Seven Signs of Elder Abuse

It’s not uncommon to open a newspaper or turn on the TV and see a story about seniors being mistreated.

Just this month, Marvel Comics legend, Stan Lee’s former manager pleaded not guilty to charges of elder abuse .

Elder Lawyer Anne Desormier-Cartwright says: It’s not just about physical violence, there are seven kinds of elder abuse to be aware of.

“Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, plus confinement, passive and willful neglect, as well as financial exploitation, are all forms of elder abuse. Understanding that elder abuse exists is just the first step and one of the most important areas to focus on is education.”

If you’d like more information about how you can protect your family members, the guidance of an experienced elder law attorney can provide not only protection, but justice, if your love one has been victimized.

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.

Critical Tips on Protecting Your Minor Children This Summer

When it comes to your children, safety is of the utmost importance. The arrival of summer typically means that many children are out of school and participating in more outdoor activities. Unfortunately, research tells us that the number of accidents involving children tend to increase during the summer months. To help protect your minor children, the best defense is planning ahead, which is why we want to share with you a few safety tips to keep your children safe this summer.


First, did you know that drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages one to four? This summer, your minor children may be participating in various different summer camps, some of which may involve water-related activities. While these activities are a great way to engage in physical activity, and for your children to have fun, an accident can happen in a matter of moments. We encourage you to always make sure your child will be supervised when he or she is around water. Further, if your child is not an especially strong swimmer, ensure that he or she has access to floaties, as well as a life jacket if necessary.


Second, the summer heat can affect us all, regardless of how old we are. Younger children, however, are particularly vulnerable to high temperatures. As this summer is set to see record-breaking temperatures, it is especially important to make sure that your child is protected when outdoors. Taking a few simple precautions, such as making sure your child applies sunscreen each day, has a cover-up and cap, and is regularly drinking water can help protect your child from dehydration and other heat-related illnesses.


Above all, you know your child’s limitations better than anyone else. If you are aware that your child requires special accommodations or needs a little extra help with certain activities, do not hesitate to share this knowledge with whomever is supervising your child this summer. Being proactive and planning ahead can help provide you with peace of mind and allow your child to have a fun, but safe, summer.


If this article raises more questions than it answers for you, do not hesitate to ask us your questions. Your child’s safety is important to us, and we are here to be a resource for you. We look forward to discussing your questions and supporting you with your particular needs.

7 Home Hurricane Prep Tips for Florida Seniors

Hurricanes are one of the most destructive natural forces on earth. These giant storms can create 100-mile an hour winds, flooding, and torrential rains that can cover entire states. Unlike earthquakes, tornados, and other natural disasters, however, residents in states that may be impacted usually have some time to prepare before a hurricane hits.

Floridians know that preparedness should not be limited to last minute precautions. This is especially true for Florida seniors and other individuals who may be at a disadvantage when it comes to fighting crowds, gaining access to needed medicines, or fleeing prospective impact zones. 

Let us share seven ways Florida seniors can proactively prepare their homes as we enter hurricane season, which runs officially from June through November. These fixes may require help from family, neighbors, or home maintenance professionals, which is all the more reason to get started now.


1- Install permanent storm shutters that can be easily opened and closed.

2- Store one-half inch plywood boards, pre-cut to protect windows from flying debris. Make sure a senior loved one has help available to secure the boards when a hurricane is bearing down on his or her area.

3- Install rain gutters. If the house already has gutters, be sure to have them checked, repaired or unclogged to prevent flooding and unnecessary water damage.

4- Trim potentially dangerous trees. High winds and excessive ground saturation can lead to extremely dangerous situations, for example, falling branches and trees. Consider hiring a professional tree removal service to start cutting down branches that hang over a senior loved one’s home, then proceed to trees that may be subject to uprooting. Ask a tree removal service or landscaping professional for an estimate before getting started.

5- Make sure the sheathing on the roof is in healthy shape. This will keep water from seeping inside during the storm and causing unnecessary damage.

6- Strengthen the garage door, if applicable, and add slide locks to doors that lead outside.

7- Make sure to come up with a plan to store lawn furniture, yard items, and trash cans so that they do not become deadly flying objects during hurricane force winds. Also, remove them from any stairways or exits.

