LegalJourney Blog

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Turning Over the Keys: Helping older drivers make the tough decision

Turning Over the Keys: Helping older drivers make the tough decision 

We all want to be in control, to go where we want at our leisure.  As we age, however, our senses and reaction times begin to slow which can make getting behind the wheel increasingly hazardous. It is important to be realistic about the driving abilities of loved ones as they reach a certain stage and to prepare accordingly. Not only will it keep seniors safe, but planning ahead will help them financially as they make other arrangements for transportation.

The first step is to reduce the need to drive. Find ways to bring the things they need right to them, like ordering groceries online for delivery and encouraging in-home appointments. Suggest that they invite friends and family over for regular visits instead of going out. They may be surprised by how many things are possible from the comfort of their own home.

For the times your loved ones need to, or want to, venture elsewhere, look into other transportation options. Although there is usually no need to quit driving all at once, look to family, friends, taxis, and public transportation when you can, especially for longer trips. Use the money you’ve been saving, along with what would have been spent on gas, on alternate modes of transportation. Their town may even have designated senior transportation services. 

The time to start making this transition may be sooner than you or your loved ones think. Don’t wait until an accident leaves them with no alternative. It may be time to start talking about limiting driving if they report noticing subtle difficulties, like trouble reading traffic signs or delayed breaking. Keep an eye out for small dings in your loved one’s car or surrounding items, like the mailbox or garage door, along with slower response time or difficulty finding their way around familiar territory. Ask them to watch for these things as well.

Asking a loved one to turn over their keys can be tough but with an open dialogue, the right support system and reasonable alternatives in place to ensure that they can continue to live an active lifestyle, a smooth transition is feasible.  


Monday, January 13, 2014

Dying: What no one wants to talk about

Jacque Wilson (CNN.com) has recently published an article entitled, “Dying: What no one wants to talk about (January 12, 2014). Provided below is the abstract to the article from CNN.com:

Dying: What no one wants to talk about

No one likes to think about death; it is a situation that no one wants to be in. Looking at a loved on a hospital bed as the doctors talk about ventilators, feeding tubes, EEG results, etc. and wondering if this is what your loved one would have wanted is a horrible situation to be in. What would you do in a similar situation?

13-year-old Jahi McMath has made many people question what they would do in a situation like this. Doctors declared her brain dead after a tonsillectomy in early December. Although a judge agreed that she was brain dead, her family fought to keep Jahi alive. Do you think this is what Jahi would have wanted? Her family does not know the answer to that question.

A California study found that 84% of those who were surveyed said their loved ones had no idea or knew what their wishes were exactly and only 29% had ever had a serious conversation about end of life care. No matter what your age is right now you do not know what can happen to you and therefore talking to loved ones about end of life care should be an important conversation to have sooner than latter.

Find out the five things you need to do now by continuing to read more about this article “Dying: What no one wants to talk about” by Jacque Wilson.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Young and Ill, without Advance Directives

When you are a child, your parents serve as your decision makers. They have ultimate say in where you go to school, what extracurricular activities you partake in and where, and how you should be treated in the event of a medical emergency. While most parents continue to play a huge role in their children’s lives long after they reach adulthood, they lose legal decision-making authority on that 18th birthday. Most young adults don't contemplate who can act on their behalf once this transfer of power occurs, and consequently they fail to prepare advance directives.

In the event of a medical emergency, if a young adult is conscious and competent to make decisions, the doctors will ask the patient about his or her preferred course of treatment. Even if the individual is unable to speak, he or she may still be able to communicate by using hand signals or even blinking one’s eyes in response to questions.

But what happens in instances where the young adult is incapacitated and unable to make decisions? Who will decide on the best course of treatment? Without advance directives, the answer to this question can be unclear, often causing the family of the incapacitated person emotional stress and financial hardship.

In instances of life threatening injury or an illness that requires immediate care, the doctors will likely do all they can to treat the patient as aggressively as possible, relying on the standards of care to decide on the best course of treatment. However, if there is no "urgent" need to treat they will look to someone else who has authority to make those decisions on behalf of the young individual. Most states have specific statutes that list who has priority to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated individual, when there are no advance directives in place. Many states favor a spouse, adult children, and parents in a list of priority. Doctors will generally try to get in touch with the patient’s "next of kin" to provide the direction necessary for treatment.

