Friday, September 23, 2016

Undue Influence: A Form of Elder Abuse

Mickey Rooney, who earned tens of millions of dollars during his life, was reported to have only $18,000.00 when he passed away in 2014.  Mr. Rooney appeared before the Senate Special Aging Committee in 2011 and testified he had been a victim of elder-abuse by his wife and stepchildren, stripped “of the ability to make even the most basic decisions about my life.”  This process began after Mr. Rooney confided to a Disney executive about the abuse while filming  The Muppets, which prompted his attorneys to file a Petition for a Conservator to protect him and recover his assets.

Undue influence is the exploitation of an individual often due to the individual’s age, health, failing mental capacity, or the overall tendency to trust others.  While the elderly are especially susceptible, anyone is vulnerable to undue influence, including the ill, stressed, lonely or frightened of any age.   It can come in many forms: family, neighbors, paid personal aides, church members, and many others. 

Sometimes people who exercise undue influence start off as a caretaker, who genuinely seems to care for the individual.  As time progresses, however, they are able to convince the person no one else cares for them, resulting in the individual becoming totally dependent on the caretaker.  As in the example with Mickey Rooney, his wife and stepchildren drained his estate of millions of dollars during his lifetime.  I am aware of a case in which a younger, attractive caregiver convinced her elderly patient she cared for him emotionally, and then convinced him to add her to his deed for his personal residence.  She also received numerous financial gifts.  Unfortunately, the money was much more important to her than caring for the individual she was hired to help.  She moved on once the money was  gone, leaving the elderly individual and the family to try and pick up the pieces. 

So what can you do?  An elderly person’s family, friends and neighbors should make efforts to insure the person is receiving good nutrition, help them stay socially involved, and be observant for signs someone is attempting to control that person for their own gain.  If you suspect an elderly person is a victim of undue influence, put all details of the transaction, including names, dates and facts in writing.  You can contact Adult Protective Services in your area which will begin an investigation.  This may prevent the elderly person from losing any more money and help him regain his dignity.

A proactive approach in this situation is to meet with a qualified estate planning attorney to guide the individual through the estate planning process which may help avoid some of the pitfalls of undue influence that can arise from caregivers, friends, family and others.

The Mickey Rooney matter continues.  His estate was awarded millions from the stepfamily but whether that will be collected remains to be seen. 
Robert Jensen and Thomas J. Bayles, attorneys at law
JensenBayles, LLP provides a broad spectrum of legal services.  Thomas J. Bayles has been actively providing advice in the areas of trusts, wills, probate and tax planning in the St. George market for over 18 years. Please visit our web site or call 435-674-9718 and ask for Thomas J. Bayles.  The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Please contact an attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Who Will Take Care of My Remains When I Die?

Who Will Take Care of My Remains When I Die?

            It is a well-established fact that none of us will not get out of this life alive.  Many of our clients wonder, “Who will take care of my remains when I die?”  Some clients want to be buried in a specific cemetery, some want to be cremated and have creative ideas about the disposition of their ashes. We have clients who want to donate their body to medical research while others do not want to make a decision and trust the family will do “what is right.”

If you have an option about disposition of your remains, i.e., cremation, specific funeral service or even a certain mortuary, it is important you provide written directions regarding the disposition of your body.  This can be included in your Last Will and Testament or another written directive acknowledged before a Notary Public or executed in the same manner required by a Will. 

If you specify your funeral wishes in your Will, you can change your mind without revoking or changing your Will.  You must provide specific written notice to your Personal Representative and to the mortuary, if you previously specified a particular mortuary.  This notice must be acknowledged as mentioned above.

Sadly, there are cases in which a decedent’s wishes were not honored by the family and costly litigation ensued.  In one case, a parent buried a child knowing the child had written a request to be cremated.  The child’s estranged spouse later tried to disinter the remains for cremation.  The courts became involved and the grief related to the loss of a loved one was compounded by the time and cost of the litigation.  Ultimately, the court determined the estranged spouse agreed to the burial which negated her ability to later argue the decedent’s wishes were to be cremated. 

Another case involved Gary Coleman from the TV program “Diff’rent Strokes” who died in Provo, Utah in 2010.  Mr. Coleman’s ex-wife and his parents both claimed the right to make funeral plans, and were in the process of doing so, when his manager Dion Mial was able to provide written documentation which directed Mr. Mial to oversee the Coleman estate and funeral arrangements.  In that case, the parents stopped their efforts after they reviewed the estate planning documents and determined they would honor their son’s wishes.

