10 Questions to Ask an Elder Law Attorney

10 Questions to Ask an Elder Law Attorney

10 Questions to Ask an Elder Law Attorney

10 Questions to Ask an Elder Law Attorney

Elder law attorneys cover a wide variety of legal areas, potentially including guardianship, long-term care planning, knowledge of government benefit programs, powers of attorney, estate planning, advance medical directives, elder abuse issues, tax law, retirement and pensions, asset protection, trust planning, and contract law.

The American Bar Association has approved the National Elder Law Foundation as the only certifying organization for Elder Law Attorneys in the U.S. At this time, there are just over 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELAs) nationwide.

Other attorneys also cover various aspects of elder law, but you may need to do some research to identify one who meets your needs. Start by asking your Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES) and other trusted professionals in your community (your family attorney, your financial planner, etc.) for recommendations.

You may also want to consult the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys’ online directory, which includes nearly 4,000 members specializing in various elder law topics.

Once you’ve identified one or more potential attorneys, request an appointment(s) to learn more about their services. Possible questions to ask:

  1. Why do I need an elder law attorney?
  2. How many years have you focused your practice on elder law issues?
  3. Why did you choose elder law?
  4. How many clients have you had in the past five years with similar needs to mine?
  5. What was the most challenging aspect of those cases, and what were the outcomes?
  6. What percentage of your annual caseload involves elder law issues?
  7. What elder law issues do you handle most often? Least often?
  8. Are you accredited by the VA to handle Veterans’ claims? How many do you file each year?
  9. What are your fees? (Be sure to get a fee schedule in writing.)
  10. Can you provide references?

Since elder law attorneys need to be knowledgeable and experienced in multiple areas of the law, you should choose a lawyer who has been in business for several years and has gained experience in all the areas you need now and may need in the future.

Article courtsey of SRES.org

Pandemic Mortgage Relief

Pandemic Mortgage Relief

Clients who are struggling financially because of the pandemic may look to you for advice if they can’t pay their mortgage.

Keep up on mortgage relief options, so you’re prepared to guide them to appropriate resources.

For instance, thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, homeowners with government-backed mortgages (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD, VA, and USDA) can request up to a 360-day payment forbearance without proof of hardship. They’ll incur no additional fees, interest, or penalties for the forbearance.

Also, talk with clients about how they can set themselves up for a brighter financial future by refinancing their mortgages and tapping rates that are at near historic lows.

If they’re in Covid-19 forbearance, your clients may think they’re ineligible for refinancing, but the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has said that borrowers who have Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-backed loans do have an opportunity to refinance their mortgages.

As long as they’ve reinstated their mortgage and made three straight months of payments under their repayment plan, payment deferral option, or loan modification from their missed payments, they’ll be allowed to refinance, according to FHFA.

You can walk clients through a mortgage refinance calculator (https://bit.ly/3elK1qB) to see how much they could save each month.

Here are some forbearance resources to share:

#1 Financial Benefit of Homeownership: Family Wealth

#1 Financial Benefit of Homeownership: Family Wealth

#1 Financial Benefit of Homeownership: Family Wealth

#1 Financial Benefit of Homeownership: Family Wealth | MyKCM

While growing up, we were taught by our parents and grandparents that owning a home is a financially savvy move. They explained how a mortgage is like a “forced savings plan.” When you pay rent, that money is lost forever. When you make a mortgage payment, much of that money accumulates as equity in the home. So, what exactly is equity?

The equity in your home is the amount of money you can sell it for minus what you still owe on the mortgage. Every month you make a mortgage payment, and every month a portion of what you pay reduces the amount you owe. That reduction of your mortgage every month increases your equity.

A recent study by CoreLogic explained that homeowners gained substantial equity over the last twelve months, and are essentially sitting on large sums of cash in their homes. In the study, Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic explained:

“The CoreLogic Home Price Index recorded a quickening of home price gains during the fourth quarter of 2019, helping to boost home equity wealth. The average family with a mortgage had a $7,300 gain in home equity during the past year, and a total of $177,000 in home equity wealth.”

For most families, their home is their largest financial asset. This increase in equity drives the net worth, or family wealth, of the homeowner. Renters are not earning that benefit. Instead, they’re building the net worth of their landlord.

Bottom Line

Home price growth will moderate during the pandemic. But once a cure is available, most experts agree that home values will again begin to appreciate at levels similar to what we’ve seen over the last several years. In the long run, our family elders will be proven correct: owning a home is a savvy financial move.

