After years of teamwork, my grand vision of a comprehensive practice reference guide for licensed fiduciaries – the first and only resource of its kind – has been realized. At times this project felt like tilting at windmills. It was put on hold while significant changes to our rules and procedures were developed and implemented. Those new changes are included, to help you maintain compliance.

This invaluable product is available at a nominal cost and can be conveniently downloaded from the comfort of your home or office. Recommended for licensed fiduciaries, attorneys representing them, and associated professionals.

For more information, please visit the Arizona Fiduciaries Association.

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This week’s guest contributor is Steve Kramer, Certified Senior Advisor and Principal of Blessings! For Seniors Companion Care

I’ve known Steve and his wife/business partner Christie since 2009 and, like participating in our “Top 5,” they are always generous with their time and willing to share their expertise in the elder services field. I have worked with them to do a free memory screening on Alzheimer’s Awareness Day, which helped several people with early indicators of cognitive impairment obtain referrals to appropriate specialists for a proper diagnosis.

Memory issues are just one of many reasons why seniors are targets for scammers. Steve reminds us that it’s not just wealthy seniors who are targeted. Low-income older adults are also at risk of financial abuse.

Sadly, it’s not always strangers who perpetrate these crimes. The National Adult Protective Services Association reports that over 90% of all reported elder abuse is committed by an older person’s own family members (source: http://www.apsnetwork.org/Training/CitationsfromElderAbuseResearch.pdf), most often their adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others.

Steve has outlined some of the most common scams we are experiencing when working with vulnerable individuals. Continue reading

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We are honored to have this edition of “Top 5” authored by guest contributor Max Allen. Max is a Certified Geriatric Pharmacist who really knows his stuff. If you are impressed with the thoroughness of the article below, you should see what a full consultation for a client looks like. I have worked with other pharmacist consultants, but never received the level of consultation, detail, analysis, and documentation that Max provides.

If you or someone you know are on a high number of routine medications (all consultants I have worked with define “high” as 5 or more), whether they are over-the-counter or prescription, you may benefit from the services of a pharmacy consultant.

{Edit: Max, unfortunately for us, has retired. He really knows his stuff and we enjoyed working with him. However, we are leaving this content available because it continues to be relevant. There are a number of consulting pharmacists available. We can help you find a referral if you are not having success in plugging in the right search terms for your area. Just hit the “Contact” link.}

If you have an elderly loved one taking any of these medications, please encourage them to discuss whether the medication is safe for them with their doctor.

Continue reading

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1. Have they done their homework? If you’re like me, you always hated hearing, “Dawn Renee, have you done your homework?” Well, it’s time to turn the tables. “Mother. Father. Have you done your homework?” Do your parents have an estate plan? Have they drafted medical and financial powers of attorney in case they lose the ability to manage without assistance? Do they have a last will and testament? What are they waiting for? Do they think they’re getting younger?

This isn’t to be approached cavalierly and it’s not about prying into whether you are going to have to fight with your sister over Great Maw-Maw’s Civil War diamonds. Incidentally, you aren’t entitled to anything that belongs to your parents. Continue reading

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While we actively serve people who cannot manage on their own any longer under court-appointed guardianship arrangements, a person does not have to be incapacitated to benefit from our services.

You can take charge of your future by naming a licensed, educated, and skilled professional to work according to the plan you set out for yourself while you still can plan. Don’t leave your future up to the Probate Court!

Private, voluntary arrangements are much less costly to your estate than waiting for a disaster and leaving the courts in charge of disaster relief. Your private business does not have to become a matter of public record. Contact us so we can schedule an appointment talk about how you can exert control over your future — today!

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Great article in the Clinical Geriatrics journal on dementia and palliative care:

“Palliative care at the end of life is an interdisciplinary approach that applies a treatment philosophy of “coping,” rather than “curing,” for patients with an advanced or terminal illness. Despite shifting the focus away from finding a cure, the palliative approach does not exclude all disease-modifying therapies. In fact, the palliative continuum of care balances disease-modifying and palliative treatments based on an individualized treatment plan …

“When treating serious medical conditions in patients with dementia, physicians often find themselves in conflict with family surrogate decision makers regarding the ethics of providing versus withholding intensive treatments for their dependent relative. Providing education, access to counseling, and spiritual support for families is part of the palliative care approach, and ideally a palliative care team would handle these complex and often emotional discussions with families.”


Read the entire article here.

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Your grown daughter doesn’t pay her bills on time. Your son lives way above his means. You love your kids, but you also worry their irresponsibility toward their own finances means they will be poor caretakers of your finances should you need help as you age. But have you given any thought to the possibility that your children might pilfer your money?

Experts estimate that between 60% and 90% of financial elder abuse is committed by family members. Read more …

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Local Fiduciary Dawn Walters Attains Master Guardian Certification

Center for Guardianship Certification Grants Nation’s Highest Credential in the Fiduciary Practice

Dawn Walters, Licensed Fiduciary, received notification on November 30, 2011 that the Center for Guardianship Studies has conferred National Master Guardian credentials. This prestigious designation, held by a select few Licensed Fiduciaries in the State, was achieved by passing an intensive examination on October 1, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota following a rigorous application process in order to qualify to sit for the test.

