Friday, October 31, 2008

PA Judicial Center Under Construction

On the redesigned website of the Pennsylvania Unified Judiciary, one web page is dedicated to the Pennsylvania Judicial Center presently under construction at 601 Commonwealth Avenue, in Harrisburg, PA.

According to the PA Department of General Services, the Pennsylvania courts' new centralizing facility will open in Summer, 2009. I previously noted its construction when the steel was being installed. See: PA EE&F Law Blog posting "
New PA Judicial Center Under Construction" (05/09/07).

The PA Unified Judiciary's website describes the facility as follows:
The Pennsylvania Judicial Center, located in Harrisburg's historical Capitol Complex, will serve as the administrative center for Pennsylvania's Unified Judicial System. It will contain office space for more than 500 employees, three Commonwealth Court courtrooms and a conference and training center.

Occupants of the judicial center will include the Supreme Court Middle District prothonotary, the executive administrator of the Supreme Court, the Superior Court Middle District prothonotary, the Commonwealth Court, the AOPC and various Supreme Court boards and committees. The Judicial Conduct Board and the Court of Judicial Discipline will also have offices in the center.

Construction on the project began in 2006. The center is expected to open in mid-2009.

The center was designed by the Philadelphia architectural and engineering firm Vitetta.
According to the website of JBC Associates, Inc., which is involved in managing construction, the facility will have three major areas:
The new 423,600 SF state judicial center has three major areas planned including
  • a 9 story tower which will house office and conference rooms for judges and their staff,
  • a 5 story wing which will house three courtrooms, judges’ chambers and other administrative space and
  • an additional information support area with underground parking.
The exterior fa├žade will be wrapped in limestone and glass that will open onto 7th Street. * * *
The facility will become home to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, which anticipates the move, as noted in a description on its website:
The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, often referred to by its acronym as AOPC, is the administrative arm of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This office was established in 1969 to assist the court in operating the Pennsylvania court system.

The AOPC is headed by the Court Administrator of Pennsylvania. Its departments include Policy and Research, Judicial Services, Judicial Education, Judicial Programs, Judicial Automation, Judicial Security, Legal, Finance, Human Resources, and Communications and Legislative Affairs.

The AOPC has offices in Mechanicsburg and Philadelphia,
but soon will be based in the new state Judicial Center on Capitol Hill in Harrisburg. [Emphasis added.]
For more photos of the PA Judicial Center during its construction progress, see:
* * *
"We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us."

-- Winston Churchill

Update: 07/10/09:

The Pennsylvania Judicial Center is open for occupancy. See: PA EE&F Law Blog post "
New PA Judicial Center Open for Occupancy" (07/10/09).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Notice Requirements by PA Trustees

On October 29, 2008, Vincent F. Lackner, Jr., Esq., posted on the Pennsylvania Bar Association's "Probate & Trust Law Division Listserv" a helpful guide regarding trustee notice requirements under the present form of the Pennsylvania Uniform Trust Act.

Vince is an excellent attorney, and also the founder & President of The Lackner Group, Inc., of Pittsburgh, PA, which produces professional-level software supporting estate and trust administration in Pennsylvania and many other states. See: PA EE&F Law Blog posting "Fiduciary Administration Software" (12/14/07).

With his permission, I repost his message to lawyers, as edited & reformatted by me.

Clarification of Notices
Required under the PA Uniform Trust Act

by Vincent F. Lackner, Jr., Esq.

I have recently received some clarification relating to Section 7780.3 of the Pennsylvania Uniform Trust Act, 20 Pa.C.S. §7701 et seq. ("Duty to Inform and Report").

This act was effective November 6, 2006, but some notice provisions were effective two years thereafter. That date now approaches.

Since the enactment of the PA UTA, an omnibus amendment, in the form of Senate Bill 1203 ("SB 1203"), would correct and amend Section 7780.3 (and other sections) in several important respects. Section 7780.3(l)(2) in particular (see below) would be retroactive to November 6, 2006, if and when passed.

Section 7780.3 requires that trustees provide a specific notice, as spelled out in 7780.3(i), to certain people within a certain period of time, depending on:
  • whether the trust is revocable or irrevocable,
  • whether the settlor of the trust has died or been adjudicated incapacitated, and
  • when the settlor died or was adjudicated incapacitated (before 11/06/2006 or on/after 11/06/2006).
There was a two-year grace period under the original PA UTA, however, for trusts where the settlor died (or was adjudicated incapacitated) before November 6, 2006. In these cases, the deadline to give notice will be November 6, 2008 (just two days after next week's election!).

