Tag: elder and estate planning attorneys

Proactive Estate Planning Measures You Can Take to Prevent Disputes Over Your Will

Were you aware that one of the key concerns people have when considering Florida estate planning and the drafting of a will, is how to avoid a will contest after their death? Sadly, a will contest can lead to prolonged court battles, strained family relationships, and can significantly deplete the estate’s assets. To avoid these risks, there are seven steps you can take now in your estate planning. We would like to share these steps with you below.

  1. Be sure to work with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney. First and foremost, it is important to work with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney. A skilled lawyer will be sure that your Florida estate plan is legally sound, adheres to state laws, and clearly articulates your wishes. Your attorney can also provide advice on strategies to minimize the chances of a will contest, including ensuring all legal formalities are correctly followed. Be sure to share any specific concerns you may have about potential contests with your attorney and ask for tailored advice to avoid those risks.

 

  1. Be sure to think about speaking with your loved ones. You will want to speak with your attorney first but be aware that transparency can help in avoiding misunderstandings and disputes. You may want to discuss your estate plan as well as your goals with your loved ones. This does not mean you need to divulge every detail, but explaining your decisions can help manage expectations and reduce the likelihood of surprises that could lead to future contests.

 

  1. Be sure to choose the right decision makers. It is absolutely essential that you select trustworthy and competent agents, personal representatives, and trustees. These are the individuals who will be responsible for working with an attorney to administer your estate and ensure your wishes are carried out. Their ability to handle the role effectively and communicate with beneficiaries can greatly influence the probability of a dispute. Also, you may want to discuss this important role with them to ensure they are willing to serve in this capacity before naming them in your estate plan. 

 

  1. Be sure to plan out what you want clearly. The clearer your estate plan, the less room there is for interpretation or contention. Work with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney to be explicit about your wishes, including the distribution of specific assets. Your attorney may even recommend you write a letter that could accompany your estate plan for specific family members.

 

  1. Be sure to consider using tools like trusts to avoid probate. One of the complications of using only a last will and testament in your estate plan is that your estate will need to go through the probate process. This process is public and could open your estate up to challenges. On the other hand, when you use a trust agreement and fund your assets into it, you can eliminate the need for probate and provide a more structured distribution through trust administration. 

 

  1. Be sure to update your Florida estate plan on a regular basis. Were you aware that life changes, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children, the sale of a business, or acquiring significant assets, necessitates updates to your estate plan? They do. When you regularly review and update your plan to reflect these changes, you ensure that it accurately represents your current wishes and circumstances, reducing the potential for disputes.

 

  1. Be sure to think about the emotional impact of your plan. Of course your death, your estate plan and future inheritances will be emotional. Unequal distributions or perceived slights can lead to hurt feelings and disputes within your family. You cannot control how others feel and you do not have to consider this in your planning, but being as fair and thoughtful as possible in your approach can minimize negative emotions that might fuel a contest.

Finally, while it is impossible to guarantee that your Florida estate plan will not be contested, taking the steps above can significantly reduce the risk. By discussing your specific concerns with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney and seeking their advice, you can develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses potential challenges and works towards ensuring your final wishes are respected and your loved ones are cared for as intended.

We know this article raises more questions than it answers. We know this article raises more questions than it answers. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

Does Medicare Cover the Expenses of Long-Term Care in Florida?

Are you finding that navigating the landscape of healthcare costs in senior years is not easy? In fact, as the population ages, there are more and more individuals requiring long-term care services. In addition, whether due to chronic illness, disability, or the natural progression of aging, long-term care needs can quickly become complicated and complex.

It is a fact that long-term care can be expensive. Often many of the seniors we meet with wonder if Medicare will help bear the brunt of these costs. Are you seeking answers to how to pay for the care you or a loved one may need? We have some important information to share on what Medicare covers and what it does not. We will also discuss why early planning with an experienced Florida elder law attorney is crucial.

We will begin with understanding Medicare basics. Medicare is a federal health insurance program primarily for individuals 65 and older and covers a broad range of healthcare services.  Medicare is divided into parts:

  • Part A (Hospital Insurance). This  covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and some home health care.
  • Part B (Medical Insurance). Covers specific doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. Often you will hear of Part A and Part B referred to as Traditional Medicare. 
  • Part C (Medicare Advantage). A type of Medicare health plan offered by private companies that contract with Medicare. It provides all of Part A and Part B benefits.
  • Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage). This covers the cost of prescription drugs.

However when it comes to long-term care, Medicare’s coverage is limited. Even though Medicare Part A does provide coverage for care in a skilled nursing facility, it is important to note the limitations that apply to most situations:

  • Coverage is only for short-term stays (up to 100 days) in a skilled nursing facility, and only after a qualifying 3-day hospital stay.
  • It does not cover long-term stays or custodial care, which includes assistance with daily tasks like bathing, dressing, and eating.

