Tag: senior americans

Does Florida Require Children to Pay a Parent’s Nursing Home Bill?

Are you familiar with filial responsibility laws? These laws hold that the adult child or children of an impoverished parent has the legal obligation to pay for the necessities of the parent who cannot do so for themselves. While it is accepted that parents are held legally responsible for the action and debts of their minor children, were you aware of the possibility of adult children being responsible for the debts of their parents? At least half of the states (at this time, Florida is not one of these states) in the U.S. have filial responsibility laws, which can create a legal obligation of adult children for their parents. Usually little attention is paid to these laws, but it may be that when a parent is placed in a nursing home these laws may have the potential to be used. Can filial responsibility laws make adult children legally responsible to pay their parent’s nursing home bill?

In addition, filial responsibility laws may obligate adult children to cover the cost of their parents’ food, clothing, shelter and medical expenses when the parents themselves cannot afford to do so. In recent years, some states have seen these laws applied in a novel way to obtain judgments against adult children for the bills incurred by their parents in a nursing home. With the astronomical cost of nursing homes, this may be a legal risk adult children cannot afford to ignore.

What can you do as an adult child of aging parents? Begin as soon as possible with a discussion regarding their ability to afford a nursing home. You may learn that they have long-term care insurance, something they may have elected to obtain as an employment benefit. This is great news. But, it is important for you to have copies of the policy because if your parents were to become incapacitated in an accident you would have a copy of their long-term care policy. Or your parents may also have money put aside to cover a nursing home. If this is the case, you, as the adult child should have a way to access these funds, typically via a durable power of attorney or a trust.

Sadly, if your parent does not have insurance or the means to cover a nursing home, it may be necessary to find out whether they have Medicaid or what Medicaid planning needs to be done. We would highly recommend meeting with a Florida elder law attorney in order to make your parent Medicaid eligible, which would go towards covering the nursing home expenses.

On a positive note, for now, nursing homes utilizing filial responsibility laws to force adult children to pay their parent’s nursing home bills looks to be the exception, rather than the norm. These laws, however, remain on the books in many states.

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.

2022 Medicare Open Enrollment Tips for You and Your Aging Parents

Are you the adult child of aging parents? Do you look with them each year during Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment Period to see if there are any health and drug plan changes? These changes can range from out of pocket costs and network coverage to providers and pharmacies within their networks. Beginning October 15, there is much for you and your aging parents to review.

Have your aging parents had health care changes this past year? Because of their health changes and possible Medicare plan coverage changes it is wise for every Florida senior to revisit their health plans at least annually and make the changes they need during the open enrollment period. Below we have a few tips that you can use to be sure your aging parents have the Medicare coverage that best meets their needs.

1. Be sure to review the Annual Notice of Change letter that was sent to your aging parents. Your parents, as Medicare beneficiaries, should have received an “annual notice of change” letter from their Medicare plan. They should have received this letter no later than September. Medicare explains all the changes coming in the new year in this benefits letter. You and your aging parents will now see an overview of their plan, including coverage and costs, premiums, deductibles, and copays.

2. Are you and your parents debating whether to switch plans? Do you and your aging parents want to see what additional plans are out there in your area? Be sure to look at The Medicare Plan Finder on the Medicare website. This is an online tool from the government to help you select and compare plans. You enter the zip code of your parents and details about their medications and whether they receive them by mail, then you and your aging parents can compare plans available in your area.

3. What do your parents need as Florida seniors and have their care needs changed, in fact, is there a less expensive option? If you and your aging parents are thinking about switching to a new plan we recommend you start by looking at their medical expenses over the last six months. This way you can get an accurate picture of whether their Medicare plan is the best fit. By reviewing the medical care for your parents in the last six months, you can account for changes in their health as well as changes in their plan. That being said, is there a less expensive option for your aging parents? Premiums for some parts of Medicare are based on your modified adjusted gross income (or MAGI) from two years ago. MAGI also adds in capital gains, Social Security, and required minimum distributions from individual retirement accounts and 401(k) plans. You and your parents, of course, cannot change your income but you can plan for 2022’s premiums.

For more information, we encourage you to call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit Medicare.gov.

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 to Get Important Answers When You Are in Your Parents’ Florida Estate Plan

Did you know that less than half of the adult American population have completed their estate plan? With that said, have you just learned from your parents that they have created their estate plan? We know that you must be very relieved that they are now protected by having a decision maker in place during a time of crisis. However, were you surprised to learn you were the person who was chosen to make decisions for your parents in the event they were incapacitated? We know you probably have many questions now that you are named in your parents’ estate plan. How do you get the answers? Do you need to know what your duties and responsibilities actually are as a part of this process? We have five questions you could ask right here.

1. There is a crisis, what do you do now? First, you need to talk to your parents about what they would want you to do in a sudden crisis. Now this crisis could be anything from being in a coma due to a serious accident to being stuck overseas due to a flight delay. What is your role? What are your parents expecting you to do? Having a plan in place now, before the crisis, is the best discussion to have with your parents and will help guide any decisions you make when it comes to successfully navigating the crisis.

2. Health care decisions need to be made, are you in charge? As part of their estate plan your parents would have included health care planning. Your parents will have named each other as decision maker, but if they were both incapacitated they need a second decision maker named and that is you. So, right now you need to know what they want for their health care. Start with the basics: What do they want for their general care? What is their goal for long-term care? What would they want if they were on life support? Honestly, these are tough questions, but you need to know their answers to learn what they would want so you can act in their best interest in any health care situation. Also, we recommend that you keep and maintain a current list of their diagnoses, doctors, specialists, and medicines.

3. Finances, who is in charge? It would not be surprising to know that you have little knowledge of your parents’ finances. If you have been put in charge and been named as the agent in their durable power of attorneys or a trustee in their trust, now is the time to learn. You can ask your parents questions about where they invest, who they work with, and what type of management fees they pay? Find out whether they have life insurance or other policies with beneficiaries that might pass outside the estate plan? Are all their planning tools current? As soon as you can, start this discussion with your parents so you know what to expect should you need to step in.

4. Do your parents have a legacy they want to leave behind? In addition to protecting themselves, does a part of your parents’ estate plan protect what they want for their future, their family, and their legacy? Do they have a legacy they wish to create? What goals do they have for you in continuing their legacy? Discuss with your parents what their vision is so that you can see it come to fruition if they should pass away.

5. Should you meet the Florida estate planning attorney for your parents? If it is okay with your parents, it would be good to know and even meet their Florida estate planning attorney. There is no doubt that successful Florida estate plans have an experienced Florida estate planning attorney behind them. Ask your parents the following questions: Who did your parents work with? What will be your relationship with them? Where do the original documents live? Can you meet the attorney in advance to make sure you understand your roles and responsibilities? Be sure your parents know that you are willing to meet their attorney if they want you to.

Being named within your parents’ estate plan brings serious questions that you need answered. 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.