Medicaid and Medicare Open Enrollment: Remember Medicare is Not Medicaid

Medicaid and Medicare Open Enrollment: Remember Medicare is Not Medicaid

Do you get mixed up between Medicaid and Medicare? During Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, it is important to remember that Medicare is not Medicaid.  Let us highlight four differences to keep in mind.

1. Qualifications. Medicare covers adults aged 65 and older and individuals younger than 65 with a qualifying disability. Medicaid, on the other hand, is generally available to individuals of all ages based upon qualifying low-income. Another important difference in coverage is that Medicare only provides coverage for individuals, it does not offer family plans. Medicaid, however, can provide coverage for qualifying families.

2. State v. Federal. Medicare coverage plans are more uniform because it is run through the federal government. Medicaid benefits can vary state to state because it is a state run program governed by federal guidelines.

3. Cost. Medicare recipients pay premiums, deductibles, and some out of pocket costs depending on their plan. Medicaid recipients do not pay for coverage, although they may have small co-pays in some states for certain services.

4. Coverage. Medicare is meant for acute health issues and does not cover long-term inpatient care or nursing home care. Medicaid can assist qualifying individuals with long-term care while also providing coverage for routine medical care. Unfortunately, there are many times when families are forced to navigate the muddy waters between where Medicare stops and Medicaid begins when dealing with an elderly relative’s acute health issue that has turned into a long-term care problem. For example, consider the scenario of an elderly relative suffering a fall and breaking her hip. Now this relative needs surgery to repair the hip and then requires long-term care because she will not recover from the surgery successfully enough to be able to ever live independently again.  If this elderly relative is on Medicare, her Medicare plan will cover the surgery and perhaps some of her rehabilitation, but she will need Medicaid coverage to cover her long-term care. Oftentimes, obtaining this coverage can be difficult and confusing. This is just one of the many examples of why it is beneficial to have a comprehensive plan in place to address the possibility of requiring long-term care. 

For help understanding Medicaid and Medicare benefits as well as planning for long term care coverage, please feel free to reach out to our office with any questions or concerns you may have.

Why Estate Planning Awareness Week Matters More than Ever During COVID

Why Estate Planning Awareness Week Matters More than Ever During COVID

Estate Planning Awareness Week, which falls on October 19th to 25th this year, can be a time to review financial wellness and, if you have not done so already, take action to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your assets. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, now more than ever, individuals are realizing that proper estate planning can be a key priority, no matter their financial circumstances. Are you one of those people who have been reflecting on the importance of estate planning during the pandemic? An estate plan can end up saving you money, reducing stress and confusion during an already difficult time, and giving you and your loved ones peace of mind.

Benefits of Estate Planning 

There can be many benefits to having a solid estate plan in place. For example, if you fell ill or passed away, an estate plan could:

  • Determine who inherits your property, instead of state intestacy laws dictating who gets what;
  • Designate a trusted person to make financial and property decisions, such as paying bills, purchasing or selling assets, or writing checks if you become incapacitated;
  • Designate a healthcare surrogate who could make medical decisions on your behalf should you ever become incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes for yourself;
  • Document wishes about end of life care, such as whether to receive life support;
  • Provide access to your email, social media, or other online/digital accounts;
  • Inform family or loved ones about insurance coverage, such as life, health, long-term care, or others, in case they to file a claim;
  • Organize accounts and key information so it can be accessible to whomever needs it; and
  • Provide clarity to family and friends, so your wishes are clear.

 Estate Planning Awareness Week during COVID serves as a reminder that preparing, or updating, estate plans can make a difficult crisis easier to manage. Further, many states are making exceptions to rules about witnessing, notarizing, and signing materials. Consider reaching out to our office to learn more. 

Can Mom Get All of Dad’s Income? Yes! How to do It.

Can Mom Get All of Dad’s Income? Yes! How to do It.

THE BACKGROUND STORY

A few times every year, I visit with an adult child and their mother at my office. They explain that “Dad” is in a nursing home, and isn’t able to come home. They realize that the safest place for him is in a nursing home. But Mom can’t afford the $8,500.00+ monthly cost of nursing home care, and she thinks that they have too much money to get medicaid. Mom also mistakenly thinks all of Dad’s income would go to the nursing home. Needless to say, she’s scared.

Like so many others, the family believed one of many Medicaid Myths. First of all, they don’t have too much money to qualify for Florida Medicaid. Mom is allowed to have $128,640, and she has less than that. Sure, Dad’s income is too high for Florida Medicaid’s Income limit of $2,349.00, but there’s a workaround called a Qualified Income Trust.

WILL MOM GET ALL OF DAD’S INCOME?

It’s true that much of Dad’s income will go to the nursing home, at first. However, there are affordable legal steps that will help Mom get ALL of Dad’s income. With our help, Mom will likely not worry about paying bills or choosing between groceries and medications. And the best news, she can sleep comfortably knowing that her husband is safe and that she’s financially secure.

LET’S BAKE THE CAKE

Here’s how we do it. We go to Court and prove that Mom can’t live on the meager amount of Dad’s Income that Medicaid allows. We prove that Dad wants his income to go to Mom instead of the Nursing Home. Dad even has a separate lawyer to represent his interests.

As long as the numbers align (and we don’t file until they do), the Judge will grant Mom’s request that all of Dad’s income go to Mom. And Medicaid has to honor the court order. We then inform Medicaid about the Court’s decision and Viola! Mom gets the rest of Dad’s Income.

