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Photos from: Orlando Senior Help Desk: What can we help you with?

By Lisa Levine When Gloria Danvers was preparing to move her mom to Central Florida to live with her, she had a lot of questions she needed answered in order to make the transition successful. Her mom, Ann, was a smart and active woman who was still working at her medical transcriptionist business at the age of 82, but she had been having health problems and it was clear that changes needed to be made. Danvers, a Winter Park hypnotherapist who also has a St. Augustine office, knew she needed good advice. "I had to start getting resources to make sure that my mom is happy and taken care of all the time and that she has in interest in life and there are things to do," she said. Fortunately for Danvers, her business networking had brought her into contact with Nancy Ludin, executive director of The Jewish Pavilion and the Orlando Senior Help Desk. Although Danvers is not Jewish, she was aware through Ludin that the Orlando Senior Help Desk offers free advice for anyone who calls, regardless of religious affiliation. One of the things Danvers sought advice about was what to do when switching banks to take advantage of concierge services that her mother's bank did not offer and that would make life easier as she dealt with mobility constraints. When she called the Orlando Senior Help Desk and spoke with Ludin, "she gave me fantastic information," Danvers said. "Not only to say, 'this is what the banks can do,' but she also had Penny in her office to say, 'these are the things that you don't want to do, and let me tell you why. She gave me information I needed that I didn't even know I needed." Penny Goldstein D'Agostino is chief financial officer and managing director for The Jewish Pavilion and Orlando Senior Help Desk. She is also a partner with her husband, David, in Infinity Financial Group, an Altamonte Springs financial advising and tax preparation business, and she contributes a wealth of knowledge in personal finances as an Orlando Senior Help Desk counselor. D'Agostino said she gave Danvers the same advice she frequently gives others regarding banking. If children want to help parents manage their financial lives, "often the banks will say to a parent 'have them come in and we'll add them to your account,'" she said. "That is absolutely the wrong thing to do, because it means that money, which is the parent's money, can be attachable in case the child has a financial emergency. Once the child puts their name as a signatory on the bank account, that means the money is considered legally theirs." Instead, D'Agostino advises that parents consult with a lawyer to give the child a power of attorney if that comes to be required. Also, the parent can give the child access to the account through the Internet so he or she can be of assistance with monitoring inflow, outflow, and bill paying. Another important arrangement to make with the bank is to enter the child as beneficiary of the account after the parent dies, which many banks term as the account being "payable on death." This no-cost arrangement avoids the account being tied up in probate. "If something happens, the child can immediately access the funds with nothing more than a death certificate," D'Agostino said. Another issue Danvers sought help for is securing a trustworthy companion for her mother on the days when Danvers works from her office in St. Augustine. Ludin was ready with a recommendation, which was a great relief for Danvers. "I have somebody in place that can come and keep her company and play cards with her. And knowing that this person is vetted by Nancy and the Orlando Senior Help Desk gives me a lot of confidence," said Danvers. "Nancy is just a goldmine of information." Better still is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that any further help Danvers may need is just a phone call away. "I really feel that I can reach out and ask Orlando Senior Help Desk, and I really appreciate the services that they offer," said Danvers. Callers to the Orlando Senior Help Desk hotline are offered guidance on choosing senior living options, home health services, elder law, hospice, adult day care, financial arrangements and more. For more information, go to OrlandoSeniorHelpDesk.org. To access this free service, call 407-678-9363.

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