Group of people who needs a will

Do I Really Need A Will?

 

You may have heard that everyone should have a will. While it certainly can’t hurt there are people who absolutely should have a will. And some others who maybe could get by without one right now. Let’s take a look to see what category you fit into.

Wills Are for People Who Are Rich and Wealthy.

Not necessarily. Anyone who has a positive net worth should probably have a will. Your net worth is the value of your assets minus your liabilities. It has nothing to do with your income. Your savings, investments, and debts combine to calculate your net worth. And this is something that may fluctuate.

If you have been saving for retirement or putting money into a rainy day fund your net worth will increase. Likewise, if you are paying down your mortgage, car loan, student loans, etc. your net worth will also increase.

Are You Married? You Need a Will.

 

Traditionally your spouse will inherit your things even if you die without a will. But you shouldn’t leave this up to chance. Make sure your spouse is protected. This is especially important if this is not your first marriage and there are children involved.

Additionally, if you want someone other than your wife to receive something it needs to be in writing. Don’t count on people to “do the right thing” after you are gone.

Do You Have Kids?

blended family

You absolutely need a will. Your kids are likely to inherit your things if you die intestate, after your spouse, but not necessarily. This means that if you want your kids to inherit after your spouse, then you need to put that in writing. This way there is no room for a different interpretation by the courts. Additionally, if you don’t want one of (or all of) your kids to inherit, then that needs to be in writing.

My guess is you have strong feelings about whether you want your children to inherit your estate. Having a will in place will ensure that the decision is being made by you, not the state.

When your children are young having a will allows you to name a guardian for your children. You will also be able to name an executor. This will determine how your children are raised and how the assets will be divided among them.

Revisit Your Will Each Year

It is important to review your will yearly and make changes as necessary. If you have another child your will may need to be updated. Likewise, a divorce or a new marriage will require updates to your current will.

But I Am Broke!

If you are young, broke and don’t have kids you may not need a will. At least not yet. But if you get married, have children or inherit some money you will want to get a will.

 

Do you need a will? Contact The Hilbun Law Firm for a consultation. 281-955-9292

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What Is Independence?

 

What Is independence? And What Does It Mean To You?

 

In the United States, this word is packed full of meaning.  On July 4th we celebrate Independence Day. This is the day we began to operate as our own country without British rule. As such The United States was free to adopt its own laws and rules to govern.

But actually, July 2nd,    1776 is when the legal separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain actually occurred. But Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it two days later on July 4. See nothing is Washington has really changed, has it. 😊

The Statue of Liberty

For many people in America, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes that independence that is the hallmark of our country.

There are some interesting facts surrounding this famous day. According to research on Wikipedia:

Coincidentally, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration.[14] Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, James Monroe, another Founding Father who was elected as President, also died on July 4, 1831. He was the third President who died on the anniversary of independence.[15] Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872; so far he is the only U.S. President to have been born on Independence Day

Today the day is celebrated with fireworks, parades, picnics, BBQ’s and a National Holiday!

According to the Cambridge Dictionary Independence is:

Freedom to make laws or decisions without being governed or controlled by another country, organization, etc.  This is what all American are celebrating on the 4th of July!

But There Is Another Definition

It is also defined as the state of wanting to be able to do things for yourself and to make your own decisions, without help or influence from other people.

This is the definition many seniors adhere to. They will do just about anything to remain independent. And their biggest fear is often becoming dependent on others for their basic needs.

But is this definition really correct?

Can you ever be truly independent according to this definition? Think about it. As a young child, you were dependent on your parents, teachers, grandparents, and others who cared for and influenced you. Then you grew into a young adult. Now you were dependent on your college professors to guide and mentor you. Or if you entered the workforce you were dependent on your boss and co-workers. And even those who work for themselves rely on other people for knowledge, inspiration and at times help.

Let’s face it, everyone is dependent on someone for something.

But as people begin to age, they often struggle to hold on to what they call their independence. Refusing to give up driving an older gentleman has a serious accident. Now in the hospital, he has lost his mobility. And he has to live with the fact, his actions caused harm to a young mother in the car he hit. Moreover, he is saddled with guilt.

