Staff Holiday Party Time at Senior Law Program

It was Holiday Party time today at Senior Law Program. Our heartfelt thanks to the law office of Alice Denton for generously sponsoring lunch for the hardworking staff and dedicated volunteers who help support us.

Wishing all of you a Healthy and Happy Holiday Season!

Pro Bono Senior Advocate Sign-A-Thon Supports SNSLP’s Mission of Serving Seniors Regardless of Income

By Candace Carlyon, Esq. and Carol Kingman, Esq.

The Southern Nevada Senior Law Program (“SNSLP”) may be a lesser-known pro bono legal services provider, but it serves a critical role in protecting our seniors. Unlike other fantastic “safety net” organizations, SNSLP does not turn clients away based on income. SNSLP offers an array of services including estate planning, healthcare directives and powers of attorney, eviction and foreclosure assistance, consumer protection, and elder rights assistance to Southern Nevadans 60 years of age and older.

With the expiration of the eviction moratorium, SNSLP has risen to the challenge of providing emergency assistance to seniors facing imminent eviction. SNSLP has devoted additional resources to address this crisis, including adding an independent contractor to assist in eviction matters through a grant from the Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division. Other resources have been shifted to ensure that seniors facing a crisis receive needed representation on a fast-track basis.

During Pro Bono Month, SNSLP launched its Pro Bono Senior Advocates program with an event dedicated to estate planning clients not facing exigent circumstances. More than a dozen volunteers met with approximately 20 clients, explaining, completing, and supervising the signing of dozens of documents, including wills, durable powers of attorney for health care decisions, powers of attorney, and homestead declarations. Many clients expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to have an expedited completion of their documents.
The volunteers ranged from new attorneys to those with decades of experience. One volunteer, April Anstett, described her participation and its impact:

I appreciated the CLE training in preparation of meeting with the seniors. I have kept my Nevada license, but I haven’t practiced law since 2003. Instead, I have been a stay-at-home mom to my three children.

This was my first time doing pro bono work. In the past, thoughts of fear, apathy, insecurity about my own knowledge/ability, and not wanting to get out of my comfort zone kept me from volunteering.

This event inspired me to keep doing pro bono work. The people I helped were very appreciative of my assistance. In only a few hours of time, I gave my pro bono clients peace knowing that their legal issues were being taken care of. Things that I consider relatively simple tasks can be overwhelming to lay persons. Helping those people brought me joy and a sense of purpose. I am thankful that I have a law license and I am looking forward to volunteering at more pro bono events in the future.

The innovative event was sponsored by Carlyon Cica, Chtd. SNSLP Managing Attorney Carol Kingman provided one-hour training sessions which covered the basics of all of the documents. Following that CLE program, attorney volunteers met with clients to explain and complete the documents, with Carol available to answer questions or assist. Carlyon Cica Chtd. paraprofessionals Nancy Rodriguez and Cristina Robertson assisted with notarization, witnessing, and organization, as well as providing assistance in transmitting advance directives to the state lockbox maintained by the Nevada Secretary of State. Ms. Kingman and SNSLP Elder Law Attorney Lorrie Haug conducted initial meetings with the clients and drafted the documents, and SNSLP paraprofessional Tiffany Shaw devoted hours of work to making the event a success, including client outreach to offer every client waiting for a final appointment the opportunity to obtain representation at the pro bono event. Larry Bertsch, CPA offered the hospitality of his office, ensuring adequate space so that every client with documents to be signed had the ability to attend.

SNSLP is hosting a second “Sign-a-thon” at its offices on December 9, 2021. Interested volunteers should contact tshaw@snslp.org to sign up to meet with clients and/or attend the free one-hour CLE program. Attorney volunteers will also be able to take advantage of additional free CLE opportunities. Attorneys can earn one CLE hour for every three hours of uncompensated pro bono service through SNSLP.

SNSLP offers its thanks to the following volunteer attorneys who made this inaugural event a success:

  • Abby Pace, Esq.
  • Amanda Netuschil, Esq.
  • Amy Smith, Esq.
  • April Anstett, Esq.
  • Brandon Thompson, Esq.
  • Dawn Cica, Esq.
  • Dawn Davis, Esq.
  • Christi DuPont, Esq.
  • Christian Ogata, Esq.
  • Dawn Davis, Esq.
  • James Leavitt, Esq.
  • Jennifer Leonescu, Esq.
  • Phil Varricchio, Esq.
  • Steve Parsons, Esq.

