What you need to know about advanced medical directives

People are living longer than ever. And while the prevalence of dementia in the U.S. has fortunately decreased in recent years, there are still a number of patients who will require difficult medical decisions long after they lack the mental capacity to make their own choices. A recent study from the journal of the American Medical Association finds that the rate of people 65 and older who suffer from dementia has dropped by 24% in the 12 years since the turn of the century. However, rates of other diseases continue to climb, leaving a significant portion of the elderly population dealing with either physical or mental problems as they age. It’s important to be proactive as it relates to your personal planning in regards to your health, which is why Jupiter attorney Anne Desormier-Cartwright, whose firm specializes in elder and estate law, says, “An advanced medical directive “is a document that everyone needs. “It allows you to say to the world, “I want these decisions made when I can no longer “make these decisions.” “They typically involve a living will. “They can also involve a healthcare surrogate designation.” It’s important not to do these documents yourself. A simple mistake could have significant consequences. Talk with an experienced attorney. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys are there for you to answer any questions you may have.

Making changes to your revocable trust

A revocable trust clearly states where your property should go after you die, helping family members avoid probating your will. But what happens if you want to change that trust? Should you amend it or start over? The general rule of thumb is if you want to make just one or two changes, then making an amendment is the best way to go. Simple changes allow you to make sure your wishes are fulfilled. Anne Desormier-Cartwright of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA says, “Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule “when it comes to amending or restating a revocable trust. “It’s like a recipe card that you’ve used over and over. “If you make a change or two to the recipe, “you’ll still get a great dish. “The more you change, the more confusing the recipe becomes “and you may have a disaster on your hands.” In that case, you may want to consider creating a new document from scratch, taking into consideration which loved ones will get which possessions. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused when talking about your revocable trust, but there is help and guidance available to you. Anne Desormier-Cartwright and the attorneys at Elder and Estate Planning PA have the experience it takes to make this process easy. Contact them today at 888-933-9992 or visit elderlawyersfl.com

How to protect yourself when life changes

Despite your best efforts, you cannot plan for every emergency. A car accident, sudden illness, workplace injury, or chronic medical condition can force you to reevaluate the core assumptions you used to prepare for your future. However, you can take meaningful actions to protect your legacy and estate in the wake of the changes to your life and livelihood. Anne Desormier-Cartwright of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA offers some insight to that end. She says, “Make sure there’s an authorized person “to make financial and healthcare decisions for you “if you become mentally “or physically unable to do so yourself. “Also, someone must be named to manage your property, “pay your bills, file your taxes, “and handle similar business “if you’re unable to do these tasks.” You also want to establish that your desires for certain healthcare decisions, such as end-of-life care and do-not-resuscitate instructions have been communicated in a legally valid and binding manner. Working with a qualified estate planning attorney can help ensure your wishes are carried out in the event you cannot speak for yourself. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service, but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs.

 

The Right Time For An Estate Plan

If you care about how your money is spent or not spent, invested, mismanaged, or misused when you’re dead, there are ways to leave your wealth so that your loved ones and chosen beneficiaries benefit from your money, but are not burdened by it. When you pass on, do you want your spouse or widow taken care of to the exclusion of everyone else or do you want your grandkids’ education paid for? Do you want to be able to buy a home for your child? Anne Desormier-Cartwright of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA says that proper planning can make your wishes known. “If you want any control over how your money is spent “after you’re gone, “talk to your Florida estate planning attorney, “someone who prepares Florida wills and trusts “about placing restrictions and guidelines “and instructions on your wealth, “perhaps placing some or all of your assets “in a Florida trust.” She further advises that the time to plan is now, while you’re still living and competent. After you’re gone, you will not have a say in how your money is spent or misspent, used or misused. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service, but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs.