His friend, however, agreed to give up his car keys. He calls Uber or Lyfte or sometimes catches a ride with a friend going in the same direction. He happily goes where he wants to. And he goes when he wants to. The only difference is he gets a little help to do so.

Who would you say is more independent?

So, take a little time today to ponder this word. What does independence really mean to you?

 

Retiring Single

Retiring Single- Over 65- How To Make a Plan

When you are retiring single there may be a host of concerns you have. If you have no spouse or children it is doubly important that you have a plan in place for those “what if’s”.

Are You An Elder Orphan?

Sometimes referred to as elder orphans or solo-agers this is a group that is growing. In fact, according to research by Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, 22% of people 65 and over are either an elder orphan or at risk of becoming one. Only 12% of the women who were 80 to 84 years old in 2010 were childless, but that will increase to 16% for that same age range in 2030, according to a report by AARP. And even those who have children may be estranged.

There are a number of concerns people may have when they are aging alone. Who will help take care of me if I get really sick? Will I die alone in a nursing home with no-one to advocate for me? If I begin to have cognitive decline who will help me manage my finances and legal issues? Will I be taken advantage of?

“I am not concerned,” said Kendra “I am perfectly capable of caring for myself. My mind is sharp and I do what I need to do to keep my body healthy also. In fact, I just ran a marathon and did quite well.”

Kendra is 70. And while we all applaud her for being in such good health at 70 the truth is things can happen that are out of your control.

Judy lived on her own until she was 91.

She cooked for herself, went to exercise class and drove where she needed to go. But a blood clot in her leg changed all of that. She went into the hospital. And due to several mistakes, that were made she returned home unable to care for even her basic needs. 24/7 care was needed. Luckily for her, her children, along with a paid caregiver stepped in to help. Without her children, she would have been forced to go into a nursing home. And she may not have had anyone to advocate for her. Besides the cost, she would not have had anyone to hire and manage the caregivers.

So how do you plan for the rest of your life when you are over 65 and single?

 

Step One: Talk to an Elder Law Attorney

Set up all of the necessary paperwork to plan for your long-term care. Your attorney can also help you connect with other professionals in the area who can help. You will probably need a financial advisor. It is also important that you have someone you really trust designated as your Power of Attorney.

Step Two: Consult with a Geriatric Care Manager

Have someone lined up who can be your advocate and make sure your needs are met. Care managers usually have a background in Nursing or Social Work. Talk to the person who is your POA to make sure they know about the Geriatric Care Manager you have chosen. If you are incapacitated someone with authority to act on your behalf would need to hire their services.

Step Three: Have a Good Support System

Having a strong social circle is important for everyone. Make sure your circle included younger people as well.

“All of my really good friends are 15 to 20 years younger than me” Edythe, 96 “I feel more alive being around younger people. They are more positive and fun to be around. Plus, when I had to stop driving last year it wasn’t a problem. There was always someone available to take me where I needed or wanted to go.”

 

Step Four: Consider Alternate Living Arrangements

Owning a home is wonderful when you are young. But do you really want to spend your time and money with upkeep and home maintenance projects?   If you really want to keep the home, have you considered roommates? Think Golden Girls!

According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. From 2005 to 2015, the older population grew 33 percent, while the number of older home-sharers jumped 88 percent.

One reason may be financial.

Many boomers have not really saved enough money for their retirement. Sharing a space can allow you to stay in a home. Or you could live in a home in the area you want to be but cannot afford on your own.

Of course, you want to make sure you are compatible.

And it is important to have a set of ground rules. If you really don’t like cats and your roommate comes home with one that could be a problem. Also, how often will the family be coming to visit? Who will be coming and how long will they stay?  Do you smoke or allow others to smoke in your home?  Do you expect we will cook together or eat independently? These are just a few of the questions you should ask.

So Where Do You Find A Compatible Roommate?

In the last few years, a new industry has begun to blossom. Companies such as Roommates4Boomers, Silvernest, and Let’s Share Housing pair renters with homeowners.

And always consult your attorney before you enter into an agreement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving The Hospital Against Doctors Advice

Let’s face it, hospitals are not any fun. And a lot of seniors spend more time in hospitals than they would like. But do you have the right to say enough is enough and check yourself out?

