Elder Law

Indecision Time – You, Medicare and the Insurance Companies

It’s beginning to look a lot like Medicare open enrollment time. The 2021 dates are October 15 to December 7. Don’t bother to look at a calendar; you will know by the onslaught of mail from health and prescription drug companies and, yes, your friendly federal government.    To successfully maneuver the system, you must accurately predict all your medical and prescription drug plans for the next year, match it to the...

Do Not Pass Go – New Considerations for Agents and Family

If you have any dealings with a person aged 65 or older, you need to get your hands on a copy of the new Section 32.55 of the Texas Penal Code. Memorize it. Use it to measure every future action. And maybe, just maybe, you can stay out of jail.  What is Section 32.55? Section 32.55 creates an offense for financial abuse of an elderly person. This is not a slap- on-...

A Harbinger of Things to Come – Investment Firms on Cutting Age of Dementia Problem

A huge swath of Baby Boomers is approaching their seventies and the investment companies are worried. Not because their primary market – Boomers hold more than half of the estimated $50 trillion in total US household financial assets – is retiring, but because of the rise in dementia.  How big is the problem? Boomers are now between the ages of 57 and 75.  Beginning at 70, 12% of people will...

Looking For the Storybook Ending – Plan Before the Crisis

The storybook picture of aging looks something like this: grandfather sitting comfortably in his cozy chair in his tidy home, beverage of choice at hand, his multi-generational family gathered ‘round as he relates yet another folksy, but morally instructive, story garnered from his long and fulfilling life. The alternative picture of aging looks something like this: grandfather, thirsty and alone, sitting in a worn chair in his dirty home surrounded...

The Land of the ADLs: Measuring Your Life as You Age

Once you enter the twilight years (somewhere between 50 and 110 years old depending upon who you ask), your life is measured by a narrow set of skills known as ADLs and IADLs and several standardized tests. You need to know about these because they are used to determine just about everything: housing, government aid, medical care, and your ability to self-govern. What are ADLs and IADLs? The ADLS, short for...

Wellness Checks and the Fourth Amendment: A Safety Net for the Elderly

It isn’t often that the folks on the United States Supreme Court talk about the elderly falling at home, but that is exactly what happened in a recent opinion.  What is a Wellness Check?  A wellness, or welfare, check is when police go by a person’s home to check that person’s well-being. To define the issue, we turn to the example given by Justice Kavanaugh: “Suppose that an elderly man is...

What Can I Do For My Grandchildren?

You have raised your children, they are successful and self-sufficient, and you want to share your wealth with someone who needs assistance.   Estate planning probably should be called people planning. We are not really planning for the estate, we are planning for people. For many of us, our favorite people are our grandchildren. What Are The 3 Estate Planning Tools? There are three common estate(people) planning tools that can be used to...

Claiming Your Parent As A Dependent

Most of us are familiar with claiming our children as dependents for federal income tax purposes. However under some circumstances you can claim your parents or other qualifying relatives as dependents. Why should I claim my parent as a Dependent? The recent changes to the tax laws took away the personal exemption for each dependent that we were used to. For tax years 2019 through 2025 there are no personal exemptions....

Texas Guardianship Basics

Recipe for a contested guardianship: Take one senior, add a dash of dementia, mix in a dollop of assets, simmer with decades of resentment and hurt feelings, and garnish with one or more disgruntled family members. Guaranteed to cook up into a gut-wrenching and expensive guardianship case. A guardianship is a court proceeding that is initiated to have a person (the “ward”) declared legally incapacitated, take away one or more of...

Research Pays Off – Problematic Decisions When You Reach Retirement Age

Your retirement age, in case you are interested, is between 65 and 67, depending on the year you were born. So says a host of government agencies.   That does not mean that the government will force you to put down your pen and pick up a fishing rod when you hit that age. It just means that it is the key age when your friendly government will force you to...

Here’s an Heir, There’s an Heir, Everywhere’s an Heir

Let rich Aunt Meg die without a will and then just wait for the swarm of heirs to descend on her estate.  You won’t be able to move through her mansion living room without stepping on one. There is an orderly process of inheritance under the law.  It is called the law of descent and sets out the order that Aunt Meg’s kindred will inherit. A kin who steps into line...

Dash for Cash – Informal Funding of Inheritance Has Hidden Dangers

Several years ago I had a probate consultation with three very nice people whose great-aunt had recently died.  They apologized for their somewhat disheveled appearance and explained that they had spent the day dismantling furniture, prying up floorboards and digging up the backyard of their great-aunt’s residence.  It seems that their great-aunt did not believe in banks, and so she kept her savings in cash and hid it in...
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