We often find that adult children and their aging parents will come to our office and present to us, their newly recommended estate planning attorney, a last will and testament that is at least twenty years old. This estate planning document nominates a brother or a sister as a guardian for the minor children. It also provides for the assets to be distributed on death to a bank trust company that is to retain the assets in trust until the children have attained age 21.
One of the problems with this estate plan, which needs updating, is that the youngest of the children is now age 25 and the eldest is age 35. In addition, the bank nominated in the last will and testament to serve as the trustee is no longer in business. Further, if there was a trust agreement, it was never funded.
In this scenario, we are fortunate that the parents lived these many years and it was not necessary to use the estate plan, or even fund the trust. In situations like this, one of the ways we can help the parents is by drafting a new estate plan that corrects these issues. For example, the new trust agreement could dispense with the need for a guardian of minor children and name a trust company now in existence to serve as the trustee.
The parents, however, have aged to the point that a new estate plan alone is not sufficient for them. The parents need their own updated advanced directives in the event of a disability. Therefore, the parents will also need to consider signing, at a minimum, durable powers of attorney, health care surrogate designations, and living wills.
Further, they need to consider long-term care planning.
An estate plan alone will not be sufficient to help them be able to afford the high cost of long-term care in an assisted living facility with memory care or a skilled nursing home. Medicare is also not able to help with the cost of the daily custodial care. The parents need an estate plan but also an elder care plan that can help them plan for how they will be able to afford long-term care and not lose their lifetime of savings.
We work with parents and adult children each day to tackle this difficult issue.
The key is to not put off this type of planning as time is of the essence. If you have questions on this or any issue, we encourage you to contact us to schedule a meeting.
This is an opportunity for all of us to learn about the mistreatment of Older Americans together with ways to prevent it.
Unfortunately, research tells us elder abuse continues to be on the rise across the nation.
Whether it is due to the increasing population of seniors in America today or from new ways to report it is happening, this is a potential epidemic we all need to be aware of.
How can you help your aging loved ones stay safe? How can you ensure they are safe inside and outside the home? Regrettably, over 60% of all cases start with a family member. Our goal is to help educate you on this critical elder care issue. In honor of this annual event, let us share nine ways the seniors you know can protect themselves.
1. Devise a plan in advance. Talk with family and friends, and anyone else you trust, about what to do if you ever feel you’re at risk of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.
2. Keep in touch with your support system on a regular basis. Isolation is unhealthy, and it can also make you vulnerable to abuse.
3. Stay active within your personal network. This includes getting involved in senior-friendly activities and social groups. Forge friendships with those who would understand if you needed to share your concerns or experiences.
4. Continue to get more education. Learn about the different types of elder abuse, which can be physical, emotional or sexual in nature, but also may include financial exploitation and forms of neglect.
5. Try to avoid scams. Try to make it your practice not give out your personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number over the phone or on the internet. Also, register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce contact with telemarketers and aggressive sales people.
6. Ask for help. Again, when possible consult someone you trust before taking any actions involving your signature or large amounts of money. Do not allow yourself to be pressured or intimidated into making decisions.
7. Check in on your Florida estate planning documents. Your documents can ensure that a trusted individual can have legal authority to make decisions should you need help. For example, consider a durable power of attorney. This is a legal document that allows a trusted confidant to make decisions on your behalf, including when you are incapable of handling your own affairs.
8. Do your research. Anyone who is going to help you needs to be fully checked out. Make sure your caregivers have been properly screened, and criminal background checks have been completed.
9. Report abuse immediately. There are plenty of people who can help. Tell trusted family members and friends as soon as possible, and know that doctors, health care professionals, clergy, and others, have a mandatory duty to contact the authorities. Further, in Florida you can report to ensure that you can be kept safe under all circumstances!
We know this can be a difficult topic to discuss and even harder to manage. Do not wait to ask us your elder care issues. We are your local community law firm here to help you and your loved ones in the state of Florida.
Every May is both National Elder Law Month and National Older Americans Month. As a firm, we are committed to working with our Florida seniors and their families to ensure that they have a way to find good long-term care, should the need arise, and be able to afford it without losing a lifetime of savings. No month encompasses our goals more than the month of May.
