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This past week our offices received a flurry of calls pertaining to a seminar held in the Martinsville area recently given by an out-of-state company, extolling the virtues of incorporating Revocable Living Trusts into your family's Estate Plans.

The truth of the matter is, not everyone needs a trust! Furthermore, a Revocable Living Trust does NOTHING to protect assets in the case of someone going to a nursing home, or in regards to their long-term care expenses later on. In fact, it may even complicate Medicaid Planning/Asset Protection in a crisis situation! It is best to have a full understanding of the short and long-term consequences of that type of trust before proceeding.

Here is a scenario: A couple is preparing to start their estate planning. They start by pulling everything together they feel an attorney would want to see before their consult to get that process started, it  can seem overwhelming! It is not uncommon to worry about missing something important. The good news is that often most mistakes can be avoided. Your attorney is there to guide you from beginning to the end through this process, so don't worry.

Having said that, when it comes to 'mistakes' made in the estate planning process, there are really two common ones: 

Special Needs Planning is crucial. If you currently provide care for a child or loved one with special needs (such as mental or physical disabilities), you must have contemplated with concern about what may happen to them when you are no longer able to provide and care for them: We can help!  

For more info, click on the link below to learn more about this area of Elder law:

Special Needs Planning

When it comes to Estate Planning in our lives, there is often a misconception that there is plenty of time to plan often leading to comments like “I will do that tomorrow.” We plan for college, we plan for our careers, weddings, baby showers and house-warmings, but how many of us truly plan for our family’s legal and financial future?  As with all things that may not be pleasant to think about, it can become all too easy to procrastinate when it comes to thinking about our own mortality or that of our loved ones!  

Not to pick on a generation exclusively here but for example, when it comes to the millennials here’s a statistic: According to a recent survey from, 78% of millennials don’t have a will in place.  However, it is a problem that is not exclusive to millennials and plagues many in every generation. The truth, is we all think we have time…until we don’t. So what happens if proper estate plans are not in place? If it is as Benjamin Franklin wrote that “Nothing is certain, except death and taxes,” or as Jim Morrison of the popular band The Doors succinctly sang it  – “no one here gets out alive,” then why don’t people plan ahead for the inevitable? 

Besides Aretha Franklin's obvious musical legacy she left behind, the issues regarding her estate could include teaching consumers the vital importance of Estate Planning. Like other celebrities before her, Franklin – like Prince, Pablo Picasso, and even Abraham Lincoln, past US president and even a lawyer himself – reportedly died without a will or a trust. As a result, there could be legal battles ahead in probate court for family members and others because of it. 

As people in North Carolina continue to evacuate and Virginians here do their best to prepare for when the impact of it reaches our state, the very real threat of Hurricane Florence is understandably a serious and growing concern. Adult children and family caregivers in the area as well as outside it no doubt find themselves feeling more than a little anxious about their senior loved one’s safety during this time... and with good reason!

Congratulations are in order! Managing Attorney Robert W. Haley and Attorney Laura E. Frazier and staff of The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC are pleased to announce that our Firm Administrator and Life Care Planning Manager Ryvonda C. "Cricket" Haley has successfully completed her Certification in Elder Care Coordination offered through the Life Care Planning Law Firms Association. She joins other members of our staff, Sandy W. Vernon and Stephanie R. Wagoner in this achievement as Certified Elder Care Coordinators for the firm.

ATTENTION DANVILLE: If you haven't heard, Integrative Yoga for Seniors has started back on Tuesdays beginning September 4th at 2pm in the afternoon at the Ballou Center in Danville! To register for this free class, please call Erika Bynum at (434) 799-5216.

Yoga can be good for adults of all ages, especially seniors! Know someone who may benefit from a FREE class with a Registered Yoga Teacher? You do not have to be double-jointed, or have the flexibility of an acrobat to benefit from yoga. In fact, students can participate from the mat, a chair or even a wheelchair!

Studies have shown that yoga can be extremely helpful when it comes to combating depression, stress, anxiety and pain. Some yoga poses increase core strength and balance, which reduces the risk of fall-related injuries. Above all, yoga is a form of exercise that can help seniors feel younger and happier. Pass this information along if you know someone who could benefit from this class - We hope to see you there!

Managing Attorney Robert W. Haley along with Attorney Laura E. Frazier and staff of The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC are pleased to announce that as part of our on-going training and continuing education today to better serve our clients and our community, Stephanie Wagoner, Laura Ann Gall, and Joanna Smart, members of our Life Care Planning team, attended training through the National POLST Paradigm program. 

POLST is the national acronym for Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment.  In Virginia this form is known as “POST” (Physician’s Orders for Scope of Treatment).  The POST is used in addition to a Living Will and Advance Medical Directive/Healthcare Power of Attorney and a Durable Do Not Resuscitate/Do Not Resuscitate form (DDNR/DNR). Once signed by the patient’s medical doctor, the patient’s wishes for end of life care become orders for the level of intervention they wish to receive.

Fewer things will send someone into a total panic faster than receiving a Medicaid Recovery letter in the mail. Imagine a family still grieving from the passing of a loved one getting a letter informing them that the government funds used for nursing home care for the deceased are owed and must now be paid back! In some cases, we are talking in upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars here.

This very real concern arises from a long-standing but little-known aspect of Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health coverage to millions of low-income and elderly Americans. In certain cases, a state has the right to recoup its medical costs by putting a claim on a deceased person’s assets.  Make no mistake, this includes the state of Virginia.

Digital Asset Management Planning is a growing concern as these are modern times, and more and more things are being done online! In the news, cryptocurrency Billionaire Matthew Mellon best known for his investments in the cryptocurrency Ripple (XRP), passed away recently leaving up to 500 million dollars in digital assets that may now simply be lost forever! Everyone regardless of age or wealth-level can fall victim to the trap of not properly planning ahead!