The dilemma is that SB 1203 would affect compliance with this deadline of November 6, 2008, but will clearly not be effective until after November 6, 2008.

During the past few days I have been in contact with lawyers involved in either drafting the Pennsylvania Uniform Trust Act or lecturing on this topic for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute during the past two years.

The subject is inherently complex, and there are some ambiguities that are largely unavoidable. Based on my recent conversations, however, I've tried to draw some "bright lines" that may help others who are trying to comply with the November 6, 2008 deadline (and beyond).

Interestingly, Section 7780.3(i) does not give a name to the required "notice". The consensus seems to be that "Notice of Trust Administration" would work as well as anything else. It would provide symmetry with the PA Supreme Court Orphans' Court Rule 5.6(a) requirement for a "Notice of Estate Administration". Also, it is generic enough to encompass recipients of all classes (not just "current beneficiaries").

The potential recipients of this notice include the following. All relationships are to the settlor's estate (#1), the settlor (#2, 3, 5), or the trust (#4):
  • #1 Personal Representative
  • #2 Spouse (or Spouse's Guardian*)
  • #3 Children (if at least 18 years of age) or Children's Guardian*, if any
  • #4 Current Beneficiary: "A person 18 years of age or older to or for whom income or principal of a trust must be distributed currently or a person 25 years of age or older to or for whom income or principal of a trust may, in the trustee's discretion, be distributed currently" (emphasis added).
  • #5 Guardian*
* Guardian is defined in Section 7703 as "[a] person other than a guardian ad litem who is appointed by the court to make decisions regarding the property of an individual."

Note: If a child is not yet 18 and has no court-appointed guardian, then no notice is required in connection with that child.

So, here is my attempt at some "bright lines" in areas that are not explicit under the UTA:
  • A. Inter Vivos Revocable Trust: Even after the decedent has died, the rules for "Revocable Trusts" continue to apply.
  • B. Inter Vivos Irrevocable Trust: Any inter vivos trust that is not "Revocable" as defined under the PA UTA.
  • C. Testamentary Trust: Does not exist until funded. Thus, for purposes of notice, it is treated as equivalent to an "Irrevocable Trust".
Dependent upon the types of trusts, these are the notices required for each:

Inter Vivos
Revocable Trust
Recipients Deadline

Settlor Adjudicated Incapacitated Before 11/06/06 #5 11/6/2008

On/after 11/06/06 #5 W/i 30 days after trustee learns of adjudication

Settlor Died Before 11/06/06 ** #4 11/6/2008

On/after 11/06/06 #1, 2, 3, 4 W/i 30 days after trustee learns of death

Inter Vivos
Irrevocable Trust

Settlor Adjudicated Incapacitated Before 11/06/06 #4 11/6/2008

On/after 11/06/06 #4 W/i 30 days after trustee learns of adjudication

Settlor Died Before 11/06/06 #4 11/6/2008

On/after 11/06/06 #4
W/i 30 days after trustee learns of death


Settlor Died Before 11/06/06 #4 11/6/2008

On/after 11/06/06 #4
W/i 30 days after the trust is first funded

** Existing Section 7780.3(l)(2) has a cross-reference in it to 7780.3(c) (inter vivos Revocable Trusts). This cross-reference was apparently an error. It is safe to proceed as if that error has already been corrected (via the still-pending SB 1203). Section 6(a)(2) of SB 1203 explicitly states that this change shall be "retroactive back to November 6, 2006."

