Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What About the Joint Bank Account You Have With Mom?

When there a several children in the family and one child is handling a joint account created with the parent’s money the other children may wonder how that money is being handled, particularly if the parent has become incapacitated. The best situation is where all family members can talk freely with each other about such matters. However, many families find it hard to talk for various reasons, and in some cases not everyone wants the information shared. Moreover, a child who is a joint account holder with Mom may misunderstand what legal rights and obligations they have in dealing with mom’s money.  Under Virginia law a child handling money for a parent must be very careful how that money is used and can be held liable for its misuse.  For example, the son handling Mom’s money in a joint bank account that she set up in their joint names is considered to have a fiduciary relationship to his mom that requires him to handle it properly for her benefit. He can’t just use the money for himself. In fact, he can be held accountable for any self-dealing transactions, which are assumed to be improper, and if he dips into mom’s money for himself  he can be subject to claims of breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, unjust enrichment, etc. This is why it is important that he understand what he can and cannot legally do with her money and that he keep careful records. As elder law attorneys, we can help people with these matters.

Monday, September 5, 2011

What Did You Do With Mom's Money?

What if mom has several children and names one of them to hold her power of attorney? Does this mean the child can do anything he or she wants with mom’s money? Does that child  have to tell the other kids what he has done with the money if they ask? Under Virginia law, the giving of a power of attorney does not give the child complete unfettered use of the parent’s money, and accountings for its use can be required. A power of attorney is a document that names an         agent to handle financial matters. This does not give the child the power to use the money for himself or herself. Instead it is to be used for the parent as the parent has directed. The child is the parent’s agent and has a fiduciary duty to the parent. If you are a child who holds a power of attorney for your mom or dad, it is very important that you understand what powers you do or do not have under Virginia law and what records you must keep. If your mom or dad is incapacitated and you are concerned that the agent may be abusing a power of attorney or if your parent died and you don’t know what happened to the money that was being managed for him or her under a power of attorney, there are provisions in the law about how an accounting can be required. Also, if  you are a parent granting a power of attorney, it is very important that you make a wise choice about who will hold your power of attorney. As elder law attorneys, we help people with these decisions.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What's Going to Happen to My Interest Income?

People counting on interest from investments, and especially retirees living on Social Security supplemented by interest income, are feeling the squeeze of lower interest rates projected to last two years.

In a front page article, the Wall Street Journal on August 22, 2011 included an informative discussion recognizing that borrowers benefit but savers suffer as interest rates fall. The news from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that interest rates are to be rock bottom for two more years is bad news for seniors who can’t afford risky investments and are learning that they can expect only meager returns on fixed income investments over at least the next two years.

As Seniors and their Baby Boomer children seek for the parents to be able to age at home as long as possible and to be able to afford long term care if it is needed, early planning becomes even more important. Hall and Hall’s Richmond elder law attorneys regularly help clients who are looking at the possible need for long term care in the future and seeking to develop the best legal plans for preserving their assets and paying for the costs of long term care.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How Can I Help Mom and Dad If I Live Out of Town?

In today’s mobile society, many adult children are living in another state while trying to assist their elderly parents. They have the same kinds of questions about how to help their parents that children living in the same area as their parents have. It is just more difficult for them to manage the details of long distance care taking. An excellent resource for care giving children is “How to Care for Aging Parents” by Virginia Morris, published by Workman Publishing. Not only does this book contain many helpful ideas about taking care of aging parents, it also reminds the Baby Boomer children who are trying to help that they need to take care of themselves too. It is a wonderful resource that addresses many of the questions that adult children have about the aging process, how to talk to their parents, how to adapt to new roles, what resources there are, and understanding medical, financial, housing, emotional and practical issues. As elder law attorneys helping clients with the legal aspects of their personal affairs, we often recommend that our clients’ children whether they live in town or out of town read this book to help them with the practical matters that come up.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hall & Hall Releases its new "Boomers and Seniors Elder Law Blog"

Hall & Hall, PLC, is pleased to bring you a new blog for Baby Boomers and the Seniors they love. This will be a reliable place to look for information and tips on matters of concern to the elderly and their children.

We are creating this blog because we know that our population is aging in what has been referred to by many as “the Silver Tsunami.”Our seniors are living longer and have new issues to face. Our baby boomers are looking at how they can help their parents as they go through the later stages of their lives and how they need to plan for their own lives and families. Professionals in related fields want to know more about these important areas as well.

There is so much information available on the internet that many people feel they do not know what is accurate and what is not. They want to consult a source they can trust.  This blog is intended to provide timely and helpful information based on Federal and Virginia law and tips based on our knowledge and experience.

There is a great deal  to know about Estate Planning, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Long Term Care, Medicaid, Veteran’s Benefits, including VA Aid and Attendance, Powers of Attorney, Medical Powers of Attorney, Guardianship and Conservatorship, vulnerability to Elder Abuse, Wills, Trusts, and Estate Administration. People come to us expressing bewilderment and a desire to make informed decisions based on sound advice. While the tips and information in this blog will not constitute legal advice, we hope they can help give you some foundation of understanding so that you can seek and use legal advice properly when it becomes necessary. For advice on a specific legal matter you should consult an elder law attorney based on your unique situation.