Tag: estate planning

The End of the Year Long-Term Planning Checklist You Need in Florida

Are you an active senior living on your own in Florida? As the year comes to an end, have you thought about your future and long-term care? What would happen to you if you suddenly became incapacitated due to an accident or surgery? What is your plan if you receive a serious health diagnosis? Do you have a legacy in place for your estate when you pass away? All these questions need planning ahead for answers.

Quite frankly, most of us would like to avoid even thinking about any long-term planning, let alone doing anything, but it is very important. Having the time to decide early, before a crisis occurs, is invaluable. Working with an experienced Florida elder law attorney to ensure your lifetime of savings is protected from nursing home bills is an invaluable gift. 

When you do meet with your Florida elder law attorney, how do you begin the conversation about planning for the future? In our office, we understand that long-term planning can be complicated. We know that you, like many of our clients, have questions. Below, we would like to share with you an end of the year long-term care planning checklist. As the year is drawing to a close you may want to use it when talking to your loved ones about long-term care planning for yourself over the holidays, or anytime throughout the year.

  • Do you live at home?
  • Are there mobility issues within your home?
  • Is your home equipped for you to age in place?
  • Do you have a life alert or alarm system in place to help you should you fall?
  • Have you had any changes to your doctors or your medications?
  • Are your doctors covered by your insurance?
  • Do you have any new health care concerns that have arisen over the past year?
  • Do you have a good local support system?
  • How is your mental health?
  • How collaborative is your family dynamic?
  • Do you have a Florida estate plan and is it up to date?
  • Does your Florida durable power of attorney include super powers?
  • Are you able to live comfortably on your monthly income?
  • Do you have long-term care insurance?
  • How long could you afford to pay for a nursing home out of pocket?
  • Have you worked with an experienced Florida elder law attorney to create a plan for long-term care?

While long-term planning can be difficult to think about, it is critical. As the year draws to an end, long-term care planning may be developed in a way to provide certainty, which can often be missing in the aging process. When you plan for your long-term care you and those you love will benefit from the peace of mind that comes with your planning.

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.

Resources and Ideas to Support Family Caregivers This November

Are you aware that the month of November has been devoted to recognizing and encouraging the nation’s family caregiver population? During November, National Family Caregivers Month formally acknowledges the work of these unselfish family members who are crucial to our society and understands their value. In fact, without the vital and year-round aid of family caregivers, millions of seniors would have serious difficulties.

Throughout the nation there are over 53 million of these compassionate individuals. In recognition of National Family Caregivers Month, we would like to share some very important resources for caregivers and seniors on our blog.

1. Respite care should be available for caregivers. Caregiving is often a sacrifice in terms of time, money and opportunity costs, especially if a senior loved one has a physical or mental health disability. Therefore, many times caregivers are at risk of developing their own health problems due to exhaustion and unmet needs. By having respite care available, caregivers are able to take breaks and care for themselves.

2. Health care options for seniors. Do you know all the health care options available to seniors today? Please look at this list.

  • Department of Veterans Affairs – The V.A. provides a vast array of support services for qualifying senior veterans and their families, including a paid family caregiver benefit. The program is called Veteran-Directed Home and Community Based Services. Elder law attorneys are potent advocates for senior veterans’ rights and often help secure V.A. benefits if they are denied.
  • Medicare — Medicare is a massive federal health program for people aged 65 and older. Senior caregivers might not realize that Medicare covers home health and skilled nursing services in many circumstances.
  • Medicaid — Medicaid is a federal-state partnership program that provides health coverage for people with limited income and assets. Medicaid can also pay for long-term care in nursing homes.
  • SHIPs — State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, or SHIPs, provide free support to Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers.

3. Legal planning is essential. If you have a senior loved one, the time to start legal planning is now. Do you have questions about what you or your aging loved ones need? From advance directives to estate planning to long-term care proactive planning, a Florida elder law attorney can help.

We know you may have questions. 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.

8 Critical Considerations When Planning for Florida Long-Term Care

Did you know that with less than half of all Americans today having an estate plan, even fewer have planned for their long-term care needs? What exactly is long-term care planning? Long-term care planning, or elder law planning, is planning for a possible future when you may need to depend on someone every day due to physical and/or mental cognitive issues.

We meet with seniors and their loved ones on a regular basis about what it means to need long-term care and how to plan successfully to meet those needs. We would like to share and have you think about these critical considerations as you learn more about long-term care.

1. Start to plan for long-term care now. You do not want to put off planning until it is too late. In fact, the best gift you can give yourself is to have a long-term care plan in place so that should the time come when you are in need of long-term care you are prepared and not at risk.

