Tag: elder attorney

5 Ways You Need to Know that Elder Financial Abuse Can Impact an Aging Parent

Elder financial abuse is a growing concern as the senior population increases. Did you know it involves the unauthorized or improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets? As more elders seek support and care, they can become increasingly vulnerable to financial exploitation from unscrupulous individuals, including strangers, caregivers, and even family members. This type of abuse not only depletes an elder’s financial resources but also undermines their emotional well-being and sense of security.

Understanding how financial abuse can occur is essential in protecting your aging parents, especially during June when the world focuses on this importance on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). After all, awareness is the first step towards prevention. By recognizing the signs and methods of financial exploitation, you can take proactive measures to safeguard your loved ones’ assets. In our blog right here, we will explore five common ways elder financial abuse can happen and offer practical tips on how to prevent it, ensuring that your parents remain financially secure and protected from harm.

  1. Unauthorized access to bank accounts. Perpetrators may gain access to an elder’s bank accounts through stolen checks, ATM cards, or by gaining online banking information. They might make unauthorized withdrawals or purchases, draining the elder’s funds.

 

  1. Identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses the elder’s personal information, such as Social Security number or credit card details, to open new accounts, apply for loans, or make purchases. This can severely damage the elder’s credit and financial stability.

 

  1. Investment fraud. Elders are often targeted by scammers who pitch fraudulent investment opportunities. These scams can take the form of fake stocks, bonds, real estate, or other investments that promise high returns but result in significant financial losses.

 

  1. Telemarketing and charity scams. Scammers often use telemarketing calls or fake charities to solicit money from elders. They might pretend to represent a legitimate organization or create an urgent, emotional appeal to convince the elder to send money.

 

  1. Exploiting cognitive impairments. Elders with cognitive impairments, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse. Abusers may take advantage of their confusion or forgetfulness to steal money, forge signatures, or manipulate financial transactions.

We know this article raises more questions than it answers.  Your goal is to protect those you love most and an experienced elder and estate planning attorney can help you. 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.

7 Questions to Ask Your Elder Law Attorney

As we age, the legal and financial landscapes we must navigate become increasingly complex. Elder law is a specialized area of legal practice focusing on the needs of Older Americans and their families, dealing with everything from estate planning and financial management to long-term care planning and end of life challenges. Choosing to engage with an experienced elder law attorney can be pivotal in securing not only your assets but also your quality of life in later years.

Finding the right Florida elder law attorney for you involves knowing what questions to ask to ensure they understand your needs and can offer comprehensive solutions. These attorneys not only provide legal advice but also guide you through planning your long-term goals, managing your assets, and ensuring your wishes are upheld. With the right guidance you can prepare effectively for the future, avoiding common pitfalls and leveraging opportunities you may not have previously considered.

We know firsthand that navigating the complexities of elder law and estate planning can be challenging. Whether you are planning for your own future or helping an aging loved one, consulting with an elder law attorney can provide clarity and peace of mind. If you are wondering just where to start, let us share seven crucial questions to bring to your consultation as you begin thinking about the future.

  1. Do I need a durable power of attorney? A durable power of attorney is an essential part of your Florida estate planning. It allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Ask your attorney about the benefits of this planning tool and how it fits into your overall estate plan. When you plan forward you can ensure your financial affairs and long-term care decisions are in trusted hands.

 

  1. What is long-term care? Long-term care involves a variety of services designed to meet a person’s health or personal care needs during a short or long timeframe. These services help people live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform everyday activities on their own. Understanding what constitutes long-term care in Florida and how to plan forward is crucial in planning for the future.

 

  1. How early should I plan for long-term care? Discussing when to start planning for long-term care is vital. Early planning can significantly impact the quality of care you or your loved one receives and the financial burden that comes with it. Your Florida elder law attorney can help you understand the timelines and the best strategies for early and effective planning.

 

  1. Is Medicare going to pay for long-term care? Many people assume that Medicare will cover all their long-term care needs, but this is not always the case. Medicare’s coverage of long-term care is quite limited. Your Florida elder law attorney can explain what Medicare covers and help you plan for the expenses that Medicare does not cover.

