The truth is without a legally sound Florida estate plan, there is no guarantee that your end-of-life wishes will be followed. When we discuss this with our clients, we let them know that this is true for both financial and health care considerations. Once a solid estate plan is created, however, it may also need to be re-evaluated after significant life events.
While most of us are focusing on the pandemic, and this does qualify as a life event, that is not the only time we need to think about potential changes. If a married couple divorces, for example, and so-called “Grey Divorces” continue to be on the rise, then removing an ex-spouse from your estate planning requires legal attention. Be aware that it is not as easy as crossing out his or her name in red ink.
Similarly, including a new family member in your estate plan due to marriage or the birth of a child or grandchild involves more than just writing their name in the margin. Most wills and trusts can be changed at any time while the estate creator is alive, providing that he or she is mentally competent, but a formally executed plan is required. Your Florida estate planning attorney can help you identify when new changes need to be made to your plan to accomplish your goals.
Other significant life events requiring an estate plan re-evaluation can include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
Death of a beneficiary
Significant illness or death in your primary decision maker
A life-threatening health diagnosis
Large increase or decrease in the estate value
Moving to a state with different tax laws
Changes in federal tax law
Dramatic market changes
Children or grandchildren reaching the age of majority
While you may only have a last will and testament right now, it may be time to consider adding a trust agreement. Similar to wills, trusts are another common estate planning item. A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries.
Trusts can be established in many ways and specify exactly how and when the assets held in trust should pass to beneficiaries. Significant life or market events also mean re-evaluating a trust and may require changing trust beneficiaries or disposing of assets held in trust given a marriage, death, divorce, market fluctuation or other important reason. Any change, however, would require a formal amendment to the existing trust, while outright revoking an existing trust would involve a series of legal considerations.
These are just a handful of considerations to get you thinking about what you need from your estate plan. We know you may have questions right now and are here to answer them. Do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a meeting now, or at any point in the future.
Human beings are social creatures. Similar to animals, we live in family groups for much of our lives and tend to seek out companionship. For the most part, we also seem to find comfort in human contact during stressful or difficult times. If the findings of a recent survey are any indication, this instinct or need to be together persists throughout our lives.
Let us share a bit more information here. In the 2019 survey of people with loved ones in nursing homes,nearly 55 percent said they do not spend enough time visiting. Those who felt this way visit their loved ones four times per month, and devote less than two hours to each visit. By contrast, participants who said they spend enough time visiting their loved ones did somore often. They also devoted more time to each visit.
Now, with the Coronavirus Pandemic prompting skilled nursing homes across our state to halt visitation, residents cannot see their loved ones in person at all. We all worry about not only how our loved ones are being cared for, but also want to ensure that they do not feel increased isolation or depression. Let us share some simple tips to keep in touch and ease your fears during this time.
1. Send photographs and small gifts. Start by checking with staff to see if it is okay to send your loved one a care package. If you can, send a homemade card along with a few of his or her favorite things. Depending on his or her preferences, consider sending paperback books, music, snacks, puzzles or games. Exchanging photographs is another easy way to stay connected while visits are prohibited. If they have not done so already, ask the nursing home staff about starting a program to facilitate this activity. That way, your loved one could send photos to you, and you could take photos to send to them.
2. Use technology to facilitate communication. If your loved one has access to email, feel free to communicate that way. You may also want to ask if your loved one can have access to video conferencing services such as FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype. If not, there is nothing wrong with making routine telephone calls or sending letters.
3. Get the information you need as well. Do not hesitate to request regular updates from facility staff, including administrators. This may alleviate any fear or concerns you have about your loved one’s well being. You can also request information about any protocols implemented to promote staff and patient safety.
In the meantime, we are here to address any legal concerns you may have about visitation. Simply contact our law firm to arrange a telephone consultation with attorney Scott Selis at your convenience.
It is a story as old as time. Our parents care for us when we are young. Many of us return the favor as our parents age. While it sounds simple in theory, that is seldom the case in reality, especially now as we find ourselves facing these uncertain times. In addition to Covid-19, one of the biggest challenges formillions of young caregivers is how to take care of their aging or ailing parents while juggling demanding jobs.
Did you know arecent estimate puts the number of unpaid caregivers in the United States at more than 40 million? The same estimate indicates that most of these family caregivers have difficulty coping with work and caregiving responsibilities. Unfortunately, there are two significant, but unintended consequences. The first is that a caregiver’s job performance often suffers, with work productivity dropping byat least 18 percent. The second is that these caregivers need to take time off from work, resulting in lost work hours valued at more than $25 billion.
Studies show that another, less reported, consequence of spending less time at work or quitting work to take on full-time caregiving responsibilities may include the loss of benefits. Examples of these benefits that are needed by young families may include not only a loss of a paycheck but health care insurance, company sponsored retirement plans, or all of it.