2. Be sure your estate plan is up-to-date and reflects what you want. In addition to a long-term care plan, having an estate plan is important. Your estate plan allows you to give legal authority for healthcare and financial decisions to another trusted person. You can also designate this person or persons the authority to make decisions when you are not able to do so independently.

3. Know the cost of long-term care. Long-term care in any setting is expensive. You can learn the cost for the type of care in our state by using this link from the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. Look at your financial resources. Should the time come that you need long-term care there will be a cost. What can you afford right now? What do you want to protect? What are your monthly bills? Prepare yourself for the future by understanding where you stand right now. Your Florida elder law attorney can assist you with your preparations.

4. Know the different types of long-term care. You need to know that there are many steps in between nursing home care and home care. From homebase care to independent care to assisted-living care and skilled nursing home care, there are many options. You can use this link we want to share with you from the AARP website.

5. Look into whether long-term care insurance is an option for you. Long-term care insurance is a type of insurance that can provide financial assistance should you need long-term care. Do not put off speaking with a long-term care insurance agent to learn more about what your options are.

6. Speak with an experienced Florida elder law attorney. An experienced Florida elder law attorney will be able to educate you on what your options are in numerous circumstances and come up with a plan to make sure you, your family, and what you care about most, is protected. Make a list of questions. Long-term care, the aging process, and family relationships are all complicated. Do not hesitate to make a list of what you are concerned about and the questions you need answered. Be aware, this list will change over time as you answer one question and encounter the next.

7. Know your support group. Unfortunately, many of us do not have the luxury of our children living in the same city, let alone being able to help with long-term care needs should they arise. Determine who your local support group is and speak candidly with them about what long-term care means and how you will get the support you need.

8. Discuss now with your doctors and specialists. Long-term care impacts every person differently. If you have a new diagnosis or a chronic condition, speak freely with your doctor about what you should expect in the future. While your long-term care needs are unique to you, your doctor knows you and will be able to give you advice on what to understand and potentially plan for.

We know this list may seem daunting. We also know you may have more questions now that you’ve read it. 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 Reasons Why Trusts Fail

Are you contemplating adding a trust to your Florida estate plan? Trusts are a useful estate planning instrument: To keep an estate out of probate. For tax planning purposes. For long-term care planning by structuring a person’s assets in a way that makes him or her eligible for Medicaid to cover the expense of a nursing home. Unfortunately, though, trusts can also fail. We would like to share with you three reasons why a trust may fail.

1. The trust was never funded. Working with your Florida estate planning attorney and creating a trust is a lot of work. Equally important is signing the trust and making it legal. However, there is one more very important step, the trust must be funded. All of the assets described in the trust must be moved into the trust in order for the trust to be funded. This means that the trust must hold title to all of your assets. This involves changing the deed on your home, the title to cars, boats, RV’s, the ownership of bank accounts and stock certificates intended to be transferred into the trust. Funding a trust can be a critical step in properly establishing a trust, but it is also one that may be overlooked. If the trust is not funded, the trust’s beneficiaries may find that they will receive nothing from the trust.

2. The beneficiaries were never updated. Once you have completed your trust, you do not just place it in a drawer or safety deposit box and forget it. A trust should be reviewed and if necessary updated whenever there is a significant life change, such as the birth or death of a loved one, a divorce or a remarriage, or even the death of your trustor. All of these life events can impact who inherits from your estate.

3. The trust was never updated to reflect current law. You need to be aware that the laws on trust and estates can change. In fact, your trust may have been drafted under one set of laws, but more importantly, there may be new or updated laws at the time of your passing, which have the potential to invalidate portions of your trust. Your best solution to this problem is to work with your Florida estate planning attorney. She can provide periodic bulletins regarding significant changes in the law, which can alert you to the need to have your trust revised. It is vital that everyone have their trust reviewed periodically by their estate planning attorney to assure that it is supported by current law.

With good planning, trusts can be one of the most useful estate planning instruments. 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 and Pointers on Where to Keep Your Original Florida Estate Planning Documents?

As a senior adult, are you like many Americans, still keeping your important paperwork and valuables at your bank? Do you believe a safe deposit box is the best place for storing important documents? After all, is it not logical that renting a safe deposit box is a much safer bet than keeping everything at home? These are all good questions and we would like to address them in our blog.

Now that you, together with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney, have created your documents for your Florida estate plan, you may be thinking about keeping your documents at your bank. However, you may be surprised to learn that there are pros and cons to this plan. We would like to share more on this topic so you can make a decision and, as always, do not hesitate to ask us your questions.