This is a time of year to reflect on and honor the many ways senior adults impact the lives of others. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges facing older adults. For example, did you know that 15 million senior adults are formally recognized volunteers, and it is estimated that about half of all aging adults volunteer in some form in their communities? Almost one in five seniors has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and the overall senior contributions to the economy, education system and families are incalculable.
Both National Elder Law Month and National Older Americans Month are occasions to spotlight the amazing people who make up this often overlooked group.
While recognition is indeed due, so is increased attention to critical senior concerns. Let us share with you in our blog just a few of these concerns together with possible solutions you and your aging loved ones may use.
1. There is a near-epidemic of diabetes among Older Americans.
According to the American Diabetes Association, about half of Americans age 65 and older have pre-diabetes, meaning nearly 25 million seniors are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. That figure is shocking considering about 25 percent of the nation’s older population already has diabetes. Encourage your loved one’s to be tested and seek a doctor’s guidance.
2. Obesity is a serious related issue in Older Americans.
Obesity rates among older adults has steadily climbed over the past decade, and now stands at an eye-popping 40 percent of 65-to-74-year-olds. The ill effects of these sorts of challenges can often spill over onto others who care about them. Talk to your aging loved ones about your concerns and support their choices for a healthier lifestyle.
3. Long-Term Care for Older Americans.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging estimates that 70 percent of all people 65 and older will need long-term care services in their lifetime, especially as the rate of Alzheimer’s disease and other long term ailments continues to grow. In many situations, long-term care is unpaid, as more than 80 percent of caregiving is performed by family members, friends, and neighbors. An estimated one in four households provides some level of care for an aging loved one. Discuss alternative options for long-term care with your loved ones as soon as possible.
While these are concerns to be aware of, remember that American seniors are a large, diverse, and incredibly valuable group. They continue to make a difference all over the country each and every day in the lives of their loved ones and their communities. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and encourage you to schedule a meeting with us to discuss them.
One of the most challenging aspects of getting older is the loss of independence that accompanies aging. Advancing age alone, however, is not necessarily a sign that the Florida senior you love should give up his or her car keys. According to the Center for Disease Control, over 40 million licensed drivers are over the age of 65.
Unfortunately, as drivers get older, they can be more at risk of being seriously injured or killed if they are involved in an accident. There is more to driver safety than buckling your seatbelt. If the Florida senior you love is eager to drive, let us share a few tips to help you keep him or her safe on the road.
1.Research senior-friendly cars.
Did you know that not every car may be appropriate for a senior driver? Certain cars have features that can help keep your senior loved one safer while driving. A car with safety features such as power seats, power windows and mirrors, an easier to grip steering wheel, a push start button, and keyless entry can help senior drivers feel more comfortable behind the wheel.
2. Encourage your loved one to make regular doctor’s appointments.
As we age, our bodies change. The senior you love may regularly visit the doctor’s office for check-ups and treatment plans for any medical conditions. If your senior loved one is driving, however, you may want to encourage him or her to meet with a primary care physician to discuss whether any prescription medications they currently take can impact driving skills. Regular checkups with an optician and ear specialist can also help your senior loved one monitor any hearing or vision loss that can increase their risk while driving.
3. Encourage your loved one to take a driver-safety course.
Most of us remember taking a driver safety course when applying for our driver’s license. It never hurts to refresh those skills! Did you know that your Florida senior loved one can enroll in an older driver education program? These programs are designed to increase awareness of age-related risks and will educate your senior loved one about how to help avoid these risks while driving.
4. Make sure your loved one knows his or her limits.
The senior you love may not feel comfortable driving in every situation. We encourage you to discuss your loved one’s driving limitations before he or she gets behind the wheel. Determining what driving conditions your senior loved one finds more challenging, for example, driving in the dark or when it is raining, can help protect both your senior loved one and other drivers on the road.
These are just a few of the ways you can help protect the senior you love on the road. Above all, remember, it is important to frequently check-in with your senior loved one to keep track of any changes in their health or functionality. Do not hesitate to ask us your questions or to seek advice about creating a legal plan to protect the senior you love.
