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Executive Director’s Message

By Carolyn ReillyCRPHOTO

Many of us want to help the environment.  Others are looking for ways to save money on their energy bills.  Some hope to do both.

Door-to door sales and mailers are advertising solar products, energy efficient windows and other energy upgrades, with rebates and various financing options.  These products and deals may sound good but many have problems which can end up costing far more than originally quoted.

Older consumers have contacted us with reports of home improvement contractors using telemarketing and door-to-door sales to misleadingly negotiate the terms of agreements and loans.  Some of these contractors enter consumers into agreements or loans using a cell phone or tablet to obtain an electronic signature, providing no paper documents and giving the consumer no time to review the terms. Some of the financing agreements are through a government program which sets up payment through the homeowner’s tax bill.  These consumers are not aware that the financing becomes a lien against their home and can affect their current mortgage, ability to re-finance and the future sale of the home.

Before entering into any energy upgrade agreement or loan, ask questions and make sure you understand all of the terms.  Make sure you have documents you can review and take the time to review and understand them.  If you cannot get the documents you need or are being pressured into signing before you are ready, walk away.  Call Elder Law & Advocacy at 858-565-1392 for free legal advice from one of our legal services attorneys who can help you understand the legal aspects of that energy upgrade contract.

News Affecting Seniors

By Jaime LevineJLPHOTO

An Evolving Legal Services Model: The Medical-Legal Partnership

 A medical-legal partnership (MLP) combines the health care and civil legal aid communities to address and solve health-harming social conditions. The health care side handles the consequences of poor housing, poor nutrition, and exposure to violence, whereas the legal side works to increase access to housing, public benefits, and safe communities. An MLP consists of attorneys, paralegals, doctors, and other medical professionals working in a healthcare setting to care for and provide a remedy for patients’ health and legal needs. As a team, these medical and legal communities work together to prevent health-harming social conditions for patients and their communities.

MLPs have been created in 292 health care institutions, including 44 children’s hospitals, 73 Health Resources and Services Administration-funded health centers, and an increasing number of institutions that serve veterans and the elderly. The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership conducted many studies on the health impact of combining health care and legal services. Studies have shown that patients are more likely to comply with healthcare treatments when their legal issues are addressed by an MLP.

MLPs have depended on philanthropy and support from various legal and healthcare organizations. Some MLPs are even funded by hospitals. The number of health care funding opportunities is growing. Elder Law & Advocacy is currently researching this issue and plans to partner with an appropriate healthcare entity in the future.

Resources:

http://medical-legalpartnership.org/

http://medical-legalpartnership.org/faq/

Medicare Updates by HICAP

by David WeilDWPHOTO

Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman

With Medicare, you have special rights and protections. There are resources available to you to make sure your rights are protected, including the Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman. The Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman helps you with Medicare-related complaints, grievances, and information requests. The Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman makes sure information is available about:

  • What you need to know to make health care decisions that are right for you
  • Your Medicare rights and protections
  • How you can get issues resolved

The Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman also shares information with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Congress, and other organizations about what does and doesn’t work well, to improve the quality of the services and care you get through Medicare. If you’ve contacted 1-800-MEDICARE about a Medicare-related inquiry or complaint but still need help, ask the 1-800-MEDICARE representative to send your inquiry or complaint to the Medicare Ombudsman’s Office. The Medicare Ombudsman’s Office helps make sure that your inquiry or complaint is resolved.

  • Excerpted from the official U.S. Government Website for Medicare – Medicare.gov

EL&A In Action

Elder Law & Advocacy Secures Full Refund for Unused Hotel Stay

Mr. F (age 65) was moving to San Diego. In anticipation of the move, he found a hotel on a travel website. He called the hotel to ensure that he would be able to be in a room on the ground floor, which was medically necessary due to a breathing issue. When they assured him that an appropriate room was available, he booked it using the 3rd party travel website.

When Mr. F arrived at the hotel, he was informed that they had no ground floor rooms. He told the staff that he would not be able to stay and left to find alternate accommodations. When he checked his credit card statement, he had been charged in full for the entire stay – around $1,900. Neither the travel website nor the hotel was willing to work with Mr. F to issue a full or partial refund. He filed a credit card dispute, which was decided in favor of the travel website.

Mr. F met with Attorney Jaime Levine, who read through all the paperwork. Mr. Levine drafted a strong letter to the hotel indicating that Mr. F only booked with them because he was assured that an appropriate room would be available. The letter demanded refund of the full amount that was paid.

Within a week of sending the letter, Mr. Levine received a call from the manager of the hotel, indicating that they would only be keeping one night and that the travel website would be refunding the balance to Mr. F. Two days later, Mr. F received an email from the travel website indicating that they were refunding 100% of what he had paid.

Free Legal Clinic

One Justice will be hosting a free legal clinic on 07/21/2016.

Please click on the flyers below for more information.

Client Outreach Flyer (English  Spanish)_El Cajon July 21 (1)-1

One Justice estará organizando una clínica legal totalmente gratis en 07/21/2016.

