Elder Law 101

How to Approach End-of-Life Care Discussions

Talking to a loved one about end-of-life care is one of the hardest discussions to have. Whether it’s your elderly parents, an older relative, or someone else dear to your heart, it can feel cold and callous to broach the subject of the end of their life. Ironically, it’s because you love them so much that you need and want to have the talk in the first place. Your elderly law attorneys at Beasley & Ferber have these tips to help you with this arduous task.

Choose Your Time and Setting

Choose an appropriate time and setting that supports both you and your elderly loved one’s needs and privacy. Avoid bringing up the topic at breakfast or too close to bedtime, when people might be tired. Choose a quiet place, away from the public eye. Avoid having it in a restaurant or in a doctor’s lobby, for instance.

Be Patient

Don’t be surprised if your loved one resists the talk the first time you bring it up. Some people just need more time to process actually saying things like this “out loud.” Be patient and don’t push. When you see them next, you might just ask, “Have you given any more thought to our conversation about care last week?” or something similar.

Consider Who Should be Part of the Discussion

Don’t feel that you need to have this discussion all by yourself. Consider inviting siblings or a trusted family member. Only do so with the permission of your elderly loved one, however.

Don’t be Condescending

Everyone passes away, and it’s almost guaranteed that, as awkward as it may feel to broach the topic, your elderly loved one has already thought about their own passing. Avoid using placating words or a tone that sounds like you’re talking to a child. Approach it like two adults having an important conversation about life events.

Start With Yourself

Many people find that it’s quite helpful to start the conversation by mentioning what you would want to happen when you yourself become elderly. Then it’s a natural step to ask your loved one if they have thought about end-of-life care. From there, you can suggest writing things down on a notepad and making some preliminary plans.

Keep Things Light

It’s natural that this discussion will feel heavy and dark. But feel free to add some levity if it feels appropriate. Depending upon your relationship, some smiles might help to keep things from becoming too maudlin.

Have Some Ideas in Mind

It’s helpful to gather some information ahead of time so you can help to guide the discussion. This is good for—not forcing a set of circumstances—but assuring your elderly loved ones that they are in capable hands. One very helpful suggestion that you can make is to take your notes to an experienced elderly law attorney who knows how to help with all things associated with end-of-life care, such as Beasley & Ferber.

Contact Beasley & Ferber

After you’ve had your thoughtful discussion with your loved one, make an appointment with Beasley & Ferber. We are here to help with all things related to elder law, including end-of-life care plans.

Planning Ahead for Assets of Sentimental Value

When we think of estate planning, we often think in terms of property, financial assets, and items of significant monetary value. However, these are far from the only things that matter.

Assets of sentimental value also merit proactive consideration during the estate planning process—both to ensure that items are distributed to the proper people and to prevent disputes after your death.

Here’s a closer look at the issue, along with why it’s important to account for these assets while planning your estate.

Estate Planning for Items of Sentimental Value

While items like photographs, clothing, antiques, collections, jewelry, and other family heirlooms may not have a high dollar value, they can have profound sentimental value. Often overlooked during the estate planning process, personal property with sentimental value cannot be easily divided. As such, they can lead to contention among family members.

Not only is settling these disputes expensive, but the process can end up tearing families apart. This is why it’s vital to include emotionally valuable assets in your estate plan.

Options for Dividing Property with Sentimental Value

There are several options when it comes to estate planning for sentimental items. The most obvious is using your will to distribute your sentimental property. While this may seem easiest, there are downsides, including that wills can be difficult to amend and/or that it may go on public record.

This is where the personal property memorandum comes in. Legally available in some states including Massachusetts, this document provides instructions regarding the distribution of tangible personal property and can be changed or updated without requiring any formal amendments to your will or trust. While many people choose to include high-value items (as well as gifts susceptible to challenge) in their wills, a personal property memorandum can be convenient for assets of sentimental value.

