Comprehensive Planning. Lifelong Solutions.

Guns and Dementia

By Letha Sgritta McDowell, CELA

A recent New York Times article highlighted a subject which is not often discussed but should be.  While gun ownership is generally on the decline in the United States, ownership is still common, and is more common among older adult men than the rest of the population in general.  Gun ownership is higher in rural areas than in urban ones. Thus, while not every household in America has a gun, there are many which do.  While discussions about guns and gun ownership are common political talk, gun ownership and possession is almost never considered when discussing dementia.  However, research has shown that since 2012, more than 100 gun-related deaths have occurred when a person with dementia used firearms within their home and, as the number of people with dementia in the US will increase, the number of injuries or deaths is likely to increase.

In the cases discussed above, the violence occurred during an episode of confusion, paranoia, delusion, or aggression.  In addition to these episodes which are often related to the cognitive impairment, suicide is not uncommon among older adults, especially those suffering from a chronic illness.  While not all individuals living with dementia will demonstrate aggression, delusion, or depression, it is impossible to predict who will.  Therefore, while planning for the future by reviewing and updating legal documents and financial plans, practical considerations should be made as well.

The conversation about gun ownership and dementia may arise in any setting and can be initiated by a professional such as an elder law attorney or financial advisor.  Many are hesitant to reveal gun ownership but, for those who do, they often don’t want to reveal locations, nor do they want to voluntarily give up possession of their firearms.  When the discussion focuses on “taking things away” for a person with a diagnosis of dementia, this may feel like additional loss of control and can be extremely unpleasant.  Instead, the conversation should be approached as one of safety.  Unfortunately, dementia can often interfere with a person’s reasoning and decision-making skills, and the person may lack insight into the potential problem.  However, when the discussion is presented as one of safety for themselves and loved ones, the conversation feels like less of an intrusion.

Once the barrier of having the discussion is breached, next is the matter of what should be done with firearms. Some may suggest simply locking up any guns in the home.  However, the Alzheimer’s Association advises that securing guns may not be enough, because a person with dementia may “misperceive danger” and force their entry into the safe or cabinet; therefore, removing guns from the home is a safer alternative.

Family members and professionals should use caution when removing firearms from a home and when advising individuals.  Many states allow the temporary transfer of a firearm to a family member without a background check but 7 states, including North Carolina, do not allow such transfers.  Individuals convicted of a felony are not allowed to have possession of a gun in any state, and states have strict laws about allowing the private sale of guns.  Some gun stores and ranges offer storage and transportation options.  If removing a firearm from a home is the option all parties feel to be appropriate, be sure to talk to an attorney about what options are available.

The issue about gun ownership and dementia is not one which has been highlighted or much explored given the publicity about other gun violence; nevertheless, it is an issue which exists and will likely increase with the aging population.  Early discussion and planning about how to manage gun ownership and dementia will increase the safety of all involved.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Feline Agility

Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what can you tell us about feline agility competitions?

Kit Kat: Well, it’s rather new, but yes, felines can compete in agility competitions. Heretofore, it was thought felines would not cooperate, but that is so untrue. International Cat Agility Tournaments (ICAT) have gained some prominence after their appearance at the famed 2016 Westminster Dog Show. Cats were even noted in a NY Times article. According to ICAT, cats are a natural for agility—they can jump 6 times their height, can run up to 30 miles per hour, and have superb short-distance visual acuity.

The nice things about feline agility competitions is that participants do not have to be purebred. Your ordinary domestic shorthair can compete as well. According to Niki Feniak, a certified feline agility ringmaster from Hillside, NJ, a couple of domestic shorthairs won national awards this past season. She also says that a blind cat from a few years ago was a standout and completed an agility course in 32 seconds. “She followed the sound of her owner’s voice. The owner had taught her ‘up’ for when she wanted her to jump. It was amazing.”

Ideally, training for agility competitions should start early—ie., when the cat is a kitten. If the cat is older, he/she may need a little more coaxing, but as long as there is some reward at the end of the training session, older cats, too, can be taught to run and jump on command. The reward can be a nibble, but sometimes playing with a favorite toy like a feather on a string works quite well. If your cat seems to enjoy performing on command, more tips can be gleaned from checking out the websites catagility.com and agility.cfa.org. There are even some YouTube videos on the subject. Who knew feline agility had risen to this level? (Arna Cohen, “The cat jumped over the moon-Agility is not just for dogs anymore,” All Animals, September/October 2018, p. 32-33)

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 Monday, October 29th, 2018. Filed under Senior Law News.