Master Guardians must demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of guardianship practices and the highest level of ethics across the full spectrum of the profession. Candidates must be recommended for certification by peers in the field, possess a minimum of five years in practice with an impeccable professional record, and demonstrate a commitment to leadership and advancement of the profession.

• Dawn Walters has 7 ½ years practice as founder of successful fiduciary firms and director of guardianship and care management services
• An engaging speaker and subject matter expert, she is highly sought after by community partners to present seminars and panel discussions on the fiduciary practice, ethics, rights advocacy, life planning, elder abuse, and related topics
• Services provided include court-appointed guardianship services, services as agent under Power of Attorney, care management, and consulting
• For a fee consultation or to book a speaking event, please call (623) 386-3963

 

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On October 1, 2011, after a stringent application process, Dawn Walters sat for the National Master Guardian examination, proctored in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On November 30, she was honored by the notification that she passed this intensive exam and has been certified as a National Master Guardian. The Center for Guardianship Certification describes a Master Guardian as possessing “knowledge of advanced guardianship concepts and ethics” and being on the “cutting edge of guardianship issues”.

Read the notification letter here.

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Attorney General Alert

PHOENIX (Tuesday, August 2, 2011) — Attorney General Tom Horne today announced the charging of Rosario Valenzuela Bravo in Tucson on allegations stemming from a large scale theft from vulnerable adult victims.

The charges, filed July 12, 2011 in Pima County are a result of a joint investigation conducted by the Tucson Police Department, the Attorney General’s Special Investigations Section, and the Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud and Abuse Section of the Criminal Division.

Bravo, 55, was charged with 1 count of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices, 3 counts of Forgery and 1 count of Theft/Financial Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult.

According to the allegations, Rosario Bravo purported herself to be a licensed CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and was hired by the elderly victims to provide daily care in their home. In February, 2011 a family member realized that several of the victims’ accounts had been tampered with. An investigation ensued into the checking, savings and money market accounts as well as credit cards belonging to the victims. An accounting of the fraudulent transactions revealed a loss of over $60,000. The State has alleged that Ms. Bravo is responsible.

“These allegations demonstrate how important it is for this office to be vigilant in pursuing criminal predators who harm the most vulnerable among us,” Horne said. “For people to abuse their position of trust and steal from the very person they have been asked to care for is a particularly offensive crime and I am committed to prosecuting these types of cases vigorously.”

These charges are merely allegations, and Rosario Valenzuela Bravo is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

This case was referred to and is being prosecuted by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office Health Care Fraud and Abuse Section of the Criminal Division.

A photo of the defendant can be seen at the following link:

Photo of Rosario Valenzuela Bravo

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 Area Agency on Aging, Region One, Incorporated (AAA) increased funding of the Buckeye Area Agency on Aging contract by $5,100 to provide needed equipment and supplies at the Community Center. AAA also replaced a 2006 Eldorado Bus with a 2010 model used for transportation services.

Source: Town Manager’s Weekly Report, April 5, 2011

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Mickey Rooney, age 90, testifies before a Senate Committee on aging and admits he has been the victim of elder abuse at the hands of his own family member. “My daily life became unbearable.” He is right: “You deserve better.”

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It is generally obvious when I get involved with older people who need a guardian or other surrogate decision maker that “decline in executive functioning precedes memory impairment” as theorized in this 2007 article. I know there are more recent studies that have corroborated the theory.

Usually by the time friends and neighbors begin observing memory loss in a loved one, the brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s or another dementia has been wreaking havoc in the person’s personal affairs for years. By the time I get appointed, I find disorganization in personal papers going back 4 years or more where the person’s files for the 50 years prior were impeccably kept. We often find property taxes unpaid for multiple years, unclaimed property, uncashed refund checks that are years old, etc.

With so many bills being on auto-pay these days, a person can be highly impaired before anyone ever notices because the lights and water aren’t getting shut off, which would have been an early warning sign in prior years.

It is important to talk with your loved ones about planning for incapacity before it is too late. Don’t assume that you can wait until it’s needed to get a power of attorney drafted. It may be too late by the time you notice a problem. A stroke can come on suddenly and lead to profound impairment.

Thoughtful advance planning through powers of attorney, trusts, and directives to physicians are the best way to avoid the intrusiveness of the probate system. A qualified professional such as a licensed fiduciary can serve as agent in the absence of another qualified individual, applying the same ethical standards and best practices recommended in the Fiduciary Code of Conduct. Don’t leave your affairs or the affairs of your loved ones up to the probate system if you can avoid it. Private arrangements allow the protected person much more privacy and control – by telling the agent exactly how to proceed before incapacity strikes – and cost far less to the estate than guardianships.

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