As a senior, have you thought about what would happen if you were to suddenly become incapacitated? Who would take care of you and where would the care take place, in your home or in a nursing home? With less than half of all Americans today having an estate plan, is it any wonder that even fewer have planned for their long-term care needs. Long-term care planning addresses the need for a possible future where you may need to rely on another person each day due to physical or mental cognitive issues. This means, in simple terms, a time when you cannot safely care for yourself.
We speak with seniors and their loved ones each day on what it means to need long-term care and how to plan successfully to meet those needs. We want to share some quick planning tips that can make a difference for Florida long-term care that you can use and begin to get the answers that you need.
1. Start planning now, do not put it off! When it comes to long-term care most people either do not plan at all or start planning too late. Of course, no one wants to think about a future that would involve the need for long-term care, but the best gift you can give yourself is to have a plan in place so that should the time come, you are prepared and not at risk.
2. Start researching long-term care, the cost of long-term care and how you can pay for it. Long-term care in any setting is expensive. So begin by looking at your finances. You can learn the cost for the type of care in our state by using this link from the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. Become familiar with the different types of long-term care. Most people do not want to live in a nursing home, however, there are many steps in between nursing home care and home care. These steps range from homebase care to independent care to assisted-living care and skilled nursing home care, there are many options. You can use this link we want to share with you from the AARP website.
3. Start looking into long-term care insurance, now, before you need it. Long-term care insurance is a type of insurance that can provide financial assistance should you need long-term care. Find out now if long-term care insurance is an option for you. In addition, if you have a new diagnosis or a chronic condition, speak freely with your doctor about what you should expect in the future. While your long-term care needs are unique to you, your doctor knows you and will be able to give you advice on what to understand and potentially plan for. You should not put off speaking with a long-term care insurance agent to learn more about what your options might be.
4. Speak with an experienced Florida elder law attorney who knows long-term care planning. An experienced elder law attorney will be able to advise you on what your options are for long-term planning in numerous circumstances. He will help you devise a plan to make sure you, your family, and what you care about most, is protected. In addition, your attorney can be sure your estate plan is up-to-date and reflects what you want. While it is not a long-term care plan, through your estate plan you can give legal authority for healthcare and financial decisions to another person that you trust. You can also designate this person or persons the authority to make decisions when you are not able to do so independently. Long-term care, the aging process, and family relationships are all complicated. Your experienced Florida elder law attorney is there to assist you in all your decisions in regard to your Florida long-term care and estate plan.
We know this list may seem daunting. We also know you may have more questions now that you have read it. Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Have you created an estate plan? Are you planning to? Did you know that, according to a 2022 wills survey, less than one-third of Americans have an estate plan in place? Interestingly, though, almost two-thirds of Americans admit that having an estate plan is important. The primary reason why people do not have an estate plan in place, even though they believe it is important, is because they believe that they do not have enough assets, according to this same survey. We would like to discuss four important reasons for you to begin working with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney to create an estate plan to protect your assets and your wishes.
1. Minimize estate taxes. By creating your estate plan you may be able to minimize the amount of taxes your estate may have to pay. It depends on the size of your estate and the location of your property, as to whether the tax burden may be very substantial if the proper estate plan is not put into place.
2. Take care of your children. There are multiple reasons why estate planning can be important if you have children. One very important reason is that you have the opportunity to name in your will who you would want to raise your children in the event of your death. If you do not have a will with this information, the court will probably have to step in and make that decision. Another important reason is in the handling of your assets for your children. You, of course, want to decide how your assets are distributed to your children in the event of your death. However, if you die without an estate plan, the decision about the distribution of your assets will probably be governed by the laws of the state of Florida.
3. You want everything private. Are you concerned about the public nature of probate? Do you want to keep your estate affairs more private? By working with a Florida estate planning attorney you can take advantage of a variety of estate planning documents that can help you accomplish this task.
