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CEU Program – Legal Planning for Family Caregivers: What Professionals Need to Know

Legal Planning for Family Caregivers; What Professionals Need to Know

One of the hardest tasks in the world is putting together a plan your clients hope will never have to be used. When the unexpected happens, however, it helps to have the documents in place to deal with life’s complications. This session will focus on the legal planning necessary to plan for today, and the future.

Presented by: Helen Mesoloras, JD

Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Time: 9:00am-10:00am

Location: Belmont Village, 1035 Madison Street, Oak Park, Illinois

Continuing Education:   1.0 continuing education credit will be awarded to Illinois Nurses, Counselors, and Social Workers.

Registration:  There is no cost to attend. However, advanced registration is required. Please contact 847-462-0885 or events@elderwerks.com to register.

Flyer Regarding Event: Click here

Kathryn Casey

Partner Kathryn Casey earned her Certification in Elder Law (CELA). The CELA certification has frequently been referred to as “the gold standard” for elder law and special needs practitioners.

 Kathryn,  who joins Janna Dutton and only a few other attorneys in Illinois with this certification,  has practiced exclusively in elder law since 2004 when she began representing clients in adult guardianships and elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation litigation. Since then, her practice has expanded to include probate and trust administration, estate planning, retirement benefits, special needs planning, long term care planning, Medicaid applications, and senior housing issues.

read more about our attorneys.

PROGRAM ON LEGAL PLANNING FOR LIVING

Taking Control of Your Future: Strategies for Avoiding Legal Pitfalls

Adequate legal planning for older age involved more than writing a will. This session will address important topics which can impact your physical, mental and financial health. Doing some simple advance preparation now can help you avoid legal pitfalls down the road.

Presenter: Janna Dutton, JD

Date:  Wednesday. May 29, 2013

Time: 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Location:  Terrace Gardens Assisted Living, 8415 Waukegan Rd, Morton Grove, IL 60053

This session is part of a 6 week series, “Resources for Navigating Life Transitions: Your Personal GPS,” being sponsored by Elderwerks, Terrace Gardens, Right at Home, and Dutton & Casey.  Click here for a flyer on the event.

There is no charge to attend this, or any session. However, advanced registration is required. Click here  to register.

YOUR Legal Update from Dutton & Casey – Attorneys at Law (Estate Planning I Probate I Elder Law)

In case you are new to reading our blog, this is the link to read all of our newsletters.

The goal of our newsletter is to provide helpful, and understandable, information on estate planning, probate, and elder law related topics.

Please feel free to share this resource.

February 2013 Issue of YOUR Legal Update

The February issue our of newsletter has been published.

This issue contains helpful articles and information on our educational offerings, for community members and professionals, for Spring.

click here to read the latest issue.

Janna Dutton and Kathryn C. Casey Welcome Attorney Helen Mesoloras to the Firm

On June 1, 2012, Attorney Helen Mesoloras joined Dutton & Casey, PC, Attorneys at Law.

Helen concentrates her practice in elder law, with a focus on long term care planning, guardianships, probate and trust administrations, and estate planning. She represents clients in routine guardianship and probate matters, as well as more complex Medicaid and special needs planning cases. She enjoys working with clients and their families to develop and implement plans to achieve their goals, and guides her clients in every step of the plan.

To learn more about Helen Mesoloras, the firm of  Dutton & Casey, and how we can assist you, or someone who you care about, please review our website.

 

Being Prepared for an Emergency

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Disability.gov (the federal government website for comprehensive information on disability programs and services in communities nationwide) urge all people, especially older adults and people who have a disability, to plan ahead in case of an emergency.

Not only should the plan include supplies, it should include legal planning such a powers of attorney and other tools. For more information on how Dutton & Casey, PC., Attorneys at Law, can assist you prepare for an emergency, please review our website or send us an email.

