As Valentine’s Day approaches, people of all ages will begin to show much they love and care for their significant others. Flowers, chocolates, and romantic dinner dates are part of what Valentine’s Day is all about. Sadly, the occasion can be difficult for those lacking in desired companionship, and seniors are often among the most impacted. Aging adults suffer a higher incidence of loneliness and social isolation than other groups, partly because family members, friends and spouses have moved on or passed away.
To make matters worse, scammers and criminals use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to take advantage of “lonely heart” seniors and exploit them financially. In fact, financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that law enforcement sometimes calls it “the crime of the 21st century.”
Did you know there are ways adult children can protect their aging parents from “Lonely Heart” scams? There is no question exploiting seniors is appalling. It is also illegal, and adult children can help vulnerable parents by getting involved early. Let us share a few tips with you on our blog.
First, teach an aging parent how to spot an online relationship scam. Let them know the following:
If someone seems too perfect, they probably are.
Scammers tend to move quickly from expressing emotions to asking for money.
After meeting in a shared forum, like Facebook, scammers will often try to get seniors to communicate in a private online setting, like email, messenger apps, or phone. Instead, tell an aging parent to break off communication.
Warn elder parents about emotional manipulation. It is a serious red-flag, for example, if someone professes deep-seated love online and then starts pushing for personal information or money.
Second, help them understand the Lonely Heart do’s and don’ts such as:
Never send money or credit card information online to someone you have never met in person.
Never send personal information that can be used for identity theft.
If you are going to buy something, stick to reputable and secure websites.
Cut off contact as soon as someone online starts asking for credit card, bank, or government ID numbers.
Do your online research. Scammers like to steal photos to use in their profiles and use false information when grooming senior victims.
If you feel your senior parent has been targeted, shut down all communication with the suspicious person and contact the police and the oversight function for the online forum.
These are just a few of the ways children can help protect their aging parents from “Lonely Heart” scams. If you believe a parent has been the victim of an online financial scam, do not wait to contact law enforcement and an experienced attorney to learn more about your rights, as well as, appropriate courses of action. We know you may have questions about this, and many other, elder care issues. Do not wait to schedule a meeting in our law office to have your questions answered.
We often find that adult children and their aging parents will come to our office and present to us, their newly recommended estate planning attorney, a last will and testament that is at least twenty years old. This estate planning document nominates a brother or a sister as a guardian for the minor children. It also provides for the assets to be distributed on death to a bank trust company that is to retain the assets in trust until the children have attained age 21.
One of the problems with this estate plan, which needs updating, is that the youngest of the children is now age 25 and the eldest is age 35. In addition, the bank nominated in the last will and testament to serve as the trustee is no longer in business. Further, if there was a trust agreement, it was never funded.
In this scenario, we are fortunate that the parents lived these many years and it was not necessary to use the estate plan, or even fund the trust. In situations like this, one of the ways we can help the parents is by drafting a new estate plan that corrects these issues. For example, the new trust agreement could dispense with the need for a guardian of minor children and name a trust company now in existence to serve as the trustee.
The parents, however, have aged to the point that a new estate plan alone is not sufficient for them. The parents need their own updated advanced directives in the event of a disability. Therefore, the parents will also need to consider signing, at a minimum, durable powers of attorney, health care surrogate designations, and living wills.
Further, they need to consider long-term care planning.
An estate plan alone will not be sufficient to help them be able to afford the high cost of long-term care in an assisted living facility with memory care or a skilled nursing home. Medicare is also not able to help with the cost of the daily custodial care. The parents need an estate plan but also an elder care plan that can help them plan for how they will be able to afford long-term care and not lose their lifetime of savings.
We work with parents and adult children each day to tackle this difficult issue.
The key is to not put off this type of planning as time is of the essence. If you have questions on this or any issue, we encourage you to contact us to schedule a meeting.
If you are a caregiver for multiple ages, you know your job is not easy. Over half of the members of the Sandwich Generation, those caring for a minor child and an aging parent, find themselves balancing a multi-age caregiver schedule. The simple fact is people of different ages require widely different care, oversight and needs. While young children require a lot of supervised attention, seniors typically need more physical and health care assistance. For example, each age group has different daily demands from after school activities to physical therapy appointments.
