Author: Anne' Desormier-Cartwright

Establishing a Third-Party Special Needs Trust for a Disabled Grandchild

Have you considered creating a special needs trust that can be used to provide financially for a grandchild with special needs without jeopardizing the receipt or continued receipt of government benefits? There are different types of special needs trusts, each better suited to some situations than others. A qualified special needs estate planning attorney can guide you through the options. If you are a grandparent with a special needs grandchild, a third-party special needs trust may be the best choice.

 

A first-party trust and can be used when the beneficiary of the special needs trust is the person whose assets or property are going to fund the trust. This type is often utilized by a disabled individual in order to allow them to qualify for medical assistance from the state. As the grandparent of the special needs individual, this is probably not the right choice for you. Another type of special needs trust is a third-party trust. A third-party special needs trust can be used when you have decided to fund a trust for another special needs beneficiary, in this case your grandchild. A third-party trust is often also called a supplemental needs trust. This is because the trust is intended for you to provide funds to supplement the needs of your grandchild, rather than provide for all of their expenses or replace any assistance they might currently receive. 

 

If you decide to set up a third-party special needs trust, the trustee can be you, your spouse, your child (the parent of your grandchild) or another relative or friend. The trustee will be responsible for informing your local authority that the trust exists if your grandchild applies for any type of medical assistance, and the appropriate agency will decide whether it should count when determining your grandchild’s eligibility for services. The existence of the trust should not impact any responsibility of your grandchild’s school district to provide them with services, but it can be important to talk to a qualified attorney to understand the specifics. The main thing to keep in mind may be that, if you are considering leaving money to your grandchild with special needs, creating a third-party special needs trust will likely allow them to use the money you intend to leave them without jeopardizing other assistance they currently receive.

 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Three Tips on Helping a Loved One Deal with Memory Loss

Whether an Alzheimer’s diagnosis or just the memory loss that can come with aging, watching a loved one struggle to recall important events or little daily details can be painful. It can be important, however, to keep your expectations realistic and assist them where you can. Do you have a loved one dealing with memory loss? Let us discuss three tips on how you can help.

 

  1. Offer Help Where You Can. Your loved one may be too proud to ask for help or refuse it when you offer. Still, it can be important to keep trying. You may not need to micromanage everyday life. You can and should make sure your loved one remembers important doctor’s appointments and major holidays and events that he or she needs time to prepare for. If it feels like you are always the person reminding your loved one and he or she expresses frustration with the dynamic, you can ask other relatives to step in and assist as well so that it eases any tension that can build up in a caregiver relationship.
  2. Make Time to Grieve. You may be disappointed when your loved one forgets things that are meaningful to you. Remember that your loved one may likely also be forgetting things that are important to him or her, and to other children or grandchildren. It is okay to be upset when this happens. It can also be important to make time to grieve the loss of the type of relationship you had with your loved one before memory loss. You can still have a fulfilling relationship now, but it may not be the same. 
  3. Assist with Estate Planning. Before your loved one experiences memory loss to the point that he or she is unable to make major decisions, check in about his or her estate planning. Make sure existing documents are updated and start from scratch where essential documents do not yet exist. If you wait to do this, it might be too late, if your loved one gets to the point where he or she is not able to fully understand his or her legal and medical affairs. 

 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

No Time To Waste: Why Your Aging Parent Needs A Power Of Attorney Now

Have you talked to your parent about incapacity planning? Although talking with your aging parent about planning for his or her potential incapacity is never an easy task, it can be critical to have these difficult conversations to help ensure that your parent may be protected. A power of attorney can be an essential legal document because it can allow someone to put in place a plan for managing his or her affairs in the event he or she is unable to do so due to something such as incapacitation.  

 

An example of such a circumstance that may benefit from a power of attorney being in place could be a tragic car accident where a person suffers injuries that impact his or her ability to make sound decisions. Alternatively, a common concern as our parents get older, a senior may begin to suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. With a power of attorney in place, you can help ensure that your aging parent’s wishes are carried out in accordance with his or her plan if your parent is ever in the position where he or she is unable to manage affairs.

 

In the power of attorney document, your parent will identify one or more persons to act as his or her agent in the event of incapacity. The power of attorney document outlines the specific powers and authority that the agent has and it can be crafted based on your parent’s wishes. The agent acting pursuant to the power of attorney is a fiduciary to your parent so the agent must act only in your parent’s best interest. It may be important to note that putting a durable power of attorney in place can be important for incapacity planning. The durability feature means that the power granted under the power of attorney survives incapacitation of the principal, your parent.  