Why You Need An Estate Plan

People try to stay healthy so they can live longer. But since no one lives forever, it’s important to make arrangements for the inevitable. To determine who gets your assets and how they receive them after your death and even what happens to you if you are unable to speak for yourself, you need an estate plan. But what does an estate plan cover and how do you make one? There are some important estate planning issues to consider when you decide what you want. Anne Desormier-Cartwright of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA offers some insight. “Make a will, consider a trust, “establish healthcare directives, “make a financial power of attorney, “protect your children’s property, file beneficiary forms, “prepare for funeral and related expenses, “and make your final arrangements.” You should also plan ahead for your business and store your paperwork so your attorney and executor will have access to these documents. Desormier-Cartwright continues that this is a partial list and the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney will be the guidance you need to have a thorough understanding of a comprehensive estate plan. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service, but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs.

The New Federal Tax Law Offers Plenty of Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan

When Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, lawmakers included a huge increase in the federal estate tax exemption. It now stands at $11.2 million through 2025, adjusted for inflation. That enormous sum might tempt some seniors to put their estate planning on the back burner, as if they’re now exempt from estate planning unless they have $11.2 million in the bank. This, however, could be a mistake.

 

First, it’s always a good idea to review your estate plan, regardless of whether federal or state tax laws change. A marriage, a death in the family, or the birth of a grandchild are just a few other reasons to revamp your plan, not to mention if you’ve changed your mind since you last addressed your estate documents. There is also no better time to get started than the beginning of a new year.

 

That said, wills and trusts are a good place to start. It’s not uncommon for wills and trusts to have inheritance structures tied to the federal exemption limit. If they were established years ago when the exemption limit was much, much smaller, then a major problem could be in the works. Since the IRS automatically exempts spouses from the estate tax, children are routinely set up to inherit the maximum amount allowed under estate laws, with the deceased’s spouse getting the rest. But with such a huge new federal exemption, if the will or trust isn’t updated then the children of the deceased could inherit everything up to the new limit, effectively disinheriting the spouse.

 

That may be an extreme scenario, but it’s one of many concerns that should light a fire under seniors to update their plans with a trusted estate planning attorney. It’s critically important to craft a legally sound plan to ensure your final wishes are followed, and your loved ones are supported through your lifelong work.

 

When updating your will or trust documents, it will also be important to update other estate planning items, such as a durable power of attorney. This gives someone else the authority to act on your behalf in the event you become mentally incapacitated. If this includes the ability to make financial gifts to avoid reaching any previous estate tax limits, then it may need to change. Updating your power of attorney could eliminate the potential for senior financial abuse.

 

If this article raises more questions that it answers for you, please let us know. We are here to help you and your loved ones both now and in the future. Do not wait to contact us with your questions.

Don’t Forget These Ways to Say “Thank You” to a Caregiver Over the Holidays

Fall is the season of giving back and being grateful for the people you have in your life. While many of us remember the last time we thanked our friends, family members, and other loved ones, do you remember when you last told your caregiver “thank you”?

This individual is constant in the life of your loved one, providing necessary care and support each and every day. We want to share five unique ways to remind the caregiver in your life that you are thinking of him or her and are appreciative of the work and care he or she is providing.

1. Say “thank you.”

Many of us think that showing thanks to someone requires a grand gesture or pricey gift. In reality, however, sometimes the smallest gestures have the greatest impact. Simply taking the time to say “thank you” to your caregiver lets him or her know that you recognize and are thankful for his or her hard work.

2. Remind them to take time for themselves.

Being a caregiver is a full-time role that often does not end when he or she goes home for the night. Every once in a while, encourage your caregiver to take the day off to spend time with his or her family or enjoy his or her hobbies. If you are worried about your loved one’s care needs being met, you may consider respite care options. This type of short-term relief can be utilized on an as needed basis, allowing your caregiver some time to recoup and regenerate.

3. Give them a small gift.

There is no need to spend a fortune to let your caregiver know you are thinking of him or her. An item as small as a keyring or notebook can be meaningful. Make it a surprise gift, or ask if they had their eye on anything in particular. Either way, it will be sure to put a smile on the caregiver’s face after a long day.

