GET MORE BANK FOR YOUR BUCK How to Take Full Advantage of Your Financial Institution
Whether you’re banking with a credit union or a national giant, your financial institution likely offers more resources, account options, and saving plans than you’re using — or even aware of. As one NerdWallet article puts it, “Banks and credit unions continue to find new ways to both delight and confound customers.” If you focus on the delights, you can get more bang for your buck out of the financial institution you’re already using. Plus, there’s a good chance you’ll pick up new ways to stretch your retirement fund, grow your investments, and pass nest eggs to your grandkids along the way. Take these two easy steps to get started. 1. GET CLICKING Even for someone with plenty of internet savvy, bank websites can be intimidating. Most are filled with tabs and portals that overwhelm customers, causing them to limit their interactions to plugging in a username and password to check their balance. Don’t fall into that trap! If you want to get a complete picture of what your bank has to offer, its website is the place to start.
Next time you log in, set aside an hour or two to explore the site tab by tab. Take note of products and services you might not be using, like mobile banking apps, 24-hour hotlines, continuing education, and additional account options and their interest rates. Schwab, for example, offers a free online learning center complete with seminars, one-on-one financial advice, and more than 300 If your bank has a brick-and-mortar location near you, make a point to visit it. While there, take the time to learn about the latest updates from the reading materials on offer, make an appointment with a financial analyst, or speak with a bank teller. It’s in your bank’s interest to see your accounts grow, so representatives are happy to help. If you’ve already explored your bank’s website, this is the time to ask follow-up questions on what you found or make a financial move in a new direction. Whether you’ve decided on a 529 plan or a high-interest checking account, your banking representative can make it happen. informative articles and videos. 2. SCHEDULE A SIT-DOWN
Asked and Answered: A Legal Advice Column
Dear Paul, My younger brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was in his early twenties. Ten years later, he sometimes lives on the streets and sometimes in homeless shelters. My parents and I have spent a small fortune and thousands of hours trying to help him have a more normal life. Unfortunately, he refuses to take his medications, which is one reason he lacks the stability to hold on to a job or even feed and groom himself. If one of us were able to become his guardian, would we be able to force him to take his medication? Can we decide where he lives? My parents are getting older, and we are all tired of half-measures. –My Brother’s Keeper
Dear Brother’s Keeper, First and foremost, you need to know that becoming a Guardian (or perhaps Co-Guardians) of your brother does not give you the legal authority to force your brother to take medications. I can’t delve into all the literature and case law on this topic in a single column, but guardianship preserves your brother’s autonomy, and his preferences — including NOT taking his medication — still prevail. However, a guardian does have the authority to direct your brother to receive care from a physician who may recommend treatment options to your brother. As you may know, a new class of injectable medications (such as Invega sustenna ) can be administered monthly and then as seldom as every 90 days for patients with schizophrenia. Consistency with these medications is sometimes much easier than daily pills, but patient consent is still paramount. Your brother’s guardian could decide where he lives, but it must be the “least restrictive environment” necessary for his health and safety. For example, you could rent
an apartment for him or help him find suitable group housing and counseling. However, if you believe your brother’s condition is so dire that he needs to be committed to involuntary mental health treatment, you could not use your guardianship (or emergency guardianship) powers to do so. Rather, your brother would still have to go through involuntary commitment proceedings. In Georgia, that usually takes the form of a 1013, which requires a finding of “imminent risk of harm to self or others” or an “imminently life- endangering crisis” as certified by a licensed physician or psychologist, LCSW, or psychiatric clinical nurse specialist. Families are often very frustrated with the limitations of guardianship when it is sought to help an adult with mental health issues. While the right team— often including a guardianship attorney, mental health social worker, and other medical professionals — can often help you identify and pursue the best options in the right order, nothing guarantees your brother will achieve the stable and happy life you want for him. All of us must be honest about the limits of the options allowed and then decide whether this uncertain path is still worth traveling.
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