Tag: Elder Law Attorney

How to Get Important Answers When You Are in Your Parents’ Florida Estate Plan

Did you know that less than half of the adult American population have completed their estate plan? With that said, have you just learned from your parents that they have created their estate plan? We know that you must be very relieved that they are now protected by having a decision maker in place during a time of crisis. However, were you surprised to learn you were the person who was chosen to make decisions for your parents in the event they were incapacitated? We know you probably have many questions now that you are named in your parents’ estate plan. How do you get the answers? Do you need to know what your duties and responsibilities actually are as a part of this process? We have five questions you could ask right here.

1. There is a crisis, what do you do now? First, you need to talk to your parents about what they would want you to do in a sudden crisis. Now this crisis could be anything from being in a coma due to a serious accident to being stuck overseas due to a flight delay. What is your role? What are your parents expecting you to do? Having a plan in place now, before the crisis, is the best discussion to have with your parents and will help guide any decisions you make when it comes to successfully navigating the crisis.

2. Health care decisions need to be made, are you in charge? As part of their estate plan your parents would have included health care planning. Your parents will have named each other as decision maker, but if they were both incapacitated they need a second decision maker named and that is you. So, right now you need to know what they want for their health care. Start with the basics: What do they want for their general care? What is their goal for long-term care? What would they want if they were on life support? Honestly, these are tough questions, but you need to know their answers to learn what they would want so you can act in their best interest in any health care situation. Also, we recommend that you keep and maintain a current list of their diagnoses, doctors, specialists, and medicines.

3. Finances, who is in charge? It would not be surprising to know that you have little knowledge of your parents’ finances. If you have been put in charge and been named as the agent in their durable power of attorneys or a trustee in their trust, now is the time to learn. You can ask your parents questions about where they invest, who they work with, and what type of management fees they pay? Find out whether they have life insurance or other policies with beneficiaries that might pass outside the estate plan? Are all their planning tools current? As soon as you can, start this discussion with your parents so you know what to expect should you need to step in.

4. Do your parents have a legacy they want to leave behind? In addition to protecting themselves, does a part of your parents’ estate plan protect what they want for their future, their family, and their legacy? Do they have a legacy they wish to create? What goals do they have for you in continuing their legacy? Discuss with your parents what their vision is so that you can see it come to fruition if they should pass away.

5. Should you meet the Florida estate planning attorney for your parents? If it is okay with your parents, it would be good to know and even meet their Florida estate planning attorney. There is no doubt that successful Florida estate plans have an experienced Florida estate planning attorney behind them. Ask your parents the following questions: Who did your parents work with? What will be your relationship with them? Where do the original documents live? Can you meet the attorney in advance to make sure you understand your roles and responsibilities? Be sure your parents know that you are willing to meet their attorney if they want you to.

Being named within your parents’ estate plan brings serious questions that you need answered. 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.

Are There Ways Technology Can Help Florida Seniors Age in Place?

Are there ways technology can help Florida seniors age in place? Absolutely! You may not realize that when used appropriately, the right technology can make it easier for Florida seniors to engage with their family and friends and remain healthy and safe in their independent living situation.

Do you have a Florida senior loved one or know a Florida senior who wants to age in place? In fact, they have always lived in their own home, taking care of themselves by handling their own shopping, cooking, medications and driving to appointments. Do you only call or visit occasionally? However, are you beginning to notice that your senior loved one or senior friend are beginning to age and may need some extra help? Are you wondering where that help can come from? We would like to share a few technologies that might help your Florida aging loved ones and friends. We encourage you to share and discuss these technologies with your senior loved ones and friends. We also recommend that you and your senior loved ones and senior friends should consult with their primary care practitioners to help identify areas where technology may help them now and in the future.

To begin, we know that health and wellness are very important for your senior loved one and you. Technology may be of great assistance, in fact in the aftermath of Covid 19, many of us are familiar with telehealth. This technology will enable your senior loved ones to manage their illnesses and connect with their health care professionals while at home. Be proactive and plan to assist your Florida senior and friends during the first few video visits that they have with their physicians. By helping them you will give your senior loved one and friends the confidence to connect with their physicians independently. Another very useful technology is medication management. These technologies can dispense medications, issue reminders, monitor medication usage, and notify caregivers when doses are missed. Two of the products available to consumers to purchase or rent are epill, and MedMinder.