Will the Utah Housing Market Turn Around This Year?

Will the Utah Housing Market Turn Around This Year?

Will the Housing Market Turn Around This Year?

Will the Housing Market Turn Around This Year? | MyKCM

Today, many people are asking themselves if they should buy or sell a home in 2020. Some have shifted their plans or put them on hold over the past couple of months, and understandably so. Everyone seems to be wondering if the market is going to change and when the economy will turn around. If you’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen and how to play your cards this year, you’re not alone.

This spring in the 2020 NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been tracking the behavior changes of homebuyers and sellers. In a reaction to their most recent survey, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, noted the beginnings of a turn in the market:

“After a pause, home sellers are gearing up to list their properties with the reopening of the economy…Plenty of buyers also appear ready to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates and the stability that comes with these locked-in monthly payments into future years.”

What does the survey indicate about sellers?

Sellers are positioning themselves to make moves this year. More than 3 in 4 potential sellers are preparing to sell their homes once stay-at-home orders are lifted and they feel more confident, which means more homes will start to be available for interested buyers.Will the Housing Market Turn Around This Year? | MyKCMJust this week, Zillow also reported an uptick in listings, which is great news for the health of the market:

“The number of new for-sale listings overall has shown improvement, up 5.9% last week from the previous week. New listings of the most-expensive homes…are now seeing the biggest resurgence, up 8%. The uptick is likely a sign sellers are feeling more confident because of improving buyer demand, as newly pending sales have also jumped up during the same period.”

What does the survey note about buyers?

The recent pandemic has clearly impacted buyer preferences, showing:

  • 5% of the respondents said buyers are shifting their focus from urban to suburban areas.
  • 1 in 8 Realtors report changes in desired home features, with home offices, bigger yards, and more space for their families becoming increasingly important.
  • Only 17% said buyers stopped looking due to concerns about their employment or loss of a job.

As we’ve mentioned before, buyer demand is strong right now, and many are simply waiting for more inventory to become available so they can make a move, especially as the country begins to reopen.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about putting your house on the market, let’s connect today. There’s a good chance an eager buyer is looking for a home just like yours.

Unemployment Report: No Need to Be Terrified

Unemployment Report: No Need to Be Terrified

Unemployment Report: No Need to Be Terrified

Unemployment Report: No Need to Be Terrified | MyKCM

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its latest jobs report. It revealed that the economic shutdown made necessary by COVID-19 caused the unemployment rate to jump to 14.7%. Many anticipate that next month the percentage could be even higher. These numbers represent the extreme hardship so many families are experiencing right now. That pain should not be understated.

However, the long-term toll the pandemic will cause should not be overstated either. There have been numerous headlines claiming the current disruption in the economy is akin to the Great Depression, and many of those articles are calling for total Armageddon. Some experts are stepping up to refute those claims.

In a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article this past weekend, Josh Zumbrun, a national economics correspondent for the Journal explained:

“News stories often describe the coronavirus-induced global economic downturn as the worst since the Great Depression…the comparison does more to terrify than clarify.”

Zumbrun goes on to explain:

“From 1929 to 1933, the economy shrank for 43 consecutive months, according to contemporaneous estimates. Unemployment climbed to nearly 25% before slowly beginning its descent, but it remained above 10% for an entire decade…This time, many economists believe a rebound could begin this year or early next year.”

Here is a graph comparing current unemployment numbers (actual and projected) to those during the Great Depression:Unemployment Report: No Need to Be Terrified | MyKCMClearly, the two unemployment situations do not compare.

What makes this time so different?

This was not a structural collapse of the economy, but instead a planned shutdown to help mitigate the virus. Once the virus is contained, the economy will immediately begin to recover. This is nothing like what happened in the 1930s. In the same WSJ article mentioned above, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has done extensive research on the depression in the 1930s, explained:

“The breakdown of the financial system was a major reason for both the Great Depression and the 2007-09 recession.” He went on to say that today – “the banks are stronger and much better capitalized.”

What about the families and small businesses that are suffering right now?

The nation’s collective heart goes out to all. The BLS report, however, showed that ninety percent of the job losses are temporary. In addition, many are getting help surviving this pause in their employment status. During the Great Depression, there were no government-sponsored unemployment insurance or large government subsidies as there are this time.

Today, many families are receiving unemployment benefits and an additional $600 a week. The stimulus package is helping many companies weather the storm. Is there still pain? Of course. The assistance, however, is providing much relief until most can go back to work.

Bottom Line

We should look at the current situation for what it is – a predetermined pause placed on the economy. The country will recover once the pandemic ends. Comparisons to any other downturn make little sense. Bernanke put it best:

“I don’t find comparing the current downturn with the Great Depression to be very helpful. The expected duration is much less, and the causes are very different.”

Caremongering Spreads Goodness, Not Fear

Caremongering Spreads Goodness, Not Fear

Caremongering Spreads Goodness, Not Fear

As news of Covid-19 started gearing up, Allison Bradley felt heartbroken when she spotted seniors running errands and grocery shopping around her town, Kelowna, B.C.

“My goodness, you are risking so much by being out here. It’s so unnecessary.” she recalls thinking. She then stopped by a senior service center and volunteered to help out during the pandemic.

“But I was still frustrated and upset. I kept seeing more of these seniors and felt I wasn’t doing enough,” she says.

Surrender to kindness

She and her partner, John Scott, responded by launching Caremongering  Kelowna (https://bit.ly/2RyJyZf) on Facebook.

Caremongering is a phenomenon that has swept across Canada to respond to community needs as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. Rather than surrendering to hopelessness and embracing anguish and spreading fear, caremongering gives people a way to act on their good natures and help their communities and neighbors.

It’s dead simple. Local residents post their needs – groceries, protective masks, and medicine pick-ups — and local volunteers step in to fulfill those needs.

Facebook Caremongering sites have emerged across Canada, including those in Oakville (https://bit.ly/2Vn91py), Toronto, Wellington (https://bit.ly/3a30mOf), and Yellowknife (https://bit.ly/2xtN4x0).

The idea also has taken hold in the United States. Caremongering sites have emerged in Joplin, Missouri (https://bit.ly/2RysdPU), in Tampa, Fla. (https://bit.ly/3emigPv), and in Chicago (https://bit.ly/3eiaPZO), for  instance. In addition, hyper-local groups have popped up, including those in Chicago’s Edgewater (https://bit.ly/3el44Gi) and Logan Square (https://bit.ly/3egBfuM) neighborhoods.


Ensuring community well-being

“When we created Caremongering Kelowna, it was, ‘Oh, this will be good for the community, and we’ll be picking groceries and stuff like that.’ But it’s blossomed into so much more,” says Scott.

In addition to helping neighbors with the basics, people in Kelowna also have stepped up to deliver good cheer and maintain their community members’ physical and emotional well-being.

Groups have decorated their cars with balloons and streamers to do drive-by birthday parties.

Kevin Negoro, a local chef, cooked an entire meal (https://bit.ly/2yON8Yz) and dropped it off to help a family celebrate a birthday.

A property owner with an empty Airbnb near the local hospital is letting nurses stay for free.

Someone else wanted to learn how to play the guitar and a guitarist offered to sanitize one of his instruments and drop it off.

On other caremongering  sites, the stories are much the same. People have been dropping off cake mixes, answering questions about making homemade yeast, delivering Easter meals to seniors, offering advice on starting gardens, and giving others a heads-up about where to get supplies and find doctors and home repair experts.

Still, it’s been challenging to find and serve the needs of seniors because many aren’t on Facebook, and Bradley and Scott still are looking for ways to get the word out more widely to seniors and their families.

From the heart 

The two also encourage others to create their own caremongering sites.

Set-up is a cinch, and there’s minimal management, other than establishing a few ground rules and moderating the site.

Scott created a basic Facebook page and made it public. Beyond inviting some friends to join, there was no marketing involved.

Word got out through friends sharing the page with friends. In addition, the media picked up on it and did a couple stories, and within a few weeks of its March 17th launch, the site had over 1,700 members.

“We’ve got no organization over us, and we don’t take direct control of anything, other than encouraging people and saying, ‘Hey, you’ve got abilities and talents that nobody else has that you can contribute,’” says Scott. “Everyone has a neighbor and every neighbor has something that they can offer to one another.”

It starts with you

The main thing they monitor on the site is businesses trying to promote themselves or others looking for financial gain.

“It’s got to be, ‘How can I help?’ It has to be from the heart,” says Bradley.

For those who feel paralyzed and overwhelmed by stay-at-home orders, fears for the future, and dismay about the global political scene, Scott’s message is: “This doesn’t start at the top, but at the grassroots with you. You’re in charge of your household, you’re a part of a community, and you really are your own leader who can set an example.”

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