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 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!
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.
Estate planning creates a legacy for your spouse, children, and loved ones. This planning enables you to pass your real property, assets and finances to your heirs. In your plan, you choose who will manage your estate once you pass away.
Your estate plan, however, does more than plan for death. When you work with an elder care attorney, you can also plan for incapacity and long-term care. This comprehensive planning allows you to eliminate uncertainties regarding not only your estate but your future as well.
For Florida seniors and their families, this means estate planning is an elder care law goal.
This year, make your estate planning a priority. Set it as a New Year’s resolution! If you already have a plan in place, make it your resolution to review it to determine if it still meets your needs. By taking this proactive step, you are protecting yourself and your surviving family from long-term care issues, probate court, arguments and other serious issues.
If you do not have a plan in place, make it your resolution to decide to meet with an elder care attorney to begin the process of planning for what you need now and in the future. Your attorney can show you how estate planning is an elder care law goal and will benefit your unique situation. It is never too late to start, but it is better to begin this process earlier rather than later. Having everything in order prior to issues that can arise from the aging process or your death can minimize complications and stressors for your family members.
During this process, decide how much you want your family to be involved. When you include your adult children in the process it can help allay fears and help everyone learn what your wishes for the future are. If you decide to include your adult children, make it a goal to meet with them regularly and keep them up-to-date with your decisions, as well as any changes.
Creating a Florida estate plan that fully reflects your wishes and focuses on your elder care needs is critical today.
Only having a part of the plan can cause more harm than good when you need action taken by your decision maker on your behalf. Further, having an out-of-date or inaccurate plan can also lead to stressful events and family friction at a time when you are vulnerable.
The most important resolution you can make is to ensure you have the right plan in place when you need it. We are here to help you. Do not wait to contact a member of our legal team to get started.
It is important for you to talk to your adult children about your Florida estate planning. You want your children to know who has the legal authority to make your decisions. You also want them to know what your long-term care goals are should you become incapacitated. There may never seem to be a good time, however, to have this discussion.
Your estate planning and elder care goals are best discussed when you can be face-to-face with your family. We know this is not always possible. For many families who live in different states, time together is a luxury that only holiday visits make possible. If this is the challenge you face, we encourage you to set aside time with your children during the holidays for this important conversation, whether you are traveling or they are. Let us share with you six steps to take when you are having this discussion together.
1. Plan ahead for this meeting. Before any discussions occur, it is important to determine what you want to share with your children. Plan ahead for what you will discuss, including your goals and long-term care wishes. You may decide that you want to bring copies of your documents to the meeting as well. Don’t hesitate to make a list. This way you will not forget anything you want to share.
2. Prepare for questions that may be asked. You know your children. What do you believe their questions will be? Do not only think about the questions, but also consider your answers. For example, if you have a child who is a financial professional, but you name another child as your agent under your Florida durable power of attorney, there may be questions. Be ready to help your children understand your decisions.
3. Take into account different personalities. Each of your children are different and have different skills. Your estate planning may reflect your understanding of these differences as well as your belief of how each child will be able to help you in the future. You want to select the right child for the right role based on your wishes, not the wishes of someone else.
4. Be prepared to talk about long-term care. Your children may not have much experience with elder care. They may not be well-versed in what type of care you may need in the future or your concerns over how you will pay for it. Be ready to share with them your goals for your long-term care planning and tell them the name of your elder care attorney.
5. Remember your goals. This is a serious conversation. It also may become emotional as you talk to your children. Even though it can be hard to discuss, remember that your goal is to secure your future and to educate your children on your elder care wishes. Do not forget to tell them that this planning also protects them. You will have the planning tools you need in place to avoid losing all of your money to long-term care costs.
6. Know this conversation does not have to be the last. Let your children know at the outset that this can be an ongoing conversation. You may want to pause the meeting so everyone can reflect on what was shared before coming together again. Work together to find a time you all can meet and discuss your estate planning and elder care needs further.
Do you need more guidance on the type of estate planning and elder care planning you need in Florida? Our team is ready to meet with you and discuss your questions. Do not hesitate to contact us and schedule a meeting with Attorney Scott Selis.
As our parents age, a time may come when they are no longer able to live safely at home. Whether due to a crisis or as a complication arising from the aging process, their needs may increase to a care level where they need 24-hour assistance. This level of long-term care is not only expensive but is often best provided inside of a Florida skilled nursing facility.
Placing a parent or helping a parent select a nursing home is not an easy task. How will you choose the right facility for your parent? What should you look for? What should you avoid? How will you be able to monitor the care to make sure it is what your parent requires? How will you be able to afford it?
We help families with these questions every day and we can assist you. We want to share with you our top three tips that we share with our clients and professional advisors when they are seeking Florida elder care help.
Tip 1: Start off by making a list with your requirements.
What do you and your parent require from the Florida skilled nursing facility? Does the nursing home need to be a certain distance from you or your siblings? Does your parent require any specialty care? Is the nursing home equipped to meet specific care needs? How often are elder care conferences held? Before you go on a tour or sign a contract, make a list of your needs and make sure the facility is able to meet them.
Tip 2: Do your research.
Research can show you facilities that are in your parent’s home town and give you an idea of the services each skilled nursing facility provides to residents. Don’t hesitate to search for references from friends and family or to ask your elder care attorney for recommendations. Getting educated on your options and knowing what to expect can help you and your elderly parent with this transition.
Tip 3: Take tours of the skilled nursing facilities you select.
Narrow down your list from your research and visit each nursing home. Taking a tour of potential skilled nursing facilities can help you better understand and evaluate where your parent could be living. While on your tour, be sure to eat a meal and pay attention to how the staff interacts with the residents. Sitting in on a group activity can also allow you to have a better idea of the structure of the nursing home. Is it more of a family setting? Are residents stimulated? Are the levels of care represented similar to what your parent needs?
Don’t wait to get the help you need. This means communicating with all of your loved ones who will be involved in this process and working with a knowledgeable elder care law attorney. We work with our Florida seniors and their children to find solutions that provide excellent elder care at a cost the family is able to afford. While at first this may seem to be an insurmountable task, we are more than qualified, ready and able to assist you. Call us at (877) 977 – ELDER or contact us through our website to discuss the planning you need.