Rocky Mountain Elder Law is passionate about protection and justice for vulnerable people. Attorney Kate Silburn specializes in helping older and disabled people who may be at risk of, or who have experienced, some kind of exploitation. She uses all the tools at her disposal to fight for them, including estate planning, probate, probate litigation, and guardianships and conservatorships. Kate~s credentials of a Masters of Divinity and Juris Doctor, as well as her role as a hospice chaplain, give her unique insight into the challenges facing older people at the end of their lives. She has seen what happens when the right protections are not in place and is dedicated to advocating for vulnerable people. Rocky Mountain Elder Law LLC serves Colorado~s Front Range and is available to support families in the Denver Metro area. "Giving families peace of mind by protecting their legacy".
Rocky Mountain Elder Law recently worked on a case where an elderly man with mild dementia was at risk of exploitation by those around him.An 89-year-old Colorado man (Tom) with mild dementia had a girlfriend in her 60s (Sally). She had a financial Power of Attorney giving her power over his finances. Together, they would regularly visit the various banks he had accounts with to withdraw his money. In addition, the elderly man had a great-nephew (Andrew) whose college tuition he wanted to pay for and a niece, Bree, (the nephews mother) with a serious gambling addiction.Toms 94-year-old sister Helen lived in Illinois and was concerned about Toms money being taken by his girlfriend and family members such as Bree and Andrew. Helen called Toms local Adult Protective Services for a welfare check on Tom to make sure that he was being cared for. Adult Protective Services found that Tom was being physically neglected and living in unsuitable conditions. They then called the police and Helen engaged me to help her brother.Due to his mild dementia, Tom needed a guardian and conservator someone to ensure that he was being taken care of and that his money was safe. In this case, Helen was the only one in the family willing to take on this responsibility, but this was deemed inappropriate because she was out of state and due to her age.Instead, Adult Protective Services proposed a third-party guardianship and conservatorship to give Tom financial and medical security. The guardian and conservator are now an independent person, based in Colorado. Now, Tom has home care, an allowance and his finances are safe. He still sees his girlfriend Sally, but the Power of Attorney she had is void and she can no longer access his finances. Bree had no access to his money, but Tom could still pay for Andrews college tuition, as he originally wanted.This case was successful because this setup gives Tom protection against exploitation, but still allows him independence and the ability to make his own financial choices, as far as he is able.If you know someone who might be at risk in a similar situation, call us on 720-457-4573 or email us at email@example.com.
Estate plans are love letters to your nearest and dearest. Having an estate plan means that when you die, your family can grieve, free of the burden of challenging decisions. I believe that people are never too old and never too young to start an estate plan, but they might be too late. If you know that a loved one doesnt have an estate plan in place and you think they should (and really, everyone should), here are some tips for talking to them about it in a constructive way.DoEmphasize that this is a loving thing they can do for you and the other members of your family. Knowing what they want at the end of their life and afterward will relieve you and your family of hard decisions.Explain that an estate plan is more than just a Will, and these documents dont just apply after death. Powers of Attorney and Living Wills come into effect when someone is still alive but unable to make decisions for themselves. Neither the Medical Power of Attorney, nor the Financial Power of Attorney survives after death.A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows someone else (an agent) to act on your (the principals) behalf. There are two types of Power of Attorney:Financial Power of Attorney: This involves the management of financial affairs. This document is critical in avoiding the financial exploitation of an older person. Instructions within it can also help pay for care.Medical Power of Attorney: This gives the agent the power to make medical decisions on the principals behalf.Living Will: This allows the agent under the Power of Attorney to know exactly what someone wants in certain situations, such as what medical treatment or other care they would or would not want if they become too sick to speak for themselves. Unlike a Will, which only springs into effect on death, a Living Will applies when the person is still alive. Nowadays, there are also specific conditions around COVID mentioned in the Living Will.These documents smooth the way in difficult situations and mean that not only does your loved one know their wishes will be carried out, but also their family doesnt have to second-guess what they would want. It leaves no room for uncertainly or family arguments.If there isnt a suitable person within a family to be the agent, or there is the potential for family arguments around who the agent should be, you can find a third party to be an agent. I work closely with affordable third parties who can be agents in these circumstances. These are independent, bonded third parties who are neutral and can step in to help families get their ducks in a row.If you are going to be the agent of a Power of Attorney, a conservator, or a guardian, make sure you fully understand the responsibilities of the role and seek legal advice to ensure that you are following all of the rules correctly.DontDo not force your family member into creating an estate plan, or any of the documents within it. None of this should be done under force or coercion.Do not make it seem like creating an estate plan is a way to get access to that persons money, or get control of it. This could make them very resistant to the idea.If you are the agent of a Power of Attorney, guardian, or conservator of a family member, do not use any of the funds available to that person for your own benefit it is for their benefit alone.Do not let your family member fall prey to financial exploitation. Unfortunately, its something that I see all too frequently. Be alert for signs of bullying, coercion, or isolation of the older family member. These are common signs that someone might become vulnerable to financial exploitation. If you would like to talk to us about estate plans, please call us on 720 457 4573.
