Elder Law Related Updates in 2020

Every July, various amendments to the Virginia Code go into effect. This year, several notable changes to the law impact various areas of elder law, a summary of which are as follows:

  • The state police must develop the Virginia Missing Child with Autism Alert Program. Local law enforcement may participate in the state program, or establish their own program.
  •  Third parties may presume that a personal representative, guardian, or conservator who presents a certificate of qualification is authorized to act. A failure to rely on the certificate of qualification may result in penalties for third parties when a fiduciary must seek court ordered acceptance.
  •  The beneficiary of an ABLE account may name a survivor to the account. Additionally, the Commonwealth is now prohibited from seeking estate recovery or payment from the proceeds of a deceased beneficiary’s ABLE account for benefits provided to him, subject to prohibitions set forth under federal law.
  • The guardian ad litem of an alleged incapacitated adult that is between the age of 17.5 and 21 must review the IEP, if there is one. The guardian ad litem shall include the results of the review in its report to the court.
  • If a financial institution refuses to execute a transaction, or otherwise delays a transaction or distribution of funds, as a result of suspected financial exploitation of an adult client or customer, the financial institution must report the suspected financial exploitation to the local department of social services or the adult protective services hotline.
  • The guardian ad litem of an alleged incapacitated adult must opine as to whether a less restrictive alternative to guardianship, such as a power of attorney or advance medical directive, is available.
  • The court shall be required to inform guardians of their duties at the hearing on a Petition for appoint of a guardian.
  • Schools are required to provide transition material to parents at IEP meetings.
  • An attorney who was engaged by a petitioner to represent it within the past three (3) years shall be prohibited from serving as a guardian or conservator unless there is good cause shown, which may include a finding that no acceptable alternative is available to serve. This prohibition extends to other attorneys and employees of such attorney’s law firm. Further, if the petitioner is a medical care facility, the court may order the reasonable costs of the guardian be paid by the medical care facility while the incapacitated person is under the facility’s care.
  • A beneficiary may be designated on the title of a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer when there are multiple owners, provides there is consent amongst all owners. Title would transfer to the designated beneficiary upon the death of the last surviving owner.
  • Falsified fiduciary accountings and guardian reports are subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500, which shall be collected the attorney for the Commonwealth, City, or County and the proceeds shall be deposited into the general fund.
  • Every individual who applied for community or institutional long term care services and supports, as defined in the Commonwealth’s plan for medical assistance services, may choose to receive services in a community or institutional setting. Such individual may choose the setting and provide from a list of approved partners.
  • Health insurers, corporations providing health care subscription plans, and health maintenance organization must provide coverage for diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder under insurance policies, subscription contracts, or health care plans issues in the individual market or small market groups.
  • Insurers must allow an individual to enroll in a Medicare supplements if the individual under the age of 65 and resides in the Commonwealth and such individual is enrolled in Medicare Part B and eligible for Medicare by reason of disability.
  • An amendment to the Virginia Fair Housing Law makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a person’s source of income.
  • Additional information will be required for licensure of group home applicants.
  • An expired state issued driver’s license or identification card, or an expired passport, may be used as a mean of identification for notarial purposes for individuals residing in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, provided such expiration occurred within five (5) years of the date of use for such identification purposes.

Stay tuned to our upcoming webinars and virtual town hall chats, where our attorneys may be discussing the impact of these changes in our practice and on our clients.

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Ask Kit Kat: Fancy Cats

Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what is a toyger?

Kit Kat: Well, this is not made-up! There really is such a thing as a toyger it’s looks as if it were a cross between a cat and a tiger, but that’s not really how it was developed. In actuality, the toyger was bred from an ordinary domestic shorthair from India (albeit with markings that were similar to a tiger) and a Bengal, a breed of domestic cat that had been developed from a cross between an Asian leopard cat which ranges from 5-12 pounds in weight and a domestic shorthair with just the right markings. The toyger has been recognized as a championship breed by the International Cat Association (TICA) since 2007. Development of the toyger breed was spearheaded by Judy Sugden, the daughter of Jean Mill, also a breeder who developed the Bengal domestic cat.

Ms. Sugden has an interesting history. She first trained as an architect. But perhaps it was the influence from her mother, Ms. Mill, who developed the Bengal which led her, too, to focus on cats. It was a painstaking process making progress by tweaking just the right traits over several decades to develop the toyger. Today, about 150 breeders worldwide focus on the toyger. Toyger kittens sell for around $5,000, which covers the costs of breeding one—vet bills, food, transport, etc. Buyers agree they will not end up in a shelter, for ex. In some areas like Rhode Island, a permit must be gotten to have a toyger, because they are considered an exotic pet. In spite of all this, toygers are much sought after.

Fancy breeds like the Persian are not as popular as they once were. Now, there is more interest in these breeds that look like miniature tigers or leopards, in other words, those that look wild as opposed to those that look pampered. Still, the market for purebred cats is thriving. There are more than 40,000 registered cat breeders around the world who devote themselves to producing breed cats such as Ragdoll, Sphynx, Siamese, to name a few. I, however, am glad my family preferred ordinary domestic shorthairs with no particular lineage. All 4 of us were street kitties (1 from a backyard in Virginia Beach, 2 from a parking lot in the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and 1 from Savannah, GA). My mom tells us we are just as lovable and nice as the fancy ones. And she should know, she had a Persian during her high school and college years. Fancy or plain on the outside, a cat is still a cat, and they are wonderful to have. (Alexandra Marvar, “You Thought Your Cat Was Fancy?” The New York Times, May 27, 2020)

Posted in Senior Law News