Category Archives for "Eldercare"

The Importance of Naming Beneficiaries

Certain types of assets, such as life insurance, IRAs, 401ks and annuities, allow the owner to name a beneficiary.  The asset will pass directly to the named beneficiary, outside of probate.

When creating or updating an estate plan, making sure the beneficiaries are correctly named is a very important aspect that is often overlooked.

In addition to naming a primary beneficiary, the account holder is able to name a contingent or secondary beneficiary in the event the primary beneficiary predeceases.  If a contingent beneficiary is not named, the default beneficiary under the insurance, retirement plan or annuity will often be the estate. That means that asset, which would not require probate if a beneficiary was named, has become a probate asset. 

If the asset was purchased years ago, the beneficiary designations set up at that time may no longer be correct.  There have been many cases where someone names a spouse as beneficiary of life insurance or an IRA, divorces that spouse and remarries, but never changes the beneficiary from the former spouse to the current spouse.  The failure to update the beneficiary meant the former spouse received those funds.

There have been cases where the company that serves as custodian of a retirement plan changed to a new custodian, or maybe had several changes in custodian, and the records showing who was named as beneficiary were lost.  Sometimes it hasn’t even involved a change in custodian.  The account may have been held at one financial institution for twenty years, but when that institution updated its systems, the records showing the beneficiary for that particular account did not get updated. Those occurrences show that checking the beneficiaries every so often, even if there isn’t a need to change, is important.

It’s also important to make sure that the way the beneficiaries are named coincides with the account owner’s Will or Trust.  For example, if a widowed mother with two children has a Will that leaves her estate equally between her two children, but names only one child as beneficiary of her IRA, which is her sole asset, the other child is unintentionally disinherited. 

It is possible to undo the intention of an estate plan without realizing it by changing or failing to change a beneficiary.  Check your beneficiary designations periodically to make sure your wishes are carried out.

Get Your Parents To Talk

In six of the ten metropolitan Atlanta counties, growth in the older population is exceeding growth in the general population.  If you have parents, grandparents or other family members who are part of that older population, you may find yourself having to step in to take care of their finances or health care.  Would you have a clue about what to do?

Members of the older generations often pride themselves on being independent and they keep their financial affairs private. They aren’t going to volunteer information, and may not take it well if you ask whether they have a legal and financial plan in place. If the conversation becomes unpleasant, you may decide to keep the peace and drop it.

You should think about what would happen if there were a diagnosis of dementia, or a serious illness, and they were no longer able to be independent. Would you be prepared?

Do you know if there is a Power of Attorney or an Advance Directive for Health Care?  If those documents exist, do you have copies or know where to find them?  Do you know if the Power of Attorney was done recently or ten years ago?   In Georgia or the state where they used to live?

If they don’t have an effective Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive, and dementia sets in, it will be too late for those documents to be signed. That’s when you’ll find yourself in Court, filing for a Guardianship and Conservatorship. That process involves a court hearing, multiple attorneys, evidence presented, and thousands in court costs and legal fees.

If they object to seeing an attorney to have the necessary documents put into place because “it will cost too much”, you can explain to them that the money they save, plus a whole lot more, will probably have to be spent on legal fees and court costs down the road.

As hard as it might be to get the older generation to share information they consider private, it will be much harder to deal with the consequences if they don’t.

Do you need help ensuring that your parents are properly protected?  Schedule an appointment today by calling  770-817-4999 or emailing drlg@debrarobinsonlaw.com.

The Sandwich Generation

For many Americans, the pressures of adjusting to the “new normal” extend far beyond personal responsibility.  The term “Sandwich Generation” was coined in the 1980s to describe the growing number of people in their 40s or 50s who are raising young or teenaged children, and at the same time serving as caregivers to their aging parents.  Members of the Sandwich Generation are the ones that children and parents rely on to handle all problems, from appointments with the pediatrician to appointments with the Alzheimer’s specialist, from finding a babysitter to finding a certified nursing assistant.

Many of those in the Sandwich Generation work full time or part time jobs, are responsible for maintaining a household, and deal with their caregiving duties on top of everything else.  Their to-do lists can be overwhelming, and they do their best to manage it all.

There is one responsibility, though,  that many Sandwich Generation members overlook: putting a plan in place to provide for their children and parents if something happened and the one who handles it all isn’t there to handle it anymore.

Too many people have no estate plan at all, and most who do might have a plan that creates a trust for their young children, but says nothing about Mom or Dad.  If you are responsible for caring for an aging parent, what would happen to them if you died?  If you are providing for them financially, shouldn’t you have an estate plan that makes sure they are comfortable in their old age?  If your parent is living with you, shouldn’t you make sure they’d still have a place to live if you weren’t there anymore?

Some parents do have enough financial resources to provide for themselves, but many are living on Social Security and maybe a small pension, and rely on their children to help cover their expenses.  If a child dies without a plan to provide for the parent, what happens?

Sandwich Generation members need to make sure that all the things they are doing for their children and their parents could still be done even if they are no longer there.

If you’re looking for an expert in helping you plan and protect your children and your parents, then we invite you to contact our office and schedule an appointment today. We can help develop the right estate plan for you and your needs to make sure you are able to take care of all your loved ones.

Elder Abuse warning signs to abuse in eldercare

Stay Alert To Signs Of Elder Abuse

As the number of older adults increases, so does the risk of elder abuse -intentional or negligent acts that cause harm or serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. The most obvious aspect of elder abuse is the infliction of physical pain or injury, but elder abuse includes much more than that. It can be verbal abuse, neglect of essential needs, financial exploitation, or simply the threat of physical injury.

The most common abusers are family members, often an adult child or a spouse. Caregivers, whether family members or professional health care workers, are also often abusers. Professionals with a legal duty to act in the best interest of a client, like investment advisors, lawyers and accountants, can use their positions of trust for self benefit. And of course, there are always con artists with fraudulent schemes and services.

What can be done to protect vulnerable elders? If you have a family member, a neighbor or a friend who is elderly, you can help protect that person by being alert for signs of abuse.

The most obvious signs of physical abuse are bruises, black eyes, broken bones, open wounds. Other things that could be signs of physical abuse are broken eyeglasses, torn clothing, or medication overdose.

Signs of emotional abuse include agitation, being extremely withdrawn and non-responsive, depression, lack of interest in daily activities, isolation, or excessive willingness to please.

Symptoms of neglect include thirst, weight loss, bed sores, poor hygiene, unsafe or unclean living conditions.

Signs of financial exploitation include sudden changes in bank accounts, unexplained withdrawals, unusual ATM activity, sudden changes to a Will, unpaid bills, unusual gifts, or confusion when discussing finances.

The refusal by a caregiver to allow visitors to see the elder alone should raise suspicion of abuse.

What should you do if you believe you have seen signs of elder abuse? If it’s an emergency situation, call 911. Otherwise, call Adult Protective Services at 866-552-4464 or file a report online at the Department of Human Services. Our vulnerable seniors need families, friends and neighbors to be on the alert for signs of elder abuse.

If you need support in helping to financially protect the assets in the lives of elders you know, then please feel free to contact our office today and schedule an appointment . We can help develop the right estate plan to make sure all your loved ones are protected.