A number of recent high-profile court cases remind us of the dangers of relying on state statues to determine who has the authority to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the ill. What happens if the parents of the incapacitated disagree on the best course of treatment? Or what happens if the patient is estranged from her spouse but technically still married- will he have ultimate say? For most, the thought is unsettling.

To avoid the unknown, it’s highly recommended that all adults, regardless of age, work with an estate planning attorney to prepare advance directives including a health care power of attorney (or health care proxy) as well as a living will which outline their wishes and ensure compliance with all applicable state statutes.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Winning Veterans’ Trust, and Profiting From It

Jessica Silver-Greenberg (NYTimes) has recently published an article entitled, “Winning Veterans’ Trust, and Profiting From It” (December 23, 2013). Provided below is the abstract to the article from NY Times:

Winning Veterans’ Trust, and Profiting From It 

As you reach a certain age, retirement planning is essential. For Henry Schaffer, a World War II veteran, there was no question that he no longer could live on his own. His daughter Kristi began searching for retirement homes and the money to pay for it.

At Aspen View, a senior living complex in Billings, Mont., a lawyer accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs, told the family Mr. Schaffer could probably qualify for a V.A discount. The problem lies after Mr. Schaffer moved in and they learned he did not qualify for a V.A discount at all. His daughter Kristi now says he worries he will be evicted as he can only afford about half of his monthly bills.

As baby boomers head toward retirement — worrying not only about their financial futures, but also their parents’ — a cottage industry has sprung up around the pension program.

Lawyers, financial advisers and insurance brokers have formed a lucrative alliance with retirement communities and assisted living facilities to extract many billions of taxpayer dollars from the V.A., according to interviews with state and federal authorities, as well as a review by The New York Times of hundreds of legal documents and client contracts.

For more information on this topic, continue reading the article “Winning Veterans’ Trust, and Profiting From It” by Jessica Silver-Greenberg. 


Monday, December 16, 2013

What to Do after a Loved One Passes Away

The loss of a loved one is a difficult time, often made more stressful when one has to handle the affairs of the deceased. This may be a great undertaking or rather minimal work, depending upon the level of estate planning done prior to death.

Tasks that have to be performed after the passing of a loved one will vary based on whether the departed individual had a will or not. In determining whether probate (a court-managed process where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed) is needed, the assets owned by the individual and whether these assets were titled must be considered. It’s important to understand that assets titled jointly with another person are not probate assets and will normally pass to the surviving joint owner. Also, assets such as life insurance and retirement assets that name a beneficiary will pass to the named beneficiaries outside of the court probate process. If the deceased relative had formed a trust and during his life retitled his assets into that trust, those trust assets will also not pass through the probate process.

Each state’s rules may be slightly different so it is important to seek proper legal advice if you are charged with handling the affairs of a deceased family member or friend. Assuming probate is required, there will be a process that you must follow to either file the will and ask to be appointed as the executor (assuming you were named executor in the will) or file for probate of the estate without a will (this is referred to as dying "intestate" which simply means dying without a will). Also, there will be a process to publish notice to creditors and you may be required to send each creditor specific notice of her death. Those creditors will have a certain amount of time to file a claim against the estate assets. If a legitimate creditor files a claim, the claim can be paid out of the estate assets. Depending on your state's laws there may also be state death taxes (sometimes referred to as "inheritance taxes") that have to be paid and, if the estate is large enough, a federal estate tax return may also have to be filed along with any taxes which may be due.

Only after the estate is fully administered, creditors paid, and tax returns filed and taxes paid, can the estate be fully distributed to the named beneficiaries or heirs. Given the many steps, and complexities of probate, you should seek legal counsel to help you through the legal process.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

8 Things to Consider When Selecting a Caregiver for Your Senior Parent

As a child of a senior citizen, you are faced with many choices in helping to care for your parent. You want the very best care for your mother or father, but you also have to take into consideration your personal needs, family obligations and finances.

When choosing a caregiver for a loved one, there are a number of things to take into consideration.