When, under proposed SB 1203, the reference to 7780.3(c) would be removed from 7780.3(l)(2), then the time period for Revocable Trusts for pre-11/06/2006 decedents would be covered by a combination of the following:
  • 7780.3(f) (catch-all provision) (notice only to current beneficiaries)
  • 7780.3(l)(3) (specifies that the notice under 7780.3(f) need not be completed until 11/06/2008).
Two further notes:
  • Beneficiary Ages. Trustees need to monitor the ages of beneficiaries, so that required notices can be sent to beneficiaries once they become "current" (i.e., turn 18 or 25).
  • Change of Trustee. Under Section 7780.3(g) (as proposed to be revised under SB 1203), when there is a change in trusteeship, the trustee must provide written notice of this change to: (a) the current beneficiaries (if the Settlor has died or been adjudicated incapacitated) or (b) the Settlor (otherwise). This notice must include the trustee's name, address, and telephone number.
Vince's article adds to the guidance provided in a recent online course (No. OL-1088) offered by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute entitled "Uniform Trust Act Notices: Only Five Months To Go!" See also: Posting by Patti Spencer, Esq., "PA UTA - Required Trust Notices Deadline Approaches" (09/01/08).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Elder Leaders Successful in Sports

On Wednesday, October 29, 2008, National Public Radio broadcast a segment entitled "NCAARP? Old Coaches Don't Quit" by quick-witted commentator Frank DeFord, who took note that "there are an awful lot of old folks in sports today."

I don't mean your decrepit 30-something-year-old players, who are invariably called "aging veterans," but the actual AARP geezers who are still breathing and pulling the strings.

Senior citizens, oldsters, who are — ugh — "many years young," graybeards who are — ugh — "up in years." * * *

Here in Pennsylvania, we are proud of our elder sportsmen, like Joe Paterno, head coach of Penn State's football team. Wikipedia describes his accomplishments:
Joseph Vincent Paterno (born December 21, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York), nicknamed JoePa, is the head coach of Pennsylvania State University's college football team, a position he has held since 1966.

Paterno, along with Chris Ault, Bobby Bowden and John Gagliardi, is one of four active coaches who have also been inducted in to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Paterno holds the record for the most victories by a Division I FBS football coach. Paterno also has more bowl game wins and more FBS undefeated seasons than any other coach in college football history. * * *
He could have begun studying in 1950 to become a lawyer (see: "Courtroom's loss is college football's gain" by Beano Cook posted 08/14/01 on ESPN), but he loved coaching football too much. That desire still drives him today, and his age does not limit his success.

DeFord noted JoPa's role as a poster-senior for the elder leaders who consistently guide some successful sports teams:

If Penn State keeps winning, Old Joe Paterno — in the vernacular, JoePa, with the emphasis on the latter — will be coach of the national champions at the age of 82.

But then, Pa can't stop coaching. Or Old Bobby Bowden, who is merely 78 and has his Florida State team ranked No. 15, could pass him for most career wins. * * *
DeFord named three old-style play patrons, whom he contrasted with today's new-age sports seniors:
  • Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner (retired at 67) -- 44-year career as a head coach (1895–1938), who coached at (among others) the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, Stanford University, and Temple University
  • Bear Bryant (retired & died at 69) -- 37-year career as a head coach (1945 - 1982), with 25 years at the University of Alabama
  • Woody Hayes (retired at 65) year career as a head coach (1947-1978), with 28 years at Ohio State University
DeFord also mentioned another recently successful Pennsylvania sports franchise -- the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team and its "senior" leadership:
Look who's managed the Phillies to the World Series — Old Charley Manuel, a war baby of 64. The general manager, Old Pat Gillick, is a Depression Baby of 71.

And the Phillies had to beat Old Joe Torre's Dodgers to get to the Series.

The commissioner of baseball is Old Buddy Selig, who is 74. * * *
"Talk about reinventing yourself at twilight time" -- that is the point of DeFord's commentary, which you can hear, in replay online, here.

DeFord concluded his comments with an observation: "Sometimes these days, sports looks like an assisted living facility — or the United States Senate."

That is an interesting observation -- one that was noted, and then presented by a reporter to JoPa, in
"Desire to coach still drives 81-year-old Paterno" by Ivan Maisel posted 04/15/08 on ESPN:
Washington is one of the few cities outside of University Park, Pa., where an 80-year-old man yearns to work long hours in the public eye.

Six members of the U. S. Senate are over the age of 80. Two of them, Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), both 84, are running for re-election this year.

"I'm told that 90 is the new 80," Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., who turns 91 in November, told The New York Times last week.

If that is true, maybe 80 is the new 65. According to U.S. government data, a man who turned 65 in 1991 had an average life expectancy of a shade under 15 years.

When Paterno hit that demographic wall in 2006 [the year that the photo (above) was taken], his last complete season had come a last-play loss to Michigan away from an undefeated regular season and a berth in the BCS Championship Game.