Next, it is very concerning that many of our senior loved ones and friends are often isolated or lonely. This is an area of technology that can definitely help. A cell phone, which for many is a simple technology, can increase the ability of our Florida seniors to connect with all their family and friends. For your loved ones, you can even look for phones with large buttons and clear screens. The Lively Flip phone was designed for seniors, and comes with a special one-click button to connect with a member of the Lively Response Team. This team can summon help or connect the caller with a board-certified doctor or nurse. Florida seniors with a hearing loss may have help with a captioning app like Clear Captions, which will enable them to read the phone.

Finally, to enable your senior loved one to age in place, consider a Medical Alert System. In fact, this type of system now comes standard in many home security systems. There are immediate responses for crises such as falls, as well as daily check-ins to make sure your loved one is alright throughout the day. You should start by determining if your loved one would wear a care button or bracelet to have immediate access to help or if there needs to be a home monitoring system instead. There are many companies available to choose from.

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.

How Could SLATs Be The Best Planning Tool For You?

Do you and your spouse have a Florida estate plan?  Are you wondering if a Spousal Lifetime Access Trust, commonly referred to as a “SLAT,” is an estate planning tool that you should add to your estate plan? Are you aware that SLATs will allow you to remove up to $11.6 million from your estate and place it in an irrevocable trust for your spouse? Your spouse will then be able to use and access these funds during his or her lifetime.  You need to know that one of the primary benefits of a SLAT is that it allows your spouse to use distributions from the irrevocable trust while you are both living while simultaneously avoiding the estate tax and isolating those assets from creditors.

With a SLAT, however, there are a few precautions you should consider taking in order to obtain the estate planning and asset protection benefits of a SLAT. To begin, you should be sure that there is no express or implied agreement that the party gifting the assets in the trust will get those assets back. It should be clear that the assets in the trust will not be returned to the grantor or the trust will not be viewed as “irrevocable.” Next, the SLAT should not allow the funds in the trust to be used to pay the creditors of the grantor. Be mindful that if the trust allows for such payments, it may not qualify as a SLAT and there may be resulting tax consequences.  Lastly, even though the beneficiary of SLATs cannot agree to return the funds to the grantor, the beneficiary can distribute the funds to their children, which will allow the assets to remain in the family if the beneficiary spouse should pass away while the trust remains funded.

We would highly recommend that you see your Florida estate planning attorney to find out if you and your family would benefit from a SLAT. Your Florida estate planning attorney can review your finances and your estate planning goals to help make recommendations regarding the best estate planning vehicles, including SLATs, to preserve your assets for your family and minimize any adverse tax consequences.

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.

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.

Can You Afford a Nursing Home If Your Loved One Has Parkinson’s Disease?

Have you and your family recently learned that a loved one has received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease? Has your loved one learned that his or her ability to walk, bathe, and dress may become increasingly impaired? In addition, your loved one may face an increased risk of falls. In the future, as the Parkinson’s progresses you, your loved one and your family may be faced with the difficult decision of placing your loved one in a nursing home. With the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home, the question will be how to afford the exorbitant cost of the nursing home.

As you, your loved one and your family determine how to pay for a nursing home, find out if your loved one is in possession of any type of benefits which may cover the cost of a nursing home. For example: a long-term care insurance policy, life insurance policies, which can be cashed out, or veteran’s benefits. If your loved one does have one or more of these benefits be sure to gather copies of all the supporting documents of these policies, which may include copies of insurance policies or proof of veteran’s benefits. Having this conversation now about nursing home coverage with your loved one and family can help guarantee you have the required proof of coverage should your loved one’s mental capacity decline.