  1. Time. Do you require part- or full-time care for your parent? Are you looking for a caregiver to come into your home? Will your parent live with the caregiver or will you put your parent into a senior care facility? According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, 58 percent of care recipients live in their own home and 20 percent live with the caregiver. You should consider your current arrangement but also take time to identify some alternatives in the event that the requirements of care should change in the future.
  2. Family ties. If you have siblings, they probably want to be involved in the decision of your parent’s care. If you have a sibling who lives far away, sharing in the care responsibilities or decision-making process may prove to be challenge. It’s important that you open up the lines of communication with your parents and your siblings so everyone is aware and in agreement about the best course of care.
  3. Specialized care. Some caregivers and care facilities specialize in specific conditions or treatments. For instance, there are special residences for those with Alzheimer’s and others for those suffering from various types of cancer. If your parent suffers from a disease or physical ailment, you may want to take this into consideration during the selection process
  4. Social interaction. Many seniors fear that caregivers or care facilities will be isolating, limiting their social interaction with friends and loved ones. It’s important to keep this in mind throughout the process and identify the activities that he or she may enjoy such as playing games, exercising or cooking. Make sure to inquire about the caregiver’s ability to allow social interaction. Someone who is able to accommodate your parent’s individual preferences or cultural activities will likely be a better fit for your mother or father.
  5. Credentials. Obviously, it is important to make sure that the person or team who cares for your parent has the required credentials. Run background checks and look at facility reviews to ensure you are dealing with licensed, accredited individuals. You may choose to run an independent background check or check references for added peace of mind.
  6. Scope of care. If you are looking for a live-in caregiver, that person is responsible for more than just keeping an eye on your mother or father—he or she may be responsible for preparing meals, distributing medication, transporting your parent, or managing the home. Facilities typically have multidisciplinary personnel to care for residents, but an individual will likely need to complete a variety of tasks and have a broad skill set to do it all.
  7. Money.Talk to your parent about the financial arrangements that he or she may have in place. If this isn’t an option, you will likely need to discuss the options with your siblings or your parent’s lawyer—or check your mother’s or father’s estate plan—to find out more about available assets and how to make financial choices pertaining to your parent’s care.
  8. Prepare. Upon meeting the prospective caregiver or visiting a facility, it is important to have questions prepared ahead of time so you can gather all of the information necessary to make an informed choice. Finally, be prepared to listen to your parent’s concerns or observations so you can consider their input in the decision. If he or she is able, they will likely want to make the choice themselves.

Choosing a caregiver for your parent is an important decision that weighs heavily on most adult children but with the right planning and guidance, you can make the best choice for your family. Once you find the right person, make sure to follow up as care continues and to check in with your mother or father to ensure the caregiver is the perfect fit.

 


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

6 Events Which May Require a Change in Your Estate Plan

Creating a Will is not a one-time event. You should review your will periodically, to ensure it is up to date, and make necessary changes if your personal situation, or that of your executor or beneficiaries, has changed. There are a number of life-changing events that require your Will to be revised, including:

Change in Marital Status: If you have gotten married or divorced, it is imperative that you review and modify your Will. With a new marriage, you must determine which assets you want to pass to your new spouse or step-children, and how that may relate to the beneficiary interest of your own children. Following a divorce it is a good practice to revise your Will, to formally remove the ex-spouse as a beneficiary. While you’re at it, you should also change your beneficiary on any life insurance policies, pensions, or retirement accounts. Estate planning is complicated when there are children from multiple marriages, and an attorney can help you ensure everyone is protected, which may include establishing a trust in addition to the revised Will.

Depending on jurisdiction, this may also apply to couples who have established or revoked a registered domestic partnership.

If one of your Will’s beneficiaries experiences a change in marital status, that may also trigger a need to revise your Will.

Births: Upon the birth of a new child, the parents should amend their Wills immediately, to include the names of the guardians who will care for the child if both parents die. Also, parents or grandparents may wish to modify the distribution of assets provided in their Wills, to include the new addition to the family.

Deaths or Incapacitation: If any of the named executors or beneficiaries of a Will, or the named guardians for your children, pass away or become incapacitated, your Will should be revised accordingly.

Change in Assets: Your Will may need to be changed if the value of your assets has significantly increased or decreased, or if you dispose of an asset. You may want to modify the distribution of other assets in your estate, to account for the changed value or disposition of the asset.

Change in Employment: A change in the amount and/or source of income means your Will should be examined to see if any changes must be made to that document. Retirement or changing jobs could entail moving to another state, thus subjecting your estate to the laws of that state when you die. If the change in income modifies your investing, saving or spending habits, it may be time to review your Will and make sure the distribution to your beneficiaries will be as you intended.

