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

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.

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

3 Reasons You Need To Discuss Finances and Legal Issues With Your Parents

 

 

 

Okay, I get it.

It is an uncomfortable topic. Many families do not discuss finances. It is considered taboo. And children are taught to stay out of their parent’s personal business. That includes their finances.

 

And This Needs to Change.

 

Many problems that wind up in our office could have been avoided. Proper planning a communication with the whole family can eliminate a lot of headaches we see.

 

Rolling the Dice

Let’s face it, tragedy can strike at any time. However, the older we get the higher the odds are that an accident or illness may happen. Are you really ready to roll the dice?

1. A Fall or Other Accident May Leave You Physically Incapacitated

Long Term Care Options

If we have heard it once we have heard this story a thousand times. Mom or dad has fallen and winds up in the hospital. They are incapacitated. However, no one in the family has a power of attorney. Their hands are tied. They are unable to make medical decisions. And furthermore, if there are multiple children each may have a different opinion.

Sibling Rivalry rears its ugly head and everybody wants to do something different. Chances are (hopefully) they are all wanting to help their parent. But they each have different beliefs and views on what is the best way. And so, the fight begins and the family unit is torn apart. Is this really what you want for your family?

And how are your bills going to get paid while you are recouping?

Hopefully, if you have fallen, you still have your cognitive abilities. An Elder law attorney can come to see you in the hospital and help get your documents in order. But wouldn’t it be less stressful to do that before there is a problem?

 

2. A Stroke or Other Serious Health Situation that Leaves You Mentally Incapacitated

Now we have a more serious situation. You have not planned for this. Yet here it is.  Hopefully you have at least named someone as your POA (Power of Attorney) and hopefully, you have other documents in place to ensure that your medical needs and decisions are respected.

Have you discussed your finances with your POA? Do they know how much you have available?  Often families come in because they do not know what to do. A stroke that left dad incapacitated means he now needs long-term care.

And Medicare Does Not Pay for That

Families are shocked to discover that Medicare does not pay for a home care worker to stay with dad during the day while his daughter is at work. You may be able to get a few hours a week from Home Healthcare for a limited time. But they will not cook, clean, run errands or play chess with Dad. Nor will it pay for an Assisted living facility or nursing home. These costs will have to come out of pocket.

And if there is not any money or not enough money you may have to apply for Medicaid. But planning this ahead of your actual need is necessary. Applying for Medicaid is a process. And having a plan in place is important.

“I was ashamed that I had not saved enough money for retirement. So, I hid that fact from my children. I was hoping that I would just die in my sleep one day and we would not have to deal with any of this” ~ Sharon, a stroke survivor

3. The Long Slow Slide into Dementia

It is common to want to believe this is not happening. To yourself or to someone you love. But the signs are there. Subtle in the beginning but nevertheless there. Pretending that this is not or will not happen is not a strategy that works for anyone.

“Dad was having a good time traveling across the country with his race car. I was proud of him. He was 78 and still so active and seemed to really be enjoying life. But looking back there were signs. It was uncomfortable. And I did not want to believe there could be a problem. I wanted his life and my life to continue on this happy course. And then our little Utopia came crashing down around us. Dad showed up at my house a few days before hurricane Harvey hit Houston. It would flood our home and we would not return for a year. Dad’s car had obviously been wrecked. He could give me no logical explanation about what happened. Though I was concerned I had other worries to deal with now as Harvey invaded our home. And then Dad disappeared.” ~ Claire, Daughter and Harvey Survivor

Claire’s father was eventually found. He had gone home. To the home, he had shared with his now ex-wife and Claire’s mom. They had been divorced for over 25 years. She still lived there and let him in. She could tell something was wrong.

As an only daughter, Claire had POA but the money she thought Dad had had all been spent or possibly given away.  People with beginning dementia are especially vulnerable to con artists and crooks.

What’s Your Plan?

Having a plan and strategy in place can help families avoid having to make important decisions during stressful times. Take a few hours to attend a workshop. Learn about what you need to have in place. Have the money conversation with your family. This way they will know what to do when tragedy strikes.

 

 

 

 

Honoring Mom

Honoring Mom- 5 Ways to Really “Be There” For Mom

 

 

“I really want to be there for mom.” Beatrice said. “She did everything to help me growing up. Then later when I was in an abusive marriage she helped me and my children. She took us in when we had nowhere to go. And we lived with her for two years while I finished my degree. Mom is 80 now. She is very proud and wants her independence. I really want to “be there” for her and at the same time I do not want to take away her independence”

 

This is a slippery slope many adult children are learning to navigate. We want to honor mom’s wishes and yet we are concerned for their safety and well being. Where do you draw the line?

Here are 5 ways to really “be there” for mom.

