Tag: Elder Law

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.

Tips for Creating a Loving Legacy for Your Children This Valentine’s Day

Do you enjoy giving your adult children gifts on Valentine’s Day? Most of us do. This year, though, are you trying to look for a gift that will show them how much you love them and care about their future?

A gift that will show your love and concern for their future can be accomplished in many ways. As we move forward through the month of February and beyond, we would like to share a few ways that you can plan to protect your family and create a loving legacy that will provide for them in the future, especially this Valentine’s Day.

1. Put a plan in place to protect your legacy from long-term care costs. The cost of long-term care for Older Americans is expected to rise. It is, therefore, important that you be prepared now to afford the long-term care that you may need in the future. This is critical so that your spouse and children are not left struggling to find answers or to have to pay the long-term care costs. Floridians must realize that the failure to plan can cost them their goals for the legacy they create for their children.

We encourage you to develop the planning needed with your loved ones and discuss shared goals for long-term care. A vital next step in the development of your plan is to meet and speak to an experienced estate planning attorney. Most estate planning attorneys are also knowledgeable about elder law issues, and will understand your goals and needs and can help you prepare the appropriate planning documents.

2. Planning to retire soon? You can still start right now to leave a legacy for your children. As you consider the legacy you want to leave behind, find out whether retirement will impact your legacy and also how your long-term care plan could be affected.

Retirement can bring you and your loved ones many changes. Creating an estate plan is one of the best ways to ensure that your children have a clear understanding of how you want to use your retirement savings, as well as how you want it to provide for them and their families in the future. This is the way you can begin to create your legacy, which is how you will both protect yourself and your family’s future. Plan now, not later, to create a legacy for your children so that they are protected in the event something happens to you.

3. By creating your planning documents early you can define your legacy and discuss it with your loved ones. Do you want to ensure your loved ones are well taken care of in the event of your passing or sudden incapacity? Create an estate plan! In addition, it is a way to prepare for your own care as you get older. With your estate plan your family will know the legacy that you have created.

We urge you to not be like so many others and put off this type of planning until it is too late. Be very aware that without the ability to make decisions, you cannot be involved in any planning for yourself or create your own documents. By choosing to not move forward with your planning you may leave your family vulnerable in a crisis. Further, it is not enough to simply make your estate plans, your planning needs to be discussed with your loved ones. This will give them the peace to know that you have an estate plan and now they know what you want for the future.

These are just a few of the ways you can plan to protect your family and make the plans you need to provide for them when you are gone. As we reflect on Valentine’s Day and show those in your life the ways you love them, now is the time to get started. Preparation is key to successful planning and to help you accomplish your goals. 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.

What Are The Differences Between A Skilled Nursing Home And An Assisted Living Facility?

Have you or a senior loved one reached the point where it may no longer be safe or appropriate to live at home without assistance? If so, you may be considering moving into a skilled nursing home or an assisted living facility and find yourself wondering what is the difference between the two? Although both facilities offer medical care and assistance with activities of daily living, there are a few essential differences that are important to understand.

First, an assisted living facility may be more of a residential setting and a skilled nursing home may be more of a clinical setting. The difference in settings may be due to the fact that those in a skilled nursing home typically require constant medical care and attention.

Another key difference can be the amount of independence afforded by the facilities. Those in an assisted living facility may be able to live a bit more independently and, thus, are given the opportunity to cook their own meals and participate in a wide range of social and recreational activities. In a skilled nursing facility, residents do not have access to their own kitchen for meal preparation and all meals are instead prepared by the staff. While nursing home residents are given the opportunity to socialize and participate in activities, they are often more limited based on the physical health and condition of the residents.

