Articles Posted in Elder Law

Most seniors do their best to prepare for the unfortunate, inevitable, outcome that one day they will pass away.  They create their will, and with painstaking detail allocate their hard-earned money and assets to spouses, children, family, friends, and charities.  But what if there is not money or assets left over to leave for loved ones?  What many do not realize is that paying taxes, helping the family, and subsiding off of what Social Security provides are not the things that typically bankrupt most seniors.  So what is?  A simple Google search into Long Term Health Care will bring up horror stories many Americans experience and will continue to face.  Hard working Americans, who have been saving for 40 years, end up penniless at the end.  It is expected that 70% of seniors over the age of 65 will need long term health care at some point in their life.  With the incoming influx of baby boomers, the problems only seem to compound.  Combine that with the fact that the estimated cost of staying in a nursing home is close to $9,500 dollars a month, one can easily see how their life-time savings can disappear.  When the average time spent in long term health care is three years, at $9,500 a month, that comes out to $342,000.  Everyone wants to ensure that their spouse, children, and family are provided for as best as possible, especially when they can no longer be an influence.  Below you can find more information on what probate is, the benefits and problems with Medicare and Medicaid, as well as some typical ways people can secure funds and assets.

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The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States is growing rapidly. So, too, are the number of myths surrounding the disease and other forms of dementia. Let’s begin by looking at what we do know about the prevalence of Alzheimer’s before investigating some of the more common myths.

Approximately 5.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. Of these, some 5.3 million are 65 years of age or older. In addition:


  • One in 10 people 65 and over has Alzheimer’s disease
  • Nearly two out of three Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women
  • African-Americans are approximately twice as likely as older Caucasians to have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia
  • Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older Caucasians
  • As the population grows older, the number of new cases of Alzheimer’s disease is expected to soar
  • Today, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease every 66 seconds. By 2050, this figure is likely to increase to one new case every 33 seconds

Now let’s look at some of the most common myths surrounding Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

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The following article by the Senior Directory is aimed at helping you learn options regarding the various payment options for Long-Term Care in a Nursing Home. It is not a Do-It-Yourself guide.  Before doing anything drastic with your assets, consult a Florida Elder Law Attorney who can work out the particulars for your individual situation and make sure everything is filed correctly.

How much does Long Term Care at a Nursing Home cost?

National averages price long-term care facilities at about $250 a day. That comes out to $90,000 a year, which is just for basic care.  Start adding in amenities, like Memory Care for Alzheimer’s patients, and that number quickly starts to rise.  In North Florida the average cost can quickly increase from around $9,700 a month to $20,000 or even $30,000 a month.

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A Durable Power of Attorney is an important document, but sometimes having one can cause problems.

A recent Florida court ruling scored a major win in the fight against elder abuse. The case established that a health care proxy does not have the authority to waive the right to jury trial and bind a person to a contract.

The case is Hugh Moen v. Bradenton Council on Aging LLC, where the defendants, the nursing home, filed motions to dismiss and to compel binding arbitration.  The plaintiff, Moen, was the personal representative of the estate of Norma Silverthrone, appealed the order granting the motions to dismiss.  The appeals court sided with the personal representative.

Background on The Case

Norma Silverthorne was admitted to a nursing home in 2013.  Her daughter, Susan Moen, accepted a health care proxy designation on her mother’s behalf. Norma never executed a durable power of attorney in her daughter’s favor.  Susan signed the nursing home’s admission agreement, which contained a “Voluntary Arbitration Agreement.”
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Warning Signs of Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Studies show that financial abuse of the elderly is a growing problem throughout the United States and especially here in Florida.  The overall population is aging, and persons over 65 years old control about one-third of the wealth in the United States.   This creates a big problem when you consider this group is much more susceptible to abuse due to health problems like dementia.

Estimates show that Americans loose nearly $3 billion a year due to financial abuse of the elderly from friends, loved ones, or even strangers.  This abuse comes in the form of financial abuse, scams, and other types of exploitation. The worst part is this type of financial abuse of the elderly is that it usually goes undiscovered until all an elder’s money is gone.

How To Protect Against Elder Abuse

A Senate Special Committee on Aging had a hearing in November of 2016, which allowed experts to testify that elder abuse is still a growing problem in the United States.  The experts testified that over 5 million elders, or one in ten seniors, that live at home experience some elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Jaye Martin, the executive director of Maine Legal Services for the Elderly, testified that not only is financial abuse (elder abuse) running rampant, but that the elder abuse is most often perpetrated by family members who are guardians.  This information regarding financial elder abuse was further supported by a report issued by the Government Accountability Office.
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Trusts are one of the most commonly used estate planning tools by Jacksonville estate planning lawyers for a good reason.  A Trust can permit an asset to bypass probate while allowing the original owner the power to control and manage the assets.  A trust can also provide asset protection and make assets exempt from the Medicaid qualification process.  Our Jacksonville estate planning attorneys are often asked about differences between using a trust and an outright gift to a beneficiary.

In most cases, the answer is that it is it better to keep the asset in a trust to reduce income taxes, protect the asset from creditors, and prevent penalties in the case long-term care is needed. We will attempt to explain why in this article   A major purpose of a trust, which can be irrevocable or revocable, is to provide an easy way to transfer ownership of a property when the owner passes away and permit an unlimited step-up in basis without income taxes to the person who receives the items.  Some trusts also provide asset protection or can be designed to protect assets in the case long-term care is needed.  As a person begins to age it can be dangerous and costly to make large outright gifts.  The risks are often specific to the individual and should be discussed with an estate planning or elder law attorney.

One example may be a 65-year-old client who owns a rental home or multiple rental homes.  The homes are primarily rented out to generate income while they appreciate in value.  The client can transfer the property into an asset protection trust.  The trust becomes the owner of the rental property, and the rent and value of the properties can, over time be excluded if the client needs long-term care.  The client can be in charge of their trust and determine how the assets are invested and to whom the funds are given to.

In Florida, Medicaid is a federal and state level program that offers health care assistance to members of the program.  Medicaid is a complicated program that is administered differently on a state-by-state basis.  There are many common misunderstandings regarding Medicaid.  This article will help to debunk some common myths and set the record right.

1) Status of a Home in Florida

FALSE. One common myth is that Florida residents cannot own a home and also qualify for Medicaid.  This is not true.  Florida does place a cap on the amount of gross income and assets a person can own and qualify for Medicaid.  A person with too many assets or income is ineligible to receive Medicaid benefits.

According to recent censuses and polls, experts project Americans that are 65-and-older will double over the next three decades due to a large number of baby boomers.  This means the current population of 65 and older persons should explode from the current rate of 48 million to almost 90 million by 2050.  This is an impressive statistic, but also a worrying statistic because as the population of elders increases, so does the potential for elder abuse.

Florida has one of the highest percentages of elderly residents in the United States, which also means there are more older people that can be abused.

So how does fraud against the elderly occur in Florida?

Several reverse mortgage companies were fined a collective amount of $790,000 for using deceptive advertising that claimed consumers could never lose their homes through a reverse mortgage.

The reverse mortgage firms fined were American Advisors Group, Reverse Mortgage Solutions, and Aegean Financial.  The three firms reached a consent agreement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The regulators for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found the ads used by the companies misled consumers.

Specifically, the ads used statements that implied a person could never lose his or her home with a reverse mortgage.  Another ad promised, “ I can show you how to use a government-insured program that allows you to save money, get cash and live payment-free as long as you live in your home.”

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