The Five Most Common Mistakes an Elder Law Attorney Sees

Everybody wants to avoid making a mistake, right?  And everybody wants to know “What mistakes should I avoid?”   The question is universal. Whether you are learning a new recipe, a new sport or planning some do it yourself project, you want to know what not to do.

So, here I will lay out the five most common mistakes I see.  But, first let’s set the context and that is aging. It is invariably true that as we age we cannot expect to be in control of our daily affairs.  The spirit may be willing to be “forever young” but the flesh is weak.  That means we need somebody to take care of things for us. Pay the bills, get money out of the bank, manage all medical matters including from making appointments to following through the treatment program.  This period of need may run into months or years.

I have posted a new article on our website, which goes into detail.  I’ll give the link below, but for the people who just want a quick read, here you go!

First Mistake: Doing Nothing

“It’s mind over matter.  All you have to do is just try harder.”  This mistake leads to lifetime probate AND probate after death too!

Second Mistake: Joint accounts with Children

“I did what the people at the Senior Center said to do.  I made my daughter joint on all my accounts.  She can pay the bills and after I die she will share it with all the other children.”  What if the daughter decides she “earned” the money and will not share?  Probate court battles.

Third Mistake:  Preparing only for death and taxes.

“I’ve got a Will and I’m all set!”  It is cute but pretty accurate to say preparing only for death leaves you unprepared for life.

Fourth Mistake: Paying Caregivers under the table.

“We hired a lady in the neighborhood to help Mom.  She wants to be paid cash.  Under the table.”   The lady is a legal employee and Mom is the employer.  An employer has strict legal duties to pay taxes and comply with all other laws covering this employment.

Fifth Mistake:  Not getting legal advice before applying for “means tested” government benefits.

“Why pay a lawyer? The VFW guy said Dad had to spend it and the lady at the nursing home said the same thing.”  These benefit programs are very complicated.  They were written by a large committee whose members made sure they put in a little bit for themselves.  And, the committee’s name is Congress.

If you want to learn more, here’s the link to the full article.