Comprehensive Planning. Lifelong Solutions.

Buyer Beware: The Dangers of Do-it-Yourself Estate Planning

By Jessica A. Hayes

There are increasingly more websites offering do-it-yourself estate planning documents at a very low cost.  If you’re trying to save money, it might be tempting to cut corners and use one of these websites, especially if you believe your wishes and your estate are simple.  Unfortunately, while the cost to use these websites may be low, the expense of fixing the problems they cause is almost guaranteed to be significantly higher.

In recent years, I’ve encountered several documents generated online which had serious flaws – for example, a trust that was missing major distribution provisions, a will without the necessary attestation clause, and a power of attorney that was not sufficiently broad enough to permit the agent to assist the client in qualifying financially for Medicaid.  If the issue is brought to my attention while the individual still has the mental capacity to sign a new document, we’ll sign the new document, revoke the old one, and the crisis will have been averted.  If I am seeing the document for the first time after a client has died or lost mental capacity, unfortunately, we will have to rely on that document moving forward.

You may create a revocable trust online, but if you fail to fund it – to transfer assets into it or name it as the beneficiary of those assets, or to pass assets into it at your death via a “pour-over” will – it will be useless.  You may also create a power of attorney online, but if you fail to include some of the powers we often recommend in order to assist clients in qualifying financially for Medicaid or VA Aid & Attendance, your agent will have fewer options available to them in the event you require assistance paying for long-term care.  These documents are more than just forms to be filled in.  What they say matters.

A well-formed estate plan takes into account your wishes, your family circumstances, your financial situation, and any potential tax consequences.  To truly be effective, it must be comprehensive.  If someone – an online service or even an attorney – is willing to prepare estate planning documents for you (a will, trust, advance medical directive, and/or power of attorney, generally) without getting a full understanding of your family dynamics and your assets, consider that a red flag.  You will not be getting the best advice, nor will it be tailored to meet your needs.

An experienced estate planning attorney will walk you through the estate planning process, gathering the necessary information and making recommendations specific to you.  You will walk away not only with a set of documents carefully crafted to meet your needs, but also with specific recommendations and the peace of mind in knowing that your affairs are in order.

Hook Law Center recognizes the importance of keeping estate planning affordable, and is in some circumstances able to prepare same-day documents for clients, keeping costs down and avoiding a return trip to our office.  To determine whether you may be a good candidate for this service, contact the Hook Law Center today.

 

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Dementia & Keeping a Pet

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, should someone with dementia keep a pet?

Kit Kat:  Well, there are many things to consider when a person is diagnosed with dementia. If there is a beloved pet in the household, it may be best not to make any change right away. Pets are an enormous source of comfort and stimulation for anyone, let alone one who is declining in mental awareness. As the disease progresses, there will be things to consider about maintaining a pet.

First, one must consider the capability of the person with dementia. In some, the disease progresses very slowly. My human mother’s mother lived with dementia/Alzheimer’s for 17 years. In others, the disease progresses rapidly. So each situation must be evaluated individually, and it must be determined if the person with dementia has the capability of caring for a pet. Pets, though, lovable, do require work. With cats, buying litter, scooping it daily, maybe too much for someone with impairments to manage by themselves. Dogs need to be walked. Is there a close friend or relative who can help with these tasks?

Second, one must ask if the individual wants to keep the pet. Sometimes, with dementia, there are accompanying personality changes. Do pets bring joy to him/her or are they a source of irritation?

Should the decision be made that the person in question can no longer keep the pet, there are alternatives. A friend or relative may volunteer to raise the pet and allow visits with its former owner. As a last resort, surrender the pet to a no-kill animal shelter or the humane society.  Never just let the pet out on the street to fend for itself. Cats, which have been indoor all their lives, do not adapt well there. My family adopted one such cat we found in a restaurant parking lot. She had been fixed, but was about 10 years old, the vet estimated. Sometimes, people are specifically looking for older pets who are past the kitten/puppy stage where they jump a lot and chew on things.       The final decision should be made considering what is best for both the person with dementia and the pet. (Adapted from Celia Monroe, https://supercarers.com/blog, 10-16-17)

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, November 17th, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.

Protecting Assets When A Spouse Enters A Nursing Home

By Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro

As an Elder Law attorney, I often see the devastating toll the cost of nursing care can have on a married couple’s assets. The most upsetting cases involve healthy spouses that have essentially been impoverished as a result of the unhealthy spouse’s need for care. The basic fact is that such impoverishment can be completely avoided with proper guidance as a result of the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 (“MCCA”), which essentially provides a framework to prevent spousal impoverishment under the Medicaid rules. While it would be nearly impossible to debunk all the myths pertaining to Medicaid we address, there are a few common ones that we at the Hook Law Center see most often.

Myth – They only look at one spouse’s assets when determining eligibility.

Resources held by either the institutionalized (the spouse that needs care) or community (the spouse that does not need care) spouse shall be considered available to the institutionalized spousal however, certain exclusions apply to various assets. For example, some assets, such as the primary residence of the community spouse, is a non-countable resource for Medicaid eligibility. Additionally, the MCCA sets forth an exemption amount, known as the community spouse resource allowance, to ensure there is a small safety net for the community spouse. Currently, the community spouse resource allowance is 50% of the total countable resources of the couple up to $120,900, with a floor set at $24,180. The countable assets of the couple above the community spouse resource allowance must then be “spent down.” A spend down, to an elder law attorney, merely means the conversion of a countable resource to either a non-countable resource or a new income stream, and does not necessarily mean that money needs to be spent. Once the institutionalized spouse is eligible for Medicaid, the resources and income of the community spouse will not be considered for continuing eligibility of the institutionalized spouse.

