one is resisting the caregivers’ offers to help, or accusing them of mistreating him or her, due to dementia.

In order to support their endeavors to care for loved ones, caregivers need and deserve recognition and appreciation. However, loved ones who are beset by cognitive and behavioral problems are frequently lacking in the ability to express their gratitude.

There are methods that family caregivers can apply in order to handle their loved ones’ conduct more effectively. Individuals with cognitive and behavioral issues frequently have sensitivity to such stimuli as environmental changes, such as light, noise, temperature and social activity. Become familiar with your family members’ triggers, and take steps to avoid placing them under any undue stress, thus reducing the likelihood that they will become upset.

Because people with behavioral and cognitive problems have a higher sensitivity to anger on the part of caregivers, it is imperative that you maintain your composure when communicating with them. Your capacity to remain calm will have a soothing effect on them. It is also recommended that you take your family member to the doctor on a regular basis for medical evaluations to treat all potential causes of changes in behavior.

Finally, remember that caregivers need care too. Since caring for family members with difficult behaviors can be stressful, it is important for you to have others assume your role periodically in order to give yourself a much-needed break.

Posted on Tuesday, December 29th, 2015. Filed under Long-Term Care, Senior Law News.

Financial elder abuse may be fastest growing type of crime in U.S.

By Hook Law Center

Financial elder abuse has been described as the fastest growing type of crime in the U.S. To avoid having this happen with your senior loved one, it is important to be aware of the dangers.

A study conducted by the Journal of General Internal Medicine revealed that 60 percent of the Adult Protective Services (APS) cases concerning financial abuse across the country involved an adult child of the elderly individual. Sadly, a considerable amount of financial abuse is carried out by family members under various pretenses or justifications.

The majority of the victims of financial elder abuse range in age from 80 to 89, live alone and are attempting to keep their independence. While women are twice as likely to be victimized as men, elderly men also suffer abuse. The generation prior to the baby boomers is living longer, in large part due to advances in medical science. As a result, they are more reliant on caregivers.

Unfortunately, many such crimes are often unreported because the elderly person is too embarrassed or afraid. The senior may also be afraid of being alone. However, the depletion of their savings can result in a serious threat to seniors’ health and well-being.

According to a study carried out by MetLife, the cost of financial elder abuse is estimated to be approximately $2.9 billion annually, and is increasing. Financial elder abuse is receiving more attention than it has in the past, and in 2014 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) distributed a guide to help the staff at assisted living and nursing facilities provide better protection for those in their care by thwarting and focusing on financial abuse. The guide offers assistance to staff in noticing and reporting financial abuse committed by relatives or other persons who manage the senior’s finances.

Posted on Monday, December 21st, 2015. Filed under Long-Term Care, Senior Law News.

How caregivers can deal with behavioral changes of loved ones with dementia

By Hook Law Center

There is ample research to suggest that family caregivers are more distressed by behavioral problems and changes in the personality of their loved ones than by their physical disabilities. For instance, while it may prove challenging for family members to physically pick up the body of a loved one who has suffered a stroke and has physical limitations, matters are made even more difficult if the loved one is resisting the caregivers’ offers to help, or accusing them of mistreating him or her, due to dementia.

In order to support their endeavors to care for loved ones, caregivers need and deserve recognition and appreciation. However, loved ones who are beset by cognitive and behavioral problems are frequently lacking in the ability to express their gratitude.

There are methods that family caregivers can apply in order to handle their loved ones’ conduct more effectively. Individuals with cognitive and behavioral issues frequently have sensitivity to such stimuli as environmental changes, such as light, noise, temperature and social activity. Become familiar with your family members’ triggers, and take steps to avoid placing them under any undue stress, thus reducing the likelihood that they will become upset.

Because people with behavioral and cognitive problems have a higher sensitivity to anger on the part of caregivers, it is imperative that you maintain your composure when communicating with them. Your capacity to remain calm will have a soothing effect on them. It is also recommended that you take your family member to the doctor on a regular basis for medical evaluations to treat all potential causes of changes in behavior.

Finally, remember that caregivers need care too. Since caring for family members with difficult behaviors can be stressful, it is important for you to have others assume your role periodically in order to give yourself a much-needed break.

Posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2015. Filed under Long-Term Care, Senior Law News.

Financial elder abuse may be fastest growing type of crime in U.S.

By Hook Law Center

Financial elder abuse has been described as the fastest growing type of crime in the U.S. To avoid having this happen with your senior loved one, it is important to be aware of the dangers.

A study conducted by the Journal of General Internal Medicine revealed that 60 percent of the Adult Protective Services (APS) cases concerning financial abuse across the country involved an adult child of the elderly individual. Sadly, a considerable amount of financial abuse is carried out by family members under various pretenses or justifications.

