Comprehensive Planning. Lifelong Solutions.

The 65-Day Rule: What Every Trustee Should Know about Taxes

By Jessica A. Hayes

Happy New Year! We hope you and yours had an enjoyable holiday season and that 2017 brings you happiness and good health.  With the close of the calendar year behind us, tax season is just beginning for individuals and many entities.  If you are serving as the trustee of a complex trust, however, it’s not too late to take action that may reduce total taxes paid overall.

First, a couple of definitions: A “complex trust” is a trust that either retains current income in the trust, distributes trust principal, or has a charitable organization as a beneficiary. A “simple trust” is a trust that is required to distribute all of its annual income to the beneficiaries, but no principal may be distributed.  Income of the trust is taxable to the recipient.

Trusts pay the highest federal income tax rate of 39.6% at a much lower threshold than individuals (at $12,400 as opposed to $415,050 for a single individual in 2016). Most trust beneficiaries have a lower tax rate than the trust; therefore, income that is distributed to the beneficiaries (which is then taxed to the beneficiaries instead of to the trust) ultimately results in a tax savings between the trust and the beneficiaries.

To manage the tax burden of a complex trust, trustees can use the “65-Day Rule” (also called a 663(b) election) to make distributions to trust beneficiaries for the first 65 days of a calendar year. The 65-Day Rule applies only to complex trusts, because by definition, a simple trust’s income is already taxed to the beneficiary at the beneficiary’s presumably lower tax rate.

If after the beginning of the New Year, the trustee realizes that there is excess income remaining after accounting for distributions made in the preceding year, the 65-Day Rule allows the trustee to treat distributions made within the first 65 days of the New Year as if the distributions were made in the preceding year.  This means that trust distributions made through Monday, March 6, 2017 may be treated as having been made in 2016.

In order to use the 65-Day Rule, the trustee must make the 663(b) election on page two of IRS Form 1041, the trust’s income tax return. If the trustee makes this election, he should keep careful records to ensure that the tax return for the following year does not errantly treat those distributions as distributions made in the following tax year, as well.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Canine Cancer Research

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about how dogs are used in cancer research, and how this benefits humans.

Kit Kat:  Well, this is very interesting and inspiring. Veterinary scientists did not start out treating dogs for cancer to only benefit humans. In fact, most cancer treatments for dogs were first developed for humans. However, what was discovered was that dogs’ and humans’ biological systems were more alike than previously thought. So, it really didn’t make sense to restrict trials for new medications to mice, who usually don’t get cancer. To conduct cancer trials on mice, the cancer has to be induced, while both dogs and humans get similar cancers without such effort.

So some veterinary schools are leading the way in research with dogs, that just so happens to benefit humans. Take, for example, the case of Flyer, 70-pound golden retriever who had osteosarcoma in one her legs. The leg was amputated, and she underwent chemotherapy. Now she is being followed via chest x-rays at the University of Pennsylvania’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital to see if the cancer has reappeared in her lungs, a frequent complication. As a precaution, because many dogs with osteosarcoma die within a year of cancer reappearing in their lungs, Flyer was given an experimental vaccine to ward off cancer’s return. Flyer has to frequently return for x-rays to monitor her progress. The course of treatment was 3 intravenous doses, and it has worked thus far—she remains cancer-free. Researchers are hoping to adapt the vaccines used for dogs to humans, especially children, who develop osteosarcoma at a higher rate than adults. It looks promising. According to Nicola Mason, a veterinarian and immunologist at Penn’s Veterinary School, ‘Where dogs really stand out is in the way they generate tumors and react to treatments, which is a lot like people.’

Across the country, medical and veterinary school are collaborating on research and treatment for this and other cancers such as lymphoma, melanoma, brain and bladder cancer. Pharmaceutical companies, in some cases, like to start studying a new treatment on a dog. If the results are promising, they then move on to adapting it for humans. Everyone should be grateful to these patient canines who are better suited overall to being research subjects than we cats. Cats tend to become stressed in research settings. However, there is one bright spot for cats—cats are used in studies about oral cancer and breast cancer. In these 2 particular types of cancer, cats’ cancer is very similar to the human version.

