Elder Abuse/Exploitation

Getting Informed About Nursing Homes

I've recently had a number of family and friends face the ordeal of finding a nursing home for their loved one. In some cases, the family member had experienced a fall or a stroke. In other cases, a minor surgery had complications that took more time to heal than was expected, and providing care for them at home wasn't a good option. And in still other cases, the level of care and supervision required due to dementia or other health conditions had caused the family to recognize that it was simply in the best interest of their loved one to have that level of care.

As our population continues to age and our improving medical technology further lengthens our lives, these kinds of decisions will eventually be made by most of us. I wanted to make you aware of two resources that may be very helpful to you when that time arrives for you and your loved ones.

The first is the U.S. Government's Medicare online "Nursing Home Compare" guide. The following paragraph comes from the website's own description of its purpose:

Nursing Home Compare allows consumers to compare information about nursing homes. It contains quality of care information on every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country, including over 17,000 nationwide.

Understanding the Importance and Implications of Guardianships and Conservatorships

Often in estate planning, attorneys present the idea of guardianship and/or conservatorship as a bad thing - something to be avoided. In a perfect world, we could move through our lives from cradle to grave without such things as guardianships and conservatorships. But in order to achieve this perfect world, we have to do advance planning to provide for our own care if we become impaired or incapacitated, and we need trustworthy, responsible and financially astute family members who are willing and able to assist us. For some people, these "perfect world" conditions do exist. However, for many others, they do not.

Increasingly, attorneys run into the following situations:

1. Seniors come to us, often brought by their children or children-in-law, when mental incapacity has set in, and although they appear to have willing and able family members who can take care of them, assist with making personal care and living decisions, or manage their finances, the seniors do not have the necessary delegation documents in place to empower these helpers as their agents.

2. Seniors have documents in place, but the people named are dead or no longer available, willing or appropriate to serve.

3. The people who the senior trusted and anticipated would be appropriate have become exploitive and abusive to them.

4. Seniors have been conned into paying for, or agreeing to pay for, fraudulent products and/or services.

Are Elder Law Attorneys Just Old Lawyers Who Won’t Retire?

Have you ever wondered to yourself "what does RobRoy mean when he says he is an 'Elder Law' attorney?" I am often asked this question by clients, friends, professionals and even by attorneys. Next week, I will be representing the Utah State Bar's Elder Law section at the Utah Senior Expo (at the Sandy Expo Center). The purpose of my being there is to educate the public about the legal specialty referred to as "Elder Law."

I thought it would be helpful if I shared with you my explanation of "Elder Law" that I wrote for the State Bar's publication that will be provided to the public at this Expo:

What is Elder Law?

"Elder Law" has developed as a legal specialty over the last two decades to help seniors and their family members deal with the unique and complex challenges facing them as they age. Elder Law attorneys are often sought out when a family member, due to advanced age, disability, or mental capacity, is no longer able to adequately care for themselves, or when they anticipate that they will no longer be able to do so within the near future.

Better Business Bureau--Whom Does It Protect?

A few months back, I received a very official sounding phone call from the Better Business Bureau "regarding possible complaints against [my] business." They asked me to return their call right away in order to quickly resolve these issues. Fortunately, I knew enough about the BBB to know that they have no authority to accept complaints about my business, and furthermore they have no authority to do anything about it even if they did receive complaints about my business.

So just for kicks, I called them back to find out what they were really looking for. The tone of the phone representative was much different when I called. He immediately began explaining all of the many wonderful benefits that would accrue to my company if I paid the nearly $500 per year fee to belong to their organization as an accredited business. (It may come as a surprise to you, but the only way the Better Business Bureau (BBB) makes enough money to exist is through the fees that its members pay to it. And who are the members of the BBB? You guessed it, the very businesses that the BBB is supposed to be policing.)

Buyer Beware

Blog Post by:  Melissa C. Platt, Esq.

We’ve all been in that situation before…the one where we’re standing there scratching our heads and asking ourselves how we just got pressured into making that purchase or signing up for that service. Unfortunately, sometimes the tactics used by salespersons or people presenting themselves as salespersons, aren’t just persuasive—they are downright deceptive. I’ll share a couple of examples from my own family, and then I’ll talk about what you can do to protect yourself and vulnerable loved ones.

Last summer, an elderly widowed family member had a salesman from a residential alarm system company knock on her door. This salesman was a “nice” young man attending school at BYU. Because of his connection with an institution that she knew, she trusted this young salesman to disclose to her all the details of the contract he was asking her to sign and didn’t read the contract herself. (The print was so tiny, I don’t think she could have read it, even if she had wanted to!). I don’t fault this woman for not reading the contract because I’m an attorney, and I’ve done it before too.

"Trust Mill" Fined $6.4 Million

The Ohio Supreme Court recently slapped a $6.4 million penalty upon two companies, American Family Prepaid Legal Corp. and Heritage Marketing and Insurance Services Inc., for the illegal practice of law (running a "Trust Mill") in that state.  These companies have also been banned from ever operating in Ohio again.

What is a "Trust Mill?"  Trust Mills are typically made up of individuals who sell insurance, annuities or other types of high-commission financial products.  

Violent Assault on 101 Year-old New Yorker Spurs State Legislature to Action

A recent mugging in New York apparently struck a nerve with lawmakers there. At 101 years old, the lady in this video held up quite well despite the violent attack against her. The attacker made off with a measly $33 and her house keys. In response to this widely publicized video clip, the New York legislature quickly passed a law making it a "violent felony" to assault someone over 65. Before this law was passed, the assailant could have plead in his defense that he didn't know his victim was so old and possibly get off with no more than a misdemeanor.

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