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Caring for Aging Parents During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Caring for Aging Parents During the Coronavirus Pandemic

At Nadler Biernath, many of our clients are in the “sandwich generation.” Folks are caring for aging parents and young children. As we all work to process the ever-changing news and deluge of information about COVID-19, one thing is clear: Older adults are at higher risk for severe illness. For those with aging parents, this can be unsettling. Below, you’ll find some information we’ve compiled to help keep you and your loved ones healthy and connected during this time of uncertainty.

Keep Yourself Healthy
If you’ll be providing care for a high-risk parent, it’s important to keep yourself healthy. The World Health Organization recommends you:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Follow respiratory hygiene by covering your cough or sneeze with a bent elbow or tissue you then dispose of
  • Call a medical provider if you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing

Pay attention to your mental health, too! Connect with friends virtually and enjoy time with your family, while finding space for yourself as well.

Caring for Your Parents
Your COVID-19 plan for your parents will likely have much to do with their living situation and required level of care.

If your parent lives independently, offer to handle the grocery shopping. Time created an expert-driven roundup on how to safely shop for and handle your food. Encourage your parent to practice social distancing. Routine can be difficult to break, so parents may need regular reminders not to go to a grocery store, drug store or keep social engagements. And, as hard as it is for everyone, if you have young kids, it’s safest to avoid in-person interactions for now. While we should all socially distance ourselves, we don’t have to be isolated, thanks to our age of technology. Encourage your parent to use the phone or computer and reach out to friends and family.

If your parent lives in an assisted living facility or nursing home, follow the facility’s guidelines regarding visitors. For the safety of all residents, many facilities are not allowing visitors. If visitors are not allowed, make sure you understand the facility’s emergency plan and how you’ll stay updated on your parent’s health. Find out if regular doctor visits can be performed via telemedicine. Some facilities will also allow a “window visit,” if your parent’s room is on the ground floor.

If your parent lives with you, set up a household self-quarantine. Regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces in the home, like doorknobs, sinks and light switches.

If your parent has dementia, know the likely signs of illness—often increased confusion. Support personal hygiene, and consider making written reminders to wash hands. If your parent has an in-home caregiver, have a plan for backup care. Remind the caregiver to wash hands upon entering your home.

Using Technology to Stay Connected
With limited visits or even self-isolation, you’ll want to make sure that your older loved ones are also staying mentally healthy. The CDC recommends taking breaks from the news, moving your body and staying connected. Organize a video call for your family. Have your parents and kids read books together over the phone. Set a time to watch a favorite show together, then talk it over the next day. While it’s not the same as being together, you may find new ways to connect.

Speak With an Atlanta Elder Law Lawyer
Planning is more important than ever right now. At Nadler Biernath, we’re happy to be able to support families as they navigate this ongoing crisis. We have experience handling all aspects of estate planning and elder law. Call us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation (conducted virtually) to discuss how we can help your loved ones. Stay safe and healthy!

By | 2020-03-31T11:41:37+00:00 March 31st, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Message from Nadler Biernath on the Coronavirus/COVID-19 

A Message from Nadler Biernath
on the Coronavirus/COVID-19

Dear clients and friends,

During this challenging time, we’d like to take a moment to update you all on our office and the work we’re continuing to do. We have closed down our office to keep you and our staff safe. Moving forward, all March and April meetings will be virtual. Also, we are delaying signings—which are required to take place in person.

We also believe that planning is more important than ever right now. While we can’t control many of the outside circumstances we’re all facing, Nadler Biernath can help give you peace of mind. Now is a good time to get your estate planning started and be sure that your older or special needs loved ones are cared for.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at some topics we hope will support our clients during this time:

  • Caring for aging parents during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Dealing with not being able to visit elderly family members
  • Helping special needs kids deal with schedule and routine changes
  • Supporting special needs parents

We’re working hard to support the elder and special needs communities at this time. We’ll continue to communicate information, share resources and keep clients up-to-date — stay tuned.

By | 2020-03-27T14:37:20+00:00 March 24th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

What Can Go in a Trust?

For the parents of a special needs child, ensuring lifetime comfort and care can seem like a bit of a financial catch-22. In order to qualify for government benefits, including Medicaid, the special needs individual can have only limited income and assets. But the government benefits alone don’t provide enough to live on comfortably. 

That’s where a special needs trust comes in, helping cover not only medical expenses and caregiving costs, but also travel, education, entertainment, pet care as well as many other things things that can maintain and enhance the quality of life for a special needs individual. 

Special needs trusts, however, have no value until they’ve been funded. And deciding how to fund the trust is a challenge of its own—one that requires professional guidance to avoid errors or even disastrous financial missteps.  

How Do You Fund a Special Needs Trust?

Parents of a special needs individual will likely open a third-party trust. However, it’s worth noting that if the special needs individual has independent assets, including any personal injury settlements, those will need to go into a first-party special needs trust. 

With a third-party trust, the entire family can help out. In fact, it’s important that grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives and friends understand that major gifts and inheritances should go in the trust, not directly to the special needs individual.

