Planning for Loved Ones with a Chronic Illness

Planning for Loved Ones with a Chronic Illness

Did you know that more than 130 million Americans are living with chronic illness, a quarter of which are between the ages of 65 and 74?

Unfortunately, chronic illness is more common than many think, and can affect any of us at any time. As unexpected and overwhelming a chronic illness diagnosis can be, it is imperative to begin, or modify, your planning process to account for the safety and protection of your loved one. To help get you started, let us share with you a few tips when it comes to planning for loved ones with chronic conditions.

First, we encourage you to learn all you can about your loved one’s chronic illness.

Take some time to research the condition, including the symptoms your loved one may present and the challenges he or she may face as a result of the condition. You may also wish to research treatment plans  as well as ways to make your loved one more comfortable as the condition progresses. 

Once you have a better understanding of your loved one’s chronic condition, the next step is to review any planning he or she has already completed. We encourage you to evaluate whether his or her current estate plan accounts for this type of unexpected situation, including any long-term care plans. Some important components to look out for include your loved one’s health care coverage, insurance, and whether he or she has a durable power of attorney.

When both you and your loved one feel ready, you may find peace of mind speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney to help guide you through this challenging time. Further, an estate planning attorney can advise you on the steps you could take to plan for a loved one with a chronic condition and account for his or her specific needs.

We encourage you to ask us your questions about this important topic. We know that this article may raise more questions than it answers and we want you to have the support you and your aging loved ones need. Do not hesitate to reach out to our office and schedule a meeting on this issue or any elder care concerns.

5 Things Seniors Need to Know About Medical Alert Systems

5 Things Seniors Need to Know About Medical Alert Systems

Did you know that August is National MedicAlert Awareness Month? In observance of how medical alert systems have helped countless seniors survive emergency health situations, we wanted to make sure you and your loved ones were informed about this particular safety measure.

Here are five things older adults need to know about medical alert systems.

1. Options

Traditional alert systems were limited to a senior’s home. In the event of an emergency, a user would press a call button on a bracelet or necklace, which would then alert an emergency monitoring agent through a home-based central unit. The connection was facilitated through land phone line. These systems are still effective, but medical alert options have expanded in recent years to include items such as:

  • Daily electronic check-in services with live care center agents
  • Activity monitoring features like motion detectors 
  • Home security sensors for smoke, carbon monoxide, and other hazards
  • Digital medical add-ons that monitor health vitals
  • Fitness trackers on wearable alert devices that record physical health information

2. Mobile units

Technology advances have enabled medical alert systems to serve seniors at almost any location through wearable mobile devices.

Rather than rely solely on a home-based unit, mobile alert devices connect directly to emergency response centers or pre-programmed contacts by utilizing nationwide cellular networks, similar to smartphones.

3. Fashionable Choices

Medical alert devices do not have to look like standard medical equipment.

There are plenty of user-friendly, attractive accessory devices to choose from, including necklaces, bracelets, and pendants. They also come in various styles for women, men, seniors, and even children. 

4. Monitored vs. Unmonitored

Home-based and mobile alert systems can be either monitored or unmonitored, depending on a user’s needs. Monitored systems connect to a live dispatcher at an emergency control center, whereas unmonitored systems will call pre-programmed contacts, such as adult children, neighbors, or 911. 

5. Costs

The costs of medical alert systems vary based on type, service options, and features. They typically fall in the range of $30 to $90 per month. Reputable companies should offer price plans that do not involve long-term contracts and hidden fees. 

These are just a few things seniors need to know about medical alert systems. Your senior loved one’s safety is important to us. If this article raises more questions than it answers for you, we encourage you to contact our office.

Critical Hurricane Flooding Tips for Aging Parents and Their Loved Ones

Critical Hurricane Flooding Tips for Aging Parents and Their Loved Ones

Hurricanes are devastating storms that terrorize millions of Americans every year.

Dangerous high-winds, flying debris, and torrential downpours lasting days are among their worst effects. Flooding, regardless of where you live, can always be a prolonged risk as well. After hurricane winds and rain subside, flooding can continue to ravage large areas and contaminate water supplies. 

Let us share a few tips to help aging parents cope with hurricane-related flooding, before, during, and after it occurs.

Before a Hurricane:

  • Make copies of all their important personal and legal documents. Put the originals in a safe place away from an aging parent’s home, and place copies in a waterproof emergency container inside their house.
  • Take photos of their most valuable possessions, such as jewelry, art and furniture, and catalogue the receipts. Store these receipts along with other important documents or keep them in digital form, such as on a USB thumb drive or cloud storage service.
  • Review an aging parent’s flood insurance policy and make sure he or she understands it. You may also want to contact the insurance agent to see if there is sufficient coverage.

During a Hurricane:

  • Make sure aging parents can monitor weather and safety updates. Give them a backup radio with extra batteries in case of a power outage.
  • Make sure they know to stay away from power lines and electrical wiring. Electrocution is one of the main causes of death during flooding. 
  • Do not let them drive during hurricane flooding. Water is incredibly powerful. Just two feet of moving flood water can sweep away the average car. 
  • Do not let them walk through flooded areas. It can take as little as six-inches of water to knock someone down.

After Hurricane Flooding:

  • If evacuated, aging loved ones should not return to their homes until local authorities have declared it safe.
  • Help them determine if structural damage has occurred. 
  • Make sure they know to wear gloves, protective clothing, and eye protection when cleaning up. Flood waters can be extremely toxic.
  • Check for local announcements about the water supply. Don’t assume it’s safe for them to drink.