Advocacy Needed to Prevent Proposed Medicaid Changes in Illinois

The STAMP Act, HB 2840 just passed the executive committee  of the Illinois General Assembly and will go to the floor next.  If passed, the STAMP Act will dramatically cut the  Illinois Medicaid program. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services proposed many changes  incorporated into the Bill which will significantly restrict Medicaid eligibility of seniors for long term care coverage. 

 Please click here to read more and learn how you can help.

Helping your parents stay out of the nursing home

Aging parents and their children sometimes disagree over the issues of safety versus independent living. Here are steps you can take to make your parents’ home safer.

By Karen Ravn, Special to the Los Angeles Times

February 6, 2012

 

 

Your parents say they couldn’t bear to lose their independence. Their hearts are set on staying in their own home for the rest of their days. And you understand. It’s what you’d like for them too. But they’re not as young as they used to be. Not as strong and on top of things. And you can’t help wondering if their plan is really wise, or even feasible. So you worry.

The question of what’s best for mom and/or dad is one that bedevils many children with aging parents, says Dr. David Reuben, chief of the geriatrics division in UCLA’s Department of Medicine. “One of the things older people want most is to stay in their own homes. But there’s always a tension between autonomy and safety. Children may want to err on the side of safety, but parents may want to err on the side of autonomy.”

Of course, the time may come when physical or cognitive limitations make independent living impossible. But until then, there are steps you can take to make your parents’ home safer, their lives in it easier — and your concerns about them a little less daunting.

To make a home more elder-friendly, a safety assessment is a good place to start, says Myra Hyatt, a specialist clinical social worker at the Landon Center on Aging at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. That means having an occupational therapist inspect your parents’ home for safety concerns and suggest ways to deal with them. These are some of the main issues that often come up in such assessments.

Stuff happens, so be prepared. If they have a personal emergency response system, your parents can call for help, 24/7, with only a push of a button. Newer systems can detect when a person has fallen down, so even if they’re too injured to push the button, the system will automatically alert an operator, Hyatt says.

Being prepared can prevent stuff from happening. An emergency response system is a very fine thing, but in the long run it’s more important to create an environment where such a system is needed as rarely as possible, says Linda Ercoli, director of geriatric psychology at UCLA. “If you fall and break your hip, you might be able to push a button and get help, but the fact remains that you’ll have broken your hip.”

Indeed, your parents’ home may be booby-trapped with all sorts of falls waiting to happen — including slippery showers or tubs (add grab bars), slide-prone throw rugs (get rid of them or tape them down) and fate-tempting steps and stairs (consider installing ramps or even chairlifts). Poor lighting is another open invitation for your parents to take a tumble or bang their heads or stub their toes. With brighter, better-positioned lights, you’ll be sure they can see what they’re doing and where they’re going.

Be an alarmist. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be standard in every home. But your parents might also benefit from other, more specialized alarms, Hyatt says — for example, an alarm that goes off if a pot has been left unattended on the stove for too long, or one that reminds them to take their medications (and alerts someone else if they don’t).

Life-simplifying devices. Clothing that fastens with Velcro — instead of buttons or zippers — can make a welcome difference for fingers stiff with arthritis. And for backs no longer terribly keen on bending, an extra-long shoehorn can be a real blessing. Speaking of recalcitrant backs, a handy-dandy reacher/grabber allows for bend-free retrieval of items that fall on the floor as well as stretch-free retrieval of objects from high shelves.

Staying connected. Isolation can be a problem for seniors, especially as they become less mobile. If their hearing has also gone downhill, talking on the phone may be difficult. But a phone with amplified speakers can help, Hyatt says. And if their eyes aren’t so sharp anymore, big buttons can help too. So can email with big fonts.

Senior centers and adult day care are other good options for those who can get to them — as are pets, at least in the right circumstances. “They make great companions,” Reuben says. “People relate to them exceptionally well.” On the other hand, he warns, “if your parents can’t walk very well themselves, they obviously won’t be able to walk a dog. And pets can get underfoot.” Tripping over a leg-rubbing cat or toy-chasing dog can cause falls. Think goldfish?

