The Musical Icon Prince May Have Died Without a Will

According to documents obtained by People Magazine, Prince did not have a Last Will and Testament. Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson filed an Emergency Petition in a Minnesota Court seeking the appointmeprincent of a Special Administrator.

Sources report Prince’s sister as stating, “I do not know of the existence of a Will and have no reason to believe that the Decedent executed testamentary documents in any form,” states the document, which was filed in Carver County Minnesota.

An Administrator is appointed to settle an estate after a person has died.  A petition must be filed with the court and a personal representative must be appointed.  The personal representative is responsible for the following:

  • Collection, inventory, and appraisal of assets of the person who has died.
  • Protection of the estate’s assets.
  • Payment of decedent’s debts.
  • Distribution of the remaining assets to the proper parties as provided by law.

According to a survey conducted by FindLaw.com, 35% of those surveyed had a Will but individuals over the age of 65 did execute a Will. Without a Will, property passes according to the State’s intestacy laws.

Some sources believe that Prince’s current estate is valued at over $300 million dollars. The failure to execute a Will may result in his property being distributed in a manner contrary to what he may have wanted during his life.

If you or a loved one needs a Last Will and Testament or other Advanced Directives, contact the experienced attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. at (718) 210-4744 to ensure that your property passes to those you choose and not according to the laws of intestacy.

Protecting Loved Ones from Elder Abuse

Finding professional and caring home care services for an elderly family member can be challenging.  Families express concerns over the prevention of elder abuse and how they can protect a loved one’s legal rights.  Seeking advice from an experienced elder law attorney can help you make the right decisions when it comes to your elderly loved ones.

There are several forms of elder maltreatment, including emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse, and financial abuse.  Some studies report as much as 25 percent of elderly adults are abused in some fashion at the hands of caregivers.  Caregivers can be paid employees or family members.

One obstacle in remedying elder abuse is identifying it in the first place.  Older adults may have dementia or other health issues, that may cause them to have a disheveled appearance.  Separating the cases where an individual’s grooming issues are caused by maltreatment, as opposed to it being an effect of medical and psychological concerns, is not as easy as one might think.  Additionally, it may be necessary for caregivers to take precautions, such as physical restraints, to safeguard an individual’s safety.  Each case must be analyzed on an individual basis because the circumstances may lead to a finding of maltreatment, or may be a justifiable safety measure.

Another obstacle facing abuse is the secrecy surrounding issues of elder abuse.  According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, there are approximately 65.7 million informal and family caregivers in America.  Due to such a high number of family and informal caregivers, many times elder abuse is not discussed or reported.  Aside from instances of intentional abuse, caregivers can often suffer from fatigue and lack of resources to adequately care for their loved one which can lead to unintentional neglect or abuse.

Choosing the right caregiver and planning for long term care are very difficult and important decisions you and your family will have to make.  Contact an experienced New York elder law attorney who can help.  For more information, contact Hobson-Williams, P.C. at (718) 210-4744 for the quality representation that you deserve.

Caregivers Kept in the Loop with NY CARE Law

The Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable Act (CARE), signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on October 14, 2015, has been fully enacted as of January 7, 2016.  The law requires hospitals to allow a caregiver to be added to a patient’s record when being admitted.  The law goes further in requiring hospitals to keep the caregiver well informed about how to care for the patient, even training the caregiver before the patient is discharged.

In New York, there are approximately 4.1 million New Yorkers acting as caregivers, often for a family member, and many times unpaid.  Caregivers are usually lacking in proper training because they are family or friends, which can increase the number of patient hospital or doctor visits.  The New York State Senate estimates that the total value of unpaid care reaches approximately $32 billion each year.

CARE was enacted because of the strains on the health system, based on the fact that patients are often readmitted to a hospital when not receiving professional care at home.  Additionally, in many instances caregivers are not kept updated about the patient’s care and what treatment is necessary after discharge.  CARE enables caregivers to be better prepared to meet the needs of their loved one, which in turn will hopefully avoid preventable medical costs down the line.  This law also comes at minimal cost to the taxpayers of New York, but substantially benefits the growing population of elderly individuals.

