Elder

Tennessee Commission to End Domestic & Sexual Violence to Offer Free Legal Clinics in Cookeville

The Tennessee Commission to End Domestic & Sexual Violence will hold free legal clinics in Cookeville on Feb. 27 and 28. Volunteer lawyers will meet with attendees to offer legal advice on various issues, including immigration, housing, family problems, education and other civil legal needs. Walk-ins are welcome at these clinics. For more information, including how to volunteer, visit the agency's website or call 615-386-9406.
 
When: Feb. 27, 12 – 4 p.m. and 6 – 8 p.m., EST; Feb. 28, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., EST
Where: Family Justice Center, 269 South Willow Ave., Suite E, Cookeville
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Legislation Affecting Elder Law Practice

As the legislative session progresses, many bills of interest to the Elder Law Section are on the move. Here is a list of notable legislation which has the potential to affect your practice area:
 
SB199/HB249 GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION: Creates elder abuse task force.
 
Sponsors:
Sen. Briggs, Richard, Rep. Carr, Dale
 
Summary:
Creates elder abuse task force charged with examining the current state of financial elder abuse, determining its economic and human impact, and developing recommendations to address problems associated with financial exploitation of the elderly. The task force will consist of 12 members, appointed by the health and financial commissioners, speakers of the legislative houses, district attorney, and TBI, as well as representatives from health and banking associations. The task force will submit its findings and recommendations to the governor and the general assembly no later than January 15, 2021.
 
Senate Status:
02/01/19 - Referred to Senate Government Operations Committee.
 
House Status:
02/01/19 - Referred to House Public Health Subcommittee.

SB265/HB257 CRIMINAL LAW: Punishes specific offenses involving elderly adults.
 
Sponsors:
Sen. Roberts, Kerry, Rep. Littleton, Mary
 
Summary:
Orders that anyone who knowingly commits an offense against the elderly by using a communication device to obtain medical conditions, sending unsolicited medical supplies, and filing a claim of reimbursement through the state Medicare plan for the value of the supplies sent is punishable with a Class D felony.
 
Senate Status:
02/01/19 - Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee.
 
House Status:
02/01/19 - Referred to House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

HB360 TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES: Vision exam for those 75 years or older seeking driver license.
 
Sponsor:
Rep. Cooper, Barbara
 
Summary:
Requires anyone aged 75 or older to pass a vision exam in person prior to renewal of license. Declares that in lieu of participation in the exam at the department, the applicant may undergo an exam by a licensed optometrist within 90 days prior to renewal. Authorizes persons with diagnosed impaired night vision to use night vision equipment without a driving-during-daytime-only restriction.
 
House Status:
01/31/19 - Introduced in the House

SB534/HB799: Offense of financial exploitation of an elderly or vulnerable person. Broadens the offense of financial exploitation of an elderly or vulnerable person to include the use of a telephone or other electronic or communication device to fraudulently or deceptively obtain or attempt to obtain money, property, or another thing of value from that person. Increases penalty for such offense.

SB711/HB686: Public guardianship for the elderly. Allows the executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability to request the district public guardian to serve as a conservator for disabled persons who are younger than sixty (60) years of age if certain criteria are met.

SB1039/HB909: Elderly Abuse and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act of 2019.
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Man Unwittingly Targets Former FBI and CIA Director in Elderly Lottery Scam

A man who preyed on the elderly with a lottery scam picked the wrong target for his most recent ruse — a former director of the FBI and the CIA, the Washington Post reports. William H. Webster, who also served as a federal district and appeals court judge, received a call from the man claiming that he won $72 million and a new Mercedes Benz in the Mega Millions lottery, but that Webster must pay $50,000 in taxes and fees to receive the money. The caller went on to describe intimate details of Webster’s life, except perhaps the most important part – his illustrious career in law enforcement. Webster was able to aid the FBI in a reverse sting operation, leading to the arrest and conviction of the credulous conman which netted him almost six years in prison.

