New Hampshire Lawmakers Investigate Nursing Home Safety

In light of COVID-19, the focus on safety and patient outcomes at nursing homes has become more important than ever. The nursing homes in New Hampshire are no exception, and legislators in the state want to know how the pandemic has impacted residents of these facilities.

A legislative committee has been formed to look into the issues and complete a report about some of the chief concerns and an overall picture of safety level in a few months. That committee has just begun its work. With a total of 74 nursing homes in New Hampshire and an increasing number of people in their elder years needing long term care support from these facilities, both those who might become residents and the family members of those potential residents have safety and quality of life top of mind when selecting a location.

The primary reason that the committee was formed was because patients inside nursing homes and long-term care (LTC) facilities make up more than 80 percent of the COVID-19 deaths within the state even though they only represent 30 percent of infections.

In addition to looking for more details on how the pandemic has disproportionately affected New Hampshire’s older population, the committee will also investigate common issues in these facilities such as infection control, staffing concerns, and the risk of suicide.

A nursing home might not be on your radar, but it could quickly become part of your long-term care plan if you sustain an injury, need to recover from a major surgery, or develop cognitive issues. All of these concerns should be discussed directly with an experienced elder care lawyer in New Hampshire to ensure you have a plan in place if the need for nursing home support arises. Our office is here to help you understand the legal impacts and financial concerns surrounding your elder law plan.

 

Recognizing the Challenges of Undue Influence for Elders

Undue influence refers to taking unfair advantage over another person’s weakness of body or mind and using it to produce an unfair advantage over someone. This comes up most frequently in the context of estate planning in which you might argue that a loved one has been unduly influenced by an outside party.

Imagine that one of your loved ones is handicapped, requires in-home care, is elderly or is experiencing cognitive decline due to an issue like dementia. Developing a close relationship with a caretaker could mean that this person is suddenly included in your loved one’s estate plans. This can be especially shocking when you are familiar with your elderly loved one’s current estate planning documents like a will and discover that a newly executed document is produced by this caretaker shortly after your family member passes away.

You could challenge the validity of this document by claiming that your loved one was unduly influenced by the caretaker. In this case, however, you’ll need to move quickly and promptly to ensure you have necessary evidence to support such a claim. Undue influence must be proven by the person who is arguing that it has occurred.

Therefore, you’ll need to produce indications of the loved one being unfit to sign such a new document close to their death that would name this new caretaker as a primary or the sole recipient of your loved one’s assets and belongings.

For more information about how to prevent claims of undue influence, schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney. Our NH estate planning lawyer can help you learn more about issues in estate planning and how best to protect the interests of an elder family member.

 

Understanding the Importance of Income in Retirement

Looking ahead to retirement often means that you are looking forward to disconnecting from work. However, you’ll still need some form of income in your retirement years. Knowing where your money will come from every single month will give you a great opportunity to reduce the peace and friction for yourself which can lead some who have not planned properly to have to go back into the workplace for a part time job.

Since you are in effect creating your own paycheck in your retirement years, you need to think carefully about these important questions in the years prior to approaching retirement. A few different income streams is the ideal situation for a person approaching retirement. These income streams can include investment savings, pensions or social security or some combination of all three. You might be counting on a Roth IRA, rental income, or other income paying assets but it might be time to move to a more conservative portfolio structured to protect those interests as you enter retirement.

A pension plan is likely one that has already been structured and clearly explained to you in terms of payout as you get closer to your retirement years. You could be offered a lump sum payout at some point but you want to carefully weigh whether or not it’s in your best interests to take a monthly or annual payout instead. Finally, there are plenty of different filing strategies to consider when it comes to claiming social security benefits.

You’ll need to understand which ones are most beneficial for you based on your individual situation. Make sure that you have a financial professional who can guide you through the selection process. Need help with more questions around the elder law planning and estate planning? We’re here to help you see how these connect.

 

Unexpected retirement. Sign outside on sidewalk with the words "What's your plan for retirement?"

How to Deal with an Unexpected Retirement

Your retirement plan is likely entirely contingent on how long you intend or consider yourself able to work. Health crises or economic crises may be pushing more people toward an unexpected retirement or an early retirement than ever before. Even if you don’t believe that a retirement is immediately on your horizon, it can be well worth spending some time thinking about how you would adapt quickly if you needed to move into retirement.Unexpected retirement. Sign outside on sidewalk with the words "What's your plan for retirement?"

Retiring earlier than expected is not something new. In fact, a study recently completed by Allianz Life found that half of current retirees retired earlier than expected. Most of the people in that study, however, said that they retired for reasons outside of their control, such as the unexpected loss of a job or the development of healthcare issues that prevented them from being able to do the job.

The first thing to do when planning ahead for potentially early retirement is to fill in the gaps by examining health care needs first and then looking into other employment options.

A part time hourly or contract position could be a way to help bridge the gap if you were not financially ready to retire at the time that you had to leave the work force for one reason or another.

If you had to retire due to health issues, now is also the time to look more deeply into your elder law plan. Have you thought about protecting yourself or your spouse if your healthcare issues got worse? Do you know how you’d qualify for Medicaid if you needed it?

Schedule a time to speak with an elder law attorney if you’re coming up on retirement and are ready to answer the important questions around your elder law plan.

 

Elderly couple discussing a neurological condition with their attorney

Why Those with Neurological Conditions Need Estate Planning

People of all ages and backgrounds can benefit from the process of estate planning. As an elder law practice, we often help people who are approaching retirement age or looking a few years into the future.

But for anyone who suffers from a serious neurological condition, it is even more important to schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney to discuss your next steps right away. There are unique considerations in elder law to take into account when you have a loved one recently diagnosed with a neurological condition.Elderly couple discussing a neurological condition with their attorney

Neurological conditions can get worse over time, making it difficult for you to make decisions on your own or to be classified as legally incompetent.

All planning and documents for anyone diagnosed with a neurological condition need to be tailored specifically to you. Your planning must reflect your personal experience within that condition and the possibility that it might get worse over time. Consider some of the following aspects when deciding what to incorporate with regards to an elderly neurological condition:

  • Your current status.
  • The rate of progression or rate of anticipated recovery.
  • Future prognosis.

All of these issues should be taken into consideration by you and your estate planning lawyer when discussing your next steps to protect your interests and to ensure that you have necessary documents in place should you become incapacitated.

Power of attorney documents and decisions regarding your health care should be discussed in advance so that your loved ones do not have the added stress of having to go through court and have someone appointed to make these decisions on your behalf. If you have specific wishes surrounding your health care or who will step in to manage your finances, decide that now in the event that your brain based neurological condition gets more severe.

Our Dover, NH estate planning office is here to help you get your documents in order and to discuss your concerns when your spouse or family member has been diagnosed with a neurological issue.