4. Offer a helping hand.

Sometimes, caregivers need help too. Whether it is helping with his or her yard work, cooking a meal, or just making yourself available to spend time with the loved one they are caring for can allow the caregiver to take a well-earned break that will benefit all of you.

5. Write a “thank you” letter or card.

Taking the time to put your thoughts and feelings into a handwritten card or letter can be especially meaningful. This is something your caregiver can look back on if they are in need of a boost and can show him or her that you care enough to spend the time crafting a thoughtful note of thanks.

How do you say “thank you” to your caregiver? We know how important it is for your loved one to be well-taken care of, but it is important that you take some time every now and then to let your caregiver know you appreciate him or her. Do not wait to contact our office if you need some additional unique ideas for ways to thank your caregiver during the holiday season and throughout the rest of the year.

Senior Scams

How many of us have received an email of our long-lost relative who’s left us millions of dollars in an overseas account and all we have to do to claim the money is provide our name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number? It sounds comical to most and we immediately direct the email to spam. But all too often, seniors believe the criminals, and the information for identity theft is willingly provided. Anne Desormier-Cartwright of Elder & Estate Planning Attorneys PA says, “Right now, research shows us “that seniors or ‘Older Americans’ continue to be “one of the most targeted groups by criminals “because, as a generation, this group is perceived “to be less aware and more easily taken advantage of.” Older Americans are often the victims of mail scams, with incentives, threats, and over-promises that request personal and private information, because seniors trust paper mail more readily. Utility bill scams, where the senior is told that unless money is paid immediately, utilities will be cut off. This can be a terrifying prospect for a senior. Hurricane insurance scams, promising complete coverage in the event of a storm in exchange for information and money right now. Identity theft. The senior is asked to give up valuable private information that will enable scammers to take his or her identity and access all assets. Falling victim to any of these crimes can be challenging and put your loved one’s finances and health at risk. An experienced elder law attorney can offer the support seniors need, not only with long-term care planning solutions, but also the assistance to keep them safe from any potential threats. Elder & Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service, but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs.

Hurricane Preparations for Seniors/Estate Planning

As the summer months start heating up and the threat to South Florida for hurricanes becomes the annual what-if, being informed is perhaps the greatest advantage you can have. Knowledge is power, as the saying goes. When considering the tremendous destructive potential of hurricanes, extra preparation can make all the difference, especially when it comes to planning for the seniors in your life. Attorney Anne Desormier-Cartwright of Elder & Estate Planning Attorneys PA offers some advice. “You should make a list “of how a hurricane may affect your loved ones “and ask if they live in a flood zone. “Are there large branches hanging over their house “that are susceptible to high winds? “What is the quickest path out of their neighborhood? “Is there access to a public shelter and a hospital? “Do they have enough medicine on hand?” Having a disaster plan is an important step for protecting your family. You also need Florida estate planning to ensure that there is a person with legal authority who may act for your loved ones in a crisis. Elder & Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide person service, but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs.

If you are a parent of a child with special needs, what you need to know

If you’re a parent of a child with special needs, you may be wondering if you can leave financial assistance without losing important benefits, such as Medicaid, Social Security, and the other forms of assistance they might be entitled to.

Sadly, public benefits programs are often inadequate and need to be supplemented with other resources. Anné Desormier-Cartwright of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA says, “If you want to enhance the quality of life for a disabled loved one or family member, a special needs trust is specifically identified to meet certain additional needs for the beneficiary. Thankfully, money given to a special needs trust shields disabled persons from these income limits because they won’t technically own the assets. Instead, under this estate planning technique, the trust will.

An estate planning attorney can help you determine the right type of trust and how to construct it so that a special needs person gets every benefit they’re entitled to, giving you the peace of mind knowing that your family member has the support he or she needs, both now and in the future.”

Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service, but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs.