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May 2019

Who Needs to Hire an Elder Law Attorney?

The complexities involved with elder law inspire many to postpone addressing the matter as long as possible. While elder law issues can be complicated, early planning can be pivotal for many individuals and families. Do You or Your Loved Ones Need the Services of an Elder Law Attorney? Working with a Qualified Elder Law Attorney Means Avoiding Costly Mistakes: Florida laws are precise. They dictate exactly what can and cannot be included in a will, a trust, an advance medical directive or financial power of attorney. Florida law also determines who can and cannot serve as a personal representative, health care...

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Assigning a Trustee to a Special Needs Trust

If you are interested in creating a Special Needs Trust (SNT), one of the first decisions you will need to make is who to designate as the trustee. The rules do not allow for the trustee to be the beneficiary (the individual with a disability) or their spouse. If the beneficiary of a special needs trust or their spouse is the designated trustee, the funds held in the trust would automatically be considered a resource, or asset of the beneficiary under Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid rules. Since trust assets would then be regarded as countable assets, the beneficiary...

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What Assets Can You Have While Retaining Medicaid Eligibility?

To qualify for long-term Medicaid, seniors must not have assets over a certain amount.. When one spouse of a married couple applies for Medicaid (long term care), all assets owned by both husband and wife will be taken into consideration for Medicaid eligibility calculations. Assets considered include bank accounts, stocks, savings, homes, property, etc. What Liquid Assets are Considered to Determine Medicaid Eligibility? When applying for Medicaid, expect all your liquid assets to be taken into consideration, including money in the bank, stocks, savings, etc. If a married individual is applying for Medicaid, it does not make a difference if assets...

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4 Common Medicaid Planning Mistakes

Most are aware that Medicare will cover a significant portion of their overall health-care costs as they grow older, but some are surprised that it is not free. It’s also not easy – managing the Medicaid application process is actually fairly complicated. 4 Common Medicaid Planning Mistakes: Procrastinating: Don’t wait too long to start planning ahead. Planning for Medicaid should be started long before benefits are actually needed to cover long term care costs. Individuals who wait too long often find that they have to exhaust a substantial portion of their assets in order to fulfill the program’s eligibility requirements...

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Estate Planning for Families with Special Needs Children

Families who have special needs children have to take extra care when creating their estate plans. Regardless of whether their special needs child is a minor or an adult, it is critical that they consider the possibility of the child’s needs now and in the future. Will the child need to receive needs-based public benefits such as SSI or Medicaid? Will they have what they need and still be able to qualify? Estate planning considerations for a special needs child will depend on the child’s age, their level of competency, the family, and other considerations. The goal is simple: to use...

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Elderly Guardianship Basics: How to Get Guardianship

In some situations, it becomes necessary for an adult to be appointed with a guardian. In this situation, the court appoints an individual to handle decisions for another adult who is no longer capable of safely making decisions on their own. In most cases, this situation becomes necessary when an older person/family member has an accident or suffers from an illness that causes mental deterioration like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If you believe that a loved one or someone close to you is in need of a guardian appointed by the court, start by gathering all the relevant information. List out...

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What is a Supplemental Needs Trust or Special Needs Trust?

A special needs trust or supplemental needs trust as they are sometimes called, allows individuals to designate special needs individuals to receive gifts, legal settlements, or other funds without losing their eligibility for government benefits programs. This type of trust is drafted so that the funds are not considered as “belonging” to the beneficiary when their eligibility for public benefits is being determined. Special needs trusts (as the name implies) are designed to pay for comforts and luxuries that could not be paid for by public assistance funds. They are not intended to cover basic support costs. Instead they are designed...

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Know How the Probate Process Works

Probate is the legal process through which the court officially recognizes a will’s validity and supervises the designated executor. The executor carries out the wishes of the deceased individual according to the will. When someone passes away without a will or estate plan in place, probate is the legal process the court uses to supervise the carrying out of the distribution of the deceased’s estate in accordance with Florida state law. The majority of those designated as executors of an estate are new to probate court and the probate process as a whole. Know what to expect by considering the common...

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How Gifts Can Affect Medicaid Eligibility

Many seniors are dealing with rapidly rising medical and nursing home expenses and find themselves struggling to accept the situation when they discover that even a modest amount of personal assets may leave them ineligible for Medicaid benefits to help with the rising costs of elder care and living. Many find themselves facing the possibility of spending all their money on health care with nothing left to leave their heirs. In this situation it is tempting to immediately transfer assets to heirs, qualify for Medicaid and move into a long-term care facility. Rules are in place to govern this type of...

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An Introduction to Elder Law and Wills

As we age, we face a lot of important decisions. We have to make decisions regarding how to receive care, where we live, and what’s going to happen after all the important questions are answered. Many issues that come with age have significant legal implications and elder law attorneys are there to advise you, help you make the best preparations, and be your advocate. Major Elements of Elder Law Planning: Will: A will and testament is a legal document that allows you to express your wishes regarding the distribution of your property at death. It also allows you to designate an executor...

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