 

  1. What is Medicaid? Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides health coverage to millions of Americans, including eligible elderly adults and people with disabilities. In the context of elder law, it is crucial to understand how Medicaid can help cover long-term care costs, which are often not covered by Medicare.

 

  1. How do I plan for Medicaid eligibility? Planning for Medicaid eligibility is a complex process that involves understanding asset and income limits. It is important to ask your Florida elder law attorney about Medicaid planning strategies, which can help protect your assets while ensuring you qualify for benefits when you need them.

 

  1. How do I age in place safely? Aging in place refers to staying in the comfort of your own home as you age, rather than moving to a senior living facility or nursing home. Discuss with your elder law attorney about how to create a comprehensive plan that includes legal, financial, and community resources to support aging in place.

We know this article raises more questions than it answers. Asking the right questions during your consultation with a Florida elder law attorney can help ensure that your legal, financial, and healthcare needs are all addressed effectively. With their expertise, you can navigate the complexities of elder law with confidence, ensuring a secure and dignified future for yourself or your loved ones.

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.

Three Tips to Prevent Your Parents Losing a Lifetime of Savings to Long-Term Care

Have you been able to provide the necessary care on your own for your aging parents and now it is not enough anymore? Are you facing the difficult decision to place your aging parents into a nursing home? Are you concerned about the cost of nursing home care and trying to help your parents protect a lifetime of savings from being completely used up by the cost of care?

Because May is both National Elder Law Month and National Older Americans Month, this is an important time of year to ensure our aging loved ones have the support they need. Let us discuss three tips to prevent your aging parents from losing their life savings to a nursing home.

1. Early Planning. The most important thing your parents can do to preserve their life savings is to start planning for the future before those plans need to be put into effect. Meet now with a Florida qualified elder law attorney to engage in long-term care planning, this planning can be critical.

2. Know the Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid. Your parents may be hoping that Medicare will help with nursing home costs, but they probably should not. Typically Medicare only covers 100 days of nursing home care. If your parents qualify for Medicaid, then the Florida Medicaid program will take over when Medicare benefits are no longer enough. Medicaid will cover nursing home costs for qualified individuals for as long as they need it. But there is a catch! Medicaid rules require your parents to spend down most of their life savings prior to qualifying for the program. Medicaid also has a look back period of 5 years. Medicaid will see what your parents held in assets, and what their income and expenses were during this time period.

3. Stay 5 Years Ahead in Planning. By working with a Florida qualified elder law attorney, she can help your parents plan around this 5-year “lookback” rule to protect the life savings of your parents. Your attorney may advise that the best way to do this may be to ensure that the assets of your parents are transferred out of their estate prior to the 60 months before they need nursing home care. Since the need for this care may be on the horizon, it may be best to start planning early. Your attorney can work with you to figure out the best approach.

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.

Understanding How to Keep Seniors Safe from Sweetheart Scams Throughout the Year

Are you a senior living in Florida? Are you aware of the tragic fact that Florida seniors are prime targets for cyber criminals? This is because it is perceived that seniors have access to money, are less tech-savvy than younger adults, and suffer higher incidences of loneliness and social isolation. There is a type of scam called the romance scam, or “lonely heart” scam, that is rising among seniors. According to the Federal Trade Commission, romance scams stole more than $304 million from Americans in 2020. Whether you are one of the Florida seniors who are prime targets for cyber criminals or have a loved one who is a Florida senior, let us share a few key tips about how seniors can protect themselves throughout the year.

Cyber criminals meet their victims online and present themselves as interested in genuine love or companionship. Once they have made an emotional connection with the senior he or she is typically lured into buying gifts, sharing personal information that can be exploited by identity thieves, and sending money through credit cards or financial institutions. As a major precaution, a senior should discuss any new online relationship with friends, family, and caregivers and pay attention to any advice they may give.