Myth – I can’t gift money to my spouse because of the 5-year look-back period.

The Virginia Medicaid manual has a blanket exemption for transfers between spouses. This permits spouses to transfer assets between another without risk of a penalty period for the transfers. The tough analysis associated with these transfers include whether someone has the legal authority to transfer assets to the community spouse (via a power of attorney or conservatorship that expressly permits such gifts) and what tax implications, if any, would result in such a transfer.

Myth – Medicaid is going to take my house.

Medicaid does not take anyone’s home, let alone the primary residence of a community spouse. Instead, the Medicaid considers the primary residence of a community a non-countable, or exempt, resource when determining eligibility.  This myth, I believe, arises from the fact that if a single individual does not reside in real property for 6 months then the home must be listed for sale, and that Medicaid may put a lien against the home upon the death of a Medicaid recipient. The fact remains, that while the house may need to be sold or when the house sells, Medicaid may be entitled to some of the proceeds, Medicaid does not actually take the home.

Myth – We have too much money for Medicaid.

With proper planning, most couples can protect their assets and qualify as an institutionalized spouse for Medicaid. The planning, as previously mentioned, requires the conversion of countable resources to non-countable resources or a new income stream and does not require the impoverishment of the community spouse.  The plan should be custom tailored to each couple, and what works for one, may not work for another. As a result, you should consult an experienced elder law attorney to develop a plan that will work for you.

 

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – ECPI to the Rescue

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about ECPI helping a 3-legged dog walk again?

Kit Kat:  Well, this is a wonderful story. A four-year-old beagle named Ray Ray lives in Norfolk. He’s had quite a lucky life in some respects, and unlucky in others. The unlucky part is that a couple of years ago he was in an accident, and had to have his back right foot amputated. That led to other problems like gait and stress issues on his remaining legs.

Now comes the lucky part. His first bit of luck was to be adopted by Susan and Phil Glassner of Norfolk. To do so, Ray Ray had to move from North Carolina where he had been taken in by a rescue group. He loved his new home, and the other two dogs who already lived with the Glassners. However, dealing with a missing foot was causing stress on his hips and spine.

Then came his second piece of good luck. His mother, Susan, happened to see on Facebook a post about some students at ECPI’s Richmond campus who had made a prosthetic arm for a child. Susan had a friend who worked at ECPI’s Virginia Beach campus, Nadine Newhart, who contacted the Richmond campus for her. It was an incredible feat of timing! The engineering students at ECPI’s Richmond campus needed a project for their senior capstone class. The students got to work on it, and within no time they created a prosthetic leg for Ray Ray. The new leg is supported by a harness and wheel combination that allows Ray Ray to make turns. The students had to be quite creative, because the leg had to be made of certain materials which Ray Ray would not destroy by chewing.

So thanks to ECPI students, who used their ingenuity and technical smarts, Ray Ray is enjoying life once more as a four-legged canine! (Robyn Sidersky, “ECPI students accomplish a real feat, and an amputee dogs gets a prosthetic limb,” The Virginian-Pilot, November 3, 2017, pg. 3)

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, November 13th, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.

Can You Be Held Personally Liable for Your Parent’s Long-Term Care in Virginia?

By Sarah Schmidt

In 2017, the average cost of nursing home care in Virginia amounts to $94,896 per year, $7,908 per month, for a private room.[1] That cost is steep enough to concern even the most affluent of clients. While children often feel morally responsible to step in and help out an aging parent financially, what if they do not?  What if they cannot? Can they be held legally responsible? The answer may surprise you.

As many as twenty-nine (29) states have filial responsibility laws on the books.[2] Filial responsibility laws are statutes which require an able child to provide financial support for an indigent parent.  Any legal obligation of an adult child to support his or her parent is not founded in common law; such an obligation can only be created by statute.[3] While many states have never enforced their filial statutes,[4] such statutory obligations do exist, and the policies behind them are deeply rooted in history and tradition.[5]  The theory and policy behind filial responsibility is one of reciprocity. When the government began providing public benefits through social security, Medicare, and Medicaid, this greatly reduced the need to enforce filial responsibility laws.[6] Some commentators, however, opine that the enforcement of such obligations will resurge due to the predicted deficits in the public benefit programs.[7]

 

Virginia Code Section 20-88 was enacted in 1920. It imposes an obligation on persons eighteen years of age or older, to provide for the support and maintenance[8] of his or her mother or father, if: (1) after reasonably providing for his own immediate family, the child is of sufficient earning capacity or income, and (2) the parent is then and there in destitute or necessitous circumstances.[9] The Virginia Supreme Court interpreted this to be a subjective standard and found that the parent’s standard of living to which they are accustomed is taken into account.[10]

The juvenile and domestic relations district courts have exclusive jurisdiction in all cases arising under Virginia Code Section 20-88. Because the juvenile and domestic relations district courts are not courts of record, the total number and frequency of cases involving Code Section 20-88 remain unknown, but the statute has been enforced. For example, this statute was enforced in a 2015 case filed in Virginia Beach Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, where a Judge ordered eight children to pay for the assisted living expenses of their biological mother in the amount of $5,500 a month. This award, according to counsel for the petitioner of that case, amounted to as much as $71,500. The order was appealed to Virginia Beach Circuit Court, but the case settled before trial. [11]

While the Virginia Supreme Court has never considered a case regarding filial responsibility and long-term care, this statute undoubtedly extends to support for the cost of long-term care. Fortunately, there are a number of defenses a child might use to protect himself or herself from a filial responsibility action, but the details of those defenses are beyond the scope of this newsletter. Should you find yourself facing an action by a third-party to be held liable for your indigent parent, it is imperative that you hire an attorney with experience in elder law and long-term care planning.