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Sexual Assault of Aging Victim Draws Attention to Elder Abuse

After reporting on the sexual assault of an 80-year-old woman in an unnamed Memphis nursing facility, WREG is providing information on signs and reporting of elder abuse. According to Sandy Bromley with the Shelby County Crime Victims Center and Rape Crisis Center, sexual assaults involving seniors are rare, however, family members should always be aware of suspicious injuries, bruises or unexplained maladies like urinary tract infections. The victim in this most recent case was taken to Methodist Hospital by family members after they noticed changes in her behavior, where the hospital performed a rape assessment and determined that she had been sexually assaulted. No charges have yet been filed regarding the incident.

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AG Slatery Defends Participation in ACA Lawsuit

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery is defending his participation in the lawsuit that led to a federal judge to rule the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as unconstitutional, saying “the Commerce Clause of our Constitution that, according to the court, prevents Congress from compelling Tennesseans to buy insurance, especially if they can't afford it or don't want it,” The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor last December ruled in favor of the 19 Republican state attorneys general, who argued that the law was unconstitutional after the 2017 Tax Act eliminated penalties for adults without health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court had previously upheld the mandate, saying it was constitutional because it fell under Congress's taxing power. State Democrats have blasted the ruling, warning of consequences for the 1.7 million Tennesseans with pre-existing health conditions and the quarter of a million people in the state who obtain their insurance coverage through the ACA.

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AARP Foundation Files Federal Class Action Suit Against Reverse Mortgage Provider

The AARP Foundation — through its litigating arm, AARP Foundation Litigation — has filed a class action lawsuit in federal court alleging that reverse mortgage provider Live Well Financial Inc. improperly paid the property taxes of customers with Home Equity Conversion Mortgages before the taxes were due, then demanded repayment out of homeowners’ personal funds under the threat of foreclosure. The complaint maintains that the company failed to provide the required notice to the mortgage holder regarding prepayment of taxes and in fact had no contractual or other legal authority to do so. Also named in the suit are Celink and Reverse Mortgage Funding LLC.

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102-Year-Old Becomes World's Oldest Skydiver

A 102-year-old woman became the world's oldest skydiver this month, plummeting from 14,000 feet above Australia, according to Vice News. Irene O'Shea made the jump to raise money and draw attention to Motor Neurone Disease, an illness that claimed the life of her daughter. This isn’t the first time O’Shea thumbed her nose in the face of danger, previously skydiving on her 100th birthday. You can view the video of O’Shea’s most recent adventure using this link.

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Council on Aging Adds 2 Tennessee Benefits Enrollment Centers

The National Council on Aging has added 25 organizations to its Benefits Enrollment Centers (BECs), including two new locations in Tennessee, according to a press release on its website. The Blount County Community Action Agency in Maryville and the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee have joined the network of enrollment centers, which aid low-income Medicare beneficiaries in seeking access to programs that assist with payments for health care, prescriptions, food and utilities, among other services. The organizations will receive grants to create or expand these programs. 

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Woman Draws Attention to Guardianship Practices

A New York woman deemed incompetent after Adult Protective Services (APS) forcefully entered her apartment is bringing attention to national guardianship practices, The New York Times reports. Phyllis Funke — who is a former freelance journalist for The Times — holds a master’s degree from Columbia University, a pilot license and what she estimates as several hundred thousand dollars in investments, however, an APS caseworker and city psychiatrist determined that she was incapable of making her own decisions after she did not respond to court motions to evict her for hoarding, and determining she was malnourished and dehydrated. The city psychiatrist testified that she suffered from “unspecified bipolar and related disorder, hoarding disorder and unspecified personality disorder,” therefore was unable to manage her personal needs and property, or to understand the consequences of her hoarding. Her own psychiatrist, however, maintains that she is stable and “perfectly competent to handle all her affairs.”  Since being placed under guardianship, Funke has been billed $16,800 by her court-appointed lawyer; $3,437 by a court evaluator and $5,000 by her first temporary guardian. “I feel as if I have absolutely no rights at all in the country in which I was born, and therefore in the rest of the world,” said Funke. “It’s worse than incarceration. At least in prison, you have rights.”

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Elder Law Basics Programming Now Available Online

Several videos from this year’s Elder Law Basics program are now available to purchase on the Tennessee Bar Association website. Topics for these videos include:
 
These online programs offer an opportunity for you to brush up on essential issues related to the practice while allowing the flexibility to work around your busy schedule in the last-minute rush for CLE credit. You can view other upcoming programs and online video options on our CLE webpage.
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