The majority of the victims of financial elder abuse range in age from 80 to 89, live alone and are attempting to keep their independence. While women are twice as likely to be victimized as men, elderly men also suffer abuse. The generation prior to the baby boomers is living longer, in large part due to advances in medical science. As a result, they are more reliant on caregivers.

Unfortunately, many such crimes are often unreported because the elderly person is too embarrassed or afraid. The senior may also be afraid of being alone. However, the depletion of their savings can result in a serious threat to seniors’ health and well-being.

According to a study carried out by MetLife, the cost of financial elder abuse is estimated to be approximately $2.9 billion annually, and is increasing. Financial elder abuse is receiving more attention than it has in the past, and in 2014 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) distributed a guide to help the staff at assisted living and nursing facilities provide better protection for those in their care by thwarting and focusing on financial abuse. The guide offers assistance to staff in noticing and reporting financial abuse committed by relatives or other persons who manage the senior’s finances.

Posted on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015. Filed under Senior Law News.

A retirement savings account can include health savings accounts

By Hook Law Center

As companies divert the costs of health insurance to their employees, health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) have become increasingly popular. According to the Employment Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), adults in the U.S. retained $23.8 billion among 11.8 million HSAs and HRAs. This represents an increase of 2,725 percent from 2006.

HSAs can also be used as a stealth individual retirement account, but the majority of people are unsure of how to inquire about them. While flexible spending accounts (FSAs) allow users to put away a maximum of $2,500 in pretax dollars every year for medical bills, HSAs do the same but with a higher maximum amount. In 2014, HSAs permitted individuals to set aside a maximum of $3,300, and families a maximum of $6,550, as well as a $1,000 catch-up contribution for people ages 55 and older.

Any remaining funds in the HSA will be rolled over each year and grow tax-free. You can withdraw funds on a tax-free basis from the HSA to cover medical bills at any age. But if you withdraw funds after you reach age 65 for other reasons, the amount will be subject to tax at normal income tax rates.

However, HSAs are not always affordable. They are normally combined with high-deductible insurance plans, which provide lower premiums, but call for greater out-of-pocket payments prior to the time at which coverage becomes effective. In 2014, the minimum deductible for one person was $1,250, and for a family, $2,500. The maximum out-of-pocket expenses for one person was $6,350, and for a family, $12,700.

Even when HSAs are within your budget, you should carefully examine the investment choices offered by an HSA. The majority of the time the funds are invested in money market accounts. It is advisable to first use plans that have greater yearly contribution limits, such as 401(k)s and IRAs.

Posted on Wednesday, November 25th, 2015. Filed under Estate Planning, Long-Term Care.

What men can learn from women about saving for retirement

By Hook Law Center

Although men’s 401(k) balances tend to be larger than women’s, there is evidence to suggest that women may outperform men where retirement planning is concerned. Vanguard observed that at the majority of income levels, women are more inclined to take part in their employer’s 401(k) plan, more inclined to enroll in the plan on a voluntary basis and more inclined to contribute a greater percentage of their income than men.

For instance, women who earn $75,000 or more on a yearly basis contribute approximately a full percentage point more of income than men who earn the same amount. One percentage point can translate into a significantly greater nest egg and much greater income for retirement.

Women may be better at saving, but because of men’s larger incomes and longer period of time working, their 401(k) balances tend to be larger. While men’s 401(k) balances are about $121,000, women’s are about $78,000.

There are many news stories that indicate that women are more sophisticated investors. They say that an index of hedge funds managed by women performed better than a wider hedge fund index. It has also been said that women spend more time conducting research of investments, exercise more patience and ask questions to others regarding their viewpoints on certain stocks.

Nevertheless, both men and women can find ways to improve their saving, investing and planning. It is advisable to be diligent and disciplined, and to ensure that your saving and investing are part of a long-term plan to realize a certain objective.

Posted on Friday, November 13th, 2015. Filed under Estate Planning.

The new reverse mortgage rules: Are they right for your retirement plan?

By Hook Law Center

The reverse mortgage rules that became effective on Aug. 4, 2014 should address any concerns held by married couples who are contemplating taking out such loans. Reverse mortgages, which are also called Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), are home loans for those who are age 62 or older that allow them to convert the equity that they have in their home into cash. They provide a way for homeowners to receive additional income during their retirement years. The loan is required to be paid upon the death of the borrower, a change in residence of the borrower or sale of the home.

However, one complication that has arisen is that when husbands have taken out reverse mortgages, upon their death, their wives were unable to pay off the loans, and were faced with foreclosure. As a result, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was the defendant in a class action lawsuit filed by AARP, which alleged that HUD failed to protect the women.

Under the new rules, if one spouse takes out a reverse mortgage, and later dies, the surviving spouse can keep residing in the home without any apprehension about foreclosure provided that she or he pays the tax and insurance, and maintains the home. The new rules also state that a couple can still obtain a reverse mortgage where only one of the spouses is 62 or older. And the younger spouse’s age will determine the amount of the couple’s payout even in the event that that spouse is not on the mortgage title. In this way, the amount of the loan will be smaller.