An excellent next step may be to meet with a qualified Florida elder law attorney. In addition to determining the existence of benefits, you, your loved one and family can meet with an elder law attorney to find the most reliable ways of determining how to afford a nursing home when the time comes. An elder law attorney, who is experienced in the area of long-term care planning, can assist with the review of any benefits you believe may cover the cost of a nursing home. Be aware that Medicare does not cover the cost of long-term nursing home stays, but state Medicaid does. Because Medicaid eligibility is based upon your loved one’s assets, a qualified elder law attorney may assist in the drafting of planning documents, such as a trust, which may make your loved one Medicaid eligible. Medicaid planning is best conducted early in your loved one’s diagnosis because there are time limits on the transfer of assets which may affect Medicaid eligibility.

We are very aware that a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be very stressful to your loved one and family and we know there may be many other issues to navigate. By working with an estate planning and elder law attorney as soon as diagnosis is made may be the best strategy of helping to assure your loved one will be able to afford a nursing home, when the time comes. We know you and your family will want the peace of mind that your loved one will receive the care he or she deserves as the disease progresses, so that all of you can focus on sharing quality time in the present and in the future.

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.

Do You Know the Pros and Cons of Planning for Medicaid Early in Florida?

Are you a senior living in Florida and enjoying your golden years? That is good, but are you also considering your future? Have you started planning for any long-term care needs you may have in the future? Right now would be a good time to begin to investigate how you could pay for your care if you were to need it in the future. Let us discuss more about planning for long term care in the Sunshine State.

Are you planning for Medicare coverage as an option for long-term care? Unfortunately, even though you use Medicare for your health insurance, it will not cover much in the way of long-term care, whether in a nursing home or in your own home. Although Medicare is what most senior citizens use for health insurance, it has an extremely limited nursing home benefit, covering only up to 100 days of care and only in some circumstances. It is not a reliable source of coverage if you end up needing real long-term care.

Are you wondering what other options for long-term care are available for seniors? Some seniors may rely on family members to help as they get older. There may be an adult child or another relative who can come to the senior’s home regularly or the senior may be able to move in with them. We are, however, living longer these days, and with different generations living in different parts of the country, in-person consistent help from family might not be something you can rely on. This may be particularly true if your children are raising their own children at the same time you need the most help.

If you have no other options, you might be wondering what to do next. A Florida elder law attorney is an excellent next step. Make an appointment and consult with a Florida elder law attorney who specializes in Medicaid planning to find out whether you qualify for Medicaid or how you can plan to qualify for Medicaid when the need for long-term care arises. Qualification depends on your income and assets at the time of your application for coverage. The sooner you meet with a Medicaid attorney, the better the attorney may be able to help you plan for the future. If you are able to qualify for coverage, Medicaid will cover all nursing home costs you may need in the future.

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.

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.

Helping Our Family Caregivers During National Family Caregiver Month

Did you know that November is National Family Caregivers Month? Do you know what family caregivers do? Are you a family caregiver or know someone who is? Family caregivers are unsung heroes, working tirelessly to help elderly or disabled family members. Many family caregivers are juggling their caregiving responsibilities alongside paid work outside the home and caring for their own children. As we celebrate family caregivers this month let us share several ways you can take time to honor family caregivers.

One way to honor your family caregiver would be to think about giving your family caregiver an afternoon off once a week. Perhaps you and other family members could volunteer to give a family caregiver an afternoon off by stepping in to take over the caregiving responsibilities. If you or other members of your family are unable to cover one afternoon a week a professional caregiver could be hired. It can mean a lot to family caregivers to know they do not have to shoulder the caregiving responsibility alone.

In addition, other family members should be aware of what responsibilities a family caregiver has at home and at work. Family members could offer to pick up the caregiver’s kids after school, provide a meal once a week or take the kids out to the park or to a movie. These offers of help let the family caregiver know that the rest of the family understands the overwhelming responsibility of caring for a family member while maintaining a full time job and taking care of kids.

Finally, just as parents take care of their children and make sure their kids are safe, clean, fed and well rested, even if they are tired, hungry or need a shower, the same goes for the family caregiver. The family caregiver is first tasked with keeping his or her elderly or disabled family member clean, fed, well rested and living in a clean and healthy home, no matter how the caregiver feels. Just as parents must work to keep well rested and healthy, so must the family caregiver. To help a caregiver stay healthy, encourage them to take care of themselves by eating right, getting a good night sleep and exercising.

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.