Your multi-age caregiver schedules can rapidly become packed. Before you know it, your calendar is overflowing, and you are at risk of accidentally missing appointments and activities. In fact, you might find yourself breathing a sigh of relief when you simply remember to pick the children up from school or give the proper day sequence of medicine.
We know just how hard it can be for the family caregiver. This is a role that is often unpaid and over relied on. If this sounds familiar, there are a few tips we can give you to help juggle your busy lifestyle as a multi-age caregiver.
1. Find a local support system. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Find friends, family members or neighbors to help you when you need it most. You can speak with other parents at your children’s school to see about joining a carpool group. If picking up your children from school coincides daily with your mother’s physical therapy appointments, speak with your school about after school care. Take offers for help whenever they come along, and do not feel ashamed for asking.
2. Stay organized. The most frantic and scattered caregivers are ones that are unorganized. Never knowing what is happening next, who to prioritize or even what day it is, will take a toll on you. Invest the time to set up a calendar on your smartphone or buy a paper calendar from the store. You can even try color coordinating your schedule by either person, age-group or level of priority.
3. Do not allow guilt to sink in. Even the most successful multi-age caregivers feel guilt from time to time. This is because you love the people you care for and want to be everywhere at once. Unfortunately, this is not possible. Do not let yourself feel guilty! Try to give equal attention to all age groups and have open communication with people that are old enough to understand. If you have to miss an appointment with your mom because you want to watch your son at his spelling bee, do not feel guilty. Remember that everything you do is for the best and you will be there for the next appointment.
4. Do not sacrifice personal time. While it is typically the last thing that caregivers do, remember to take time for yourself! Recharge the batteries, take a few deep breaths and clear your head. When juggling so many people and priorities at once, you can easily get extremely stressed out. Do not let it get to that point. Take a few minutes every day or a few hours a week to do something that benefits you. Afterward, you will be able to be more invested in your responsibilities.
5. Take care of your errands online. To put your entire self into the people you care for, some other things may have to be pushed to the side. If you do not have time for grocery shopping, order your groceries online from the store or utilize a meal delivery service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. Consider spending a few extra dollars a month on a house cleaner so you can spend that time with the people you care for. If you have no time to do laundry, research a laundry service in your area that can pick up and drop off your clothes.
Life can be stressful as a multi-age caregiver, but it does not have to be overwhelming. Take a deep breath. Remember why you are doing this. Do not hesitate to contact our elder care team as a resource.
Did you know there is a possibility you could one day be responsible for an aging parent’s long-term care costs? Filial responsibility is the legal and financial responsibility of a third party to pay for another’s unpaid expenses. Although it has only been enforced in a handful of states, over twenty-five states have these laws in place. Experts agree that as our states look for ways to pay for the long-term care costs for an increasing senior population, filial responsibility laws may gain traction.
What Is filial responsibility? How could it potentially impact you and your aging parents? Let us share the critical information about filial responsibility laws you need to know to help you plan.
1. The most common form of filial responsibility is the financial duty a child owes to a parent. If a parent is in need of long-term healthcare but cannot afford to pay, an adult child may become legally responsible. The Pittas case from Pennsylvania gives us a clear example of how this law could be used.
2. Filial responsibility laws are in place in over twenty-five states. While not all states have these laws, many do. With these laws in place, this responsibility could be assessed under certain circumstances and other states could seek to add these laws creating similar responsibilities.
3. The degree of responsibility varies from state to state.For example, in Arkansas, adult children are only responsible for paying for mental health care. In Connecticut, the law only applies to parents who are younger than 65. However, in other states there is full responsibility of costs for adult children over parents.
4. You can be sued if you do not pay the bill. Even if the bill comes without notice, these laws can give long-term care facilities the ability to sue if you do not pay. In this instance, and all elder care law scenarios, it is crucial for you and your parents to work with an attorney to plan for this potential issue as early as possible.
5. A Pennsylvania case reversed precedent and made the enforcement of filial responsibility laws a new trend. Prior to 2012, filial responsibility laws were rarely enforced. However, in Health Care & Retirement Corporation of America v. Pittas (May 7, 2012), the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld a decision to make an adult son liable for a $93,000 nursing home debt.
If enacted and enforced, filial responsibility laws could have a tremendous impact on Florida seniors and their children. One of the best ways to plan ahead is to work with your elder care law attorney to discuss strategies and ways to pay for long-term care early. Do you have questions? You may contact us for more information.