Category Archives: Legal

Caring for Elders While Holding a Job: the Prescription for Stress

A recent report on the blog of the AARP reports on a problem that will sound familiar to a growing number of Americans. Nearly 24 million workers are holding down paying jobs while at the same serving as family caregivers – and that combination is a sure prescription for stress, fatigue and uncertainty.

You can read the article by clicking here.

At a time when serving as a caregiver to an adult relative (especially an aging parent) is growing more and more complex, research suggests that employed caregivers also feel increasing stress at work, with less and less job security. These studies also show that parents caring for children at home have far more workplace flexibility than workers caring for older family members. Some caregivers even suggest they have experienced workplace discrimination, which according to an AARP research report from 2012, is not prohibited by most federal and state employment laws.

The AARP blog article cites a study entitled Caregiving in the United States 2015 which states that 60% of family caregivers are also employed, and that most of these “working caregivers” (nearly two-thirds) are caring for a relative 65 years old or older. What’s more telling is that half of these employed caregivers are themselves 50 years old or older – which means they are already experiencing the challenges of being an older worker in today’s high-stress, increasingly insecure workplace.

There are two chief take-aways from these articles. The first, in the words of the AARP blog: “As the U.S. population rapidly ages, the need to support workers with family caregiving responsibilities will grow.” In other words, legislation to give caregivers increased measures of employment security and, when necessary, paid time off are deserving of support.

The second point is more concerning: as the population ages, “we’re facing a caregiving cliff,” said Dr. Susan Reinhard, AARP Public Policy expert. “By mid-century, there will only be three caregivers available for each person requiring care.” As today’s baby boomers age, there may not be enough people able to care for them. “That means,” says AARP’s Reinhard, “we need to provide support for existing caregivers who are underserved” by current services. In other words, we had better be planning now for the caregiving needs of the not-too-distant future.

Planning for the future is the centerpiece of our activities here at AgingOptions, and that includes planning for your future care needs. By making all the necessary preparations, you can successfully avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones as you age, and also avoid being forced into unplanned institutional care. We’ll help you explore all your caregiving options and your living choices. We’ll also advise you on the best ways to communicate with your own family members to help them better understand your wishes as you age. What’s more, together we’ll explore ways to prudently set aside assets today that can help pay your caregiving expenses tomorrow.

It’s all part of a LifePlan – our name for a fully-developed, individualized retirement plan that takes all your needs into account. If you’re ready to start creating your own LifePlan, we can help. The best way to start is to attend one of our free LifePlanning Seminars – popular, information-packed sessions held in various locations throughout the area. Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for dates, and free online registration. It will be a pleasure working with you as together we plan your ideal future.

(originally reported at http://blog.aarp.org)

Many Families are Resolving Conflict through Elder Mediation

We’ve said it many times, in our printed materials and on the radio: few conflicts can become more contentious than family conflicts. Tragically, this is especially true when it comes to issues relating to elder care. We think that’s because, in conflicts over how to care for Mom or Dad (and how to divide the estate), the stakes are high, emotionally and financially. Long-smoldering rivalries and animosities can flare into full-fledged conflagrations, damaging family relationships for years – sometimes forever.

That’s why we were interested in this article on the website LongTermCareLink.net regarding Elder Mediation services. (Read the entire article here.) It describes several scenarios in which the services of a mediator can prove invaluable, either to avoid family conflict or to resolve it. Circumstances involving sale of the family home, distribution of assets, sharing of responsibilities for care and visitation, and decisions about medical treatment for an aging loved one are just a few of the “trigger points” for serious division between family members.

As the article puts it, “Issues like residence decisions, distribution of caregiving responsibilities, safety and health concerns, wills and estates, the sale of the family home, and more can divide a family for years to come.” It goes on to state that, at times when communication is particularly difficult, making decisions becomes impossible. “Families may need the help of a skilled mediator to get them ‘unstuck’ so they can move forward,” the article concludes.

When is it wise to seek the services of a mediator? We can answer in one word: early. The sooner a family sits down together to come up with carefully-planned and creative solutions to fit their unique needs and circumstances, the more likely they are to avoid litigation, which is not only financially costly but often devastating to family relationships. “The process of mediation allows families to develop creative solutions to challenges in a way that the courts cannot,” according to the article. That’s because courts lack the time or resources “to explore options that would reflect the best interests of the senior while avoiding protracted family conflict.”