My mother in law, Pat checked herself out of the hospital.

What To Do With Your Inheritance

She was frustrated because it was the weekend and nobody seemed to be doing anything.

“There is no communication in these places she told me! I think they are just keeping me here to run up my bill”

 

She got dressed went to the nurse’s station, told them to take out her IV properly or she would just pull it out. Then she got into her car and called us. This was done long before dementia set in. She was aware of what she was doing and did not take no for an answer.

A Different Experience

A friend *Carol had a bit different experience. When she announced that she was leaving she was warned that she would be responsible for all of the medical bills if she left against doctor’s orders.

And another friend, *Sharon was warned that if her husband did not take the medicine ordered by his doctor she would be reported to adult protective services for abuse. Sharon and her husband had always opted for holistic treatments. Her husband has dementia now and this nurse who made a home visit was upset when she found out that Sharon has decided to try a less conventional form of treatment instead of the one the doctor prescribed.

So What Rights Do Senior Have?

Well first, let’s tackle the issue of your bills. A survey from the University of Chicago Medicine discovered 453 patients who had left against medical advice, not a single patient was denied insurance coverage for their care due to their discharge decision. It is simply not true. But many doctors, patients, and other health care providers continue to spread this misinformation.

You have the right to refuse treatment if you are of sound mind, you are not in an altered state and you do not pose a threat to yourself or to others.

So Why Do You Want to Leave?

I know it’s not a comfortable place to be. But studies show the #1 reason people leave the hospital early is a financial strain.  If this is a concern, talk to the billing department first to determine if there are avenues for reducing the amount owed. you may be surprised at just how much wiggle room the hospitals have.

Not happy with the way you or a loved one is being treated?

Before heading out the door, file an official report with the hospital administration.  There is a good chance they will work with you to resolve the issue.  Care advocates like a Social worker or an ombudsman may also be able to step in to help.

What About Sharon? Can She Be Reported for Abusing Her Husband?

This is where it gets a bit trickier. No doubt, *Sharon is just looking out for the best interest of her husband. As such she is making decisions that she feels are in his best interest. But does she have this right? It may depend on what documents Sharon and her husband had in place before he was diagnosed with dementia?

This is one reason it is important to sit down with an elder law attorney before there is a crisis. Make sure that you have all of the documents in place to ensure your wishes are carried out.

 

The Hilbun Law Firm offers weekly workshops to help answer some of the questions you may have. There is no charge to attend and there is no pressure. Simply good information shared with our community.

Did I Retire Too Early? When Is The Right Time to Retire?

Time to Retire

Hit your 60’s and you are bombarded with lots of advice on when the best time to retire and start taking that social security check. Some advisors suggest you should wait as long as possible so that you receive a larger monthly check during your retirement. Others say you should start taking it earlier. They believe that you may be leaving money on the table for the long haul. And still, other advisors may suggest that the wife takes her check early and the husband delays as long as she can. The thought behind this is that most women will outlive their husband. As such when he dies, she will receive his check instead of hers. If he can wait, his check will be larger ensuring a better retirement for his wife.

The Truth is Everyone’s Situation is Different.

My own father was forced into early retirement when he suffered a stroke at age 63. After a couple of years, he took a part-time job doing real estate appraisal work. It was great because he could set his own hours and Mom could go with him and help. It gave them some extra “spend money” for eating out and watching a movie once in a while.

They were able to work into their mid-70’s. And they enjoyed what they were doing. Dad lived to be 91 and Mom 93. Going back to work was a smart step.

A couple of friends have recently taken early retirement. I have changed their names for privacy reasons. But their stories are being played out across the nation.

Bill and Angie Decided to Take Early Retirement.

time to retire

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

The also decided to sell their “too large” home and move into an RV. They planned to stay on the road for about 5 years and then settle close to their children in Colorado in a much smaller home. Angie was 62 and Bill 63. They started taking their social security check at that time.

