Posts Tagged ‘caregiving’

A Guide to Pet Trusts

Saturday, June 19th, 2021

A great deal of consideration usually goes into making sure that loved ones are cared for and necessary tasks are completed when creating an estate plan. Sometimes, certain members of the family — our beloved pets— might be left out inadvertently. A pet trust is a legal tool to ensure that this does not happen and that companion animals will be cared for should they outlive their owner.

A pet trust provides a legally enforceable plan and funds for the care of a companion animal after its owner dies or becomes disabled. It will name a designated caregiver for the pet (either person or organization) and even a backup caregiver in the event the first choice cannot or will not agree to take the pet. A pet trust can be created for cats and dogs or anything else, horses, birds, reptiles and more.

The trust will hold money for the pet’s needs, which will be paid regularly to the designated caregiver for the entirety of the pet’s life. In New York, the amount of money held in the trust can be reduced by a court if it is deemed to be “excessive.” One famous example of this happening was when Leona Helmsley died and left 12 million dollars in a pet trust for her beloved Maltese, Trouble. Helmsley’s family sued her estate and the courts reduced Trouble’s trust to two million dollars.

One of the benefits of a pet trust is the amount of detail that can be included and that access to the money is conditional. A pet owner can, for example, make the new caretaker take the pet to the vet at least twice a year or feed the pet only a certain kind of food. They can include as much as they like to ensure their pet maintains the same standard of living it has always had.

Pet owners should communicate their wishes for the pet in the trust and can require regular check-ins with the trustee to be sure that they are being followed. Any money left in the trust after the pet dies will go to a beneficiary of the owner’s choosing.

Although few people will leave their animal friends millions of dollars like Leona Helmsley did, setting up a pet trust is a great way to see that pets will be cared for. It provides the flexibility, guidance and funds to ensure a pet gets a good life.

To learn more about how our dedicated team of attorneys can assist your family with its unique needs, call 914-684-1200 to schedule a no-obligation consultation today.

Caregivers Need Care Too—How to Help, Effectively

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

Littman Krooks Elder LawCaring for a loved one is a labor of love, very often with an emphasis on the work. Caregivers bear an incredible weight in making sure that their loved one is getting what they need while their own life is put on hold. Burnout is common. 


With good intentions and a little forethought though, a small amount of kindness to a caregiver can go a long way. The key to being an effective helper is to act with the caregiver in mind, to give them what they want, not what you think they need.


Get Personal


If you know the caregiver and have an idea of their situation and what they enjoy, you can focus on something from which you know they would benefit. For example, if they have always taken pride in their yard but have not been able to find time to take care of it as well as they usually do, ask if you can weed the garden or cut the grass (or hire someone who can). If they have a hobby, help them be able to do that activity by caring for their loved one or by performing other tasks. If you do not know the person well, you can ask someone who does what they would enjoy or offer something that is generally enjoyable or helpful. 


Be prepared for them to decline your offer caregivers may not want to burden anyone or feel awkward about accepting help. You may need to offer again later and remind them that you want to help.


You may need to be creative in how you facilitate giving them a hand. If they are anxious or unable, to leave the person they care for, then try to figure out how to accommodate that. Otherwise, your offer to help may cause more stress than good.


Show Up


Forget about asking the caregiver to let you know when/if they need anything. Chances are good that they will either never ask or have no clue how to respond to an open-ended request. Instead, make a specific offer and follow through. 


A small break from the endless responsibility of being a caregiver can be very refreshing. Take something off the caregiver’s plate. Pick up some groceries or an indulgent treat and drop it off to them. Sit and listen to them talk. Help with chores. Watch a movie together. There is no need to spend money or obsess over what to do. Simple, thoughtful gestures are often enough and very much appreciated.


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Traveling Tips for Families with a Loved One with Alzheimer’s

Monday, September 9th, 2013

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, you may be apprehensive about bringing your family member with you when traveling. However, with a little bit of careful planning, you and your loved one can enjoy a safe trip.

Before deciding on travel details, consider what would be best for the safety and comfort of your loved one with Alzheimer’s. People in the early stages of the disease often enjoy travel, but for some the experience is overwhelming. Keep your family member’s preferences and limitations in mind when choosing your transportation method. The best journey is one that does not unduly disrupt your loved one’s daily routine. A person with dementia is likely to prefer a destination that is familiar or that involves visiting loved ones.

Navigating airport security can be difficult for someone with dementia; if you must travel by air, consider informing the airline of your needs ahead of time. Even if a wheelchair is not necessary, it may be a good idea for your family member’s comfort and because you will have an airline employee to help you get around the airport.

During the trip, be aware of the fact that a change in environment can be a trigger for wandering, and take precautions. Also be sure to keep essentials on hand such as a comfortable change of clothes, all prescribed medications, snacks and drinking water. You should also bring important documents such as copies of any living will or advanced health care directives, health insurance cards, and doctors’ names and contact information.

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Phrasing Affects Do Not Resuscitate Choices

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013


Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh recently studied what factors affect the decisions of people who are designated health care surrogates for a loved one. The researchers showed 252 people a video simulation of an actor posing as a doctor appraising them of a certain health condition and asking whether the patient should be resuscitated. They found that the way information is phrased makes a significant difference in what the health care surrogate chooses.