Por favor haga clic en el volante indicado para mas información

Client Outreach Flyer (English  Spanish)_El Cajon July 21 (1)-2

Scam Alert

ELDER LAW & ADVOCACY

A nonprofit organization serving older adults

Police or Fire Department Donation Scam

 The scam:  You receive a convincing call asking for a donation for a police or firefighter association but it doesn’t actually exist.

What to do:  Ask them to give you a website address or the phone number to headquarters so you can check its legitimacy.

Free Lunch Seminar Scam

The scam:  You are invited to a local restaurant for a free meal and advice about maximizing social security but are asked to provide information about your current financial situation or assets.

What to do:  Don’t attend!  Make an appointment with your social security office to get information and to have your questions answered.

Funeral with Extras Scam

The scam:  A grieving widow or widower goes to the funeral home to make arrangements but leaves with a very expensive/over-budget event.

What to do:  Take someone with you who can be your eyes and ears. Take the proposed contract home and review it with someone you trust before signing.

Is it a scam?  Need help?

Call 858-565-1392 (San Diego County) or 760-353-0223 (Imperial County)

for no-cost assistance.

Learn more at www.seniorlaw-sd.org & sign up for our blog.

Support for this publication is made possible by a generous grant from AARP Foundation.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15th

Why would the entire world ever need a day calling attention to elder abuse?  Is the problem that hidden that there are still people who don’t about it and therefore won’t see it coming when it knocks on the door, calls on the phone or sneaks in through a mail delivery or the internet?  Yes, it’s that hidden.  It is a growing problem worldwide and those who have been scammed or defrauded didn’t see it coming.

So what happens when an older adult becomes the victim of a high-dollar scam?

-They lose their savings

-They lose funds necessary for immediate needs such as food and shelter

-They may become depressed or stressed, affecting nutrition, sleep, socialization

-They may lose their home

-They may become dependent on public financial assistance for the rest of their lives

What happens when a scam-educated older adult avoids becoming the victim of a scam?

-They keep their hard-earned savings

-They keep the funds necessary for immediate needs

-They become empowered and are able to refuse the sales pressure, insistent callers and tempting mail and internet offers

What can you do?

On June 15th, take a moment to think about this growing problem.

Awareness is key …

News Affecting Seniors

I Have A Trust, But What Does It Do?DSPHOTO

By David Schwartz

In my years with Elder Law & Advocacy, I have been asked this question at least a hundred times. I suspect that clients who ask me this question have been to private attorneys, handed over two-to-three thousand dollars, and received a nice-looking binder and a handshake, but little explanation or instruction. This post provides some basic information on trusts for people who currently have a trust, or are considering starting one.

First and foremost, what is a trust? A trust is a legal entity, separate and distinct from the person/people who create it. A trust has a name (for example, The David A. Schwartz Trust).  The person/people who create the trust are called the “settlor/s.” The trust can own property, and property that belongs to the trust does not also belong to the person/people who gave the property (the settlor/s), nor does it also belong to the person/people who are managing the trust at the time (the “trustee/s,” defined below).

When a settlor creates a trust, she decides how she wants the trust to be structured. There are two main decisions that every settlor must make: naming the trustee/s and successor trustees, and naming the beneficiary/ies and successor beneficiaries. The “trustee” is the person who is in charge of managing the trust’s property, for the benefit of the trust’s beneficiary. The “beneficiary” is the person for whose benefit the trust exists. The “successor trustee” and “successor beneficiary” are the people who the settlor names as next in line to serve as trustee and beneficiary, respectively. A trust can be set up to have multiple trustees or beneficiaries at the same time, and trusts often include lengthy lines of succession for the positions of trustee and beneficiary.

Generally speaking, a settlor creates a trust that names herself as both trustee and beneficiary. In this scenario, the settlor has authority to manage the trust as trustee (for example, to create a bank account in the name of the trust and to write checks from that account) for as long as she is able. The settlor is also the beneficiary in this scenario, so trust property can be used for her benefit (for example, to pay her mortgage, rent, or bills). She will remain the beneficiary for her entire lifetime, even if she is unable to continue serving as the trustee because of illness or any other reason.  Only once she passes away will the trust begin to be used for the benefit of the successor beneficiary named in the trust.

An important benefit of having a trust hold property in its own name, rather than in the settlor’s name, is that the trust does not grow old, get sick, or die. The trust has a built-in line of successor beneficiaries that the settlor created, and the death of one beneficiary does not require the trust’s property to change hands. If property is instead held in the settlor’s own name, when the settlor dies, her property will need to pass through probate in order to be transferred to the settlor’s beneficiaries under a will.

This summary is by no means comprehensive.  The attorneys at Elder Law & Advocacy can answer general questions you may have about trusts, or a trust you have or are planning to create. For the actual drafting or amending of trusts, we refer to attorneys who specialize in trusts.

Elder Abuse Awareness Day

June 8th is  Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  Please take a moment to read some of our previous posts about elder abuse and pass the information on to the older adults in your life.  Thank you.

Elder Abuse