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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

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.


Monday, February 8, 2016

How to Talk to People with Alzheimer's

Maintaining a dialogue with people who have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is often challenging. We found a great article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about this and wanted to share it with all of you.

 Expect to say "I'm sorry" a lot if you decide to try one of the trendier ways to communicate with people who have Alzheimer's.

There was a time when caregivers tried orienting people with dementia to reality. That often feels like the natural thing to do.

But at Daylesford Crossing, an assisted-living facility in Paoli, workers are more likely to just go with it if a resident has some strange ideas.

Let's say Mom or Grandma is furiously accusing her neighbor of stealing something. Your first impulse may be to defend the neighbor, but that would just make things worse, said Kathleen Douglass, administrator and dementia specialist at Sage Senior Living, which opened Daylesford five months ago. "I'm sorry that happened to you," is a better answer, she said. Then you can show you've heard the emotion. "You seem really angry. I would be angry too if that happened." It's time to give up thinking your truth and rationality will change the mind of someone with dementia.

Teepa Snow, originator of this positive approach to care, was in Daylesford this month to train about 50 staffers from Sage facilities and some family members in her principles. Snow demonstrated how brain damage from dementia affects behavior and offered hands-on tips to help caregivers fill in the gaps. Snow's goal is to help caregivers make use of what's still working in the brain and compensate for what isn't.

 To read the entire article, go to this link: http://www.philly.com/philly/health/mental-health/20160131_How_to_talk_to_people_with_Alzheimer_s.html

 


Monday, February 1, 2016

Do You Need An Estate Plan?

 

A lot of people believe an estate plan is not necessary. More than half of Americans fail to have a will and an even smaller number has an estate plan in order. Estate plans are extremely important when it comes to distributing your assets, leaving legacy wishes and help your family pay less in taxes and court costs.

Many people believe that a will and an estate plan are the same thing. There are differences and in the end not everyone needs an estate plan. Here are some questions to help you get started: 

  1. Are there children involved?
    1. an estate plan may be necessary if a minor child will be receiving assets
  2. The size of the estate and the state of residence
    1. if an estate exceeds the estate tax exclusion, an estate plan may be necessary
  3. Can your 401k be stretched?
    1. If you’re leaving money to a child or grandchild who is significantly younger than you, an estate plan is necessary so that tax-deferred or tax-free growth can be taken into account
  4. Is privacy important?
    1. if privacy is your top priority, an estate plan is a better option than a will
  5. Would you like money to go to charity?
    1. Charities can be named recipients in estate plans
  6. Do you need to pass on a business?
    1. transferring business assets is more organized and detailed in an estate plan
  7. What is your current stage in life?
    1. there is no specific time that is best to start an estate plan, but a new parent should heavily consider it
  8. Are there special circumstances in your family?
    1. blended families and families with disabilities should consider an estate plan, it would be much easier to draft with an elder law attorney

Monday, January 25, 2016

Cancer Care and Bankruptcy

In recent years, the cost of cancer care has increased dramatically. As of right now, the cost of cancer care for one month can range anywhere between $10,000 and $60,000. The costs are leaving one third of working cancer survivors in debt and out of that one third, 3 percent end up filing for bankruptcy within a year.

The risk of debt increases the younger someone is. This is due to lower income and higher debt rates. In the end, prices rack up with drugs, hospitalizations, examinations, radiation treatments and more. As time progresses, new drugs keep coming out and the prices on these medications are higher than ever before.

If you or someone you love is fighting cancer, you should advise them to seek out resources from the American Cancer Society, as well as consulting with a financial counselor or social worker. With the right resources, one can plan their finances during treatment so that when it is over, they can get back to work without the stress.

 


Friday, January 22, 2016

Freedom in Motion Pilot Program to Continue and Expand

Gainesville city commissioners have agreed to continue the Freedom In Motion pilot program for another six months, as well as expand it to seniors in the entire city.

The program was originally created as a pilot program last September but was limited to seniors living in the 400 building or the Turkey Creek Forest neighborhoods. The program has been sponsored by ElderCare of Alachua County, Uber and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Anthony Clarizio, ElderCare of Alachua County's executive director, told commissioners 102 rides had been taken during November and December. Each ride averaged 14 to 15 minutes and passengers traveled about six miles. Destinations included grocery stores, churches, shopping malls, community centers and health care providers.

It was those results that prompted the commission to continue and expand the pilot program.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Co-owning Assets Means They Still Belong To You

A lot of people wonder if they put their children as co-owners for things such as your bank accounts, what really happens to these accounts and what will happen with Medicaid at a time when care is necessary. Unfortunately the answer to this is that even if your children are co-owners of your bank account, this will not protect your assets.