Interestingly, many estate planning attorneys may urge their clients not to keep the original copies of their estate planning documents in a safe deposit box. Let us share four tips and pointers as to why: 1. The bank is only open on certain days and at specific times. 2. Access to safe deposit boxes is limited to the owner or owners. 3. If you are the sole owner of a safety deposit box, your family and/or the personal representative(s) of your estate may need a court order to get your documents. 4. There can be ways around this, such as adding additional owners to the box, but you may not want to or forget to use them. We recommend you speak with your attorney because you can designate access to your safe deposit box in your durable power of attorney. A word of caution, though, banks do not always honor these documents when the time comes. Further, they cease to work upon your passing.

Where should you put your original estate planning documents, other papers and valuables? Instead of putting your original estate planning documents in a safe deposit box, consider these tips and pointers: 1. A fireproof and waterproof lockbox at home. 2. A home safe. 3. A secure container on an upper shelf of a closet or cabinet.

No matter where you decide to keep your original documents, remember to make copies. You can safely take copies of your documents with you to any professional visits you need to make, for example, your physician. Your original estate planning documents need to remain safely stored away so that there will be no challenges in the future for your needs, the needs of your family and your legacy. Be sure to discuss this now with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney.

As always, we are here to answer any of your questions and help address your concerns. You are welcome to ask us about storing your original estate planning documents, or about any estate planning matters, at any time. 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.

3 Ideas for Including a Pet Trust in Your Florida Estate Plan

Do you have a pet or pets? You know how hard it is when the pet you have loved and cared for and who has been with you for a long time passes away. However, It may be very possible that your pet will outlive you. Are you an aging adult or do you have a pet that has a longer than average lifespan? You may want to consider a pet trust to ensure your pet is cared for after you are gone. We would like to share with you more about a pet trust and give you three A, B, C, thoughts to consider in regard to a pet trust being in your estate plan.

1. Aim for the right caregiver. You know your pet best. When you set up your pet trust, you will be able to name the right person to care for your pet. Now, your adult child may feel it would be his or her responsibility to take your pet. However, your adult child does not have the right circumstances at home to do so, perhaps because of having very young children or already having pets of his or her own. By choosing a different friend or relative you can ease the pressure on your adult child and it gives you the chance to make that choice yourself, rather than having it be decided under stressful circumstances later on.

2. Be sure to provide financial support for your pet. In most states, when you create a pet trust, you are permitted to instruct the trustee, the person in charge of handling the money in the trust, to make distributions to your pet’s caregiver on a monthly or annual basis. This can be done for either the remainder of your pet’s life or for 21 years, whichever is shorter. In some states, the cut-off is simply for the remainder of your pet’s life. This can be an important point if you have a less common type of pet, like a bird or lizard, who could live beyond 21 years after your death because their breed has a longer-than-average lifespan.

3. Comfort of your pet is important. Like many humans, your pet may have special medical needs, or personal preferences. You are allowed to put as many specific instructions as you wish into a pet trust. For example, you can state that the pet needs to see a certain veterinarian, for as long as that person is practicing, or that the pet needs to be seen two, three, or four times per year. You can also leave funds for a more expensive brand of food if your pet needs that brand. This can be important for many pet owners who want their companion to be comfortable after they are gone.

Are you interested in establishing a pet trust? Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

Is Protecting Your Digital Assets a Key New Year’s Resolution?

When you made your New Year’s resolutions did you include understanding how to protect your digital assets? Digital assets are a hot topic and data security is in the headlines.  In addition, digital privacy is on the mind of many Floridians making this month a perfect time to be sure that our digital assets are secure now and in the future, including after we pass on. 

As you create or update your Florida estate plan, did you know that digital assets can be included in your plan? One aspect of securing your digital assets in the future can be accomplished while creating or updating your estate plan. We would like to share some  guidelines that may assist you in understanding how to include digital assets in your estate plan while keeping them secure in the meantime.

A critical first step in addressing the security of your digital assets is to preserve and protect your passwords. Most of us protect our digital assets with passwords. That being said, it is often tough to keep track of all of the different passwords you use to access different accounts on a frequent basis.  In fact, you may have resorted to using a memory or list feature on your computer or on your cell phone to keep track of all your passwords. Saving to some type of device is, unfortunately, not the most secure of practices.  Remember, it is important to choose strong passwords that cannot easily be guessed, and to change them frequently, even if only once a year. Always check frequently to be sure that your passwords have not been compromised. Update them immediately if they have!  We suggest that you keep track of your passwords by making a written list and keeping it in a locked desk drawer or safe deposit box. Wherever you keep this list it should be somewhere you can access frequently, so that you can make updates to the list.

