Family Elder Law Expert Blog
Family Elder Law is pleased to offer the legal blog entitled “The Family Elder Law Expert Blog,” authored by Jason A. Penrod, B.C.S., CELA. Jason is board certified as an Elder Law Expert by the Florida Bar and the National Elder Law Foundation. He is also the founder of Family Elder Law with offices in Lake Wales, Lakeland, and Sebring, Florida. The blog addresses legal issues of particular interest to our readers. In addition, the blog will answer individual questions from the readership on a wide range of topics.
Choosing a nursing home for a loved one is an important decision and should be carefully considered. It is important for families to take the time to explore nursing home options and to carefully assess the nursing home facilities in order to choose the best care for the loved one. Below are some steps designed to assist families in choosing a nursing home.
A letter of instruction can be a beneficial piece in estate planning. It is an informal document that will give your loved ones important information about personal and financial matters after your death. Letters of instruction are not legally binding and do not replace your need for a will or a living trust, however it can be a nice complement to those documents. The informal nature allows you to create the letter on your own and change it whenever necessary. It is important to keep the letter up to date, as life circumstances change over time. Let’s look at some of the information that may be included in a letter of instruction.
Now especially, it is crucial to be prepared if you or someone in your family gets so sick they can’t make decisions about health care or finances. Banks, insurance companies, and medical providers will not listen to what another person says about what you need, not without up-to-date legal documents.
There has been an explosion in the numbers of Americans rushing to make their will online. Understandably, the coronavirus pandemic has created the scramble to set up wills and end-of-life-directives. However, online do it yourself (DIY) wills are often deemed invalid as they do not comply with all of the legal requirements of your state. According to Caring.com, the prevalence of will and estate planning has been on the decline since 2017 but this trend is quickly reversing itself with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. So, who needs a will? Ask yourself if you care who gets your property or money if you die? If you have minor children, do you care who will act as their legal guardian? The answer is anyone married, anyone with children or anyone with assets needs a properly executed will. Wills are governed by state law. Your will should reflect your wishes in the language and format required by the state in which you live for it to be valid.
Alzheimer's disease is becoming more prevalent among aging Americans, and there are more aging Americans than ever before. Alzheimer’s disease has three typical biomarkers: plaques of beta-amyloid protein, tangles of tau protein, and loss of connections in the synapses that communicate information between brain cells. Now a simple blood test may be able to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s years before any symptoms, like memory and thinking decline, become apparent. The test involves the identification of changes in levels of NfL a neurofilament light chain protein found in the brain. This protein is part of the internal skeleton and resides inside neurons and brain cells, but when damaged or dying NfL leaks into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), it becomes circulated into the bloodstream. CSF provides essential mechanical and immunological protection to the brain inside of the skull.
Life Care Planning is an innovative approach to comprehensively address health, legal, and financial issues for Seniors. This approach differs from traditional Elder Law focuses because Elder Law typically manages the legal and financial affairs of Seniors. In other words, Elder Law often has an asset centered approach to planning such as Medicaid planning to qualify for assistance with paying for long-term care. Meanwhile, Life Care Planning combines the traditional Elder Law elements such as protecting a Senior's assets while qualifying for long-term care assistance with the health care challenges that face our Seniors.
For care providers and aging seniors in the information age, the future is now. While still with some challenges, adoption of virtual care as a standard in senior living and aging services has become a fully integrated and accepted practice to overcome obstacles in senior healthcare. This is especially true now as we battle the obstacles of the Corona Virus.
When it comes to establishing wills and estate plans, older Americans outpace their younger counterparts. Still, a significant number — 19 percent of those over age 72 and 42 percent of those between 53 and 71, according to survey data — lack any type of estate plan.
All Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Regional Offices are closed to the public for veteran walk-in claim assistance, counseling, scheduled appointments, and other in-person services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The offices will remain open to essential personnel as services will be provided to veterans through the Veterans Administration website (VA). Specific claim question information can be addressed through the Inquiry Routing & Information System (IRIS) or via telephone at 1-800-827-1000. The VBA also has a presence on Facebook and Twitter that you can follow for updates. This social distancing effort will protect veterans who are older, who have underlying health conditions, or both, as well as on-site VA personnel. Though the delivery mechanisms to provide benefits and services are now focused via online services, veterans, families, and survivors will continue to receive assistance during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Through the use of videoconferencing over wireless devices and remote health tech monitoring, telehealth can connect patients to vital health care services. According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), fully 76 percent of US hospitals are using some form of telehealth for their patient groups.
Fears that provisions in a coronavirus-related relief action by the US government could have severely curtailed the workforce in senior assisted living, independent living, memory care, and continuing care retirement communities provide a cautionary tale. The bill, HR 6201, is a multi-billion dollar aid package known as Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The bill has recently been signed into law by the US President. Influential leaders, CEOs, and corporate Presidents in the senior care and housing industry addressed facility workforce concerns directly to the House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) before the passing of H.R.6201.
Technology is a rapidly changing industry. Advances in technology bring are constantly changing the way we live our lives and seniors are no different. There are variety of new options emerging in security technology that can improve resident security in senior living. Many things that have long been used in security for senior living facilities are still relevant, such as locks and alarms, but more personal devices are being developed and have started emerging on the security scene.
By now, many of us have witnessed the slow and dehumanizing death by Alzheimer’s of friends and loved ones. In the final stages of this and other dementia diseases, there comes a time when the person can no longer speak, recognize loved ones, or move purposefully.
The importance of making end of life preparations cannot be stressed enough. Many put off making these plans thinking there is always time. The sad reality is that none of us are guaranteed time. Others may be bothered by the thought of death itself and allow this to paralyze them when it comes to making plans and getting their affairs in order for the end of life. However, most of these same people have wishes and thoughts about where and to whom their assets are distributed. Many of them also have ideas about what they do and do not wish to have happen when their life ends. Lack of preparation and planning means that these wishes likely will not be honored. In addition, it causes additional strain and stress on the people who are left to sort out the affairs. An example of this is the story of Debbie.
According to the US Census Bureau, more than 51 million Americans are currently aged 65 or older, and the number is steadily increasing while medical and technological advancements are allowing seniors to live longer and better lives than ever before. The expanding needs of the US aging population are contributing to an increase in federal government senior assistance programs complexity and availability. Every senior has a unique set of circumstances that set parameters to navigate a successful aging plan, and the best way to determine what your plan should be is to retain the counsel of an elder law attorney.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that it has increased access to Medicare telehealth services. This means that Medicare beneficiaries can receive more benefits from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.
We are living in confusing and scary times. The senior population has been identified as the most at-risk demographic for COVID-19. Information coming out about COVID-19 is very fluid, which can also contribute to overall stress. Thankfully there are ways to try and manage stress and stay as healthy as possible during this time thanks to advice from several federal agencies monitoring the situation and the impact of COVID-19 on the senior population. This article highlights some of the advice provided from those agencies monitoring this situation closely.
By far the largest types of insurance fraud are scams against government and private health care insurers. Scammers frequently target government insurance like Medicare by stealing newly issued medical ID cards and then stealing identities. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud estimates that tens of billions of dollars are lost annually to these types of fraud. Additionally, medical identity theft is now a top complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission. Billing fraud is also responsible for huge losses to Medicare funds and is difficult to assess as it can be a billing error or intentional fraud.
Family Elder Law is dedicated to staying open for the foreseeable future to best serve Seniors & their families. We realize that life will not stop during this Corona Virus outbreak. In fact, it may be that Seniors and their families need our services more than ever.
In general, a trust is created when property or assets are managed by a person or firm for another person’s benefit. The person or entity who manages the trust is known as the “trustee” and is entrusted with the responsibility of making decisions in the best interest of the person who benefits from the trust, known as the beneficiary. Trusts are advantageous because they provide the ability to place conditions on how and when your assets will be distributed when you die, reduce estate and gift taxes, and allow you to skip the lengthy and expensive probate process.