4. You need to plan for incapacity. Are you aware that estate planning is not just about what happens to your assets when you die? In fact, no matter what your age or what your assets are, what would happen if you were suddenly incapacitated due to an accident or illness? Who would pay your bills, monitor your business, take care of your children or make medical decisions? All of these questions can be answered in a good and thorough Florida estate plan.
Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to creating a good Florida estate plan. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Do your loved ones live in a different town or state from you? Are you concerned about them? How could you help them if they needed it or if a crisis occurred? May is National Elder Law Month and these questions are often repeated during this month-long celebration. That is why elder lawyers go out into their communities during the month to focus on and educate our aging population and their families about the help, care and legal documents that seniors need. This month calls for not only seniors, but communities across the nation and adult family members to get involved.
So how can you help the elders in your life? More importantly, what do you do if your elder loved ones live out of town? We know you may have these questions and more. We would like to share three strategies to help you on our blog this month.
1. You should consider increasing communication. Call often, you could even set up a certain time of the day and call daily or every other day, whatever works best. If possible, visit whenever you can. In addition, enlist the help of other family members and friends, especially if any of them live in the same town or close to your aging parents. Did you know that regular communication helps prevent isolation and can identify unmet needs and problems? Ask leading questions, like, “What are you doing today?” or “What did Dr. Smith have to say?”
2. You should consider using a caregiver notebook. Create and keep up-to-date an online digital notebook of doctors, health providers, insurance agents, friends, neighbors and other important contacts for your aging out-of-town parents. You could also share it with other family members. Also, think about keeping an up-to-date online calendar.
3. You should consider finding daily assistance. As we have mentioned before, long distance relationships are difficult at any age. For out-of-town seniors, it is important to build up a good, reliable and caring network of assistance. Look into coordinating with different organizations and individuals to schedule frequent assistance, such as meal deliveries, social visits, and check-ups from home health aides.
Do you have questions? Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Have you and your loved one just received the news that your loved one has Parkinson’s disease? Are you learning that as Parkinson’s progresses, the inability of your loved one to walk, bathe, and dress increases, as does the risk of falling? Also, if Parkinson's prohibits your loved one from living in his or her home, you and your loved one are now faced with the difficult decision of having to move your loved one into a nursing home. With the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home, there is also the question of how to afford the exorbitant cost of the nursing home? How can you pay for a nursing home if your loved one has Parkinson’s?
Start by determining if your loved one has any benefits which could possibly cover the cost of a nursing home. These benefits could include a long-term care insurance policy, life insurance policies, which can be cashed out, or veteran’s benefits. If your loved one does have one or more of these benefits, gather all the supporting documents, which may include original insurance policies or proof of veteran’s benefits and make copies. By talking about and locating these benefits now, you have the required proof of coverage should your loved one’s mental capacity decline as Parkinson’s progresses.
Next, you should seriously consider meeting with a qualified Florida elder law attorney. An elder law attorney, experienced in the area of long-term care planning, can assist in the review of any benefits you believe may cover the cost of a nursing home. In addition to the benefits, meeting with an elder law attorney can be one of the most reliable ways of determining how to afford a nursing home, when the time comes. In the discussion of paying for a nursing home you and your loved one need to know that Medicare does not cover the cost of any long-term nursing home care, Medicaid does. However, eligibility for Medicaid is based upon your loved one’s assets and, again, a qualified elder law attorney may assist in the drafting of planning documents, such as a trust, which may make your loved one eligible for Medicaid. This type of planning is most effective if conducted early, because there are time limits on the transfer of assets, which may affect Medicaid eligibility.
We know that a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is stressful, and it typically comes with many other issues to navigate. By working with a qualified Florida elder law attorney early in the diagnosis, you and your loved one can develop the best strategy of helping to assure your loved one will be able to afford a nursing home when the time comes. Your loved one will then have the peace of mind that he or she will receive the care that he or she needs, and you and your loved one can focus on sharing quality time in the present and future.
Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Do you have a loved one with a disability? Do you have a loved one recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? As you and your loved one know, it can often be a lengthy and stressful time to get a diagnosis of MS. As you, your family and your loved one work to accept the diagnosis, you may need to begin special-needs planning. We would like to discuss some special needs planning tips for you and your loved one.
• Early planning is essential. In many cases of multiple sclerosis, the brain loses the ability to send messages to certain parts of the body, which may impede a person’s ability to communicate. We realize this can be a frightening prospect to confront but it makes early planning necessary to prevent any issues of testamentary capacity from arising. In addition, if your loved one has minor children, one of the most important things to do may be to name a guardian for the children, in the event that your loved one becomes unable to take care of them.
• Your loved one should make medical wishes known. Your loved one should have health care documents in place, such as a living will and health care surrogate. The living will can set forth your loved one’s wishes regarding end of life medical care. A health care surrogate can designate a trusted loved one to make medical decisions on his or her behalf in the event of incapacitation. Most importantly, because of the high level of medical care associated with multiple sclerosis, it may be important to work with a Florida estate planning attorney experienced with multiple sclerosis, so these documents have sufficient detail in terms of MS treatment.
• Prepare for long-term care. The cost of care and assistance for a person with progressive multiple sclerosis can be quite high, especially as the disease advances. There is often in-home modification, in-home assistance, or placement in a residential facility needed. A special needs trust may be the best option for managing the finances of your loved one, while helping to assure eligibility for government assistance. If your loved one’s mental capacity decreases, the trustee will be able to manage the financial affairs of your loved one.
Although the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, coupled with special-needs planning, can feel overwhelming, consider following these suggestions and working with an experienced Florida elder law attorney who understands capacity to help ease the process. Special needs planning is not the end of the road. Rather, the purpose is to ease some of the burden for you and your loved one, by assuring his or her needs are met. Most importantly, there may be good days and bad days with multiple sclerosis, so try not to let yourself or your loved one be controlled by the diagnosis. Make plans and memories and keep enjoying life.
Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
The holidays have ended, the New Year is here and the question is, did you make any resolutions? In January we know many Floridians are focusing on how they will reach the resolutions they set. If you did make resolutions, what are they? Did you focus on work, or health, or family? Did you include creating or updating your Florida estate plan?
We strongly recommend that one of the most important New Year’s resolutions you can make this year is to create or update your Florida estate plan. Your estate plan can protect you both during life and at the time of your death. By working with your attorney during your lifetime you can create a plan that ensures your choices for your health care and finances are honored by your chosen decision maker. Your attorney will also show you how you can ensure that your family will be provided for when you pass away.
Do you have an estate plan? If your answer is yes, this is great news. However, if you already have a plan in place, time is of the essence to make sure that it reflects your wishes for yourself and your loved ones. As everyone knows, many changes can happen within your family, your business, and your finances in a year. It is important to make sure your estate plan remains effective in not only summarizing the desired future for you and your loved ones, but also has the best tools in place to accomplish those goals.
Are you ready to get started? We want to share four tips you may use as you work on your Florida estate plan in the new year.
1. If your immediate family members have changed, make it a priority to update your Florida estate plan. This is critical. Whenever there is a birth, death, divorce, or other life update, contact your attorney to determine if your estate plan needs any updates or significant changes.
2. If you do not have a Florida estate plan, you are truly unprotected if you are over 18 years of age. In the event of a crisis or death, there will be no guidance for your family, your bank, your friends, or the court system. By not taking the time to create an estate plan, the court in Florida may be required to step in, in order for there to be legal authority for another to act on your behalf. This can be time consuming, costly, and public, and can be avoided by completing your estate planning while you have the capacity to do so.
3. Get started now, not later, with creating a plan or updating it! To maximize the potential benefits a Florida estate plan has to offer, it is important to put the plan in place sooner rather than later.
