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August 2019

When Seniors Should Take Social Security Benefits

At some point, everyone starts to think about retirement and applying for Social Security benefits. The question is not whether or not it is going to happen; the question is typically about timing. When is the best time to start collecting Social Security? Most focus on one magical number: the age considered “full retirement age” at which they can collect their full benefit. But other factors should be considered in addition to the age at which full benefits become available. The full retirement age in 2019 is 67 for those born in 1960 or later. For individuals born in 1937...

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Lady Bird Deed vs. Traditional Life Estate Deed

To understand the unique benefits of a Lady Bird deed (or enhanced life estate deed), you must first become familiar with the traditional life estate deed. The conventional life estate deed allows a property owner (Grantor) to reserve the right to live on a property until their death. Upon the Grantor's death, the property goes directly to the designated beneficiary (Grantee) without going through probate. When using a traditional life estate deed, the Grantor gives up their right to sell or mortgage the property. When using a Lady Bird deed, the Grantor is also able to retain the right to live...

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Income Counted by Florida Medicaid Long Term Care Coverage

To apply for Florida Medicaid coverage, long-term care applicants must pass two tests: the Florida Medicaid Asset test and the Florida Medicaid Income test. As an “income-cap” state, Florida Medicaid applicants are only approved if they do not exceed the set limit. If you are considering applying for Medicaid or attempting to start your Medicaid planning, the first step is determining if your income is above or below the cap. What Sources of Income Are Counted During the Florida Medicaid Application Process? Social Security Benefits Retirement Account Income Disability Payments Workers Compensation Payments Annuity Income Rental Real Estate Income (net) ...

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What to Do When You Have Been Denied Medicaid Coverage

Have you been denied Medicaid benefits? Whether you were denied Medicaid coverage for in-home care or nursing home care, the need for services continues whether your application is denied or not. And a denied Medicaid application does not mean the individual in need of care or their loved ones have more money to cover the costs of long-term care. If you feel you are at the end of the line and you are out of options, do not lose hope. There are still options available for you and your family to pursue to become Medicaid eligible. If you have received a...

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Does Your College-Age Child Need Estate Planning Documents?

When children leave for college, families often have a lot on their minds. They worry about their college students classes, their major, their housing, their roommates, their extracurricular life, the distance from home, the extra expenses, and their grades. But there is one thing that families typically don’t worry about that should probably outweigh all the other items on this list: their college student’s estate plan. Most college students leave home without any estate planning documents in place. Why Does Your College-Age Child Need an Estate Plan? Most college-age children have already turned or are about to turn 18. In most...

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What Parents Need to Know About Adult Guardianship of their Special Needs Child

When your child is 17 years old or younger, you, as the parent, have the legal right to make all their major decisions for them. But once your child turns 18 years old, they have the legal right to make decisions on their own. In some cases, a special needs child may not be ready for this responsibility when they turn 18. In some cases, they will never be prepared for this level of responsibility. Are you the parent of a special needs child considering applying for adult guardianship? What is Guardianship? Guardianship is when a court gives one individual (the...

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Is a Special Needs Trust Beneficial for Public Benefits Applicants?

Many assume that the use of a special needs trust (SNT) is limited to medical items or items directly related to the disability of the beneficiary. This is actually not accurate because the phrase “special needs” is used with a fairly broad definition. The actual legal phrasing used in virtually all special needs trusts that limits the use of funds to special needs with “special needs” defined as anything that is not provided by the Trust beneficiary’s public benefits programs. Public benefit programs are designed to provide for critical items/essential needs, not supplemental items to improve the quality of life. This...

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What Are the Duties of an Executor or Administrator?

An executor is a person or institution appointed by a testator to carry out the terms of their will and administer the estate. An administrator is a person legally appointed by the court to manage and administer the estate of someone who died without a will. So while the two roles are not the same, they do fulfill the same duties and responsibilities once they are in position. In Florida, a deceased person’s estate is administered by the Personal Representative. Duties & Responsibilities: Gathering Estate Assets: The first task on the Personal Representative’s agenda is to identify and secure the estate’s...

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Beware These Common Medicaid Eligibility Mistakes

Medicaid planning hinges on a plan to ensure you can qualify for Medicaid benefits for long-term care in your elder years. The costs associated with long-term care average more than $100,000 per year; especially if accessing a nursing home with specialized care (i.e., dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.) With a solid plan in effect, Americans facing long-term care needs quickly spend down money it took a lifetime to save. Turn to Medicaid planning to assist you in qualifying for Medicaid benefits to cover the high costs of nursing home care without obliterating your savings or your estate. Avoid Common Medicaid Eligibility Mistakes: ...

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How to Use a Trust in Medicaid Planning

Effective Medicaid planning can allow individuals and families to preserve some of their estates for descendants while also fulfilling the Medicaid asset limitation requirements. Some use “gifts” in their Medicaid planning, but this leaves the potential for loss. When assets are transferred to another individual, you no longer control them. Most feel that an irrevocable trust is a safer approach. The trust is a legal entity with the “trustee” holding legal title to property in the trust for the benefit of the “beneficiaries.” Trustees are required to follow the rules of the trust. Whether or not the trust assets are...

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