In short, we dogs and cats are are doing our best to help our human caretakers stay healthy. We all want to live as long as possible! (Laurie McGinley, “New tricks in canine cancer research may improve treatments for humans, too,” The Washington Post, Health & Science, November 26, 2016)

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Distribution of This Newsletter

Hook Law Center encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to Hook Law Center, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Hook Law Center News, then please telephone us at 757-399-7506, e-mail us at mail@hooklawcenter.com or fax us at 757-397-1267.

Posted on Friday, December 30th, 2016. Filed under Newsletter.

ABLE Accounts Open in Virginia

By Elizabeth Boehmcke

For those of you who have been waiting for Virginia529 to open the enrollment process for ABLE accounts, your wait is over. The Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was signed into law in December, 2014 and Virginia passed legislation in March, 2015 to direct Virginia529 to develop, implement and administer the new tax-advantaged savings accounts for eligible persons with disabilities. Virginia529 just opened the enrollment process this month and accounts are ready to be created and funded.

As a reminder, ABLE accounts are for blind or disabled individuals whose blindness or disability occurred before the individual’s 26th birthday and i) who are entitled to benefits under the Social Security Act (SSI or SSDI); or ii) who self-certify that they have a condition listed on the Social Security Administration’s list of compassionate allowances conditions and have a signed qualifying disability diagnosis from a qualified physician; or iii) who self-certify that they have an eligible disability and have a signed qualifying disability diagnosis from a qualified physician. ABLE accounts may be opened by the disabled individual in his/her own capacity if he or she is 18 years of age and competent to make financial decisions for him or herself. If the disabled individual cannot open the account independently, a guardian or attorney in fact acting under a valid durable power of attorney may open the account on the individual’s behalf. Parents can open such accounts on behalf of minors. All accounts can be opened online at able-now.com.

ABLE accounts, similar to the 529 education accounts they are modeled on, allow for contributions to grow free of federal and state income tax and for distributions for “qualified disability expenses” to be made free of federal and state income tax. A “qualified disability expense” is one which is incurred at a time when the individual is eligible (as described above), which relates to the person’s blindness or disability and which helps maintain or improve the person’s health, independence and quality of life. This standard is quite broad and can include education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, health, financial management, legal fees, funeral and burial expenses etc. It will be important to track and account for these expenses, because the total distributions from the account will be reported to the IRS annually. Maintaining detailed records and receipts will be an important part of administering an ABLE account. Failure to use the money in the ABLE account for a qualified disability expense (or to be able to prove such expense) will subject the withdrawal to a 10% penalty and the individual will include the amount of the withdrawal in his or her income. It is also possible that such non-qualified funds could be counted as income or as a resource for means-tested benefit programs. An important side-benefit of contributing to an ABLE account is that Virginia allows an income tax deduction of up to $2,000 per contributor.

ABLE accounts are limited in some very important ways. Contributions to an ABLE account are limited to the amount of the annual gift tax exclusion, currently $14,000/year. This limit applies to contributions from all sources, so the account cannot be used to shelter large sums of money. Furthermore, upon the death of the disabled individual, any balance in the ABLE account is subject to payback to Medicaid for funds paid by Medicaid on behalf of the disabled individual after the creation of the account. Finally, for disabled individuals collecting SSI, balances in an ABLE account in excess of $100,000 are counted as an asset for determining eligibility for SSI (but not for Medicaid eligibility). Although Virginia currently has a ceiling of $500,000 on the assets that can be in an ABLE account, ABLE accounts are not a substitute for Third-Party Special Needs Trusts or for First-Party Special Needs Trusts because of the limitations on annual contributions and the Medicaid payback requirement. However, they can function very well as an adjunct to a well-conceived plan to care for individuals with disabilities. An ABLE account can be a way to provide independence for some individuals who are able to manage their own financial affairs and may be an excellent repository for unexpected inheritances or for extra savings.

If you would like to discuss how to utilize an ABLE account in your planning for a person with disabilities, contact one of the experienced attorneys at the Hook Law Center so we can help you make sense of possibilities.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Sea Turtles in Danger

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about sea turtles in the Outer Banks and how they are faring during this cold patch of weather?

Kit Kat:  Well, the sea turtles who overstayed their normal residency in the Outer Banks are having quite a time this winter. Temperatures have been unusually cold. Even though, the cold snaps don’t last for days on end, they are still a danger to these warm-water, loving creatures. According to Jeff Hampton of The Virginian-Pilot, “turtles cannot move when water temperatures fall below 50 degrees.” Most have left the area by now, but a few get fooled by a warm fall, and forget to  leave to go south for the winter. Fortunately, for them, they got delayed in the right place to get expert treatment!