Maybe old doesn't have the same meaning that it did a generation ago, a decade ago, or even last week. * * *
Read that article for JoPa's characteristic, somewhat gruff, response to the injection of age into a substantive conversation.

Go Lions! Go Phillies!! and Go seniors!!!

"Believe deep down in your heart that you're destined to do great things."

-- Joe Paterno

Monday, October 27, 2008

Two PA Elder Law Newsletters Issued

Last week, two newsletters were issued and posted online regarding elder law in Pennsylvania -- one from the PA Bar Association's Elder Law Section, and another from the Elder Law & Consumer Protection Clinic at Penn State/Dickinson Law School.

On October 24, 2008, the Fall, 2008 issue (Vol. 7, No. 2) of the PBA Elder Law Section Newsletter (PDF, 18 pages) was made available to members, and also to the public "for a limited time only."

The Fall 2008 issue of the PBA Elder Law Section Newsletter contains these articles:

  • Message from the Chair, by Linda Anderson (p. 1)
  • Coming in Spring 2009: 12th Annual Elder Law Institute, by Sally Schoffstall (p. 2)
  • Status of Assisted Living in Pennsylvania, by Dana M. Breslin (p. 3)
  • CMS Issues Final Rule to Empower Medicaid Beneficiaries to Direct Personal Assistance Services, by Neil E. Hendershot (p. 4)
  • Pennsylvania Medicaid: Long-Term Care Recent Developments, by Robert C. Gerhard, III (p. 5)
  • Elder Law Numbers Quick Reference, by Robert C. Gerhard, III (p. 7)
  • Rethinking the Simple Will, by Robert Clofine (p. 8)
  • Section Leadership List (p. 9)
  • Elder Law: What It Means to You and Your Future, by Robert Gerhard III & Ellen Wase (p. 10)
  • Life Care Planning: A New Approach to Elder Law, by Leslie Wizelman (p. 11)
  • Escape from “Alcatraz:” a/k/a an Inappropriate Annuity, by Timothy W. Smith (p. 13)
  • John Michael Hall Appointed Acting Secretary of Aging, compiled from a PA Department of Aging Press Release (p. 14)
  • Time Management for Lawyers: A Psychological Perspective, by Dr. Amiram Elwork (p. 16)
  • Contact the Editors (p. 18)
  • Help with Your PBA Elder Law Section Listserv (p. 18)
Earlier that week, on October 20, 2008, Penn State's Elder Law and Consumer Protection Clinic made available online the Fall 2008 issue of its newsletter, "Adventures in Law and Aging" (PDF, 4 pages).

The Fall 2008 issue of the PSU Elder Law & Consumer Protection Clinic's Newsletter contains these articles:
  • PBA Elder Law Chair Shares Her Experiences with Penn State Students, by Trisha Cowart (p. 1)
  • County Redevelopment Projects Can Make Home Repairs More Affordable to the Elderly, by Danyele Coffey (p. 1)
  • Probating Estates: Remembering the Family Exemption, by Andrea Miller (p. 2)
  • Bringing Law School to Life, by Tania L. Klam (p. 2)
  • Getting By With a Lot of Help From Our Friends (p. 2)
  • Tackling Medicaid Appeal Problems, by Lyndsey Leatherman (p. 3)
  • An Elder Law Vacation?, by Katherine Pearson (p. 3)
  • Upcoming Events In Law and Aging (p. 4)
Both newsletters contain a reminder that the PBA Elder Law Section will be meeting during the PBA's Section/Committee Day on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 (Agenda, PDF, 3 pages), at the Radisson Penn Harris Hotel & Convention Center, in Camp Hill. Most other sections and committees of the PBA, including its Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section, also will be meeting there then.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Powerful Pain Put on a Small Stamp

On October 17, 2008, in Morgantown, West Virginia, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 42-cent Alzheimer’s Disease commemorative stamp.

Art Director and Designer Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Maryland, worked with illustrator Matt Mahurin to draw attention to the importance of the caregiver for those who have Alzheimer’s disease.

“For the person with Alzheimer’s,” Kessler says, “that interaction with the caregiver means everything.”

Three words — care, support, research — appear in the selvage in the upper right corner of the stamp sheet.
The stamps and related issuance keepsakes are available for purchase at The Postal Store.