Food. Nutrition can be problematic for seniors, Ercoli cautions. “Will they eat right — or even at all?” Perhaps your parents are eligible for Meals on Wheels services. Also, senior centers often offer no- or low-cost lunches. You might even hire someone to shop for groceries and prepare meals.

Professional services. Staying in their own home can be a lot easier for your parents if they don’t need to worry about keeping it clean or keeping the yard looking good. You can hire professionals to do those and almost any other chores your parents might no longer feel up to.

Taking care of business. Maybe it’s time for you to take charge of your parents’ finances — pay their bills, balance their checkbook. And it’s important for them to consult an elder law specialist, Hyatt says. How they handle their assets can have big-bucks repercussions down the road, affecting their eligibility for programs like Medicaid, to name just one example.

Take care of yourself too. Worrying about and caring for your parents can wear you down, Hyatt says. “You can become isolated yourself and find yourself thinking, ‘I want my life back.’ Part of the challenge is the guilt you feel.” That’s where caregiver support groups come in, she says. You can be open and frank there, even about the feelings you’re least proud of. “Everyone there will get it,” she says. “They won’t think you’re a monster.”

Resources. Countless agencies and organizations are dedicated to providing invaluable — but often free or low-cost — senior services. Information about many of these is available from your local Area Agency on Aging, which in Los Angeles County can be reached at (800) 510-2020 or css.lacounty.gov (click on the “Programs” tab). There you can find help with many of these issues, as well as others. Also, for a thorough “Housing Safety Checklist for Older People,” visit and click on the “Housing” tab.

“Find help,” Hyatt says, “because it’s out there. And it can mean you stay the course and keep your parents at home as long as you can.”

health@latimes.com

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For information on how the law firm of Dutton & Casey can assist you assist you, or someone who you care about, plan for today…and tommorrow, please click here.

12 Financial Resolutions for 2012

 2012 resolutions

It’s time again for New Year’s resolutions. According to Forbes, there are 12 resolutions we should all make – and “plan your estate” is number two:

1.            Set goals;

2.            Plan your estate;

3.            Check your credit;

4.            See where your money is going;

5.            See where you can cut back;

6.            Make sure you have the right amount of insurance;

7.            Build an emergency fund;

8.            See if you can refinance your debt;

9.            Pay down bad debt;

10.          Get on track for retirement;

11.          Consider saving for education;

12.          Make sure your investment portfolio is properly diversified.

As to plan your estate, the author recognizes that we never know when we might need estate planning documents, and that these are “notoriously easy to procrastinate so it’s good to get them out of the way.”

The full article, 12 Financial Resolutions for 2012, is available online at Forbes.

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One of the areas that the law firm of Dutton & Casey concentrates in is estate planning. Please click here for information on how we can assist, or someone who you care about.

New toolkit helps baby boomers transition to Medicare coverage

New toolkit helps baby boomers transition to Medicare coverage

“The Medicare Rights Center and AgeOptions announce the release of “How Medicare Works With Employer-Based Insurance: A Guide for Employers, Professionals and Consumers-”

(By Targeted News Service, December 20, 2011)

http://insurancenewsnet.com/article.aspx?id=317345

 

Medicare D

Just a reminder, Medicare beneficiaries have until December 7 to enroll in, or change, Medicare D coverage.

For Resources on Medicare D, please go to www.medicare.gov; www.medicareinteractive.org; www.insurance.illinois.gov/ship

Who Are We?

Dutton & Casey, PC (Elder and Disability Law)

Advocates for Elders, Persons with Disabilities, and their Loved Ones.

The law firm of Dutton & Casey, P.C., is committed to serving our clients with the comprehensive and personally tailored service they need and deserve. With 50 years of combined legal experience, we have acquired the depth and breadth of knowledge necessary to address the full scope of elder law and disability issues. 

Our Areas of Concentration:

  • Medicaid Eligibility
  • Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation Litigation
  • Estate and Disability Planning
  • Guardianship
  • Litigation
  • Mental Health Law
  • Probate Administration
  • Public Benefits
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Trust Administration

* Full Time Social Worker/Certified Care Manager On Staff

Office Locations:

Arlington Heights, Chicago, Skokie, and Vernon Hills, Illinois.

