Tuesday, August 30, 2011

News on Intercountry Adoption from the U.S. State Department

The U.S. State Department website about intercountry adoption is an excellent resource.  This site has information about the process, about the Hague Convention, and individual countries, along with the latest news, alerts and notices.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Practical Advice for Dealing With Senior Adults

My last blog post dealt with caring for and helping senior adults, and mentioned some of the challenges that you are likely to encounter.   Now I want to share my review of a book that I discovered.  

How to Say it to Seniors; Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders” by David Solie (Prentice Hall Press © 2004) is an excellent guide to communicating with senior adults.    I highly recommend this book for anyone who is dealing with senior adults in a family or a business relationship.


Mr. Solie is a speaker and educator. He has a background in finance, and worked for several years with companies that primarily dealt with senior adults. 


The book presents a fresh and honest perspective on the communication gap between seniors and middle-aged adults. 

We all go through developmental growth / personality development at different periods of our life, he writes.  What is seen too often as a “decline” in older adults can be seen as a normal developmental process. The older person is simply learning to deal with the changes in life, losses, and independence that aging brings.  

Solie states that “the secret mission” of older adults is to 1) maintain control and 2) leave a legacy.  He suggests ways to allow the person to keep control and dignity while dealing with the changes that the person is going through.  He explains why “trying to help” and explaining things logically (or, what is logical to the younger adult) meets with such strong and sometimes baffling resistance, why an older person’s focused occupation with a certain topic makes sense to them but seems obsessive to a younger person and how to deal with “NO!” 


It is written in a manner that is respectful to all concerned.  The concerns and frustrations of all sides are examined thoughtfully.   Various practical ways to approach common problems are suggested.  Although concerns over the elder’s safety and health are treated as serious, younger adults are also advised that sometimes they just have to “let go” and allow the elder person to choose their path.  The most progress is made when the elder person is allowed to maintain as much control and choice as possible.


Of course there are situations that have progressed to the point where physical, emotional or mental issues have rendered the person a danger to themselves or others and someone must step in immediately and take control.  But even those extreme situations can be helped by a willingness to see things from a slightly different viewpoint.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with older adults. It is pleasant reading, refreshingly honest, and without psychological, medical or legal mumbo-jumbo.  Just good, solid advice.


Kalish Law Office, The Woodlands, Texas.   www.kalishlawtexas.com Wills, Probate and Elder Law. “Passionate, Professional and Personal. We Make the Difference.” Since 1984

Monday, August 1, 2011

What Would Happen to Your Pet if You Died Unexpectedly?

Pets are part of the family, often have jobs to do in our homes, and provide us with love and companionship. Yet, many people do not make plans for what would happen to beloved pets after the owner’s death.


Providing for pets is different than providing for minor children. 


Pets may be provided for informally (by agreement between parties), or formally (by naming the pet in a will or trust).   [A “trust” is a situation in which the money or property of one party is held by another party (“trustee”) for the benefit of the third party. (“beneficiary”, and in this case, the pet)].  Trusts that are used for the benefit of minor children are not necessarily valid or appropriate to use for animals.


Pets can’t inherit money or property directly, so if you have a pet you want to provide for you have three basic options:


1.                          Find a friend or family member who will take your pet if the pet outlives you.  Everyone who has a pet should, at a minimum, at least make sure that someone will step up and take the pet and give it a good home.

2.                          You can name that person as a beneficiary in your will, with the pet as a gift to this person. (You should also name one or two “alternates” just in case the first person can’t or won’t take the pet later on); there may be a gift of money given to that person along with the pet, but not always.

3.                          Or you may choose to use a trust for more control over how the pet is cared for after your death.  There are many options on how to draft the trust, and how it will be administered.


Any trust for animal care must be carefully worded to avoid conflict with Texas law, and to minimize the likelihood that beneficiaries (or potential beneficiaries) might

 contest it.   People who have little or nothing to lose by contesting the will or trust may do so out of hurt feelings combined with a sense of entitlement or for spite. 


One easy thing that can be done to protect your pet that will cost you nothing -carrying a card in your wallet that tells about your pet.  This may save your pet’s life if you are injured or killed.


Providing for pets is part of the total picture of estate planning. Just as you provide for the humans in your family, the disposition of your property, and the ongoing operation of your business, you can discover the various options available for caring for your loyal pets.   An estate planning attorney can help you understand your options.


Kalish Law Office: wills, trusts, probate and estate planning attorneys in The Woodlands, Texas  www.kalishlawtexas.com