What assets can become part of your estate plan?  Financial digital assets, like a digital Paypal, Venmo, or bitcoin account. Also, sentimental digital assets, like a collection of photographs or videos of your children and grandchildren. With any and all assets like these, someone needs to be able to access these assets after you pass away.  How do you accomplish this?  You may want to consider picking a “password person” who can be trusted with this information and keep him or her informed of where you keep your password list so it can be accessed if and when the time comes. As stated previously, when you create or update your estate plan you may also wish to detail who should have access to your digital assets or leave your personal representative instructions with respect to your passwords. 

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

The Best Gift You Can Make This Holiday Season

Have you realized that in just a few short weeks, it will be 2022? Even with the persisting pandemic adding a layer to our plans, for most of us, we are busy finalizing our end of the year plans, purchasing last minute holiday gifts, and making plans to spend time with family. This is the perfect time to take stock of what has happened this year, as well as reflect on your goals for the coming year. For example, what went well and what could we improve on.

As we reflect on the past year and look to the future, do you have goals for yourself, your loved ones, and your legacy? We encourage you to take the time to not only think about the immediate actions that must be completed before the end of the year, but that you also think about what the future may hold for you. While you may be rushing to complete a shopping list of holiday gifts for your family, consider that completing or updating your Florida estate plan may be the best gift you can give them.

Do you have a current Florida estate plan? As a Florida senior, you may have many questions. For instance, who will make your decisions if you are not able to make them for yourself? If you are in a car accident, who will have the legal authority to pay your bills? Who could handle your business affairs if you could not? Should both your adult children be in charge of your finances? Will your retirement plans be able to support you as you age?

We hear questions like these, and more, from our clients and their family members each day. Remember that old adage: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Based on our experience, when it comes to Florida estate planning, you need to know your plan will work when you need it to. This holiday season, a completed Florida estate plan is quite possibly the best gift you can give to your loved ones.

In addition, while Florida estate planning is a critical part of your health and well being, we want you to know that there is a second planning component that needs to be addressed and completed as well. It is your elder law planning, which includes long-term care. After they reach the age of 70, the majority of Americans will need some form of long-term care. Much of this care is not covered by Medicare and will fall on the Florida senior to pay for out of pocket. With prior planning we can assure you it does not have to be this way. We can work with you to not only create an estate plan but also a long-term care plan that can protect the estate plan you are putting in place and allow you to be able to leave a legacy for your family, no matter what the future holds.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. You are welcome to contact our law practice now, or at any time throughout the year, and schedule a meeting to make sure you have the Florida legal planning you need to accomplish your goals.

4 Tips for Reviewing Your Florida Estate Plan During National Estate Planning Awareness Week

Did you know, during the third week of October every year we focus on National Estate Planning Awareness week? How familiar are you with estate planning in Florida? Did you know estate planning involves putting legal protections in place to help secure a future you want for yourself and your loved ones? Do you have a Florida estate plan right now but need to make sure it reflects what you need?

Many of our potential clients have estate planning that is years out of date. It does not reflect their goals for their:

• Decision makers for finances and health care
• The age or marital status of their children
• Is missing key beneficiaries such as grandchildren
• Does not reflect their disability needs
• Does not represent the legacy they wish to leave

Let us share four tips on how to review your Florida estate plan with your attorney on our blog.

1. Is it from Florida? While this may seem like an unusual question to begin with, your out of state estate plan may not work in Florida. Start by reviewing your plan to make sure that it was written and executed in Florida. After you determine the state of origination, look at the dates. Is it only a few years old? Or older? Laws change over time and you may need to work with your attorney to update it to reflect the current laws.

2. Does it consider your incapacity planning? Incapacity planning allows for considerations such as having someone you have selected assist you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The most important tools for incapacity planning include a Florida durable power of attorney, health care planning tools, and living will.

3. Does it reflect your goals for your legacy? Creating a legacy is what most of our potential clients who come to our firm are looking for. While the last will and testament may be the most common legal document for estate planning, there may be more flexibility to create the legacy you want through a trust agreement. What are your goals? Have they changed since you last created your estate plan?

4. Make a list of what you want, now. Your needs met change over time. They may have changed since you last created your Florida estate plan. Go ahead and make a list of what you want, now, and the changes you anticipate you will need to make. You can bring this list to your meeting with your estate planning attorney so that she can help you update your existing Florida estate plan or create a new one to reflect what you need.

Whether you schedule an appointment with our firm during the month of October or anytime throughout the year, our law firm is here to help you. We can guide you through your Florida estate planning options and update your existing plan to ensure it reflects what you want. Please do not hesitate to contact our office today to schedule a meeting with our experienced Florida attorneys.