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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Trust Me - Who Should Be My Trustee?

Once I convinced my client, Mary, that a trust is a safe, and not so scary, way to protect herself and her stuff during any incapacity, she wanted to know who could possibly serve as a backup trustee?   According to Mary, her daughter was a kind and loving person who would do everything she could to support her mother, but her daughter’s financial skills were somewhat suspect.  Mary’s son is a busy family man with a great job, but he seems too busy to help Mary now.

Who could she choose? 

First, what does a trustee do exactly?  A trustee is a fiduciary, which means that he or she has a legal or ethical duty regarding the management of property for another.  Although a trustee may have either the duty to manage the trust assets or the duty to distribute those assets, many trustees both manage and distribute.  A trustee is usually responsible for investing the assets in the trust, distributing those assets to the beneficiaries according to the trust terms, and making sure any required accountings are prepared and that taxes are paid when necessary.


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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Alternatives to the Joint Account: The Pros and Cons of a Power OF Attorney

THE PROS AND CONS OF A POWER OF ATTORNEY

So, if you’re telling me not to put my daughter on my accounts, what are the alternatives?  How can I be sure I will have someone to take care of my financial affairs if I’m not able to?

In my last post, I told the story of Mary and her daughter, Nancy.  I pointed out the pitfalls to having adult children – or other people- as joint owners on real estate and bank accounts.  I promised I would share some alternatives to joint accounts.

One alternative is to appoint someone as an agent under a financial power of attorney.  The agent is authorized to make financial decisions for you if you are not able to make decisions – or if you just don’t want to make those decisions any more.


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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Should I Add My Daughter to My Account?

Mary and her daughter, Nancy, were very close.  Mary was still able to make all of her financial decisions, and paid all of her bills on time each month.  Keeping a high bank balance gave Mary comfort that she would be able to access money whenever she needed it.  She was worried that she might “lose it” at some point, so she asked Nancy to become a signer on her bank account.  She and Nancy became joint owners of Mary’s bank account, although Nancy acknowledged that her mother was the real owner of that money.


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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Managing A Wild Ride to the Emergency Room – A Checklist

My father is a pretty independent guy.  He loves to tell us that when he was young, he served as a ranch hand for a summer. I can just see him, riding horses and herding cattle.  I guess his professional career was similar to that cowboy summer.  As a high school principal, he spent a lot of his time herding kids.


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Alzheimer's Project: A Review of The Memory Loss Tapes

Like most Baby Boomers, I have a fear of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. As an Elder Law attorney, I witness the struggles of the adult children of parents who have Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) as they try to understand what is happening to their parent and wrestle with the best way to care for their parent as the parent slowly fades away.

The Alzheimer’s Project is intended to open a dialogue about Alzheimer’s Disease, to show the disease from several perspectives – that of the person who has AD, the children and young teenagers who have relatives with the disease, the scientists and doctors struggling to find treatments and a cure, and from the caregivers.

The Memory Loss Tapes, the first episode in the documentary series airing on HBO this week, is viewed from the perspective of those who have been diagnosed with AD. Each segment shows someone in varying stages of the disease, starting with Bessie who is in the very early stages of the disease and ending with Cliff’s death from complications from the disease.


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Alzheimer's Project: Review of Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?

Of all the segments in the Alzheimer’s Project, I found this one the most difficult to watch. In fact, I cried all the way through. As a mother, it hurt to see all of those vulnerable children who love their grandparents unconditionally, struggle to understand why does my grandparent act this way? Why is this happening to this person that I love? If they love me, why are they acting like this?

As adults, we pretend that we understand this disease and that we are not hurt by the behavior of our loved one with AD.   However, many times the adult children and adult grandchildren of my clients tell me they cannot understand why their loved one is being so mean to them. Why is this person so angry? Why does this person hate me so much? Why can’t she remember my name?

In one segment of this episode, a grandchild tells of her grandmother had slapped her one day while the grandmother was in the nursing home.


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Book Review: Memory Lessons: A Doctor's Story by Jerald Winakur

I’m an admitted insomniac and a voracious reader. Thankfully, I can combine the two habits so that I can at least be productive during my periods of insomnia. I picked up Dr. Winakur’s book last night, and finished it by morning. Oh, I did get a few hours of sleep in between chapters.


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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Veterans of World War II Remembered on Pearl Harbor Day

Sunday was the 67th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and I found a few articles on survivors of the attack in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and online. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are less than 5,000 current members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. At its peak, there were 20,000 members of the Association. As of Sept. 30, 2008, there were 2.


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Saturday, December 13, 2008

DWE or Driving While Elderly

As the parent of a 16-year-old soon to be licensed driver, I think a lot about whether she will be safe on the roads - and whether others who have to share the road with her will be safe!  At the same time, I worry about whether my aging clients are safe on the roads – and whether others are safe on the same roads with those aging drivers. In my practice I am regularly told stories –some funny and some frightening – about aging or impaired drivers. 

For my 16-year-old, the ability to get in the car and drive wherever she might like to go signals the ultimate freedom.  For my aging clients, the thought that they will no longer be able to drive wherever they want signals the end of that same freedom.  That is why the issues involved with the elderly drivers are so difficult and why we need to consider the options carefully before taking any action.


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