If you or someone you know is a caregiver for a loved one, it is best to consult with an experienced elder law attorney who can guide clients in making the necessary arrangements and help with protecting the rights of the caregiver and patient.  The attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. are available for consultation by calling 866-825-1529.

Operation Cocoon

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Customs and Border Protection Agency are working together to combat a new trend of drug traffickers who fool seniors into becoming international drug mules.  Traffickers either forge a relationship with seniors or promise inheritance or other monetary incentives.  In targeting the elderly, traffickers hope that the drugs pass through security undetected.  This scheme has worked to some degree because eighty-three U.S. citizens who fell victim to drug trafficking tricks have been arrested in foreign countries since 2013.

Operation Cocoon, an initiative to identify seniors before leaving the U.S. as drug mules,  has been successful in preventing some seniors from boarding international flights and facing jail time in a foreign country.  According to the New York Times, approximately 272 kilograms of methamphetamine, 209 kilograms of cocaine, 4 kilograms of ecstasy, and 11 kilograms of heroin have been confiscated under Operation Cocoon.

Some seniors, though, have not been so lucky.  One such man, J. Bryon Martin, is now serving a six-year jail term abroad for smuggling almost 2 kilograms of cocaine.  Mr. Martin, a seventy-seven-year-old retired pastor from Maine, met an individual he knew as “Joy,” who eventually asked for his help in transporting what he thought were real estate papers.  Mr. Martin trusted “Joy” because they had an online relationship for about five years before she asked him to travel to Peru and then onto London.  During Mr. Martin’s layover in Spain, authorities opened up the packages thought to contain paperwork, and found the drugs.

Operation Cocoon has helped prevent many seniors from traveling abroad as drug mules, but there is still progress that needs to be made.  One challenge for authorities is the fact that drug traffickers are not typically located within U.S. borders.  Traffickers are also savvy and seem to know ways in avoiding detection.

The initiative must start at home: caring for our elderly and choosing the best care specialists is essential in preventing our older loved ones from being victimized.  The Law Offices of Hobson-Williams, P.C., help clients protect their loved ones and are experienced in handling other elder law and guardianship issues. The attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. are available for consultation by calling 866-825-1529.

Employees of Medford Multicare Found Guilty on Charges in Connection with Rehab Patient’s Death

Recently, five former health care workers at a nursing home facility were convicted of several crimes in connection with the death of a 72 year old rehabilitation patient.  A respiratory therapist and three nurses were sentenced to various jail terms and probation for the attempted cover–up of the circumstances surrounding the patient’s death.  In addition, another respiratory therapist entrusted with the patient’s care was convicted of criminally negligent homicide.

Aurelia Rios had gone to the Medford Multicare Center for Living, Inc. for rehabilitation purposes.  While there, she required the use of a ventilator to aid in respiration.  However, the respiratory therapist had not read the doctor’s instructions and neglected to connect the ventilator when Rios had gone to sleep.  Evidence shown at jury trial demonstrated that Rios’s respiratory and cardiac alarms had gone off when she stopped breathing, but that the therapist and the nurses ignored the activated alarms and the messages sent to their pagers.  Staff waited two hours before responding to Rios who had been dead for a considerable amount of time.  Additionally, surveillance footage showed two occasions when the respiratory therapist walked by Rios’s room, ignoring the alarms signifying respiratory distress.

The employees proceeded to both falsify nursing notes and conceal computer records in connection to the incident.  Further, none of the staff reported to the New York State Department of Health as required by law.

Among the charges the nursing staff were found guilty of include:

  • Falsifying Business Records
  • Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person
  • Willful Violation of Health Laws

Three former aides pled guilty to charges arising from the same occurrence.  The Medford facility corporation’s owner will also be sentenced to seven days in jail on two counts of Falsifying Business Records and Willful Violation of Health Laws.

In addition to the criminal charges, the New York State Attorney General filed a civil lawsuit, charging the corporation with corporate looting and fraud related to a history of criminal activity conducted by the corporation’s employees.