[1]       See Genworth 2017 Cost of Care Survey (last visited Oct. 30 2017),  https://www.genworth.com/services/servlets/pdf/CostofCare_2017

[2]     Jared M. DeBona, Mom, Dad, Here’s Your Allowance: The Impending Reemergence of Pennsylvania’s Filial Support Statute and An Appeal for Its Amendment, 86 Temp. L. Rev. 849, 855 (2014).

[3]     Americana Health Ctr. v. Randall, 513 N.W.2d 566 (S.D. 1994).

[4]     Lundberg, supra note 29 at 534.

[5]     Swoap v. Superior Court, 516 P.2d 840, 848–49 (Cal. 1973) (“[T]he duty is deeply rooted and of venerable ancestry; it can be traced back . . .  to the year 1601.”);  Americana, 513 N.W.2d at 571;  see Jared M. DeBona, Mom, Dad, Here’s Your Allowance: The Impending Reemergence of Pennsylvania’s Filial Support Statute and An Appeal for Its Amendment, 86 Temp. L. Rev. 849, 855 (2014) (referring to the Elizabethan Poor Laws in 1601 which created statutory obligations to provide for poor family members).

[6]     Jared M. DeBona, Mom, Dad, Here’s Your Allowance: The Impending Reemergence of Pennsylvania’s Filial Support Statute and An Appeal for Its Amendment, 86 Temp. L. Rev. 849, 849 (2014).

[7]     Id. at 856.

[8]   Mitchell-Powers v. Hardware Co. v. Eaton, 198 S.E. 496, 499–50 (Va. 1938)  (“Support and Maintenance, as used in the statute, mean in a moral and legal sense, having a regard to the situation, mode of life and condition of the persons concerned. It means more than the son or daughter, if of sufficient earning capacity or income, must do more than relieve the pangs of hunger, provide and furnish only enough clothes to cover the nakedness of the parent. He or she must furnish such support as comport with the health, comfort, and welfare of a normal individuals according to their standards of living, considering his or her own means, earning capacity and station in life.”).

[9]    Id. at 499 (emphasis added) (finding that “Destitute” or “Necessitous Circumstances” is defined as: “not possessing the necessities in life; in a condition of extreme want; without possessions or resources,” and “living in or characterized by poverty; needy . . . [and] as narrow, destitute, pinching, [and] pinched.”).

[10]      Id. (finding that Va. Code § 20-88 “was intended to cover the case of a parent in destitute or necessitous circumstances according to his or her standard of living.”).

[11]       See Johnson v. Southerland, Virginia Beach Circuit Court No. CL15-381 (2015).

 

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Shrews in Winter

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about how shrews handle the winter? Are they out and about or do they hibernate?

Kit Kat:  Well, they are out and about for sure; however, the interesting thing is that their skull and brain mass shrink by about 18 % during the winter. Shrews are about the size of a mouse, but are really more like a mole. Also, they are found in almost all parts of the world. Scientists speculate that their brains become shrunken to conserve energy. According to Javier Lazaro of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany, “They also have high metabolic rates and very little fat stored in their bodies. Therefore, they starve within a few hours if they do not hunt constantly.” Therefore, a smaller skull and brain, as well as some of their major organs and  their spines also shrivel in size as well. A smaller corpus means less food is needed to sustain it during the cold months.

To conduct the study, the researchers captured 12 shrews in Germany near the Max Planck Institute from summer 2014 to fall 2015. All were micro-chipped, and measured at three different intervals. The skull-shrinking phenomenon was noticed in all twelve. What the scientists think happens is this—their “brain case shrinks when the joints between the bones of the skull reabsorb tissue during autumn and winter. As spring approaches, the bone tissue regenerates.” Scientists are not sure why other invertebrates can’t do the same, but the phenomenon may have implications  for humans, especially those who are afflicted with osteoporosis, and other bone and joint diseases. Medical researchers are very intrigued by this new information. Stay tuned as scientists continue to study this issue. (Douglas Quenqua, “As Winter Sets In, Tiny Shrews Shrink Their Skulls and Brains,” The New York Times (Science section), Oct. 23, 2017)

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, November 7th, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.

Avoiding Guardianship/Conservatorship

By Elizabeth Boehmcke

Recently, I was struck by what we have been seeing in our office much more frequently: clients coming in for guardianships and conservatorships for their loved ones. The vast majority of these matters are not contested: the potential ward is clearly incapable of managing his/her own financial and medical affairs because of advanced dementia, brain injury, congenital disease or other clear medical issues. Furthermore, the other members of the family are in agreement as to who should care for the potential ward and what needs to be done for his/her care. Occasionally, we see contested matters where the potential ward’s incapacity is not so clear cut, or where the family cannot agree on who should be in charge, or how the potential ward should be cared for. Putting aside for the moment those cases where the potential ward may in fact have capacity, the overwhelming majority of the other cases, contested or not, can be prevented through the execution of three relatively simple documents: a durable general power of attorney, an advanced medical directive and a HIPAA release.

A durable general power of attorney is the document in which you name an agent to act for you in connection with your financial affairs. An advanced medical directive is the document in which you name an agent to act for you in connection with medical and personal matters (such as where you live and who cares for you). The HIPAA release gives your medical providers permission to speak with your agent about your medical conditions. These documents are sometimes collectively thought of as necessary for “planning for incapacity”. I prefer to think of these documents as “your voice” because they frequently speak when you, the principal, are no longer able to effectively voice your opinion or to process the information necessary to make an informed opinion. In other newsletter articles, we have discussed the importance of choosing a good agent, of deciding whether your agents can or should work together, and of informing your agents about your end-of-life choices and decisions and where your assets are held. However, I would really like to emphasize an important benefit that should not be glossed over.