If deemed medically necessary, Medicare can cover part-time or intermittent skilled nursing care and physical therapy. But again, it does not cover 24-hour care or purely custodial care as you would need in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Because of the limitations of Medicare when it comes to long-term care, it is vital for seniors to have an elder law financial strategy in place. Here are some concepts to consider:

  1. Research alternative options. Look into long-term care insurance, which is designed specifically to cover these costs. These policies can be tailored to your needs, but they are more affordable if purchased when you are younger and in good health.
  2. What about Medicaid? Unlike Medicare, Medicaid does cover long-term care services, but it is for individuals with limited income and assets. Proper planning can help seniors protect their assets while still qualifying for Medicaid.
  3. Find out about asset protection. Through trusts and other financial strategies, seniors can shield their assets from being completely depleted by long-term care costs.
  4. Meet now with an experienced Florida elder law attorney. Elder law attorneys specialize in helping seniors and their families navigate the complexities of long-term care, estate planning, and related financial matters. They can offer invaluable advice on protecting assets, qualifying for Medicaid, and ensuring that seniors receive the care they need.

The good news is that Medicare offers invaluable health coverage for seniors, but unfortunately its provisions for long-term care are limited. Because of the high costs of such care, seniors need to plan ahead as soon as possible and utilize the guidance of an experienced Florida elder law attorney who can help ensure that you or your loved one has access to the best care without the looming stress of exorbitant costs.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

Estate Planning Considerations for Your Adult Children After Your Remarriage

As a Florida senior, are you considering remarriage? However, should there be estate planning considerations for your adult children once you remarry? As a senior adult you have experienced many important events like marriages, births, divorces, deaths, and separations and they play an important role in your daily life. While you think in depth about the ins and outs of each of these occasions, should you think about them in the context of your Florida estate planning? 

As you think about your remarriage, were you aware that statistics tell us that for 55 year olds, and older, the remarriage rate has grown from 24 percent in 1960 to 57 percent in 2013? This is now more than any other age group. As you plan for your future nuptials, have you considered how your  remarriage will impact your estate plan, including your planning for your adult children? Do you want to be sure the assets from your first marriage are available to them when the time comes that you are no longer here? Below are some considerations for you to think about when it comes to protecting your adult children in a second marriage.

  1. Take into consideration your existing asset structure and protect it. With seniors remarrying more often, they are usually the age group that has more assets coming into a remarriage. So when we remarry later in life, there are probably more assets to consider planning for. A senior adult may have assets ranging from homes, vehicles, and personal tangible goods, to retirement accounts, savings, life insurance policies, and brokerage accounts. Of course you will want to be sure the adult children of your first marriage are the recipients of your assets. When you work with your  experienced Florida estate planning attorney she will be able to show you careful planning considerations for your estate plan and may recommend a prenuptial agreement. This agreement can lay a foundation for understanding your goals for your previously owned assets at the time you entered into your marriage, and protect your existing adult children.
  1. Take into consideration a thoughtful plan for both your new spouse and your adult children. When you create your estate plan you are creating a legacy. Rest assured, even with a prenuptial agreement, that you can plan for both your new spouse and your adult children. You can discuss with your Florida estate planning attorney creating a last will and testament or trust agreement that details the distribution of specific assets you want your new spouse or your adult children to receive.
  1. Take into consideration the laws of your state. You should know that the state Florida rules will apply. Your spouse must receive the elective share, in Florida it is roughly thirty percent of your estate, unless you plan around this in advance in your prenuptial agreement. This could include at least a life estate of your home and other assets. If your primary goal is to provide for your adult children of a previous marriage you will want to work closely with your Florida estate planning attorney to make this a reality.
  1. Take into consideration open communication about your estate planning goals. Many of our clients want to keep their goals for their legacy private for as long as possible, however, open communication in this area may be critical to avoiding future legal challenges. If you are comfortable, discuss your goals with your new spouse as well as your adult children. Consider including them in your meetings with your Florida estate planning attorney so everyone knows, and has time to both adjust and respect, your wishes.

We know this article raises more questions than it answers.  Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

Congratulations are in order for Florida Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorneys!

Our firm is so excited to be included in the top three finalists for the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce Leadership Awards 2023: Small Business of the Year! We are honored to be included with the other local leaders in our community. This year’s Annual Leadership Awards celebrate Palm Beach North’s outstanding leaders and businesses making a difference in this community and we are excited to be a part of it.

Our goals at Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is to be a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We work with clients through Florida, specifically in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. 

Our elder law firm consists of seasoned attorneys in Florida with decades of experience in:

  • Wills and Trusts
  • Asset Protection
  • Advanced Estate Planning
  • Elder Law
  • Veteran’s Benefits Planning
  • Medicaid Benefits Planning
  • Representation of Fiduciaries
  • Real Estate Services
  • Residential and Commercial Leases
  • Business Law
  • Litigation
  • Probate and Trust Litigation
  • Probate and Trust Administration

We work hard to ensure you will receive personal services as you make some of the most important decisions in your life. The extra benefit when you work with our law firm? You will have the assurance that your decisions will be for the best under the guidance of experienced lawyers.