 

If your aging parent does not have a power of attorney in place, then you may need to enlist the help of an experienced estate planning attorney to put one in place for your parent now. As with all estate planning, many people may think that there is no need to rush. A power of attorney, however, can be critical because, in many states, including Florida, if you feel that your parent is unable to manage his or her own affairs, you may need to have your parent placed under guardianship if there is no power of attorney in place. This may mean a court will have to determine whether your parent is in fact incapacitated and unable to act on his or her own behalf. The court may need to hear from a doctor or witnesses to make this decision.  Once your parent is deemed incapacitated, the court next decides who manages his or her affairs and how to do so. The power of attorney can eliminate the need for court intervention and give your parent the ability to control who acts as his or her agent. 

 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Woman of the Year Nominee, Anne’ Desormier-Cartwright

Did you know that Attorney Anné Desormier-Cartwright was recently honored as a Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce 2020 Woman of the Year nominee? She is among 25 nominees that were selected from 50 nominations from the community. In a year where there were a record-breaking number of nominations for this highly sought after award, Attorney Desormier-Cartwright finds herself among the highest caliber of women in the Palm Beach North community.

 

The Woman of theYear award recognizes women for their outstanding leadership as well as their demonstrated commitment to the Palm Beach North Region. It should come as no surprise that Attorney Desormier-Cartwright finds herself among such prestigious company. Her dedication to the community and to excellence is clear in everything she does. In addition to being appointed to the Guardianship Education Committee for the Palm Beach County Bar since 1998, she also serves on the Probate and Guardianship Practice Committee of the Florida bar.

 

While excelling in her capacity as managing partner of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA, Attorney Desormier-Cartwright is also a Charter member of Elder Counsel, which is a nation wide association of elder law attorneys who focus on how changes in the law impact the elderly. She remains dedicated to organizations that pave the way for both understanding and preparing legislation that impacts the elderly, such as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys. Additionally, she has been a member of The Greater Palm Beach Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction for the past 30 years and has served on the Board of Directors.

 

Do you have questions about elder law or estate planning? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

What are the Different Types of Trusts to Use in Estate Planning?

Trusts are an estate planning tool created for the management of assets, both during your life and after your death. Are there different types of trusts to use in estate planning? Yes, there are several types. They can, however, be divided into a couple of categories, which may make them much easier to understand. 

First of all, trusts can be either living or testamentary. Living trusts, also known as inter vivos trusts, are created while the trustor is still living. There are also testamentary trusts, which are created by a trustor after his or her death. 

Secondly, trusts are either revocable or irrevocable. In simplest terms, this speaks to whether or not they can be changed or revoked after they are created. There can be important legal implications of choosing between revocable or irrevocable. 

A revocable trust is created by a trustor, who also remains as the beneficiary until his or her passing, and then passes onto the successor trustee and beneficiaries. The easiest way to envision a revocable trust may be one created by a married couple, who remain as both co-trustors and co-beneficiaries until their passing and then, an adult child becomes the successor trustee and their other children, and possibly grandchildren, become the successor beneficiaries. A revocable trust can be revoked or changed at any time prior to the original trustor’s death. Accordingly, there are no tax benefits. Essentially, the revocable trust can function as a means of distributing assets to beneficiaries while avoiding the timely and costly probate process. 

As the name implies, once an irrevocable trust is created it cannot be changed, except under rather limited circumstances. Once the assets are transferred to the trust, they are no longer considered to be the property of the trustor, but rather, are the property of the trust. The benefits include limiting or eliminating both income and estate tax and usually the trust property cannot be reached by the trustor’s creditors. Another key draw of the irrevocable trust may be because the assets of the trust are no longer the property of the trustor, they are not considered, when determining the trustor’s eligibility for government programs, such as Medicaid, which can make them an integral tool in long-term care planning. Along the same lines, a special needs trust, which is most typically created to provide for an adult disabled child following the passing of their parents is most usually irrevocable, assuring the disabled child remains eligible for government programs. 

Now that you have an understanding of the fundamentals of trusts, it is a great time to meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss how best to meet your estate planning goals. Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Choosing the Right Estate Planning Attorney in Your Area

Does choosing the right estate planning attorney to help you create an estate plan seem like an overwhelming task? It can be understandable to feel like this. With these tips, however, it can be easier to narrow your choices to a few qualified attorneys in your area. Let us discuss these tips for choosing the right estate planning attorney in your area.