4. Your best resource for creating or updating your estate plan is your Florida estate planning attorney. He can discuss with you the importance of lifetime planning using tools such as the durable power of attorney for your finances. He can help you choose your decision maker, as well as a back up decision maker, for times of crisis. He can also discuss with you the difference between will based estate planning and trust based estate planning.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We want to help you achieve the New Year’s resolution of having a Florida estate plan that can meet your needs. We strive to provide our clients with the security and peace of mind that comes from knowing their estate plan is in proper order and that our team of friendly professionals is always ready to help their family in times of need. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Are you in the midst of last minute planning as the end of the year approaches? Are you ready for the year 2022? Even with the pandemic continuing, most of us are busy finalizing our end of the year plans. As part of this planning, you should take stock of what has happened this year, reflect on your goals for the coming year, and decide what you want for next year and into the future.
Do you have goals for yourself, your loved ones, and your legacy as you reflect on the past year and look to the future? We encourage you to not only take the time to think about the immediate actions that must be completed before the end of the year, but also think about what the future may hold for you. Most importantly, Included in your consideration should be either completing or updating your Florida estate plan with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney.
Do you have a current Florida estate plan? If your answer is yes, have you updated it recently? Do you have questions on where to begin to update it? Consider the following ten questions that you may use, in addition to your own, to ensure that you have the peace of mind that can come from good estate planning.Who will make your decisions if you are not able to make them for yourself?
1. Who will make your decisions if you are not able to make them for yourself?
2. Will your out-of-state estate planning documents be valid and acceptable in Florida?
3. Who could handle your business affairs if you could not?
4. What would happen to your pets if you were hospitalized?
5. Should your adult children be in charge of your finances?
6. Do you need additional insurance policies?
7. Will your retirement plans be able to support you as you age?
8. Do you have a taxable estate?
9. Has your accountant or investment advisor recommended you make gifts?
10. Have there been any changes in your family structure that necessitate the need to update your planning?
We often hear questions, like the above, from our clients and their family members. When it comes to Florida estate planning, you need to know your plan will work when you need it to.If you need assistance establishing a strong estate plan, we are here to help. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment time.
Did you know that National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month is in November? During the annual public education campaign, affected and at-risk seniors, their family members and caregivers are given up to date information and support. Also included in the campaign are advocates across health care, the legal field and nonprofit communities. One goal of the campaign is the dispelling of common misconceptions, as such it is important to understand that Alzheimer’s disease is a lot more than just old age and forgetfulness. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease currently affects more than 5.8 million Americans and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
Alzheimer’s, a brain disease, is the most common form of dementia. What is dementia? It is a general term for memory loss and the erosion of basic cognitive abilities. It is not a normal part of the aging process. Because the brain serves as the central computer for all of the body’s functions, affected individuals lose the ability to perform even simple daily tasks.
Forgetfulness and confusion, such as forgetting names, misplacing objects and mixing up times and places, may be the first symptoms to appear. Over time, the progressive nature of the disease will cause diminished thinking, judgment and behavior. Furthermore, jumbling words, difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions, struggling with routine tasks like getting dressed, and unpredictable behavior are all signs the disease is worsening.
In advanced stages, people living with Alzheimer’s can lose the ability to have conversations or respond to their surroundings. In addition, they may eventually become incapable of basic functions and cease to have the ability to cough, swallow or even breathe. People with Alzheimer’s disease live an average of just eight years after symptoms are first discovered.
Even though increasing age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease, it is not strictly an elderly disease. About 200,000 Americans under age 65 have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Do you know someone experiencing abnormal memory loss? You should consider encouraging them to see a doctor. Skilled physicians can diagnose Alzheimer's disease with more than 90 percent accuracy. Although there is currently no cure, medical treatments can help slow the progression of many symptoms.
If you are affected by Alzheimer’s disease in any way, you are not alone. There is a worldwide effort that is fighting for a cure and organizing to support people in need during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and throughout the year. For more information or guidance concerning related legal matters, contact our office today.
