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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Cost of Elder Hoarding


Despite what is portrayed in the media, hoarding is no laughing matter. It can pose a serious danger to your loved ones and even to your wallets. When your family member hoards, dangerous materials are piling up such as old food scraps, dirt and even sometimes animals such as rats and roaches get lost in the piles. Unfortunately to hire a professional to clean everything up can be cost prohibitive. It is important to avoid the cost and danger before the damage escalates.
Read more . . .


Monday, April 11, 2016

National Healthcare Decision Day


 

It may just be a day on the calendar but this Saturday, April 16, has some great significance – National Healthcare Decision Day. It is a day with a relatively simple mission – to encourage people to consider, discuss and document their healthcare wishes.

Why is that important? Think about the decisions your doctors and family members would have to make if you don’t let them know in advance how you want to be treated should you reach the point that you cannot explain your own wishes.

So National Healthcare Decision Day was created by a nonprofit organization determined to make people aware and, more importantly, to take action when it comes to advance-care planning by preparing advance directives.

There are two common forms of advance directives – living wills and a health care surrogate designation.
Read more . . .


Monday, April 4, 2016

New Apple Film Dramatizes Advances for People with Autism


A new short film by Apple called Dillan’s Voice demonstrates some of the advances in technology being used to help people with autism. A recent article in Mashable describes this new technology.

This is a tremendous advance in how we deal with people with autism and demonstrates how technology, like the Apple iPad can be an extremely effective tool. The results are outstanding.
Read more . . .


Monday, March 28, 2016

Healthcare Scams

Unfortunately, senior citizens are a popular target for healthcare scams. Companies and people take advantage of cognitive decline to overcharge patients and even sometimes recommend harmful products. However, being aware of these scams can keep you and your loved ones prepared. You can avoid healthcare fraud by simply being informed.

One of the biggest scams is fake prescription drugs and pharmacies. Some people will turn to the internet and come across an online pharmacy that has their prescription drugs for a much cheaper price. The only problem is that most of the time, these pharmacies are not real and the drugs they give out are highly ineffective.

Another popular scam against senior citizens is the use of dangerous products and useless medications and products. A lot of seniors will purchase anti-aging products or other products that claim to be beneficial either online or in commercials. The problem with these products is that they can come with serious side effects or may be placebos. The best thing is to consult with your doctor before taking anything they themselves did not prescribe to you.

Healthcare insurance fraud is also a big problem amongst seniors. Seniors make up a large portion of the healthcare industry. This makes them easy scam targets. Being informed can keep you and your family safe and aware.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Do You Have Unclaimed Property?

Our friend and colleague Twyla Sketchley, of the Sketchley Law Firm in Tallahassee, recently posted a blog about unclaimed property that I felt was worth sharing.

The blog is filled with excellent information explaining what unclaimed property is, how to find and claim your unclaimed property and when and where to check for such property. Nationally billions of dollars of unclaimed property is being held, usually at the state level.

In Florida, checking is a simple process. You go to the state website at www.fltreasurehunt.org and type in your name.

Please take the time to review the blog from the Sketchley Law Firm by clicking here (http://sketchleylaw.com/do-you-have-unclaimed-property).

 


Monday, March 14, 2016

Four Major Planning Topics

When your parents get older, there are certain topics that need to be discussed in order to properly plan for later life. The four most important topics to touch on are living arrangements, medical coverage, estate planning and finances.

Living arrangements can be the most difficult topic to discuss, but it is important to understand that at one point your parents may no longer be able to take care of themselves. They need to vocalize what they would like in the future so that you can accommodate when the time comes.

Medical coverage can be an easy topic to cover. You need to be sure to have the names and phone numbers of every doctor and specialist your parents go to so that later in life, one can properly choose a perfect medical coverage plan.

Estate planning includes many sub topics. It is easiest to hire an elder law attorney so that you get organized about after life planning and much more. Another way to be prepared is to talk to your parents about where they have their legal documents so that you are always aware and ready in case you need them.

Financial plans are the most important to talk about because this ties into all the other topics of discussion. Knowing what your parents need can help both you and them in the long run and make the transitions easy.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Your New Facebook Legacy

A new policy has been implemented on Facebook that gives people more freedom on what to do with their Facebook profiles after they pass away. Before the new policy, people usually gave a family member their password and gave them instruction on what to do, or they could have a family member start a petition to take it down.