Finally, nursing home and assisted living facilities differ in cost and insurance coverage. According to the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, the cost of a skilled nursing home is nearly double the cost of an assisted living community and can amount to over $100,000.00 annually for a private room. Paying for either senior care option can impose an enormous financial burden on seniors and their families. Medicare will not pay for assisted living costs and full Medicaid benefits might not be available. You should start investigating your coverage options as soon as possible. Fortunately, an elder law attorney will be able to analyze your financial circumstances and medical needs and help you come up with a plan to pay for whatever care option is right for you.

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

Three Tips on Helping a Loved One Deal with Memory Loss

Whether an Alzheimer’s diagnosis or just the memory loss that can come with aging, watching a loved one struggle to recall important events or little daily details can be painful. It can be important, however, to keep your expectations realistic and assist them where you can. Do you have a loved one dealing with memory loss? Let us discuss three tips on how you can help.

1. Offer Help Where You Can. Your loved one may be too proud to ask for help or refuse it when you offer. Still, it can be important to keep trying. You may not need to micromanage everyday life. You can and should make sure your loved one remembers important doctor’s appointments and major holidays and events that he or she needs time to prepare for. If it feels like you are always the person reminding your loved one and he or she expresses frustration with the dynamic, you can ask other relatives to step in and assist as well so that it eases any tension that can build up in a caregiver relationship.

2. Make Time to Grieve. You may be disappointed when your loved one forgets things that are meaningful to you. Remember that your loved one may likely also be forgetting things that are important to him or her, and to other children or grandchildren. It is okay to be upset when this happens. It can also be important to make time to grieve the loss of the type of relationship you had with your loved one before memory loss. You can still have a fulfilling relationship now, but it may not be the same. 

3. Assist with Estate Planning. Before your loved one experiences memory loss to the point that he or she is unable to make major decisions, check in about his or her estate planning. Make sure existing documents are updated and start from scratch where essential documents do not yet exist. If you wait to do this, it might be too late, if your loved one gets to the point where he or she is not able to fully understand his or her legal and medical affairs. 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.

No Time To Waste: Why Your Aging Parent Needs A Power Of Attorney Now

Have you talked to your parent about incapacity planning? Although talking with your aging parent about planning for his or her potential incapacity is never an easy task, it can be critical to have these difficult conversations to help ensure that your parent may be protected. A power of attorney can be an essential legal document because it can allow someone to put in place a plan for managing his or her affairs in the event he or she is unable to do so due to something such as incapacitation.  

An example of such a circumstance that may benefit from a power of attorney being in place could be a tragic car accident where a person suffers injuries that impact his or her ability to make sound decisions. Alternatively, a common concern as our parents get older, a senior may begin to suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. With a power of attorney in place, you can help ensure that your aging parent’s wishes are carried out in accordance with his or her plan if your parent is ever in the position where he or she is unable to manage affairs.

In the power of attorney document, your parent will identify one or more persons to act as his or her agent in the event of incapacity. The power of attorney document outlines the specific powers and authority that the agent has and it can be crafted based on your parent’s wishes. The agent acting pursuant to the power of attorney is a fiduciary to your parent so the agent must act only in your parent’s best interest. It may be important to note that putting a durable power of attorney in place can be important for incapacity planning. The durability feature means that the power granted under the power of attorney survives incapacitation of the principal, your parent.  

If your aging parent does not have a power of attorney in place, then you may need to enlist the help of an experienced estate planning attorney to put one in place for your parent now. As with all estate planning, many people may think that there is no need to rush. A power of attorney, however, can be critical because, in many states, including Florida, if you feel that your parent is unable to manage his or her own affairs, you may need to have your parent placed under guardianship if there is no power of attorney in place. This may mean a court will have to determine whether your parent is in fact incapacitated and unable to act on his or her own behalf. The court may need to hear from a doctor or witnesses to make this decision.  Once your parent is deemed incapacitated, the court next decides who manages his or her affairs and how to do so. The power of attorney can eliminate the need for court intervention and give your parent the ability to control who acts as his or her agent. 

Do you have questions? Please contact our law practice to learn more. We are here for you. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.