8 green sea turtles, one loggerhead, and one Kemp’s ridley turtle were rescued from the beaches of Pimlico Sound over the weekend of December 10-11, 2016. They were rescued by staff from the North Carolina Aquarium-Roanoke Island, volunteers from the Hatteras Network for Endangered Sea Turtles, and rangers from the National Park Service. The turtles were then treated at the aquarium’s rehabilitation center. It’s a slow process. They are gradually warmed by a rate of 5 degrees per day, until reaching their normal body temperature. The treatment involves administering fluids and analyzing their blood. Some even require antibiotics if they happen to also catch pneumonia. Once they are stabilized, they are released to a beach further south, but they must first be able to swim and eat normally.

This current rescue effort was quite small compared to last year. At that time, the rescue teams were overwhelmed with the number of  turtles needing care when caught in a prolonged cold snap. Rosemary Lucas, coordinator of the rehabilitation center, said they had tubs of warming water all over the center—even in hallways and bathrooms. Contributions from the community help in these efforts. If you would like to donate to this cause, you may do so online at ncaquariums.com/roanoke-island with the code SEATURTLE2016.  Contributions by check may be sent to NC Aquarium, 374 Airport Rd., P.O.Box 967, Manteo, NC 27954 with the notation of STAR or SEA TURTLE in the subject line. (Jeff Hampton, “Stunned by the cold,” The Virginian-Pilot, December 14, 2016, p. 4)

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Distribution of This Newsletter

Hook Law Center encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to Hook Law Center, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Hook Law Center News, then please telephone us at 757-399-7506, e-mail us at mail@hooklawcenter.com or fax us at 757-397-1267.

Posted on Tuesday, December 27th, 2016. Filed under Newsletter.

Special Needs Trust Fairness Act Passes Congress

By Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro, CELA

On December 7, 2016, the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act passed Congress as part of the 21st Century Cures Act and is expected to be signed by President Obama very soon. This is a momentous victory for persons with disabilities since it corrects the erroneous assumption under prior law that persons with disabilities lack the capacity to handle their own affairs.

In 1993, Congress amended the Medicaid statute via the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) to recognize the use of special needs trusts. The purpose was to ensure that the funds allocated to a person with a disability is not subject to exploitation or waste while preserving the person’s eligibility for means-tested public benefits. The problem; however, is that OBRA limited the establishment of such trusts to a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian of the person with a disability, or a court of competent jurisdiction. The statute failed to recognize the ability of a person with a disability to establish their own trust, and also lead to the implementation of various rules from the public benefits offices that led to the implementation of various rules that further complicated the establishment of the trusts and detrimentally impacted an individual’s benefits. Various agencies started evaluating things such as where the initial funding of the trust came from and whether a parent acted under that authority of a power of attorney, and thus on behalf of the individual, instead of acting as a parent, in establishing the trust.

While it may take some time for states to implement the new law under the state code and for public benefit administrators to incorporate the change in policy manuals, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. Hook Law Center, P.C. would like to thank advocates, in particular the Special Needs Alliance (SNA) and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), for their hard work over the years in helping bring this issue to the attention of lawmakers and in working so diligently to get the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act passed.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – PetSmart Charities

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about PetSmart Charities and their gifts to the Norfolk SPCA?

Kit Kat:  Well, this is a terrific story! On November 28, 2016, the Norfolk SPCA completed the terms of a grant paying for the spaying/neutering of 1,390 cats in Norfolk. The grant was awarded nearly two years ago. It paid mostly for the trapping, neutering, and releasing of stray cats back to the place in which they were found. As part of this process, the cats were placed under anesthesia, and at the time of the spaying/neutering, they were also given an eartip (slight trimming) on the left ear to indicate that they have been fixed.

