Benefit Finder is a federal government website for comprehensive information on disability programs and services in communities nationwide. The site links to more than 14,000 resources from federal, state and local government agencies; academic institutions; and nonprofit organizations. You can find answers to questions about everything from Social Security benefits to employment to affordable and accessible housing. has a website called to help you determine which benefits you may be eligible for and how to apply for them. Recently, they launched a new tool to assist you on your path to finding and applying for government benefits. The website has launched the YouTube channel. If you already have a YouTube account, you can subscribe to the YouTube channel by clicking the “Subscribe” button at the top of the channel page. Subscribing allows you to receive notifications when new videos are posted and provides an easy way to quickly access your favorite videos. Even if you do not have a YouTube account, you can still view the videos about the site and its features at any time.

The YouTube channel currently showcases a self-help video about the site’s confidential prescreening tool, the Benefit Finder. The Benefit Finder Tutorial video is a step-by-step visual guide designed to help you better understand how the Benefit Finder works. This short tutorial also aims to help answer common questions you may have while using the Benefit Finder tool. To turn on the closed captioning, or to use translation, please click on the “CC” icon below the video to adjust your settings.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

When a Good Estate Plan Goes Bad!

We recently hosted a client seminar to discuss things that can go wrong with even a well drafted estate plan.  Most often things go wrong with an estate plan as a result of lack of communication between the parties (i.e. our clients, their successor trustees, and the beneficiaries).  While documents are drafted to follow the clients’ wishes, many times the clients do not consider the impact the documents may have on their beneficiaries after they have passed away.

Communication about the estate plan can help alleviate some of the difficulties which can occur following a death.  If the family is aware of the parents’ intent regarding the distribution of personal property for instance, the arguments regarding the jewelry, piano or grandfather clock might be eliminated.  If the parents have carefully considered their choice of trustee, the administration of the estate will be smoother and there will be less potential for conflict, even if this means that a non family member should serve as trustee.

A new legal practice method is being utilized to help with some of these areas.  A collaborative practice is designed to involve the whole family in the estate planning process.  The goal is to avoid family conflict following the passing of the parents.  The hope is that if everyone is involved and aware of the provisions in the documents, the conflicts will be minimized after the death of the parents.  While not every family can have meaningful and useful discussions about these areas, for those that can, having a discussion regarding the estate plan can make the administration much easier.  These meetings can be held with the attorney, a mediator or professional facilitator to review and discuss the issues that are presented in the plan.

If you would like to learn more, please click here to view our slide presentation from the program.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

Gift Ideas For Long Term Care Residents

Gift Ideas for Long Term Care Residents

The best gift that you can give to a nursing home resident is a visit. If you cannot visit or want to do something extra for the holidays or their birthday, the following is an adaptation of a list published by the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform in the winter of 2011.

  • A new pair of slippers or a robe in a favorite color.
  • A gift certificate for a haircut, massage, or manicure.
  • Recent pictures of family and friends in an album, frames, or a bulletin board.
  • Video record a family event that the resident was unable to attend and enjoy watching it with them.
  • A subscription to a favorite magazine or newspaper.
  • Crossword or word search books. (Perhaps in large print.)
  • A personal television for the resident’s room or wireless headphones for their television.
  • A wireless reading device.
  • Quilt or lap blanket.
  • Regular deliveries of flowers.
  • Plant.
  • Tote bag for walker or wheelchair.
  • Luxury toiletries.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.


Deed Scam

Nothing makes me angrier than people trying to scam other people.  The latest scam has hit two of my clients in the last week.  Both received an official looking envelope with correspondence inside entitled Local Records Office.

The rather official looking documentation requests $89.00 to be sent in to receive a copy of their latest filed deed.  Only if you turn the document over do you see in very small print the words “not affiliated with any State or the United States or the County Records”. However the disclaimer is small and not very noticeable, so my clients could have easily complied with the request. Luckily, they called us first.

This so called service is really not a service that you need.  You can get a copy of your deed by requesting it from the recorder’s office.  However in most instances, you already have the document in your possession.  In my client’s cases, I had just recorded deeds for them, so I would have sent them the same document free of charge.

It is appalling to send out such forms, which look so official that most people would pay the charge without realizing that it is unnecessary.  The company apparently has just enough disclaimer language in the form to avoid prosecution and they do offer a service, although you could easily obtain the deed yourself and save your money.

All we can do is get the word out to try and help prevent people from being taken advantage of by this scam.  For every official looking form you receive, be cautions, check the back of the form for fine print. It can also be helpful to do a search on the name of the agency sending the information. When you type Local Records Office into google, you get a list of articles about the scam.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

What is Hospice?

Hospice is a practice of specialized care for individuals nearing the end of life. But it is not just for the last few days. In fact, Medicare pays for months of free services to patients and their families. For instance:

  • Do you wish you had help with bathing your loved one?
  • Are you worried about keeping your relative comfortable and out of pain or suffering?
  • Do you wish you had 24/7 access to medical advice?

Hospice offers these services and more. Its goal is to support the patient and family emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

With hospice care, your relative receives regular home visits from

  • a nurse who comes to manage pain, nausea, and other uncomfortable symptoms;
  • a social worker with advice about local programs to help with special needs;
  • a trained volunteer who can stay with your relative once a week so you can have a needed 2-3 hours off.

Such services are free to persons on Medicare who meet these eligibility requirements:

  • An incurable condition
  • A doctor’s assessment that the patient is not likely to live longer than six months
  • Willingness to let go of curative treatment

With an emphasis on quality of life, hospice is the choice for patients who would rather enjoy the time they have left than continue with repeated hospitalizations and ER visits.  It’s also good for patients who are tired of dealing with the side effects of treatment that offers only a slim chance of recovery.

If you think your loved one could benefit from hospice care, ask the doctor a simple question: “Would you be surprised if [your relative] were to die in the next year?” If the doctor says “no,” then it’s wise to talk about if/when hospice would be a good choice.  In hindsight, many families say they wish they had signed up sooner.

To learn more about hospice click here.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.