These are just a few of the tips you can use to ensure the Florida seniors you know and love are protected this storm season. We encourage you not to wait to plan forward on this or any elder care issue. Do not wait to contact our law office for more information and let us know how we may be of assistance to you.

Tips You Need When It Comes to Ancillary Probate

When creating an estate plan, a common goal for many people is to avoid probate proceedings. Probate is the legal process through which the assets of a deceased person are distributed to heirs and beneficiaries. Did you know, however, that there is an additional type of probate proceeding called ancillary probate?

Ancillary probate can be required if you own real property or other assets that are attached in another state. To help you learn more about this important estate planning topic, let us share with you a few tips you need when it comes to ancillary probate.

First, it is important to be careful when appointing a future beneficiary as a joint owner or payable on death recipient of any property you own outside of Florida. Before committing to this important choice, take some time to consider whether what will happen if you need to be the sole owner of the property. Further, evaluate whether this lifetime gift will exclude you from public benefits such as Medicaid and what will happen if you change your mind after making this appointment. Discussing the implications of this decision with an experienced, local estate planning attorney may provide you with some peace of mind.

Second, did you know that a last will and testament will likely not cover any property you own outside of Florida? Unfortunately, this is true, and a factor that is commonly overlooked when people create their estate plans. A last will and testament only protects your in-state property, so be sure to account for this in your estate plan to ensure all of your property remains protected.

Above all, ancillary probate is not a “one size fits all” proceeding. We encourage you to discuss your specific circumstances with an experienced estate planning attorney who is familiar with the laws of your state. There are no uniform rules concerning ancillary probate, as different states have different laws. Importantly, do not wait to notify your estate planning attorney if you acquire any property outside of Florida or if you are planning a move in the near future.

These are just a few tips about ancillary probate. We know that this topic may raise more questions than it answers, as it is a particularly complex topic that can be challenging to understand. We encourage you and your loved ones not to wait to find the answers you need. We look forward to supporting you and your loved ones with your estate planning needs.

7 Types of Elder Abuse Affecting Millions of Seniors

On June 15, the United Nations is spearheading a global campaign to raise awareness and fight back against elder abuse. The growing epidemic impacts millions of American seniors every year, and many more worldwide. Through World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, international organizations, governments, citizens, and professionals across the country are taking a stand and actively seeking to reduce the problem.


One of the most important areas to focus on is education. Each of us needs to understand exactly what elder abuse is. In fact, confusion is one of the main reasons why elder abuse is often underreported. Elder abuse is defined as “any knowing, intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable elder adult.”


Understanding that elder abuse exists is just the first step. Did you know, however, that there are seven variations of elder abuse to be aware of? Let us share more on this important topic with you right here in our blog.


  1. Physical Abuse. The use of physical force that results in bodily injury, physical pain or impairment. Signs can include bruises, welts, and bone fractures, and the withholding of important medications.


  1. Emotional Abuse. The infliction of pain, anguish or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts. This can include insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation and harassment. 


  1. Sexual Abuse. Sexual abuse is often defined as non-consensual sexual contact of any kind. This is illegal at any age, and it is often wrongly assumed that older adults are not in danger of this type of alarming behavior.


  1. Confinement. The restraining or isolating of an older adult against his or her will, or in violation of his or her basic health needs.


  1. Passive Neglect. A caregiver’s failure to provide basic necessities, ranging from food, to clean clothing, to sanitary conditions and medical care, and more.


  1. Willful Neglect. This is the intentional deprivation of fundamental human needs, such as medical care, food and water, physical assistance and prescribed medications.


  1. Financial Exploitation. The misuse or theft of an elder person’s financial resources.


We know that this information may raise a number of questions for you and your aging loved ones. If you suspect an elder loved one is the victim of abuse, do not wait to contact the proper Florida authorities. Let us know your elder care concerns and how we can help you and your loved ones.

Tips on How to Expand Your Social Circle This National Elder Law Month

Did you know according to a recent report over one million seniors older than age 65 are “dangerously unsupported”? This report shares that as a result they are at risk for loneliness and isolation. Unfortunately, both of these conditions are an increasing epidemic for seniors worldwide. As we enter into National Elder Law Month this May, you may be wondering: how can I help myself or the seniors that I care about avoid becoming a statistic?


