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.
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.
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.
How are you planning to spend the Memorial Day holiday this year?
Memorial Day is on May 27th and as the holiday fast approaches, you may be wondering how to best recognize the veterans you love. In reality, there is no one best way to show your appreciation, but caring for your veteran loved one, as well as preparing for their long-term care is a great way to pay your respects.
To help you accomplish this, let us share with you a few tips about caring for the veterans you love this Memorial Day.
First, we encourage you to spend some quality time with your loved one. Whether you attend a Memorial Day festival, take your loved one out for a meal, or simply sit with your loved one and watch television, your loved one will undoubtedly appreciate the time you spend with them. Memorial Day may also be a good time to evaluate your loved one’s changing needs based on the last time you saw him or her, and discuss where your loved one sees him or herself residing in the near future.
Once you have determined the type of care your loved one needs, the next step may be to interview caregivers or visit assisted living facilities. It is important to include your loved one in this process to ensure that he or she is comfortable with the caregiver or facility. Consider taking your loved one on a visit to an assisted living facility or asking him or her to be vocal about which potential caregiver he or she feels most comfortable with.
When the time is right for you and your loved one, we encourage you to connect with an experienced Elder Law attorney to prepare a plan for rising long-term care costs. An Elder Law attorney can also help determine whether your loved one is eligible for any VA benefits, such as Aid and Attendance, and can apply for those benefits on your loved one’s behalf. We know this can be a challenging conversation to have, but planning ahead can help ensure your loved one’s needs will be taken care of and will remain protected in the future.
These are just a few ways you can care for the veterans you love this Memorial Day. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and we encourage you to schedule a meeting with us to discuss them, as well as a plan for your loved one’s future.
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.
As we look to care for our parents and grandparents as they age in Florida, we need to think about their current and potential long-term care needs. How will they be able to find good care should they need it? Where should they look for help? What is available in our community? How will they be able to afford the care they need should the time come?
Unfortunately, many Florida seniors do not begin to plan for the high cost of long-term care until it is too late. For a myriad of reasons, they did not plan forward to think about what they may need both now and for a future that includes an increased need for long-term care assistance. Most of us today simply cannot afford the additional thousands of dollars per month it would cost to have support from home healthcare or a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility without rethinking our finances and looking for help from public benefits.
While many Florida seniors turn to Medicaid and other local community programs for assistance, for Florida veterans, there are additional benefits available. They range from health care and funeral assistance to disability support and pension assistance. For many veterans the available benefits remain unused and hard to obtain due to the qualification that is required to gain access to them.
Perhaps the most beneficial program for the Florida senior veteran in need of long-term care assistance is the VA Pension program.
The VA Pension program is in no way tied to a service-connected disability.
In fact, the health care disability standard associated at the basic level is met simply by being over age 65. This a monthly, tax-free benefit that can increase based on the health care needs of the veteran.
The rules changed substantially for this program on October 18, 2018. This program is not an automatic benefit for wartime veterans and their dependents. They must prove, first, that the veteran served for at least 90 days of active service with one day during a period of war. Second, he or she must prove that he or she was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
Now, to access this program, the new rules created a few more qualifications. For example, there is an asset limit for the veteran’s countable resources. Prior to the rule changes, there was no set amount in place. This year the veteran may have $126,240, excluding exempt assets, and this amount will change each year.
Further, through these rules the Department of Veterans Affairs created a “look-back” period. A “look-back” period is a period of time during which the Department may review assets to determine if the veteran has made gifts of his or her resources. A similar set up currently exists for the Florida Medicaid program. The “look-back” period will be for thirty-six months. If the VA determines this occurred the veteran may face a disqualification period.
These are just a few ways the VA Pension program has changed.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and encourage you to schedule a meeting with us to get the answers you need for yourself and your loved ones.