When funding a third-party special needs trust, parents, other family members and friends can include:

  • Checking, savings, money market, and investment accounts. If you also hold CDs, check with your financial institution to be sure they can be retitled to the trust without penalty prior to maturity. 
  • Retirement accounts.  While you can’t transfer the ownership of an IRA or 401(k) while the owner is alive, the account owner can name the trust as the beneficiary. And with the recent changes to distribution rules for inherited IRAs under the SECURE Act of 2019, a trust for a child with special needs may be the most tax-efficient possible beneficiary for a retirement account. 
  • Real estate. The family home is often a place of familiarity and security for a family with a special needs child, as well as a major investment. If the property is sold or rented, proceeds benefit the trust. If the special needs child passes away before siblings or other beneficiaries, the property can be transferred from the trust. If you plan to continue housing a special needs child in the family home, be sure that there are also enough funds in the trust for upkeep of the property. 
  • Insurance. Life insurance payouts can benefit a special needs trust, providing lasting income for a beneficiary. It helps to be savvy with policies, however. Some families choose survivorship policies, which are often more cost-effective as they only begin payments after the death of both members of a married couple.  

How to Plan

It takes careful consideration and individualized focus to set up and fund a special needs trust properly. Even then, families can expect to regularly update and adjust their funding plan as their investment profile changes over the years. A special needs lawyer can help establish a trust and provide regular feedback, as well as connect clients to trusted financial planners for advice on how much to put aside.

Speak With an Atlanta Special Needs Lawyer

If you’re the parent or loved one of an individual with special needs, you’ll want help protecting his or her financial future. At Nadler Biernath, we have experience creating and funding trusts. Call us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation to discuss how we can help your loved ones. 

Super Lawyers 2020 Recognize Laura Akins and Heather Nadler!

The attorneys at Nadler Biernath are pleased to announce that Associate Attorney Laura Akins has been recognized as 2020 Rising Star on the Georgia Super Lawyers list. Partner Heather Nadler has also been recognized as a Super Lawyer—a designation she’s earned since 2015. Both Laura and Heather were recognized in the field of Elder Law.

Each year, Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters company, evaluates attorneys from across the United States for an annual roundup of top lawyers. Super Lawyers features attorneys from more than 70 practice areas. The multiphase selection process draws on peer nominations and evaluations, as well as independent research.

The Rising Stars list devotes particular attention to lawyers who are 40 years old or younger, or who have been in practice for fewer than 10 years. Only 2.5 percent of lawyers who practice in Georgia are honored as Rising Stars.

Congratulations to Laura and Heather from the entire team!

About Nadler Biernath

Nadler Biernath is a law practice dedicated to the planning needs of senior citizens and individuals with special needs. Nadler Biernath assists clients in the Atlanta area and throughout Georgia. Contact us today for a free consultation.


By | 2020-02-14T14:27:20+00:00 February 13th, 2020|Estate Plan, Latest News and Events|0 Comments

Do I Need Guardianship?

Deciding whether to seek guardianship is one of the most challenging legal questions the parents of a child with special needs may face. While parents cannot begin the process of seeking guardianship until six months before their child turns 18, it’s helpful to give it careful thought long before then, with input from care providers and educators, if appropriate.

Guardianship is meant to protect the child, or ward, into and through adulthood—placing financial, medical, housing and other life decisions in trusted hands. The guardian, who is appointed with ward’s best interests in mind, helps care for the special needs individual, respecting his or her dignity and rights while managing the logistics of care, education and health.

What is Guardianship?

A parent’s right to make medical, legal and financial decisions for his or her child ends when the child turns 18. If you have a child with special needs, however, he or she may not be able to make these decisions alone. In Georgia, there are two main types of guardianship, though the same person often holds both roles:

  • Guardian—manages healthcare and medical decisions, housing and food
  • Conservator—manages finances, earnings and property

While anyone over 18 may petition for guardianship/conservatorship, parents or other family members often take on the role. Professional Guardians may also be appointed, in some circumstances.

Understandably, considering the seriousness of the process, it’s time consuming and often expensive to receive guardianship. When hearing a petition for guardianship, the court is making two determinations. First, whether the ward is incompetent to make “significant, responsible decisions.” Second, who is the best person to serve as a Guardian and/or Conservator.  It’s up to the petitioner to prove that the would-be ward is incapacitated to the extent that guardianship is necessary and that the proposed guardian is the best person to do the job.

The court expects regular updates to ensure that the ward is being cared for and properly represented. Shortly after the appointment, and then again annually, the guardian must file a personal status report, detailing, among other things, the ward’s condition and describing the ward’s housing over the past year. If a conservatorship is in place, financial decisions must be recorded and shared.

Deciding whether to seek guardianship is challenging, but if a special needs individual is unable to make critical decisions alone, it’s often necessary. Importantly, guardianship does not remove the individual’s own voice from conversations about his or her life and care. On the contrary, Georgia law stipulates that guardians should encourage wards, if they’re able, to participate in decisions. It’s also a guardian’s duty to keep the ward’s desires and values in mind, if they’ve been expressed.

Speak With an Atlanta Special Needs Lawyer

If you’re the parent or loved one of an individual with special needs, you’ll want help protecting his or her interests. At Nadler Biernath, we have experience seeking guardianship when it’s necessary. Call us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation to discuss how we can help your loved ones.


By | 2020-02-11T16:11:15+00:00 February 10th, 2020|Latest News and Events, Special Needs Trusts|0 Comments