Tag: loved one

How to Start Important Conversations About Medical Care with Aging Loved Ones

Are you the adult child of aging parents? Do you know if your loved ones have a current estate plan in place? Have you had any conversations with your aging parents about planning for their future? If you are uncertain of the plans of your aging parents it is important for you to know what they would want in the event of a sudden crisis or incapacity. We encourage you to set aside time, as soon as possible, to have conversations with your aging loved ones about their personal preferences for medical and long-term care.

Are you having a difficult time starting the conversation with your parents about their plans for their future healthcare? You could begin your conversation with these questions.

• Do you have someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf?
• Do you have someone you absolutely DO NOT want to make decisions for you?
• Do you want to use feeding tubes, life support, and other artificial life-saving devices?
• Is there any type of medical care you would NEVER want?
• If you were permanently disabled or incapacitated, what would help or take away from your “quality of life?”
• If you had a choice, would you prefer skilled nursing home care or in-home healthcare?
• If co-pays become excessive or insurance does not cover your treatment how would you want your family to pay for your care?

As your aging loved ones make their choices, they must be sure to document all of their decisions and choices in their estate plan.  Your parents should make an appointment to meet with an experienced and qualified Florida estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Their estate planning attorney will be able to offer advice and assistance as they choose a healthcare decision maker.

Do you 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.

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.

Helping Our Family Caregivers During National Family Caregiver Month

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

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

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

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

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

What is the VA Pension and Is Your Loved One Eligible?

What is the VA pension? It is a non-service connected pension, available each month to a permanent and totally disabled veteran when the veteran is 65 years of age or older, honorably discharged after at least 90 days of active duty with one day being during wartime, and experiencing financial need.

Does the veteran over age 65 have to prove that he or she is actually disabled? No, it is presumed that because the veteran is over 65 that the veteran is disabled. A veteran who is younger than age 65, however, must demonstrate that he or she is permanently and totally disabled in order to receive this financial assistance. In fact, this disability for a person under age 65 must be an impairment that renders it impossible for the average person to follow a substantially gainful occupation. This impairment must be one that is reasonably certain to continue throughout life.

What are the three types of monthly non-service connected pensions that are paid by the Veterans Administration to offset the cost of necessary health care? They are: Low Income Pension, Housebound Benefits, and Aid and Attendance Benefits.

In addition, there may be an extra benefit amount if the claimant is “permanently housebound.” The person demonstrates this by being substantially confined to his or her dwelling and knowing that this condition will continue throughout his or her lifetime.

When the disability and wartime service test is met, and before the veteran may begin receiving a VA pension, a three part means test qualification must be met. First, the payments to the potential claimant, his or her spouse, and dependent children from all sources are considered. This also includes recurring income such as social security and pensions, as well as irregular income for the next twelve months.

The unreimbursed medical expenses are then excluded from income. Unreimbursed medical expenses include but are not limited to Medicare Part B premiums, Medigap premiums, Medicare Part D premiums, and prescription drug payments as well as caregiver expenses or recurring assisted living expenses. The gross income less the unreimbursed medical expenses will determine the claimant’s Income for VA Purposes (IVAP). The goal is for the IVAP to be $0. This is because there is a reduction against the Monthly Maximum Pension Rate (the income limit) for every dollar of IVAP.

We know the ins and outs of VA Pension can be confusing. Do not wait to schedule a meeting to ask your questions and address your concerns this November, or anytime throughout the year.

Planning for a Loved One with Special Needs in Florida During National Special Needs Planning Month

Do you have a loved one in your family who has a disability? There are many legal considerations you need to discuss with your Florida estate planning attorney if your Florida estate plan needs to include special needs planning for someone who may need more assistance to manage his or her disability. While we know that it may be easier to avoid this estate planning topic due to the potentially difficult future it forces you to face, you simply cannot wait to complete this planning. Instead, you need to be proactive and plan ahead for the long-term future of your loved one with special needs.

One of the biggest issues we see in our practice is that when someone with a disability reaches the age of majority, there are many changes that can take place that the family is often not prepared for. As an example, did you know that if the person with the disability is extremely high on the spectrum or can barely function for him- or herself, a parent no longer has the legal right to make decisions? Without the proper Florida estate planning in place, even your loved one with a significant developmental, cognitive or mental health disability is legally permitted to make decisions at the age of majority.

What should you do as a parent or grandparent of a disabled family member? Plan ahead with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney! After all, for years, you have spoken to the school, to banks, financial institutions, doctors, specialists and so many more for this individual. It does not have to stop, but you do need the legal authority to act. If your disabled family member does not have the requisite capacity to make Florida advanced directives, such as powers of attorney or health care planning documents, you may need to consider creating a guardianship or engage in the guardian advocacy process.

As a guardian of the person and property, or as the guardian advocate, you will be able to maintain the authority to make legal decisions for your special needs loved one. The process of deciding whether or not guardianship is necessary can be difficult. Before speaking with your attorney, evaluate your loved one’s medical, educational, financial, and vocational decision-making skills. In this situation, your loved one may be able to retain specific control over some aspects of his or her life, but you, as the guardian, maintain the rest.

Your attorney with specific expertise in this area can be especially helpful for guidance and decision-making. Your attorney will not only help you with the advanced directives or the guardianship but work with you to ensure that your Florida estate planning is comprehensive and up-to-date. You need to ensure your legacy will provide for your loved one with disabilities should something happen to you. Planning ahead for a future when you are no longer here is extremely important. You do not want the person with disabilities to be left to his or her own defenses, or let the court make decisions through the intestacy process in the probate court.

A special needs trust can be set up for people with disabilities to ensure that money will be available for a person with autism throughout his or her lifetime. It can be used for a special needs beneficiary while not interrupting his or her ability to receive public benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income. We can help you both understand this process and complete the Florida estate planning you need.

You know as well as we do that people with disabilities deserve the best planning possible. The key to success with all Florida estate planning is to prepare and take action early. We encourage you to contact our office now, or anytime throughout the year, to schedule an appointment and start planning.

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.