If you’d like to meet with us to discuss this subject, call 386-256-1443, text us @ 386-855-8976, or visit our contact page to send us a message. We’d love to help you.

Celebrate Florida Seniors During the Month of May and Help Raise Awareness About Senior Challenges

Celebrate Florida Seniors During the Month of May and Help Raise Awareness About Senior Challenges

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.

When It Comes to Elder Care Law What Is The Difference Between Will and Trust Planning?

When It Comes to Elder Care Law What Is The Difference Between Will and Trust Planning?

When deciding between a trust agreement and a last will and testament, there are many things to consider. You need the right plan in place for you and your loved ones. When it comes to elder care law, what is the difference between will and trust planning?

 

The first, and arguably most important, is that wills do not offer the complete coverage you need in Florida. This is a key difference between will and trust planning. A will, on its own, cannot be your financial, legal and medical plan. It is only used when you pass away and does nothing to protect you from the high costs of long-term care or the guardianship court. A trust agreement, however, can offer more comprehensive planning in Florida.

 

Together, you and your elder care attorney can create a plan to meet your specific needs. We know it can be challenging to understand the difference between will and trust planning. Let us share a few critical reasons why you need a trust agreement instead of a will to protect your elder care needs.

 

1.  Stay out of probate court. When you place your assets in a trust, you do not own them – your trust does. This is a key difference between will and trust planning documents. Your trust is seen by the eyes of the court as a “legal person.” You control the assets as if they are yours throughout your lifetime. When you die, only your assets go through probate. Since your assets are placed in a trust and you legally do not own the trust property, it doesn’t have to go through probate.

 

2.  Trusts are completely private. A trust agreement is a private document. Unlike a will, which becomes public through the Florida private process, a trust ensures your privacy. If you want to make an important legal decision but want it to remain private, such as disinheriting a child, this may be the planning choice you want to use.

 

3.  Trust agreements are quicker than probate. In probate, you are subject to the court’s timeline. This can be a process that lasts months or years. Timing is a main difference between will and trust planning. Because trust agreements are managed by an attorney and not subject to probate, the trust administration process can be much quicker.

 

4. Trusts allow you to protect your assets. While a will simply lays out instructions for your assets and beneficiaries once you pass away, a trust agreement allows you to maintain control of your assets. This can include protecting your assets from the high cost of long-term care. Specific trusts can be created to reach very specific goals. Do not wait to discuss this with your attorney.

 

5. Trusts can take the place of a durable power of attorney. If you become incapacitated, your trustee can manage your assets in trust without court supervision. In this capacity, having a trust can take the place of your durable power of attorney. This a yet another main difference between will and trust planning that is a key consideration for you.

 

Most people assume creating a will is enough to protect themselves and their family members but this is far from the truth. Our goal in this article is to share the difference between will and trust planning. We know you may have many more questions and want you to contact our office to let us help you protect your future!

 

How Could “Gray Divorce” Impact Your Elder Care Planning?

How Could “Gray Divorce” Impact Your Elder Care Planning?

There is no question that getting a divorce is a stressful and tense time period. Emotions are heightened as paperwork begins to pile up, meetings with attorneys become more frequent and discussions between ex-spouses become argumentative or sad. Did you know, however, that “gray divorces” or divorces that occur much later than life continue to be on the rise?

 

The Pew Research Institute reports that “among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s. In 2015, for every 1,000 married persons ages 50 and older, 10 divorced – up from five in 1990, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau. Among those ages 65 and older, the divorce rate has roughly tripled since 1990, reaching six people per 1,000 married persons in 2015.” Does a divorce at 65 years of age more significantly impact an individual than when he or she is younger? What is the impact on elder care law planning?

 

It is crucial to plan for your elder care needs whether you are married or divorced. For divorced spouses, however, examining how your needs will be met in the future is critical. Revising your estate plan after divorce is an essential part of the process and the first step in preparing yourself for the future. For most seniors on a fixed income, it is important for you to not only plan for your estate but for your potential long-term care needs as well. Let us share a few tips on how to plan forward in light of divorce.

 

1. Your last will and testament may no longer reflect your wishes.

 

After divorce in Florida, any provisions in your last will and testament related to your ex-spouse will become invalidated. Under the law, your will treats your spouse as having died at the time of the divorce. This may or may not reflect your wishes. In order to decrease any confusion, new estate planning documents such as a last will and testament or a revocable trust agreement should be created and executed.

 

2. Change your durable power of attorney as soon as possible.

 

In many marriages, spouses act as each other’s agent under their durable power of attorney. That means, if one spouse becomes incapacitated, the other spouse can legally make decisions for him or her. Similar to the last will and testament, the former spouses are treated as having predeceased one another. This is a document that must be updated as soon as possible as to prevent a lapse of person with decision making authority.

 

3. Plan forward with your elder care attorney for long-term care.

 

There are more options available for married individuals than for single individuals when it comes to long-term care planning. Many of the remaining strategies require a minimum of sixty months to be in effect before the benefits can be received by the individual. There is no guarantee that any of us will be able to avoid the need for long-term care in the future. It is critical to plan early to know how you will be able to afford this care by yourself without spending all of your hard earned money on a nursing home.

 

Divorce is never easy. It can become more complicated later in life. It is important to adjust all legal documents and your long-term care planning to reflect this new life change. Do not wait to talk to us about what you need moving forward from this difficult time.