Swerdloff Law Firm May 2018


www.lawwithasmile.com • 310-577-9104

MAY 2018


Independence and Conservatorships

I work with a lot of folks who care for elderly family members. They’re often concerned about making important decisions for their ailing relatives. I’ve also heard these concerns from parents of children with special needs. As their children grow into adolescence, these families require assistance to help their kids thrive on the path toward adulthood.

That’s where the life-changing gift of a conservatorship can come into play.

Not long ago, I got a frantic call from a parent. Her son — we’ll call him Mark — was about to turn 18. In the eyes of the law, this made him an adult. However, Mark lacked the ability to make decisions about his schooling and medical needs. He depended on his parents, and they’d been dedicated caregivers to him for the last 18 years. Mark’s mom was looking for a way to continue that support after he turned 18. She was anxious and uncertain. parents to continue in their roles as caretakers. By successfully petitioning for a conservatorship, Mark’s parents were able to remain caretakers and help make the best decisions for their son. In California, when a judge deems an individual unable to care for themselves, a conservator may be appointed. It’s a big responsibility. You’re signing on to look after the financial matters and daily well-being of the person under your care. But I’ve seen how beneficial it can be for some families.

That being said, sometimes an individual with special needs can adequately care for themselves. In some cases, they’re capable of making their own decisions, and being granted that autonomy allows them to reach their full potential. In 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, which went into effect in 2017. This act allows individuals with special needs to self- settle their trusts, giving them authority over their lives. This was life-changing for another client of mine, a young college student who made his own trust with the money he had inherited. He could now establish his own financial future, and that empowered him. The act gives self-respect back to independent people with special needs and helps them feel like participants in their lives rather than bystanders.

The beauty of having these options is that a family can make the best choice for their situation, whether that’s a conservatorship or independence. If helping a youth reach autonomy could help them live a better life, wouldn’t we want them to have that? Our parents are our caretakers; they bring us into the world and teach us how to become independent. For some, that role will last a lifetime. For others, the roles will reverse, and the child will care for their parents. Both forms of care are life-changing, but the reassurance that a loved one will be taken care of is one of the most valuable gifts you can ever give someone.

–Arthur J. Swerdloff


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that you are an irresponsible grandparent. Instead, think about how you felt when your own children were young, and take steps to alleviate the parents’ concerns. If your daughter asks you not to be on your phone while in crowded public places because she’s concerned you might lose sight of her child, promise to keep the phone in your pocket. If your son-in-law wants regular updates, make time before bed for your grandchild to call home and tell her father about all the fun she’s having. A little compromise can lead to less stress and more fun for everyone. PACK NECESSARY DOCUMENTS You need to have some form of ID for your grandkids. Older kids can use a driver’s license, but if you’re traveling with little ones, find a copy of their birth certificates. You also need copies of insurance and prescription cards and a notarized letter from the parents granting you permission to authorize medical care in case of an emergency. It’s also a

good idea to have a letter of permission for your grandkids to travel with you. Make sure the letter is signed by all legal guardians, especially if your grandchild’s parents are divorced. You don’t want to accidentally cause a custody dispute. PLAN A TRIP YOU’LL BOTH LOVE When planning your itinerary, ask yourself if your grandkids will have fun, too. You might be excited to visit an art museum, but a younger child might not appreciate it as much. This doesn't mean you shouldn’t visit museums or historical sites! In fact, most of these places offer kid-centric activities, like scavenger hunts, that can help a younger audience engage with the environment. Just be sure to think of your grandchild first when planning. There’s nothing like the adventure of travel to bring generations closer together and create lasting memories. These tips will help you ensure those memories are good ones. Happy travels!

We could all use a vacation, and if you’re looking to bond with your grandkids, a trip might be the perfect answer. It’s fun for you, and getting away from Mom and Dad for a while is thrilling for any kid. But before you board a plane to Italy with your granddaughter or rent an RV for a trip to Yellowstone with your grandsons, there are a few things you need to check off your to-do list. DON’T LET THE PARENTS WORRY Letting their kids go on a trip without them can be nerve-wracking for parents. Don’t view parental worries as an implication


Enjoy a Day of Self-Care

YOGA Try a yoga class to find inner peace. Yoga is good for the body and mind, increasing balance while helping you clear your head. We could probably all use more of that. Bikram Yoga in Marina Del Rey offers a new client special of $50 for 30 days of yoga, which is an affordable way to try it out. SPA DAY A day at the spa might be just what you need. With options up and down the beach, take your pick. We suggest Spa Soleil. They offer a variety of massages in a luxurious, relaxing setting. Massage

What if you took a whole day for yourself? I’m not talking about just a few hours — imagine a full day of relaxation. Does that sound impossible? It might be hard, but if you plan ahead, you can make it happen. Clear your schedule, and plan a day of self-care. Spend a day enjoying the activities you find most relaxing. Maybe it’s spending an entire day reading a good book. Or perhaps it’s treating yourself to a delicious lunch and catching a matinee. Whatever it is, do exactly what you want. Oh, and for an extra challenge, do it without judgment.

options include Swedish, deep tissue, shiatsu, sports injury, and hot stone. If you’re enjoying this day with your partner, Creative Chakra Spa offers couples massages. A NEW LOOK When was the last time you had your hair styled? If it was for your high school prom, it’s time to revisit this relaxing pastime. Via Dolce Salon, just up from the beach, specializes in hairstyles that fit your lifestyle. There’s also the Aveda Salon and Phenix Salon nearby. Make an appointment, and plan to relax with a magazine while the artists work their magic.