In addition to using a will or personal property memorandum to distribute items of sentimental value, there’s also the option of creating guidelines for dividing them. For example, you may require your beneficiaries to draw lots and take turns, participate in a private auction, or select in birth order.

Giving Away Assets Before Your Death

There is another option that can help you prevent conflicts after your death: distributing sentimental items while you are still living. This may have some added benefits, including the peace of mind that comes with knowing your property has been distributed as you wish. Depending on the value of the item and other factors, there may also be some financial benefits to this approach.

Contact a Reliable NH Elder Law Attorney

One final note on the topic of sentimental assets? Because it may not be obvious to you which family members are attached to which item, it can be helpful to sit down with your family to discuss the distribution of your personal property. While the discussion may be uncomfortable, it will offer helpful insights to guide your decisions while also reducing the chance of disagreements later.

Estate planning may not seem like the most pleasant enterprise, but knowing that your loved ones will be provided for and that you have laid the foundation for the peaceful distribution of your cherished sentimental assets (as well as your high-value ones) can be incredibly fulfilling.

For more than three decades, the Beasley & Ferber team has helped clients in New Hampshire and Massachusetts reach their estate planning goals. To start putting our fair, flexible, and open estate planning and elder law services to work for you and your family, contact us today.

The Probate Process Understood

Completed with or without a will, the probate process is essential to the valid and appropriate transfer of estate assets in the wake of an asset holder’s death.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the review, analysis, and transfer administration of estate assets that were formerly owned by a deceased person. The deceased’s estate encompasses all private holdings that contributed to that person’s net worth.

After applying the deceased’s assets to pay any outstanding liabilities, the entire estate is distributed to one or more inheritors during the probate process. These inheritors generally receive estate assets according to the stipulations of a legalized will and/or the laws of the state.

The probate process ensures that this is accomplished as accurately and efficiently as possible. When aided by clear and established documentation such as a legal will, this process can be extremely simple and affordable. However, complex and protracted probate procedures may become necessary in the absence of a legally recognized will or when the deceased’s estate is of exceptionally high value.

Probate With a Will

Probate legal proceedings are extremely common after the death of a person of high net worth even if that person left behind a will. These proceedings begin when a probate court appoints the executor named in the will (or another administrator if the will fails to stipulate a suitable executor). As a general rule, this probate court will be seated where the decedent resided at the time of his or her death. The exception to this general rule is real estate, which may require legal action where the assets are located.

Typically a family member of the deceased, the executor initiates the probate process by filing the will with the probate court, which confirms the authenticity and validity of this will. The executor is then responsible for estimating the value of the estate according to strict legal codes and government regulations and then overseeing the appropriate distribution of this estate. He or she accomplishes this under the guidance and supervision of the probate court.

Probate Without a Will

People who die without a legally valid will are considered to have passed away “instate.” In these cases, a probate court must get involved to distribute the deceased’s assets according to the laws of the state.

In the absence of a legally binding executor, the probate court appoints an administrator to function as one by paying off the deceased outstanding debts and receiving all legal claims against the estate. The court will then use state law and regulations to determine which remaining assets should be distributed among the deceased’s legal heirs and how best to distribute them.

To Learn More About Probate

If you are still unclear about the details of the probate process, contact a skilled and knowledgeable legal representative at Beasley & Ferber today. We can discuss what probate means to you and help ensure that your estate assets go exactly where you want them to go when you are no longer here to manage them.


Power of Attorney: What It Is and How to Choose

No matter your age, having a will in place is a good idea. When it comes to carrying out the wishes in your will, however, designating a power of attorney is just as important. By having a better understanding of what a power of attorney is and how to choose somebody to act as a power of attorney, you can make sure all your bases are covered.

What is Power of Attorney, Anyway?

Specifically, a power of attorney refers to a written document where you authorize somebody to make decisions on your behalf after you pass away or are otherwise unable to make your own decisions. A power of attorney can do things like pay bills on your behalf, manage your investments, and carry out aspects of your will or estate plan.