We know just how devastating the impact of a hurricane can be here in Florida. It can be especially challenging for older Floridians who may have a more difficult time preparing and sustaining throughout a storm. Do not wait to talk to us about how we can help you and your aging family members prepare for this and any elder care issue.

9 Ways to Discuss Florida Estate Planning with Your Aging Parents

9 Ways to Discuss Florida Estate Planning with Your Aging Parents

Whether or not your aging parents live close to you or in another state, such as Florida, there is never a wrong time to discuss their estate planning.

Unfortunately, studies continue to show us that less than fifty percent of all Americans have estate planning in place.

This becomes an increasing concern as your parents age and become increasingly susceptible to age-related health care issues or long-term care concerns.

Despite your concerns, it may be hard for you to start a conversation with your aging parents. We know, based on our experience, that there is never a wrong time to start the discussion. We encourage you to openly speak with your aging parents about what they need to ensure they are protected as much as possible.

Let us share with you nine ways you can begin discussing estate planning with your loved ones today.

1. Ask for all decision makers to be at the meeting with your parents. You want to have a meeting when all involved can be present. Ask your aging parents who they want to be included and make sure these individuals can be in attendance.

2. Set the meeting at a time that interruptions will be limited. This conversation can be difficult to have, and made even more so with frequent interruptions. Decide on a place and time when the necessary parties can not only be in attendance, but will not be pulled away during an important topic. 

3. Do not avoid difficult topics. Discussing death and incapacity and a lack of control can be hard for any of us. Simply because it is “hard” to talk about does not mean the topic should be avoided. It may help to create an agenda of what you need to discuss so topics will not be avoided or put off to another time.

4. Discuss everyone’s schedule and availability both now and in the future. A critical part of estate planning is naming a person who will have the legal authority to act for your parents in a crisis. This means that their decision makers will need to be available in a crisis. Talk about this openly together to ensure that everyone can be involved or if changes need to be made.

5. Ask you parents what their goals are. Your parents know better than anyone else what they want. Talk to them about their goals for their legacy, their living situation, the future as it is related to long-term care, and any other issues they wish to discuss. They need to feel supported and that their loved ones will help them achieve their goals.

6. Check in on finances as they are related to long-term care needs. Although it is not estate planning, elder law concerns should also be discussed together. Long-term care can be expensive and, in almost all instances, is not covered by traditional health care insurance or Medicare. Discuss together how you would be able to afford long-term care support, should it become necessary.

7. Know that different states have different laws. Each state in America is different when it comes to estate planning. While there are similarities, the law may not be the same. If your parents have estate planning from a different state, it may be time to update to estate planning documents that reflect Florida laws.

8. Make a list of questions. As we shared before, making a list of questions and topics can ensure that everything is addressed in your meeting together. Write down your questions, your parents’ questions, as well as anyone else who is involved in the meeting, leaving room for new questions that arise as a result of your conversation. Determine what you can answer together and where you will need the help of an experienced attorney. 

9. Schedule a meeting with an experienced attorney. Your parents need an experienced estate planning attorney who will be able to support them in creating the plan they need. Do not wait to schedule this meeting and get answers to everyone’s questions. Be sure to determine in advance who will attend this meeting and ascertain from the attorney’s office if adult children may be present in the meeting with their parents’ consent.

We encourage you to ask us your questions about this important topic. We know that this article may raise more questions than it answers and want you to have the support you and your aging parents need. Do not hesitate to reach out to our office and schedule a meeting on this issue or any elder care concerns.

Tips You Need When It Comes to Ancillary Probate

Tips You Need When It Comes to Ancillary Probate

When it comes to estate planning, many of us have heard about the basics: a last will and testament, trust agreements, and probate proceedings.


While many people create their estate plan with the intention to avoid probate proceedings, did you know that there is a certain type of probate proceeding that your estate may be subject to if you own out-of-state property?

Ancillary probate is a type of probate proceeding that is required if you own real property, livestock, or mineral rights that are owned in a state outside Florida.

This can be a complex and multifaceted area of probate, which is why we want to share with you a few tips you need when it comes to ancillary probate.

1. Consider your last will and testament.

When preparing your estate plan, you may consider creating a last will and testament to detail your wishes for the distribution of your assets after death. Did you know that your last will and testament only covers your in-state property? Unfortunately, this is true. If you own property outside of your home state, your last will and testament will likely not protect it.

2. Certain trust agreements can cross state lines.

When creating your estate plan, it is important to know that, unlike a last will and testament, certain trust agreements can cross state lines. We know this can be complicated, so understanding the basics is key. As long as your out-of-state property is titled into the trust agreement, the trust can govern your out-of-state property and keep you out of ancillary probate.

3. An experienced estate planning attorney is one of your best resources.

When it comes to ancillary probate and the protection of your assets, talking to an experienced estate planning attorney is one of the most effective ways to help keep you out of probate. There are no uniform rules about ancillary probate, as different states apply different laws. Discussing your specific needs, including any newly acquired out-of-state property, with your local estate planning attorney can help provide you with peace of mind.

We know this can be a difficult topic to understand and to prepare for. Ancillary probate, however, can best be avoided with appropriate planning and preparation. Do not wait to ask us your ancillary probate and other estate planning related questions. We are your local community law firm here to help you and your loved ones in the state of Florida.