As Your Parents Age, You Need to Talk to Them About Updating Their Estate Plan

As Your Parents Age, You Need to Talk to Them About Updating Their Estate Plan

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.

5 Things Seniors Need to Know About Medical Alert Systems

5 Things Seniors Need to Know About Medical Alert Systems

Did you know that August is National MedicAlert Awareness Month? In observance of how medical alert systems have helped countless seniors survive emergency health situations, we wanted to make sure you and your loved ones were informed about this particular safety measure.

Here are five things older adults need to know about medical alert systems.

1. Options

Traditional alert systems were limited to a senior’s home. In the event of an emergency, a user would press a call button on a bracelet or necklace, which would then alert an emergency monitoring agent through a home-based central unit. The connection was facilitated through land phone line. These systems are still effective, but medical alert options have expanded in recent years to include items such as:

  • Daily electronic check-in services with live care center agents
  • Activity monitoring features like motion detectors 
  • Home security sensors for smoke, carbon monoxide, and other hazards
  • Digital medical add-ons that monitor health vitals
  • Fitness trackers on wearable alert devices that record physical health information

2. Mobile units

Technology advances have enabled medical alert systems to serve seniors at almost any location through wearable mobile devices.

Rather than rely solely on a home-based unit, mobile alert devices connect directly to emergency response centers or pre-programmed contacts by utilizing nationwide cellular networks, similar to smartphones.

3. Fashionable Choices

Medical alert devices do not have to look like standard medical equipment.

There are plenty of user-friendly, attractive accessory devices to choose from, including necklaces, bracelets, and pendants. They also come in various styles for women, men, seniors, and even children. 

4. Monitored vs. Unmonitored

Home-based and mobile alert systems can be either monitored or unmonitored, depending on a user’s needs. Monitored systems connect to a live dispatcher at an emergency control center, whereas unmonitored systems will call pre-programmed contacts, such as adult children, neighbors, or 911. 

5. Costs

The costs of medical alert systems vary based on type, service options, and features. They typically fall in the range of $30 to $90 per month. Reputable companies should offer price plans that do not involve long-term contracts and hidden fees. 

These are just a few things seniors need to know about medical alert systems. Your senior loved one’s safety is important to us. If this article raises more questions than it answers for you, we encourage you to contact our office.

Critical Hurricane Flooding Tips for Aging Parents and Their Loved Ones

Critical Hurricane Flooding Tips for Aging Parents and Their Loved Ones

Hurricanes are devastating storms that terrorize millions of Americans every year.

Dangerous high-winds, flying debris, and torrential downpours lasting days are among their worst effects. Flooding, regardless of where you live, can always be a prolonged risk as well. After hurricane winds and rain subside, flooding can continue to ravage large areas and contaminate water supplies. 

Let us share a few tips to help aging parents cope with hurricane-related flooding, before, during, and after it occurs.

Before a Hurricane:

  • Make copies of all their important personal and legal documents. Put the originals in a safe place away from an aging parent’s home, and place copies in a waterproof emergency container inside their house.
  • Take photos of their most valuable possessions, such as jewelry, art and furniture, and catalogue the receipts. Store these receipts along with other important documents or keep them in digital form, such as on a USB thumb drive or cloud storage service.
  • Review an aging parent’s flood insurance policy and make sure he or she understands it. You may also want to contact the insurance agent to see if there is sufficient coverage.

During a Hurricane:

  • Make sure aging parents can monitor weather and safety updates. Give them a backup radio with extra batteries in case of a power outage.
  • Make sure they know to stay away from power lines and electrical wiring. Electrocution is one of the main causes of death during flooding. 
  • Do not let them drive during hurricane flooding. Water is incredibly powerful. Just two feet of moving flood water can sweep away the average car. 
  • Do not let them walk through flooded areas. It can take as little as six-inches of water to knock someone down.

After Hurricane Flooding:

  • If evacuated, aging loved ones should not return to their homes until local authorities have declared it safe.
  • Help them determine if structural damage has occurred. 
  • Make sure they know to wear gloves, protective clothing, and eye protection when cleaning up. Flood waters can be extremely toxic.
  • Check for local announcements about the water supply. Don’t assume it’s safe for them to drink.

We know just how devastating the impact of a hurricane can be here in Florida. It can be especially challenging for older Floridians who may have a more difficult time preparing and sustaining throughout a storm. Do not wait to talk to us about how we can help you and your aging family members prepare for this and any elder care issue.

9 Ways to Discuss Florida Estate Planning with Your Aging Parents

9 Ways to Discuss Florida Estate Planning with Your Aging Parents

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.

Tips to Help Your Senior Loved One Accomplish Daily Tasks

Tips to Help Your Senior Loved One Accomplish Daily Tasks

As we age, our bodies experience a number of changes, particularly in the way it functions. Tasks that were once easy to accomplish, such as getting dressed, bathing, eating, and generally getting around, may be more difficult to perform. These can be difficult changes for your senior loved one to accept, and they may feel hesitant to lean on you for assistance. We know how important the safety of your loved one is, which is why we want to share with you a few tips to help your senior loved one successfully and comfortable navigate daily activities and tasks.

First, it is important to evaluate your senior loved one’s specific needs. Not every senior experiences the same difficulties, and your loved one may feel embarrassed to share their challenges with you. We encourage you to monitor your loved one moving around and performing daily tasks, like eating and getting themselves ready. It is important to remember that the tasks your loved one finds challenging may change as he or she continues to age. If you feel more comfortable hiring a professional to evaluate your loved one’s needs, there are home assistance personnel who can monitor your loved one for you.

If your senior loved one does not have a daily routine in place, it may be time to help them create one. This can add stability to your loved one’s life and avoid causing him or her unnecessary stress. Having a routine can help your loved one feel more comfortable navigating daily tasks, as he or she will follow the same steps each day.

Unfortunately, sometimes your senior loved one may need more help than you can provide. As difficult as it can be to think about moving your loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility, sometimes it is in his or her best interest to do so. If your loved one is still mostly functional and healthy, a home caregiver may be able to provide the care he or she needs. If your loved one has worsening health conditions and frequently falls, these may be signs that he or she would benefit from living in a care facility.

Encouraging your senior loved one to lean on you for support can significantly improve his or her quality of life. If you have questions or if you are ready to discuss a plan for your loved one’s long-term care, do not wait to contact our office to meet with experienced Elder Law attorney, Scott Selis.