As we have the only Certified Elder Law Attorney in southside, we  receive  a lot of questions from our clients in regard to Estate PlanningMedicaid Planning/Asset Protection and Elder Law in general. There is a lot of misinformation and lack of information out there...but we here at the Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia are here to help! Our new "Did You Know?" video series starts off with addressing a common question that we receive from our clients:

Will Medicaid or the nursing home take my house to pay for my care? 

Researchers at Tohoku University have found a promising treatment for Alzheimer's disease, by noticing a similarity in the way insulin signaling works in the brain and in the pancreas of diabetic patients.

Showcase Magazine is having their annual contest for the Danville, Virginia area and we need your help for this year's Rave Awards! Please take the time to cast your vote for The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC in the Law Office category and Robert W. Haley, our managing attorney in the Attorney category!

It only takes a minute to vote, and while on that page you can vote for other categories in Danville. This is your opportunity to recognize those many individuals, businesses, and organizations that go the extra mile! 

Families coping with both the emotional and legal complexities associated with long term elder care face a unique yet serious set of challenges.  As a result, many individuals facing long term care issues are more than willing to turn to professional service providers for advice.  Unfortunately, many purported elder law professionals simply do not have the experience or training necessary to provide comprehensive elder law planning.  To ensure effective elder law planning and advice, individuals are well served to seek out professionals who specifically focus their practice on elder law issues.

This month we conclude our discussion on when physicians and elder law attorneys need to work together for the good of the client.  Earlier in August, I discussed the issues of capacity, mistreatment of elders and self-neglect.  This month we conclude by looking at the issues of cost of care and ability to pay, family dynamics and confidentiality.  Let’s look at those situations: 

An antibody that can almost completely clear the visible signs of Alzheimer’s disease from the brain has been discovered in a breakthrough that left one scientist “trying not to get too excited”.

Researchers scanned the brains of people with the degenerative condition as they were given doses of the drug, which is based on an immune cell taken from the blood of elderly people aged up to 100 who showed no signs of the disease.

After a year, virtually all the toxic “amyloid plaques” that build up in Alzheimer’s patients appeared to have gone from the brains of those given the highest doses of the antibody.

As I noted on my Facebook feed this morning, September 1, 2016 marks 21 years since I began the practice of law in my hometown of Bassett, Virginia.  It's been quite a ride! Not many people know just how I came to the decision to start a solo practice without ever having practiced before other than a summer spent at the Roanoke law firm of Gentry, Locke, Rakes & Moore.  I believe it truly was an act of Divine Intervention.

A guardianship or conservatorship is needed when an “incapacitated person” has either failed to execute a durable Power of Attorney or Advanced Medical Directive prior to their incapacity or upon a mentally-disabled child attaining the age of 18 and a legal guardian or conservator is necessary.

Before I file a guardianship case in Circuit Court, I first look for alternatives. First, a doctor’s examination may be needed to ensure the person cannot execute a Power of Attorney. If the person’s only income is a government check or a public benefit, a Representative Payee may be named to avoid the conservatorship. That could potentially save thousands of dollars over the years in insurance premiums on surety bonds.

Recently, the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Agingissued a paper on Medical-Legal partnerships and when such cooperation is vital for the benefit of the elder.   Unfortunately, the record thus far of inter-professional collaboration on behalf of the shared elder patient/client in such circumstances generally is lacking and needs to be improved. The first step in the direction of improving these partnerships must be recognition by both elder law attorneys and physicians (and other healthcare professionals) of situations in which positive engagement with each other would be valuable for everyone concerned. The paper then outlined six of the most major contexts for fruitful attorney/physician collaboration on behalf of shared older clients/patients.  Let’s look at three of those situations:

“The life of the dead is placed on the memories of the living. The love you gave in life keeps people alive beyond their time. Anyone who was given love will always live on in another's heart.” - Cicero

A recent study has found that more than a third of dying elderly patients received needless “invasive and potentially harmful” treatments in their last weeks of life.  This study was an analysis of more than 1.2 million patients in 10 industrialized countries around the world.  It found that ordered treatments made no difference in the course of the elders’ illnesses.  Published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care, this study found around a third of elderly patients with advanced, irreversible conditions — such as cancer — were given treatments that were of no benefit to them.

In Virginia, elder law attorneys routinely use a "life estate deed" to help a family protect their home from the costs of long term care.  A deed is prepared whereby the elders deed the property, usually to their children,  but they retain and reserve  a life estate in the property.  In essence, what is transferred to the children is the "future interest" in the property: the children own nothing until both parents die.

In reality, the life estate interest has a value; it is based on the value of the property and the age of the parents.  However, for the purposes on determining eligibility for long term care Medicaid coverage, the Medicaid Manual instructs the eligibility worker to consider a life estate in property has having no value. Thus, the asset protection technique relies solely on a rule, a rule that could be changed at any time!   In fact, this rule has been changed twice in the past.