If you do not specify your wishes in writing, Utah law provides that the surviving spouse will have the authority to determine your disposition.  If there is no surviving spouse, Utah law provides a list of alternates and a method of priority.  By outlining your wishes with a written directive, the family will be able to honor you without additional stress.

JensenBayles, llp  provides a broad spectrum of legal services.  Thomas J. Bayles has been actively providing advice in the areas of trusts, wills, probate and tax planning in the St. George market for over 15 years. Please visit our web site or call 435-674-9718 and ask for Thomas J. Bayles or Phillip G. Gubler. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Please contact an attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

Phillip G. Gubler and Thomas J. Bayles, Attorneys at Law

Friday, August 12, 2016

Listening Fatigue and Hearing Loss.

Listening Fatigue and Hearing Loss.

Have you ever suffered extreme mental fatigue? Perhaps you felt this way after finishing an important examination or task that required intense concentration. It’s like running a marathon in your head—and when you’re finished, you just want to collapse.
A comparable experience develops in those with hearing loss, and it’s referred to as listening fatigue. Those with hearing loss pick up only partial or incomplete sounds, which they then have to make sense out of. With respect to understanding speech, it’s like playing a constant game of crosswords. Those with hearing loss are presented with context and a few sounds and letters, but in many cases they then have to fill in the blanks to decipher what’s being said. Language comprehension, which is supposed to be natural, turns into a problem-solving workout demanding deep concentration.

For example: Wh t wou d ou l ke n t e me u?

You most likely realized that the haphazard assortment of letters above spells “What would you like on the menu?” But you also likely had to stop and contemplate it, filling in the blanks. Just imagine having to read this entire article this way and you’ll have an appreciation for the listening demands placed on those with hearing loss.
Appropriately fit hearing instruments – hearing instruments help to “fill in the blanks,” thus avoiding or reducing listening fatigue. Hearing aids help us reduce the amount of energy we spend listening and communicating by making it easier to hear sounds and speech in a variety of environments. Because the hearing aid helps to restore the sounds that are missed with hearing loss, the brain uses less energy understanding it. Modern day hearing aids now come with features that help reduce listening fatigue by isolating and amplifying the sounds you want to hear and significantly reducing or removing the noises you don’t.
Advanced Hearing & Balance Specialists have provided the area’s most trusted hearing and balance services for many years. With offices in 9 communities throughout Southern Utah and Nevada, we make it convenient for you to receive the highest levels of care. We support research and development of the newest hearing technologies and treatment for hearing loss and balance disorders.  We always put our patient’s concerns first, matching each individual’s needs with the treatments and tools, which fit their lifestyle.  For an appointment with a Doctor of Audiology at any one of our 9 locations, call 435-688-8866 or 800-548-0356.
Dr. Jacob Burrows
Jacob Burrows, Au.D, FAAA

Friday, July 8, 2016

Utah’s New Statutory Durable Power of Attorney

Phillip G. Gubler and Thomas J. Bayles, Attorneys at Law
            Utah just adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act which went into effect May 10, 2016.  There are some provisions in the new law that you should know about.

            A Durable Power of Attorney allows the principal to authorize another person (your agent) to make financial decisions the principal specifies in the document. It is important to name an agent or agents you can trust to act in your best interest because of the significant authority typically granted in a power of attorney. 

The statutory power of attorney is automatically durable which means it becomes effective at signing and remains effective at your incapacity. You can elect to make the statutory power of attorney so it is only effective on your incapacity, but you must draft the provision into the statutory form. 

The authority that can be granted in the statutory power of attorney can be very broad depending upon the principal’s selections in the document.  Generally, your agent can make all decisions related to real property, personal and tangible property, stocks or bonds, commodities and options, banks and financial institutions, insurance and annuities, retirement plans, claims and litigation, and estates and trusts or other beneficial interests.  Your agent has the authority to  buy, sell, invest, and enter into or terminate contracts.   Again, this authority becomes effective immediately even if you are able to make decisions for yourself unless you state otherwise in the Special Instructions.  