We repeat what we have said many times – aging is a family affair. In our interaction with thousands of clients and radio listeners, we’ve emphasized the importance of involving your family in every aspect of your retirement planning. Of course, that’s just one element of what we call a LifePlan. Your plan should also include getting your legal and financial affairs in order, planning for your health care costs, and deciding what housing choices are best for you.

So to learn some constructive ways to involve your family in all your aging-related decisions, and to begin preparing your comprehensive retirement plan, we invite you to attend a free, information-packed LifePlanning Seminar. Click on the Upcoming Events tab to find out dates, times and locations of a seminar near you. Space for these popular events is limited, so we encourage you to register online at your earliest opportunity.

One final note: if you are in a situation where some form of elder mediation is appropriate, please contact our office. We would be pleased to meet with you and your family members to help you plan for the years ahead in a way that ensures that your needs are well met, and that the chances of family conflict are greatly reduced, and often eliminated entirely. It would be our privilege to serve you and your family in these important decisions.

(originally reported at www.longtermcarelink.net)

Casey Kasem Family Controversy Prompts Preventive Legislation

His case dominated the entertainment headlines in mid-2014. The legendary Casey Kasem, whose rock and roll radio career spanned nearly six decades, was dying – but a feud between his children and their step-mother over Kasem’s condition and whereabouts, and a complete ban on the children’s access to their dad, would spill over into the news for months.

The sad tale of family bickering dragged on week after week, growing uglier with each new revelation. It took repeated intervention by a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge to force Kasem’s wife to relent in the vicious feud. In spite of the star’s death in June 2014, the bitter legal wrangling continues to this day.

Now two years after the fact, two bills before the Washington State Legislature would if passed help protect the rights of ailing seniors and hopefully prevent the nasty acrimony triggered by the sad case of Casey Kasem. The two pieces of legislation, House Bills 2401 and 2402, are simple in their intent but far reaching in their scope. Both bills are co-sponsored by Washington State Representative Linda Kochmar (R-Federal Way). One helps ensure access to an incapacitated person by loved ones while the second requires full disclosure of all aspects of the person’s care and condition.

One of the controversies surrounding the last several months of Casey Kasem involved the absolute control over access to Kasem imposed by his second wife, Jean. As Kasem’s health worsened in late 2013, Jean Kasem prevented any contact with her husband, particularly by the three adult children from his first marriage. This refusal on Jean Kasem’s part sparked demonstrations, headlines and an eventual court ruling.

In response, the first proposed law here in Washington, HB 2401, would establish a procedure to safeguard the rights of adults, ensuring that they are able to enjoy visitation from relatives and others. This would apply particularly in instances such as Kasem’s where such visits are both desirable and beneficial but are being prevented. Under HB 2401, a spouse like Jean Kasem would not have been able to keep her step-children away from their father.

The second dramatic issue that surfaced in the Casey Kasem situation involved the ailing celebrity’s condition and whereabouts. In May 2014 Jean Kasem removed her husband from a nursing home in Santa Monica, California, and told the family Kasem had been taken outside the U.S. He was later found in a nursing facility right here in Western Washington, in Gig Harbor.

Partly in response to this bizarre situation, with Kasem’s wife refusing to divulge the status of her husband, the second proposed law co-sponsored by Rep. Kochmar, HB 2402, requires transparency. Along with a long list of mandates to ensure that an incapacitated person is being adequately cared for, his or her a guardian is required to inform other relatives “as soon as reasonably possible” if the loved one is hospitalized for three days or more in an acute care facility, or if he or she dies. In case of death, the guardian must inform relatives of all funeral arrangements, something Kasem’s wife also refused to do. Instead, she had the body flown out of the country for eventual internment in Norway.

Here at Aging Options we always emphasize the importance to our clients of open, honest, constructive communication between retirees and their families. In order to minimize the likelihood of conflict and misunderstanding, it’s highly desirable that you let your adult children know your plans, dreams and wishes as you age. Sadly, however, such openness cannot guarantee that your family will escape deep disagreement. For that reason we strongly support the passage of HB 2401 and HB 2402, and we commend Rep. Kochmar and her fellow co-sponsors for their efforts to safeguard the well-being of vulnerable seniors.

