Archive for May, 2011

A Unique Graduation Present

Monday, May 30th, 2011

May and June are busy months if you have a senior in high school or college.  There are graduation parties, plans for the future and the hunt for the perfect graduation present.

You want something ‘different’, not the same old ‘cross pen’ or ‘briefcase’ or whatever.

Why not a Durable Power of Attorney? or an Advance Medical Directive?

Lots of graduates don’t think they need these and many don’t think they can afford to pay a lawyer to have these critical documents drafted for them.  Unfortunately, the truth is that these are vital documents that every adult should have in place before they are needed. And young adults are one of the groups that is most prone to accidents and might need to have these documents in the next few years.

Once a person reaches the age of 18, he or she is considered a legal adult.  This means that Mom and Dad can no longer make legal decisions for them.  Mom and Dad can no longer call the school to make arrangements for school work if the child is ill.  Mom and Dad can no longer take the child to the hospital and authorize treatment.  Mom and Dad can no longer call the insurance company and take over after a car accident.

That is, unless the child has named Mom and/or Dad as their agent under a Power of Attorney.

This year, why not give the graduate in your life something really different?  (and really useful!)

To Learn more about Kristina Beavers, Attorney at Law visit the website at www.BeaversLaw.com

Do you have a ‘special needs’ child?

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Most of us know that each child is special and unique, but in this case I’m talking about a child that has ‘special needs’.

These special needs can run the gamut from being mildly allergic to milk to being unable to care for themselves at all.

When the child is under the age of 18, the parent can make decisions for the child without question so long as they have not been removed as the legal guardian of the child.

But what happens when that child reaches the age of majority?  In most states, a person is presumed to be able to make their own decisions when they reach the age of 18.

If your child’s special need is to not drink milk, this is probably ok.  The child probably knows to stay away from foods that have negative consequences.  But what about a child that is not able to take care of his or her own self?

If the now-adult child is capable of understanding what it means, he or she can execute a power of attorney giving the parent (or someone else) the authority to act or make decisions on behalf of the child.  If the child is not capable of understanding what it means, the courts may need to step in to authorize someone to take actions on behalf of the child.  This person is usually called a ‘guardian’ or ‘conservator’.

As a parent, you also want to make sure that your young child is cared for in case something should happen to you.  While this is important for all parents, it is even more important for parents of special needs children who may not be able to successfully transition to the care of others in the case of an emergency.

There are also a number of financial and legal planning activities that the parents of a special needs child should know about in order to make the best decisions for the entire family.

If you have a special needs child, you probably already have a number of specialists working with you on your child’s medical and educational plans.  You should also consider having someone work with you on your child’s legal plan.

To Learn more about Kristina Beavers, Attorney at Law visit the website at www.BeaversLaw.com

Hampton Office !

Friday, May 20th, 2011

We have just opened a new satellite office to better serve our clients in the Hampton area.

Our Hampton office is in the Peninsula Town Center with an address of:

Kristina Beavers, Attorney at Law

4410 Claiborne Sq, Suite 334

Hampton, VA 23666

You can use the same phone number of 757-234-4650 to access us at either office (don’t you just love technology!)

To learn more about Kristina Beavers, Attorney at Law, check out our website at www.BeaversLaw.com

Veteran’s Aid and Attendance

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Elder Law attorneys work with their clients to try to maintain the lifestyle that the client wants.  One of the ways that Elder Law attorneys do this is by helping the client find benefits that are available to them.

Even though its been around for a long time, a lot of people still don’t know about the Veteran’s benefit known as ‘Aid and Attendance’.

Every veteran who has served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least one of those days during a period that is designated as ‘a period of war’, and who left the service with anything other than a dishonorable discharge might be eligible.  The benefit is also possibly available to the widow or widower of a deceased veteran who met the service eligibility requirements.

You can check HERE to determine if  your service included at least one day during a period of war.  Note that while you had to be on active duty for at least one day during a period of war, you did not actually need to be stationed in a combat zone.

In addition to the service eligibility, the veteran (or spouse of deceased veteran) must meet some medical and financial requirements before they can receive this benefit.

The medical requirements are that the person requesting the benefit must NEED assistance with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, eating, cooking, taking medications, etc.  There are no specific details as to what is required to prove a NEED and each application is evaluated individually.  As a practical matter, if the person can and does drive, it is practically impossible to prove that they NEED assistance with daily tasks.

The basic requirements also state that the person requesting the benefit must have a financial need.  Again, each application is evaluated individually and there are no definite limits.  While the stated requirements say that the applicant can have up to $80,000 in assets, the practical experience is that some people with assets as low as $50,000 have been declined.  The safer approach would be to have no more than $40,000 in assets.  There is also an income requirement.  Note that there is no ‘look back’ period for this benefit, unlike the ‘look back’ period that comes into play when you apply for medicaid.

If you apply for this benefit and are declined, you must wait at least one year before you can apply again.  That is why it is important to try to get the information correct the first time.  It would be a very sad event if the applicant was denied the benefit for some reason, but then things changed a month later that would have made them eligible and they had to wait a whole year to reapply.

The details of applying for this benefit are complex, even though they seem deceptively simple.  There are forms available for you to do this yourself, but you might want to consider working with someone that can help you get things right the first time.  There are also a lot of people that claim to be able to assist you in the application process for a fee, but often those people don’t have a lot of experience in getting claims approved.  It would be a good idea to ask your prospective assistant how many of the Aid and Attendance claims have resulted in approved benefits?

How much can you receive?  For 2011, the maximum benefit for a veteran is $1,644 per month; the maximum benefit for a veteran and spouse is $1,949 per month; the maximum benefit for a surviving spouse is $1,056 per month.; the maximum benefit for a veteran married to a veteran is $2,540 per month.  Note that these are maximum amounts and the actual benefit that is approved may be less than these amounts based on other criteria.

It is also very important for you to remember that once you have been approved for this benefit, you will need to respond annually to the request for information from the Veterans’ Administration to make sure you continue to meet the eligibility requirements.

To Learn more about Kristina Beavers, Attorney at Law visit the website at www.BeaversLaw.com

May is National Elder Law Month!

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Elder Law is more than just Estate Planning for people who are over a certain age.

Elder Law is a relatively new area of law that involves dealing with seniors in a holistic manner to provide the best quality of life possible.

The Elder Law attorney considers traditional Estate Planning activities such as drafting Wills, Powers of Attorney, Medical Directives etc.

The big difference between a traditional Estate Planning attorney and an Elder Law attorney is that the Elder Law attorney goes a step beyond the traditional to assist the client in having the quality of life that he or she wants.

This may involve assisting the client in taking advantage of available public benefits such as medicaid and Veteran’s Aid and Attendance benefits.

This may also involve making arrangements for long term care that might be necessary because of physical disabilities or possible cognitive problems such as dementia.

The Elder Law attorney will generally spend some time with the client to find out what that client really wants and needs.  There is no one plan that will fit everyone.

The biggest asset that an Elder Law attorney can bring to the client is compassion.

To Learn more about Kristina Beavers, Attorney at Law visit the website at www.BeaversLaw.com