There is a section in the new statutory power of attorney that presents a pitfall for the unsuspecting principal.  The authority that can be granted in this section includes the authority for the agent to amend trusts, change beneficiary designations, create joint tenancies and make gifts, among other “superpowers”. In the course of our work we find that less than 3% of our clients want or need to grant one of the “superpowers”.  You must be careful to only select powers you wish to grant and be very careful when it comes to the “superpowers” because they likely grant more authority than you intend. 

Typically, a person signing a new power of attorney will want to revoke prior financial powers of attorney.  The new statutory power of attorney does not automatically revoke prior powers of attorney so you must draft language in the document if you wish to terminate the authority of agents in prior powers of attorney.
JensenBayles, LLP provides a broad spectrum of legal services.  Thomas J. Bayles has been actively providing advice in the areas of trusts, wills, probate and tax planning in the St. George market for over 15 years. Please visit our web site or call 435-674-9718 and ask for Thomas J. Bayles or Phillip G. Gubler. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Please contact an attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

Monday, June 20, 2016


ST. GEORGE, UTAH (June 20, 2016) — The St. George Chapter of BYU Management Society recently honored nine area graduating High School Seniors and one BYU student with cash scholarships to help them continue their education. The scholarships were based on a weighted scale that included academic record, community service, written essay, need based, and extra curricular activities. Not all the recipients are headed to Brigham Young University, nor is it a requirement, as some will enroll at Dixie State University, Utah State University, and Southern Utah University. Over the past seven years the St. George Chapter has given out over $58,000 in scholarships to graduating high school seniors and BYU Marriott School of Management students.

The BYU Management Society is a premier organization for business professionals to network, develop their careers, serve their communities and support BYU and the Marriott School. The BYU Management Society is a unique global network, strongly committed to growing moral and ethical leadership around the world.  This worldwide network of business professionals has a shared vision of moral and ethical leadership and a common code of business conduct and integrity. Chapters worldwide focus on developing careers – updating and enhancing skills, networking – making connections between professional, serving the community – strengthening those around us, and supporting the Marriott School and BYU.

Those who received scholarships were Emily Stewart, Kesha Jones, and Tyler Little from Dixie High School, Annelise Burr from Pine View, and Savannah Langston, Boston Wood, Tanner Sharp, Logan Mathews, and Abaigail Clark from Desert Hills, along with Charity Doty, a former Washington County student and current MBA student attending BYU-Provo.

You can join the local St. George Chapter and discover the benefits the Management Society holds for you by going to or by contacting Drew Gubler at You do not have to be a graduate from Brigham Young University to join. The $50 annual membership fee goes toward building the annual scholarship fund. The BYU Management Society holds an annual scholarship banquet, as well as luncheons throughout the year to help raise additional funds. Our 2016 Scholarship fundraising banquet will be held on November 12, and feature keynote speaker Gail Miller. If you would like to donate to the St. George Chapter BYU Management Society Scholarship Fund please contact Elwin Prince at or Tyler Hall at

From Left to Right - Elwin Prince, BYU Management Society Scholarship Chair, Annelise Burr, Abaigail Clark, Tyler Little, Kesha Jones, Savannah Langston, and Drew Gubler, BYU Management Society St. George Chapter president.

Monday, June 13, 2016


ST. GEORGE, UTAH (June 13, 2016) — The St. George Exchange Club is part of a national service-based organization with a mission that includes child abuse prevention. In support of this important cause the local club recently partnered with Intermountain Healthcare and the Washington County School District to produce Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Resource Cards. The CAP Cards include contact info for schools, emergency services, and community human services ranging from recreation to victim’s advocacy. These will be distributed to local school children in the fall through the school district, as well as through local agencies and Intermountain Healthcare affiliated offices.

“We’ve received tremendous feedback about the popularity of these cards among parents and families,” said Neal Smith, Exchange Club Member who has been involved in providing the cards for nearly a decade. “However, producing them costs money, and we’ve not had an update for several years.”

He credited Intermountain Healthcare with local guidance from Community Benefit at Dixie Regional Medical Center in receiving $4,000 from the Community Partner Fund as well as the cooperation of the Washington County School District to distribute the updated cards at the beginning of the school year. Brian Tenney, Exchange Club Member, also provided the design of the cards. “We’re excited to get them into people’s hands and hanging on their fridges and making them useful to the community,” Smith said.