Phone / Video Conferencing  Appointments are also Available.

Contact Information:

Telephone:      312-899-0950 or 847-261-3584

Website:          www.duttonelderlaw.com 

 

-please click here for a flyer on the law firm.

How to Tell When Your Parents Need Help…

How Do I Know When My Parents Need Help?

As your parents age, you may begin to wonder or worry: “Are they safe at home? How can I tell if they need help?” Your parents are independent, private people who are not going to share with you incidents that make you think they are not okay. They do not want to go to a nursing home and lose their independence. They love their home and enjoy being in it. So they are not going to tell you the things that happen that may send them to a nursing home. As a matter of fact, they will hide these issues from you. They are afraid of going to a nursing home, and this is a rational fear. They have seen their friends and neighbors placed into facilities when their health begins to decline. All of their possession are sold or given away, the home they have spent years in is sold, they can no longer sleep in if they feel like it or eat whatever and whenever they want; their losses are great. You need to acknowledge that this is a rational fear, something that may happen to them that can be unpleasant.

The following is a list of indicators for change. Observing any of these things happening does not mean your parent cannot live at home. What it does mean is the situation needs to be assessed. Professional or informal and volunteer services can be put into place to allow your parent to stay in their home safely.

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Falls, accidents or bruises
  • Forgetting food on stove (look for burned or scorched pans)
  • Unpaid bills or utilities being shut off
  • Housekeeping decline: dirty walls, floors, windows or bathtub
  • Unable to maintain home; broken items not being repaired over long time
  • Refrigerator and cabinets empty; not enough food
  • Unable to recognize or react to danger
  • Getting lost or locked out of the house
  • No longer able to transfer independently from bed to wheelchair
  • Incontinence
  • Lack of social support
  • Decreased interest in fun or social activities
  • Medication errors
  • Increased emergency room visits
  • Wearing dirty clothes
  • Needs to reminded to bathe; has dirty hair or personal odor

For more infomation, please click here

Family Caregivers: How to Avoid Holiday Traps

Family Caregivers: How to Avoid Holiday Traps

Caregivers can rewrite the holiday rulebook to reduce stress, increase joy

From Vicki Rackner, MD, 

Holidays, meant to be a celebration of shared joy and connection with family and community, can quickly become a time of burden and a reminder of alienation and loss.For caregivers, holidays can bring an extra measure of activities and caregiver stress1. “I wish the calendar would flip directly from November to January,” said Fern, 67. “We just got settled into a routine now that Mom moved in with us, and all I see are a longer to-do list and disrupted schedules.”Holiday celebrations can destabilize any family, and family caregivers know this better than most because people who attend to the needs of aging parents, a sick spouse or family friend already live on the edge of a delicate equilibrium. As Gary, 59, so colorfully said, “Since Dad had his stroke, my life is held together with rubber bands and bubble gum. I’m concerned that Christmas will herald its collapse.”

For self-preservation, many caregivers let go of rules about how holidays should be celebrated. “Being a caregiver for my sick wife offers many gifts,” said John, 73. “Maybe the most important is the invitation to look at our life in a new way. Almost out of necessity, I stripped down our holiday celebrations.”

5 Holiday Traps for Caregivers
There are several common holiday traps that family caregivers fall into, but they can be avoided. Just follow a simple concept: Free yourself from ideas about what shouldhappen, and give yourself permission to celebrate holidays in a way that works for you and your family.