Statistics show that approximately 1 in 9 people who reach age 65 will develop dementia, and 1 in 3 who reach age 85 will develop dementia. Alzheimer’s Association – Risk Factors (www.alz.org). Others will suffer accidents and other medical emergencies that affect their abilities, physical and mental. Without a durable power of attorney and advanced medical directive in place, court action to appoint a guardian and conservator to manage your personal and financial affairs may be necessary. Court action is expensive, costing thousands of dollars. The durable power of attorney and the advanced medical directive allow you, in most cases, to completely AVOID the need for court action in the event of your incapacity. Further, if the durable power of attorney and advanced medical directive are prepared as part of a comprehensive long-term care plan such as are advocated at the Hook Law Center, both you and your agent will be comfortable in the knowledge that in the event asset protection planning for government benefits is necessary after your incapacity, your documents will work for you to that end. Even if your durable power of attorney and advanced medical directive are not part of a comprehensive plan and even if it becomes desirable to obtain a guardianship or conservatorship in order to implement a strategic asset protection plan, simply having those documents in place and nominating your agent to act as your guardian and conservator can potentially save legal costs by reducing the risks of litigation. Simply put, these documents will save you money during your lifetime – money which can be used for your care, for the care of your spouse and potentially saved for your heirs. Failure to execute these documents may well result in the needless expenditure of your money on attorneys and court fees and the loss of your right to choose who will be making important decisions for YOU. It’s as simple as that.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Myths about Black Cats

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, since this article will appear around the time of Halloween, what can you tell us the myths surrounding black cats?

Kit Kat:  Well, actually there are quite a few myths about black cats, and none of them are true! As Jodie Valade who wrote an article in All Animals says, “the curse of the black cat is really that they are so misunderstood.” What is true is that black cats are the most common in the feline population, followed by grey. A 2013 ASPCA study found that 33 percent of all cats coming into shelters are black, and grey was the 2nd highest coming in at 22 percent. As Inga Fricke of the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) says, ‘When you’re getting more black cats in, it creates this perception that black animals aren’t getting adopted as much.’ On the contrary, black and grey cats are adopted at shelters almost equal to their percentages of entry.

To counter any adoption reluctance, shelters have become quite clever at marketing. Using free media such as Facebook, they have created postings for Black Friday deals (Nebraska Humane Society of Omaha), Me and My Shadow (Arizona Animal Welfare League and SPCA), Black Goes with Everything (Pet Rescue of Mercer, NJ), and Don’t Be Afraid to Adopt (The Humane Society of Utah waives adoption fees for black cats during the month of October) to name a few. Fricke of HSUS also says, ‘This is kind of a remarkable age for sheltering in that we have people working in shelters who are not just dedicated animal lovers who are committed to homeless animals, but who are actually stepping back and looking at the data and the numbers and figuring out what’s true and what’s just anecdote.’

Black cats are lovable like most felines. Our family has adopted two from Savannah, GA. We all have different personalities, and cats are no exception. That’s what makes life so interesting and challenging! (Jodie Valade, “Black is the new black,” All Animals, September/October 2017, p. 16-17)

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 30th, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.

Planning for Death the Swedish Way

By Letha Sgritta McDowell, CELA

A large part of elder law is helping clients plan for what happens after their death. To that end we, help clients execute wills, revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, change beneficiary designations, review joint account titling, etc. all with the goal of helping clients pass monetary assets after their death. Many times I’ll be asked to include a specific gift of a tangible item within these same documents, and it consistently gives me pause. There are legal ramifications to including such a specific gift in a will. For example, a specific gift of a tangible personal item can force an estate through probate even if it isn’t otherwise necessary. If that tangible item is a Picasso or the Hope Diamond, then that is appropriate. In the vast majority of cases, the item is much less valuable and, in many cases, the named gift recipient isn’t interested in receiving the item.

A recent article in the New York Times explained what many clients struggle to determine, the next generation, largely generation X and millennials, are not interested in inheriting heirlooms or other tangible person items. There are always exceptions to this, of course; however, many people struggle with either how to have this delicate conversation while their family members are still living, or they struggle with what to do with years of accumulated possessions after their loved ones have died.

This desire not to inherit has been a major change from previous generations and, according to experts, this is the first time in history that the next generation isn’t looking for material goods from the previous generation. This shift away from possessions has arisen for many different reasons. First, many Americans are living longer than ever before. This means that, by the time a parent has passed away leaving tangible items, the children already have a fully furnished household with minimal room for more material goods. In addition, we live in a society which values material possessions, so a fully furnished household is an over-furnished household as well as a storage unit with excess items. Add to that items from a parent and homes of the next generation are crammed with objects.

Another reason for the lack of desire to inherit tangible items is a change in style. The 90s saw an uptick in rich and elaborate decoration with a country style. However, beginning in the 2000s, minimal with clean lines became the new style, leaving lots of parents with the 90s look and feel which was completely opposite from what a young person starting their life was looking for.

Yet another reason is that, for many millennials, they simply don’t have the place to put new objects. Living spaces are getting smaller (think Tiny Houses on HGTV and minimal living space designs from Ikea). Even for children who want their parents dining room set either after they die or when they downsize, they have no place to put them.

So, what is the solution to this growing problem of unwanted stuff? The Japanese Art of decluttering has been a popular movement and the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has been a best seller for years. The Swedish have also developed a concept called “death cleaning.” Death cleaning is based on the idea that the Swedish don’t want to be a burden to anyone, and cleaning out personal possessions to leave a minimal amount for loved ones left behind benefits everyone.

