National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day

Did you know that Friday, April 16, 2021, is National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day? With social distancing measures still in place, and everyone still spending lots of time at home, it can be a great time to participate in cleaning out your unused or expired medication. Doing so on this day can be great preparation for National Drug Takeback Day, when local businesses, doctor’s offices and pharmacies will have collection bins where you can safely dispose of your medications.

One important reason to clean out your medicine cabinet may be that expired medication can be potentially harmful. First, there may be a direct risk that other people could get into unused or expired medication that they should not be able to access. For example, many common medications are safe when taken as directed and within their shelf life but can turn toxic over time after their expiration date. Tetracycline is a great example of this. Similarly, many over the counter medications are safe when taken as directed, but not so safe after they expire, and your kids or spouse may forget to check the date on the bottle before popping it open. It may be best to keep a regular eye on expiration dates and dispose of medication promptly to avoid this. Of course, there are also many people in our communities who struggle with substance abuse, whether opioid addiction or a different drug problem. Many prescription drugs can be misused or abused, with fatal effects.

You should not throw medication in the garbage. Medications thrown into the garbage can leak into the soil and can cause toxicity in the environment. You should not flush medications down the toilet either, as they then leak into the water supply, with harmful effects on both humans and wildlife.

On National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day you can clear out any unused, expired, or otherwise unwanted medications and keep them in a safe and secure place. The following weekend is National Drug Takeback Day. At that time, you should be able to dispose of your medication in one of many collection areas in your community. 

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.

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.

Five Tips For Helping Your Senior Loved Ones Avoid Feeling Isolated During COVID-19 And Beyond

Have you considered that our senior citizens may have been one of the groups most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, not just because they are the citizens with the highest fatality statistics, but also because they are forced into isolation to best ensure their safety? Many of them have lost their spouses, live far away from family, or live in a facility that may not allow visitors or only limited visitors during the pandemic. Let us review five tips for helping our senior loved ones stay connected during and after the pandemic.

1. Increase your virtual contact. Make sure you are contacting your senior loved ones as much as possible, even if it is just a daily text message to say hello and to tell them you are thinking about them, it can give them something to look forward to every day.

2. Send cards and gifts. Show how much you care by sending cards or small gifts to make them feel special and loved.

3. Photos or videos of grandkids. Nothing may brighten up the face of our seniors more than seeing children. Since they probably cannot visit, make sure they still get to see their grandchildren. Send framed photos or photo albums that they can keep in their room. Text pictures and videos that they can save to their phone and view anytime they want. 

4. Schedule virtual activities. Get activities on the calendar. Maybe you can schedule a weekly “story time with grandma” and block off a time when your senior loved one can read to a grandchild over Zoom, Facetime, or another virtual platform. Maybe your senior loved ones like to play board games and you can schedule a weekly virtual game night. Putting an activity consistently on their calendar can help keep them engaged in the family and avoid feeling isolated. 

5. Visit outside. If feasible, and weather permitting, try to have outdoor and socially distant visits to get your loved ones out of the house and connected with you in person.  You could go for a walk or have an outdoor picnic to brighten their spirits.

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.

Medicaid Planning for Florida Seniors

Did you know that, according to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, a person turning 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services, including assisted living or a nursing home? The median cost of a private room in a nursing home is over $100,000 annually, according to the Florida Health Care Association. Medicaid planning involves legally and ethically protecting assets for those who do not already qualify for Medicaid, and for those who qualify but may be expecting an influx of money, such as an inheritance or a personal injury settlement, so that individuals can make their money last longer and lead to the highest possible quality of life. 

The laws governing Medicaid can be complex. For 2021, the income cap to qualify for Medicaid in Florida is $2382.00, per month. If your monthly income, from all sources, exceeds the limit for this year, you will not qualify for Medicaid. You may, however, consider creating either a Miller Trust, a Qualified Income Trust (QIT), or a Supplemental Needs Trust. A Miller Trust is an irrevocable trust that accepts any monthly income over the income cap or slightly more, even though the Trust still uses that money to pay for your long-term care, minus a small personal allowance. These types of trusts may be structured so that certain assets and income sources are removed from the Medicaid calculation, allowing a person to then qualify to receive Medicaid benefits to cover the cost of long-term care.

Medicaid planning may require a thorough examination of your total asset portfolio. Our office can help you protect your home and other assets. This can be especially important if one spouse needs care and the other can live independently. 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.