Issuance of a stamp focusing on Alzheimer's Disease was anticipated, since the USPS first issued a Press Release on November 1, 2007, "
Alzheimer’s Disease to be Highlighted on Stamp Next Year," announcing it as the "Latest Addition to [the] Postal Service Social Awareness Stamp Series."

That announcement had also highlighted the first day in November as the beginning of both
National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month -- annual recognitions soon to be marked again.

Then, on September 19, 2008, the
USPS issued a Press Release, "New Alzheimer’s Social Awareness Postage Stamp Unveiled" recounting the stamp's public unveiling three days earlier, describing its commemorative purpose, and announcing its forthcoming availability.
The stamp recognizes the importance of knowing more about Alzheimer’s in an effort to help raise awareness. The 42-cent Alzheimer’s Awareness stamp will be available at Post Offices nationwide beginning October 17, 2008.

"For more than half a century, the Postal Service has issued special stamps to help raise public awareness about important health and social issues. Today, we are proud to use the program to call attention to Alzheimer’s disease," said Larkin.

"It is our goal — and our expectation — that the Alzheimer’s Awareness stamp will encourage the public to learn to recognize the symptoms of the disease, understand what to do for those who have the disease, and lend their support to find a cure." * * *
At the stamp's public unveiling in San Francisco, California, Eric J. Hall, president & CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, said, "We hope this heartfelt stamp will help spread the passion and commitment to the cause felt by caregivers around the world," noting that a cure is desperately needed for this "devastating disease."
Experts estimate that more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.

The disease initially affects the parts of the brain that control language, thought and memory, and progressively causes difficulty in carrying out daily activities.

It is the most common form of dementia among older people, and it the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. * * *
There are personal story behind the stamp's creation.

One of its designers, Art Director Ethel Kessler, tends her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

Her story was the subject of a touching article published by The Washington Post on October 23, 2008, entitled "A Pain Vast and Personal, Writ Small" by Steve Hendrix.
[W]hen it came to reducing the vast and tragic issue of Alzheimer's disease to a one-inch canvas, that was tough. Because that was personal.

[Ethel] Kessler's mother is in the later stages of Alzheimer's. And it was just as the designer began working on an Alzheimer's awareness stamp three years ago that her mother began a steep decline, stopped recognizing her daughter and had to move to a nursing home.

"It's one of the most emotional projects I've ever worked on," Kessler said Friday, the day her Alzheimer's stamp was officially released. "I'm not even sure my mother remembers my name now. She hasn't said it in a long time."

Kessler's design portrays an elderly woman wearing an expression of soft emptiness, a hand laid comfortingly on her shoulder by an unseen companion. It's that loving touch from behind that stems from Kessler's experience, the recognition that Alzheimer's strikes not only its victims but their families. * * *
The stamp's other designer, Matt Mahurin, also found its creation over a year to be a fulfilling experience. See: "New Alzheimer's stamp by Northport artist" (10/16/08) by Deborah S. Morris posted by Newsday.
"I wanted to have a balance between the kindness of caregivers and the sadness of the disease," he said, "but also the message of hope that was indicated in making a stamp to bring attention to the disease."

The face on the stamp is that of Mahurin's aunt, and the arm is that of his wife, Lisa, an author and illustrator. * * *
For more information about Alzheimer’s Disease [NIH description updated 10/23/08], the USPS recommends contact with the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, or the Alzheimer’s Association.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New PA Law on Internet Trading Assistants

On October 8, 2008, PA Governor Edward G. Rendell signed a bill into law that creates a new category of "trading assistants" who assist others through an "online Internet bidding platform" and requires them to register with the Pennsylvania State Board of Auctioneer Examiners, pay a registration fee, and post a surety bond.

Fiduciaries who contemplate sale of tangible personal property through an online Internet auction service should be aware of new Act 89 of 2008 (also posted in PDF format, 12 pages).

A Press Release issued by the Governor's Office entitled "Governor Rendell Signs 10 Bills Into Law" (10/09/08), briefly announced the new law, among others signed on October 8, 2008:

"Senate Bill 908 [PN 2374, enacted as Act No. 89 of 2008] amends the Auctioneer and Auction Licensing Act to require “trading assistants” (people who sell, for a fee or commission, someone’s personal property through an online Internet bidding platform) to register with the State Board of Auctioneer Examiners.
Auction Central News posted an excellent article, entitled "New Pa. law requires online trading assistants to be licensed, bonded" (10/12/08), by Gene Friedman & Catherine Saunders-Watson, who summarized the new law's background and effects:
Known as the Auctioneer Licensing and Trading Assistant Registration Act, Senate Bill 908 is an amended, updated version of an existing law (Act 85) that has been on the books since 1983.