Our firm is led by the exceptional Anne’ Desormier-Cartwright who, in 1985, began her practice as a real estate, landlord tenant and commercial trial lawyer.  Since 1994, her practice expanded to include guardianship, mental health, probate and trust administration, and trusts and estate planning, as well as Special Needs trusts, Medicaid and Veterans Benefits Planning.  More recently, she started helping clients with remedies for elder exploitation.

She is a Charter member of ElderCounsel, a nation wide association of elder law attorneys focused on the changing laws affecting the elderly.  She is also a member of WealthCounsel and Advisors Forum which focuses on how the laws affect wealth planning and distribution of assets throughout a client’s life and at death.  Ms. Desormier also enjoys active memberships in NAELA and AFELA, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys, respectively.  These organizations lead the way for understanding and preparing legislation to address the complicated issues our elderly population faces as they age.

She is also a 30 year member of The Greater Palm Beach Chapter of National Association of Women in Construction and has served on the Board of Directors in various capacities.  She continues to be a member helping members in their business succession, estate planning, elder law and real estate needs.
We encourage you to take a minute out of your schedule to congratulate our entire firm on this tremendous achievement and let us know how we may help you. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and so much more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

Is Protecting Your Digital Assets a Key New Year’s Resolution?

When you made your New Year’s resolutions did you include understanding how to protect your digital assets? Digital assets are a hot topic and data security is in the headlines.  In addition, digital privacy is on the mind of many Floridians making this month a perfect time to be sure that our digital assets are secure now and in the future, including after we pass on. 

As you create or update your Florida estate plan, did you know that digital assets can be included in your plan? One aspect of securing your digital assets in the future can be accomplished while creating or updating your estate plan. We would like to share some  guidelines that may assist you in understanding how to include digital assets in your estate plan while keeping them secure in the meantime.

A critical first step in addressing the security of your digital assets is to preserve and protect your passwords. Most of us protect our digital assets with passwords. That being said, it is often tough to keep track of all of the different passwords you use to access different accounts on a frequent basis.  In fact, you may have resorted to using a memory or list feature on your computer or on your cell phone to keep track of all your passwords. Saving to some type of device is, unfortunately, not the most secure of practices.  Remember, it is important to choose strong passwords that cannot easily be guessed, and to change them frequently, even if only once a year. Always check frequently to be sure that your passwords have not been compromised. Update them immediately if they have!  We suggest that you keep track of your passwords by making a written list and keeping it in a locked desk drawer or safe deposit box. Wherever you keep this list it should be somewhere you can access frequently, so that you can make updates to the list.

What assets can become part of your estate plan?  Financial digital assets, like a digital Paypal, Venmo, or bitcoin account. Also, sentimental digital assets, like a collection of photographs or videos of your children and grandchildren. With any and all assets like these, someone needs to be able to access these assets after you pass away.  How do you accomplish this?  You may want to consider picking a “password person” who can be trusted with this information and keep him or her informed of where you keep your password list so it can be accessed if and when the time comes. As stated previously, when you create or update your estate plan you may also wish to detail who should have access to your digital assets or leave your personal representative instructions with respect to your passwords. 

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

Do You Know the Danger of Making Holiday Gifts When It Comes to Elder Law Planning

During the holidays are you considering giving gifts of money to loved ones? Are you aware that monetary gifts can impact Medicaid eligibility? Did you know that if you needed to apply for Medicaid in the next five years, these gifts could have significant consequences? If you answered yes to the previous questions, be aware that the impact could be on both the giver and receiver.

With respect to the gift giver, be aware that the IRS allows a tax-free annual gift per person with an unlimited amount of donees. However, this relates to tax law planning, not to Medicaid eligibility.

In regard to gifting, Medicaid takes a different stance. In applying for Medicaid eligibility, when a person’s assets are reviewed, there is a “Look-Back” period of sixty months, depending upon the state. If it is found that the Medicaid applicant gifted money, or made an uncompensated transfer in order to be eligible for Medicaid, the penalty may be Medicaid ineligibility. The length of time of ineligibility is determined by the amount of the gift and the average cost of a private pay nursing home in the area.

Are there any options for the person deemed ineligible for Medicaid due to gift giving? Possibly. The gifter could collect the gift back, or reimbursement, in order to “undo” the penalty. Even if possession of the money makes he or she ineligible for Medicaid, he or she can spend it down by temporarily paying for long-term care or making a home modification related to his or her disability until he or she reaches eligibility status. In addition, there may also be a possibility of an undue hardship waiver, if Medicaid ineligibility will cause the person to go without medical care, food or shelter.

There may also be important impacts on the gift receiver. All states have an asset limit to be Medicaid eligible and it is not very high. In fact, Florida allows a single person to only have two thousand dollars. Even a small gift can push a potential Medicaid recipient over the eligibility limit.

With the assistance of an experienced Florida elder law attorney, a potential Medicaid recipient does have some options if he or she receives a gift. Your elder law attorney may suggest paying off debts and/or purchasing a funeral plan or a Medicaid eligible annuity. If money is received before applying for Medicaid, the money can also be spent down in a similar fashion.

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.

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.