Elder Law

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...

Beware the MERP – Texas offers Huge Loophole to Recovery Program

MERP is the Texas Medicaid Estate Recovery Program. Its sole purpose is to seize money from the estates of deceased Medicaid recipients and then plop the recovered funds back into the state’s coffers. The government, acting through a contractor called Health Management Systems, Inc. (HMS), does this by filing a claim in probate.       Why is this a prudent financial maneuver by the government? Because although Medicaid is a needs-based program,...

Storm Scammers – Tips for Avoiding a Common Elder Fraud

Here is recipe for disaster: take one Texas hail storm, add a senior with an older home and some savings, mix in a shady home repair contractor, and season liberally with the Texas standard home insurance policy. Home repair or contractor fraud is a frequent flier on the top 10 lists for senior financial scams.  Let us take a moment and put home repair contractors, which includes roofers, in their...

Getting Past the Nursing Home Lock-Down – Government Letters Help

If the impact of COVID-19 were to be illustrated by only one picture, it would be that of a grandfather and grandson, separated by a nursing home window, reaching out to touch each other’s hand through the glass.      Pitiful as that scene is, even that amount of limited communication is not being offered by some nursing homes.  If you are one of the families being denied visits or information by a...

3 Ways That Grandparents Can Get Custody of Grandchildren

In recent years, the traditional nuclear American family that prevailed in the years following World War II – father, mother and children all living together – has undergone a number of societal strains and changes, including the frequency of divorce and an increasing number of single-parent households. Consequently, census figures reveal that today, 1 in 10 American children live with a grandparent, and that statistic includes approximately a quarter...

Rights of the Elderly

Super-Powers at Your Service Let’s see – are you a resident of Texas?  Check. An adult? Check. Age 60 or older? Check. Congratulations!  You are guaranteed Super-Powers.  These extra-special powers, which go by the catchy name of Rights of the Elderly, have to be accorded to you by convalescent and nursing homes, home health services, and alternate care services provided to you in your home, neighborhood and community. In fact, each one...

Social Security and You – New Advance Designation for Representative Payee

Finally, a column that is not related to the Coronavirus. Enjoy! For years, decades, even centuries, you have been able to designate in advance your agent to handle a multitude of different matters:  your will, your finances, your medical decisions, even your funeral. What you have not been able to do is designate a person to handle your social security.  Until now, that is. Ta-da! On April 6, 2020, with relatively...

Resources for Seniors during COVID-19

Changes In the Works With counties, states and the federal government imposing a variety of shelter-in-place orders, many seniors are running into roadblocks with finding help and getting answers.  Here are three resources that should be immediately useful, and a listing of a few interesting changes. The Area Agency on Aging They which can be reached at 800-252-9240.  Their job is to plan, advocate, coordinate resources and provide services for seniors (persons...

What To Do When A Loved One Dies: Full Checklist

When a family member or other loved one dies, the natural response is to feel overwhelmed. However there are some very practical and legal matters that need to be attended to “immediately if not sooner”. What Happens To a House When The Owner Dies? Sad as it may seem, when a person dies his property becomes at risk. Sometimes friends and family use this as an opportunity to help themselves to...

Mental Health Resources: Who You Gonna Call?

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated waves of mental health concerns, both for people who have previously struggled with mental illness and for those who have not.  The current uncertainty and widespread panic would shake even the most stolid of hearts.  Consider a situation in which you, a friend, or a family member is experiencing anxiety, fear, depression, or other mental health concern.  Who are you going to call? I’ll give...

Resources for Seniors during COVID-19

Changes Are In the Works With counties, states and the federal government imposing a variety of shelter-in-place orders, many seniors are running into roadblocks with finding help and getting answers. Here are three resources that should be immediately useful, and a listing of a few interesting changes: The Area Agency on Aging This center can be reached at 800-252-9240.  Their job is to plan, advocate, coordinate resources and provide services for seniors...

Diogenes Syndrome – Extreme Hoarding Takes a Bad Turn

Allow me to introduce you to Diogenes syndrome. It is a particularly unpleasant behavioral disorder whose sufferers are often elderly. Diogenes syndrome is hoarding on steroids. It is characterized by squalor in the home, hoarding and extreme self-neglect. Think 100 cats kept in a 2-bedroom house, stacks of papers to the ceiling that make hallways impassable, rooms full of garbage, or compulsive buying of unneeded items that accumulate on every...
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