Tag: Elder Law

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.

Five Tips For Helping Your Senior Loved Ones Avoid Feeling Isolated During COVID-19 And Beyond

Have you considered that our senior citizens may have been one of the groups most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, not just because they are the citizens with the highest fatality statistics, but also because they are forced into isolation to best ensure their safety? Many of them have lost their spouses, live far away from family, or live in a facility that may not allow visitors or only limited visitors during the pandemic. Let us review five tips for helping our senior loved ones stay connected during and after the pandemic.

  1. Increase your virtual contact. Make sure you are contacting your senior loved ones as much as possible, even if it is just a daily text message to say hello and to tell them you are thinking about them, it can give them something to look forward to every day.

  2. Send cards and gifts. Show how much you care by sending cards or small gifts to make them feel special and loved.

  3. Photos or videos of grandkids. Nothing may brighten up the face of our seniors more than seeing children. Since they probably cannot visit, make sure they still get to see their grandchildren. Send framed photos or photo albums that they can keep in their room. Text pictures and videos that they can save to their phone and view anytime they want. 

  4. Schedule virtual activities. Get activities on the calendar. Maybe you can schedule a weekly “story time with grandma” and block off a time when your senior loved one can read to a grandchild over Zoom, Facetime, or another virtual platform. Maybe your senior loved ones like to play board games and you can schedule a weekly virtual game night. Putting an activity consistently on their calendar can help keep them engaged in the family and avoid feeling isolated. 

  5. Visit outside. If feasible, and weather permitting, try to have outdoor and socially distant visits to get your loved ones out of the house and connected with you in person.  You could go for a walk or have an outdoor picnic to brighten their spirits.

 

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.

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.