“We didn’t need the large home anymore. And we were tired of the upkeep. Getting rid of most of our possessions was freeing. And both Bill and I have not really missed anything.” Angie

But the cost of living keeps rising. Groceries were a lot more than they budgeted for. And the cost of living in an RV is not as cheap as we thought it would be. The gas to pull the vehicle is a lot and the RV rental places are not that cheap. Sometimes they boondock (a term that basically means Dry Camping parking anywhere without or with limited amenities) But places to do this are not always available and they miss having amenities like a place to wash your clothes and to dump your sewage.

The Honeymoon Phase Wore Off

“The first six months were great. It was like being on an extended vacation. But the honeymoon phase has worn off. We are getting bored. And we have to really watch our budget. This is something we have never really done before. A few health conditions recently ate into some of our savings. I think it is time to get back to work”

Since Bill is a master carpenter, he has been able to pick up a few jobs here and there. But the nomadic life does not make it that easy to create some steady work. This couple is now looking for a small affordable home where they can settle down. Bill can get a small customer base.

But Angie worked as a massage therapist and does not see that in her future. “Arthritis in my hands has gotten really bad,” she told me. She is looking into pet care. Dog walking and pet sitting may giver her the flexibility in her schedule she desires and will keep a few extra bucks coming in also.

“I wish we would have stayed at our jobs a few more years. We could have saved more money and our SS checks would be larger. But we can’t look back. We just have to look for opportunities now.”

When Retirement Isn’t Your Choice

Paul and Lisa were in a different situation when they took early retirement. Paul had been laid off from a job he held for 38 years. It is a common story these days. Having worked that long for one company did not make Paul a desirable employment catch he soon found out. His age was already a strike against him and the longevity with his company was strike two. Employers were concerned that Paul may not be able to blend into a new company culture very easily.

After a few rejections, Paul decided to claim his social security check at 62 years old. Both he and Lisa took their checks. And they continued to live life just as they always had done when he was employed.  Big dinners out on the weekends and vacations continued. But they started having to take more and more money from their retirement accounts. Paul’s Mom became sick and when he realized how much it cost to bring in help, he got worried. What if something happened to Paul or Lisa?

From Retired To Working Again

At 65 Paul has returned to the workforce. He is hoping to be able to work until he is 70.  Lisa continues to collect hers. But they both decided that as long as he is working, they will live off his paycheck. Lisa’s SS check will be put into a Roth IRA. This way they will be in a better place when they are ready to retire again.

Planning ahead for all of life’s twists and turns is important to do. The Hilbun Law Firm can help you make sure you are prepared for unexpected health issues. Attend an Estate Planning Workshop today.

Dementia Diagnosis? The First Step You Should Take

 

 

A dementia diagnosis can bring up a lot of feelings. After all, you will be grieving.  It is not uncommon for someone to become depressed after this diagnosis. And you will probably experience fear. What will the future bring? You may worry about your loved ones. How will they handle this disease? Will you become a burden?

And to make the situation more difficult some days you feel and act like your old self. You may begin to wonder if you really have dementia at all. This is because dementia does not follow a straight-line progression. Instead, it will weave and wind leaving you and your family more confused than ever. In fact, you may think you have a lot more time to make plans than you really do.

Time to Craft a Plan

But time is of the essence with a dementia diagnosis. The truth is you may be very self-sufficient for a number of years. And then a sudden downturn could occur. A visit with an Elder law attorney can help you make a solid financial and legal plan for you and your family.

Medicare Will Not Pay for Your Care

A lot of families believe that Medicare will take care of all of their needs. This is not the case. Medicare will pay for medically related issues. Hospital stays, rehabilitation and a few other medical services may be available to you. But it will not cover bringing in-home care workers to help. It will not cover an assisted living, memory care or nursing facility. These services are private pay.

You May Qualify for Medicaid

Hurricane Season 2017- Stay or Go

Medicaid will cover care in a nursing home and sometimes some home care. But you must qualify. An elder law attorney can help you to look at and analyze the different options that may be available to you. If you are able to qualify for Medicaid they can help you fill out the appropriate paperwork. Also using trusts and other tools, your attorney can help you and your family be in the best position possible when you need more care.