4th Quarter Review of Estimated Taxes

By Amanda L. Richter, CPA

The U.S. tax system is a pay-as-you-go system, which means that individuals must make four quarterly installment payments (due on April 15th, June 15th, September 15th and January 15th) of estimated tax based on the amount of his/her “required annual payment” to avoid an underpayment penalty. The required annual payment is the lesser of:

  • 90% of your tax bill for 2018, or
  • 100% of your tax bill for 2017 (110%, for higher income individuals).

While you may not view it as major disaster if you owed some money when you filed your return – after all, you would rather have the use of the funds for as long as possible and hope to earn interest or invest the funds. But what you want to avoid is having to pay the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) a penalty for underpaying your taxes during the year. If you owe the estimated tax underpayment penalty, which is nondeductible, you are in effect paying the IRS interest for part of the money you should have prepaid during the year for taxes, but did not. On the other hand, if you received a large refund on your prior year return, you essentially made an interest free loan to the government – something you may want to avoid this year. If that happened, you should consider reducing the amount of withholding taken from your wages and/or the amount of estimated tax payments you make.

Let’s go over a few basic rules:

  • For 2018, there is no estimated tax underpayment penalty if your tax due on the return (total tax less withholding) is less than $1,000, or if other specified exceptions or waivers apply.
  • If the amount you owe on your individual return is $1,000+ after factoring in your withholding, the estimated tax underpayment generally will not apply if you have met your required annual payment.

Here is an example: Let’s say your 2017 tax bill was $10,000 and your tax bill for 2018 will be $20,000. You will need to prepay $10,000 during 2018 in order to avoid the underpayment penalty. (90% of 2018 tax liability = $18,000 and 100% of 2017 tax liability = $10,000. The lessor of the two is $10,000)

What happens if your 2018 tax bill is expected to be lower? Take the same scenario for 2017 but now your 2018 tax bill is $5,000. In this scenario you will need to prepay $4,500. (90% of 2018 tax liability = $4,500 and 100% of 2017 tax liability = $10,000).

Now that we are in the 4th quarter and the extended due date for individual returns (October 15th) has now passed, it’s time for a checkup! You already know what your 2017 tax liability was but you may not be quite sure what your 2018 tax bill will be due to all of the new tax law changes that went into effect this year. At Hook Law Center, we can assist you with projecting what your 2018 tax liability will be based on your current financial picture in order to help you determine whether or not changes should be made to your 4th quarter estimated tax payment. If you decide you want to tackle this on your own, make sure you review our Publication on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that was issued earlier this year so that you can familiarize yourself with the new changes that will impact your 2018 return including higher standard deductions and the elimination of personal exemptions.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Animal Intelligence

Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what can you tell us about animal intelligence? I’ve always heard dogs are smarter than many other animals. Is that true?

Kit Kat: Well, there is some interesting new research from Great Britain that indicates some  refinement in what is known about animal intelligence. Stephen Lea, an emeritus professor in psychology at the University of Exeter, England, has recently published in the journal Learning & Behavior about his recent study on the subject. The study compared  dog cognition among three different groups: carnivores, social hunters, and domestic animals. Some of the animals they considered were wolves, cats, chimpanzees, dolphins, horses, and pigeons. The result: “dog cognition does not look exceptional.” What is meant by that is that there are many animals that display intelligence, however, they may not be as affectionate as dogs.

Some of the examples Dr. Lea cites are in the fact that dogs, unlike dolphins, New Caledonian crows, and chimpanzees, cannot use tools. Chimpanzees have been observed to use plant stems to dislodge termites in a piece of wood. Homing pigeons are trained to return home, even when it involves flying hundreds of miles in unfamiliar territory. “Far be it for me to suggest that pigeons are smarter than dogs; they are not intellectual giants. But if you want to get 1,000 miles, I trust a pigeon over a dog.” Horses, too, can perform complicated tasks. And cats—they have been known to return to their original home, even if lost several hundred miles away.

