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Elder Law
Even as our family and friends live longer and healthier lives than ever before, eventually illness, accidents, and cognitive decline can create vulnerability and the need to depend on others for health and financial management. This dependency may create a situation where seniors are susceptible to financial abuse. People who prey on the vulnerability of...
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Famed Playboy (Owner) and Celebrity Hugh Hefner passed away on September 27th at the age of 91.  With an estimated net worth of $50 million at the time of his death, a young wife, multiple ex-wives and ex-girlfriends, and four children to boot, who will end up with Hugh Hefner’s fortune? His last will and testament,...
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After years of pressure from patient advocate groups, a recent change in Medicare law will now allow primary care doctors to be reimbursed for Alzheimer’s testing, resulting in quicker diagnoses for elderly patients.  Prior to this new rule physicians did not regularly test for dementia and patients often went undiagnosed and untreated until their lives...
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Caregivers cannot accept gifts from elders without being at risk for committing financial elder abuse.  If an older adult chooses to gift an estate or substantial sum of money to their caregiver, California Probate Code requires that the drafter (usually the lawyer) obtain a Certificate of Independent Review from an independent attorney. This means the lawyer...
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Elder abuse is a far more common occurrence than most people think. According to the National Council on Aging, 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced elder abuse. Elder abuse can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, and deprivation. Elder financial abuse, which can involve the misuse, misappropriation, or withholding of the older...
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What is the role of a Professional Fiduciary in the context of California probate law? And just what is a Professional Fiduciary?  Let’s first define Professional Fiduciary, as it’s not a profession that is particularly well known. A professional fiduciary has two primary roles within probate law. The first is as someone whose job is to...
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An elder, as defined by California law, is a person who is 65 years or older. There are specific laws that are designed to protect this population group from abuse and neglect. And what qualifies as abuse? There is a wide range in what is considered to be abuse, from financial to physical and emotional,...
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If you suspect elder abuse and the older person is at risk for immediate harm, dial 911. If you are a concerned citizen and observe neglect or abuse of an elder you can contact Adult Protective Services, a division of the California Department of Social Services. In Contra Costa County, APS can be reached at...
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Former Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on June 27 that limits California’s ability to seize assets from the estates of low-income residents between the ages of 55 and 64. Senator Ed Hernandez, who introduced the legislation in early 2014 said that “It is a huge victory that this year’s budget limits estate recovery so...
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Elder Law did not exist in May of 1963, when John F. Kennedy was still President. Nevertheless, because of his dedication to honoring seniors, May has become National Elder Law Month.  So how did it begin, and exactly what is Elder Law? Just a few months prior to his assassination, JFK issued Proclamation 3527, declaring...
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Elder financial predators are more prevalent than ever. Illness and cognitive impairments make seniors more susceptible to abuse than other members of the population. Seniors are also more likely to have accumulated significant savings and assets over their lifetimes. Whether it is a fraudulent scheme to collect funds, or a caregiver or relative in need...
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The state of Illinois recently resolved the estate of Mary Petroff, a nonagenarian (new word! – “90’s”) who died in 2011. It took nearly 4 years for the state to find and confirm the 48 relatives who laid claim to her and her late sister Anne’s $1.36 million estate. The story of Mary and Anne’s...
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First off, a quick congratulations to the Denver Broncos for winning the 2016 Superbowl. I’m certain Denverites are grateful for the local victory, and are hopefully reveling in their teams’ success as I write this. The people of New Orleans were blessed with no such victory this year, either with their football team, the Saints,...
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Reports are circling that the Playboy Mansion is about to go up for sale. According to celebrity gossip site TMZ, Playboy Enterprises, who owns the mansion – will attach an asking price of nearly $200 million to the historic house. Real estate pros in the area say the famous home is not nearly worth that...
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In December, Hillary Clinton became the first presidential candidate to make fighting Alzheimer’s Disease a campaign issue. On December 22nd, she announced a plan to invest $2 billion per year until 2025 toward a cure to Alzheimer’s. Clinton stated that 10 years was the minimum amount of time prominent researchers predict it will take to...