What many don’t realize, however, is that there are actually two different types of powers of attorney. A non-durable power of attorney is a temporary agent whose authority may only be permitted for a specific transaction. A durable power of attorney, on the other hand, is a permanent assignment.

What to Look For When Choosing a Power of Attorney

As you can imagine, choosing a power of attorney is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to estate planning. The person you select to act as your power of attorney should be somebody who will respect your wishes and ensure that they are carried out appropriately.

With this in mind, a great power of attorney doesn’t always have to be somebody who is close to you or even related to you. Ultimately, it all boils down to trust. If you can’t trust a person 100% to do what you wish after you no longer have a say, then they won’t be a good power of attorney.

Another important characteristic to look for in a power of attorney, however, is an assertive personality. The process of carrying out your will and/or estate plan may require a lot of unwavering decision-making and confidence. Ideally, your power of attorney should also be somebody who lives in close proximity to you. This is especially true if you’re appointing somebody as a power of attorney to make medical decisions on your behalf.

The Legal Team at Beasley & Ferber is Here to Help

No matter who you end up selecting as your power of attorney, the most important thing is to make sure that they’re aware of your choice and willing to serve in this vital role. After all, acting as a power of attorney can be a stressful duty that requires a lot of time.

Looking for more help in creating your will and/or estate plan? Our team at Beasly & Ferber has you covered. With practice areas ranging from estate planning and probate administration to Medicaid planning and more. we know a thing or two. Get in touch with our office today to schedule a consultation or learn more.


Common Estate-Planning Mistakes And How to Avoid Them

Having an estate plan is vital to protecting your assets and your loved one’s future. And contrary to what many believe, you don’t need to have a lot of assets or money to leave to your beneficiaries to create an estate plan. In fact, the reality is that everybody should have some sort of estate plan in place regardless of their finances, assets, or net worth.

Still, there are many common mistakes people make when it comes to their estate planning. By being aware of these mistakes and how to avoid them, you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.

Putting Off Your Estate Planning

One of the most common mistakes people make in regards to estate planning is simply waiting too long to do it. If you’ve been putting off creating an estate plan because you feel like you don’t need one until you’re much older, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the sooner you sit down and create your plan, the better protected you’ll be. Likewise, if something does happen to you, you won’t be leaving your loved ones with the headache of divvying up your assets and paying your debts.

Overlooking Power of Attorney

While most estate plans are heavily focused on finances and assets, it’s important not to skip designating a power of attorney as part of your plan. Specifically, a power of attorney is a person who is chosen to represent you and carry out your wishes in the event that you’re unable to do so for yourself (either due to death or medical reasons).

Designating a trustworthy and assertive power of attorney is one of the best ways to ensure that the terms outlined in your estate plan are actually carried out.

Failing to Discuss Your Plan

Once you’ve created an estate plan, it’s usually a good idea to discuss it with your loved ones. Specifically, make sure to talk to beneficiaries about what they can expect from the estate plan. If you have designated a power of attorney (or have chosen somebody to act in this function), be sure to discuss it with them first. If your loved ones don’t know about your estate plan, it can be much more challenging for the terms to be carried out when the time comes.

Not Updating Your Plan as Needed

Remember that the terms of your estate plan don’t need to be (and generally shouldn’t be) permanent. It’s a good idea to revisit your plan at least once every year or so to ensure that it still suits your needs. If not, you can make changes as needed to keep your plan as close to your current wishes as possible.

Get Help With Your Estate Planning Today

Still feeling overwhelmed with estate planning? It may be time to consult with an experienced legal team. Beasley & Ferber can help! Contact us today to schedule your estate planning consultation or to learn more about our practice.


How to Prevent Financial Elder Abuse

The Elder Financial Protection Organization (EFPO) reports that financial abuse is the “largest form of elder abuse, and it is growing.” The short definition of elder financial abuse is “Misappropriation of an older person’s money or property.”

