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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

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.

 


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.


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