Issue 5 (June 2013)

Pooled Trusts: An Approach to Special Needs Planning for Families of Modest Means

Cover Article

Pooled Trusts: An Approach to Special Needs Planning for Families of Modest Means

Estate planning to protect assets for the benefit of children, a spouse or partner, or other family members is important. For those with loved ones who have special needs, this planning is even more vital, as improper planning could leave the individual vulnerable to predators or impact eligibility for means-tested public benefits such as SSI or Medicaid.

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The Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA) was first presented to state legislatures in 2008, with the goal of universal enactment. Today UAGPPJA is the law in 36 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. As of this writing, a bill to enact UAGPPJA sits on Governor Cuomo’s desk, and New York State is poised to become number 37.

Elder abuse cases often highlight the reality that the same frailties and vulnerabilities that make older clients easy victims also make them imperfect witnesses and poor advocates for their cause. Despite the difficulties and resource demands that financial exploitation cases involving the elderly present, there are no cases where a legal aid provider such as ours, Legal Services for the Elderly (LSE) in Maine, believes we are more clearly discharging our duties as advocates for our vulnerable elderly clients.

On May 7, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission hosted a forum entitled “Senior Identity Theft: A Problem in this Day and Age.” The FTC brought together experts from government, private industry, and public interest groups to discuss different types of senior identity theft, the challenges of victims of identity theft, and educating the public on senior identity theft.

Balancing the costs and benefits of pro bono is a key challenge for legal services managers.

I began early this year hosting calls for a broad group of aging advocates a couple of times per month to develop a statement that the largest group of advocates could agree on regarding legal assistance in reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. My goal was to be inclusive, inviting a wide array of participants, and to concentrate on a broad vision and principles all participants could agree on. The product is the following statement regarding legal assistance in reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.

This major new work updates and significantly expands The Hastings Center’s 1987 Guidelines on the Termination of Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care of the Dying. The 1987 Guidelines became a major benchmark for addressing the many ethical and legal questions that arose from the care of the dying in high-tech, modern medicine.

The NAELA Board adopted recommendations on improving availability of legal assistance at the Board’s May 2013 meeting.

The National Guardianship Network (NGN) is pleased to announce four awards of incentive grants and technical assistance to states to create innovative, consensus-driven Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders (WINGS).

Newly updated through June 2013.

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About Bifocal

Bifocal, the Commission on Law and Aging's bi-monthly journal, provides timely, valuable legal resources pertaining to older persons, generated through the joint efforts of public and private bar groups and the aging network.



The Commission distributes Bifocal for free six times a year to elder bar section and committee members, legal services providers, elder law and other private practitioners, judges, court staff, elder advocates, policymakers, law schools, elder law clinics, law libraries, and other professionals in the law and aging network.

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Bifocal invites the submission of news about your elder bar section’s activities, as well as brief articles of interest to elder law and other professionals in the aging advocacy network.

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