Sadly, the most frequent perpetrators are those the elder one trusts, such as caregivers, friends, and family members. If you are concerned about a loved one being financially abused, there are some signs to watch for.

Signs Someone You Love is Being Financially Abused by a Relative or Caregiver

Some signs that your loved one is being financially abused include:

  • A relative has moved in with your loved one to “help out.” You then notice the loved one is becoming isolated and interactions with other loved ones are being limited.
  • The relative who is “helping out” has quit their job, bought a new car, or any other sign that there has been a change in lifestyle or that the person is spending more money than they did in the past.
  • When the “helper” allows you to visit, your loved one is withdrawn and may appear unkempt. You sense that the basic life necessities are not being provided for.
  • Routine bills, like rent, mortgage, and utility bills, are not being paid for even though you know your loved one has the funds to pay them.

A “do-gooder” may offer to go to the grocery store for the elderly person who doesn’t notice that the grocery bill was much higher than it should be for the items that were requested.

If the do-gooder helps pay bills or stops at the bank to cash a check, when the elderly person is checking the bank statement later, they may just say to themselves that they are getting forgetful since they don’t remember withdrawing that much money.

How to Protect Yourself from Financial Abuse

You can take some specific steps you can take to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of financial abuse. Some examples are:

  • Have direct deposit for all your benefit checks. If you send someone to deposit your checks, it gives them the opportunity to get cash back without you even being aware of it.
  • Have your bank automatically pay your routine bills.
  • Do not allow one family member to isolate you from other family members and friends.
  • Open your own mail.
  • Have your own attorney draw up a power of attorney so you can designate someone you know you can trust to deal with your finances when you are unable to deal with them yourself. Review the document periodically to be sure it still reflects your wishes.
  • Do not sign any document presented to you by anyone without carefully reviewing it and asking for independent advice.

Contact Us for Assistance with Elder Financial Abuse

If you or someone you care about has been the victim of elder financial abuse, contact us at Beasley & Ferber. We provide the best available resources to protect our clients from abuse and to help them prepare for their financial future. You may contact us online or call us at 800-370-5010.

How Will Selling My House Affect My Medicaid?

Medicaid is a federally funded program that each state administers and offers assistance to the elderly, those with disabilities, and low-income people. If you or an elderly loved one are on Medicaid, there are certain regulations that must be adhered to. One of them has to do with income and assets. At the same time, you may be in a situation where you need to start looking at the possibility of selling your home in order to pay bills. Many people who are on Medicaid are forced to sell their homes in order to pay their costs. This is permitted as long as the money is used to pay off debts such as a mortgage, auto payments, or medical expenditures. You should get the help of an elder law attorney in New Hampshire before acting, however. In the meantime, here is what you should know about how selling your house may affect your Medicaid benefits.

Pay Attention to Your Assets

If the proceeds from the sale raise your assets beyond your state’s Medicaid asset level, you may be disqualified from receiving Medicaid. “Assets” refers to any liquid assets, such as cash or equities, for the purposes of the asset threshold.

In most jurisdictions, the barrier is a mere $2,000, thus selling a home will almost always put you well over the limit.

You can still qualify for Medicaid provided your total countable assets stay below your state’s criteria, which in most cases is merely $2,000 in most cases. Primary houses are deemed exempt assets, therefore purchasing a new home may be a viable alternative. However, if the purpose of selling the house is to free up cash, then buying another house may not serve your needs.

Consider Spending Down Assets

If your assets surpass the asset restriction, you can “spend down” your assets to go back below the limit and re-qualify. There is no penalty period that prevents you from getting Medicaid coverage if you spend down your assets utilizing approved spending. Simply reduce your countable assets down below the threshold and resubmit. Paying down credit cards, your remaining mortgage balance, medical expenses, auto payments, and other debts are all eligible spend-down choices. If you or your loved one are moving into a care facility, you could use the assets from the sale of the home and spend down the assets by paying your care facility fees ahead of time.