As an attorney, my suggestion is to have a conversation with loved ones about what items they may like to inherit. If there are specific items that a loved one would choose to inherit, be sure to specifically list that on a tangible personal property list. Be sure to encourage loved ones to be honest with their feelings to avoid anyone feeling “guilted” into taking items they may not want or have room for. For those everyday items which do not have appeal to anyone in particular, begin decluttering early and giving those items to a charity such as Habitat for Humanity or Goodwill which will help ensure they are given to those in need who could use the items. Cleaning out and decluttering early is often a gift for loved ones and is often more appreciated than unused items from a storage unit.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Taming Wild Horses

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about prison inmates taming wild horses out in the West?

Kit Kat:  Well, this is another interesting story. This particular story occurs at a ranch near Carson City, Nevada at a 1,100 acre property. The ranch is part of the Northern Nevada Correctional Center, a medium-security prison which serves minimum-security inmates. Approximately 2,000 wild horses can be served there. There is an abundance of wild horses and burros in the West that come under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. One way it is handling as many as 86,000 foals born during the spring of 2017 is to have them tamed or ‘gentled’ at facilities such as the Northern Nevada Correctional Center (NNCC). Similar programs exist in other states such as Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, and even California and Kansas. Inmates in those states can volunteer to serve their time at such facilities. It’s a win for both the inmates and the horses, many of whom end up being adopted.

Take for example, the case of John Harris, 38. When he first came to NNCC, he had a bit of a temper. He had worked with farm animals where he grew up in Northern Iowa, but never horses. Initially, when he worked with the horses, he got ‘worked up’ and the horses did too. Over time, he learned through the expert instruction of Hank Curry, an experienced cowboy, that one can get better training results by being calm and low-key. Mr. Curry has come to see his job as being more than a horse trainer. ‘I’m a counselor, a teacher, a horse trainer. You establish pride in the guy and pride in his job, he’s going to be a lot more successful when he gets out of here.’ The training cycle lasts four months. A big rodeo is then held and open to the public. Horses and burros are auctioned off, and the whole process starts again.

It’s a terrific program. As a photographer named Ryan Shorosky, who took pictures of the program during the spring of 2017, commented– there is a ‘beautiful parallel between the inmates and the horses, using each other to get to that next point.’ (Steven Kurutz, “Wild Horses and the Inmates Who ‘Gentle’ Them,” The New York Times, Oct.5, 2017)

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 20th, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.

New Medicare Cards Coming Soon

By Jessica A. Hayes

Between April 2018 and April 2019, Medicare will be issuing new Medicare cards to all of its beneficiaries, approximately 60 million Americans, in an effort to cut down on identity theft and fraud. Instead of using Social Security Numbers to identify individuals, they will now be using randomly generated identification numbers, called “Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers” (MBIs), which will contain both numbers and uppercase letters and be 11 characters in length. An MBI is confidential and should be protected as personally identifiable information. Beneficiaries do not need to do anything to receive these new cards; they will be provided with them automatically and free of charge.

While this is designed to reduce instances of identity theft and fraud, consumers should be aware that there is nonetheless the potential for scammers to use this development to their advantage. They may contact Medicare beneficiaries and inform them that there is a fee that must be collected before a new card may be issued. Or perhaps they will make beneficiaries believe they will lose their benefits if the scammers’ demands are not met right away. Scammers are creative and convincing, but knowledge up front about the free rollout of new cards is the best defense against the unscrupulous.

In anticipation of thousands of calls from beneficiaries and medical providers as a result of this change, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services has set up a website, is sending out handbooks to all beneficiaries, and has call centers ready to field questions. More information is available at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/New-Medicare-Card/index.html.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Vika of the Solomon Islands

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what is a vika?

Kit Kat:  Well, it’s a giant, tree-dwelling rat that has recently been discovered in the Solomon Islands, which are located in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Papua New Guinea. Indigenous peoples had sighted it for years, but scientists could never catch a glimpse of it. That is until recently when Hikuna Judge, a ranger at the Zaira Resource Management Area on the island of Vangunu, spotted an injured, giant rat waddling away from a fallen tree. Mr. Judge joined Dr. Tyrone Lavery of the University of Queensland (Australia) in the reporting of the new species, dubbed Uromys vika. It’s been about 80 years since any new rat species have been discovered in the area.

Uromys vika is indeed quite large. It can measure up to 1.5 feet from nose to tail with a weight of nearly two pounds. It also has small ears and very wide feet, which help it navigate in the dense tropical forests of its native environment. Its tail is smooth, but it also has tiny scales, similar to an opossum’s. It is further distinguished by its preferred discarded food—ngali nuts. The vika drills a hole in the center of the nut with its teeth to extract the nut’s soft core. Then it discards the shell. Now that is known that this is the consumer of the discarded nuts, scientists will have an easier time studying it and its habits.

Researchers suspect it remained undetected for so long, because they believe there are relatively few of them. Vika is now considered critically endangered, because this particular island of Vangunu is rapidly losing rain forest to logging. The rain forest is its home. However, Dr. Lavery is hopeful. He says, ‘Now that we know it definitely exists, we can work out ways to conserve it.’ (Joanna Klein, “The Elusive Giant Coconut-Cracking Rat of the Solomon Islands,” The New York Times, Science section, Sept. 29, 2017)

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 13th, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.

Protecting Public Benefits from Child Support Payments

By Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro

The majority of us know that a parent has a duty to support his or her minor children, and that the law presumes that upon reaching majority, a child is capable of self-support. Very few people understand that the responsibilities of a parent may extend beyond the age of majority when the child is disabled and unable to support him or herself. In Virginia, a court order may require a parent to support an a person over that age of 18 who is “severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled,” provided the disability began before age 18 (or 19 if certain factors are met) and, as a result of such disability is unable to live independently and support himself. The affect of such an order may have a significant impact on the child if not carefully considered.