In its new form, the legislation creates a more equitable and clearly defined playing field for the state's licensed auctioneers, who face increased competition from entrepreneurs or "drop shops" that charge a fee to manage auctions online for outside consignors.

On the other hand, the law also benefits trading assistants, who no longer have to fear the prospect of legislation requiring them to undertake formal auctioneer training. * * *

Under the new [law], which was introduced [as a bill] on Sept. 25 by State Senator Rob Wonderling, * * * trading assistants will be required to pay a biennial $100 fee to the State Board of Auctioneer Examiners. Additionally, each trading assistant must file a $5,000 bond to cover any judgments that might be ordered payable by a court. * * *
Last year, discussion about regulation of online auctioneers was sparked nationwide when the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office commenced proceedings under the prior law governing auction activities. See: PA EE&F Law Blog posting "Ebay Sellers as "Auctioneers" in PA" (11/26/07).

Pennsylvania Auctioneers Association supported some form of a bill to regulate electronic auction brokers. See: "PAA Position Statement on the Electronic Auction Broker Legislation" and "Newest Information on PA's Electronic Auction Broker Legislative Initiative", both by Jay A. Layman.

Act 89 was the result of compromises made during a "stakeholder process convened by Representative Mike Sturla" that resulted in "a major step forward for both traditional auctioneers and electronic auction brokers," according to Mr. Layman.

Upon enactment, PAA celebrated in a Press Release posted on its website, entitled "Success for PAA's Online Auction Legislative Initiative" (PDF, 2 pages), by Jay A. Layman, also posted on AuctionZip, on October 17, 2008.

He congratulated participants in the process who arrived at a balanced legislative solution:

This effort began with divergent views expressed in Senate Bill 908 and House Bill 1899. However, the final version of Senate Bill 908 is a classic example of success by the stakeholder group convened by these legislators.

Included in it were representatives from the Department of State, Office of the Attorney General, Governor’s Office, Representative Mike Sturla and his staff, Senator Rob Wonderling and his staff, Senator Tommy Tomlinson and his staff, eBay, and the PAA.

The scope of discussions included diverse political philosophies of the role of government, the need for consumer protection and support for emerging technologies in the modern business environment.

The final work product achieved a delicate balancing of these concerns, and the effort was rewarded with the necessary political support of the House and Senate leaders managing the legislative process and who agreed it should become law. * * *
Act 89 defines "Online Internet Bidding Platform" as "hardware or software architecture that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to an interactive computer server for the purpose of allowing users to offer property for sale and that does not examine, set the price or prepare the description of the property to be offered."

The Act creates a
newly-designated group, who require licensing and some regulation -- "Trading Assistants" who sell personal property belonging to another for a fee, through such an online Internet bidding platform:
They are not required to comply with this law when they sell their own property.

In lieu of licensure requirements for traditional auctioneers, they must comply with a simpler biennial registration process that includes obtaining a bond, placing monies in escrow, disclosing their registration number, providing written receipts, and being subject to fines and penalties for failure to register or comply with the law. * * *
A fiduciary, just like an individual, should be able to sell tangible assets being administered as part of the managed "corpus", through an electronic Internet auction without licensure as a "trading assistant", assuming no separate sale commission would be charged for that auction service.

However, a fiduciary in Pennsylvania who engages another person to do so for a fee should first require proof of registration under new Act 89 of 2008 (once it takes effect).

The act will take effect sixty days after October 8, 2008.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New PA Laws Affecting Seniors

Recently, PA Governor Edward G. Rendell signed various bills into law that impact long-term care and hospice care in Pennsylvania:

Employees' Overtime in Health Care Facilities:

House Bill 834, PN 3198, enacted as Act 102 of 2008, amends the law commonly known as the "mandatory overtime" law, and establishes the "Prohibition of Excessive Overtime in Health Care Act."