Dogs do stand out, according to Dr. Clive Wynne, the director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, in their capacity for affection. He comments that Dr. Lea’s study is not negative about dogs, but that actually “he is putting them in context.” Dogs are intelligent, but just not any more so than a host of other animals. (Laura M. Holson, “Your Dog May Be Smart, but She’s Not Exceptional,” The New York Times, Oct. 8, 2018)

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 Monday, October 22nd, 2018. Filed under Senior Law News.

Do You Have To Name a Virginia Resident as the Executor of Your Will?

By Sarah Schmidt, Esq.

A common question we receive from clients is whether he or she must name a Virginia resident to serve as an executor of his or her will.  While the Virginia Code used to prohibit the qualification of nonresident fiduciaries, the General Assembly has revised the statute as to who may qualify over the years. In 1997, the prohibition against nonresident fiduciaries was effectively removed. This means not only can a nonresident of Virginia qualify as an executor, he or she may also qualify as a trustee, guardian, or conservator, as the statute applies to all types of fiduciaries.

Although the law changed over twenty years ago, the rumor or belief that you should name a resident of Virginia persists. This is in part due to differing opinions of attorneys, because the statute requires a little bit more from a nonresident. A nonresident fiduciary must (i) appoint a Virginia resident or the Clerk of Court to receive service of process on his or her behalf, and (ii) post a surety bond if (a) the estate exceeds the value of $25,000 and surety is therefore waived, or (b) a resident is not also appointed to serve simultaneously. See Va. Code § 64.2-1426. In most cases, in my experience, these two “requirements” are only small hurdles and should not be seen as obstacles.

First, appointing a Virginia resident to receive service of process is particularly easy if your executor or trustee hires the Hook Law Center, because the firm will regularly serve as a resident agent for our clients. But even if your executor or trustee does not hire Hook Law Center, he or she may appoint the clerk of the circuit court. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that if the fiduciary is ever sued, the papers to be served may be served upon the resident agent who will then obtain a copy of the legal process for the fiduciary. The Virginia General Assembly wants to make sure that if you are agreeing to be appointed in the Commonwealth, you can also be held accountable in a lawsuit filed in the Commonwealth. This is one reason why appointing your own resident agent is preferable to appointing the clerk of the court, so that you have some assurance as to the timely receipt of such papers.

Second, posting a surety bond for an estate which exceeds the value of $25,000 should also not be seen as an entirely negative thing. Although a surety bond comes at some cost for the premium, it protects the beneficiaries of the estate and is a relatively inexpensive cost to be able to appoint the person whom you trust. To get around the surety requirement, some attorneys will recommend also appointing a resident executor to serve simultaneously with the nonresident executor. You should speak thoroughly with an attorney as to the pros and cons before taking this approach. Often naming co-executors brings on a host of problems and issues that are far greater than the problem they were intended to avoid. Unless the two persons named as co-executors are also the two only beneficiaries under the will, I will often not recommend this approach. But every case is different, and you can only come to the correct answer by discussing this with your attorney in detail.

In summary, there are a host of factors that go into the choice of an executor. Often the most important factor in naming an executor is choosing someone you trust, but you should talk thoroughly with your estate planning attorney before making this decision. Do not choose your executor solely because he or she is a resident of Virginia.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Endangered Pangolins

Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what can you tell us about endangered pangolins who live in South Africa and Southeast Asia?

Kit Kat: Well, I must admit that I didn’t even know what pangolins were until very recently. The pangolin is a mammal, which looks somewhat like an anteater, except that its scales resemble that of a pine cone. They are also similar in color to a pine cone. When threatened by animal or human, they curl up in a ball. Animals then tend to leave them alone, but poachers have an easy task to just pick them up and abscond with them. Though China forbids the sale of the mammals’ meat, it is the largest consumer of pangolin scales. They are used in making medicines, though there is little verification that the medicines derived from their scales really have any significant medical impact. It’s just tradition. 1 million pangolins have been killed worldwide since 2000.