There is much more to effective retirement planning than good open communication. You’ll want to get your financial plan settled and your legal affairs in order. Your plan should also include a detailed exploration of your housing options and an examination of your health care needs. It’s all part of what we call a LifePlan – and you can begin laying the groundwork for yours by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars, coming to your neighborhood soon. For dates, times and registration, click on our Upcoming Events tab. We’ll look forward to meeting you.

(To find out more about the proposed laws described above, click here for HB 2401 and here for HB 2402.)

Avoid Casey Kasem’s Tragic Fate With Proper Planning, Open Discussion

The death of “America’s DJ” Casey Kasem in 2014 may seem like old news. But the issues raised by the tawdry controversy surrounding Kasem’s passing from side effects of debilitating dementia still reverberate. As we tell our clients frequently, and explain to our radio listeners, the death of Casey Kasem carries lessons for all of us.

Kasem’s 2014 death in Gig Harbor, Washington, came after months of legal wrangling over who had the right to make health care decisions for the famous radio star. While his sad tale was played out publicly in the newspapers and tabloids, the lessons from this family saga apply to everyone. According to an article written at the time on the blog of AARP, there are at least four take-aways from Kasem’s death for each of us. (Click here to read the AARP article.) Taking action now in these important areas can significantly reduce the likelihood of your loved ones arguing over your care – a burden you don’t want them to bear.

First, have an attorney prepare a health care directive. In Casey Kasem’s situation, his precise wishes were unclear, and so were his intentions about who had the power to make medical decisions for him. The result was an unseemly public dispute with Kasem in the middle.

Second, discuss your wishes in advance with all your loved ones. Every member of your family, as well as your doctor, lawyer and health care agent, needs to know your desires, so there can be no disagreement.

Third, fully answer all your attorney’s questions. When executing important end-of-life documents, your attorney will need to establish your mental competence beyond dispute – an important consideration should your loved ones ever challenge your wishes, as occurred with Casey Kasem.

Finally, decide in advance who you want among your friends and family to have visitation rights should you become ill and incapacitated. In Kasem’s case his wife refused to allow his own children to visit when Kasem’s health was failing. No one wants this kind of argument and dispute among family members!

Of course, there is much more to end of life planning than these four points. We urge you to make a Life Plan now to ensure that you have prepared for every reasonable eventuality. As a starting place, we invite you to come to one of our free Life Planning Seminars to get an overview of elements your plan should include. Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for dates, times and locations.

We also welcome the opportunity to meet with you in person. Simply contact our office for an appointment.

(Originally reported at www.blog.aarp.org)

When Assigning POA, Choose Carefully and Communicate Openly!

Sometimes we run across helpful articles that do a good job of stating a problem, without providing much of a solution. Such is the case with this recent article we found on the website www.AgingCare.com. It’s entitled “Family Feuds over Power of Attorney,” and it warns seniors of a problem we have repeatedly emphasized with our clients: the decision of who has the power to take legal action on your behalf, if not handled appropriately, can negatively impact your family for years, even decades to come.

Fortunately here at Aging Options we do have a solution to the problem posed by this timely article. But first let’s briefly explore the question, “Why can choosing someone as your Power of Attorney (POA) cause such conflict?”

The Aging Care article is written by elder care writer Lori Johnston. She states that sometimes the decision to appoint one of your adult children as your POA seems obvious to you. One son or daughter may be the oldest, the most responsible, or the one who lives closest to you. But even this choice that appears simple and straightforward to you can cause backlash. As Johnston writes, “[Even] if the appointment of POA is smooth and didn’t involve much gnashing of teeth, that doesn’t mean bickering won’t begin once the person granted POA assumes duties related to parents’ financial and medical decisions. Many times, the challenge to the POA happens after the parent passes away.”

We know of one particular case where the child granted Power of Attorney privileges for an aging woman was not her oldest but her youngest, because he and his wife lived closer and were already involved in her affairs. For this family the POA appointment did not cause strife – but for many it can. Why is this issue so contentious? The Aging Care article lists three emotional minefields that can trigger sibling strife when it comes to making decisions for Mom or Dad.

The first is sibling rivalry. Here the tensions and disagreements that have always existed between family members erupt into outright conflict based on mutual mistrust. Johnston writes that “Ongoing sibling rivalry can chip away at the ‘power’ that someone granted Power of Attorney holds” and lead to arguments over every decision, even simple ones.