Rules For Selling a House While on Medicaid

Medicaid is designed to separate “countable” from “non-countable” assets.  Because the value of your principal house does not count against your asset limit, it is called a non-countable asset. If you leave the house and it is no longer your primary abode, however, it becomes a taxable asset.  As a result, you may be ruled ineligible for Medicaid before ever selling your property.

As you can see, the rules for selling a home while receiving Medicaid are complicated. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you enlist the services of an elder law attorney, such as Beasley & Ferber. Contact us today for help.

3 Benefits of Working with an Elder Law Attorney

Elder law is a specific specialty of law that pertains to aging and the needs of seniors and their loved ones. As elders age, their ability to take care of themselves and their financial affairs is often greatly diminished. A lawyer who specializes in elder law in New Hampshire can assist the family with managing the issues associated with a senior who has a reduced capacity to cope with certain issues.

1. Clarification of Medicare and Medicaid Issues

Medicare is available to seniors aged 65 and older. When Medicare coverage commences, seniors are eligible for certain health benefits and discounts in addition to any regular health insurance they may have, or in some cases, in replacement of such health insurance benefits. However, the applications and claims process can be confusing for seniors and others, and this is where an elder law attorney can help.

If you’re wondering about what Medicaid is and if your loved one might be eligible for coverage, you’re not alone. Medicaid is available for certain low-income seniors and others who qualify. As with Medicare, Medicaid can be a complex and confusing system even for young people to figure out. Even the Medicaid phone number isn’t always easy to find. A New Hampshire elder law attorney will be able to help with the Medicaid forms, including the original application form to see if the senior qualifies.

2. Insight Into Nursing Home or Assisted Living Relocation

At some point, you may want to relocate your loved one to a nursing home or an assisted living facility. Facilities like these specialize in elder care and the specific needs of seniors. Nursing homes vary considerably, and you want to be sure that your senior loved will have the attention they need from staff and other residents. Elder law attorneys often help facilitate such transitions, and may be able to offer you experienced insight into how to choose the best facility for your elder loved one.

3. Estate Planning Services

One of the specialties of an elder law attorney is estate planning services. Remember, any real or cash assets can comprise an estate. It doesn’t matter if there is a large fortune involved, or a small property; an elder law attorney can help to organize the estate so that taxes are minimized and so that everyone involved is protected, including your senior loved one. Your elder law attorney can draw up living wills, trusts and any other documentation that is needed to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are respected and carried out. Finally, bear in mind that estate planning should not be kept to the last minute. The earlier the process is begun, the more time for consideration you and your loved one will have.

These are just a handful of the many benefits that an elder law attorney offers. Contact your New Hampshire elder law attorney to learn more about the ways that you and your elder loved one can get assistance with the legal and technical aspects of aging.

Contact Us for Assistance

This blog outlined just a handful of the many benefits that an elder law attorney offers. Contact Beasley & Febrer to learn more about the ways that you and your elder loved one can get assistance with the legal and technical aspects of aging.

8 Things to Consider When Searching for an Assisted Living Facility

There are several crucial factors to consider when searching for an assisted living facility for your loved one. Because assisted care facilities differ widely, review the following eight tips before making this important decision.

1. Determine What is Most Important for Your Family

Consider what gives your loved one a feeling of meaning and purpose. It’s critical for your loved one’s physical and mental health that they be able to pursue the things that keep them hopeful and positive about the future.

2. Take into Account Both Present and Future Needs

Certain illnesses that affect the elderly have symptoms that worsen over time. For example, your loved one may not require assistance in the restroom right now, but if their mobility concerns worsen, they will require more assistance in the future. You may have to relocate them to a different facility later on unless you anticipate possible future needs as well as present requirements. This would cause unneeded disturbance in their life.