We know this is not easy. There are numerous issues that can arise over time that make it hard to stay connected with the world around you as you age. From physical issues and age-related illnesses to death and far spread community resources, we know issues can arise everywhere.


Beyond staying mentally and physically fit as we age, it makes sense to integrate rather than isolate. What do we mean by this statement? This National Elder Law Month, and throughout the year, we would encourage you to regularly connect with other people. Building relationships in your community can not only enhance your well-being, but allow you to share your wisdom and experiences with others.


Further, how well and how often you keep in touch with others can have a positive impact on your well-being. This can include maximizing your brain function.  For instance, countless studies find that loneliness and isolation have been linked to depression and dementia.


We want you to know there is no need to feel alone this National Elder Law Month.  Let us share a few key tips and ideas to get and keep you engaged this month and throughout the year.


  1. Make the commitment to meet regularly.


Join friends for dinner or a movie. Take part in a knitting circle. Join a class at the gym or a book club of interest to you to share an enjoyable time with others. You might learn something new while you make some new friends.


  1. Volunteer.


Assist with research, planning, or organizing for causes you have an interest in and a passion for.  Do not wait to step outside yourself. Helping others also makes us feel good any time of year.


  1. Limit your use of technology.


Did you know a  study that examined human behavior noted that increased social media use contributed to depression and impacted relationships?  Smartphones are often blamed for causing an addiction to technology that leads to isolation. We know it is easy to become attached to computers and TV, spending hours in front of them, which may also add to feelings of loneliness.  


Just these small steps can help you take a leap into a more enriched, fulfilled life. Changes like these can improve your outlook and enhance your overall well-being.  When, if not National Elder Law Month, is the right time to jump in care for yourself as a senior or encourage a senior loved one to get started? We know that elder care issues like these, plus many more, can be challenging. We encourage you not to wait to schedule a meeting with our office.

3 Ways You Can Prepare for a Transition Away from Family Care This National Elder Law Month

As older adults advance in age, it is not uncommon for family members to step-in and provide assistance with day-to-day activities. As health and other concerns arise, family members often begin to play a more active caregiving role. There comes a point, however, when even the most dedicated family members can no longer manage the care needs of an aging loved one.

This is often the time when the family needs to transition to outside care. Our goal, during National Elder Law Month, is to help you understand the steps you need to take, both before and when, this happens. Unfortunately, it is a potential reality that many adult children and their aging parents, or grandparents, do not want to face.

We encourage you to address this potential long-term care issue head on and plan forward. Together, we can develop an elder care plan that will help you be prepared and can help set up your family for success. To this end, let us share three key considerations with you.

  1. Plan Early. It is never too early to help aging family members prepare for their elder years. Among other benefits, planning ahead can provide an opportunity to explore a range of options best suited for an elder loved one’s specific situation. Further, options change with time. This means that what may have been available if you planned years in advance, may no longer be there in a crisis.

When possible, do not wait until there is a major health concern, such as dementia or a fall, that may render your parent or grandparent unable to participate in the process. Instead, plan forward. Proactive planning with your Florida elder law attorney can help take advantage of available treatments, long-term care solutions and eligibility for public benefits programs that can help you pay for care.

  1. Select housing together. When family caregiving is no longer enough, determining appropriate housing for the elder adult becomes critical. Will he or she receive professional care in the family home? For how long? Would a nursing home better suit their long-term care needs? Will they need round-the-clock care? These are all questions to consider now.

It is also important to talk with the aging adult to determine what they would ideally like to do, what may happen in reality, and begin planning for the costs of care in both scenarios. There are a number of financial avenues to explore in Florida with your elder law attorney.

  1. Solidify estate planning. One of the best ways to prepare for an aging loved one’s elder years is to create, and frequently update, their estate plan. Who is their decision maker? Who is the back-up decision maker? May we work to create a legacy early and protect hard earned savings from being used on long-term care? These are all questions that your estate planning and elder law attorney will be able to answer and verify that your legal documents support your goals.

We know that this topic may raise more questions than it answers. We encourage you and your loved ones not to wait to find the answers you need. Whether you schedule a meeting with attorney Anne’ Desormier-Cartwright this National Elder Law Month now or anytime throughout the year, we look forward to supporting you and your loved ones.