Did you know that Estate Planning Awareness Week is recognized in October? No matter your age or how much money you have, estate planning can be an important part of your financial health. Estate planning is critical for Florida residents who want to ensure their wishes are respected in the event of temporary incapacitation or upon their death. Knowing the uncertainty of what tomorrow might bring, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, having an estate plan in place provides security and peace of mind. Also, regularly updating what you have put in place can help ensure that security and peace of mind will continue.
Estate planning may be simple or complex, depending on your age, marital and parental status, and what kind of assets you have. For most people, creating a will, choosing a power of attorney and health care surrogate, and designating specific beneficiaries for bank and retirement accounts are what they want to protect the future they desire for themselves and their loved ones.
The first step is often writing a last will and testament. You decide to whom you would like to leave any assets, how to divide your estate, and whether you want to set up a trust that would allow your spouse or partner to live comfortably while preserving assets for children and grandchildren. It is also important to designate specific account beneficiaries for bank and retirement accounts, and make sure the beneficiary you have chosen is in line with your will.
A power of attorney can allow you to choose someone to make financial or legal decisions on your behalf. If durable, this power will survive, even in the event you become incapacitated. A healthcare surrogate will allow you to choose someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You can choose a trusted loved one to fill both roles or choose two different people who may be better suited to one or the other. The important part is that, by planning ahead now, you get to make your own choices.
Remember, it is very important to check in regularly with your estate plan and to make any changes that may be necessary due to life events, changes in law, or under other circumstances. Also, regularly updating your account beneficiaries ensures they are in line with what you have in your will and broader estate plan.
This Estate Planning Awareness Week, take the time to learn more about the importance of estate planning and the steps you need to take in order to establish a strong estate plan. In times of great uncertainty, an estate plan can bring much needed peace. For more information, please reach out to our office and schedule a time to meet.
Growing old can be a difficult process, as most individuals go through some stages of natural decline before they pass away. Unfortunately, despite these years being referred to as the golden years, each stage can also come with some complicated legal issues. Oftentimes, a person will turn to an attorney they have used for other matters throughout his or her lifetime or simply ask a friend or family member for an attorney referral, but did you know the legal issues relating to aging are quite complicated? Let us review three reasons why you need an experienced elder law attorney.
First, an elder law attorney can help you with issues you may face before death. Although it may be difficult to think about and plan for your decline and eventual passing, it is something we all should face, and ultimately preparing for it can be a gift to your remaining friends and family members. Estate planning, or preparing a will or trust, can help assure your estate passes to the people of your choosing. A qualified elder law attorney can also draft your estate planning documents with the goal of asset preservation by drafting the documents to provide the lowest level of tax liability.
After reviewing your overall financial picture, an elder law attorney can also consider your Medicaid eligibility and conduct planning around it. Often people may be under the false belief that Medicare will cover a nursing home, should one become necessary. Medicare, however, only covers one-hundred days in a nursing home and then, the nursing home bill must be paid for by Medicaid, long-term care insurance or private pay. As private pay for a nursing home can quickly eat through someone’s assets, an elder law attorney can advise you on your ability to obtain long-term care insurance or how to create a trust, which will both protect your assets and may allow you to be eligible for Medicaid to cover the cost of a nursing home.
Additionally, some older people suddenly lose their mental capacity by virtue of a stroke or other medical condition. An elder law attorney can assist you in developing a contingency plan to handle your financial and medical decisions should this happen to you. This will likely involve durable powers of attorney or be included as a part of your trust.
Second, an elder law attorney can also help address issues after death. Following your passing, a qualified elder law attorney can assist with both the administration of your estate or probate, if necessary.
Third, you may also find benefits of a holistic approach in an elder law attorney. Growing older and the associated challenges with aging can be a very emotional time for elders and their family members. Experienced elder law attorneys may be adept with the law, but they also understand the social and emotional issues and may serve as a trusted guide for you and your family members.
It is never too soon to consult with an elder law attorney to put a plan in place for your golden years. Having a plan for managing the legal issues associated with aging will allow the golden in your golden years to continue to shine. Our office is here to help. Please contact us today to schedule a meeting time.