As of this moment, all 8 species of pangolins are endangered. Humane Society International (HSI) is working with organizations like African Pangolin Working Group and the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital to increase awareness of the problem and treat those pangolins who are rescued from poachers. This year 14 pangolins have been rescued. There are also experimental efforts being undertaken to track the pangolins’ whereabouts in the wild using satellite tags or telemetry tracking units, depending on the funding source. “The monitoring will ensure the highest chance of survival post-release and significantly contribute to the scientific knowledge pool of these elusive creatures,” says Audrey Delsink, executive director of HIS Africa. (Michael Sharp, “Keeping watch over pangolins,” All Animals, September/October 2018, p. 8)

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, October 12th, 2018. Filed under Senior Law News.

Dept. of Veterans Affairs Publishes Final Rule for Needs-Based Benefits: Deductible Medical Expenses

By Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro, Esq.

The Department of Veteran Affairs (“VA”) has published a final rule relating to the needs-based VA pension benefit for veterans and spouses. The new rule, which was published on September 18, 2018 will be effective on October 18, 2018. I have previously provided a general overview of the proposed rule and the net worth and asset transfer rules imposed under the final rule. In this newsletter, I will breakdown the requirements for the deductible medical expenses.

The VA permits deductions for amounts paid by a veteran or veteran’s spouse for unreimbursed medical expenses to the extent such expenses exceed 5% of the maximum annual rate of pension. In general, such expenses are payments for items or services that are medically necessary, improve functioning, or prevent, slow, or ease a functional decline. The VA considers the following medical expenses:

Health Care Providers – services performed within a professional capacity are medical expenses. Cosmetic procedures that improve a congenital or accidental deformity or are otherwise related to treatment for a diagnosed medical condition are medical expenses. A health care provider is someone licensed by a State or country to provide health care in the State or country in which care is received. This may be a physician, physician’s assistant, psychologist, chiropractor, registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, licensed practical nurse, physical therapist, or occupational therapist. A health care provider may also be a nursing assistant or home health aide who is supervised by a health care provider.

Medications, Supplies, Equipment, and Food – medication, including over-the-counter medications, procured lawfully, as well as medical supplies and equipment are included as medical expenses. Medically necessary food, vitamins, and supplements as prescribed or directed by a health care provider, and authorized prescriptions are medical expenses.

Adaptive Equipment – adaptive devices and service animals, including veterinary care, used to assist a person with an ongoing disability are medical expenses. This does not include routine expenses associated with owning an animal.

Transportation – payments for transportation for medical purposes is a medical expense. For purposes of a privately owned vehicle, this can include mileage reimbursement, at the current rate established by the General Services Administration, parking and tolls.

Insurance – health, medical and hospitalization premiums, including Medicare parts A, B, and D, are medical expenses. Long-term care insurance premiums are also included.

Smoking Cessation – payments related to smoking cessation are medical expenses.

Institutional Care – Care received in a facility or in-home are subject to specific requirements, which are further detailed herein. Hospitals, nursing homes, medical foster homes, and inpatient treatment centers, including the cost of meals and lodging charged by such facilities, are a medical expense.

Payments for assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) by an in-home attendant are medical expenses, provided the individual receives health care or custodial care. The attendant must be a health care provider unless the individual needs Aid & Attendance or is housebound, or a physician, physician’s assistant (PA), certified nurse practitioner (CNP), or clinical nurse specialist (CNS) states in writing that, due to the individual’s needs, the care provided by the attendant is required. Breaking this down further:

  • Custodial care is defined as either (i) assistance with two or more ADLs or (ii) supervision because an individual with a mental, developmental, or cognitive disorder requires assistance on a regular basis to protect the individual from hazards or dangers incident to his or her daily environment.
  • ADLs are basic self-care activities consisting of bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, and transferring, which is the ability to move oneself from one position to another.
  • IADLs are independent living activities, such as shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, doing one’s laundry, managing finances, handling medications, using the telephone, and transportation for non-medical purposes.

With regard to facilities other than nursing homes, the individual must be receiving care provided by the facility, contracted by the facility, or otherwise obtained from a third-party provider, including a friend or family member. The provider does not need to be a health care provider provided the requirements for in-home attendants, which are identified above, are met. The meal and lodging costs charged by facilities are considered medical expenses only if the facility provides or contracts for health care or custodial care for the individual, or a physician, PA, SNP, or CNS states in writing that the individual must reside in such facility to separately contract with a third-party provider, including friends or family, to receive health care or custodial care.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Rare Turtles

Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what can you tell us about the Kemp ridley sea turtles in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore?