It Takes A Village

A good Elder Law Attorney is connected to other professionals in the community who can help you. They will know about the resources the community has to offer. Furthermore, they may also know about non-profit organizations who can help if you need. Your attorney will be a valuable partner on this journey.

The Hilbun Law Firm offers free workshops just about every week. They are designed to help you get the information you need to make the right plan. Do not delay. Time is of the essence. Options that will be available now may not be available if you wait. Take a look at our schedule now!

 

Yes! Your Parents Finances Are Your Business

 

I am not sure how or why money, especially your parent’s money, became such a taboo topic.

“It was well understood in my home that you did not ask any questions about money. If you did you would quickly be told that it was none of your business. And since I was taught to respect my elders I did not ask. Oh, how I wish I would have!” ~Carol

Carol’s Parents Were Very Proud.

They were also frugal. And privacy was important to them. Carol and her brother had no idea what their parent’s financial situation was. When Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease Carol and her brother tried to broach the topic again but Dad refused to have the conversation. They backed off, not wanting to upset either parent.

 

 

Dementia Creeps In

As with some Parkinson’s patients, dementia was part of the process. It soon became clear that Carol and Jim’s Mom could not take care of their Dad alone. Their Dad was a large man. He was 6’4 and weighed about 240 lbs. He began having a series of falls. And he would get angry and then confused when this happened.

Marie, Carol, and Jim’s Mom was a small woman. She was 5’3” tall and just a wee bit over 100 lbs. There was no way she could lift her husband James when he fell.

Several of the neighbors helped. But Marie hated to be an imposition and James was embarrassed. A few times she even had to call the fire department to help in the middle of the night.

Protecting Their Adult Children

And they kept this information from Carol and Jim. Marie didn’t want to worry the children. Carol lived 4 hours away. Jim lived closer but he was busy with his work and his own family. He stopped by every week or two. But this was not enough to get a clear picture of what was going on.

The Crisis

Then Marie had a heart attack. She was rushed to the hospital and had to have surgery. Jim and Carol had their eyes preyed wide open.  Staying with Dad they wondered how their Mom was able to take care of dad this past couple of years.

Getting Answers

social worker

The social worker at the hospital wanted to help. But the problem was without knowing about their parent’s financial situation it would be hard. Mom would stay in the hospital for a week or so and then would be transferred to a rehabilitation facility to heal and get her strength back. 20 to 30 days would most likely be all that Medicare would pay for. After that, the family would be responsible to pay for their care.

The fact is Marie could not continue to try to care for her husband alone. And Jim and Carol both worked and had families to care for also. And it was also clear that Dad needed around the clock care.

There Were a Lot of Care Options.

From home care to assisted living to care homes and nursing homes. And for 24-hour care, the costs ranged from $3500 to over $12,000 per month. And without knowing what their parent’s financial situation was, Carol and Jim had their hand’s tied.

It was pretty clear that Dad could not make the financial decisions. With Marie out of the house, he became agitated and more confused than ever. Though Mom would heal with time and only need minimal assistance, Dad was a different story. James needed someone to assist him 24 hours a day.

Help From an Attorney

Two middle aged friends on a computer.

Luckily Marie was able to recover. She and her children sat down with an Elder Law Attorney to make sure all of the necessary paperwork was in place. Furthermore, their attorney was knowledgeable of the local eldercare community. As such, she was able to refer them to the right professionals who could help. And the good news was, they had a long-term care policy and James qualified for VA Aid and Attendance benefits. The attorney would be able to help them get these benefits.

This is Not an Uncommon Story.

And while this story turned out to have a silver lining, not all families are that lucky. Some may need help to apply for Medicaid benefits. The truth may be that mom and Dad do not have any savings or a long-term care policy to help. These families also need to help of an Elder Law Attorney. Applying for Medicaid is quite a process. Most families need assistance to make sure everything is done correctly. With a couple, it is important that there is still some income for the spouse to live on.

Free Elder Law Workshops- No Charge and No Obligation

Though the details may change somewhat from family to family, many find themselves in this predicament.  Attend one of the workshops that we offer at no charge. Discover what you need to know to plan for the future. Do it for yourself and for those you love. See Our Workshop Schedule