How can we help these families? In our firm, we work every day to help both Florida seniors and their adult children get the elder care support they need. In addition to what we recommend in our meetings, experts recommend the following to help young caregivers balance work and caring for a loved one:
Create a family calendar to track relevant appointments, delegate chores and manage medication
Seek support and guidance from your local agency on aging
Review your employee handbook to see which if any policies apply to your situation.
Try to limit caregiving tasks, such as scheduling medical appointments, to personal time as much as possible
Arrange for a coworker to cover for you if you have to leave work suddenly when possible
As a caregiver and employee, it is important that you are open and honest with your employer. By speaking with him or her about your situation, you may be able to create a plan that works for everyone. During your conversation, be sure to askabout:
When you can take paid or unpaid leave
The possibility of flexible scheduling
How to get help through Employee Assistance programs
Finally, be sure to ask your employer about your rights under the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. This is a federal law that allows certain American workers to take up to 12 weeks off of work per year. Under the law, eligible workers can do so without pay, but without risk of losing their jobs. To be eligible for time off under the FMLA, you and your employer must meetspecific requirements. If you do not, all is not lost, however. You may have similar rights under applicable state laws.
We understand it may be difficult to have these conversations, so we are here to support you on this and any of your elder care concerns. Please do not wait until you feel completely overwhelmed to ask for help. Contact our law office to schedule a meeting with us today.
Why Are We Giving Away Free Powers of Attorney & Other Disability Planning Documents to Qualified Individuals?
Selis Elder Law of Florida believes that everyone should have documents that help things go smoothly when they cannot handle their financial affairs or make health care decisions. And during the Covid-19 (aka Coronavirus) crisis, it’s critically important that the most vulnerable have the documents that will identify which loved ones can make financial and health care decisions for them.
If you get sick and can’t manage your personal affairs, who would handle those things for you? Would a trusted loved one be able to access your accounts to pay bills or transfer money between accounts? Who would make health care decisions for you? And, what if more than one person wants to handle your financial affairs and make health care decisions for you? For example, if you’re remarried, would you want your spouse, one of your children, or someone else to handle your financial affairs and/or make health care decisions for you?
Go to the Questionnaire Below to Determine if You are Eligible
Don’t Most People Already Have Powers of Attorney & Other Disability Planning Documents?
According to the a 2019 MarketWatch.com survey, less than 20% of Americans have these types of documents. But why? There are as many reasons as there are people.
Some haven’t thought about this. Others are overwhelmed by making decisions about who will take charge of their affairs when incapacitated. Many incorrectly assume that their loved one (i.e., spouse, child, sibling, etc.) can make these decisions for them without these documents. Finally, a lot of people don’t want to meet with a lawyer because they think it will be tedious, confusing, expensive, and/or too time consuming.
Go to the Questionnaire Below to Determine if You are Eligible
Selis Elder Law of Florida has created an affordable online resource for people to create their own legal documents if the don’t qualify for the FREE Powers of Attorney & Other Disability Planning Documents. For now, we are offering only the documents described below for FREE to qualified individuals. And unlike many legal document preparation websites, we will review your document before releasing it to you. That review helps you avoid making a critical mistake.
Here is a List of the Documents offered and What They Each Do for You
A Florida Durable Power of Attorney, which allows you to select one or more loved ones to manage your personal financial affairs and choose what types of things they can, and as importantly, cannot, do for you.
Advance Directives, which include,
A Living Will to provide guidance to your loved ones about end-of-life decisions; and
A Designation of Health Care Surrogate to identify one or more loved ones to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to do so.
A HIPAA Release, which identifies people who your health care provides (i.e., hospitals, doctors, nurses, etc.) can, among other things, discuss your health care treatment
Go to the Questionnaire Below to Determine if You are Eligible
How it Works
Below is a very short questionnaire. After you answer the questions, we will send you an email telling you whether you are eligible for FREE Powers of Attorney & Other Disability Planning Documents.
If you are eligible, the email will provide a 100% discount code and detailed instructions for you to follow. If you are not eligible, the email will provide a 50% discount code and detailed instructions for you to follow. Who is eligible? Anyone that resides or works in Florida and those that are vulnerable to the disease or its complications.
Go to the Questionnaire Below to Determine if You are Eligible.
What If You Don’t Want to Use the Online Document Preparation Service?
We’d love to meet with you. Of course, the documents we provide to clients that meet with are more robust and include extensive legal advice. So, if you prefer the personal touch we provide to clients, then you will need to go through our usual client on-boarding process by calling 386-888-6060 or emailing Info@ElderLawFirmFLA.com. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you have.