Every day, millions of Americans take prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines to treat a variety of ailments ranging from incontinence, to depression, to allergies and more. New research, however, shows that previously unknown risks associated with certain associated drugs may be contributing to elevated rates of dementia in aging adults.
Today, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are at near epidemic levels. They currently affect over 50 million people worldwide, and about 10 million more people are diagnosed every year.
Millions of Americans and their families have also been painfully impacted by the devastating effects of dementia. These can include, but not be limited to, severe memory loss and deteriorating judgement, decision making, and behavioral functions. Alzheimer’s Disease alone is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and there is no known cure.
Several groundbreaking studies in recent years have shed light on the issue by establishing a compelling link to a class of drugs known as “anticholinergics.” These include highly technical drug names like amitriptyline, dosulepin, and paroxetine, for example, and others like oxybutynin, solifenacin, and tolterodine.
In plain English, these are are used to treat depression and the loss of bladder control.
Other conditions regularly treated with anticholinergic drugs include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and Parkinson’s disease. Some studies include diphenhydramine, an anticholinergic ingredient in many commonly used antihistamines. Common medicines containing diphenhydramine include Benadryl, Motrin, Midol and Robitussin — although it’s important to note that these medicines have not been shown to cause dementia, only that diphenhydramine has anticholinergic effects. Anticholinergics work by blocking a chemical messenger, or neurotransmitter, called acetylcholine that carries brain signals for controlling muscles.
A new British study found that long-term use of certain anticholinergics is significantly linked to dementia, especially those used to treat depression and Parkinson’s disease. But unlike other studies, it did not find a connection between antihistamines and dementia.
Shockingly, in some cases, a link was established for study participants who took anticholinergic drugs 15-20 years before being diagnosed with dementia. Scientists concluded that such cases reduced the possibility of mere correlation between these drugs and dementia.
While there’s much research to be done, every new study advises both physicians and patients to be vigilant about the use of anticholinergic drugs. We know just how hard it can be when a loved one faces a diagnosis like this. Do not wait to contact our office on this issue or any elder care issue you or a family member may be facing.
When it comes to planning for an aging parent’s long-term care needs, few legal documents are as important as a durable power of attorney. Simply put, a power of attorney grants a designated person, known as the attorney-in-fact or agent, with the legal right to make decisions on the aging parent’s behalf. Through the durability of this document, should the time come when the parent is unable to make decisions, this authority can include assisting the aging parent with financial and legal matters.
With aging adults, a sudden illness, dementia or simply the aging process itself can lead to a situation where they become incapable of managing their own affairs. When a Florida durable power of attorney is in place, an adult child, or whomever the designated attorney-in-fact is, can step in and seamlessly continue paying their bills, handle their investments, and even make long-term care decisions.
Unfortunately, if this type of planning is not in place, any number of challenging situations can arise, including the need to file a court action to obtain a guardianship. This can be time consuming, expensive, and emotionally burdensome during a difficult period. Further, with a guardianship in place, the adult children may not be able to protect the aging parent’s money from the high costs of long-term care.
Planning ahead in this regard can make a huge, maybe even critical, difference. Despite the obvious benefits, many aging Floridians do not take the necessary steps to protect themselves, their assets, and their family from long-term care costs. Long-term care costs are a reality today. Research continues to show that the majority of seniors over age 70 will need some type of long-term care in the future.
Despite this continuing trend, many aging adults do not think about a future that could include long-term care. This could be for any number of reasons including a genuine fear over how to afford future care and that the senior will be in a position of vulnerability. When the aging adult’s planning is not completed in advance of a crisis, however, the durable power of attorney becomes the family and the senior’s best protection from this uncertainty.
Through the Florida durable power of attorney, the agent will be able to care for the elder in a way that makes sense for him or her. The agent will be able to find good care and determine the best way to pay for it. This could even include hiring an elder care attorney to help with the process.
If you’re aging parent is resistant, we encourage you to talk to them sooner rather than later. The durable power of attorney in Florida is your family’s best ally when it comes to crisis planning for the long-term care costs that may be needed in the future. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and are here to help you as an elder care resource.