Tips for Florida Seniors in Light of the Changes to the VA Pension Rules

The concept of paying for long-term care in Florida can be daunting. According to the Genworth Long-Term Care Study for 2018, assisted living costs per month average $3,500 while the cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is approximately $8,150.  For the majority of Florida seniors, they do not have these additional funds available in their monthly income and are looking to pay for care either through savings or public benefits assistance.


When the need for long-term care arises, it is often a crisis. For example, the Florida senior may have a fall that results in a broken bone and the need for rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility. If the need for assistance becomes more permanent, he or she may not be able to leave the facility or require extensive hands-on care upon the return home.


How do we plan now to afford long-term care in the future? Are we able to plan for what we may need in advance? Further, how can we ensure that we have a plan in place so that we, as Florida seniors, are making our decisions of how we want to be cared for and not leaving the choices to our adult children or decision makers?


Elder law planning contemplates all these needs. Together, we can design a plan that may not only find a way to pay for care but also ensure that you receive good care. In Florida, programs such as Medicaid exist to help us pay for the cost of long-term care. If you are a Florida veteran, however, there also may be additional funds available to you.


For wartime veterans, the VA pension program exists to provide monthly, tax-free income to veterans with a qualifying service record. The VA pension program is in no way tied to a service-connected injury or disability. Instead, it is tied to the service record of the veteran. To begin to qualify, the veteran must have 90 days of active military service with one day during a period of war. Further, the veteran must have been discharged under conditions that were other than dishonorable.


The rules governing the eligibility for the VA pension program change substantially last year on October 18, 2018. Prior to this date there was no set amount that the veteran, or his or her surviving spouse, could have in countable assets. Now, for 2019, the new rules created a limit. The veteran may only have $126,240, less excluded assets that he or she is allowed to own. We anticipate this amount will change each year with a cost of living increase similar to the Social Security program.


Another way this program changed was to create a “look back” period. A “look back” period is the time period in which the VA may look at the veterans bank records to determine if he or she gave away money that could have been used to pay for care. This type of program is currently in place for the Florida Medicaid program, although it operates slightly differently. Under the new VA rules, the “look back” period will be for the thirty-six months prior to application.


We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We encourage you to reach out and ask us your questions on this, or any elder care issue. When it comes to finding ways to access good long-term care in our community and be able to afford it, we are your local law firm here to help you.

Medicare Part D – What You Need To Know

If you’ve reached the point in your life that you’re insured by Medicare, you’re not alone. Tens of millions of American seniors also rely on Medicare to help pay for their healthcare needs, such as hospital care and outpatient medical services. But you may still be wondering if your prescription drugs will be covered. As of 2017, more than 42,000,000 Medicare beneficiaries had prescription drug coverage through Medicare part D, which is optional.

Anne’ Desormier-Cartwright of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA, offer some insight. Medicare part C, is an alternative to original Medicare, as it allows program beneficiaries to receive their Medicare benefits through a private health insurance plan. But you may need to purchase a stand-alone drug plan if your specific Medicare Advantage Plan doesn’t include prescription drugs.

Medicare part D, pays for outpatient drug expenses. Each approved part D plan covers different drugs and co-pays for brand name and generic covered drugs. One way to get the Medicare part D enrollment process started, is to call 1-800-MEDICARE to locate prescription drug plans in your area.

There are other ways. To find out more, an elder law attorney can help with this matter and more. 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. Do not wait to contact their office for support.

Make a New Year’s Resolution to Update Your Estate Plan

As another year comes to a close and a new one begins, it’s a great time to take stock of the many changes life has brought your way and what’s to come. It’s also a good time to think about your estate plan. Many people review their estate plan at a regular frequency, often when they go over their whole financial plan. Anne Desormier-Cartwright of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA says ‘In addition to regular reviews, it’s a good idea to review and update your plan at life events, like the birth of a child, when a child or grandchild becomes an adult or when they go to college, if you have to care for an adult, if there are changes in your financial goals, illness or disability of your spouse. And of course, marriage or divorce.’

She continues to say that there are many others reasons and that reviewing your plan goes beyond major life events. She suggests you should check your plan at regular intervals, such as a new year. This will help ensure that your legacy, both financial and otherwise, is passed on in accordance with your wishes and that your beneficiaries receive their benefits as smoothly as possible.

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. Do not wait to contact their office for support.