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Mark Gilfix presented at 2019 SFASA Conference at Stanford University

Attorney Mark Gilfix of Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP presented at the 2019 Bay Area Adult Autism/DD Conference at his alma mater, Stanford University on Saturday, November 16.

This event was sponsored by the Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area (SFASA), a grassroots nonprofit organization that strives to improve the lives of those affected by autism in all six major Bay Area counties, and by the Stanford Autism Center at Packard Children’s Hospital. This was the conference’s sixth year. The conference, of the Bay Area’s premier events of its kind was attended by over 450 people.

Mark’s presentation: Integrated, multigenerational planning: How to provide for a vibrant legal and financial future for your loved one with autism highlighted strategies to integrate legal, financial and long-term care issues into an optimized special needs plan.

Mark joined many local business and community leaders as a speaker at the conference. The all-day event featured six informational sessions and many individual forums and seminars. Each presentation addressed the many needs and interests of parents, caregivers and professionals of children and people with autism. Other topics included housing, public benefits, legal and financial planning, mental health, education, and more.

Mark is the author of numerous published pieces, including the book Facing the Reality of Long Term Care, which he coauthored with his father Attorney Michael Gilfix. He is a sought-after national speaker on topics related to estate and special needs planning.

The SFASA conference was held at the Li Ka Shing Center at Stanford University from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the event or its organizers, visit SFASA online at

For a full biography of Mark Gilfix visit To speak with an experienced special needs planning attorney at Gilfix & La Poll, call 800.244.9424.

Mark Gilfix wins Distinguished Author award from Trusts and Estates magazine

Mark Gilfix, a partner at Gilfix and La Poll Associates, was awarded the prestigious Distinguished Authors award from Trusts and Estates magazine for his 2018 article “Aging at Home: How technology and AI can help our clients.” He won in the Rising Star category. His article was nominated by the editors of Trusts and Estates and then chosen as one of four winners by subscribers of the magazine, other expert attorneys and financial planners from around the country.

Gilfix’s article detailed new technology and artificial intelligence that can help aging clients safely stay in their homes, and out of nursing facilities. His article tells a story of how one of his aging clients was determined to live independently in his home but refused to accept full time help, much to his daughter’s dismay. By implementing a system of potentially lifesaving and unobtrusive technology solutions, the client and his daughter were both happy.

Gilfix suggests to others interested in doing the same to install smart home devices, like a thermostat that easily manages home heating and cooling, a pill dispenser that ensures medications are being taken on time and a refrigerator that can keep track of the amount of food inside, to improve household management. Other devices, like wearables that monitor movement with the ability to contact help in the event of a fall, video doorbells, or personal assistant devices like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, ensure the safety of loved ones. These technologies can give everyone peace of mind even when family members do not live near enough to check in regularly in person. He advises professionals on how they can help clients to implement these amazing new solutions, and the importance of building deep, trusting relationships with clients.

Gilfix is passionate about estate planning and elder law, long term care, and special-needs planning. He recently coauthored a book with his father Michael Gilfix, titled Facing the Reality of Long Term Care. He accepted the Distinguished Authors award at a reception held during the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning in Orlando, Florida. He expressed his gratitude to the magazine and everyone who voted in a tweet about the award, and looks forward to the opportunity to continue to contribute to the magazine.

Attorney Mark Gilfix Spoke at Autism Society Conference

Attorney Mark Gilfix of the law firm Gilfix & La Poll Associates was invited to speak at the prestigious San Francisco Autism Society of America Annual Conference (SFASA). The November 17, 2018 all day conference was aimed at the informational needs of parents, caregivers and professionals who have the responsibility to support and help make plans for teens and adults with autism or related developmental disabilities. The event took place at the beautiful, state-of-the-art Li Ka Shing Center on the Stanford University campus.

Attorney Gilfix was one of the 50 featured speakers at the event. Mr. Gilfix understands the challenges of families with loved ones with special needs and taking care of them financially in the future. His discussion, titled “How Much Is Enough?” focused on the creation and funding of Special Needs Trusts. He spoke in detail how much is needed to adequately fund these trusts and the financial tools available, including life insurance and other investment structures.