The study, developed in part by Dr. Amber Barnato and published in Critical Care Medicine, found that two factors made the biggest difference in the decision. One factor was whatever the health care surrogate believed other people in the same situation had chosen. When people were told that most people want CPR to be performed if the patient’s heart stopped in a certain situation, 64 percent also wanted CPR to be tried. If they were told that most people do not choose for CPR to be performed, then only 48 percent chose CPR.

The other significant factor was whether the “doctor” in the video used the phrase “allow a natural death” rather than the phrase “do not resuscitate.” When the latter phrase was used, 61 percent chose for CPR to be performed, but that figure dropped to 49 percent when the phrase “allow a natural death” was used.

Other factors had little effect. Expressions of sympathy from the “doctor,” being shown a photo of the loved one, or being asked to think about the choice from the perspective of the loved one all made little or no difference in the choice.


How to Become a Caregiver Coach in Westchester County

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Westchester County has introduced a new initiative to train volunteers to become caregiver coaches. This is a unique way to volunteer your time to help local families and contribute to an innovative community project.

Few people are prepared to become caregivers to a disabled or elderly loved one, and people who are thrust into the role of caregiver often feel overwhelmed. A caregiver coach is someone who is trained by professionals to give individual support to family caregivers. This support can be essential to helping caregivers understand their responsibilities and make informed decisions.

The Livable Communities Caregiver Coaching (L3C) Program is an initiative of Westchester County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services. The program aims to form a corps of volunteers who have been trained in caregiver coaching skills and can provide services to family caregivers. The initiative is part of an overall goal of supporting seniors in living with dignity and independence in their own homes.

Westchester’s caregiver coaching program is the most comprehensive in the nation, which is appropriate for the county with the fastest-growing population of seniors in the country. Today one in five Westchester residents is age 60 or older, and the majority of these seniors have a disability of some kind. It is estimated by the Westchester planning department that by 2030, people over the age of 60 will represent 25 percent of the county’s population.

Anyone may volunteer to be a caregiver coach. Experience as a caregiver is helpful but not necessary. The ideal caregiver coach is an empathetic, nonjudgmental person who wishes to help others. Volunteers will receive approximately 12 hours of training spread over three weekly sessions. A one-year commitment is required. Coaches will also participate in a monthly conversation where challenges and information will be shared about caregiver coaching experiences. Coaches will learn about the aging process and the responsibilities that caregivers face, as well as how to convey factual information clearly. As caregiver coaches, volunteers will share information and listen to caregivers’ concerns, while refraining from offering legal or medical advice.

If you are interested in volunteering to become a caregiver coach, contact the Department of Senior Programs and Services at 914-813-6441 or visit their website:



Signs That A Loved One Should Consider Assisted Living by J.D. Davis

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Our latest guest blogger is J.D. Davis, a co-founder of Golden Years Living Solutions, which provides a free service to families searching for senior residences.  He can be reached at (914) 437-8675 or visit the company’s website for additional information.

People with aging parents may find it difficult to have a discussion about the prospect of transitioning them into a senior residence, particularly an assisted living community.  Many adult children should expect to face some resistance from their parents who may feel they are not ready to give up their independence and/or move from their home.  However, there are potential warning signs that one should consider while evaluating the particular circumstances.  The following are some examples when having a discussion on the topic might be necessary:

  • The refrigerator is empty or filled with spoiled food, which may be a sign that food shopping and preparation are more difficult.
  • The parent has frequent bruises, which may be a sign of falling or mobility and balance problems.
  • The parent poses a safety risk by living alone (i.e., forgetting to turn off burners on the stove).
  • The parent wears the same clothing over and over again or neglects personal hygiene, which can be a sign that doing laundry and bathing are becoming more challenging.
  • The house isn’t as clean and tidy and is in disrepair, which may show that maintenance may becoming too much of a burden.
  • The parent forgets things (including doctor’s appointments and when to take medication) or dresses inappropriately for the weather, which may be due to memory loss or dementia.
  • The parent seems to be depressed or anxious, which may result from isolation and staying home alone, particularly if a spouse recently died.

Assisted living communities offer many great benefits to the residents and provides peace of mind to their loved ones.  Some of these benefits may include the following:

  • Dining plans with many choices of food to ensure that each resident is eating a well-balanced healthy meal.
  • Daily social and recreational activities to encourage an active social life.
  • Laundry and linen services.
  • Assistance with eating, bathing, dressing and medication management, ensuring greater health and personal hygiene.
  • On-site trained staff for medical emergencies.
  • Group transportation for shopping and community events, and personal transportation for doctor’s appointments.
  • On-site medical offices, physical therapists and other medical professionals.

While having a discussion with a parent about moving from the home may not be easy, promoting the benefits of assisted living can make the conversation much easier.  Planning ahead and getting them comfortable with the prospect of moving into such a residence is strongly encouraged.

Costs May Be More Affordable

Many families believe the costs of living in an assisted living community are too expensive, thereby making it not a viable option from a financial standpoint.  However, some residents are eligible for discounts at certain communities based on their former careers.  For instance, retirees who served as firefighters may save hundreds of dollars per month from the rent at certain communities.  In addition, certain residents may be eligible for a government benefit as much as $2,000 per month, which makes the costs significantly more affordable.

An appropriate diagnosis can help an aging individual and their loved ones plan for the future. Being proactive in the early stages can allow a person a chance to make long-term decisions about their care, living arrangements, finances, and legal concerns. This allows a person more opportunity to benefit from advanced medical care and support services so that the aging process and effects of the disease are managed better. To learn more about New York elder law or New York estate planning, visit