1.Help Her Stay Social

Honoring mom

Loneliness can be deadly. Staying social will not just keep mom happy, it will keep her healthy as well. In fact, researchers have found that Late-life depression may increase the risk of incident dementia, in particular of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Additionally, if mom gets depressed she may not eat right, remember to take her medication or get any exercise. All of these things can affect her physical health as well.

So, What Can You Do?

Finding The Best care For mom

Find senior centers and organizations in your area of town. The local YMCA also offers a lot of special classes for seniors. Most people who join end up making a lot of new friends.

If your mother can no longer drive to attend these activities, arrange for transportation. A caregiver agency like Right At Home is partnered with LYFT to provide safe and reliable transportation for seniors in the Cypress, Texas area.

 

2.Hire home care or a housekeeper to help because she is worth it

senior woman with her home caregiver

Mom may tell you she doesn’t need any help. Tell her that she is worth it and you want her to have the best. If she is really hesitant just start with one day a week. Have a schedule of what you would like the care companion to help her do. Maybe making a grocery list, ordering them online and then picking them up later. You could also have the caregiver plan a week of meals and cook a few to freeze.

3.Call Every Day

Yes, even when you are incredibly busy! You do not have to talk very long. But a few minutes to check in can mean so much to someone living alone. If you live far away and cannot see mom often try doing video chats. If Mom has trouble with the technology to make that happen the caregiver could set up the call for her while she is there. Even better, have her set up the call right before she leaves. Make sure to mark this time off of your calendar so you can give mom your undivided attention.

Bob lives in Nevada and his mom is in Cypress, Texas. They do Facetime every morning while they are both having their coffee.

“It’s great! I get to see how she is doing. I know if she didn’t sleep well or is not feeling good. I can relay that information to friends and family close by so they can check in. I think she really enjoys seeing me also and hearing about my life.”

4.Help Protect Her From Scams

Sad but true, scammers prey on the elderly.  The grandparents’ scam (telling the senior that their grandchild is in deep trouble) is a common one. There are also people posing as representatives from Medicare, social security and the IRS and calls with offers for free or discount medication. For seniors that use the internet, they can be vulnerable to even more.

Honoring Mom

Most seniors are terribly embarrassed when they fall victim.

“I felt so stupid Athena told me. I can’t believe I fell for this.”

But the truth is these people are often savvy professional crooks. They know exactly what to say to push your buttons and get you to fall for their schemes. And women over 80 who have lost a spouse or moved in the last three years are most vulnerable.

So, What Can I Do?

Talk to mom about these scams. Don’t lecture or warn her. Nobody wants to be lectured especially by their children. You want to keep the conversation as open as possible. That way if there is a problem now or in the future Mom will feel comfortable talking to you.

Just talk about the different scams you have heard are going around. Ask if any of her friends have been targeted. Having a conversation is the first step.

Honoring Mom

Secondly, you might suggest that you be added to her online banking accounts as an added security. This way you can look for any unusual or large charges that may be a red flag. If Mom will allow you to take over her finances that may be the best option. But don’t expect it to happen. Much like giving up the car keys this is something most seniors want to have control over.

Third, take a look at the mail that she is getting. If she is getting a lot of mailings from promotion companies could indicate the elderly person is on a “sucker list”.

5.Take Mom to An Estate Planning Workshop

Ask her to go with you because you don’t want to go alone. After all, you both need this information. People are sometimes hesitant to talk about finances and future long-term care plans. But if you don’t talk about it now you may find yourself in a world of hurt down the road.

 

The Hilbun Law Firm offers these workshops free every month. We have both daytime and evening workshops. Rest assured you will not be pressured to do anything. And the information will be invaluable to both of you. get the updated workshop schedule here.

 

Depressed, gloomy woman

Mom is Being Evicted From a Nursing Home?

 

Can they do that!! Lori cried. ” Where is the compassion? What am I supposed to do now?”

Most people have probably never given this much thought. They assume that once they place someone in a nursing home, the home will continue to care for them until the last day. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Lori found out the hard way. Lori and her mom cared for her dad who had Parkinson’s disease. It was a long journey. When Mom started having problems, there simply wasn’t any money left. Lori’s mother had dementia, diabetes and a host of other problems. It was not the kind of job that one person could do and Lori seemed to be the only one stepping up to the plate.

Elderly Lady Moving To Nursing Home

 

So she placed her in a nursing home after qualifying her for Medicaid. It was pretty much the only option. They tried Medicaid home care for a while but that didn’t work out. Medicaid pays very low wages. So the quality of the person that was being sent to her home- well let’s just say it wasn’t the best. On top of that, many times, they didn’t even show up.