A second source of friction, especially in the area of end of life decisions, is the inability of the POA designee to let go. The article cites a case in which a mother had a living will explicitly directing her children to follow her end-of-life wishes. The sibling with Power of Attorney refused to comply. A bedside hearing resulted in which the decision of the sibling with POA authority was overruled and the mother was allowed to pass away peacefully, just as she had desired.

A final scenario in which the potential for conflict is ripe involves family feuds over finances. Often the sibling with POA authority may decide to pay himself or herself back out of the inheritance for extra expenses they may have incurred in caring for Mom or Dad – buying food, paying for medicines, taking their parent to doctor’s appointments, even time spent going over a parent’s affairs. Where siblings mistrust one another, a sense of entitlement can lead to accusations of unfairness; sometimes lawsuits erupt, severing family ties forever.

So what’s our answer to this potential minefield of conflict? When we work with our clients we always emphasize clear, open, honest communication among family members. We have conducted hundreds of meetings in our office in which parents and their adult offspring gather to review Mom and Dad’s retirement plan, which we call a LifePlan. This includes legal issues such as Powers of Attorney. It also encompasses health care wishes, financial plans, and housing preferences. In our experience, the earlier and more openly you involve your adult children in every aspect of your LifePlan, explaining your decisions clearly, the less likely that conflict, misunderstanding and accusations of unfairness will result.

We cover family dynamics and many other aspects of creating a LifePlan at our free LifePlanning Seminars. Why not plan to attend one soon? Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for all the details. We hope to meet you in the near future at one of these highly enjoyable, information-packed events.

(originally reported at www.agingcare.com)

 

Five Ways to Keep Your Kids from Fighting Over Your Will

You’ve heard about it and read about it. Maybe you’ve experienced it firsthand. It’s the terrible pain and the damaged relationships that can occur when adult siblings go to war over Mom or Dad’s estate.

Like you, we’ve heard of cases where siblings who got along fine when the parents were living gradually become litigious adversaries after the folks are gone. Often these cases end up in court, with brother suing sister. It’s not unusual to see once-solid relationships damaged beyond repair, to the point where siblings or their spouses end up never speaking to one another again.

Such an adversarial outcome is probably your worst nightmare. But according to a recent article we found on the website NextAvenue, this awful scenario is preventable. The article (click here to read it) lists five simple ways to prevent World War III in your family after you are gone. These suggestions are the very things we have advocated to thousands of our clients, and it’s satisfying to see our recommendations confirmed by other experts in the field of retirement planning.

As the article’s author, legal expert Patrick O’Brien puts it, “Squabbling among grown kids surrounding the death of parent is all too common because their mothers and fathers fail to take basic steps to minimize the upheaval.” And when you factor in the sense of entitlement that comes when one of the siblings or spouses has acted as Mom or Dad’s primary caregiver, the potential for family feuds is multiplied exponentially. Here is a quick summary of O’Brien’s five suggestions.

The first is one to which we give a hearty “Amen”: Communicate early and often. By talking openly with your kids about your wishes and getting their hopes and expectations out in the open, you can avoid a great deal of contention later. This doesn’t take the place of a well-executed will, of course, but it’s an important start.

Second, get input from your children. They may place a great deal of value on something you think is unimportant, or vice versa – a vase that belonged to Grandma or another keepsake they treasured as a child. You don’t have to base your final decision on their wishes, but it’s good to take them into account.

Third, be fair. This may involve something as unsentimental as getting important valuables appraised. And fairness is often in the eye of the beholder. But by discussing things openly and explaining your rationale clearly, your desire to treat your kids fairly will go a long way toward minimizing fights and squabbles later.

The fourth suggestion is to be detailed about your plans. As the article’s author contends, it’s not a good idea to assume that “your kids will figure it out after you’re gone.” Also, your clarity will mean your children won’t blame each other if they don’t get everything they wanted from your estate.

The final suggestion is also a good one: write a letter to your children explaining in personal and loving terms that you tried to be fair and equitable. This isn’t the document where you detail who gets what – that belongs in your will – but it may help defuse any lingering disappointment and help your kids move past their emotions.

