Keston Law - Wilmington, NC


Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes

Posted May 7, 2019 by Joan Keston

Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes

What It Is and How to Spot It

According to the National Council on Aging, 10 percent of Americans over the age of 60 experience some form of elder abuse. Yet, only about 1 in 14 cases of abuse are actually reported. Accordingly, the problem of elder abuse in our society is oftentimes a hidden, but tragic, reality for many seniors in long-term elder care facilities.

What is paramount is that vulnerable and/or defenseless seniors get the protection they deserve as soon as possible. To do that, you may need legal representation to help you ensure the safety of your loved one, and to exact consequences on those responsible for the abuse.

This page will discuss some of the most important issues surrounding the problem of elder abuse – what it is, how to spot it, and how to stop it.

What Is Elder Abuse?



Self Directed IRA, LLCs

Posted Apr 2, 2019 by Joan Keston

Many people have IRA accounts that are substantial. Those accounts are held by a custodian, usually a bank or brokerage firm. Investments are controlled by the custodian and are in stocks or mutual funds.

Few people know that IRA accounts can become Self Directed IRA accounts enabling you to invest in real estate, promissory notes, stocks, oil, gas, tax certificates, small businesses, farms, gold, silver….almost anything except personal collectibles, life insurance and S corporation stock. Even further, you can create a Self Directed IRA, LLC and thus have “check book” control over your investments. (An LLC is a limited liability company.)



IRAs and Trusts

Posted Mar 5, 2019 by Joan Keston

Many people and even many financial advisors think that you can’t do trust work involving your IRA accounts. That is not correct, although the type of trust and how it works is different from most trusts.

If you were to transfer ownership of your IRA into a trust, then that act would trigger a complete distribution of the IRA, requiring you to pay all the deferred taxes at one time. Thus, you should never transfer ownership of your IRA into a trust.



Basic Asset Protection

Posted Jan 24, 2019 by Joan Keston

Basic asset protection planning consists of four main components to make sure you are well protected.

The first and most important component is a good liability insurance policy—and that normally means an umbrella policy to give you adequate coverage. You need to take care of this component first, which makes the other components work. Secure the policy before the fact and before it is too late.

The second component is to have strong legal planning. You need good documents which include trusts, wills, advanced powers of attorney, and healthcare documents. One main problem for legal planning is that people do not know their options. Good legal planning is all about choices; often it is about control versus absolute protection.



Medicare Enrollment

Posted Jan 10, 2019 by Joan Keston

As seniors near age 65, there are often important decisions that they must make about their Medicare election. Unfortunately, most people fail to seek good advice about maximizing their benefits under this program.

Medicare is not automatic; you must sign up and make elections inside the system. These elections can be more complicated than you may think. It’s important to start investigating what options are available before you’re eligible. With Medicare, you can sign up several months before you turn 65. Unfortunately, if you don’t sign up in advance, you will be penalized.

Understanding the different parts of Medicare

Medicare Part A is provided to most seniors at no additional cost, as they have contributed to the system throughout their working years. The only people who must pay for coverage are those who have not worked enough quarters during their working years, or those who can’t get coverage through their spouse.



Who Do I Name As My Agent Under My Powers?

Posted Nov 12, 2018 by Joan Keston

When you do a General Durable Power of Attorney you are naming someone to handle your legal and financial affairs. That person is called your Agent. When you do a Health Care Power of Attorney you are naming someone to make your medical decisions when you cannot make them yourself or communicate. That person is called your Health Care Agent.

Both the Agent and Health Care Agent are fiduciaries, meaning by law they are required to act on your behalf and not for there own benefit. However, you want to make sure that whoever is handling your financial affairs is both someone you trust and someone who will use your assets to care for you in the best way possible. You also want to make sure that whoever is making your medical decisions will be there for you and knows how you want to be cared for, particular in relation to end of life decisions regarding treatment.



Virtual Currencies

Posted Oct 1, 2018 by Joan Keston

With expanding technological advances changing nearly all aspects of our daily lives, it should be no surprise that our investing habits are also evolving with technology. A rising trend in fintech (i.e. technological innovation in the financial sector) has become the buying, selling and trading of cryptocurrencies.

So, what is cryptocurrency?

Even though it may sound like some evil method by which movie villains conduct business, cryptocurrency (or virtual currency, as it’s often called) is defined by the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as

“…a digital representation of value that functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and/or a store of value…”



Guns, Estate Planning, and Probate

Posted Sep 4, 2018 by Joan Keston

Guns are important possessions to address when dealing with estate planning and the probate process. As an Executor of someone’s will you need to understand and follow correct procedures when dealing with guns. There are federal laws as well as state laws that must be considered. The state law considered specifically below is North Carolina state law.

There are 3 basic categories of guns:

  • Handguns
  • Long guns, i.e. shoulder fired weapons
  • National Firearms Act weapons: automatic weapons, short barrel rifle (<16”), short barrel shot gun (<18”), silencers/suppressors



The Latest About Alzheimer's

Posted Aug 6, 2018 by Joan Keston

I have listed the following books on my website as resources for information, treatment and research regarding Alzheimer’s. I would highly recommend reading these books if you are concerned about Alzheimer’s. There is a great deal of agreement among the authors of these books, but the road ahead for treatment and prevention is still a long one.

