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Boston Elder Law Blog

Elder care admin accused of fraudulently using powers of atty

Senior citizens in Massachusetts often need assistance with their care as they age. Some of them live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities to ensure that their needs are met, particularly when their families don't live nearby or are unable to provide care themselves. While most of these places treat patients with the highest level of care, there are others that fail to do so. This is what one assisted living facility administrator is accused of doing, after authorities charged her with fraud and other crimes related to her claim to have powers of attorney for a resident.

Authorities say the woman used her position as a unit coordinator to acquire power of attorney over an alleged victim. They report that afterwards, she established the victim as a resident of her assisted living facility and then used the victim's assets without permission. Officials say the woman used the money to buy herself several homes, cars and cover her basic living expenses. They also claim that she filed a false tax return on behalf of the victim and embezzled Social Security benefits.

Have you experienced a major event in your life recently?

If you have experienced a major change in your life, then you may need to stop and assess certain details. Major life events can necessitate numerous changes in how you live your life. You make adjustments as needed in order to find a new normal in your life and then move forward.

As you make changes to accommodate the recent changes in your life, you may want to consider reviewing your estate plan as well. Even if you reviewed it within the last couple of years, this event could require modifications in order to keep your plan relevant.

Woman accused of mishandling professional guardianships

Many people in Massachusetts have concerns regarding how to handle their end-of-life care. Some may not be able to rely on their families, particularly if they live far away or if they do not have a relationship with them. Some may choose to rely on a professional guardian for medical and financial decisions. While that can be a wonderful choice for many, there are those who do not have a positive experience with guardianships. One out-of-state case involves a woman accused of fraud surrounding several guardianships she claimed to be handling.

The problem came to the attention of the legal system when a man died after she allegedly filed a "do not resuscitate" order without his family's permission. Investigators found that she had 450 guardianships at the time of the man's death. They say that she billed a local medical system for almost $4 million over a decade despite less than a third of her clients being part of the state guardianship system. Investigators also found instances where they say the woman double-billed the medical system, or even billings for cases that weren't hers.

Long term care planning should start early

It is easy to think about and plan for the fun things the future may hold. Planning a weekend getaway may be infinitely more exciting than planning a presentation for work. It is human nature to procrastinate preparing for difficult times or events because this may mean a person must think about all the things that could go wrong. Perhaps this is why so few people in Massachusetts take the time to do long term care planning.

When seniors become too frail or incapacitated to take care of themselves, it may be too late to do any effective planning for long term care. The time to make those plans is years before, ideally beginning during the prime earning years between ages 25 and 45. However, a recent report reveals that long term care planning is not always near the top of the list of priorities for many individuals.

Why is probate taking so long?

The days and weeks following the death of a loved one can be emotional. Family members are often busy preparing, supporting each other and dealing with the practical matters, such as funeral plans. Soon enough, however, they must deal with the Massachusetts estate of their loved one, and that means beginning the probate process.

It is common for family members to want to move forward with their lives, but probate often keeps them in a holding pattern. The simple purpose of probate is to resolve any unfinished business, such as taxes and unpaid bills, so the rest of the estate can be divided among the heirs. However, probate can be frustrating, especially if heirs are uncertain what is going on and why it is taking so long.

What are the differences between wills and trusts?

Most families recognize just how important it is to have a comprehensive estate plan. The problem they may encounter is just what facets of an estate plan make the most sense for their personal financial circumstances. Many people in Massachusetts wonder whether using a will or a trust is the right choice. Fortunately, experts have advice when comparing wills and trusts.

First, any property listed for distribution in a will needs to go through probate. This process can be time-consuming and may not be cost-effective for everyone. The probate process is public, meaning a will might be more likely to be challenged, though some people think that is actually a good thing. A will may also make it easier to transfer different assets into or out of a person's estate. Even with any potential disadvantages, most experts say that any estate should have a will.

As an executor, how should you get started?

Being the executor of an estate is no easy task. You may have accepted the role because you did not want to disappoint your loved one, or you may have felt particularly suited to the tasks ahead. Of course, you and many other Massachusetts residents may not fully understand what all is involved with settling an estate.

Once the process gets underway, you may find yourself wondering what actions you need to take. Because any information your loved one left behind as part of his or her estate plan will be vital to the probate process, gathering those documents is a wise starting point.

Estate planning is more complex with an heir who has an addiction

Along with many others across the country, some people here in Boston have ended up addicted to opioids. The odds are that a large number of them ended up with the problem after going to a doctor for an injury. Over time, the addiction took over, and family members and friends do what they can to help, but it may not be enough.

Perhaps this story sounds familiar to you because you have a close loved one, maybe a child, in this position. Maybe the addiction spreads to other prescription medications and/or illegal drugs. While you continue to try to help now, you also want to see how you can help after your death.

Setting up the right sort of trust

Setting up a trust may not be enough to protect the money you wish to bequest to your loved ones. There are instances where the trust may not cover a particular asset. And in some instances, a prepared trust may not cover the asset at all.

It is a good idea to double-check such items to make certain you miss nothing. When preparing a trust, it is important to prepare it right. And it's important to choose the right trust.

Warnings about signing a nursing home contract

Whether your parent has already planned wisely for long-term care or you fear you will be the one handling the responsibility of your parent's elder care matters, there are certain factors you may expect. For example, you may have to make critical decisions about your loved one's medical care, and this may include choosing a nursing care facility.

You have many options for levels of care depending on your parent's health situation. No matter which Massachusetts facility you decide is most appropriate for your loved one, chances are you will have to sign an admission agreement. This is not something to do casually. An admission agreement is a legal contract, and you would be wise to take your time and examine it carefully.