Reverse mortgages are complex financial products, and if you are considering one, you should consult an attorney or trusted financial adviser.

Posted on Friday, November 6th, 2015. Filed under Estate Planning.

Spending down Medicaid assets safely

By Hook Law Center

“Spending down” your assets is the term used to describe the reduction of your assets in order to qualify for Medicaid.

There are some assets that are not required to be sold or spent in order to be eligible for Medicaid. These are called noncountable assets, and they include the home, a car, household goods and furnishings, personal effects, prepaid funeral and burial expenses and cash limited to $3,000 for a couple. However, the decision to exempt certain assets is made based on the factors of each case. The Medicaid program for your state will consider the laws of your state, your marital status, living arrangements and other circumstances.

Following are some of the expenses for which it is usually permissible to spend down your money or assets. But since there are differences in each state, it is recommended that you seek advice from an estate planning attorney. When applying for Medicaid, you can spend down your assets on any legitimate debt belonging to you or your spouse. Such debts include mortgage payments, medical bills, rent, utilities, car payments, taxes and credit cards. Full or partial payments of the afore-mentioned expenses, as well as prepayments of loans, are also acceptable.

However, prepaid amounts to caregivers are disallowed for services that have not yet been rendered. Such a prepayment will be considered a gift, and will cause the applicant to be ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time. Similarly, prepayment of any expense prior to the time at which the service is rendered or the applicant receives the benefit, is also disallowed.

A Medicaid applicant can purchase noncountable assets, such as an exempt home or car if the applicant or his or her spouse will be operating the car. In addition, payments made for the maintenance or improvements of a noncountable asset, such as a home, are permitted.

Posted on Saturday, October 31st, 2015. Filed under Medicaid, Senior Law News.

How to spend down Medicaid assets (safely)

By Hook Law Center

Spending down your assets is the term used to describe the reduction of your assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. There are some assets that are not required to be sold or spent in order to be eligible for Medicaid. These are called noncountable assets, and they include the home, a car, household goods and furnishings, personal effects, prepaid funeral and burial expenses and cash limited to $3,000 for a couple. However, the decision to exempt certain assets is made based on the factors of each case. The Medicaid program for your state will consider the laws of your state, your marital status, living arrangements and other circumstances.

Here are some of the expenses for which it is permissible in most states to spend down your money or assets. When applying for Medicaid, you can spend down your assets on any legitimate debt belonging to you or your spouse. Such debts include mortgage payments, medical bills, rent, utilities, car payments, taxes and credit cards. Full or partial payments of the aforementioned expenses, as well as prepayments of loans, are also acceptable. However, since there are differences in each state, it is recommended that you inquire about the laws of your state or seek advice from an estate planning attorney.

However, prepaid amounts to caregivers are disallowed for services that have not yet been rendered. Such a prepayment will be considered a gift, and will cause the applicant to be ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time. Similarly, prepayment of any expense prior to the time at which the service is rendered or the applicant receives the benefit, is also disallowed.

A Medicaid applicant can purchase noncountable assets, such as an exempt home or car if the applicant or his or her spouse will be operating the car. In addition, payments made for the maintenance or improvements of a noncountable asset, such as a home, are permitted.

Due to drastic changes in the Medicaid program, those who are members of the middle class will also be eligible. And those who are not disabled or in long-term care facilities, will not have to spend down their assets as long as their Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) complies with income requirements.

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2015. Filed under Medicaid, Senior Law News.

The new reverse mortgage rules: Are they right for your retirement plan?

By Hook Law Center

The new reverse mortgage rules that became effective on Aug. 4, 2014 should allay any fears or concerns held by married couples who are contemplating taking out such loans. Reverse mortgages, which are also called Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), are home loans for those who are age 62 or older that allow them to convert the equity that they have in their home into cash. They provide a way for homeowners to receive additional income during their retirement years. The loan is required to be paid upon the death of the borrower, a change in residence of the borrower or sale of the home.

However, one complication that has arisen is that when husbands have taken out reverse mortgages, upon their death, their wives were unable to pay off the loans, and were faced with foreclosure. As a result, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was the defendant in a class action lawsuit filed by AARP, which alleged that HUD failed to protect the women.

Under the new rules, if one spouse takes out a reverse mortgage and later dies, the surviving spouse can keep residing in the home without any apprehension about foreclosure provided that she or he pays the tax and insurance, and maintains the home. The new rules also state that a couple can still obtain a reverse mortgage where only one of the spouses is 62 or older. And the younger spouse’s age will determine the amount of the couple’s payout even in the event that that spouse is not on the mortgage title. In this way, the amount of the loan will be smaller.

Reverse mortgages are complex financial products, and if you are considering one, you should consult an attorney or trusted financial adviser.

Posted on Monday, October 19th, 2015. Filed under Estate Planning, Long-Term Care.
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