This was the second PetSmart Charities grant awarded to the Norfolk SPCA. The first grant which lasted from 2012-2014 paid for the sterilization of 1,200 cats who had no discernible owners. Sterilization prevents homeless cats from constant birthing of kittens, who themselves in turn, will become homeless with no source of food and shelter. Though the grants have expired, the Norfolk SPCA is pleased to offer this same service at the nominal price of $40 per feline to cats found in Norfolk or any other jurisdiction brought to their doors. Thanks to all who contribute to the Norfolk SPCA! This is where some of your monetary gifts are directed. Feral and homeless cats are a tremendous problem nationwide. In the prime breeding season of April-November, thousands across the United States are born every year. Anything that can be done to put a dent in this homeless population is a wonderful gift to these homeless felines, who must search for shelter and scavenge to feed themselves under difficult conditions.

If you would like to learn more about the Norfolk SPCA’s outreach to feral cats, visit their website at www.NorfolkSPCA.org under the “Outdoor Cats” tab. Their clinic which handles the majority of feral cats is called the Sabre Road clinic, 757-383-6620. (info@norfolkspca.com, December 1, 2016)

Upcoming Seminars

Distribution of This Newsletter

Hook Law Center encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to Hook Law Center, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Hook Law Center News, then please telephone us at 757-399-7506, e-mail us at mail@hooklawcenter.com or fax us at 757-397-1267.

Posted on Tuesday, December 20th, 2016. Filed under Newsletter.

Problematic Proposed Regulations May Harm Family Businesses If Left Unaddressed

By Stephan A. Lipskis

This newsletter recently addressed proposed treasury regulations that, if enacted, will drastically impact transfers of family businesses. The hearings on the proposed regulations (the “2704 Regulations”) were held this month, and those participating were extremely critical of the proposed regulations. According to a Forbes.com report, only 1 of the 36 people who testified at the hearing on the proposed 2704 Regulations testified favorably to the proposed regulations. The poor drafting of the proposed 2704 Regulations clearly sparked a negative reaction, but what will that reaction change, and how will family-owned businesses be impacted?

Problems with the Proposed Regulations

The proposed regulations were meant to curb the heavily scrutinized practice of funding assets into an entity and claiming a valuation discount for the interest held in that entity by members of the same family. Allowing aggressive discounting of passive entities creates an opportunity for wealthy individuals to pass on relatively liquid assets (e.g. stock portfolios) at steeply discounted values to avoid estate and gift tax. Obviously, such treatment should be limited to prevent loss of tax revenue where the structure of the entity has no legitimate purpose other than tax avoidance. This goal is accomplished but not reasonably tailored to prevent harsh treatment against legitimate businesses. Treasury drafted the proposed regulations extremely broadly covering both operating and passive businesses. Furthermore, the proposed 2704 Regulations cover more diverse ownership groups than what most would consider a “family business”. However, the current proposed regulations do not except legitimate businesses that have true economic purpose other than tax avoidance. Additionally, the proposed regulations redefine the concept of “Fair Market Value” that has been a fundamental concept of tax law for decades. Because of the broad nature of the regulations, they are akin to amputating a foot because of a wart on a toe. These issues caused significant pushback from commentators and will warrant revision, or wholesale abandonment, of the proposed regulations.

The current transition of presidential administrations places this battle in an interesting political context. Like all other departments, the Treasury will cede control to a new administration next year.  Let’s explore the possible fate of the proposed regulations.

The treasury can move forward and implement a final rule with little or no modification. At that point, the rule can be challenged by litigation, overturned by Congress, or revised by later action of the treasury department. Actions against the rule can be pursued pre-emptively in Congress, and there are currently efforts underway to “vote down” the regulations legislatively. If the regulation is passed, both houses of Congress can pass a resolution of disapproval which, upon signature by the president, voids the rule. This congressional process is rarely used and would be unnecessary if a pre-emptive measure were successful. The new president would have the final say on a congressional vote to void the regulations due to the timeframe given for congressional review. A litigation challenge would be undertaken after the rule, which would subject the rule to judicial scrutiny, but could only be brought after the rule becomes final. Finally, the Treasury (under the new administration) has the ability to implement regulations of its own, which would likely walk back any rule that is implemented.

Impact on Family Businesses

Given the above opportunities for challenge, the proposed rule is likely short-lived in its current form. At a minimum, the drafting concerns voiced at the hearing need to be addressed. This presents a planning opportunity. In the near term, the hearing gave some clarification on the currently proposed regulations. In the long term, it looks like there may be a more favorable environment for transitioning ownership in family businesses. Discussing how the proposed rules and the potential changes of the next administration are critical to determining intermediate and long-range succession plans for family businesses. Contact our office to make an appointment with one of our estate planning attorneys to discuss how the current environment impacts your business.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Pet Sitters

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about dogs and how they respond to speech and tone of voice?