Keep in mind that it is never a good idea to send money to a romantic interest you have not met in person. It is a major red flag if a new social media or message board love interest asks you to send money, personal information, or data to access your bank account! Do not do it, in fact, no matter how tempting it is, you should break off all communication immediately. This is just one of the ways Florida seniors are prime targets for cyber criminals. Do not offer to accept money either, as it may be another way of gaining access to your financial accounts, or it may be an illegal money laundering trap.

As a Florida senior, you should always be extremely cautious if you spot a nice floral arrangement pop-up ad, get a thoughtful e-card from an odd acquaintance or stranger, or any other online gift. Remember to look for telltale signs of fraud before clicking on any online buttons. There are numerous fake websites and advertising scams out there that look real to the untrained eye, but are in fact fraudulent. In addition, also:

• Be wary of websites and offers that do not accept common payment providers like Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal.
• If you are going to buy something, stick to reputable websites that you already know.
• Avoid online greeting cards from unknown sources as they could be infected with malware.
• Google a curious website or ad’s name + “scam” or “complaint” and see what pops up.

Never forget that Florida seniors are prime targets for cyber criminals and be on guard at all times. If you or someone you know has been the victim of online romance scams, do not wait to contact law enforcement.

Most importantly, make sure you have picked an advocate who has the legal authority to act for you in a crisis that leaves you incapacitated. Under your Florida durable power of attorney your agent will be able to monitor your identity and accounts when you cannot to ensure that you do not fall victim to any scams. We encourage you not to wait to ask us, your Florida elder law attorney, any questions on this or any important issue facing Florida seniors today.

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.

Tips for Aging Children to Help Keep Florida Seniors Safe from Sweetheart Scams

Are you familiar with romance scams or sweetheart scams that seem more prevalent during the month of February and threaten Florida seniors? Are you a senior adult or have senior adult parents? Are you aware that scammers and cyber criminals often target senior citizens? Online senior scams have risen and continue to be extremely dangerous.

The question needs to be asked, why are senior adults more likely to be victims of a scam? We need to look at several different factors. First, aging seniors are believed to be more vulnerable. Secondly, they are known to often have large amounts of money in accessible accounts and be very trusting and easily manipulated. Thirdly, with the advent and use of the internet by senior adults, cyber criminals find it easier to target them and fool them. To make matters worse, scammers tend to target seniors when they are most vulnerable. During Valentine’s Day romance scams are prevalent and this shows us just how much aging adults, suffering from loneliness and social isolation, are at an elevated risk.

Are you a senior and wondering how you can protect yourself? Do you have a senior loved one in your family that you are concerned about? We would like to share eight tips you may use to avoid a “lonely heart” senior scam.

1. Be cautious when someone you do not know contacts you online. The person you see or you are communicating with may not be who you are really dealing with. Online cyber criminals are looking for older victims to begin a romance scam using social media, online dating or friendship websites.

2. Remember this golden rule: Seniors should always be suspicious whenever someone online attempts to gain their trust and affection if they have not met in-person.

3. Senior adults should never provide their personal information or send money to someone they have met only on the internet. Do not let anyone convince you to do so via social media, email or any other online forum.

4. If you meet someone on social media, like Facebook, and this person wants to quickly move to a private form of communication such as text or email, immediately become suspicious and do not agree.

5. You should absolutely never send intimate photos or videos of yourself. Scammers can use them to try to blackmail or embarrass you.

6. If you do plan to meet someone in person that you met online, be safe and bring someone with you and meet the person in a public place. Also, let your family, friends and caregiver know of your intentions.

7. If the person you met online addresses you by the wrong name, it may be a red flag that something is wrong. Scammers often work on several victims at once.

8. Be sure to tell family, friends, caregivers and neighbors immediately about your online experience if you think you are in contact with a potential scammer. Do not let embarrassment get in the way of protecting yourself.

9. Do you think you have fallen victim to a Valentine’s Day romance scam? It is never too late to call the police and your appropriate financial institution, let them know what happened so they may get involved and protect you.

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.

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.

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.

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.