  • [Stop Alzheimers Now][1] by Bruce Fife, N.D.
  • [Alzheimer's Disease, What If There Was a Cure?][2] by Mary T. Newport, M.D.
  • [The End of Alzheimer's][3] by Dr. Dale Bredesen
  • [Grain Brain][4] by Dr. David Perlmutter

In general, two areas of treatment cited in these books are dental care and diet, things that are within our control. Gluten and sugar are to be avoided, and healthy fats and oils (especially coconut oil) are beneficial. In addition there is a great deal of discussion about ketogenic diets, cholesterol, avoidance of carbohydrates, fasting and intermittent fasting, toxins, heavy metals, etc.



The Cost of Not Preparing for Long Term Care

Posted Jul 5, 2018 by Joan Keston

Families frequently come to our law office seeking help for a long-term care crisis. Long-term care needs cause the loss of independence and the depletion of assets and they know we can help. In one instance, a couple saved enough cash and retirement assets to support them for their lifetime. However, one spouse’s chronic illness required daily assistance that ultimately led to nursing care. Even though the nursing care was expensive, the spouse was confident their assets would hold out without impoverishing her. Unfortunately, without an asset protection plan in place the couple’s assets quickly diminished. The spouse didn’t seek help until she panicked over running out of money. Her big mistake was waiting until their resources were low. We got her husband on Medicaid within a few weeks, but if we had seen her two years earlier we could have preserved almost all of their assets while getting Medicaid, and she could have enjoyed plenty of money for the rest of her life. Wh...


ABLE Act -- Achieving a Better Life Experience Act

Posted May 1, 2018 by Joan Keston

The ABLE account is a new financial tool for individuals with disabilities created by the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014. It was adopted in North Carolina on August 11, 2015. The Act amended the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to create a tax-free savings account for individuals with disabilities. In addition, the funds in an ABLE account do not count toward the $2,000 cap on assets that is required to remain eligible for critical government supports.

Basically the account can hold up to $100,000, and a maximum annual contribution of $15,000 can be made to the account. An individual can contribute earned income into the account. Friends and family can also make a gift to an ABLE account, and this gift would not count as income to the individual. Most importantly, an individual can have an ABLE account and still qualify for SSI, SSDI and Medicaid.



The Advantages of Planning with Revocable Living Trusts

Posted Apr 2, 2018 by Joan Keston

There are many reasons why using a revocable trust-based plan may be more
advantageous than planning with a last will and testament to distribute your estate at
your death. Many people are opposed to doing a trust, but the advantages can
greatly outweigh the burden of having a trust.

It is extremely important that you transfer your assets into the trust, which process is
called "funding the trust." Many people have a trust, but have not transferred their
assets into the trust, with the result that the trust is ineffectual.

These are some of the reasons why we might advise having a Revocable Living Trust:

  • Wills operate at death and can be changed by an individual at any time until then. Unless there is a trust within a will, called a testamentary trust, the will does not control distributions beyond the circumstances that exist on the day of death. Revocable trusts operate once executed, can be changed at any time until death ...


Quick Tips to Prevent Senior Scams

Posted Mar 8, 2018 by Joan Keston

Scammers and hackers are constantly targeting seniors; every year, they use more sophisticated technology to steal our personal information. The scariest attack uses voice modulation software; the criminals have a friendly but recorded conversation with anyone, such as your Pastor. Then they use that conversation to create a false conversation-then you get a call from your "Pastor" asking for your credit card information to help with an emergency at the Church. Since you are familiar with your Pastor's voice, your guard is down and you are likely to give out the information. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to increase your protection.



Lessons I Have Learned From My Mother's Journey

Posted Feb 14, 2018 by Joan Keston

From being a totally independent person to living in a Skilled Nursing Home

By: Sissy Weisbrook

We are a middle class family and my Mom had some money, so we had no idea that government benefits might be available to folks in our situation. We now live in fear of running out of money. I started working for Keston Law and only then learned about benefits. I decided to write this article because I have learned so much about what many of us will face or do face with aging parents or other loved ones and how daunting the task can be. If you have never been in the world of nursing facilities it can be an overwhelming maze unless you have some prior knowledge or even know what to look for. The most important thing you can do is to be prepared, ask questions, and keep asking questions. That way you will make better, well informed decisions.

Lesson One:

Go see an Elder Law Attorney and get your affairs in order.



PODs and TODs: To Sign or Not to Sign

Posted Jan 19, 2018 by Joan Keston

Pay on death (PODs) and transfers on death (TODs) can be helpful to a lot of families if used consistently with their estate plan. A POD is a beneficiary designation used by bankers for your bank accounts. It is a contract provision telling the bank to pay the amount in your account to someone (the beneficiary) when you pass away. A TOD is a similar tool that is used by financial institutions for investment accounts. It designates a beneficiary to receive payments from the investment after you pass away. They both avoid probate. On the surface, PODs and TODs seem helpful. But is signing a POD or TOD a good idea for your estate plan?



Are My Out-Of-State Planning Documents Valid?

Posted Dec 27, 2017 by Joan Keston

Moving to the great state of North Carolina?  Do you already have estate planning documents in place? Will your estate planning documents be applicable in the new state? The great legal answer is, it depends. The bottom line is that anyone who moves to another state should have their documents reviewed. Under the U. S. Constitution, each state is required to give full faith and credit to public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of other states. So your documents should be valid—but that is not necessarily the case. Your Last Will and Testament is one such document that can be effected by moving to a new state.