Tag: Elder Law

Why a Florida Prenup Should Be at the Top of Your Estate Planning To Do List

Were you aware that a Florida prenup can be a useful tool in estate planning? While most people assume that prenuptial agreements are only used to protect assets in the event of divorce, this is far from the only reason why many engaged couples choose to create one. 

Couples can use a Florida prenup to designate which assets should be considered separate property, and which are community or shared property. Making this distinction before marriage can prevent separate assets from being wrongly classified as community property when a spouse dies. This may be particularly useful for second or subsequent marriages, or for those who are marrying later in life or who have accumulated significant assets prior to the marriage. In some states, marriage entitles each spouse to a share of your estate (between a third to a half, depending on where you live). If you intend to leave less than that amount to your spouse, he or she has the power to request a higher percentage, which can leave your intended beneficiaries with less. 

Another reason why many couples choose to have a prenuptial agreement is to avoid disputes about money or property during the marriage. For a prenuptial agreement to be valid and legally binding, both parties must fully disclose their assets, properties, and debts in the agreement. Due to their financial picture being clear, there are fewer disagreements about how to manage their assets. 

Another common instance where a Florida prenup may be useful may be in the case of a closely-held family business. Often, business owners require only family members to be owners of the business and its holdings. If during a divorce, the business is determined to be partially owned by both spouses, the non-familial spouse could end up being an owner. In order to alleviate that situation, restrictions could be placed in the business’s agreements, or by transferring ownership of the business to a trust. A prenuptial agreement that describes the business as separate property and sets forth the rights and restrictions on ownership, however, would be another layer of protection for the business. 

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

 

Three Key Veterans Benefits to Know About This November

With Veteran’s Day, November is a great opportunity to set aside time to honor our veterans and thank them for all they have done for our great nation. One way the U.S. tries to give back to veterans is through veterans benefit programs. Did you know, however, that veterans benefits can be very complicated and many veterans may not even be fully aware of the wide range of benefit programs available to them? Let us take time to review three key veterans benefits to know about this November.

First, there are several education benefits offered through the VA. In addition to the GI Bill offering credits to use towards a college degree, it also provides coverage for training certification courses and vocational training programs. The fact that the GI Bill offers these kinds of training opportunities makes it ideal for those veterans who are seeking a career change that does not require a college degree. Veterans can also participate in free coding bootcamps and comparable software training and technology programs through the VET TEC program.

Second, veterans have the option of getting life insurance through the Servicemembers’ and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance program. Through this program, veterans may be able to receive up to $400,000 in life insurance. Not only does this program offer competitive premium rates, but it can allow veterans a chance to gain life insurance where they may find it difficult to find it otherwise. Many veterans face difficulties in getting traditional life insurance and this can be particularly true if they have suffered a service-related injury.

Lastly, veterans should be aware of the long-term care benefits they may be eligible to receive. For instance, the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefits program offers qualifying veterans financial assistance in order to cover the cost of a nursing home and other long-term care facilities. In fact, the program means that couples may receive upwards of $25,000 a year in benefits to help with long-term care costs 

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

How Do We Plan Ahead to Afford Long-Term Care Outside the Home?

Planning to afford long-term care is important because it is estimated that one out of every two of us will need some form of long-term care before we die. Most of us cannot depend on our children to fund these needs since they have their own bills to pay and family dependents to provide for. In addition, government assistance for long-term care is only available to those who are impoverished. 

 

For most of us, however, long-term care expenses will be initially affordable. Unless a person is afflicted by a paralyzing stroke or a quick onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, initial long-term care expenses can be met by paying for the cost of temporary caregivers. These caregivers can attend to basic chores within the home setting that we are physically incapable of easily performing. There are even times, in Florida, when a county funded agency can pay for or help us with the cost of these initial services. This is true if we are financially below the county’s maximum income or asset limit and there are hours available. 

 

In planning to pay for future long-term care outside the home, however, we should plan as early as possible. Where do you find care? There are several options outside of the traditional nursing home setting. For example, one could visit the owner of a family group home in his or her community where four to six persons are cared for at the owner’s home. The resident receives his or her own room with benefits such as housekeeping, assistance with activities of daily living, someone to drive the residents to doctor appointments, and well balanced meals. All of this is in exchange for a reasonable monthly charge. Armed with this information from the local community, the prospective resident could then begin saving monthly to cover the nominal cost of the family group home when this expenditure becomes necessary. 

 

Another example would be when one visits the administrator of assisted living facilities where thirty to forty persons are cared for at the assisted living facility. Again, the resident receives his or her own room that is cleaned every day, assistance with activities of daily living and driving, plus well balanced meals. If a person making the visit or their spouse was a veteran of the armed services during war-time, there may be a monthly VA Pension with Aid and Attendance available if the prospective resident’s assets and income are below the government threshold. 

 

Again, the key is to start planning early. Researching the costs of these options plus the daily cost of the nursing home should be done before the need arises in the family. We encourage you to meet with a member of our legal team to discuss your concerns about where to live and how to pay for the care you may need. Further, do not wait to discuss your durable power of attorney in this meeting as it is important that this document is written to contemplate long-term care so the agent can sign the application for benefits if you are incapacitated. 