Involving your family in your retirement planning is one of our pillars here at Aging Options. To find out how to do this, and also how to care for all the aspects of your retirement planning – housing, health, finances and legal affairs – come to one of our LifePlanning Seminars. These valuable sessions are free and are held in locations throughout the area. Click on the Upcoming Events tab for dates, times and online registration, or contact our office for further information. We’ll look forward to meeting you and helping you chart a course for a secure and well-planned retirement.

(originally reported at www.nextavenue.org)

CNN Expose: Could Your Aging Parent be among Psychic Scam Victims?

We just read a brand new article on the Money website of CNN that is both shocking and deeply frustrating. It describes a mammoth case of fraud that has been victimizing gullible people, most of them seniors, for more than 20 years. CNN is devoting several weeks to investigating this fraud, which experts claim may have raked in more than $200 million, with much of that haul coming from aging seniors, many with dementia. No one knows how many victims have fallen prey to this scheme.

If you are involved in the affairs of an aging parent, loved one or friend, you need to know about the dangers of frauds such as this. We encourage you to go to CNN and read the first article in the series here.

This particular fraud involves a so-called psychic, a woman allegedly from France named Marie Duval. Whether she is real or concocted, she is believed to be the face behind one of the longest-running scams in history. According to CNN, Duval’s victims are often lured in by ads in newspapers and magazines. As CNN reports, “These ads sometimes don’t mention Duval’s name at all. Instead they ask readers to send in everything from their zodiac sign and time of birth to their marital status — all under the guise of a research study where they could end up winning large amounts of money.”

Once scammers have this type of data, they can send phony letters signed by Duval which appear to have “psychic” insight into some basic personal data. Duval then asks recipients to send small amounts of money in order to receive lucky charms or other allegedly supernatural items. “All they need to do is pay a small sum — often around $40 — to receive her guidance, lucky numbers and special talismans like a Five Forces Stone or a Vibratory Crystal,” says the CNN report.

Over time those sucked into the scheme send more and more money to Duval or her accomplices. One woman described in the CNN report said her aging mother had promised not to send Duval any more money, only to start secretly setting aside money for the phony psychic. “Even after her mother promised to stop sending in more payments, Stevens found an envelope stuffed with cash and change that she had been hiding, hoping to send to her ‘friend’ Maria.”

Caregivers and others who are close to parents and loved ones in their senior years need to be particularly vigilant. Your Mom or Dad, out of a sense of naiveté or desperation, may be drawn into one of thousands of scams that prey on the elderly. The sad story of Maria Duval may be the largest such scam in recent memory but it certainly isn’t the only one. If you suspect your parent or loved one may be in the clutches of a scammer, you will need to confront your loved one and possibly alert the postal service or other authorities.

You can also contact our office if you suspect this type of fraud, and we will do our best to advise you.

This issue of fraud against seniors brings to mind the importance of having all your own legal affairs in order as you prepare for your retirement years. Legal preparation is just one of the areas we cover in our LifePlanning Seminars, held frequently throughout the area. These free seminars will provide invaluable help to you, just as they have to thousands, starting you on the road to a comprehensive retirement plan that will help you safeguard your assets and maintain your independence as long as possible.

Simply click on the Upcoming Events tab for the list of LifePlanning Seminars now on the calendar. We’ll look forward to meeting you soon!

(originally reported at http://money.cnn.com)

Part of Your Financial Plan: Remember to Update Your Beneficiaries!

Here’s a question: if you’ve made it clear in your will which one of your heirs should inherit money from your estate, how it is possible those funds will end up going to someone else?

The answer is simple: if you’ve forgotten to update the beneficiary information on a life insurance policy, retirement plan, or other financial instrument. It sounds absolutely basic, but, as a recent article in USA Today puts it, “Your ex could get rich if you don’t update your beneficiaries.” We suggest you click here to read this helpful piece.

As the article states, when it comes to keeping their estate plan current, most people think first about what goes into their Last Will and Testament. But they often neglect something even more obvious by failing to make sure their beneficiary designations are up to date. And here’s something you may not have known: beneficiary designations on a 401(k) or IRA are legally binding. As a result, states the USA Today article, they “often take precedence over wishes you’ve put in your will. And that can result in some unpleasant situations if your beneficiary information isn’t updated.”