    • Trap #1: Planning for the worst. Many caregivers think, “This could be Dad’s last Christmas, so I want to make it really special.” Wouldn’t it be great if we came into the world with an owner’s manual that included the expiration date! We do not. I have seen patients defy all medical odds and laugh about the doctor who gave them six months to live—20 years ago. Then there are the tragic untimely deaths. We should all celebrate as if this is our last holiday season!
  • Trap #2: Creating Norman Rockwell scenes. The idea of a picture-perfect holiday has an emotional tug that’s particularly seductive to family caregivers who may long to return to earlier, carefree days of health and vitality.While there is no perfect holiday celebration, you can create holiday rituals that are perfect for your family. Say at a family meeting, “Our lives are different this year, so we need to think about how our holiday celebration will be different. What are the two or three things that make the holiday special for you?” For most people, it’s the little things that make a big difference, like the Russian Tea Cakes, the special hand-embroidered tablecloth, or playing board games. Create a montage of your family’s perfect holiday.
  • Trap #3: Buying your way out of guilt. For people in the sandwich generation2, caring for both children and parents, the guilt that someone is getting shortchanged looms large. Who doesn’t wish for more hours in the day so that children and friends, even the person in the mirror, would get more time and attention? The life of a caregiver leaves big gaps. If you try to fill the gaps with gifts, you will undoubtedly find that it does not work very well.All family members, including children, need to know they are loved and treasured. Gifts are one way to say this, but what most kids of all ages really want is more of you. Consider a different kind of holiday gift, like a coupon for 10 minutes of undivided attention each day, a trip to the ice cream store, or a visit to the zoo.During a holiday dinner, how about shining a “spotlight” on each person at the table, with each guest offering a story that demonstrates why this person is special? You could write the comments on 3×5 cards and give them wrapped in ribbon or mounted in a collage.

    Consider inviting your kids to give rather than receive by touching the lives of those less fortunate. Serve a meal at a shelter. Invite a lonely neighbor to your house. Look for a chance to give a stranger a $20 bill, or whatever you can afford.

  • Trap #4: “Smile!” This instruction, given before every photo, captures the tone for holidays. Over and over, we’re told there’s a right way to feel during a holiday, and that’s happy. Family caregivers have a spectrum of feelings that rise to the surface during holidays, like sadness or anger or disappointment. It is sad that it’s not safe for Dad to live alone any more, so set aside some time to acknowledge those dark feelings. Suppressing the feeling does not make it any less real, and adds to your holiday burden. [Note: For help with handling feelings of grief and loss, see 5 Steps to Help You Through the Grieving Process3]
  • Trap #5: Party On!If you are an extrovert—someone who gets recharged from being in the presence of others—you are in your element during holidays. Party on!For introverts who get recharged by spending time alone, or those who have limited pep because of illness, holidays can be emotionally depleting. There is still hope for a joyous holiday celebration, it just requires some advanced planning.Plan a social calendar that’s reasonable for you as a caregiver and for your loved one. Be realistic about your energy limits before you make endless commitments, and ask family members to do the same. If either you or your loved one is an introvert, it’s perfectly reasonable to respond to some invitations with, “Thanks for the lovely offer. Unfortunately, we have other plans. I’m sure you’ll have a terrific time, and I’m sorry to miss it.” The host does not need to know that your other plans are a nap.

Your life became different when you became a family caregiver, and it’s time to do things differently. Free yourself from the idea that there’s a right way to celebrate a holiday. Look at your family and decide how to make holidays work for you, and then adjust the family expectations. That’s the recipe for celebrating the blessings in your life, and the joy and love you share with others.

Vicki Rackner, MD, FACS, is a surgeon who left the operating room to help patients and family caregivers enjoy better health. A noted expert on the doctor-patient relationship, Dr. Vicki serves employers through Medical Bridges4, and welcomes everyone to join her Caregiver Club5.

Medicaid Protection for Same-Sex Couples

When one partner in a long-term relationship needs expensive long term care, often the only way for the couple to pay for it is to look to Medicaid.  Historically, there have been no spousal impoverishment protections afforded to partners in same-sex relationships when one partner needs long term care and applies for Medicaid.  However, the combination of the new Illinois Civil Union Act and a policy change recently announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ensure that Medicaid spousal impoverishment protections are afforded to Illinois same-sex civil union partners.

 Click here to read the entire article.