As we spend more and more of our time online and conduct our business there, we inevitably start to have numerous passwords for our digital accounts. Moreover, to make them secure enough, we make them so complex that no one can guess them. However, what happens after we die? Often our relatives have to go through a lengthy and onerous process to get control of all the essential digital accounts. Sometimes there is no way for them to access digital accounts without setting certain things up in advance. Here are some things to think about and do as part of your digital estate planning. Designate a beneficiary when possibleThis information is correct as of July 2022.Apple iCloud Starting in iOS 15.2, iPadOS 15.2, and macOS 12.1, Apple users can add a Legacy Contact for their Apple ID. If someone is a Legacy Contact for you (and they have both the unique access key you created when you added them as a Legacy Contact and your death certificate) they can start a request on their device or on the Digital Legacy Request Access page. If they dont have a Legacy Contact access key, they can still ask to delete an account or request access to an account.Google GSuite Google lets you make a plan for your digital legacy through the Inactive Account Manager. You can decide when to label your account as inactive, as well as set up a legacy contact. Microsoft Microsoft doesnt yet have any legacy contact options. They recommend that you cancel any subscriptions to Microsoft and then Outlook.com and OneDrive accounts will be frozen after one year. Any email messages and files stored on OneDrive will be deleted shortly thereafter. Microsoft accounts expire after two years of inactivity.Facebook Facebook lets you identify a person who will be able to manage tribute posts on your profile; request the removal of your account; respond to new friend requests; and update your profile picture and cover photo. Alternatively, if you dont want to have a Facebook account after youve passed away, you can request to have your account permanently deleted instead of choosing a legacy contact.Instagram Instagram doesnt currently let you appoint a legacy contact. After death, someone will be able to request the memorialization of your account. Twitter Twitter doesnt yet have a legacy contact option, but it has a feature to allow someone to deactivate an account on your death. LinkedIn If someone has the authority to act on your behalf, they can request to memorialize or close the account. If they arent authorized to act on your behalf, they can report you as deceased. LinkedIn identifies certain legal documents that give someone authority. Reporting a deceased LinkedIn member will result in the account being hidden. Once an account is hidden, the profile is no longer searchable or visible on LinkedIn.Store your passwords safely and accessibly (to the right person)Password managers, like LastPass, 1Password, and Bitwarden enable you to set digital heirs who will be able to access your account information. LastPass and Bitwarden have an emergency access facility, and 1Password enables you to create an emergency kit. Equally, make sure your loved ones know your phone access codes. Many platforms require two-factor authentication, one of which can be sending an SMS to a designated phone, or a code generated in an app. If you use a hardware security key like Googles Titan Security Key, make sure that its somewhere accessible to your loved ones. Ultimately, the most important thing is to make sure your accounts are safe while youre alive, but accessible to your loved ones after your death.Download our digital accounts form to start thinking about your digital legacy.If you would like help with any area of estate planning, dont hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 720 457 4573.
Exploitation of older people is sadly common and financial exploitation is very damaging to its victims. According to the National Council on Ageing it costs victims as much as $36.5 billion per year. It can also be difficult to tackle because financial elder abuse is often done by those the victim trusts.However, one of the most powerful ways to fight against it and pre-empt it is thorough estate planning. Many people think about estate planning as something that only matters after you are dead, but in fact, it can also be useful to safeguard you while youre still alive.A WillWhat it is: A Will lays out what you want to happen with regards to property and assets after you die. If you dont have one, your wishes might not be honored. Your will covers those assets that are titled in your name at your death and for which there is not already a designated beneficiary. Some assets are not affected by your will, and they include: bank accounts, retirement plans such as a 401(k) or IRA, life insurance, or any other asset for which there is already a named beneficiary. However, a Will only come into play once youve passed away, so the Powers of Attorney (below) are the most important documents while youre still alive.How it helps against exploitation: During the process of writing a will, we uncover who owns what and can ensure that the right assets go to the right people when you die. This reduces the opportunity for confusion and financial abuse down the line and no assets get forgotten.Durable Financial Power of AttorneyWhat it is: A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows someone else (an agent) to act on your (the principals) behalf. A financial Power of Attorney pertains solely to managing your financial affairs. This could include paying your taxes, managing your bank accounts and property, or paying your bills. A durable Power of Attorney contains a durable clause that maintains the Power of Attorney after you become incapacitated. In Colorado, the Uniform Durable Power of Attorney Act (UPOA), presumes that unless stated, a power of attorney is durable in nature and will continue if the principal becomes incapacitated.How it helps against exploitation: A Power of Attorney means that only a trusted person can look after your financial accounts, manage legal matters, and even business interests. Having a Power of Attorney in place means that the right people can make decisions on your behalf, and there is less risk of someone trying to take advantage of you.Being the agent for a Power of Attorney is a serious matter, with legal implications for the agent. Part of this responsibility is ensuring that the principal of the Power of Attorney is well looked-after. Unfortunately, sometimes people do abuse the power of the Power of Attorney and so choosing the right person is critical.
Financial exploitation is sadly common in our country. Around 1 in 10 Americans over 60 years old have experienced some form of elder abuse.We have developed a Guide to Financial Exploitation to help you and your loved ones avoid falling victim to financial exploitation, as well as to give you the tools to fight it if someone you know has.The guide covers:What financial exploitation isHow to tell if someone might be at risk of exploitationHow to tell if someone is being exploitedHow to prevent exploitationWhat do to about it if its happeningHow elder law helps victims of financial exploitationAn example of elder law at workFurther resources to help youYou can download the guide by filling in this short form.If you have any questions about financial exploitation, or how elder law can help, please call us on (720) 457 4573 or email email@example.com.