3. Make Certain the Assisted Living Facility is Financially Stable

Assisted living facilities are conducted just like a business. They, like any other business, have financial obligations, budgets, and costs. If the facility is not stable financially, it may be unable to offer the high-quality care you’ve grown to anticipate. Worse, it may have to shut down, which would mean a lot of disruption in your loved one’s life.

4. Check References

Most reputable assisted living facilities will offer a list of former caregiver references, as well as a few from current residents. If your facility does not have a list of references or recommendations, request one, and then make sure to follow through on checking the references.

5. Inquire About Getting on a Waiting List

The nicer an assisted living facility is, the longer the waiting list will be. When you visit the facility and decide to place it on your shortlist, request that your name be immediately added to the waiting list. You can always pass on the opportunity if you subsequently decide to use a different facility.

6. Visit Multiple Times Before Making a Decision

One unannounced visit, preferably when you initially indicate interest, one daytime visit, and one nocturnal visit should be included in your visits. This will provide you with a thorough understanding of what it’s like to visit and live in the area.

7. Consult with the Locals

Existing residents are the most genuine source of factual information regarding life in the facility. While formal interviews with residents are unlikely, informal chats with residents can be used to gauge their degree of satisfaction with the institution.

8. Consult an Elder Law Attorney Before Signing Anything

The way various situations are addressed in assisted living facilities varies substantially, as do the resident and family member’s needs. Before you sign anything, sit down with an elder law attorney in New Hampshire and go through all of the documentation with them so you know precisely what you’re signing.

Work with Us

Your success with an assisted living facility is partly determined by how effectively you conduct preliminary research. These eight considerations should help you cover all of the bases before finalizing your strategy. Contact us to schedule an appointment where we can review your options, strategy, and estate plans.

Tips to Prevent Sibling Disputes

When bequeathing to sibling children, remember that sibling disputes are extremely common. If you think about it, sibling disputes may have been festering since childhood. When you factor in the emotional turmoil after a parent’s death, combined with events that may have transpired over the years, there’s a more than likely chance that serious relationship damage can happen due to stipulations of your last wishes. You can help avoid all this with the following tips from elder law attorneys Beasley & Ferber.

Be Transparent About the Distribution

To avoid sibling disputes after the fact—and to iron out disagreements ahead of time—be transparent about what your will or trust specifies. Bring everyone together in person or on Zoom and share the document. Tell everyone in your own words what you plan to leave to whom, and why. You aren’t required to do this, but it would be an act of parental love that could help to avoid any sibling squabbles after you’ve passed.

Reconsider Distribution Percentages

Many times, parents purposely give more to one child than another. Reasons vary but may include judgment about who deserves less, who is a higher earner, or who has more mouths to feed. This kind of last judgment can leave a sour taste in the beneficiaries’ mouths. Your assets are yours to give as you see fit, but in the interest of sibling harmony, consider bequeathing your children equal shares. If assets are split up between real property and cash, you could leave instructions for the executor to assess fair market values and ensure that each child gets an equal allotment.

Introduce “Hidden” Children

Life is messy, and sometimes there are children from previous marriages or relationships that are unknown to siblings until after the Last Will and Testament is read aloud. This kind of surprise isn’t easy to bear and can lead to lots of unanswerable questions and resentment. That’s not the kind of legacy that most parents want to leave behind. In a situation like this, it’s usually best to “come clean” and introduce—or at least, divulge the existence of—hidden children. Doing so will help siblings to come to terms with another beneficiary who is to share in their inheritance.

In the chance that divulging the existence of children from a past relationship isn’t on the table, another option is available. You can include a personal letter in your final documents that explains the other child and the pertinent circumstances. At least this way your children will have answers that can help them to understand your reasoning and why you made bequests the way you did.

Contact Us for Assistance with your Estate Planning

Elder law and family estate planning in New Hampshire are the areas of expertise of Beasley & Fisher. Come to us with all of your estate planning needs, no matter the size of your estate. We are available for consultations, document preparation, and asset allocation. Contact us today to schedule an estate planning appointment or to request a copy of our free estate planning guide.


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