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Elder Law: Protection and Preservation of Assets

Did you know that long term care costs are the biggest threat to seniors’ financial security? Whether long term care is provided in the home or through an adult family home or other facilities like a nursing home or assisted living facility, long term care is expensive. It doesn’t take long for the costs of long term care to deplete a family’s finances when the costs associated with quality long term care often exceed $100,000 per year. If an individual or family is unable to cover the costs of long term care through private insurance or their own personal or family...

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The Duties of an Adult Guardian or Conservator

Are you a guardian or a conservator? Or both? The court appoints both guardians and conservators in situations where an individual has been determined to be incapacitated (mentally or physically) or when a minor requires an adult to manage property on their behalf. In this situation, the individual is generally referred to as a ward of the court. The duties associated with being a guardian and a conservator sometimes overlap, and in some cases, the same individual will be appointed to fulfill both roles. But guardians and conservators are not the same. Guardian: Responsible for a ward's personal care. Conservator: Oversees...

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What Executors Need to Know About the Probate Process

The probate process is the court-supervised means of gathering a deceased individual’s assets and distributing to the person’s creditors and inheritors. As an estate executor in Florida, the probate process depends on the Uniform Probate Code (UPC). The UPC is a set of probate laws written by a group of national experts. The collection of laws were initially intended for adoption in all 50 states. The state of Florida is one of the sixteen states that adopted the law. The UPC’s goal is to make the probate process simpler, particularly for smaller estates. It is also designed to offer executors...

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Medicaid Planning: Safe Harbors Created by Congress

In January 2019, the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) released a proposed rule to narrow existing regulatory discount safe harbor under the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and generate two additional safe harbors. The primary purpose regarding the proposed rule is updating the discount safe harbor to accommodate our modern prescription drug distribution model while protecting federal health care programs, benefits, and their beneficiaries. If Finalized, the Proposed Rule Would Mean Changes: Exclusion from existing discount safe harbor discounts provided to Medicare Part D plans (this includes Medicare Advantage plans with drug benefit),...

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What is a Will and Why Do You Need One?

Do you have a will? Do you know why you need one? If you don’t have a will, your loved ones may not receive the assets you wish to leave behind for them when you pass on. If you don’t have a will and you aren’t sure where to start, we recommend starting right at the beginning. What is a Will? A will is a legal document. It sets forth the wishes of an individual regarding their property’s distribution and the care of their minor children. To ensure that your preferences for your estate and your family are carried out as...

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Who Needs to Hire an Elder Law Attorney?

The complexities involved with elder law inspire many to postpone addressing the matter as long as possible. While elder law issues can be complicated, early planning can be pivotal for many individuals and families. Do You or Your Loved Ones Need the Services of an Elder Law Attorney? Working with a Qualified Elder Law Attorney Means Avoiding Costly Mistakes: Florida laws are precise. They dictate exactly what can and cannot be included in a will, a trust, an advance medical directive or financial power of attorney. Florida law also determines who can and cannot serve as a personal representative, health care...

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Assigning a Trustee to a Special Needs Trust

If you are interested in creating a Special Needs Trust (SNT), one of the first decisions you will need to make is who to designate as the trustee. The rules do not allow for the trustee to be the beneficiary (the individual with a disability) or their spouse. If the beneficiary of a special needs trust or their spouse is the designated trustee, the funds held in the trust would automatically be considered a resource, or asset of the beneficiary under Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid rules. Since trust assets would then be regarded as countable assets, the beneficiary...

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What Assets Can You Have While Retaining Medicaid Eligibility?

To qualify for long-term Medicaid, seniors must not have assets over a certain amount.. When one spouse of a married couple applies for Medicaid (long term care), all assets owned by both husband and wife will be taken into consideration for Medicaid eligibility calculations. Assets considered include bank accounts, stocks, savings, homes, property, etc. What Liquid Assets are Considered to Determine Medicaid Eligibility? When applying for Medicaid, expect all your liquid assets to be taken into consideration, including money in the bank, stocks, savings, etc. If a married individual is applying for Medicaid, it does not make a difference if assets...

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4 Common Medicaid Planning Mistakes

Most are aware that Medicare will cover a significant portion of their overall health-care costs as they grow older, but some are surprised that it is not free. It’s also not easy – managing the Medicaid application process is actually fairly complicated. 4 Common Medicaid Planning Mistakes: Procrastinating: Don’t wait too long to start planning ahead. Planning for Medicaid should be started long before benefits are actually needed to cover long term care costs. Individuals who wait too long often find that they have to exhaust a substantial portion of their assets in order to fulfill the program’s eligibility requirements...

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Estate Planning for Families with Special Needs Children

Families who have special needs children have to take extra care when creating their estate plans. Regardless of whether their special needs child is a minor or an adult, it is critical that they consider the possibility of the child’s needs now and in the future. Will the child need to receive needs-based public benefits such as SSI or Medicaid? Will they have what they need and still be able to qualify? Estate planning considerations for a special needs child will depend on the child’s age, their level of competency, the family, and other considerations. The goal is simple: to use...

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