The reason behind this is that in the end, your bank account will still be considered yours, even if a co-owner is involved. This also raises problems with your bank account now being vulnerable. If your child is a co-owner, and they get a divorce, you could be facing legal issues if their spouse decides to lay claims to interest.

Discussing your Medicaid options with an elder law attorney could not only allow you to get the most out of your benefits, but could help you ensure that all your assets are protected and under your name.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Getting permanent residency in Florida

Every year, more than 50,000 people come into Florida from New York for a number of reasons. Some include permanent moves, vacations or living in the area for a couple months at a time. Unfortunately, to the state of New York or most other states, you represent lost revenue when you leave the state, so chances are New York will audit you, and in some cases you need to prove that you are a Florida resident.

Most people think that owning property in Florida will be enough proof of residency but in the end, time will be of most value. One would have had to spend 183 days in Florida in order to be considered. If you spend most of your time in New York, they will automatically consider you a New Yorker.

There are other things you can do to lower your chances of audit and increase your chances at permanent residency in Florida. This includes obtaining a Florida residency card, making sure your permanent address to the bank is a Florida address, using a Florida bank, have medical records transferred to a Florida physician and consulting a Florida lawyer for your estate planning documents to ensure everything fits with Florida law.

 


Monday, January 4, 2016

Low-Cost Modifications for Your Home to Lower Risk of Injury

Falls are the leading cause of injury in many older adults and luckily there are ways you can modify your home to decrease the risk of injury in your home. Here is a list of six ways you can make your home safer by spending a small amount of money.

  1. Handrails – installing handrails along staircases and hallways can help maintain balance.
  2. Grab Bars – these are installed in showers and near toilets to prevent falls
  3. Improved Lighting – these can be installed anywhere in the home to improve visibility. These lights cost about $10 each and can be installed quickly.
  4. Non-slip mats – these can be placed in the bathroom, kitchen or anywhere in the house where floors are uneven or slippery. These mats are very cheap and easy to lay out
  5. Step and Floor Repair – Simple repairs of broken floors, stairs, or carpeting can decrease the risk of injury and are very low cost depending on what needs to be repaired.
  6. Simple cleaning – removing cords that one could trip on, piles of clothes or simply cleaning the floors every once in a while could significantly decrease your risk.

Monday, December 21, 2015

New Law Makes IRA Charitable Rollover Permanent

The IRA Charitable Rollover has existed since it was first included in the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA).  But a new law passed by Congress and signed by the President last week now makes the charitable rollover a permanent law.

The legislation, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, is a greater benefit to our seniors. If you are age 70½ or older you can transfer up to $100,000 annually from your IRA accounts directly to charity without first having to recognize the distribution as income.

While it has broad appeal, the law still has limitations. You must be 70½ or older. The amount of the gift you give to charity is limited to $100,000. And you are specifically not permitted to make charitable rollovers to donor-advised funds, supporting organizations, and private foundations.

But if you do fit into those categories, and you have not taken advantage of the charitable rollover in 2015, there’s still time. If there’s a group or organization you have in mind – possibly a church or synagogue – this is a great opportunity.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Medicare to Cover End-of-Life Counseling

The Obama Administration has recently changed the Medicare policy regarding end-of-life planning and both the American Medical Association and American Heart Association strongly support the new Medicare coverage. The initial proposal of the idea received overwhelming positive response which means good news for those who qualify.

Starting in January, Medicare will begin covering counseling sessions in order to discuss end-of-life care options with a healthcare professional or physician. Counseling sessions will be voluntary and Medicare will pay $86 for the first 30 minutes if counseling happens in a physician's office or $80 if it is in a hospital setting. The amount of coverage will vary by region.

Medicare recipients may request counseling at any time when they are well, have received a serious diagnosis, or are receiving hospice care in 2016.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The FDA is Testing a New Anti-Aging Drug

Who thought we would see the day when an anti-aging drug will be put on the market but it seems as if this could soon become a reality. The Food and Drug Administration has recently approved a trial to test out a drug that can slow the aging process and dramatically increase a person's life span. Already on the market as the world's most widely used diabetes drug, Metformin, the FDA wants to see how effective it is as an anti-aging drug.

There are billions of cell divisions that occur over time and as more cells divide, problems arise and cells can lose their ability to repair damage, which then begins the aging process. This drug boosts the number of oxygen molecules that are released into a cell, and as a result will increase longevity and robustness.

The drug will be tested by 3,000 70-80 year olds in the upcoming years. This drug is currently on trial so it will not be available just yet, but if and when it is available for this purpose, it could have a significant impact on estate planning and retirement.

 


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