You might want to first start your search by asking your accountant or financial planner for recommendations. Estate planning can be a critical part of financial planning and money management. Drafting a will, a health care proxy, or power of attorney, as well as creating a trust, and maximizing your loved ones’ inheritances by minimizing taxes can all be important financial matters that often benefit from the specialized knowledge of an estate planning attorney. If your financial advisor and accountant have not already brought up estate planning, ask them who did their estate plan, and whether they would recommend their estate planning attorney.

You could also ask other attorneys for recommendations. You may have already worked with an attorney on another matter, perhaps setting up a business, buying a home, or reviewing a contract. Lawyers are often happy to refer their clients to other lawyers who practice in other areas of expertise, and they will want to refer you to good attorneys so that you will trust them again when you next need their assistance. Ask your former attorney who did his or her estate plan, and for references, so you can choose the right estate planning attorney in your area.

Contacting the state or local bar association may also be a good idea. State and local bar associations offer referral services or a searchable directory of attorneys with their practice areas. These services can make choosing the right estate planning attorney in your area as easy as a Google search. 

Your friends may also act as a solid referral source. While a staggering number of people do not have estate plans, there are many who do. Ask your friends if they have a will or a trust, and if so, who the attorney was that drafted it. Let friends know that you want to choose the right estate planning attorney in your area, and that you want to know if they worked with a great attorney. 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Why a Florida Prenup Should Be at the Top of Your Estate Planning To Do List

Were you aware that a Florida prenup can be a useful tool in estate planning? While most people assume that prenuptial agreements are only used to protect assets in the event of divorce, this is far from the only reason why many engaged couples choose to create one. 

Couples can use a Florida prenup to designate which assets should be considered separate property, and which are community or shared property. Making this distinction before marriage can prevent separate assets from being wrongly classified as community property when a spouse dies. This may be particularly useful for second or subsequent marriages, or for those who are marrying later in life or who have accumulated significant assets prior to the marriage. In some states, marriage entitles each spouse to a share of your estate (between a third to a half, depending on where you live). If you intend to leave less than that amount to your spouse, he or she has the power to request a higher percentage, which can leave your intended beneficiaries with less. 

Another reason why many couples choose to have a prenuptial agreement is to avoid disputes about money or property during the marriage. For a prenuptial agreement to be valid and legally binding, both parties must fully disclose their assets, properties, and debts in the agreement. Due to their financial picture being clear, there are fewer disagreements about how to manage their assets. 

Another common instance where a Florida prenup may be useful may be in the case of a closely-held family business. Often, business owners require only family members to be owners of the business and its holdings. If during a divorce, the business is determined to be partially owned by both spouses, the non-familial spouse could end up being an owner. In order to alleviate that situation, restrictions could be placed in the business’s agreements, or by transferring ownership of the business to a trust. A prenuptial agreement that describes the business as separate property and sets forth the rights and restrictions on ownership, however, would be another layer of protection for the business. 

Do you have questions on a Florida prenup and using it in your estate planning? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

 

Three Key Veterans Benefits to Know About This November

With Veteran’s Day, November is a great opportunity to set aside time to honor our veterans and thank them for all they have done for our great nation. One way the U.S. tries to give back to veterans is through veterans benefit programs. Did you know, however, that veterans benefits can be very complicated and many veterans may not even be fully aware of the wide range of benefit programs available to them? Let us take time to review three key veterans benefits to know about this November.

First, there are several education benefits offered through the VA. In addition to the GI Bill offering credits to use towards a college degree, it also provides coverage for training certification courses and vocational training programs. The fact that the GI Bill offers these kinds of training opportunities makes it ideal for those veterans who are seeking a career change that does not require a college degree. Veterans can also participate in free coding bootcamps and comparable software training and technology programs through the VET TEC program.

Second, veterans have the option of getting life insurance through the Servicemembers’ and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance program. Through this program, veterans may be able to receive up to $400,000 in life insurance. Not only does this program offer competitive premium rates, but it can allow veterans a chance to gain life insurance where they may find it difficult to find it otherwise. Many veterans face difficulties in getting traditional life insurance and this can be particularly true if they have suffered a service-related injury.