Kit Kat: Well, the ridley sea turtle is the rarest sea turtle on planet Earth. In the past, the beaches on the Outer Banks have only seen the nests of the rare sea turtle twice—one nest in  2011 and one in 2016. This year, 8 nests have been spotted. There were 4 more reported on other North Carolina beaches—a state record! The normal nesting grounds for the Kemp ridley sea turtle are in Mexico, along the Gulf of Mexico in the eastern state of Tamaulipas, and in the Padre Island National Seashore in South Texas. Experts are not really sure why this year was so good for them on the Outer Banks. Jeff George, executive director of the nonprofit Sea Turtle, Inc. hypothesizes that the regular nesting grounds may be reaching capacity, but he really has no proof of this—just an educated guess. However, the Outer Banks have many things that meet the Kemp ridley’s preferences perfectly—gradually sloping beaches, their favorite diet of blue crabs in plentiful numbers,  and uncrowded with people. The lack of people is important to them, because they nest during daylight, unlike most turtles, who nest at night.

The Kemp ridley sea turtle is making a  bit of a comeback. In 1947, there were about 40,000 nests in Mexico. Then, in the 1970s, their numbers declined significantly due to people taking their eggs, etc., and Mexico and Texas began working to protect them. Their numbers were steadily increasing, but the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill interrupted that upward trajectory. In 2017, they rebounded again, and 24,000 nests were counted in Mexico with an additional 353 in Texas. The ultimate goal according to wildlife officials is to be able to remove them from the endangered species lists altogether. They’re making progress, but there is still more work to be done, before that can safely occur. (Jeff Hampton, “World’s rarest sea turtle nests in record numbers in Hatteras,” The Virginian-Pilot, Sep.22, 2018, p. 1 & 4)

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 Thursday, October 4th, 2018. Filed under Senior Law News.

Dept. of Veterans Affairs Publishes Final Rule for Needs-Based Benefits: Net Worth and Transfer Rules

By Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro, Esq.

The Department of Veteran Affairs (“VA”) has published a final rule relating to the needs-based VA pension benefit for veterans and spouses. The new rule, which was published on September 18, 2018 will be effective on October 18, 2018. I have previously provided a general overview of the proposed rule, and intend to dive into the new net worth and asset transfer rules imposed under the final rule.

Net Worth Limits

The final rule established a bright-line net worth limit for pension entitlement.  This is a drastic change to the prior methodology, which considered multiple factors and resulted in inconsistent results among similarly situated claimants.  The VA believes that the new bright-line net worth limit will provide uniformity in decisions and promote efficiency in claims processors.

When considering the net worth limit, the VA will consider the assets and annual income of the individual. In setting the net worth limit, the VA adopted the standard maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance (“CSRA”) promulgated by Congress for Medicaid eligibility, currently $123,600, subject to a cost-of-living adjustment to account for inflation.  While the VA pension benefit is vastly different than the benefit provided under the Medicaid system, the VA determined that because Congress has established that individuals with a net worth beyond the CSRA are sufficiently protected from impoverishment for Medicaid purposes, that is was reasonable for the VA to conclude that individuals with a net worth beyond the maximum CSRA would also be sufficiently protected from impoverishment and would therefore not need the VA pension.

When calculating net worth, the VA will consider the income and assets of any child living in the primary residence. The VA will also consider the assets of a veteran and a spouse, even if the spouse and veteran do not reside together. The VA will also consider tangible personal property, except to the extent such property is suitable to and consistent with a reasonable mode of life (i.e.: appliances and family transportation vehicles).

In considering the assets and spend down, the VA liberalized the proposed rule by providing that a claimant may decrease assets by spending them on items or services for which fair market value is received. A claimant may not, however, spend down assets by purchasing items the VA would include as a resource, such as an expensive painting or gold coins. The VA has indicated that the purchase of a burial policy is a fair market value purchase.

