Individuals put off estate planning because they think they don’t own enough, they’re not old enough, they’re busy, think they have plenty of time, they’re confused and don’t know who can help them, or they just don’t want to think it. Then, when something happens to them, their families have to pick up the pieces.
Believe it or not, you have an estate. In fact, nearly everyone does. Your estate is comprised of everything you own— your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate and something in common—you can’t take it with you when you die.
Estate planning is not only about the legacy you want to leave your family and your community, it is also a way for you to grant legal authority during your lifetime to those individuals whom you trust, should you become unable to make your own decisions.
A power of attorney enables you to authorize someone as your agent, to make decisions on your behalf with regard to financial matters. Health care directives, such as a health care power of attorney and a living will, are used to document and protect your health care wishes in the event you are unable to communicate them.
Most of us don’t want to think about the day when we can no longer take care of ourselves, or when our loved ones can no longer live on their own. But the truth is that many of us will need some form of long-term care once we reach our golden years. This means we may need assistance with daily activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating or using the restroom.
Elder Law focus on the legal planning, advocacy and guidance you need as a Florida senior and addresses issues like guardianship, conservatorship, power of attorney, estate planning (wills and trusts), Medicaid or long-term care planning, and advanced directives.
Long Term care Planning
Long term care has costs associated with the services provided. It’s important to prepare as much as possible. The cost of care and your options for coverage vary depending on the type of services you need.
A common myth is that Medicare, the federal government’s health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older, pays for long term care—but it doesn’t. Medicare will help pay for a short stay in a skilled nursing center, for hospice care, or for home health care if you meet specific conditions. But it does not cover what the government calls “custodial care,” or personal care for assistance with daily activities (e.g., bathing, dressing, eating).
Medicaid, the health insurance program for low income individuals, does cover long term care services.
You need to know your options, including how to best protect yourself, your family members and your assets, in light of an uncertain long-term care future. Unfortunately, the long-term care costs continue to increase.
If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, and private pay is not an option, there are ways to structure financial resources and prepare documentation to ensure the best possibility of being accepted into the Medicaid program. We can work with you to develop a plan that will protect you whether you are in a crisis or just being proactive. Some common methods include creating trusts, managing asset transfers and converting countable assets into exempt assets to ensure eligibility and preserve a family's resources.
Call our office today to schedule a consultation: (386) 265-0900. We are available 24/7 to help you and your family with your Estate Planning issues.