Facebook has made it much easier to deal with this problem. Now, people have the option of placing a setting that permanently deletes one’s profile when they pass away, or they can designate a “legacy contact” which allows a designated person to change certain settings on the deceased’s Facebook page. A legacy contact can change a profile and cover photo, write a special post in memory of the deceased, accept friend requests and even download an archive of pictures to keep. One thing they will not be able to do however is view messages.

This change makes it much easier to deal with social media after one passes away. Before this change, family members would be looking everywhere for written passwords. The change has been welcomed by users and can be used as soon as possible.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

IRA Charitable Rollover is Now Permanent

A change to the tax law that went into effect at the end of 2015 has created great opportunities.

What this law formally did was make permanent a provision that allows citizens 70 years old and older to make donations directly to a charity, allow them to exclude these payments from their taxes and also to have donations count when going over minimum distribution of an individual's annual income. Previously this has been renewed by Congress on an annual basis.

This law states that all of this is guaranteed as long as the charity donations do not exceed $100,000. One may either donate strictly to one specific charity or give to multiple charities as long as they do not go over the maximum amount. The donation also must be made directly to the charity.

People who make sizable charity donations will benefit from this the most since a donor's taxable income will now become much smaller as well as their estate taxes. One can begin to take advantage of this law this year. Be sure to consult an elder law attorney if you are thinking about making IRA charitable rollovers this year.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Daughter Syndrome

My colleagues at the Estate Planning and Legal Law Center, PLC in Maitland, recently posted an excellent piece about what is commonly referred to as The Daughter Syndrome.

The article explains in detail how women – whether they are a wife, mother, grandmother or aunt – are, as nurturers, finding themselves caught in the daughter syndrome. As I was reading it, I thought about all the women we have worked with over the years and for how many of them this is a common outcome.

What I especially like about the piece is that it offers solutions for those of you who find yourself stuck in the daughter syndrome. Here’s a link to the article. 


Monday, February 22, 2016

Seniors Dying While Waiting for State Services

It was recently revealed that more than 6,000 elder Floridians – most of them poor and disabled – died while on a waiting list for desperately needed services.

According to statistics from the Florida Department of Elderly Affairs requested by POLITICO Florida (the Florida branch of a national journalism organization), 6,538 seniors died while waiting for services from four programs: Medicaid managed long-term care, the Home Care for the Elderly, Community Care for the Elderly and the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative. They were part of a group of 58,818 people on waiting lists for home and community based services as of December 2015, based on data maintained by AARP Florida.

And here’s the really bad news. It’s going to get worse. The Legislature has directed funding to programs that will add 812 openings to the Home Community Care for the Elderly program. That’s 812 new openings with a waiting list of more than 58,000.

As baby boomers age, the situation in Florida, which has a disproportionate number of older residents compared to most other states, will become catastrophic. It is long past time for state government to recognize that too little is being done, and this will become an impossible burden on Florida.


Monday, February 15, 2016

What If My Client Can’t Find a Loved One’s Will

Not being able to find a loved one’s will can be a stressful situation. However, if this does happen the most important thing to do is to simply keep calm. There are many ways to get around this even if a copy of the will is nowhere to be found. Here are some recommendations for when this does happen:

  1. Contact the probate court and see if the will has been admitted to probate. Chances are if this has happened, a family member or a lawyer has submitted the original copy.
  2. Look for a safe in your family member’s home. Many times people will keep important documents such as wills and financial records in safes somewhere in their home.
  3. If your loved one used an estate lawyer, look through financial records and checkbooks. Chances are the lawyer has the will or the trust that was signed.
  4. Look for the name of any financial advisors they may have used. Things like business cards can contain this information and the advisor may have the location of the document.
  5. Some people hide documents in places people would not normally look, like the refrigerator. Believe it or not some people do hide their wills in strange places.
  6. Reach out to other family members. if you do not know where the will is, chances are maybe someone else in the family might know.

 Communication is essential so that situations like this are kept under control. There are plenty of ways that a will can be found so it is important to stay calm and go through these steps.


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