It provides that, except in certain circumstances, a health care facility cannot require an employee to work in excess of an agreed to, predetermined and regularly scheduled shift.

Overtime can be mandated when:
  • an unforeseeable emergent circumstance occurs and the assignment of additional hours is a last resort;
  • the employer has exhausted reasonable efforts to obtain other staffing; and
  • the employer gives the employee an hour to arrange for child or elder care or care of a disabled family member.

Licensure of Small Residential Hospices:
House Bill 2629, PN 4517, enacted as Act 120 of 2008, amends the Health Care Facilities Act to require that the Department of Health promulgate regulations for the licensure and operation of small residential hospices with 22 or fewer beds.

Distribution of Prescriptions from Veterans Facility:
House Bill 2034, PN 3198, enacted as Act 114 of 2008, amends the "Long-TermCare Patient Access to Pharmaceuticals Act" to allow a pharmacist employed by, or a pharmacy under contract with, a long-term care facility to repackage, re-label and dispense a dose of a drug acquired by a Veteran's Administration hospital to a veteran who is a patient of the long-term care facility
Source: Press Release issued by Governor's Office, "Governor Rendell Signs 31 Bills" (10/09/08).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Slump's Serious Repercussions for Seniors

On October 1, 2008, the Urban Institute issued a Press Release entitled "How Is the Economic Turmoil Affecting Older Americans?" announcing a "Fact Sheet" of the same name prepared by Richard W. Johnson, Mauricio Soto, & Sheila R. Zedlewski.

In the "
Fact Sheet: How Is the Economic Turmoil Affecting Older Americans?"(PDF, 12 pages), the authors examined the impact of recent economic woes on seniors, as summarized in the Report's Introduction:

The slumping stock market, falling housing prices, and weakening economy have serious repercussions for the 94 million Americans age 50 and older who are approaching retirement or already retired.

Retirement accounts lost about 18 percent of their value over the past 12 months, and between January 2007 and May 2008, housing prices fell from 4 to 20 percent depending on where seniors live.

Older Americans have little time to recoup the values of their homes, 401(k) plans, and individual retirement accounts — all important parts of their retirement nest eggs. More and more older Americans are working to bolster their retirement incomes, but the rising unemployment rate, now 6.1 percent, limits their prospects.

This fact sheet examines the impact of the ongoing economic turmoil on retirement savings, home values, and retirement decisions. * * *

The Fact Sheet noted the serious repercussions of the steep decline in stock market values that occurred during the past year, which accelerated during the past month, because most retirements accounts contain many stocks, now far lower in value:
The stock market lost 27 percent of its value between September 30, 2007 and September 30, 2008, a roughly $7 trillion drop.

The loss has reduced the retirement savings of many Americans, particularly older adults. * * *
  • Forty-nine percent of households ages 50 and older own retirement accounts. Seventy-nine percent of these accounts include stock holdings.
  • The typical retirement account of households ages 50 and older invests 50 percent of its assets in stocks. However, households ages 70 and older hold much less in stocks, reducing their exposure to market fluctuations. * * *
The authors considered aspects of the decline in investments that supported seniors' retirement plans, with statistics:
  • How Much Have Retirement Accounts Fallen?
  • How Are Different Age Groups Affected?
  • How Much Do Households Hold in a Typical Retirement Account?
Then the authors considered how the simultaneous decline in home prices will affect seniors' retirement plans, by addressing these questions:
  • Does home equity represent a large share of older adults’ wealth?
  • How has housing wealth changed for older adults?
  • What is the importance of home equity in retirement?
  • Are reverse annuity mortgages a good way to shore up retirement incomes?
Finally, the authors turned to employment of older workers as a means of shoring up retirement plans:
The plummeting value of retirement assets –– housing, pensions, and other savings –– could force more older adults to delay retirement and remain at work and could encourage some retirees to return to work.

At the same time, contracting credit markets could weaken the labor market,
limiting employment opportunities for older adults. * * *
These are their specific questions about employment:
  • How will the financial crisis affect retirement decisions?
  • How will the credit crunch affect jobs?
  • Are older workers likely to lose their jobs?
  • Will older adults find new jobs?
  • How does unemployment at older ages affect retirement income security?
The Urban Institute's conclusions are reflected in personal stories reported recently by various publications, including:
AARP, based in Philadelphia, PA, also has posted excellent articles about seniors facing an economic downturn.
Probably the best article that I've read on the subject appeared in The New York Times on September 22, 2008, entitled "Retirees Filling the Front Line in Market Fears" by John Leland & Louis Uchitelle, who note that "Older Americans with investments are among the hardest hit by the turmoil in the financial markets and have the least opportunity to recover."