He added that the cards originally were created by a committee chaired by the late Annie Ashcraft with the Department of Child Protective Services who championed the cause and got the project off the ground. The intent of the CAP cards are to provide families with access to services and make them aware of resources that could alleviate family stress and the incidence of child abuse.

“I appreciate that we get to carry on this great project and make a difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors,” said Smith. “I’m grateful for a community who knows how to pull together and protect our most valuable assets.”


About the St. George Exchange Club
The St. George Exchange Club has actively served Southern Utah for over 40 years with members who are local business owners, community leaders and volunteer citizens. Complementing the club is the St. George Exchange Club Foundation. Each year, club members are elected to preside over the Foundation Board, which is currently led by Jinks Dabney. The St. George Exchange Club Foundation is a registered 501(c) 3 and manages all funds donated or raised by the club. Funds raised are returned to the community through various programs the St. George Exchange Club sponsors. In addition to the Southern Utah Performing Arts Festival (SUPAF), the St. George Exchange Club also sponsors and hosts the St. George Mayor’s Walk, Iron Kids Fun Run, Student of the Month Recognition, Freedom Shrine installations and dedications, the Give Me Liberty program which serves area 5th graders, and Give a Kid a Flag to Wave at the annual Veterans Day Parade in Washington City. The St. George Exchange Club, in cooperation with Dixie State University, also awards each area high school’s top graduating senior with First Year Tuition Grants. In 2015 the club contributed over $100,000 to help the City of St. George build the All Abilities Park, which is slated for dedication spring 2016.

Contact Info
James McFadden
Exchange Club of St. George President

Mindy Suttner
Public Relations Committee Chairman

From left to right - Neal Smith, Exchange Club; Amber Rich, Intermountain Healthcare Community Benefit; Pam Graf, Washington County School District Foundation President; and Mindi Suttner, Exchange Club PR Chair.
PHOTO CAPTION: St. George Exchange Club welcomed Pam Graf, Washington County School District Foundation, and Amber Rich, Intermountain Healthcare Community Benefit, to their May 26 breakfast to celebrate the update and distribution of the new Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Resource Cards made possible by a cooperative effort by all three organizations. The CAP Cards include contact info for all schools, emergency and community services, and will be distributed free of charge through the schools and local agencies.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Estate Planning: Clarifying your Wishes

Many people have a misconception about estate planning.  For example, many will avoid doing their estate planning because they believe their assets “aren’t worth much” and think estate planning would be a waste of time and money.  The reality is that estate planning is necessary for everyone -- no matter the value of their assets.  Completing your estate planning now with a qualified estate planning attorney to clearly define your intentions is an investment that can save your family financial and emotional heartache in the future.

While you might want to live forever, there is a strong likelihood that you will not make it out of this life alive.  Estate planning allows you to clarify what will happen with your assets once you pass away.  As you think about your estate planning there are a few things to consider: 1) Beneficiaries, i.e., spouse, children, other close family members and friends, or charities; 2) Property, such as real property, personal property, as well as financial accounts and investments; and 3) Distribution of the properties to the beneficiaries.  

The next step is to make your plan to determine who will get what.  This may be simple or complex depending upon your distribution goals and your individual situation.  This should take some careful planning.  It is crucial you are clear how your assets will be distributed.  Having an estate plan may help avoid family disputes after your death.  When your estate plan clearly communicates your intent, arguments are less likely to occur.  Without clearly defining what you want through your will or trust, the court may decide who receives your assets, which means your final wishes may not be taken into consideration.  A poorly written will or trust can invite challenges from beneficiaries who may question validity, distribution or other concerns as well as unnecessary taxes and fees.

A qualified estate planning attorney can help guide you through the estate planning process and avoid the pitfalls of taxes, ambiguous language and directions.  Whether you want to divide your estate equally between beneficiaries or leave a little something extra to someone special, your estate planning attorney can craft documents allowing you to be as creative as you wish -- while adhering to the basics of what is required and making sure you are clear in your directions. The last thing you want to leave is a legacy of strife among family members who challenge your estate planning documents.
Phillip G. Gubler and Thomas J. Bayles, Attorneys at Law
JensenBayles, LLP provides a broad spectrum of legal services.  Thomas J. Bayles has been actively providing advice in the areas of trusts, wills, probate and tax planning in the St. George market for over 18 years. Please visit our web site or call 435-674-9718 and ask for Thomas J. Bayles or Phillip G. Gubler.