Barbara Boone McGinnis Answers FAQ

I’m looking for an elder law attorney for my elderly parents. There are so many firms that claim to provide elder law services. How can I know I am getting expert advice?

Elder Law is the legal practice of counseling and representing older persons about the legal aspects of health and long-term care planning, public benefits, surrogate decision making and many other related issues. The National Elder Law Foundation offers a certification program (Certified Elder Law Attorney or CELA) that makes it easy to identify those lawyers who have the enhanced knowledge, skills and proficiency to receive certification as a specialist. The Certified Elder Law Attorney designation has frequently been referred to as the gold stand for elder law and special needs practitioners. Visit the National Elder Law Foundation website to learn more www.nelf.org.

I’m interested in setting up a scholarship fund to honor my husband’s memory.  Before he passed away, he was a college professor. I don’t know how to get started. Can you help get me pointed in the right direction?

There’s many ways to create a legacy and an endowment fund or scholarship fund is certainly one way to accomplish this goal. You could begin with the university of your choice and set up a call with the endowment office to discuss your ideas. This is likely to be the easiest and most direct option. Another way would be to work through an existing foundation such as the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Connect with them on their website www.cfmt.org for more information about the variety of funds available or help you create your own.

What happens to the funds in a VA fiduciary account when the beneficiary dies?

According to the Guide for VA fiduciaries published by the VA, “ the beneficiary is not entitled to VA benefits for the month in which he or she dies, even if the individual dies on the last day of the month. Therefore, unless you are the beneficiary’s spouse, you must return these funds to VA immediately. Any saved VA funds belong to the beneficiary’s estate and must generally be given to the legal representative of the beneficiary’s estate. If the beneficiary dies without a will or heirs, you must return any remaining VA funds to VA. You may contact your fiduciary hub of jurisdiction for further information.”  The fiduciary guide can be accessed online at http://benefits.va.gov/fiduciary/.

How can I get a copy of my DD Form 214, Report of Separation (or equivalent form)?

The DD Form 214, Report of Separation, is filed in the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). Most veterans and their next-of-kin can request copies of their DD Form 214 and other 20th Century military and medical personnel records online, via eVetRecs.

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