The purpose of requiring child support is to ensure a child can experience a similar standard of living as he would have if the parents lived in the same household. Virginia utilizes a guideline calculation to determine the support obligation, although the parents can voluntarily enter into their own agreement. The public benefits being received by the child may factor into what the child support payment should be.

Although many parents want to offset their support obligation by public benefit income received by the child, it is unlikely to occur if the child is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Nearly all courts that have addressed the issue have determined that since the benefit is not a reflection on the work history of a retired or disabled parent, no offset should be made. If, however, the child receives a benefit other than SSI from the Social Security, it is likely the result of a retired or disabled parent and a support obligation may therefore be reduced.

Pursuant to the Social Security Administration and the Department of Medical Assistance Services, child support is a form of unearned income to the child. The Social Security Administration will disregard the first $20 of unearned income, and thereafter reduce an SSI benefit dollar-for-dollar. If SSI is lost, the child will lose his or her automatic entitlement to Medicaid and will need to meet the requirements of the traditional or long-term care Medicaid program.

The good new is that the Code of Virginia specifically permits the court to order child support payments be made to a special needs trust or an ABLE savings trust account. The good news is that the Social Security Administration has determined that when a court requires child support payments into a first party special needs trust, such payments will not be considered income to the child, and will therefore not detrimentally impact that child’s benefits. In contrast, although formal policy has not yet been published, it is believed that court ordered payments into an ABLE savings trust account will still be considered income to the child, and therefore cause a reduction in benefits.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Wildlife Healers

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about the South Florida Wildlife Center which specializes in the rehabilitation of small animals?

Kit Kat:  Well, this is an interesting story. This particular center, which is located in Ft.Lauderdale, has developed an expertise over the last 10 years in rescuing baby opossums. Opossums are the only marsupial in the United States. At first, it was trial and error. Baby opossums have a very different digestive system, than other young mammals and young birds. However, through collaboration with researchers in Australia, which has the bulk of the world’s marsupials, techniques improved drastically. Baby opossums of 17 grams are now regularly saved and eventually re-released into the wild.

The discovery that made the critical difference was what to feed them. Regular formula for other baby animals did not work. It contained lactose, and baby opossums cannot digest that. They would do OK with it for a few days, but then diarrhea took over. Eventually, they discovered by diluting it with water, the babies could handle it. They also began giving them injections of saline which helped them not get dehydrated. In the wild, the mother opossum has antimicrobials in her pouch as well as secretions in her saliva which helped nurture them. Remember that baby opossums generally stay in the mother’s pouch for about 85 days, as they continue to develop to the point that other baby mammals are at birth—eyes fully open and moving around significantly.

So kudos to the South Florida Wildlife Center, which is HSUS-affiliated! They not only save baby opossums, but other wildlife as well, such as squirrels, birds, pelicans with ripped pouches—the list goes on. On one May day this year, 33 animals were admitted, 68 in the hospital, 165 in the nursery, and a whopping 649 were being cared for. They are an exemplar in their field!

(Karen E. Lange, “The Heart of Healing,” All Animals, September/October 2017, p.18-23)

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 9th, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.

Assuring an Inheritance for your Heirs

By Elizabeth Boehmcke

Many of our clients come to us primarily for estate planning. They are interested in making sure that their assets are distributed to their beneficiaries in the amounts and in the manner that they want. For many of our clients, that means devising ways to transfer assets to children after the death of one or both spouses. However, because we are elder law attorneys, most of our clients are also advised about long-term care planning and asset protection strategies. We believe that good estate planning does not and cannot happen in a vacuum and attention should be paid to all matters that may impact a client’s goals.

For instance, many clients feel strongly that it is important to provide some measure of an inheritance to their children. However, it is clear in reviewing their overall financial picture that if one of the spouses requires long-term care, there may be very little to no inheritance left to give. For clients in such circumstances, pre-planning for long-term care costs may well allow them to assure an inheritance that could otherwise be lost.

We can create a trust that provides for the payment of the income of the trust back to the creator (or the “grantor”) of the trust and which, upon the death of the grantor, distributes the remaining assets of the trust to grantor’s beneficiaries (typically the grantor’s descendants but could also be a continuing income interest for the surviving spouse). If the trust is created and funded more than 5 years before the grantor applies for Medicaid, the Department of Social Services cannot consider the assets held by the trust in determining the eligibility of the grantor for Medicaid. In addition, Medicaid cannot put an estate recovery lien against the property held in the trust upon the death of the Medicaid recipient. Thus, the assets put in the trust are preserved for the heirs of the grantor. Only the income paid out by the trust can be assessed against the grantor and counted as part of his income for Medicaid purposes. Not quite like having your cake and eating it too, but you are certainly licking the icing.

What assets are appropriate for such an income only trust? Truly any assets can be used for such a trust. A residence can be a good asset to transfer into the trust for these purposes because a residence typically does not produce any income. The grantor can maintain a right to live in the house via a lease agreement with the trustee of the trust and pay the carrying costs of the house (insurance, real estate taxes, maintenance etc.) instead of rent. Thus there is no income to be distributed to the grantor and the grantor continues to live in the house and pay the expenses he or she was already paying. If the grantor wants to downsize or needs to move into a nursing home, for instance, the trustee can sell the house and reinvest the proceeds. If the grantor is still living independently, the assets can be invested in income-producing property that can be distributed to the grantor for living expenses. If the grantor is on Medicaid, the property can be invested in very low or no-income producing property that minimizes the income that is payable to the grantor (and thus to the nursing home for care). If it is not appropriate to transfer a residence into the trust (for instance because it still has a mortgage on it), other assets – from cash to stocks and bonds – can be transferred to the trust.