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Just prior to Homeland’s suspenseful finale this season, Carrie and Saul attempted to wake CIA assassin Quinn up from his medically induced coma to get critical information about an impending attack on Berlin. To their disappointment, Quinn was not only unable to speak, but his life was placed at risk due to brain hemorrhaging that occurred...
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Elder abuse, both physical and financial, is indeed a major issue that is often under reported in this country. It has been estimated by the California Attorney General that upwards of 200,000 elderly Californians are abused each year. Particularly vulnerable are those with some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Due to media coverage and money,...
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Has media mogul Sumner Redstone become mentally incapacitated? This was the question put before the Los Angeles Probate courts this past week, when former girlfriend Manuela Herzer filed a lawsuit claiming he did not have the mental capacity to remove her as agent on his Power of Attorney.  Mr. Redstone is now 92 and owns...
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Does California Probate code make any allowances for differences or conflicts between an Advanced Healthcare Directive (California’s version of a Healthcare POA) and Power of Attorney? For example, a parent designates one child as their agent for the Healthcare Directive, and the other child as their agent for the Power of Attorney. The parent becomes...
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Speaking out publicly for the first time since her husband’s death in 2014, Susan Schneider Williams, wife of actor Robin Williams, revealed that the coroner’s report revealed Robin had Lewy Body Dementia. Lewy Body Dementia is a fairly common form of dementia, affecting nearly 1.4 million Americans. However, it is much harder to diagnose, as...
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As a Trust & Estate Attorney in the SF East Bay,  I strongly encourage friends, family, and clients to set up an Estate Plan – a trust in particular. Let there be no confusion – I do not recommend this because I believe attorneys should make money. Trust and Estate attorneys are largely in business...
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While there are no official reports that Hugh Hefner has dementia, he provides a great example of an elderly parent remarrying later in life. For those of you out of the popular news loop – Hugh Hefner married 29 year old Crystal Harris in late 2012. While Hefner reportedly had Crystal sign an “iron clad prenup,”...
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With one in seven Americans over age 71 suffering from dementia, many families are familiar with the emotional and financial devastation caused by the disease. While the emotional cost is difficult to quantify, Mt. Sinai Medical Center recently published the first ever study documenting the financial costs of dementia in the last 5 years of life....
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On October 5th, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB-128, the bill that legalized assisted suicide in California. Called The “End of Life Option Act,” Brown stated that he signed the bill because if he found himself dying “in prolonged and excruciating pain” he would find comfort in having the option to end his life. He was...
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Alzheimer’s and Dementia is often diagnosed before it renders one unable to make legal decisions. This is the time in which creating a medical, legal, and financial plan for the future is critical. Without a plan in place, caregivers and family members often find themselves in an emergency situation with regards to finances, medical care,...
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Huguette Clark is a woman who definitely could have used a good Estate Planner. Heiress to Copper Magnate Senator William Clark of Montana, Huguette was heir to hundreds of millions of dollars, several sprawling homes, and numerous valuable artworks.  After living the last two decades of her life at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in...
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Undue Influence is a term often heard in the Elder Law field. For those not up on their legal jargon, “undue influence” essentially means one person taking advantage of another, typically for financial gain. When it comes to trust and estate litigation (or probate law), California defines undue influence as “excessive persuasion that causes another...
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Having a parent, grandparent, or close friend that is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia can seem overwhelming. However, if you begin planning for their future early, many of the difficulties associated with the disease can be avoided. In addition, the sooner planning begins, the more the person affected can participate. The Importance of Legal Planning...
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  According to a new study in the American Geriatrics Society, Elder abuse is much more common than is recognized by society – particularly among adults with cognitive impairments such as dementia. Studies estimate one in ten adults is subject to elder abuse, with nearly one half of all adults with dementia falling prey to...
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This story is an example of what can happen in a worst case scenario probate. Probate is a court process by which an estate (funds and real property) is distributed when a person dies. Probate only occurs if an estate plan has not been set up. Under California law, this means a person’s assets exceed...
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