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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Evolving long-term care options

Over the last 20 years, long-term care options for senior citizens and how to fund them have changed drastically. Baby boomers (and the generations that follow) will need to plan their long-term care differently than their parents before them due to factors like longer life spans, the uncertainty of future entitlement benefits and rapidly rising medical costs.

Fortunately, aging adults have choices when it comes to planning for long-term care. You can earmark savings for long-term medical expenses, rely on entitlement benefits, depend on your family or consider long-term-care insurance.

Many retirees with long-term needs want to rely on their family for support—as their own parents may have.  However, it is important that clients are aware that this option may come with immense emotional, physical and financial stress on family members.

Alternatively, an entire insurance industry has been developed around retiring baby boomers to fit the needs of the aging population, giving clients options beyond family for their long-term care. 

Unlike many policies in the past that directly paid a nursing facility, many current policies pay the benefit to the insured. In fact, half of benefits paid by private insurers for long-term care are not specifically for nursing homes but for in-home or assisted-living care instead.

Many policies can pay a benefit up to the daily or monthly maximum. The amount can be paid to the insured that would then pay the care provider, or the insured can arrange for the care provider to bill the insurance company directly. There is also the option of advanced benefit riders, which are fairly inexpensive additions to a life insurance policy that allow the death benefit to be paid in advance of death if the funds are needed for long-term care.

While it’s difficult to predict what kind of long-term care you might need, clients need to know that a plan for the future is necessary.  Although many people think “it won’t happen to me,” 70% of people over the age of 65 will need some time of long-term assistance during their retirement. 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Physicians Order for Life Sustaining Treatment

In the most recent Caregiver Chronicle I wrote an article on the POLST program  and how it’s going to help people with their end of life planning. Sometimes people are put in situations where they can’t make their own decisions and the families’ decisions are not always what the person at risk actually wants. In order to put a stop to this new developments to the POLST program have been implemented.

The main purpose of the POLST program is for family members and elders are on the same page in the case an emergency was to occur. It is simply an approach to end of life planning based on conversations with everyone involved in a persons life. Once this is done, wishes are documented and in the end honored which leaves no room for error when end of life planning is needed.

During the past year, the FSU Center for Innovative Collaboration in Medicine and Law has been working on a project funded by a grant from the Retirement Research Foundation, administered through the Oregon Health & Sciences University.  The purpose of this project was to produce a set of materials that medical schools and law schools in Florida could use, if they wish, in teaching their students about POLST.  We have now completed this project and sent the teaching materials to every medical school, law school, nursing school, and social work school in Florida.  We also are pleased to make these Florida POLST teaching materials available to you and the public, by posting the materials on the center website where these materials are the first item listed under the heading “POLST Information and Further Reading.”

 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Importance of Updating Your Estate Plan

Although most wealthy individuals have an estate plan in place, simply executing one is not always sufficient.  Many people forget about their estate plan soon after it has been implemented; it’s easy to simply file it away and forget about it.  However, those who do not frequently update and review their estate plans may render their estate plan’s intent unclear. 

Checkups with an estate planning attorney are necessary to ensure that an outdated or inadequate estate plan does not cause any dispute between heirs. Other major life events may also require changes in your estate plan.  Some of the best times to update your estate plan include:

  • When there is a meaningful change in your life (marriage, birth of a child, launch of a business).
  • Every few years to account for any changing laws.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Protecting Yourself from Financial Abuse

Unfortunately the reality is that the public takes advantage of the elderly and will take their money any way they can. In order to prevent yourself from being a victim of these crimes, staying informed is crucial. Knowing how to prevent financial abuse and knowing what to do if you think you’ve been robbed will go a long way and keep you independent and safe from financial fraud.

A few simple tips can allow you to keep your financial information confidential and safe. First, never share numbers with anyone unless you already know and trust them. Handing out credit card numbers over the phone can be a huge mistake.

Never pay money upfront, and only appoint someone you trust to handle your money if you can’t do it yourself. These simple tips go a long way and can save you money.

In the case that you think you are being robbed the first thing to do is to say something. Keeping this information to yourself will only make the problem worse. Report the loss of money to adult protective services and law enforcement, then make sure to file a complaint to the company you believe is a part of the financial abuse.

You can take control of your life and prevent financial abuse, as long as you stay informed. Here's a video of Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray speaking on elder financial abuse.


Monday, June 23, 2014

New Law Paves the Way for Greater Elder Abuse Prosecution

With the Governor’s signature making it official last Friday, Florida's senior citizens now have a new and effective tool to fight elder exploitation. The nationally groundbreaking legislation, which was the centerpiece of the legislative agenda this year for the Florida Bar's Elder Law Section, makes it easier for law enforcement to prosecute those who prey on our most vulnerable citizens by providing additional protections and harsher penalties.

Working with, Adult Protective Services, state law enforcement, prosecutors and State Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, the Elder Law Section constructed legislation that includes:

  • A "presumption of exploitation" when a predator takes advantage of an elderly or disabled victim in certain circumstances.
  • Deleting a requirement that the property of an elderly person or disabled adult be obtained by deception or intimidation in order to constitute exploitation.
  • Decreasing the property threshold values for exploitation.
  • Creating criminal penalties for those who exploit through joint accounts that were intended for convenience.
  • Creating a constitutionally sound hearsay exception for victims, to allow an out of court statement by an elderly person or disabled adult to be admissible in certain circumstances.