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On the cover, attorney Art Swerdloff spoke of the different options available to families with members who have special needs and who are reaching the next fork in the road. When your child with special needs turns 18, they are legally considered an adult. There are some important choices you will need to make to maintain their well-being now and in the future. CONSERVATORSHIP If you do not expect your child to be capable of living on their own at 18, you and your spouse might consider a conservatorship. This will allow your child to remain under your care, with you continuing to oversee their affairs. If you are concerned about your child’s well- being as they enter adulthood, this might be a good option for your family. YOUR FAMILY’S OPTIONS

INDEPENDENCE THROUGH TRUST In 2016, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act, and people with special needs gained a huge victory. The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act was enacted along with the Cures Act, giving autonomy back to individuals who are capable of managing their own lives. Before the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, if an individual with special needs wanted to set up a trust, they had to have it set up through a relative or guardian. For those who had none of these close relationships to rely on, the court appointed a supervisor. In some cases, the trust was eaten away by legal fees instead of going to care for the individual.

Thanks to the passage of the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, people with special needs are now able to set up their own trust. For these individuals who are capable of overseeing their affairs independently, the act allows them to operate freely without being unnecessarily bound to a relative — or worse, a stranger — for their needs. If your child is turning 18 soon and you have questions, contact Art Swerdloff at 310-577-9104 to discuss the options available to you. He is an experienced attorney with a passion for bringing peace of mind to people with special needs and their families.



Asparagus and steak is a classic pairing. Skirt steak packs a ton of flavor without the high price point of other cuts, and this is the best time of year to buy asparagus. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get grilling!


• 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper • Salt and pepper to taste • Grated pecorino Romano cheese

• 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak • 2 tablespoons canola oil • 1 pound asparagus


depending on desired doneness. Skirt steak is thin and will cook quickly. 4. Let steak rest for 10 minutes. While it’s resting, grill asparagus for 6 minutes, turning once. 5. Sprinkle cheese and crushed red pepper on asparagus. Serve alongside steak.

1. Heat grill to high. Season room- temperature steak with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon oil. Any oil with a high smoke point, such as canola, will work. 2. Trim bottom inch of asparagus. Season with salt, pepper, and remainder of oil. 3. Cut steak into four portions and grill for 3–5 minutes per side,

Inspired by Food Network


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4640 AdmiraltyWay, Suite 800 Marina del Rey, CA 90292



The Gift of Care


Secrets to a Great Family Vacation 3 Ways to Practice Self-Care


Is a Conservatorship the Right Fit? Grilled Skirt Steak With Asparagus


Bobbie the Wonder Dog’s Incredible Journey

BOBBIE THE WONDER DOG The Incredible Journey of

Imagine America in 1923. Yankee Stadium opened its doors for the very first time. Walt and Roy Disney founded The Walt Disney Company. The first issue of Time magazine hit newsstands. President Warren G. Harding died of a heart attack in office, and Vice President Calvin Coolidge became the 30th president. And Bobbie the Wonder Dog trekked 2,550 miles to return home. Of all the stories to come out of 1923, Bobbie’s may be the most incredible. It all started with a road trip. The Brazier family of Silverton, Oregon, decided to take a road trip to visit relatives in Wolcott, Indiana. Mom, Dad, their two daughters, and their Scotch collie piled in the family Overland Red Bird touring car and headed across preinterstate-highway-system America.

Bobbie the Scotch collie was attacked by a pack of dogs. The dogs scared Bobbie away, and despite a long search around Wolcott, the family was unable to find any trace of the collie. The search

turned his head west and began walking. And walking. With winter setting in, Bobbie had a monumental task ahead.

Bobbie swam across numerous rivers. He trekked across the Great Plains and over

continued throughout their stay, but time ran out, and the Braziers had to return home to Oregon without their beloved Bobbie. What the Braziers didn’t know was that Bobbie had been searching for his family as well. He may have been scared

the Rocky Mountains. While we will never know exactly what Bobbie endured, we know he made it home. Over 2,500 miles later, in February, 1924, a tired and beaten-down pup arrived home in Silverton, Oregon, to a stunned family. Bobbie the Wonder Dog’s story made national headlines. He received a medal and the key to the city, and he became a silent movie star in the film “The Call of the West.” Today, you can visit Bobbie’s memorial near his home in Oregon.

away, but he was determined to get back home. And so began his incredible journey. He

Several days later, after the Braziers had settled in with their Wolcott relatives,


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