We can no longer ignore the fact that the COVID-19 virus is spreading at an alarming rate around the world. Even with its unprecedented spread, however, there are still many precautions that we can take right here in Wausau to protect ourselves, as well as our loved ones.
By now we are all familiar with the most popular precaution which has been shared by the various health authorities around the world:
Make sure that you properly wash your hands!
What does it mean to “properly” wash your hands? This means meticulously cleaning your hands for at least twenty (20) seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub. You may find it interesting to learn that, according to the FDA, “the benefits of using antibacterial hand soap have not been proven.” Washing your hands remains one of the best preventative measures that you can implement to safeguard yourself and your elder loved ones. In addition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) washing your hands helps to kill viruses that may be on your hands.
1. Maintain social distancing. Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. This one is especially important because it is easy to breathe in the droplets of someone who is suffering from the COVID-19 virus. This is true for most viruses like the flu.
2. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Remember, especially for our younger loved ones, touching many surfaces can cause you to pick up viruses. WHO states that, “once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.”
3. Practice respiratory hygiene. How do you practice respiratory hygiene? Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue immediately.
4. Help “at risk” loved ones limit interactions with those who may be infected. First, understand who may be at risk using this article we want to share with you. Although social isolation can be hard, help these individuals try to make informed decisions about where they truly need to be. Routine check up? Maybe postpone it until the virus is under control as very ill people could be in the waiting room. Although these decisions are up to you and your family, think about how to best keep everyone’s health intact.
Another important precaution that can help everyone around you is to stay home if you feel unwell. Further, if you have a fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing, do not wait to seek medical attention. Be sure to call your healthcare provider in advance, if you can.
The last tip we will share is also extremely important as we continue to battle this deadly virus. Make sure that you stay informed and follow any advice given by your healthcare provider. Do not rely simply on the news or secondhand information. Staying up to date can arm you with the right information to make the best decisions for yourself and your loved ones.
If you would like to learn more about how you can protect yourself and your loved ones check out this WHO article that goes into detail about preventative measures that we can follow in the fight against COVID-19. Know that we are here for you, both now and in the future. Do not hesitate to contact our law practice to learn more about how to protect yourself and those you love.
Growing old gracefully is easier said than done. Many of us often have trouble asking for help. Further, it is often difficult for Florida seniors to admit when they are having difficulties with things that once came easily, especially when it comes to understanding the difference between Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living.
This is just one of the reasons why having objective means for assessing their needs is so important. In the context of elder care these can include Activities of Daily Living, or ADLs, and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, or IADLs. Let us share a few key differences that can help you and the Florida seniors you love in understanding the difference between Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living and navigating the challenges surrounding long-term care.
Let us start by answering the question: What are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)? In all, there aresix ADLs. They include:
1. Walking, or otherwise being able to move from one place to another on foot, either indoors or outside. The clinical term for this is “ambulating.”
2. Feeding, or the use of fingers or utensils to move food from a plate or bowl into one’s mouth.
3. Dressing and grooming, or the ability to choose what to wear, putting clothes on properly, and shaving, brushing one’s hair, brushing one’s teeth and so on.
4. Toileting, or the ability to get on and off the toilet, use it properly, and cleaning oneself.
5. Bathing, or the ability to clean one’s face and body in the bath or shower.
6. Transferring, or the ability to shift from one body position to another. This includes the ability to maneuver from a bed to a chair, or into a wheelchair. This can also include the ability to stand up from a bed or chair in order to access a walker or similar device.
When you enlist the help of a health care provider, the amount of assistance that the Older American needs with each ADL is also noted in assessment of overall function.
By contrast, let us share key insight into Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). While ADLs may be classified as basic life skills,IADLs are more complex. They can include:
Household chores: Including dusting, vacuuming, doing dishes and so forth.
Laundry, including making sure that clothes and other items are washed or dry cleaned as needed.
Managing finances, such as paying bills on time, keeping track of bank balances and so on.
Medication management, which can include taking prescription medications as directed.
Making meals, which can include preparing and cooking or making food.
Shopping for food, and other lifetime necessities.
Transportation concerns which can include the ability to get from place to place by driving, or on public transit, moving from one residence to another and so forth.
Using communication devices which can include the ability to use the phone and computer to contact friends and family or call for help if needed.
It is important for you to begin to understand how ADLs and IADLs are used. Although assessments of IADLs are not used to determine whether someone can qualify for public benefits programs such as Florida Medicaid, assessments of ADLs are. Specifically, Florida Medicaid states that to be eligible, someone must need help with two or more ADLs.
In general, health care providers use these tools to evaluate a person’s physical and mental capabilities as they age. By doing so, they can determine what type of care and supervision is warranted. As elder care lawyers, we also work with seniors and their loved ones each and every day to understand these issues. We know the challenges you face and we encourage you to schedule a meeting to discuss this and any other concerns you may have.