SNAWA Honors Chief Judge Linda Bell

What a wonderful event today hosted by SNAWA to honor Chief Judge Linda Bell at their 9th annual Miriam Shearing Gala. Senior Law Program was well represented by attendees Mariteresa Rivera Rogers (board member), Marjorie Guymon ( supporter), Dara Goldsmith (SLP board pro bono counsel), and Candace Carlyon (board member). Congratulations Judge Bell!

Working to Stop Senior Exploitation by Nevada Appeal

Brokers and other financial professionals have been added to the list of those charged with watching for suspected exploitation of older and vulnerable people.

They were included in AB51, joining a long list of professionals from law enforcement to medical providers and even bankers in an effort to stop the growing problem of seniors in particular being exploited by everyone from caregivers to scam artists, so-called friends and, most disturbingly, their own children and other family members.

“Often the children have the power of attorney and mom or dad trusts them,” said Carrie Embree, Elder Rights Chief for the Nevada Division of Aging Services. “We see it happen for all sorts of reasons and we don’t understand.”

While the division is concerned with a laundry list of abuses ranging from simple neglect to sexual abuse, financial exploitation is the most common. And, according to a Journal of General Medicine study in 2014, more often than not, the perpetrator was a relative.
The problem isn’t rare either. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has reported up to 77 percent of their members say they have experience with a senior subjected to financial exploitation.

Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, whose staff will set up and monitor the training now required of financial advisers, managers and brokers, said financial abuse costs victims an estimated $2.9 billion a year nationwide. She said those brokers, like other financial professionals such as bankers, must now attend training to learn the warning signs of exploitation and what to do if they are suspicious.

Diana Foley, securities administrator for the Secretary of State, said there was “kind of a hole” in the list of those who have to report suspected abuse.”

Embree said they were added to the list because those financial managers and advisers often have a long-standing relationship with the potential victims and were in a position to spot something wrong.

“They are in a unique position where they can see if when there are some uncharacteristic financial transactions happening,” she said.

She said that could be anything from a series of withdrawals, showing the senior may be starting to give away large amounts of money.

“If they’ve known them for six or eight years then suddenly they start doing that, it could be a red flag,” she said.

A report by the National Center on Elder Abuse said financial exploitation can take many forms including cashing a vulnerable person’s checks without permission, forging their signature on documents, stealing possessions or coercing a senior into signing documents such as contracts, a will or power of attorney.

Financial theft, the report states, is typically between $1,000 and $5,000 per transaction but can be more extensive ranging up to real estate transactions.

And it’s far more common than most believe.

A study by Met Life Insurance estimated there are as many as a million victims a year in the U.S.

In Fiscal 2014, there were 6,033 allegations of exploitation and abuse in Nevada, according to Embree. She said 1,262 of them were confirmed cases.

In that total were 272 reports in Carson City, 130 in Douglas and 115 in Churchill counties. Substantiated reports total 108 in Carson, 42 in Douglas and 50 in Churchill.

More disturbingly, she said, experts believe for every case reported another 23 go unreported, often because senior victims are embarrassed or just don’t want to accuse a loved one.

Sometimes, she said, they just don’t know who to call for help.

Nationally, according to Adult Protective Services, the typical victim is 79-89 years old, white, female, frail and cognitively impaired.

“She is trusting of others and may be lonely or isolated,” the agency report states.

Embree said the social isolation is a key risk factor.

If an elder is socially isolated or withdrawn, they’re by themselves,” she said.

That opens the door for any one from a long time friend to a family member or neighbor to gain their trust.

She said poor physical health, dementia and even substance abuse are risk factors that make those seniors even more vulnerable.

Family members, especially children, are often the perpetrators and Embree said it’s often because the child involved has “issues going on.”

“Substance abuse issues can really intensify the exploitation,” she said.

They need the money to pay for their drug habit or a gambling habit or something similar. As a result, 1,288 of the 5,667 case reports involved the victim’s child, 507 their spouse and 562 another relative.

But caregivers are also high on the list, accounting for 636 of those complaints.

Caregivers, some licensed but others not — like a friend or neighbor who volunteers to help out — too often take advantage of the senior victim.

The key, according to Embree, is to be aware when something involving a senior or other vulnerable person you know just doesn’t look right and report it.
That report can be made either to the Aging and Disability Services Division at 888-729-0571 or to local law enforcement.

That prompts Elder Protective Services to send a social worker to check the allegations out and see if there’s enough evidence to believe something is happening.

“Even if you don’t know, we encourage people to report,” she said.

Left double quote
The Southern Nevada Senior Law Program gave us excellent, organized, and timely service. We have attempted to prepare our forms several times but kept losing them. With your help we now have a Power of Attorney for Health Care registered in Carson City and copies in our kids’ hands prepared and notarized.
79 and 77 year-old husband and wife
Left double quote