In what is coming to be seen as the greatest public health and social services crisis of our time, California is facing an unprecedented, staggering surge in the number of residents with the developmental disability of autism. SFASA is committed to improving the quantity and quality of lifespan care options in our communities. Californians are facing unprecedented problems that demand unprecedented solutions and courageous leadership. SFASA is an all-volunteer organization and needs all autism families to share in the work ahead.

Gilfix & La Poll Associates has over 35 years of experience in the area of Special Needs Planning for families with children with Autism, and Attorney Gilfix is very proud to had been given the opportunity to contribute to this wonderful conference.

More detailed information on the conference can be found here.

New autism app shows potential for in-home screening of children

Early detection and intervention are important for individuals with autism, which is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopment disorders in the United States. However, many children do not get diagnosed until they are around four years of age due to factors such as lack of public awareness and long clinical appointment wait times.

A new iPhone app aims to change that by enabling parents to conduct in-home screenings to identify autism risk among children earlier in life. Autism and Beyond is a free app that was developed on Apple’s ResearchKit platform in an effort to address the lack of reliable tools for analyzing children’s behaviors and emotions outside clinical settings.

A recent study described the app as an innovative, easy-to-use and scalable way of identifying signs of autism and gathering accurate data in a child-friendly environment. Currently, autism screening occurs in clinical settings under the supervision of medical professionals. Parents can use the data from the app to determine whether clinical help is necessary for their child.

Autism and Beyond uses the smartphone’s camera to capture videos of how children react to movies that aim to prompt autism risk behaviors on the device’s screen. Behavioral coding software then automatically monitors the child’s facial expressions and converts them into data.

The app can help track a child’s changes over time. Not only can it potentially allow for earlier autism intervention, but the technology can also benefit underserved areas. The goal of the app developers is to provide parents with information about their child’s mental health that is easily accessible and scientifically sound.

Report warns of lottery scams targeting senior citizens

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently released a report that found the elderly population is frequently targeted in lottery, sweepstakes and other prize-related scams. Seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 are particularly vulnerable to such scams. According to the BBB, the majority of schemes originate in Costa Rica, Jamaica and Nigeria. They can take various forms such as text messages, phone calls, mail or social media.

Last year, such scams resulted in monetary losses amounting to at least $117 million. Wire transfers were the most common form of payment. U.S. and Canada law enforcement received almost 500,000 complaints of fraud related to lotteries, sweepstakes or other prizes from 2014 to 2017. Social media scams comprised about one-third of reports received by the FBI.

“It is devastating that certain individuals have lost entire life-savings to these scams, especially when they need it most — during retirement,” said Phylissia Clark, BBB Vice President of Public Relations in North Central Texas. There are several steps seniors can take to protect themselves from scams and identify fake prize notices from genuine ones. Here are some tips:

  • Remember that if you have not purchased a lottery ticket or entered a contest, it is not possible for you to win something. The person contacting you about a prize is likely to be a fraudster.
  • Real sweepstakes or lotteries will not require winners to wire money to claim the prize, whether it is for taxes, shipping or customs. If someone asks for money, chances are they are running a scam.
  • If you are unsure about having won something, directly contact the lottery or sweepstakes company.
  • Use the internet to look up the name or phone number of the individual getting in touch with you about the prize.
  • Talk to a trustworthy friend, relative or your bank. They may be able to help protect your finances from scams and fraudsters.

Gilfix La Poll salute 10th annual PACE golf charity event

Autism rates are increasing in the United States. More resources and organizations are needed to provide support to families facing the challenges associated with Autism. This is one reason why the Gilfix & La Poll Associates law firm is a proud sponsor the Pacific Autism Center for Education (PACE) and its annual golf charity event. Attorney Mark Gilfix also serves on the PACE Board of Directors.

