I love this story!

Many of my clients are seniors, and some suffer from loneliness and depression. They’ve often lost loved ones, and difficulty getting around results in physical and emotional isolation. I am always wondering what changes can be made, top to bottom, to address the problem. This is a great example!

Read the full story here on People Magazine Online:

Preschool Opens Inside Retirement Home Causing Elderly Residents to ‘Come Alive’

I am intrigued by this concept and can’t wait to see the documentary!


On January 23, 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (the “VA”) proposed new rules for its pension program (including the Aid & Attendance program) that include:

– Penalties on asset transfers within three years of an application for benefits

– Adjustment of the net worth limit to $117,240 (specifically, to match the Medicaid community spouse resource allowance, adjusted annually for cost of living)

– Inclusion of an applicant’s income as part of the net worth analysis

…and a number of other changes.

Under one of the most significant proposals, Veterans (and surviving spouses of Veterans) would no longer be able to transfer assets (outright or in trust) in order to be eligible for the VA Pension, at least not in the three years before application.

The rules are unclear on whether they would apply to prior transfers, that is, those made before the implementation of the rules in final form. Further, as drafted, the transfer rules would penalize the surviving spouse of the Veteran more than the Veteran.  Many practitioners are up in arms about these and other problems with the proposed rules.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Image © maticsandra


Last night, Julianne Moore took home the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal of a woman suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease in the 2014 film Still Alice, based on the best-selling novel by Lisa Genova.

While I haven’t seen the movie (yet!) I read the book several years ago and was incredibly moved. I help families dealing with dementia all the time. It is hard to imagine what these caregivers are going through on a daily basis, and even harder to imagine what the patient is experiencing. I have been told by many caregivers, through their tears, that it is the most difficult thing they’ve ever had to do.

It must be terrifying to know that your mind, and your memories, are slipping away and there is no treatment or cure that can help. This novel allowed me imagine for a moment how that might feel.

In her acceptance speech, Julianne Moore said that Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia are not a ‘normal part of aging.’ Today, I heard a physician say the same thing – that dementia may be widespread among the elderly, but it is not ‘normal’ and deserves special attention. While it seems a bit trite to say that I hope this movie helps spread awareness about this terrible disease, I hope it does just that.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease:

Alzheimer’s Association

National Institute on Aging

Mayo Clinic

Image © Danilo Rizzuti – Fotolia.com


Watching CBS Sunday Morning yesterday, I was so excited to see the residents of Park Springs, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (“CCRC”) located in Stone Mountain, Georgia, being featured! See the video here:


I am a huge fan of these communities – CCRCs – in large part because I have had many clients from Park Springs speak so highly of the sense of community and friendship they’ve established living there. I have learned that while aging can be an incredibly isolating experience, these communities combat that. They also allow residents to grow older in one place, as they contain various levels of care on the same property, from single-family homes, to condominiums, to assisted living and even skilled nursing care.  This also keeps spouses and partners together if one has higher care needs than the other. (Learn more about CCRCs by clicking the link above.)

Kudos to the residents at Park Springs for an exceptional performance!

Image © Win Nondakowit – Fotolia.com


In Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama hinted at several changes in capital gains tax treatment, which proposals include eliminating the step-up in basis, requiring estates to pay capital gains on inherited appreciated assets, and raising capital gains tax rates. While the majority of Americans don’t see much income from capital gains, the wealthiest one percent may see about one-third of their income taxed as capital gains. (These are also the individuals most likely to face estate tax problems, with a current federal estate tax exemption amount of $5,430,000 per individual.)

The step-up in basis is a concept that comes in to play when someone dies owning appreciated assets. Generally, if I sell an appreciated asset today, the taxable capital gain is the difference between what I’m selling it for (present value) and its value when I acquired it (its “basis”). But if I die owning that same property, the basis for whoever inherits it is the value upon my death – thus, if the asset has appreciated, my heirs/beneficiaries get the “step-up” in basis. 

The outcome? A tax break, so to speak, for inherited appreciated assets such as real estate and securities. The President’s proposal would eliminate this break, and would also potentially make the owner’s death a taxable event unless the assets were left to a spouse or charity. Perhaps this increase would be in exchange for a repeal of the federal estate tax, as some pundits have suggested? Regardless, it will be very interesting to see how this all plays out! 

Image © Christian Delbert – Fotolia.com


I think it’s safe to say that I’m still working on juggling motherhood, client work, and extras like blogging, so I look forward to picking back up with new posts soon!

In the meantime, I’m sharing this link to a New York Times article that I saw the other day in an elder attorneys newsletter.

According to the article, the Treasury Department and the IRS are issuing new rules for hospitals who want tax-exempt status (about 60% of hospitals throughout the country), which intends to limit hospitals’ use of aggressive tactics to collect payments from low-income payments, presumably those without the means to pay.

Happy reading!

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Several months ago, I saw a story about the 90+ Study on Sixty Minutes and found myself (not surprisingly) intrigued. Begun in 2003, the study has enrolled at least 1,600 elderly individuals in an effort to understand various aspects of aging, including the factors associated with longevity, the epidemiology of dementia, and the prevalence and prevention of disability and cognitive struggles. So far, findings have included:

  • Those who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those did not.
  • Individuals overweight in their 70s tended to live longer than normal or underweight people did.
  • More than 40% of people aged 90 and older suffer from dementia; nearly 80% of people aged 90 and older are disabled. Both dementia and disability were more common in women than men.
  • In people with dementia who are older than ninety, about half don’t have sufficient neuropathology in the brain to explain the dementia.
  • Among those aged 90 and older, people with a certain gene (called APOE2) are less likely to have Alzheimer’s dementia, but are still much more likely to have Alzheimer’s neuropathology in the brain.

Hopefully, this and other studies will lead to advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of age-related illness, cognitive decline, and other issues faced by the aging population.

Check out the full story here: The 90+ Study.

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Medicare Open Enrollment, which comes only once a year, begins October 15th and lasts through December 7th. During this period, Medicare beneficiaries should be evaluating whether their plans are working for them. If not, this is the opportunity to make some changes.

During Open Enrollment  you can:

Individuals should be re-evaluating coverage and costs and under their current plan, including whether their doctors are still accepting the plan, whether their medications are still covered under the plan, and whether similar coverage is available at a lesser cost.

To make changes, you can go to WWW.MEDICARE.GOV or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). The “plan finder” section on Medicare.gov also includes information on Medicare Advantage Plan premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Finally, the Medicare & You 2015 Pamphlet provides a great deal of information in an easy-to-read format.

Image © Dmitry – Fotolia.com


As an elder law attorney, my greatest sense of accomplishment comes from helping families face the problems and issues associated with aging. Many of these problems, though, go beyond the scope of legal work. The various burdens faced by family caregivers fall into this category.

Caring for an elderly family member is time-consuming, expensive, and can be thankless and frustrating. Individuals suffering from dementia often engage in difficult and irrational behaviors that challenge the will of even the most patient caregiver. In fact, studies have shown that care-giving can directly and negatively impact the caregiver’s physical, mental and emotional health. Fortunately, some companies and non-profit organizations are implementing programs to help with this growing problem.

For example, the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) consists of a national “aging network,” 56 state government agencies and 655 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), with more than 25,000 local community programs, such as senior centers and Councils on Aging (COAs).

Other resources include:

It is difficult to care for others if you do not also care for yourself. If you know any caregivers who could benefit from these resources, I encourage you to pass this along.

Image © Nikki Zalewski – Fotolia.com