Swine flu (also known as the H1N1 virus), can be serious. Speak to your doctor
about whether or not you should be vaccinated when the vaccine is available.

The NAELA Bulletin reports that state and local governments throughout the country
are underfunded by $1trillion (with a “t”). This may someday affect you, your children or
grandchildren through higher taxes or lower benefits.

There is no increase in social security benefits this year because overall inflation is
zero. But don’t forget, last year the increase was 5.8%.

Elder abuse should still be reported but there is a danger that due to budget cuts elder
abuse reports will not be acted upon. Some red flags of elder abuse:
unexplained bruises and cuts; untreated bedsores; lack of adequate food, hygiene and
clothing; gifts the senior cannot afford to make; elderly person supporting “caregiver”; transfers of
property by an elderly person; and isolation of the senior from friends and family.

As I write this year’s update Health Care Reform has passed the House of
Representatives and awaits action in the Senate. Whether it is this reform act or something else,
something must be done to provide for the uninsured and rein in the high cost of health care
inflation, which is often over 15% a year. The House bill also provides that Medicare can negotiate
drug prices. Any bill which passes both houses will likely serve to protect those with preexisting
conditions from being denied coverage. The hot button issues that could prevent passage are
whether there should be a “public option” (through which the government provides insurance),
and/or whether any plan approved by the government for sale under the reform law is allowed to pay for abortions. There is no “death panel” in any of the bills considered by either the House or the Senate. There are merely provisions for voluntary “end of life counseling”, which my own father found very helpful in his own last days (he died on December 11, 2008).

It turns out the old saying “stop butting your head against a brick wall”is good advice!
Apparently, there is a high rate of dementia among professional football players, possibly related to
multiple concussions suffered when colliding with other football players.

The number of social security beneficiaries jumped 19% this year, as baby boomers
and the unemployed filed for social security benefits in unexpectedly high numbers.

In Illinois a statement in a will that disinherited grandchildren who married outside
the willmaker’s faith was found valid, and not a prohibition on freedom of religion in violation of
public policy.

Associated Press reports that 35,000,000 people around the world are living with
Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. As we live longer, this number is bound to

Beware of non-attorneys who draft legal documents for you cheaply so you can save
money by avoiding attorneys. Recently a client came to me with a trust drafted by a non-attorney.
The trust did not include a “pourover” will. As a result, the client may not inherit tens of thousands
of dollars that the decedent apparently would have wanted her to have.

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 house is put back into the trust when the refinance is
completed. And, you should ALWAYS be on the lookout for identity theft and guard your personal
information zealously.

As promised last year, this year I planted 13 more trees to offset the carbon footprint
of my office and family, for a total of 39 trees to date. I have also begun donating to the local public
radio station and the Natural Resources Defense Counsel to protect our environment. I do this with
a broader interpretation of “estate” to include not just the money I leave behind but trying to leave
the environment a little bit better, too.

If your Advance Health Care Directive or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care was
done years earlier, before the law was changed, and you do not have a HIPAA release form attached
to it, you should contact me to get a HIPAA release form.

If you have a legal problem outside of my areas of practice, (wills and trusts, trust
administration, conservatorships, probate, social security disability), please feel free to call for a
referral to another attorney who can possibly assist you.
And finally, I wish each of you a healthy and happy holiday season!

Brian Sheppard