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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

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.

 


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Rules on Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage is not really acknowledged in the state of Florida unless the marriage is valid in one of the nine states it is allowed, or the marriage occurred in Florida before Jan. 1, 1968. Many couples have been living together for years and take care of one another but are not married. Usually the reasons behind this are that there are children in prior marriages whose inheritance they wish to protect or each partner wishes to shield their assets if the other requires long term nursing care.

There are upsides to not being legally married like the ones listed above, but at the same time, there are many downsides as well. They are denied a number of automatic privileges that they would want such as property rights, or even something as simple as the right to talk with their partner's doctor in the event of a medical emergency.

There are legal steps one can take in order to protect your partner and gain some of the benefits that come with marriage. The most important issues include health care decisions, your IRA, 401K, life insurance and arrangements regarding wills.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Aging Parents and Driving

We In the United States value our freedom to be self-sufficient far more than other cultures. That includes being able to travel on our own. But when someone gets older, they start to lose their ability to be self-sufficient, especially when it comes to driving. People will be ready to give up a lot of things but for many driving is that last piece of independence, so when and how to have that discussion with older family members about driving is a tremendous challenge.

As the caregiver or child of an aging adult, it is often easier for us to put off that conversation but it may not be the right thing to do.

So here are some signs to tell you when it is time to have that conversation. Some of the first things to notice are if they are getting lost in familiar places, having difficulty maintaining lane positioning when driving, failing to stop at red lights, scrapes or dents on car, bad judgment on the road and receiving traffic violations. At this point, it is clear that driving is putting your loved one in danger.

Sometimes it is best to have a conversation about driving safety before it becomes a problem, so they are aware and not caught off guard when a more serious conversation follows. When your loved one is forced off the road, the one thing to make sure is that you make the transition as easy as possible. This includes driving those places yourself, helping them with local bus routes and answering any questions they might have.

These kinds of conversations are never easy to have but in the end it is important to maintain the safety of your loved ones, even if it means keeping them off the roads.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

New Flu Shot Helps Protect Senior Citizens

People over the age of 65 are at the most risk of contracting severe influenza. A new flu shot containing a booster has just been approved with hope of protecting senior citizens who are not fit for the traditional flu shot due to a poor immune system. The booster itself is meant to enhance your immune system when mixed with the virus, which allows the vaccine to have a better rate of success.

The booster contains an oil-in-water mixture that includes squalene, an oily nutrient produced by the liver, and some preservatives. When this mixture is added to vaccines, it increases the number of immune cells overall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people a year die from the flu, and usually most are over 65. This new vaccine has been around since 1997 and at this point is considered safe for use.

The vaccine will become available by next year in the United States.

 


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How to Prevent Loneliness This Holiday Season

The holiday season is rapidly approaching and while most of the time, the feelings associated with the holidays are positive ones, for some people the holidays can be a time where they are reminded of isolation and loneliness. This holiday season, you can help the elderly in your life enjoy the holidays.           

  1. Listen and understand when they speak, even when the topics are negative ones. Talking through their feelings can help them
  2. Remind them how important they are to your family and to the holidays
  3. If they are in a care facility, make regular visits during the holidays
  4. Call your elder friends in for the holidays
  5. Most importantly, spend time with them, they need to know they are cared for and loved and what better way to do that than to simply be with them when they need it the most

 Your time is the most valuable thing you can give someone. Make these holidays the best for your loved ones and remind them how important they are.

 


Monday, November 9, 2015

Long-Term-Care Insurance

Buying long-term-care insurance can be expensive. However, in the long run, buying this insurance could be saving you thousands when you need it the most. Unfortunately, about one in three people who purchase long-term-care insurance let it lapse; meaning they forfeit their benefits.

Long-term-care insurance is meant to cover the high costs of assisted living facilities, along with other services such as in-home assistance. The cost of these facilities is about $75,000 a year, which could all be covered if insurance for a fraction of the cost is purchased. Statistics show that most of the time, people let their benefits lapse within four years of needing long-term care.

Over the last five years, there has been a decrease in the amount of people who let their benefits lapse. Make sure you keep making payments in order to save your money in the long run.

  


Monday, November 2, 2015

Same Sex Marriage Decision Still Leaves Problems in Estate Planning

This past summer, the Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v. Hodges ruled for allowing same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court came to this decision after reviewing that prohibiting same-sex marriage violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the United States Constitution.

The Supreme Court decision did resolve some estate planning issues that will arise when the new law is implemented. However, there are still some minor details that will be worked through in the coming years.

Some issues that have yet to be resolved include work benefits for same-sex couples and legal issue regarding children if one of the partners is the biological parent. These issues will likely be debated on and resolved in the upcoming years following the implementation of the Obergefell decision.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

North Florida Older Population Set to Grow in Next 25 Years

In the next 25 years, regions of North Florida such as Jacksonville and St. Augustine will double in its population of older residents. Along with this change, come changes in other markets in these regions such as the pricing of housing. As of right now, the cost of housing is the biggest obstacle that these areas will need to overcome in the next coming years.

Unfortunately right now people are paying more than half their income for their housing in these areas. In a recent report titled, Re-think Aging, these problems were discussed. Projections regarding the amount of older residents expected in the next coming years along with their jobs were also made.

The results of the report find that not only will there be more residents, but there will be more jobs open for them and their life expectancy will increase which is both a cause for hope and concern.

The cities have come up with recommendations that will be implemented in the next two years in order for these cities to be more accommodating to older residents. Some include developing more workplace policies, more emphasis on healthcare training and educating the community on age discrimination. 


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