Kit Kat:  Well, it looks like dogs are amazingly perceptive when it comes to interpreting speech and tone of voice. Researchers at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary have done some pioneering work on this subject. Like people, dogs use the left hemisphere of their brain to interpret meaning, They use the right hemisphere to interpret sound and its emotional content. The study was led by Dr. Attila Andics, and the techniques used were by themselves quite pioneering. The dogs in the study had to be trained to lie perfectly still while a picture of their brain was taken by a MRI machine. This is very remarkable, because other primates like apes cannot be similarly trained. The MRI requires complete stillness, and they cannot manage that.

This is what the researchers discovered. Dogs reacted most strongly when words of praise like ‘good boy’ or ‘well done’ were used. These positive words elicited a lot of activity in their brain’s reward center. When the researchers used less defined language like conjunctions and some adverbs (‘however’ or ‘nevertheless,’ for example), the dogs’ reward center in their brains registered much less brain activity. With the words of praise, it was almost like they were given a delicious treat to eat; it was that reinforcing. So what does this mean? It means humans are not the only creatures who have the ability to understand and react to language. What’s more, other scientists like Dr. Brian Hare of Duke University believe the canine’s ability to do this developed long before humans started to use language. Did this ability aide dogs in the domestication process, as dogs moved from the wild to living with humans? More research will be needed to answer that question.

I suspect many dog owners intuitively have known how smart their dogs are. Now we have confirmation. They really are man’s best friend. (James Gorman, “With Dogs, It’s what You Say—and How You Say It,” The New York Times, Science section, August 29, 2016) (http://nyti.ms/2c40znU)

Upcoming Seminars

Distribution of This Newsletter

Hook Law Center encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to Hook Law Center, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Hook Law Center News, then please telephone us at 757-399-7506, e-mail us at mail@hooklawcenter.com or fax us at 757-397-1267.

Posted on Friday, December 9th, 2016. Filed under Newsletter.

Decanting an Irrevocable Trust to Protect Public Benefit Eligibility

By Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro, CELA

Unintended consequences can occur when people fail to consider the effect of a plan on persons with special needs. Estate planners who are unfamiliar with public benefits may unintentionally create plans that can wreck a beneficiary’s eligibility for SSI, Medicaid and other means-tested public benefits, resulting in a loss of income, healthcare coverage, housing, etc. Most often, this is the result of just failing to plan around a disability, for whatever reason, or attempting to plan around that disability. However, by creating a trust that by its terms provides “support and maintenance” or some other mandatory distribution scheme that makes the trust, in whole or in part, an available resource to the beneficiary, public benefit eligibility can become at risk.

Consider this example. Your mother created a Revocable Living Trust which divides one share of the trust among her then-living grandchildren, to be held in further trust for their benefit until they reach age 30, when they are entitled to an outright distribution of the remaining assets of their separate trust, and distributions are purely discretionary until age 30. When this trust was created, your daughter, who has Down Syndrome, was not yet born and like most people, your mother didn’t think to update her trust as a result of your daughter’s disability. When your mother dies, your daughter is 28 years old, is receiving SSI, lives in her own apartment that is subsidized by Section 8, and receives in-home support which is provided by a Medicaid waiver – she is happy and you know that your daughter’s current benefits and living arrangements provide a plan for her continued independence upon your death, and the loss of those benefits would jeopardize that plan. Your gut tells you that your daughter’s inheritance could be detrimental so you call Hook Law Center, and we inform you that a distribution of the assets at age 30 would cause your daughter to go over the $2,000 asset limit which would result in your daughter’s ineligibility for public benefits. We also explain that since your daughter is not yet 30, that pursuant to Virginia law, the trustee of the trust may exercise a decanting power by assigning trust principal or income to the trustee of a second trust (without the approval of the court of the beneficiaries) and that this second trust may be a special needs trust to protect your daughter’s public benefit eligibility.