This is pretty depressing news. It must be met with personal tenacity and a will to survive.

“Tenacity is a pretty fair substitute for bravery,

and the best form of tenacity I know
is expressed in a Danish fur trapper's principle,

'The next mile is the only one a person really has to make.'”

-- Eric Sevareid (American Journalist, 1912-1992)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Grandparents WIN in Child Dependency Enactment

On October 7, 2008, President Bush signed into law the new federal "Fostering Connections to Success and Improved Adoptions Act of 2008" (formerly H.R. 6893), as Public Law No. 110-351.

A Breaking News bulletin posted by Generations United announced "a historic day for grandfamilies" because "[t]he bill is a significant recognition of the contribution grandparents and other relatives make in raising the nation’s children."

GovTrack posted links to the many supportive floor speeches made in the House (09/17/08) and in the Senate (09/22/08).

The Congressional Research Service had summarized H.R. 6893 upon its introduction on September 15, 2008. Technically, the Act amends the Social Security Act with new provisions, as follows:

  • Amends Part E (Federal Payments for Foster Care and Adoption Assistance) of title IV of the Social Security Act (SSA) to give state plans the option of providing for the state to enter into agreements to provide kinship guardianship assistance payments to grandparents and other relatives who have assumed legal guardianship of children for whom they have: (1) cared as foster parents; and (2) committed to care on a permanent basis.
  • Amends SSA title IV part B (Child and Family Services) to authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make matching grants to state, local, or tribal child welfare agencies and experienced private nonprofit organizations to help children in, or at risk of entering, foster care to reconnect with family members.
The Pew Charitable Trusts, through its national, non-partisan Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, had researched appropriate changes in foster care funding, participation, and procedures, delivering a report in 2004, then advocating thereafter with its website, newsletters, and briefings. See: "Foster Care Reforms Advance in Congress, Courts and States" (04/06/06).

In "New Law is Designed to Improve Lives, Outcomes of Nation's Foster Children and Youth" (10/08/08), PCT,
celebrated the derivative bill's enactment as "the most significant reform of the nation's foster care system in more than a decade."

These are
the new Act's important provisions, according to that Press Release:
  • Incentives to increase adoptions of children from foster care, especially older youth and those with special needs.
  • Phased elimination of an outdated eligibility requirement for adoption assistance that will increase the number of special needs children who can be adopted with federal support.
  • Federal resources to assist children who leave foster care for legal guardianships with family members.
  • Direct federal foster care funding for tribal governments, so that more American Indian and Alaskan Native children can receive the supports and services they need while remaining in their own communities.
  • Allowance of states to provide foster care supports and services to young people up to age 21.
  • Improved oversight of educational progress and health care needs of children while in foster care.
  • Mandated "reasonable efforts" to place siblings together when they enter the foster care system.
During consideration, Rep. Gerald Weller noted that H.R. 6893 favors involvement by grandparents in the lives of foster children:
The bill also promotes stronger family ties in caring for children removed from their own parents due to abuse and neglect, and expects States to do more to locate adult relatives like grandparents or aunts and uncles who can step in to care for such children. * * *
Rep. Fortney Stark followed up those remarks with his own, emphasizing the role of grandparents with children who become subject to foster care proceedings:
Madam Speaker, I point out that this subcommittee stands as proxy parents for half a million children in this country who spend time in foster care each year.

So I would like to thank Grandpa McDermott and Grandpa Weller on behalf of these 500,000 children whose lives are being improved, and Grandma Tauscher, for helping see that these children's lives are improved. * * *

[This bill] allows relatives, grandparents, to participate in supporting the foster children and allows them in many cases to live in loving homes rather than group homes and less permanent settings. * * *

Morris Brasovankin, bless his departed soul, would be so pleased.

He lost his court battle -- and custody of his grandson, Steven -- in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but he may have inspired others to win a legislative war in Washington, D.C.

"All kids deserve families
so they can believe in themselves and grow up to be somebody."

-- Former foster youth,

in his testimony to the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care