If you or a loved one has experienced nursing home neglect or abuse, contact an attorney immediately who can protect and advise you of your legal rights.  The Law Offices of Tanya Hobson-Williams is dedicated to fighting for the rights of the elderly and vulnerable and has successfully handled numerous cases concerning nursing home abuse and neglect.  For more information, call the Law Offices of Tanya Hobson-Williams toll free at (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744.

Nursing Home Employee Indicted on Charges Related to Resident Trust Account Theft

The New York State Attorney General recently announced that a former employee of a nursing home has been arrested and indicted on 24 counts related to stealing over $6,000 from a nursing home trust fund.  The indictment alleges Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree; two counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree; and seven counts of Petit Larceny for incidents occurring between April 2013 and February 2014.

As the receptionist, the employee was entrusted with the responsibility of submitting requests for residents who wished to use funds from the trust account.  Standard operating procedure at nursing homes is to comingle all resident funds into one account at a bank.  A small amount of money is then kept at the nursing home for distribution to residents when requested.  Instead of distributing the funds to the residents, the indictment alleges that the employee forged the checks, cashed them, and withheld the money for herself.

Nursing home residents are some of the most vulnerable members of society.  Attorney General Schneidermann remarked, “Nursing home residents across New York State entrust financial control to those who are trained and paid to care for them, and those staff members must honor that trust.”

If your loved one is in a nursing home and has been abused financially or physically, contact an experienced Elder Law attorney who can advise you and your loved one regarding the best course of action to take.  Call the Law Offices of Tanya Hobson-Williams toll free at (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744.

 

The Care Planning Act of 2015

The U.S. Senate introduced a bill that would allow doctors to be reimbursed by Medicare for providing end of life planning advice to their patients.  This bill is called “The Care Planning Act,” and it would amend title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act.  This legislation resulted from findings that because Americans are living longer, they are also facing more serious conditions later in life.  The goal of the Act is to ensure that aging individuals with advancing illnesses understand their treatment options and can assist in making their health care choices before losing capacity.  Previously, Medicare would not reimburse qualified health care professionals for this type of counseling.

By discussing end of life options with a physician, aging individuals would be able to articulate their values and preferences so that physicians would be able to develop an appropriate plan for treatment and decision making.  Under the plan, the number of conversations regarding end of life planning is unlimited.

Those in opposition to the bill have expressed concern that the program is motivated by the desire to cut health care costs due to the large amount of money that is spent on individuals in the last few years prior to death.  Those who favor the Act believe it will enable seniors to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

In order to be eligible for the “planning services,” an individual would have to be in need of assistance with certain daily activities, or diagnosed with one of the following illnesses:

  • metastatic or locally advanced cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease/progressive dementia
  • late-stage neuromuscular disease
  • late-stage diabetes
  • late-stage kidney, liver, heart, gastrointestinal, cerebrovascular, or lung disease

If passed by the House and Senate, the proposed bill could go into effect in January 2016.   To read the full bill, click here.

If you or a loved one is in the process of planning for long term care, find out how to protect yourself or loved one and contact experienced elder law attorney, Tanya Hobson-Williams. The attorneys at Tanya Hobson-Williams are available to set up a consultation at 866-825-1529.

New Federal Nursing Home Rating System Causes Lower Scores

Choosing a nursing home for yourself or your loved one can be challenging and emotionally taxing.  With so many stories about nursing home abuse and neglect, it can take a lot of research to find a location you feel comfortable with.  However, even the pricey nursing homes may not have the nicest accommodations or provide the best health care.  A few weeks ago, the federal government put a new nursing home rating system into effect.  The goal is to provide a more accurate rating system for nursing homes that reflects the quality of accommodation and care the residents receive.   Approximately 80% of the nursing homes originally received 4 or 5 star ratings based on the old criteria.  However, the ratings were mostly inaccurate due to the lack of specificity and different criteria of the previous rating system.

On the new rating system, 1/3 of nursing homes received a lower score than they had received originally, due to the more stringent requirements implemented in determining quality of care.  Now, only half of the nursing homes received a 4 or 5 star rating.  Use of anti-psychotic drugs was a factor that was analyzed under the new system that caused many ratings to drop due to the risks to health they pose in residents who do not require them for specific conditions.  This factor was analyzed more closely due to the growing concern of nursing homes overmedicating their patients.  In addition, staffing levels were looked at more closely due to the correlation between quality care and adequate staffing.