Opioids and Elder Abuse

The Centers for Disease Control calls the Opioid addiction epidemic *the* public health crisis of our time.

But the crisis also has serious *financial* ramifications.

In fact, a national study shows the Opioid epidemic is contributing to a significant rise in elder *financial* abuse.

Of special concern is the increasing number of older adults being exploited by people, including family members, looking for a way to finance their habit.

Researchers at Virginia Tech recently posted a blog about a case study in which a grandson stole $85,000 from his grandfather to support his heroin addiction.

The grandfather suffered from dementia.

After draining the finances addicts may also begin to physically and psychologically abuse the elderly victim, isolating them from anyone who might help.

If you or someone you love sees sign of this type of abuse, call Elder Law Attorney, Anne Desormier-Cartwright.

Elder and Estate Planning attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service large enough to handle all your estate and planning needs.

Seven Signs of Elder Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

Elder & Estate Planning Attorneys, PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs.

The importance of trust administration in estate planning

Managing the expectations of beneficiaries is one of the most important aspects of trust administration. Many people having heard that living trusts avoid probate, assume that a trust administration is simple, and that the trust property somehow passes to them automatically, because of this many people are disappointed to learn the process can take months, which is why it is important to address unrealistic expectations early in the process. Trust distribution can occur in several stages. It’s important to obtain appraisals and project tax liabilities with accuracy to be sure all debts are paid. This needs to happen before the beneficiaries receive funds, says Anné Desormier-Cartwright of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA. If a beneficiary challenges a trustees actions, or can test the validity of the trust, the trustee may have to withhold distributions until the dispute is resolved. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service, but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs.

If you need assistance with your VA pension, know THIS

Many older veterans are unaware that they can qualify for financial help in paying for the cost of home care. Most veterans complete their military service and move on with their lives without looking to the VA for help. But VA pension benefits can become important for these veterans later in life. To qualify for VA pension the veteran must be 65 or older, or permanently disabled for reasons not related to military service. In addition, the veteran must have low income and only modest new worth. The veteran must have had 90 days of military service that included at least one day during a period of war. To receive a pension, the veteran’s income must be below the maximum annual pension rate set by the government. Because medical expenses reduce countable income, an aging veteran who needs ongoing long-term care services and supports may now be able to qualify for financial assistance from the VA, says Anné Desormier-Cartwright, of Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA. The extra funds can make all the difference in allowing the veteran to get the support needed to remain at home. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to handle all of your state and planning needs.

Protecting Your Loved Ones From Elder Abuse

Elder abuse has become increasingly common especially in the state of Florida. Typically, elder abuse involves a financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult who is subjected to a trusted caregiver who will manipulate them and take their property without their permission. Elderly people are being robbed of assets they worked their entire lives to build. They’re being manipulated by people under a false pretense of trust and they’re quite literally paying for it. If you suspect an elderly friend or relative may be a victim of elder abuse and exploitation be aware that it’s something that can be reported to the court system and help that person have their assets returned to them. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys PA is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to handle all of your estate and planning needs.

Going Through a “Gray Divorce” Requires Keeping an Eye on Retirement

We know that going through a divorce can be a traumatic experience for anyone at any age. Younger and middle-aged couples often face the unfortunate challenge of splitting up with children involved. Older couples face their own harrowing challenges, particularly if they have been married for a long time and are beyond their prime working years.

Many older adults no longer possess the desire to climb the corporate ladder or compete in the job market, if they are able to work at all. Further, with their shared nest eggs and investments that can be greatly reduced through a separation, it is recommended that older couples keep an eye on their retirement accounts when going through a “Gray” Divorce.

As always, meeting with an experienced attorney should be one of your first steps if you are considering a divorce. When it comes to separating later in life a consultation with an estate planning and elder law attorney is critical so you may discuss the impact on your long-term care options. Let us share a few tips to help you through this process.

1. Seek wise counsel. Obtaining a qualified attorney is a must, but a financial advisor or attorney with estate planning experience can be an added advantage. They can help organize long-term retirement goals, set up estate documents, and provide information and guidance for negotiating a favorable divorce settlement.

2. Obtain documents. Whether you or your spouse was in charge of your legal, financial, insurance and tax documents, it can be critically important to obtain copies for your divorce negotiations and retirement planning. Think of these items as the bedrock for your financial future.

3. Be financially prudent. It is true that there is more to life than money, as evidenced by the love and compassion that once led to your marriage. Money, however, is an inescapable part of life, and the older one gets the more important financial stability becomes.

4. Make sound financial decisions. This is important throughout the course of a “Gray” Divorce proceeding, as well as, with post-divorce decisions about the lifestyle one can realistically afford. A healthy goal would be the funding a comfortable, long-term retirement and building up from there. It may be easier said than done, but it is not impossible.

Knowing that you are financially supported in your latter, non-working years can bring peace of mind during a difficult time. It may also allow you to live out your golden years with a greater sense of enjoyment amid your new family circumstances. Do not wait to contact us with your questions