“I couldn’t count on them”, Lori told me. “I still have to work. I can’t be worrying about what’s going on at Mom’s house when I can’t be there.”

 

As often happens in families, Lori’s brothers and sisters were too busy with their own lives to help out.  So Lori made the difficult decision to place mom in a nursing home. “There just didn’t seem to be any other solution!”, Lori cried. Medicaid beds in Houston are often in high demand. She wanted someplace close so that she could visit often. As her advocate, Lori knew that she was still going to have to be very involved. She just didn’t know how involved she was going to have to be. She felt blessed to find a bed in a facility close by. But the blessings were short lived.

“It was a nightmare! There was never enough caregivers. And if I wasn’t there I know Mom would have gotten any care at all. I usually helped feed the lady that shared a room with Mom. The caregivers would put the food in front of her as if she could eat it herself. She’d had a stroke and was unable to eat unassisted. But I can’t totally blame the caregivers.  They’re caring for so many people. And I also know that they get low wages too. Some of them work two jobs to make ends meet. So on top of having too many people to care for they are also often sleep deprived.”

On numerous occasions, Lori’s mom ended up in the hospital. Lack of care on the nursing homes part was usually the reason.  Diabetics are prone to infections. As such infections that got out of control would land her in the hospital often. One time, Lori decided she’d had enough.

Finding A New Nursing Home

Elderly woman is assisted in nursing home

She wanted to switch mom to a new nursing home in hopes that she might get better care. This was the time to do it. Her mom was getting ready to be discharged. As such she would need rehabilitation care. Since Medicare would pay for that it made it easier to make the switch. A new nursing home would be happy to get those Medicare dollars. So she contacted several nursing homes in the area and the one that she was interested in came out to assess her mother.

The Assessment

Mom would be going to the nursing home on Medicare benefits. She needed some rehab after her Hospital stay and Medicare would pay for a short period of rehabilitation. The nursing home agreed that after her Rehabilitation she could have a permanent room as a Medicaid patient.

Lori was thrilled. The new nursing home was close to home. It looked much cleaner and more updated than the last one. And from what she could see, the care seemed to be pretty good. Oh, she knew should still have to stop by, after all, she was moms advocate. But she had high hope for a brighter future for her mother. So the transfer was made.

Adjusting To Change Is  Often Difficult

As is common, Lori’s mother had some difficulty adjusting to the new place. She moved from one nursing home to the hospital and now to a new nursing home. Someone with dementia has a lot of difficulty with change. So Lori was there helping her mother acclimate.

The Money Ran Out

But when the Medicare dollars ran out the nursing home administrator called her in. “We can’t continue to care for your mom”, she told her. She’s got dementia and she’s upsetting the other patients with her constant hollering.”

Lori was shocked. They had assessed her mom in the hospital. “They knew she had dementia!” Lori said. In fact, when the case manager came to assess her, mom was hollering, as usual, help me help me. It’s a typical cry people with dementia often have. They’re frightened and they just want reassurance.

And Now Here They Were Kicking Her Out.

Lori discovered the reason why. Nursing homes get up paid a lot higher dollar for Medicare patients than they do for Medicaid patients. Though they have to take some Medicaid patients  they really prefer not to.

 

By Law, there are 6 reasons that allow for transfer or discharge of a patient.

  • The resident needs a higher level of care;
  • The resident no longer needs nursing facility care;
  • The resident has endangered others’ safety;
  • The resident endangers other residents’ health;
  • A failure to pay; or
  • The SNF is closing.

The Reason They Used

And Lori’s case the nursing home was using the first reason. They said she needed Memory Care.  But the problem was, there were no memory care beds available for Medicaid patient anywhere in Houston.

In fact, there are very few nursing homes that specialize in memory care and those that do only take a handful of Medicaid patients. Lori’s mom did not need to be in a locked facility. She was unable to walk and could not move very far in her wheelchair. She had never hurt or threatened anyone at the facility. She simply became frightened and agitated in the later part of the day.

Reaching out to an Ombudsman, Lori was able to have some help. The Ombudsman helped her mediate with the nursing home to come up with a solution. It wasn’t ideal but Lori would do it.

The Compromise

Typical of dementia, Lori’s Mom’s behavior problems usually started in the late afternoon. It is often referred to as Sundowners. As the sun goes down many people with dementia suffer from agitation, anxiety and other stress-related symptoms. This can cause them to act out in ways that are not their normal personality.

So, Lori Agreed that she would visit her mom every day from 4 in the afternoon till 9 at night. She would be there to attend to her needs. It wasn’t easy. “ I felt like they were getting a free extra caregiver,” Lori complained.

Unfortunately, the situation is not uncommon in Houston. If you have additional questions about what a nursing home can or cannot do visit our website, set up an appointment, or come to one of our workshops.