The article goes on to quote a Dallas financial analyst, Charles Sizemore, who points out a scenario that’s fairly common: an employee establishes a retirement plan beneficiary on the first day of a new job, and never updates the form for ten, fifteen, twenty years or more. Sizemore says, “Your life [today] could look a lot different. You might have divorced and remarried, or you might have kids or grandkids that weren’t around back then.” The big downside is clear: you could end up “accidentally leaving your estate to an ex-spouse or disinheriting stepchildren.”  If you fail to update your beneficiaries, your financial plans might go out the window.

Here’s a list from the USA Today article of significant life events that should cause you to double check your beneficiary designation:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • Birth of a child or grandchild
  • Death of a previous beneficiary
  • When a minor beneficiary comes of legal age to inherit

Which financial products are most likely to require updates on beneficiary designation? According to USA Today, here’s a basic list:

  • Retirement accounts like a 401(k) or IRA
  • 529 college saving plans
  • Life insurance
  • Annuities with a death benefit
  • Corporate profit-sharing plans
  • Pension plans
  • CDs, checking accounts or other bank accounts
  • Some stocks, bonds or mutual funds

Protecting your assets in retirement is a key part of a sound retirement strategy – and part of that protection involves making certain your wishes are carried out at every stage of your life as well as after you’re gone.   We work with our clients to help them establish a comprehensive retirement plan, called a LifePlan, dealing with all five pillars of planning for a sound future: finances, legal affairs, health care, housing choices and family relationships. With a LifePlan in place, you and your loved ones will face the future with greater confidence and peace of mind.

We invite you to begin the planning process by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars, held in locations all over the Puget Sound area. You’ll gain a valuable amount of very helpful information in one highly enjoyable, fast-paced evening. Simply click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for dates and times.

Of course, should you wish to make an appointment for an in-person consultation, contact us. It will be a pleasure to work with you to establish a solid plan for your retirement years!

(Originally reported at www.usatoday.com)

 

 

To Avoid Fights Over Your Inheritance, a Will May Not Be Enough

You’ve prepared a Last Will and Testament to make certain your inheritance goes to your heirs in accordance with your wishes. So you think that you’ve done enough to avoid family squabbles over your estate, right? Maybe – but maybe not.

According to estate planning experts, even a simple will that divides a significant estate can frequently result in long, expensive legal battles than can ruin family relationships forever. As one expert put it, “Family fights among children after death occurs in a large percentage of families.” This expert, Kansas attorney Tim O’Sullivan, adds “If the No. 1 goal is to create family harmony, then the estate plan ought to be designed in a way that preserves it. It’s so sad to see what happens in these situations.”

Click on this link to read How to Avoid Fights Over Inheritance, a helpful article from a few years ago, published on the website money.usnews.com. The points in the article are highly relevant even for modest-sized estates.

As the article explains, and as we tell our clients and guests at our frequent Life Planning Seminars, a will is nothing more than a piece of paper that’s given to a probate judge. It’s a set of instructions for the court. However, once your estate goes to probate, you’ve opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box. Probate is a process which varies from state to state, usually requires the expense of an attorney and often takes months, and once it begins the stage is set for legal battles between your heirs that can destroy the harmony you had hoped to leave behind.

 

The US News article advocates something we talk about frequently in our seminars and on the radio: establishing a trust instead of relying on a will. While we won’t go into the details here, the fact is that a carefully prepared and well-planned trust can avoid conflict entirely and ensure that your wishes for your estate are followed.

One professional quoted in the article, Wichita attorney Dan Peare, says he now recommends trusts for just about every client. “As a younger attorney, I thought a trust was better for an older person with a lot of wealth,” he says. “But over the years, I’ve come to believe that a trust is better than a will in every way for every person.”