Increase in Prevention of Spousal Impovershment Standards for 2012

The amounts for 2012 of monthly income, and total assets, that a person can keep when their spouse enters a long-term care nursing hom, supportive living,e or needs the services of the Illinois Community Care Program (CCP) and federal financial assistance is used to help pay for these services have been released.

Click here to read more.

National Council on Aging

National Council on Aging has updated its website to be more user-friendly and helpful.

Click here to read more about the National Council on Aging and its efforts. While you are on the site, make sure to look at benefits check up to learn about federal, state, and local programs for yourself, or someone who you care about.

Alzheimer’s: Early Planning Critical to Financial Health

In a recent article in Reuters Magazine, Alzheimer’s: Early Planning Critical to Financial Health, working with a certified elder law attorney is an important step in planning for the future.

Janna Dutton, founder of Dutton & Casey, is one of only 8 certified elder law attorneys in Illinois.

Click here to read the article.

For additional information on how Dutton & Casey can assist you, or someone who you care about, please go our website.

Planning for a Hospital……Discharge

An admission to, and a discharge from,  the hospital can be scary for the patient, and the family. The National Family Caregiver Alliance published a guide on the hospital discharge process. It is vital to pay attention, and be involved, in the plans being for when your relative leaves the hospital.

read the entire article.

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The law firm of Dutton & Casey concentrates in assisting older adults, people with disabilities, and their families. Many times, plans following a hospital stay also include the need for legal planning.  With over 50 years in expertise and offices in Chicago, Skokie, Arlington Heights, and Vernon Hills, the advocates at Dutton & Casey are available to assist. Please click here to read more about how we can assist you or those you care about.

Family Caregiver Training in Arlington Heights Illinois

Training Tips for the Caregiving Marathon, Speaker: Daniel Kuhn, LCSW

May 18, 2011     7:00-8:30 p.m.

Arlington Heights Senior Center, 1801 Central Road, Arlington Heights, IL

 Please call Kathy Peck at (847) 253-5500 ext. 375 to reserve your seat

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For assistance with the legal planning that is involved with being a family caregiver, please contact the law office of Dutton & Casey. Kathryn Casey is an experienced elder law attorney who sees clients in our Arlington Heights office. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please go to www.duttonelderlaw.comor email us at contact@duttonelderlaw.com

 

New Diagnostic Guidelines for Alzheimers Disease

In April, 2011,   new diagnostic guidelines for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease were released.  This information  is to important to only be shared once. Please review the guidelines, again, and share this information. We can all be part of the process to assist people receive the care they deserve!

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For assistance with the legal planning that is needed with a diagnosis of a cognitive disorder, please contact the law office of Dutton & Casey. We are compassionate advocates for older adults, people who have a disability, and the people who care about them. Please go to our website  at  www.duttonelderlaw.com  or email us at contact@duttonelderlaw.com. We will be honored to assist.

YOUR Elder Law Connection… From Dutton & Casey

The April, 2011 issue of the newsletter from the Law Firm of Dutton & Casey was published today.

Please take a few minutes to read the newsletter… it contains many helpful articles and resources focusing on older adults, adults who have a disability, and the people who care about them, including family members and professionals.

Should there be any questions on the newsletter, to learn more about the many resources that the attorneys and staff can provide, or/and to schedule an appointment with a firm attorney, please go to https://www.duttonelderlaw.com/

10 Common Estate Planning Questions

 Attorney Melissa Howitt recently wrote an article answering the 10 questions most often asked about estate planning.  Please click here to read this informative, and easy to understand, article.

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To discuss estate planning for you or someone you care about, please contact the office of Dutton Casey, PC, to schedule a consultation with a firm attorney. 312-899-0950 (Chicago), 847-906-3584 (Arlington Heights), 847-261-4708 (Skokie), or send an email contact@duttonelderlaw.com.

Your Elder Law Connection, from Dutton and Casey, P.C.

The January 2011 issue of “Your Elder Law Connection” has been published.