Gilfix La Poll salute 10th annual PACE golf charity event

PACE held the event at the Cinnabar Hills Golf Club in San Jose, California on September 28.

“PACE does so much incredible work that benefits individuals with autism, and their families,” said attorney Mark Gilfix of Gilfix La Poll Attorneys. “The best charities provide much-needed services to society’s overlooked members, and PACE does that right here in the Bay Area.”

Gilfix was among the many golfers who took part in the “best ball” tournament. His team completed their round with an impressive score of 68.

Afterward, Mark Gilfix served as the event emcee, and led the charity auction to help raise more money to assist local families and individuals dealing with autism.

“While it’s always fun to play golf, it’s even more rewarding to help raise money that directly helps our community’s autistic children and adults,” Gilfix said. “The auction was a roaring success, and I was so proud to have the opportunity to lead it.”

A group of concerned parents of those with autism founded the Pacific Autism Center for Education (PACE) in 1989 to provide care and educational opportunities for children and adults afflicted with autism. Prior to the founding of PACE, many children with autism were place in traditional classrooms where their needs were overlooked, and their educations lagged.

Now a registered nonprofit, PACE began with 14 students in 1989 and obtained a group home in 1992. Today, PACE serves more than 60 students in preschool through 12th grades and houses 36 children and adults afflicted with autism.

PACE also offers behavioral services for Bay-Area families to help their loved ones with autism to better interact with others and lead happy, fulfilling lives.

Michael and Mark Gilfix speak at Avenidas about tax and planning issues

The Avenidas Center in Palo Alto, California recently invited attorneys Michael Gilfix and Mark R. Gilfix to help local families better understand how to protect their assets and financial legacies for their heirs. These highly experienced estate-planning and tax attorneys spoke to two packed houses about estate-planning tools and how recent tax reforms are likely to impact them.

In the first talk, Michael and Mark Gilfix focused on long-term care and asset protection and how Palo Alto families can ensure a legacy for their heirs. They explained ways to protect financial and other assets from lawsuits, estate taxes and divorce proceedings to ensure that they are there for their children. They explained new planning approaches, including simplifying revocable trusts to save on taxes, and talked about the pros and cons of reverse mortgages and how they affect retirees.

Ensuring quality long-term care is another important element of long-term estate planning that Michael and Mark Gilfix discussed. The nation has a growing retirement-age population that is increasing the demand for long-term care. Sophisticated Medi-Cal planning can help local qualifying families to protect their homes and assets, while saving potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars skilled nursing care costs.

In the second talk, they spoke about Pres. Donald Trump’s tax reform and its likely impacts on family tax and estate planning. The tax reforms impact irrevocable and revocable trusts, estate taxes and income taxes. Homeowners in particular must be aware of a new set of laws governing real estate transactions and how much of their local property taxes they can deduct from federal tax liabilities.

The tax laws also affect wealthy families in the Palo Alto area, which has some of the nation’s highest property values. Some local families are considering moves to states with lower income taxes to escape the impact of the new federal tax laws. Michael and Mark Gilfix discussed the possible pros and cons of such a decision and how it impacts the ability to protect family assets.

Gilfix and La Poll Associates thanks the Avenidas Center in Palo Alto for inviting Michael Gilfix and Mark Gilfix to give these two presentations. Both of these talks were “sold out,” with large audiences. Michael and Mark were thrilled for the opportunity to reach the Palo Alto community.

French musician Johnny Hallyday’s California will leads to inheritance dispute

French rock star Johnny Hallyday left his family a will when he died of lung cancer at age 74 last December. However, his fourth wife and two adult children have been locked in a legal battle over inheritance of property and artistic rights due to legal complications.

The case involves a conflict between U.S. and French laws. Hallyday wrote his will in California as he lived in Los Angeles with his wife. In France, however, children receive automatic inheritance rights. The courts must now decide which laws apply and whether Hallyday was a resident of France or the United States.

In his will, Hallyday left all his assets to his fourth wife and their two school-aged daughters. The inheritance dispute was a result of his two oldest children, who reside in France, being left out of the will. They asked a French court to temporarily freeze several of the Hallyday’s French estates.