Let us help you plan for a seamless, conflict-free transfer of your estate by discussing a trust with you. A good place to begin is by attending one of our frequent Life Planning Seminars. You can find the date, time and location that’s best for you by clicking on the Upcoming Events tab on this website

(Originally reported at www.money.usnews.com)

Best defence against the misinterpretation of HIPAA Law

The below article in New York Times suggests that the use of HIPAA codes are often misinterprets the law and often families have to struggle accessing the information on behalf of their love ones during the crisis situation. I recommend the best defense is not necessarily to rely on the law, but to have HIPAA release language in your Health Care Power of Attorney in place. Here is the recommended language:

I intend for my agent to be treated as I would be with respect to my rights regarding the use and disclosure of my individually identifiable health information or other medical records. This release authority applies to any information governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (a.k.a. HIPAA), 42 USC 1320d and 45 CFR 160-164. I authorize any physician, healthcare professional, dentist, health plan, hospital, clinic, laboratory, pharmacy, or other covered health care provider, any insurance company and the Medical Information Bureau, Inc. or other healthcare clearinghouse that has provided treatment or services to me or that has paid for or is seeking payment from me for services to give, disclose, and release to my agent, without restriction, all of my individually identifiable health information and medical records regarding any past, present, or future medical or mental health condition, including all information relating to the diagnosis and treatment of HIV / AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, and drug or alcohol abuse. The authority given my agent shall supersede any prior agreement that I may have made with my health care providers to restrict access to or disclosure of my individually identifiable health information.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/21/health/hipaas-use-as-code-of-silence-often-misinterprets-the-law.html?ref=health&_r=0

 

Category Archives: Legal

Caring for Elders While Holding a Job: the Prescription for Stress

A recent report on the blog of the AARP reports on a problem that will sound familiar to a growing number of Americans. Nearly 24 million workers are holding down paying jobs while at the same serving as family caregivers – and that combination is a sure prescription for stress, fatigue and uncertainty. You can…

Many Families are Resolving Conflict through Elder Mediation

We’ve said it many times, in our printed materials and on the radio: few conflicts can become more contentious than family conflicts. Tragically, this is especially true when it comes to issues relating to elder care. We think that’s because, in conflicts over how to care for Mom or Dad (and how to divide the…

Casey Kasem Family Controversy Prompts Preventive Legislation

His case dominated the entertainment headlines in mid-2014. The legendary Casey Kasem, whose rock and roll radio career spanned nearly six decades, was dying – but a feud between his children and their step-mother over Kasem’s condition and whereabouts, and a complete ban on the children’s access to their dad, would spill over into the…

Avoid Casey Kasem’s Tragic Fate With Proper Planning, Open Discussion

The death of “America’s DJ” Casey Kasem in 2014 may seem like old news. But the issues raised by the tawdry controversy surrounding Kasem’s passing from side effects of debilitating dementia still reverberate. As we tell our clients frequently, and explain to our radio listeners, the death of Casey Kasem carries lessons for all of…

When Assigning POA, Choose Carefully and Communicate Openly!

Sometimes we run across helpful articles that do a good job of stating a problem, without providing much of a solution. Such is the case with this recent article we found on the website www.AgingCare.com. It’s entitled “Family Feuds over Power of Attorney,” and it warns seniors of a problem we have repeatedly emphasized with…

Five Ways to Keep Your Kids from Fighting Over Your Will

You’ve heard about it and read about it. Maybe you’ve experienced it firsthand. It’s the terrible pain and the damaged relationships that can occur when adult siblings go to war over Mom or Dad’s estate. Like you, we’ve heard of cases where siblings who got along fine when the parents were living gradually become litigious…

CNN Expose: Could Your Aging Parent be among Psychic Scam Victims?

We just read a brand new article on the Money website of CNN that is both shocking and deeply frustrating. It describes a mammoth case of fraud that has been victimizing gullible people, most of them seniors, for more than 20 years. CNN is devoting several weeks to investigating this fraud, which experts claim may…

Part of Your Financial Plan: Remember to Update Your Beneficiaries!

Here’s a question: if you’ve made it clear in your will which one of your heirs should inherit money from your estate, how it is possible those funds will end up going to someone else? The answer is simple: if you’ve forgotten to update the beneficiary information on a life insurance policy, retirement plan, or…

To Avoid Fights Over Your Inheritance, a Will May Not Be Enough

You’ve prepared a Last Will and Testament to make certain your inheritance goes to your heirs in accordance with your wishes. So you think that you’ve done enough to avoid family squabbles over your estate, right? Maybe – but maybe not. According to estate planning experts, even a simple will that divides a significant estate…

Best defence against the misinterpretation of HIPAA Law

The below article in New York Times suggests that the use of HIPAA codes are often misinterprets the law and often families have to struggle accessing the information on behalf of their love ones during the crisis situation. I recommend the best defense is not necessarily to rely on the law, but to have HIPAA release language in your…