CLIENT UPDATE – OCTOBER, 2008

Medicare will no longer reimburse hospitals for additional costs caused by preventable infections. This will encourage hospitals to develop better practices. The L.A. Times reports that an investment scammer who preyed on the elderly (taking $190 million from them), was recently sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Part of the marketing program included free lunches. Be careful of those who offer you a free lunch. Sometimes they just want to win your confidence so they can sell you something you don’t need. The premium for Medicare Part D is going up $3 per month, according to Medical News Today. The insurable limits vary from bank to bank, and now the FDIC is making various promises, but I still advise you to keep less than $100,000 in any one bank unless you are advised otherwise by your accountant or financial adviser. According to the Chicago Sun Times, annual long term care premiums are going up by as much as 18%. The American Academy of Actuaries is calling for an increase in the Social Security retirement age, which is currently 67. It used to be 65. Governor Schwarzenegger has signed 4 new laws protecting the elderly into effect. One increases the penalties on those who violate restraining orders, another mandates that persons convicted of elder abuse cannot own a gun for 10 years. What is really needed, in my opinion, is better enforcement of the current financial abuse laws by the District Attorney (but of course, that means more money, which is not going to happen for awhile). If you are a veteran, you might get your vehicle...

CLIENT UPDATE – SEPTEMBER, 2007

The FDA has approved a patch to treat mild to moderate cases of Alzheimer’s disease. The drug in the patch is called Exelon. Partly as a result of a series of articles in the Los Angeles Times, new conservatorship rules have taken effect in California, making the process of obtaining and continuing a conservatorship both more complicated and more expensive. This makes it more important than ever to have your power of attorney documents, and trust, fully up to date. The weekly magazine The Week reports that if you can’t recognize the smell of lemon, cinnamon or onion you may be experiencing the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The New York Times advises people to be careful of persons calling themselves by impressive sounding titles that imply they have extensive and special knowledge and training. Some of these people are actively selling seniors insurance, annuities or other financial products that may not be appropriate for them. Be careful who you do business with! AARP reports that heart attacks affect women as much as men, but the symptoms may be different. Symptoms in women may include discomfort in the chest, arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach; shortness of breath; nausea or lightheadedness and extreme fatigue. The New York Times reports that the Center for Disease Control has linked Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to a genetic mutation. As always, I remind you that if I have done a trust for you you should contact me every five years or when there is a major life event. Remember, if you take your house out of the trust to refinance your mortgage, be sure the...

CLIENT UPDATE – SEPTEMBER, 2006

Global warming has arrived with a vengeance! As I write this today the temperature is expected to hit 105 degrees in the San Fernando Valley. It is important to protect yourself from heat stroke and dehydration as we are probably due for even more hot spells. Some signs of heat stroke or dehydration are headache, seizure, thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, dry skin, dizziness, confusion, and/or increased heart rate. If you have any of these symptoms call your doctor. To prevent heat stroke or dehydration drink plenty of fluids and schedule your outdoor activities in the cooler parts of the day. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2006 was adopted by Congress earlier this year. It includes a limitation on home equity that you may have and still qualify for long-term care Medi-Cal, new proof of citizenship requirements and limitations on the transfer of the home. Most likely, there will be implementing legislation proposed in the California legislature in February of 2007. Other changes include the treatment of annuities and provisions for the spouse who stays in the home (the “income-first” rule). In another health note, the New York Times reports that one of every eight New Yorkers now have diabetes, a disease which is more common as we become heavier as a society and which also affects increasing numbers of children. Some symptoms of diabetes are fatigue, extreme thirst and frequent urination. If you have these symptoms, consult with your doctor. AARP reports that in 2003 the number of adults with diabetes in the 40 to 74 age group increased substantially. Some in Congress proposed a new law to eliminate...

CLIENT UPDATE – DECEMBER, 2005

As we enter this holiday season there is a lot of news to discuss from the last year. The avian flu spreading in the Far East and even into Europe is on everyone’s mind and nobody knows if this flu is going to “mutate” so that it can pass from human to human. Get your flu shot! Other preventive measures recommended by doctors include washing your hands, covering your face and nose with a handkerchief or tissue if you sneeze or cough, reducing the amount of times you touch your face and getting plenty of rest. Most importantly, consult with your doctor. Social Security benefits will increase 4.1% in 2006. However, the Los Angeles Times Business Section reported on November 20, 2005 that inflation in Southern California is running at a 5.4% annual rate and nationally inflation is increasing at a 4.3% annual rate, both slightly above the social security benefit increase. If you have an unpaid student loan, your Social Security benefits may be reduced up to 15%, and the amount deducted used to pay your student loans, according to a recent Supreme Court decision. The October 2005, AARP Bulletin has several useful tips for emergency planning. AARP suggests making a “Grab-and-Go” case containing copies of important legal, financial and medical information and documents; a contact list of friends and relatives (as well as your doctors and lawyer(s); a household inventory; copies of your insurance documents; last year’s income taxes and even a back up of the information on your computer. In earthquake prone California, this is a good idea. For a free credit report go to “AnnualCreditReport.com”....

CLIENT UPDATE – NOVEMBER, 2004

As we enter this holiday season I want to extend my best wishes to all of you for a happy holiday season, with special remembrances to those who have family and friends serving in Iraq. Recently I acquired a website. My website address is “BrianSheppardLaw.com”. My website has information about upcoming presentations as well as copies of articles I have written and information about my practice. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requires, in one part, additional patient privacy protection. Some providers are now insisting that they will not provide information to a duly appointed health care decision-maker unless that person can also show the health care provider a “HIPAA Release”. Therefore, whenever I do an Advance Directive for Health Care now I also do a “HIPAA Release” form. If I have done a Power of Attorney for Health Care/Advance Health Care Directive for you, you should contact me to have this additional form done for a minimal fee. In September a client came to see me at the Wilkinson Senior Center regarding a home loan refinance. His wife was incapacitated and he had no Power of Attorney document. The refinance company said it couldn’t do the refinance and my client’s only options were to file for a conservatorship or forgo the refinance. Just because you are married does not mean you can sign all legal documents for your spouse; often you will need a Power of Attorney document. Last month a client came to see me at one of my pro bono consultations at Providence Health Systems with questions about her “trust”. The “trust” was merely a single page form titled...

CLIENT UPDATE – NOVEMBER, 2003

It may be hard to believe when it has been so hot out, but summer is over and soon we will be heading into the Thanksgiving and holiday season. I often think of how lucky I am to be one of those few people who truly enjoys their work and I want to thank you, my clients, for the opportunity to have been of service to you. On July 1, 2002, a new California law took effect limiting the use and disclosure of your social security number. Now California Civil Code Section 1798.85 prohibits use of your social security number, as follows: 1. Another person or entity may not publicly post or display your social security number. 2. Your social security number cannot be used on any card you use to access services (such as insurance cards). 3. You may not be required to transmit your social security number over the internet unless the connection is secured or the number is encrypted. 4. You may not be required to use your social security number to access a website unless a password is also used. 5. Your social security number may not be printed on materials mailed to you, unless state or federal law requires that your social security number be on the document. Identity theft is a growing problem. Be careful with your social security number. There are likely to be significant changes in Medi-Cal rules and regulations in the near future. If you have been investigating Medi-Cal benefits for yourself or a loved one, be aware that major changes are probably coming. The amount that you can leave to your heirs,...