Category Archives: Elder Law

Read the Fine Print!

I’ve run into a couple of situations recently where clients received mail that looked “official” but turned out to be a company trying to make my client pay for something that they could get for free.
The first was an unsolicited mailing from a company offering to help my client transfer some stocks after her husband passed away. I was at her house going through paperwork with her, and the papers looked different than the ones we normally use. I read through the entire thing to see if there was a catch, and sure enough there was. In small letters it said something to the effect of “we will keep 20% of the value of the stock transferred as a fee for the convenience of locating these stocks for you.” The thing is, this client didn’t need the stocks “located.” She had known about them all along. And even if she hadn’t, the abandoned property division in Massachusetts doesn’t charge a fee for its services. We threw those forms away and called the stock transfer company to get the actual official ones.
The second occurrence was shortly after we had filed a deed at the Registry of Deeds. After you file a deed, they mail the original back to you. If you ever need a copy, you can request one directly from the Registry of Deeds for about $1.00 per page. This client, however, received a mailing telling her it was vital for her to have a copy of her deed and they could mail her one for the low price of $85.00.  Again, I told my client to throw away the paper, since in a few days she’d be receiving a copy of the actual deed back from the Registry.
It dismays me to imagine the people who started these companies, whose sole purpose seems to be “trick old people into paying us money for something they can get for free.” Somewhere on the paper it usually says in very small letters something about the fee, but the forms also tend to look like government paperwork which can lead people to think that they have to pay the fee.
If you, or your parent, get mail you didn’t expect asking for money for something you haven’t ordered, read it over, have your attorney or other trusted advisor look at it. In this case, calling the stock company directly (not the phone number on the forms) or the Registry of Deeds directly would have provided my client with the information they needed.

Where is your will?

In the “old days” lawyers used to keep their clients’ Last Wills in their offices. Lawyers tended to stay in their practices for decades, and people didn’t move as often as they do now. It also made it so that the client’s heirs had to go back to that attorney when the client passed away,Continue Reading

Action Item: Share Some Information This Week

What is a quick action you can take this week to make your and your family’s life easier in the event of an emergency? Share some information! This can be as little as telling someone who your attorney, accountant and financial advisor are so they can contact them if they need to help you. OrContinue Reading

Food, Feelings and End of Life Wishes

The New York Times has a recent article about Food and the Dying Patient. It talks about a patient with dementia who could no longer swallow. When they tried to feed her she aspirated the food into her lungs which was causing pneumonia. The doctors turned to the family to decide whether they wanted aContinue Reading

Supporting Your Sibling Who Is a Caregiver

A lot of my clients are caregivers. They are adult children of parents whose health is failing, whose house may be falling apart, whose mind is fading and whose world is dwindling. They are the sibling of a person who has and will be dependent upon someone due to intellectual disabilities or severe mental healthContinue Reading

Moving An Out of State Guardianship To Massachusetts

Here is a scenario that happens everyday: Sue Jones lives with her daughter Mary Jones in Georgia. Mary has intellectual disabilities and Sue was appointed as her guardian by a court in Virginia. Sue and Mary move to Massachusetts. Sue visits with an attorney to make sure everything is in order and asks “does myContinue Reading

Happy Health Care Decisions Day!

April 16th is National Health Care Decisions Day.  While some of the seemingly fake holidays can make one roll their eyes, others, like Health Care Decisions Day (and Be Kind To Lawyers Day) are valuable reminders to pause and take care of important business. We are all in charge of our own health care decisionsContinue Reading

When Should I Write My Will? A Lesson from House, M.D.

I was watching a rerun of House, MD last night. One of the main character doctors became severely ill over the span of a couple of days. Finally, in severe pain, he was going to be put into a medically induced coma with the chance he might not survive. At this point he feebly tellsContinue Reading

Plymouth County Tracking For People With Alzheimer’s

There have been several local incidents over the past couple of months of people with Alzheimer’s who have wandered off. While most of them were found unharmed, in one of these cases, the man was found deceased a few days later. Even if the family has someone with the individual at all times, there isContinue Reading

Nursing Home? Rest Home? Assisted Living? Making Sense of Housing Options

There are several types of housing available to older and frail people in Massachusetts. Sometimes the different names can be confusing. I have outlined below three of the most common types. Nursing Home: A nursing home is licensed by the Department of Public Health. It provides 24 hour care for people – either those receivingContinue Reading