Lastly, veterans should be aware of the long-term care benefits they may be eligible to receive. For instance, the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefits program offers qualifying veterans financial assistance in order to cover the cost of a nursing home and other long-term care facilities. In fact, the program means that couples may receive upwards of $25,000 a year in benefits to help with long-term care costs 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Staying Healthy While Giving Care

Did you know that, according to a survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP in 2015, there are approximately 43.5 million caregivers in the United States? With the 65+ age group expected to double to 70 million people by 2030, family caregivers are likely to increasingly provide care for aging parents, siblings, and friends.

Caregiving for a loved one can be very rewarding, and it can also involve a lot of stress. Often, caregiving is a long-term challenge, and the emotional and physical impact on the caregiver can multiply over time. Signs of caregiver stress and burnout include: anxiety and depression, feeling tired, difficulty sleeping, overreacting to minor problems, new or worsening health problems, trouble concentrating, increasing feelings of resentment, drinking and/or smoking more, eating more or less than usual, and cutting back on leisure activities.

To practice self-care, while caregiving, start by trying to recognize what may be causing stress and take actions to manage it. It may seem like everything is stressful, but often there are one or two aspects of caregiving that make it particularly stressful. This could be whether your caregiving is voluntary or whether you felt you had no other choice but to provide care.  It could be the nature of your relationship with the person you are caring for or your coping abilities created from stressful events in the past. It could also be the nature of the caregiving arrangement (for example, caring for a person with dementia may be more stressful than caring for someone with a physical limitation) or whether you have additional support available.

Once you have identified the source(s) of stress, ask if it is something you have control over. If it is, then take action. Look for solutions with an open mind. Try on different perspectives. Ask a friend to help you brainstorm. From the list of possible solutions, pick one and try it. Evaluate the results and decide if you should try something different. Use other resources and be sure to ask friends, family, and professionals for suggestions.

Think about the next 3-6 months, and decide what you would like to accomplish. This could include taking a total break from caregiving, finding help for particular caregiving tasks (like bathing or meals), making appointments for your own health and personal care, or even engaging in activities that you enjoy (like going for a walk or spending time with a friend). Once you set a goal, decide what the first step is and when you will do it.

Also, ask for help. Often, the barrier for help is not a lack of other people wanting to help. Many caregivers struggle with accepting help, in part because they do not know how best to use that help. Right now, start making a list of things that someone could do that would be helpful. For example, someone could take the person you care for on a 15-minute walk a couple times a week. A neighbor could pick up groceries once a week. A family member could fill out insurance paperwork. Keeping a list of simple tasks will make it easier to accept help when it is offered. 

For more ways to support caregivers and assistance in long term care planning for you or a loved one, please contact our office.

Medicare Open Enrollment 2020: What You Need to Know

Are you ready for Medicare Open Enrollment? Every year, Medicare health and drug plans make changes to costs, coverage, providers, and pharmacies in their networks. Have you considered that, between coverage changes and health condition changes, it may be wise to revisit health plans during the open enrollment period annually? This year, Medicare’s annual open enrollment period begins October 15th and ends December 7th.

For those already on Medicare, you should have received an “annual notice of change” from your Medicare plan in September. This letter explains all the changes coming in the new year, including coverage and costs such as premiums, deductibles, and copays. Review your medical expenses over the last six months, including a list of the doctors you see regularly and the medications you need.

Medicare beneficiaries without some sort of Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) may face Medicare cost-sharing if they have health problems. Original Medicare pays for much, but not all of the cost for covered health care services and supplies. A Medigap policy can help pay some of the remaining health care costs, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.

If you are not able to purchase a Medigap policy, a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) might be a good option. MSAs combine high-deductible insurance plans with a medical savings account that you can use to pay for your health care costs.

Medicare Advantage plans are a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide all of your Part A and Part B benefits. Most Medicare Advantage plans also offer prescription drug coverage. Before switching to a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure to examine it closely to see if it makes sense. While many have $0 premiums, the out-of-pocket costs can be high, or your hospital or your doctor may not be in-network.

The Medicare Plan Finder on is an online tool from the government to help you select a plan. After you enter your zip code and details about your medications and whether you receive them by mail, you can compare plans available in your area. You can also try the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, which offer free local counseling to enrollees, or call 1-800-MEDICARE. 

For help evaluating your Medicare coverage options and which plan may work best for you, contact our office today to schedule a meeting time.