Friday, July 28, 2017

Looking Forward to Retirement

Debra Pecor,
Paralegal 
As the months tick by way too quickly, I am looking to retire before the end of this year.  I will only be 62, but I have been working since I was 16.  My passion then was to be a nurse and I did go to nursing school, graduated and got my LPN license.  I worked as an LPN but always third shift.  Then my husband joined the Army (he got laid off from his job four months before the birth of our first child).  At least being in the military, we knew we would have medical insurance to cover the medical expenses and off to Colorado we went.  (Okay there were stops along the way, but that’s for another day).   Our oldest son was born the day after I arrived in Colorado Springs….and my husband was still in Oklahoma.  He missed the whole thing.  He was there though when our second son was born.  My husband served 3 years active duty and then back to Vermont we went to do 4 years of National Guards, since we knew that his next duty station would probably be Germany.  This was in the 1970s, we were young and thought we couldn’t possibly go to another country.  I was terribly homesick while we were in Colorado and our children wouldn’t be around their grandparents, all kinds of excuses.  
            Now looking back, it seems like perhaps he should have stayed in.  I hear everyone talk about how they were stationed all over the world and the adventures they had.   I am sure we all have times when we look back and think “why did we do that?” or “why didn’t we do that?”  I don’t regret the decision we made because I still feel it was best for our family.  I wanted our children to grow up in the same town I did (even though others couldn’t wait to get out of there), to know their grandparents and spend time with them.  My sons were old enough to even have great-grandparents on my side of the family.  Those are memories that can never be replaced.  What does this have to do with retiring?  I hear and see so often in obituaries or through friends “oh he just retired a month ago” or “she was set to retire at the end of the month.”  I want to be sure that I have time with my husband, with my grandchildren, with my sisters.  My Mom passed away at the very early age of 70……..just 2 years after her 88 year old mother died.  Never expected that.  No one knows what a day will bring.  There is only one who knows the number of our days, but I want to make sure that I make those days count.  I expect I won’t just be sitting around!  But maybe all those craft supplies in my closet will be put to good use!! Well, I can hope!!

            Make sure your life is full of wonderful memories and no regrets!!

Monday, July 3, 2017

A New Era for the Augmented Estate Statute

Erin A. Smith, Esq.
This year, the Virginia Assembly adopted new rules with respect to Virginia’s augmented estate. The Augmented Estate Statue protects married couples from disinheriting each other by allowing the surviving spouse to make a claim against the decedent spouses’ estate for probate assets, non-probate assets, and even transfers of assets to third parties. These combined assets are considered the decedent’s augmented estate.
The philosophy behind the statute is that a spouse has a duty to support his or her spouse even at death. The changes in the statute modernize this view of statutory “support” in favor of a financial partnership theory. The amount that the spouse will receive depends on the number of years they were married.
Under the new law, the surviving spouse is still entitled to up to one half of the augmented estate, but what is considered the “marital share” depends on the duration of the parties’ marriage and ranges from 1.5% of the total augmented estate for a marriage of less than one year to a full 50% for a marriage of fifteen years or more.
There is a now a two-step process: the determination of the percentage of the marital-property portion which is dependent upon the number of years married, then, there’s a determination of the “elective share amount” which is always 50% of whatever that marital-property portion turns out to be.  
The new statute also clarifies that the surviving spouse making an elective share claim may also claim a homestead allowance of $20,000.00, which is to be paid to the spouse first after expenses are paid.
Domestic relations and estate planning often intersect. After a divorce in Virginia, in determining the amount and duration of spousal support, courts look at a number of statutory factors including the years of marriage. The duration of the marriage is one of the key factors considered.
In a previous blog, I explained why a pre-nuptial agreement is a wise choice because you can make the decision about the disposition of your property in the event of divorce or death. Otherwise, the laws of the Commonwealth will make that decision for you.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Birthday Reflection


Barbara Armstrong, Paralegal
I am celebrating my birthday this wonderful month of June.  When my mother was alive, she would always make me an angel food cake with Jiffy frosting and strawberries and bring me fresh gladiolas from her garden.  It didn’t matter how old my siblings and I got- “Mama” would make our day special.

I know that as we get older, I hear a lot of my friends say that they no longer celebrate their birthday or simply choose to ignore it.  I, on the other hand, embrace it!  If anything, it reminds me of how lucky I am to be here.  I have my health.  I have a great job.  I have a wonderful home.  I am blessed to have a wonderful husband who, for reasons only known to him, adores me.  I have three wonderful children, an awesome daughter-in-law, and three beautiful granddaughters.   

I am lucky to be working for a woman who has not only taught me and mentored me along the way over the last nine years, but who I also call a dear friend.  My co-workers are exceptional!  I could not ask for better people to work with.  We all respect each other, are there for each other when needed, laugh and cry together, and we genuinely love each other. 

Over the years, I have established friendships along the way, and although we may not be in touch as often as we would like, we know that if anyone needed us, we are only a call away.

I enjoy spending time with my husband and our beagle.  During the days that we can, we love sitting out on the deck enjoying nature and each other’s company.  Although we grow older, we never stop dreaming.   


So, for those who don’t celebrate birthdays anymore, I implore you to revisit that choice and enjoy that birthday.  Life is good. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

World Elder Abuse Day


                                                                                                    
Helena S. Mock, Esq. 
Did you know that there is a whole day dedicated to the issue of Elder Abuse?  I find this an extremely sad state of affairs that we, not just Americans, but all members of the world’s population feel the need to address issues of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of the elderly, which is a problem that is expanding exponentially within all societies.  It is estimated that each year over 5 million older adults are abused, neglected, or exploited.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is June 15th.  WEAAD was launched in 2016 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations with a purpose of providing an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of the potential for abuse and neglect of older persons and to raise awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.

