Two recent studies on elder financial abuse were recently published- one suggesting the problem is far bigger than we think and the other suggesting it's much smaller. In addition, there are a few government and private initiatives starting to seriously attack the scourge of financial exploitation of older Americans-considered the most prevalent form of elder abuse.
No matter how old you are, you're still your parents' child. Someday, however, they may need to rely on you for help when it comes to their finances. With an aging population, loved ones must grapple with how to help their elderly parents manage their finances. Regardless of whether you and your parents have always talked freely about money or never discussed the subject, there are several considerations you may want to address with them as they approach their later years.
Gaining control over our finances is usually at or near the top of all New Year's resolutions. What many people don't realize, though, is that good legal planning is an essential component of our financial health. Effective legal documents can protect us from costly divorces, lawsuits and exorbitant transfer taxes. Why then, do half of us not even have a will?
The comedian Robin Williams hadn't been deceased for long when a fight erupted over some of his belongings. Williams' third wife and his three children from a previous marriage landed in court with a dispute over personal items, including Williams' watches. When assets are being passed on to children from a prior marriage, trouble can quickly ensue. Having a clear will and a sound trust can help ease tensions. But experts are advising people who remarry to have even stronger asset defenses-prenups and even postnups that are highly detailed and clearly laid out. The message from the experts is simple: You can never have too many documents backing up your intentions.
Leslie Sieleni found out her son had Down syndrome when he was 5 days old. Now 14, Sean Sieleni talks about driving a car, going to college, living on his own and getting a job. His mom supports those dreams, but she worries. One thing that eases her mind is the prospect of Minnesota authorizing a new kind of savings plan that gets its first committee hearing soon in the state Senate.
An important issue in dealing with wealth transfer for blended families is how the assets flow to the surviving spouse and family members or after the death of the surviving spouse. Ensuring the surviving spouse and his/her children are financially secure while providing an inheritance to your biological children can be accomplished through methods such as qualified terminable interest property trusts or irrevocable life insurance trusts. Both allow the assets of the deceased to flow in certain directions and potentially at certain intervals to ensure all parties receive a share of the wealth appropriately.
Massachusetts regulators appear to be falling short in ensuring that nursing homes follow rules designed to improve care for some of their most vulnerable patients, those with dementia, a Globe review shows. Nursing homes have been notably slow to implement the improvements: Some have not completed the required staff training for dementia care that is required of all nursing homes and was supposed to be finished nearly three months ago, the Globe found in a random check of about one dozen facilities. Meanwhile, at least 40 nursing homes have asked for waivers to complete other upgrades required for facilities that specifically advertise special care for dementia patients, according to state data. And six have been cited for their failures, the state said.
There doesn't appear to be much doubt that Robin Williams conveyed his estate plans to his family in the years before his tragic suicide last summer. His full estate was left to a trust, which his three adult children will inherit. There was a prenuptial agreement between Williams and his wife, Susan Schneider Williams, whom he married in 2011. And as part of his trust, another trust was established to support his wife in the event of his death. Williams also appears to have done his best to divvy up his personal possessions without resorting to listing each and every one. All clothing, jewelry, and photos he owned prior to his 2011 marriage to Schneider Williams? They go to the children. His awards and other career "memorabilia"? The kids get them. His possessions at a home he owned in Napa? The three children again. The Marin County home Robin Williams shared with his wife? Schneider Williams. The possessions in that residence? Well, excluding all of the above, those are hers. So where does that leave the tuxedo Williams wore at the couple's wedding? Or his many collections of things like graphic novels, walking sticks, Japanese anime, and movie posters?
The late, legendary DJ Casey Kasem's daughter Kerri Kasem and family members staged a press conference at Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles Friday to urge the Los Angeles Police Department to arrest Mr. Kasem's widow Jean Kasem. Jean Kasem removed Mr. Kasem, along with his surgically implanted feeding tube, from a Santa Monica hospital on May 7 and took him to the Seattle area, where he died June 15, 2014. Then she took his body to Montreal and Oslo, where it sat in a freezer for months until he was buried in an unmarked grave shortly before Christmas. "If this isn't a case of elder abuse, I don't know what is," said Kerri Kasem attorney Martha Patterson. "It's equivalent to taking a baby out of an incubator."
This spring, Florida lawmakers will have a chance to stem abuses in the state's little-understood adult guardianship system by taking up measures that would make it harder for guardians and attorneys to disregard the best interests of the wards they're supposed to protect. Critics say the process of stripping away an elder's rights and taking over that person's assets happens too quickly in Florida, without enough notice to family, friends or even the prospective ward. With more Americans living into their 80s, cases of age-related dementia are increasingly becoming matters for litigation. In most states, anyone can apply to the court to determine that an elder lacks the capacity to make decisions, and place that individual under guardianship.