By Jessica A. Hayes
To best assist our clients, we must have an intricate understanding of these areas of the law, which are often complex and sometimes counterintuitive. We sharpen our skills through membership in national organizations such as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Special Needs Alliance, participation in specialized continuing education seminars and conferences which address these issues, and closely following recent developments in the law.
While not everyone needs all of our services, every adult should have in place the documents necessary to allow trusted loved ones to act on their behalf in the event of disability or death. These documents are important to have whether you’re thirty years old and the parent of a minor child, or ninety years old and in declining health.
Each of our practice areas are riddled with obstacles, often undetectable to the untrained eye. You may wish to transfer a large sum of money outright to a child at your death; after asking some questions about that child, however, we learn that he is divorcing or has credit concerns that warrant the use of a trust. Or you may wish to transfer your longtime home to a child during your lifetimes; we may see, however, that doing so could result in significant tax consequences in the event the child sells the home, or that perhaps your health is such that you may need to apply for Medicaid soon, and the transfer would be subject to a 5-year lookback period.
Elder law attorneys carry in our proverbial toolbox dozens of tools designed to best meet our clients’ needs while taking into account a host of issues they may not have considered. If we were general practice attorneys, attempting to stay on top of personal injury law, bankruptcy law, contracts law, and landlord-tenant law, for example, in addition to our practice areas, we simply would not be as well-versed in elder law and the issues that our clients face daily. We specialize in our passion in order to give our clients the best results possible.
Don’t risk your family’s future by relying on an online estate planning service or a “jack of all trades” to get the job done; work with an elder law attorney who will help you enjoy the benefits and avoid the pitfalls of a plan tailored to your individual needs.
Ask Kit Kat – Tree Pruning
Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, when is the ideal time to prune trees, so that animals and birds are not harmed?
Kit Kat: Well, anytime that the trees are bare of their leaves is the ideal time to prune. That means that late fall through early spring is the best time to prune. Once there are leaves on the trees or bushes, squirrels and birds are likely to have established their nests with young offspring to consider. It makes a lot of sense, but something people may not have thought of previously.
Take the example of a nest of squirrels rescued by Lori Thiele, a wildlife rescuer and biologist. Her finely-tuned ears heard signs of distress when city tree trimmers were at work with their chainsaws. A family of squirrels was in the process of being displaced. The tree trimmers had attempted to move the baby squirrels to a cat carrier, but the mother squirrel was frantic. Lori moved the babies to a cardboard carrier with large holes on the side. Still, the mother could not find them. Next, Lori played pre-recorded baby squirrel vocalizations from her phone. With that mom realized where they were. Lori sat back and watched the mother rescue them. ‘I couldn’t even get out of the way fast enough before the mom started grabbing them—boom, boom, boom. She came down looking for them so quickly that I just started putting them out on the sidewalk, and she had them all three tucked back in the next tree over in like, 30, 45 seconds,’ she reports.
Many nest disruptions happen accidentally, because many animals camouflage themselves so perfectly. Hummingbirds have lichen-covered nests that blend easily to their surroundings. Likewise for hooded orioles who nest under palm fronds, and woodpeckers who live on dead limbs in otherwise live trees. Awareness will help tremendously in reducing the number of these potential tragedies. Pruning in summertime is very hazardous, not only because the young are maturing, but also because the area pruned will have increased sunlight which can be jarring to plants and grass, as well as birds and animals. Sometimes, the heat is so intensified, that the area can actually become scorched. So next time you want to prune trees or bushes in your yard, go gently so that no wildlife is harmed. (Nancy Lawson,“Untimely evictions,” All Animals, November-December 2016, p. 38-39)
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