If you don’t take the time to develop your own estate plan, Florida has you covered – it will apply its default rules to determine to whom your assets will go upon your death. Those rules may not track your intentions. Create a Last Will and Testament or a Revocable Living Trust to make sure that your wishes, not Florida’s, are followed. Don’t know the difference between a Will and a Trust, or which is more suited to your needs? Don’t worry – I will teach you, in plain English.
As adults, we are granted certain rights. One of the things we have the right to do, as adults, is to deputize trusted family members and friends, giving to them the power and authority to act in our stead. Incapacity Planning is the process of determining who those people are, and figuring out what rights they should be given. If you are in a coma, who should be able to speak to the doctor for you? Who should be able to access your bank account to pay that doctor’s bill? If you do not decide these things for yourself in advance, making your wishes clear in documents like Durable Powers of Attorney and Health Care Advance Directives, then nobody may have the power to speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself. In such an event, a court might be required to step in to establish a guardianship on your behalf. Guardianship has its place, but to the extent lesser restrictive (and more inexpensive) alternatives are available, it is often best avoided.
Terner Elder Law, P.L., helps children and adults of all ages with special needs planning designed to ensure that needed public benefit eligibility continues even when life’s circumstances change. Through first party special needs planning, legal mechanisms can be put into place to allow need-based public benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to continue notwithstanding an individual’s receipt of a settlement or inheritance. Third party special needs planning can also be coordinated, allowing the family and friends of disabled individuals to provide financial security for their loved ones in ways designed to be compatible with the continued receipt of need-based public benefits. Terner Elder Law, P.L. can help establish first party special needs trusts, third party special needs trusts, testamentary trusts, or can assist with the coordination of pooled special needs trust enrollments.
Not sure what any of that means? Don’t worry – together we’ll take it one step at a time, in plain English, and develop the right plan for you.
According to Florida’s Agency For Health Care Administration, the average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home in South Florida is approximately $6,800 a month, and the average length of stay is approximately 3 years. That’s nearly $250,000. Individuals with dementia, on average, stay nearly twice as long and so the costs double. There are three ways to cover the cost of this care. The first is to pay privately, out of pocket. Most people cannot afford to do so. The second is to secure sufficient private long term care insurance. The older you get and the more infirm you become, the more difficult and expensive it becomes to do so. The third way to pay for long term care is by securing Medicaid eligibility. Unlike Medicare, which does not cover long term care costs, Medicaid’s ICP program can pick up the cost of long term care. Long Term Care Planning is the process of bringing about eligibility for this program as well as other programs that can help pay for care.
To be clear, the goal of Long Term Care Planning is not to shoe-horn anyone into a nursing home; nobody wants to go to a nursing home. Nobody wants to see their spouse or their parent in a nursing home. Rather, the goal of Long Term Care Planning is simply to put an advance plan into place so that if that level of care is required, it can be secured affordably.
Long Term Care Planning is designed to shelter and protect assets, because money buys care, and with better care comes a better quality of life. Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and then live and be well.
As the coordinator of the Social Security Disability Project for a major metropolitan legal services organization, Daniel Alan Terner, Esq., had the opportunity to hone his skill as a Social Security Disability Claimant Representative by representing hundreds of disabled individuals, successfully pursuing appeals on their behalf and obtaining fully favorable determinations at all stages of the appellate process including at Reconsideration, at the Office of Hearings and Appeals before Administrative Law Judges, at the Social Security Administration Appeals Council, and in Federal District Court. An active member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives, Daniel Alan Terner, Esq., presently assists both adults and children with disability-related appeals. If you or a family member has applied for Social Security Disability Income or for Supplemental Security Income and has been denied, you are not alone — Terner Elder Law, P.L., can help.