The trust is structured in a way to preserve the income tax benefits that are available to the grantor if nothing were done. For instance, the grantor can still exclude $250,000 of capital gains if he or she transfers his or her primary residence to the trust and the trust later sells the house. In addition, all of the assets in the trust receive a step-up in basis to the fair market value of the assets as of the date of the grantor’s death, just as if he or she had held them in his or her name alone at death. This means that when the assets are distributed from the trust to the grantor’s beneficiaries, they will be able to sell them with far less capital gains tax to pay than if the same assets were gifted outright to the beneficiaries before the grantor’s death.

Part of the beauty of an income-only trust plan is that while the grantor is living a healthy and independent life, he or she can benefit from the income generated by the assets (or continue to live in the home). However, it should be noted that the gift of the assets into the trust is a completed gift at the time of the transfer. The grantor has no ability to change his or her mind later, to access the principal of the trust or to compel the trustee to distribute the assets back to him or her. This limitation on the ability for a grantor to change the plan in the future is why we do not advise clients to put all of their assets into a trust of this sort. It is important that clients have sufficient other assets in their own names to continue to live their lives, pay their bills and support themselves. Thus, while the income only trust is not miracle cure in the sense that it cannot protect all of a client’s assets from the costs of long-term care, it can assure that at least some part of the estate is preserved for the heirs.

Make an appointment with any of the experienced attorneys at the Hook Law Center to discuss whether an income-only trust can be an appropriate part of your estate plan.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – White Giraffes

Hook Law Center:  What can you tell us about white giraffes? Are there really such creatures?

Kit Kat:  Yes, there really are! Two such giraffes were recently spotted in Kenya in Garissa County near the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy. Technically, reticulated giraffes come from eastern Africa, and have large brown spots which are separated by cream lines. The two which were sighted in Kenya appeared to be whitish, with the baby giraffe being a tad darker than its mother. As the giraffes mature, those with leucism, like the ones observed in Kenya, become lighter. They are not really albinos. They have the condition known as leucism, meaning they have pigmentation in their soft tissue, but not very much in the skin cells. Animals with leucism also have normal eye color; those with albinism usually have red eyes. Leucism exists throughout the animal kingdom, and species as diverse as birds, lions, fish, moose , and snakes all have been noted to have the condition.

Giraffes currently are classified as ‘vulnerable’ to extinction. This classification is somewhat less alarming than the ‘endangered’ classification, but it does mean that they warrant protection. In the last thirty years, the giraffe population has declined by 40 percent. At present, it appears there are 97,600 giraffes worldwide. However, they are extinct in at least seven countries in Africa. According to the Giraffe Conservation Association, half of all baby giraffes die before the age of six months, because they are the victims of other animal predators like lions and hyenas.

This was the third sighting of giraffes with leucism over the past few years. One of the other sightings occurred in another part of Kenya and in Tanzania. According to Dr. Abdullahi H. Ali, founder of the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy mentioned previously, the two giraffes will be monitored to gather information about their life span. The normal life span is in the range of 25 years. Time will tell whether these two recent specimens will be so fortunate. (Yonette Joseph,“Rare White Giraffes Cause a Stir in Kenya,” The New York Times, September 16, 2017)

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, September 29th, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.

Myths about Public Benefits

By Letha Sgritta McDowell, CELA

In my years as an elder law practitioner, I’ve had clients come into me professing extensive knowledge of public benefits (particularly Medicaid) that were wildly off-base. There are any number of myths that have to do with public benefits planning, and I thought I would take this chance to “myth bust” some of the most common myths about benefits.

  1. “They are going to take my house.” False! While I am never exactly sure who “they” is, no person or entity takes away a home or other property for that matter. This includes the Medicaid agency, nursing facility or assisted living facility, social services, etc. However, some planning in advance may be prudent in order to achieve the goal of avoiding “estate recovery.” Estate recovery is the process by which the state Medicaid agency recovers from an individual’s assets after their death. With proper planning, this result is often avoidable.
  2. “My income is too high to qualify.” False! Different public benefits programs have different eligibility requirements. One of the most confusing is the benefit known as “Medicaid.” While we tend to use it as a blanket term, there are a number of different programs which fall under the Medicaid umbrella. Each program has different eligibility requirements so, while your income may be too high to qualify for one program, you may be well within the guidelines for another. The Medicaid program that pays for nursing care and the Special Pension Benefit commonly referred to as “Aid & Attendance” typically only require that the applicant’s monthly income is less than the cost of their care.
  3. “I must have practically no assets to qualify.” False! While many public benefits programs require countable assets to fall within certain limits, there is no limit on the amount of non-countable assets a person can have. Proper planning allows the conversion of countable assets into non-countable ones and allows the applicant and/or his or her spouse to protect assets and still qualify for benefits.
  4. “I have to give everything away in order to qualify for benefits.” False! In many cases, giving assets away causes penalties which could have been avoided with proper planning. And, when you give assets away to children or other family members, you have lost your ability to control them and potentially subject them to creditor claims or divorce actions which you may never have seen coming.
  5. “I have to do planning at least five (5) years before needing care.” False! Many asset protection strategies can be implemented at the time you need care. However, it is critical to have the proper tools in place to allow an agent to assist you in asset protection planning should you need care in the future.
  6. “A Revocable Trust protects my assets.” False! While revocable trusts can be a power estate planning tool, a revocable trust does not protect your assets from the claims of creditors or the cost of nursing care. However, there are other types of trusts which can be used to protect assets.
  7. “Adding my children’s names to the deed to my house will protect my home.” False! Adding a child’s name to any asset, including a home, can cause a period of ineligibility for public benefits. In addition, adding them as an owner of an account makes the account “their” money in the eyes of the law. This means it could be subject to the claims of their creditors or other financial problems. In addition, this may cause the accidental disinheritance of a child or other family members. AND, in many cases, the home is an exempt asset anyway.