Additional new measures are expected to be implemented in 2016.

Choosing a nursing home and planning for long term care are very difficult and important decisions you and your family will have to make.  Contact an experienced New York elder law attorney who can help.  For more information, contact Tanya Hobson-Williams P.C. at (718) 210-4744 for the quality representation that you deserve.

Seniors Feel the Effects of Inflation in Health Care Costs

A recent article on WealthManagement.com has reported that seniors feel the effects of inflation more than the rest of the population.  Research shows that a major reason for this is due to the rising costs of healthcare.  Although over the last three years, the costs of Medicare have tapered off due to the Affordable Care Act, J.P. Morgan Wealth Asset Management expects that Medicare costs will shift toward increasing 6.1% annually over the next twenty years.  This means that a 65 year old paying $4,400 a year now will be spending $17,000 annually at age 85.

Healthview Services conducted research that considered how inflation will affect the relationship between Medicare and Social Security benefits.  If found that currently, health care costs consume 67% of social security benefits, and that number is expected to increase to 83% over the next twenty years.  Additionally, some of the other factors traditionally used to offset health care costs are no longer as ubiquitous as they once were.  For example, in 1988, 66% of employees at large companies received retiree health benefits.  In 2013, only 28% of employees at large companies received them.  Additionally, 38% of employees in the private sector received pensions, while only 15% did in 2010.

J.P. Morgan found that while other expenses went down after age 45 such as food, entertainment and apparel, medical expenses and charitable contributions increased.

Click here to read the full article.

It is important to plan ahead for retirement as many unexpected expenses may arise, particularly regarding healthcare costs.  If you are in the process of planning for retirement, it is best to consult with an attorney who can guide you in making the necessary arrangements and help you protect your assets. The attorneys at Tanya Hobson-Williams are available to set up a consultation at 866-825-1529.

Nursing Homes Using Guardianship Rights to Collect Debts

Nursing Homes Using Guardianship Rights to Collect Debts

The New York Times recently exposed several startling scenarios in which nursing homes have attempted to gain guardianship rights over residents in an effort to collect payment.  According to research done by Hunter College, the practice of nursing homes filing for guardianship of residents is becoming increasingly common.  In the last ten years, out of 700 guardianship cases brought to court in Manhattan alone, 12% were filed by nursing homes.

If a Guardian is appointed due to the efforts of the nursing home, they are often awarded not only reimbursement of their legal fees out of the incapacitated persons funds but they could also be granted payment of their nursing home bills and obtain other rights over the incapacitated persons finances. It is legal for nursing homes to hire counsel to petition for the appointment of a Guardian and in some cases it may be necessary.  However, the intent of Article 81 of the New York State Mental Hygiene Law has been increasingly abused.  The intent was that guardianship was to be a last resort and only granted for the benefit of the person for whom it is appointed.   Families whose loved ones reside in nursing facilities may be thrust into the vortex of an expensive and lengthy legal battle as a result of the exploitation of the statute.

In a recent heartbreaking case mentioned by the Times last month, an 82 year old man was forced to undergo the anguish of watching his wife of 47 years lapse into dementia while being terrorized by the looming threat of litigation.  Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home had petitioned for guardianship of the woman after her nursing home bills co-payment had doubled to $4,558.54 per month, making it impossible for the couple to keep up with payments.  The woman had appointed her husband as health proxy and power of attorney in the event of incapacity.  However, the nursing home had left a stack of legal papers near her bedside for her husband to find.  It was a petition brought by the nursing home to have a guardian appoited over his wife despite the validly executed power of attorney.

If your relative is in a nursing home that has petitioned for guardianship, or you are just in the process of planning for their long term care, find out how to protect your loved one and contact experienced elder law attorney, Tanya Hobson-Williams. The attorneys at Tanya Hobson-Williams are available to set up a consultation at 866-825-1529.