Primary Residence Exclusion

The VA has excluded the primary residence and the residential lot area of 2 acres from the includable assets in the net worth calculation. The lot size may be larger than 2 acres if the additional acreage owned by the claimant is unmarketable, for example, if the property is slightly larger than 2 acres, the additional property is not accessible, or there are zoning limitations. Marketable acreage in excess of 2 acres will be included in the asset calculation.

If real property is sold after eligibility for benefits is established, the net proceeds from such sale will be an asset except to the extent the proceeds are used to purchase another residence within the same calendar year in which the sale occurred. A sale within three years of a claim can be used to purchase another residence at any point prior to the date of the claim, without penalty.

The VA failed to address how they will treat life estates, in particular if property subject to a life estate is sold.

Reducing Income

When calculating annual income, the VA will deduct projected unreimbursed medical expenses from income when the medical expenses are reasonably predictable.  I will discuss this in detail in the next newsletter.

Asset Transfers

The VA has imposed a 36-month look-back period, whereby, any assets transferred within such time for less than fair market value, defined as the price in which an asset would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, taking into account best available information such as appraisals, will be subject to a VA imposed penalty period.

The purchase of annuities or transfers to trusts will be considered a transfer for less than fair market value unless the claimant retains control and the ability to liquidate.  If a claimant has such control, then the annuity or trust will be included in the claimant’s net worth.

An exception to the annuity policy is a retirement plan required conversion of deferred accounts to an immediate annuity. Under such a plan, the amount transferred to the immediate annuity will not be considered a transfer, but the distributions will be counted as income.

The VA is also excluding transfers to trusts created for the benefit of a child of a veteran who became permanently incapable of self-support prior to attaining the age of 18 years old. Note that a child of a spouse, and not of the veteran, will not be entitled to benefit from such a transfer.

Penalties

The VA has implemented a penalty period calculation, which utilizes the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (“MAPR”) in effect at the time of the pension claim as the penalty divisor. The MAPR used will be at the aid and attendance level for the veteran with one dependent (currently $26,036 annually/ $2,169.67 monthly). The assets subject to the calculation will only be those assets transferred within 36 months of a claim that were in excess of the bright-line limit. The penalty period shall begin the first day of the month following the last asset transfer.

The VA will allow claimants 60 days following a penalty period decision to cure, or partially cure, a transfer and allow 90 days following a penalty period decision to notify the VA of the cure.

 

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Tracking Poachers

Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what can you tell us about how researchers are tracking poachers of elephant ivory?

Kit Kat: Well, I love it when science solves a problem! And it looks like this is another example of scientists coming to the rescue! Dr. Samuel Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington, and his colleagues have developed a map of African elephants’ territory by analyzing their scat (or droppings). The map details what types of elephants reside in each area of the continent. When the authorities or police find a tusk on the black market, the location of the elephant can be pinpointed, leading to better protection of the elephants that remain. It also can lead to catching the poachers. Just knowing exactly where they operate in a continent as large as Africa is helpful to police. It costs about $100 per tusk to perform the analysis.

This technique came just in time. It is estimated that poachers are killing 40,000 elephants every year. At that rate, we could see almost an extinction of these magnificent creatures. Northern Gabon in West Africa is a favorite of poachers. That country has lost 60% of its elephant population in the last eight years, according to John Brown, a special agent in the US Department of Homeland Security, who is involved in prosecuting ivory poachers.

What can the average person do to help reduce the number of elephant deaths—yes deaths, because the poachers kill the animals to get the tusks? The public can simply stop buying ivory, which come from the elephants’ tusks. Ivory is used for jewelry, figurines, and as aphrodisiacs. Some people even seem to be hoarding tusks and holding them, hoping their price will go up with time. At present, the sale of ivory is estimated to be a $4 billion business worldwide. Each person can simply stop the demand and dry up the market. Along with Dr. Wasser’s identification test, we now have a tool to assist in protecting these beautiful animals from needless slaughter. (Karen Weintraub, “Elephant Tusk DNA Helps Track Ivory Poachers,” The New York Times, Sept.19, 2018)

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 Monday, October 1st, 2018. Filed under Senior Law News.
Like us on Facebook
Planning Guides

Sign up for our email newsletter and get access to our free planning reports.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Ask Kit Kat: Pet advice and wisdom as Kit Kat sees it.

ASK ME