Changes in Probate or Tax Laws: Wills should be drafted to maximize tax benefits, and to ensure the decedent’s wishes are carried out. If the laws regarding taxation of the estate, distribution of assets, or provisions for minor children have changed, you should have your Will reviewed by an estate planning attorney to ensure your family is fully protected and your wishes will be fully carried out.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

National Alzheimer's Awareness Month Week 3 Offer!

For Week 3 of the National Alzheimer's Awareness Month, LegalJourney will be offering a free Power of Attorney and Declaration of Preened Guardian1 from Wednesday November 20th until Friday November 22nd, 2013. 

Week 3: Free Power of Attorney and Declaration of Preneed Guardian1

The first 4 individuals who contact the LegalJourney Law Firm using the "Contact the Firm" option on www.legaljourney.com will receive a free Florida Power of Attorney and a free Florida Declaration of Preneed Guardian.

The LegalJourney Law Firm’s Week 3 offer includes: an interview with an attorney, a customized power of attorney, a customized declaration of preneed guardian and notarization2 of your documents.

To find out additional details, please contact the LegalJourney Law Firm PLLC

1This offer is available until close of business November 22, 2013.

2Notarization is only available to residents of the Tampa Bay Area


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thinking Long Term

Amy Feldman (Barron’s) has recently published an article entitled, “Thinking Long Term” (November 09, 2013). Provided below is the abstract to the article from Barron’s:

Thinking Long Term

Are you Skeptical of long-term care insurance? You're not alone, and more and more advisors are arguing that the benefits outweigh the costs.

The numbers for long-term care speak for themselves, what happens when you do not have money to sustain yourself and need long-term care? Most people think that Medicare or health insurance will have you covered, but in reality that only covers a very short stay if you end up needing long-term care. Even if you have saved a respectably amount for retirement, long-term care costs can exceed $100,00 a year and you may be faced with having to spend down your assets to qualify for Medicaid.

The aging of the U.S. has changed retirement planning dramatically, at some point many of us may be faced with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, arthritis, diabetes, etc. due to the fact that we are living longer.

According to Genwroth’s 2013 cost-of-care survey, a median cost of a private room in a nursing home is $230 a day, that is equivalent to $83,950 a year and if you hope to choose the nicest facility in your area, expect to pay more.

For more information on why Long-Term care planning is important, continue reading the article “Thinking Long Term” by Amy Feldman. 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

National Alzheimer's Awareness Month Week 2 Offer!

When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, more Americans fear being unable to care for themselves and burdening others with their care than they fear the actual loss of memory. Advance planning for incapacity is a legal process that can lessen the fear that you may become a burden to your loved ones later in life. For more information read our previously posted blog article "Advance Planning Can Help Relieve the Worries of Alzheimer’s Disease"

This week LegalJourney will be offering a free Declaration of Preneed Guardianfrom Wednesday November 13th until Friday November 15th, 2013.

Week 2: Free Declaration of Preneed Guardian1

The first 4 individuals who contact the LegalJourney Law Firm using the "Contact the Firm" option on www.legaljourney.com will receive a free Florida Declaration of Preneed Guardian.

When included as part of your Estate Plan, the declaration of a preneed guardianship can alleviate the stress involved with determining who will become guardian of a loved ones person and property during incapacity.

The LegalJourney Law Firm’s Declaration of Preneed Guardian free offer includes: an interview with an attorney and a customized Declaration of Preneed Guardian.

To find out additional details, please contact the LegalJourney Law Firm PLLC

Florida Statute Section 744.3045 Preneed Guardian States that “a competent adult may name a preneed guardian by making a written declaration that names such guardian to serve in the event of the declarant’s incapacity… ”

1This offer is available until November 15th, 2013.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day Offer!

As a way of honoring and saying thank you for serving our country to all our Veterans, LegalJourney wants to celebrate Veterans Day by offering a free Will to the first 5 Veterans that contact the firm today! 

Veterans Day Offer: Free Will1

The LegalJourney Law Firm will provide a free “Will” for the first 5 Veterans who contact the firm today!

To contact the firm please call 813-344-5769 Ext: 513

Please Note: You must show proof that you are a Veteran and must be a Florida resident to qualify for the offer.

1This offer is available until close of business November 11th, 2013.


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Attorney Karnardo Garnett represents clients with their Estate Planning, Elder Law and Asset Protection needs throughout the Tampa Bay Area, serving all of the bay area, including but not limited to Tampa, Brandon, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Gibsonton, Riverview, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor, Hillsborough County, and Pinellas County, FL



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