The French court granted the request put forth by the oldest children. However, the court refused to allow the oldest children to participate in preparing Hallyday’s posthumous album. The judge ruled in favor of the widow and the younger children.

Wills and revocable trusts are important and necessary for both celebrities and the average person alike. In celebrity cases, inheritance disputes are often in the public spotlight as they receive considerable media attention. As a result, they offer a cautionary tale about the difficulties family members face when a loved one fails to draft a clear, legally sound will before their death.

A properly drafted trust will keep a family’s affairs private, with no court involvement unless a dispute arises. Individuals with assets in other countries must plan ahead and get advice on how to compose will that will obey the laws of each country.

Working with an experienced attorney to craft an effective will and trusts helps avoid problems in the future for loved ones when you are no longer around. It provides details about exactly how you would like your assets to be distributed. In the absence of a will, the state is left to decide using a formulaic approach, which may lead to unnecessary emotional distress for family members.

The link between caregivers and immigration policies

Pew Research Center estimates about 10,000 individuals are turning 65 each day. As the elderly population steadily grows, so does the need for long-term care and caregivers. However, there are concerns that there will not be enough direct care workers to meet the growing demand.

Long-term care has inadvertently found itself linked to the nation’s current immigration debate. Changes in immigration laws have the potential to affect older Americans and patients with illnesses or disabilities who rely on consistent care.

According to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), one out of four caregivers are immigrants. Around 34,600 individuals from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras work as home health aides, nursing assistants or in other caregiving jobs. They must either leave the United States or face deportation before their Temporary Protected Status becomes invalid at some point in the coming two years.

In an industry that is already struggling with a worker shortage, the worry is that tens of thousands of people could be left without care if immigrant caregivers are compelled to leave the country. Paul Osterman, a human resources professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, predicts there will be a shortage of 151,000 direct caregivers by 2030. That number is likely to rise if immigrant workers lose work permits or other industries entice direct care workers with higher wages.

“It’s impossible to imagine that the long-term care sector would survive without immigrants,” said PHI Vice President of Policy Robert Espinoza. “If you make it more difficult for people who are already documented to remain in the country, what you’re doing is you’re making it more difficult for families to find workers to care for their loved ones.”

Inevitably, a shortage of caregivers will cause the cost of care to increase. This will put even more financial pressure on individuals with the most challenging care needs.

Report warns of rising Alzheimer’s costs and their impact on families

The rising number of Alzheimer’s cases and their accompanying costs are taking a toll on caregivers and society at large. A new Alzheimer’s Association report published last March makes some worrying projections about the cost of the disease.

The population of elderly Americans with Alzheimer’s is expected to increase 29 percent from the current 5.5 million to 7.1 million by 2025. Without any headway on effective treatments by then, the number will likely skyrocket to 13.8 million people in 2050.

The report’s authors pointed out that family caregivers shoulder most of the responsibility when it comes to looking after Alzheimer’s patients. As a result, there is likely to be negative impact on their emotional, physical and financial wellbeing, the Alzheimer’s Association said in a statement.

Last year over 16 million people spent 18.4 billion hours providing unpaid care to Alzheimer’s patients. Families assume 70 percent of the lifetime cost of their care, which totaled $329,360 per patient in 2017.

The report warned of the “growing cost and impact of Alzheimer’s on the nation’s health care system.” Its authors emphasized that society would benefit greatly from the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease as it would reduce long-term care costs.

The caregiving expenses for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are estimated to be $277 billion this year, not including unpaid caregiving. The amount includes Medicaid and Medicare, along with out-of-pocket expenses mostly for nursing homes and private insurance.

“The need for reliable and creative approaches to pay for the devastating cost of home care and nursing home care is overwhelming,” said Michael Gilfix. Mr. Gilfix is an attorney and entrepreneur who has helped hundreds of families obtain quality care — without the loss of the family home and without financial destruction.