This Is ALL Of Us: Musings From the End of a Television Series and The End of A Life

NBC’s “This Is Us” aired its penultimate show last night.  It is perhaps the most poignant and heart wrenching writing and acting that I have ever seen on television.  As the matriarch of the family, Rebecca Pearson, suffers with Alzheimer’s Disease and, in a way, had already left her family behind some time ago, as her memories failed her with the insidious disease.  Her final journey is then portrayed through a series of vignettes through the cars of a train, showing her family and other important people in her life, at various ages.  The thread woven through it all is love and sharing, and a good deal of open communication.  (Those Pearsons DO love to talk.)

Planning for an aging loved one’s journey is something we all need to face with compassion and courage, and the legal tools to get the right people situated for success is apparent in the show.   Take the time to talk with an elder law attorney or estate planner to make that journey less painful.

Nobody wants to plan for their final train, but leaving behind less stress for your loved ones is important.  As they said in the show, “If something makes you sad when it ends it must’ve been pretty wonderful when it was happening.”

Retirement Benefits: Attorney Anastasia Yu Meisner Featured in OSB Elder Law Newsletter

Samuels Yoelin Kantor LLP attorney Anastasia Yu Meisner was recently featured in the Oregon State Bar Elder Law Newsletter. Her piece, SSA Retirement Benefits for Spouses, Domestic Partners, and Divorced Spouses”, was included in the publication.

“When a worker qualifies to receive Social Security retirement benefits, derivative benefits based on the worker’s record may also be available to spouses, certain domestic partners, and ex-spouses. Social Security retirement benefits are available to workers who work at least 40 quarters, and earn a required amount for each quarter of coverage (QC). In 2019 the QC was $1,360. The QC automatically changes each year. In 1978 the QC was $250.

A spouse may receive up to half of the worker’s full retirement age benefit. With respect to this derivative benefit, it does not matter if the worker actually receives retirement benefits that are less than the worker’s full retirement-age amount. And the spouse’s receipt of half of the worker’s retirement benefit does not reduce the amount the worker receives. If a spouse can receive a higher amount from his or her own record, then the spouse will receive that benefit.”

To read the full article, please see the April addition of the Oregon Elder Law Newsletter.

Anastasia (Stacie) Yu Meisner is a member of the SYK Estate Planners practice. Her practice focuses on estate planning, mediation, probate, trust and estate administration. In addition, she also works with guardianships and conservatorships, as well as business transactions and formation. Meisner’s extensive experience in mediation has made her a sought after source of knowledge. She received both her undergraduate and law degree from Willamette University.

Articles by SYK Attorneys Nelson and Pasieczny featured in the OSB Elder Law Newsletter

Protective Proceedings and New Tools Help Financial Professionals: two SYK attorneys contribute to the OSB Elder Law Newsletter.

The January 2019, Volume 22 issue of the OSB Elder Law Newsletter featured articles by two of SYK’s outstanding attorneys. Laura Nelson, whose practice includes estate planning, trust administration, and guardianship and conservatorship cases was featured on the first page of the newsletter. Her article, co-authored by Rachel Brooks, Protective Proceedings: A Sister (State) Act, examines the differences between the way in which Oregon and Washington handle cases involving protected persons.

SYK attorney Darlene Pasieczny’s article, New Tools Help Financial Professionals Prevent Elder Abuse, examines mandatory and permissive conduct for Oregon securities professionals when there is reasonable suspicion of financial abuse. Pasieczny is a fiduciary and securities litigator. She represents clients in both Oregon and Washington in trust and estate disputes, elder financial abuse, securities litigation, and investors nationwide in FINRA arbitration.

To read both of these articles, please see the January publication of the Oregon State Bar Elder Law Newsletter.

Blachly Testifies in Favor of New Legislation

The Statesman Journal quoted SYK partner, and appointed member of both the Oregon Uniform State Law Commission and the Governor’s Commission on Senior Services, Victoria Blachly on her thoughts regarding Oregon Senate Bill 95.

The new legislation would allow investment advisers to freeze assets and report to authorities if they suspect someone is misappropriating, misusing or transferring without authorization the money of a vulnerable elderly person.

“Elder abuse thrives in secrecy, silence and shame,” said Blachly, who testified in favor of the bill. “The more of us that keep an eye out for abuse, the better.”

The bill passed the senate and has been referred to the house.

The Oregon Elder Abuse Hotline number is 1-855-503-7233.

Victoria Blachly is a fiduciary litigator. She is a trial attorney who represents individual trustees, corporate trustees, beneficiaries, and personal representatives in often difficult and challenging cases including trust and estate litigation, will contests, trust disputes, undue influence, capacity cases, claims of fiduciary breach, financial elder abuse cases, and contested guardianship and conservatorship cases.

Oregon Decides that Attorneys, Dentists, Optometrists, Legislators, and Chiropractors Will Be Mandatory Elder Abuse Reporters as of January 1, 2015

In House Bill 2205 (HB 2205), the Oregon Legislature expanded the list of those professions whose members are required to report suspected elder abuse. Governor Kitzhaber signed HB 2205 into law on June 11, 2013. Under ORS 124.050, an elderly person is defined as anyone 65 years of age or older and abuse includes, but is not limited to, neglect, physical injury and financial exploitation.    

Attorneys will be required to take mandatory abuse reporting continuing legal education classes (CLEs), that will cover elder abuse. Presently, attorneys are mandatory child abuse reporters and are required to take CLEs covering that mandatory reporting obligation. An attorney is not, however, required to breach a client confidence in order to meet this reporting requirement, nor is an attorney required to report if disclosure of this information will be detrimental to his or her client.

The expanded mandatory reporting obligations take effect on January 1, 2015. The bill can be found at the following link:

The effect mental capacity has on contractual rights

From time to time we publish summaries of interesting trust and estate cases. Today’s post examines a recent Oregon Appeals Court decision in the rapidly expanding field of elder law. The case involves an elderly woman with impaired mental capacity and asks whether she may be a considered a third-party beneficiary (under contract law) of a residency agreement signed on her behalf. The case also touches on the issue of arbitration clauses in residency agreements at senior housing facilities. Arbitration clauses like the one at issue in this case have been the subject of a number of recent 9th circuit cases.

Drury v. Assisted Living Concepts, 245 Or App 217 (2011)

Background: Dorothy Drury was suffering from dementia and her mental capacity was severely impaired at the time her son, Eddie, admitted her to the defendant’s assisted living facility. Eddie signed the facility’s admission paperwork and residency agreement. At that time he was not yet Dorothy’s guardian or conservator and did not then have a power of attorney for her.

The residency agreement included a clause requiring arbitration for all claims or disputes relating to the agreement or the services provided “to You by Us.” After about a year in the facility, Dorothy died as a result of injuries sustained in a fall. Her estate’s personal representative sued the facility for wrongful death resulting from negligent conduct. The defendants (unsuccessfully) moved to compel arbitration, arguing that the estate was bound to the arbitration clause in the residency agreement as a third-party beneficiary of the contract.

On appeal, the court held that Dorothy’s estate was not bound to the agreement and its arbitration clause. Under general contract law principles, a third-party beneficiary is presumed to assent to a contract when it accepts benefits or otherwise seeks to enforce rights under that contract. Dorothy was a “third-party donee beneficiary” of the residency agreement signed by her son. The critical issue for the court was Dorothy’s mental capacity – or lack thereof. Even though Dorothy accepted the contract’s benefits (the facility’s services and apartment), her lack of requisite mental capacity meant that her acceptance of benefits did not ratify the contract.