While we have had to decant an old irrevocable trust into a special needs trust on a number of occasions, the question has often been whether this new second trust would be considered by the Social Security Administration and Medicaid offices to be a first-party special needs trust subject to a Medicaid payback, or whether this new trust would be considered a third-party supplemental needs trust. The first notable case pertaining to this issue was In the Matter of the Application of Alan D. Kross (N.Y.Surr.Ct. (Nassau Cty.), No. 2012-369907, Sept. 30, 2013). In that case, Daniel Schreiber was the beneficiary of his grandfather’s trust. Pursuant to the terms of the trust, Daniel was entitled to discretionary distributions of income and principal until age 21. Upon the age of 21, Daniel was entitled to mandatory income distributions paid at least quarterly, half of the principal at age 25, half of the remaining principal at age 30, and the balance of the trust assets at age 35. These mandatory distributions would have disrupted Daniel’s eligibility for SSI and Medicaid, so the trustees filed a petition requesting the court to approve the decanting of trust assets into a new third party supplemental needs trust prior to Daniel’s 21st birthday. The court determined, in addition to other things, that because the old trust was a third party trust, the decanting of the trust assets occurred prior to Daniel’s right to receive the mandatory distributions. Therefore, decanting into the third-party supplemental needs trust was proper, and that no Medicaid payback would be required for the new trust. The New York State Department of Heath appealed the decision, which was upheld by Supreme Court of New York, in Matter of Kroll v. New York State Department of Heath.

The breadth of this case’s impact is not yet known. It may be that this case, only sets a precedent in New York when a beneficiary has not yet obtained the age to receive the outright distribution, or it may extend to all states and in cases where the distribution standards of the trust cause the trust to be an available resource. Regardless of the impact, those of us that focus on helping persons with special needs now have something we can turn to in considering how the decanting of a trust into a special needs trust may be treated in the future.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Pet Sitters

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what should someone look for in the ideal pet sitter?

Kit Kat:  Well, there are several things you can consider when deciding to hire a pet sitter. Some need a sitter while they are away at work, and others only require them while they are away on vacation. My parents use a local pet sitting service called Critter Care. They’ve used it for many years going back to the early 1990s. Over the years, we’ve had several caregivers, but all have been excellent. Critter Care screens its employees; they are bonded, so the hard work is done for you. During each caretaking session, the caregiver keeps a daily log of when they arrive and leave your house. They also write observations about how your pet(s) behaved while they were tending to them. As a bonus, they will take in the mail and trash and even water plants that might be in flower pots. Fees are based on the number of pets and number of visits needed. Since we are an all-cat family, once a day is sufficient, but they will come as often as you like. We really like this, because we get to stay in our own house, and do not have to go to the vet and hear dogs barking at all hours of the day and night. We cats find that very off-putting!

Other possible sources for finding pet sitters are through national associations such as the National Association of Pet Sitters (NAPPS) and Pet Sitters International. Or your vet may have some recommendations. Sitters through associations usually have the advantage of being able to read reviews of the possible candidates. Make sure before hiring someone, you actually interview them and see how they interact with your pet. Sometimes your instincts are the best guide. Wendy Pridgen of Boyds, Maryland says, ‘Sometimes you just have to trust your gut and go with what feels right to you.’ And if Ms. Pridgen’s experience is any guide, there will be ups and downs in the process. At first, she hired a college student, and things worked out for a year. Then, the college student became erratic. She used her to take care of her 2 large dogs who needed to be walked during Ms. Pridgen’s long work days. There were signs the student wasn’t coming, so Ms. Pridgen left a broom by the door the student would enter. Ms. Pridgen exited by another door. When she found the broom hadn’t been disturbed, she knew the student wasn’t taking care of her dogs. The student was fired, and she eventually found a new one through a listing on a bulletin board of a local convenience store.

So, be aware that when you hire a pet sitter, it’s like anything else. Sometimes your first efforts will not be successful, but you keep on trying until you find a good fit for both you and your pet. (Ruthanne Johnson, “Someone to watch over them,” All Animals, November/December 2016, p.34-37)

Upcoming Seminars

Distribution of This Newsletter

Hook Law Center encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to Hook Law Center, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Hook Law Center News, then please telephone us at 757-399-7506, e-mail us at mail@hooklawcenter.com or fax us at 757-397-1267.

Posted on Friday, December 2nd, 2016. Filed under Newsletter.
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