Last year, I had the privilege of being part of a workgroup established by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) pursuant to House Bill 676.  DARS was delegated the responsibility of evaluating the problems of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation within the Commonwealth and making recommendations to facilitate improvements.  Their report is published http://leg2.state.va.us/DLS/h&sdocs.nsf/5c7ff392dd0ce64d85256ec400674ecb/308d6d4cfc756d1085257fb70061bf45?OpenDocument&Highlight=0,aging, and is interesting, albeit sad, reading.  Upon review of state Adult Protective Services (APS) data compiled during fiscal year 2015, the records revealed Virginia victims lost an estimated $28,226,512 in that fiscal year alone.

As part of its mission, WEAAD provides information on recognizing and preventing abuse as well as protecting yourself from abuse.  Additional information can be obtained by visiting the University of Southern California’s Center on Elder Mistreatment at  http://eldermistreatment.usc.edu/.  Make a commitment to take some action this June 15th to help yourself or someone else, or even to just get more educated.  Every small step gets us closer to making the future brighter for all seniors.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Live What You Love


                                                                                 
Jody Barder,
Paralegal 
         
 Life. Sometimes it’s so sweet and I wish I could bottle up the sweetness and savor it forever. Moments like the little voice from the backseat saying “I love you” unexpectedly and watching the dark eyelashes of the slumbering angel take peaceful breaths. And sometimes life is just plain sour and I’m glad time will ease the bitter sting.  But most of the time, my life seems to exist between the sweet and sour moments and it is lived in the everyday hassle and hurry.  It’s so easy to live and forget to love.  Easier to tie the shoe than to teach to tie.  Easier to say no than to think perhaps yes.  Easier to live than to love.  Easier still to forget to dream.

Working in estate and trust administration, the end of life is on my desk every day as I help others wrap up their late loved ones affairs.  But as I help them navigate unfamiliar waters, it feels good to help. And often times, my work helps remind me to not just live, but to live what I love.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Eighteen- More Than Just a Number


                                                                                                            
Madeline Calthorpe 
18 is far more than just a number.  It is a symbol of transition.  Finally, after years of waiting, you are no longer a child.  Nights of rushing home to make 12 am curfew are over and freedom has never tasted so sweet.  In a few months, it will be time to head off to college, allowing you to truly test out this new thing called adulthood.  What you may not realize, however, is that 18 is also the year when your parents can no longer make health care decisions on your behalf. 

So, what exactly does this mean?  Should you be worried?  Well, let’s say you and your friends have decided to spend your Spring Break in the mountains.  A week of skiing, relaxing by the fire, and thinking about anything other than school—what could be better?  Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned and you end up in the hospital after the first hour on the slopes.  Your friends call your parents in a frenzy, but when your parents call the hospital they are unable to get any information.  Despite the fact that they’re your parents, you’re an adult and, in effect, sharing your information would be a privacy concern.  I know what you’re thinking, what’s the big deal?  It’s probably just a broken leg.  I’ll call my parents when I get out of the hospital.  But what if it wasn’t just a broken leg?  What if you were unconscious?  Wouldn’t you want your parents by your side supporting you and helping to make important medical decisions?

Luckily, there is a solution: a medical power of attorney.  Contrary to belief, this document is not only for aging parents, but is important for young adults too.  By signing a medical power of attorney, you are giving your parents, or another adult of your choice, the ability to act in your place.  Had you been unconscious after that accident, they could have told the doctors what steps to take. 
Here at The Peninsula Center, we offer a College Power Pack, which includes a Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, and HIPPA form.  Five years ago, when I said goodbye to my parents as they dropped me off for my freshman year, I would never have thought to sign these documents.  Now, I would sign them in a heartbeat. 


You may be an adult, but that doesn’t make you invincible.  The world is full of unexpecteds, but you don’t have to be alone when they pop up.  On your eighteenth birthday, rather than rushing out and buying a lottery ticket, call and set up an appointment to sign a medical power of attorney.  Leaving for college is stressful enough; give yourself peace of mind by knowing that you are in good hands.            



Friday, May 12, 2017

New Rules Aimed to Protect Senior Investors

Erin A. Smith, Esq. 
      The financial exploitation of elderly investors is becoming a major problem in our country. In order to address this growing trend, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) adopted new rules, effective February 2018, to allow members of banks to act if they have a reasonable belief that a client is being financially exploited. The rules were proposed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) due to this growing need. Currently, there is little a financial institution can do to protect their investors from this sort of abuse. The new guidelines allow the following:
      FINRA Rule 2165 allows a member who has a reasonable belief that a client is being financially exploited to put a hold on that customer’s disbursements of their accounts and/or securities. This is not a requirement, but it does allow the member to have discretion and to put a temporary hold on funds when there is a concern.
        FINRA Rule 4512 requires a member to make reasonable efforts to obtain the name of and contact information for a trusted person for a customer’s account. The member must ask the client for a trusted contact when they open an account. The trusted person can provide input as to the customer’s health situation, confirm specifics of customer’s contact information, report concerns regarding financial exploitation, and identify a legal guardian, trustee, executor, agent for the client.
It may not be the perfect solution, but certainly a step in the right direction. It is helpful to have a trusted person to contact in the event that there is a concern. However, they have limited power to protect the assets and can really only provide information.
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from financial exploitation is to plan ahead. A comprehensive durable power of attorney and a revocable living trust can provide more protection for you and/or your aging family members from becoming victims of this type of abuse.