This monthly publication contains useful information for older adults, adults who have a disability, and their loved ones.

Please click on the link to be directed to the newsletter:

http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs010/1102793168627/archive/1104185870572.html

Talking to Your Aging Parents About Financial and Legal Planning

Good Morning America had a great segment this morning discussing tips for talking with your parents about planning for their financial and legal future.  Financial contributor, Mellody Hobson, had some suggestions for talking points for that important conversation.  The full video is available here:  Talking to Aging Parents About Finances – ABC New.

The highlights were:

  • Broach the topic by discussing your own plans for the future;
  • Organize their legal and financial documents;
  • Suggest direct deposit and bill pay for your parents;
  • Research meal, transportation and in-home medical services;
  • Discuss long term care planning; and,
  • Encourage estate planning and the necessity of drafting a Will.

For more information about any of topics discussed in the video please contact our office to schedule a consultation.

Planning for Your Disabled Child

Few questions can cause as much worry and anxiety for our clients as “who will take care of my disabled adult child or grandchild when I am gone” and “how will she be provided for?”  In particular, our clients are gravely concerned about who will manage their child’s inheritance.  Who will make sure the money is spent appropriately for their child’s benefit?  Will the inheritance affect their child’s supplemental security check, medicaid coverage and eligibility for an adult day program or residential placement?  What if the inheritance disqualifies their child from medicaid?

These are the questions that keep the parents and grandparents of disabled adult children up at night.  Fortunately, through a special needs trust our clients can make sure that their adult disabled child or grandchild will receive an inheritance that is managed by a trustworthy individual in a way that will not disqualify that child from supplemental security income, medicaid, adult day programs or residential placement.

For those who qualify, a special needs trust can substantially improve a disabled person’s quality of life.  Through a special needs trust, a parent can make sure their disabled child is not disqualified from public benefits like medicaid and supplemental security income.  A parent can also make sure the inheritance they leave their child will be managed properly and in a way that enhances their child’s life.

Special needs trusts have enhanced the quality of life of so many disabled adult children and grandchildren.  And they have also given peace of mind to concerned parents and grandparents.

For more information on the benefits of special needs trust or planning for disabled children please visit our website, or call our office to schedule a consultation.  This post is adapted from Kathryn Casey’s article published in the July 2008 issue of Chicago Hospital News.

When the Trustee is not Trustworthy: Remedies for the Trust Beneficiary

Before my mother passed away, she established a living trust and named my sister as Trustee.  My sister, my two brothers and I are the beneficiaries of this trust.  I recently found out that my sister used my mother’s trust to pay for a cruise for herself and her daughter, and also remodeled her home with my mother’s trust monies.  What can I do?

Naming a Trustee of your Trust is perhaps the most important estate planning decision you make.  Unfortunately, this mother made the wrong decision in naming her daughter as Trustee after her death.  A Trustee has the fiduciary duty to act in good faith, in accordance with the Trust terms and purposes, and to act for the sole interest of the beneficiaries.  Even though the Trustee may herself be a beneficiary of the trust, she is breaching her duties as Trustee by using the trust assets for her personal benefit.

This beneficiary needs to act quickly to prevent the Trustee from continuing to spend the trust assets. If the Trustee/sister spends more trust assets than she is to receive as a beneficiary, it will be difficult to actually recover those trust assets from her.  The beneficiary should engage an attorney to file an emergency action to freeze the trust assets so the Trustee can’t continue to spend them; to remove the Trustee; to force her to account for her actions as trustee; and, ultimately, to pay back the misappropriated funds.  Because the Trustee acted intentionally in using trust assets for her own benefit, the beneficiary may be able to obtain punitive damages – a monetary penalty for breaching her duties to the trust – against the Trustee.

The Trustee will not be allowed to use trust assets to defend herself.  However, because the beneficiary is acting to protect the trust, it is possible that the beneficiary’s attorney’s fees will be paid from the trust assets.

To set up a consulatation to discuss your particular needs, contact the experienced elder law attorneys at Janna Dutton & Associates.