Whether you are considering your long-term care plan early or are facing an immediate nursing care need, it is never too late to plan to protect assets. Don’t let these common “myths” about asset protection planning prevent you from taking action or influence you to make decisions which may have possibly devastating consequences.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Pet Investigaors

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about the Humane Society’s undercover investigators?

Kit Kat:  Well, these brave people perform a humanitarian service which makes a huge difference in the lives of animals. They investigate abuse, and they have to go undercover using fake names and identities to protect themselves. One such investigator is named Amy Winter (her alias). Her current assignment is working at a pet shop in New York City, where she investigates the sale of sick puppies from the Midwest. Though only 26, she is on her last assignment. This kind of work takes a toll. She has been travelling around the country staying for a few months at a time in a particular location investigating animal abuse. She cannot use social media, and must not get too close to her co-workers. Later this year, she will enter a police academy to train as an animal protection officer. Her five-year stint is longer than most investigators who last only 2-3 years. She has investigated 2 industrial pig farms, a calf ranch, a tiger facility, a horse stable, and 3 research laboratories. She says, ‘For all the cases of mine, I felt I made some impact on the animals, which means the world to me.’

In her current assignment at the pet store, she hears customers ask repeatedly, “Are these puppies from puppy mills?” The staff are instructed to say definitely not. So, she goes about her business of secretly recording what is going on at this particular store. She hope her information will be enough to shut down this particular store. She says, ‘A lot of very sick puppies are being sold. I think a lot of people are going to be shocked.’

Another undercover agent named Cody investigated an egg factory farm in Iowa. What he witnessed there was so horrifying that he lost weight and was having nightmares. After that final assignment, he decided to study law and help animals through the legal channel.

We owe these investigators a tremendous debt. They are helping society monitor the management of animals. When things are not done in an appropriate way, the investigators are there to call attention to the matter, and to hopefully, make corrective action happen. (Julie Falconer, “True Grit,” All Animals, September/October 2017, p. 24-28)

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, September 22nd, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.

The Equifax Data Breach: Take This One Step Now

By Jessica A. Hayes

As you have probably heard by now, Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, was hacked earlier this summer. As a result, nearly half the U.S. population’s personal data, including full names, addresses, dates of birth, and Social Security Numbers, is at risk. This is enough information for the hackers to open up credit cards in your name, apply for loans, and go on spending sprees. You may not find out immediately – especially if the hacker also has your mail forwarded to a different address. Because there is about a 50% chance your information was involved in the breach, now is the time to act.

The most important thing you can do now to protect yourself against someone else using your personal information is to place a credit freeze with each of the three credit reporting agencies. A credit freeze is a tool which prevents credit inquiries and the opening of new lines of credit. Anyone who attempts to open a credit card using your information, for example, will be automatically declined. If you wish to open a new line of credit yourself, or to permit a mortgage lender, for example, to make a credit inquiry on your record, you may temporarily lift the credit freeze either for a period of time or for a certain lender.

I first wrote about credit freezes in this newsletter back in June, following my own experience with identity theft. Because significantly more of you may be affected by the Equifax breach, I think it worth repeating.

If you put a credit freeze into place with a credit reporting agency, the agency will require you to use a Personal Identification Number (PIN) anytime you want to lift the freeze. To best protect yourself, you should place a credit freeze with each of the three agencies, meaning you will need to keep track of three different PINs. Keep them in a safe place to avoid losing them.

The three credit reporting agencies’ webpages on credit freezes are located here:

Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

Equifax: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp

TransUnion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze

Each agency charges a small fee to place a credit freeze; however, Equifax has recently announced that it will waive this fee in light of the breach.

When you go to place your credit freeze with each agency, this would also be a good time for you to request a copy of your credit report. Review it carefully to ensure that all entries relate to you. If you see something that does not belong on your credit report, contact the credit reporting agency directly to request a correction.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Veteran & Service Dogs

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, are service dogs assigned to veterans long after their service has ended?

Kit Kat:  Well, yes, and this is an interesting story. Retired Army Sgt. Toby Yarbrough had served overseas and returned home with post-traumatic stress disorder and seizures after suffering a traumatic brain injury while on active duty. Mr. Yarbrough credits his service dog, Duke, with saving his life. Were it not for Duke, Mr. Yarbrough said he probably would have committed suicide. He has detailed his experiences in a self-published book entitled “The Quiet Healing.” Mr. Yarbrough now lives in Chesapeake, VA. Duke is still with him, and accompanies him to work every day at a payroll company in Newport News, VA. Also, they are accompanied by Sasha, a 3-year old former rescue dog, who has taken over for Duke, because he is aged at 13.5 years old and suffers from arthritis and spinal degeneration.

Mr. Yarbrough, Duke, and Sasha came to the attention of some local part-time filmmakers—Andrew Lauto and Jacob Woodward, who then collaborated with Dave Alegre of Virginia Beach who owns Green Thumb Studios, a multimedia business. They plan to make a short film of about 20 minutes in length about Mr. Yarbrough and his dogs. They also will feature other veterans with service dogs and those who train the dogs. It, too, will be called “The Quiet Healing,” and they hope to have it ready to air around Christmas on YouTube and Vimeo. They are also considering entering it in some film festivals.

This is a wonderful story which may give hope to others! When someone is down, seek help. There is always a solution to every problem. (Victoria Bourne, “Filmmakers to tell story of veteran with PTSD and his service dogs,” The Virginian-Pilot, Sep. 5, 2017, pg. 3)

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, September 18th, 2017. Filed under Newsletter.