This is long-awaited and critical law that is terrific news for our elder population.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Upcoming Savvy Caregiver Training

The Savvy Caregiver Training Program is a great service for family caregivers and others who regularly assist individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. This free and unique, six-week program helps people understand how to treat and care for their loved ones with these diseases. The program provides participants with the knowledge they need in order to confidently care for loved ones and handle the stress that goes along with it.

The class meets two hours a week for six consecutive weeks. The participants will learn about the inevitable progression of Alzheimer’s and how to offer support through the different stages. These efforts will also be linked to those affected by dementia. By the end of the six weeks, caregivers will gain the confidence and knowledge to master their caregiving skills.

The dates and locations of the training are as follows:

  • Wednesdays 1-3 p.m. beginning June 25, 2014 in Ocala
  • Wednesdays 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. beginning September 3rd, 2014 in Starke
  • Thursdays 1-3 p.m. beginning September 4th, 2014 in Gainesville
  • Mondays 1-3 p.m. beginning September 8th, 2014 in Trenton (at Ayers Rehab)

Class size is limited to 15. Register by calling Tom Rinkoski at (352) 378-6649 extension 126, or via email to rinkoskit@agingresources.org.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Understanding Estate Planning

There are many misconceptions when it comes to estate planning. Many people believe that it is unnecessary to plan at a young age, that they do not need to review their old plans, or even that they do not have to plan at all because their spouse has done so already. All of these ideas behind estate planning are false.

It is always a good time to plan ahead or review old plans. The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils formed the NAEPC with the intentions of educating the public about the importance of estate planning. It is important that people understand what estate planning is, why it is so important, and what to look for in a professional team when choosing assistance.

The NAEPC’s goal is to educate the public and correct many common misconceptions about estate planning. They emphasize the need to have a qualified team of professionals to assist with the process of estate planning.

If you seek advice and guidance with regard to your estate planning needs, contact me or please view the NAEPC website.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

We Received Super Lawyer Designation

Super Lawyers, a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement, added Sam W. Boone, Jr. P.A. to that list for 2014.

It is an honor for which we are very proud, and it demonstrates the trust and faith our clients have had in us for more than 30 years and our knowledge in the specialized areas of elder law, estate planning and estate administration.

The Super Lawyers selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Super Lawyers is designed to create a credible and comprehensive listing of attorneys that can be used when consumers search for legal counseling. The selection process is extensive and detailed and receiving the achievement is a high honor.

We are honored and humbled to not only be recognized, but to also be the only firm in our area to be recognized in our practice areas.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Medicare Covers Dementia Screening, But be Careful About the Screening?

Medicare covers a variety of medical services for the elderly, but with something as common and severe as dementia, one would think that screening services are detailed and accurate. According to recent research this is not the case at all.

Screening for dementia allows patients to recognize the problem at its early signs and effectively take preventative and treatment actions after diagnosis. In order for this to be the case, screenings must be detailed and should essentially leave the patient with more answers rather than more questions.

For the elderly, risk of dementia increases with age and could lead to conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are ways of treating it before it gets out of hand.

Medicare covers dementia screenings, but these screenings consist of about 30 basic questions that can easily be completed in about 10 minutes. According to the U.S Preventative Services Task Force, a group of medical experts, this simple test gives off insufficient results because the test shows indications of latter signs of dementia rather than early signs.

The recommendations for people who want to be tested for early signs of dementia is to undergo the initial screening that is covered by Medicare and then later on have regular follow-up assessments in order to see how the problem is developing.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Law in the Library Presents Estate Planning Basics

It was a great opportunity Monday night to speak at the Law in the Library session on Elder Law: Protecting Yourself and Your Assets, and now I get to do it again.

I have been asked to do another presentation this coming Monday, May 19 at 11 a.m. at the Millhopper Library Branch. This time the subject is Estate Planning Basics. My presentation will likely include address titling assets, protections given to homestead property, elective share for a disinherited spouse, wills versus trusts, consequences of not having a will, and probate. 

While I am replacing one of my colleagues this coming Monday, it’s no coincidence that I should be talking about both these subjects. So much of the time, complications occur related to legal issues regarding older members of the family because the necessary estate planning was not done earlier. 

This event, free and open to anyone, will take place at the Millhopper Library Branch, 3145 NW 43rd St. If you or family members are dealing with some of these issues, please join us. The talk is presented by the Alachua County Library District and the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Law in the Library Presents Elder Law: Protecting Yourself and Your Assets

I will be participating Monday night at 6 p.m. as part of the Law in the Library session on Elder Law: Protecting Yourself and Your Assets. The talk is presented by the Alachua County Library District and the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association.

With May being is National Elder Law this is the perfect time to bring attention to this specialized legal advice about aging-related issues. Among the topics we will discuss are Medicaid qualification, the importance of an estate plan and probate, overview of the Affordable Care Act and fraud against the elderly.

Elder Law is extremely complicated, and the hope is that we can spend some time clarifying some of that for local residents. Elder Law involves representing, counseling and assisting seniors, people with disabilities and their families in connection with a variety of legal issues, from estate planning to long-term care issues.

This event, free and open to anyone, will take place at the Headquarters Library, 401 E. University Ave, on May 12 at 6 p.m. If you or family members are dealing with some of these issues, please join us.


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