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.

Family Elder Law Expert Blog


Britney Spears & Her Conservatorship

Friday, February 26th, 2021

For those who might not know, Britney Spears is a wildly successful pop singer who got her start in show business at the age of eight in the Mickey Mouse Club.  Later, when she was in her twenties, she was reported as having a bit of an emotional melt-down and ended up spending some time in an institution.

Challenging a Will

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

When a loved one dies with a will, their will lays out who shall receive their property, and which person (called the executor) will be in charge of settling the estate. For many reasons, beneficiaries can feel slighted by what they did or didn’t receive, and some individuals are entirely excluded from inheriting anything at all. The legal process of challenging the validity of a will is called a will contest (or “contesting the will”).

Does Your Estate Plan Hold Up During a Pandemic?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) gave name to the disease-causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. The coronavirus disease 2019 shortly after became known by its abbreviation, CO for corona, VI for virus, D for disease, and 19 for the year of the outbreak; COVID-19. This virus will likely become a milder illness in time because of vaccinations, pandemic controls, and naturally occurring herd immunities. Still, COVID-19 will probably be with us humans forever, endemic in large swaths of the world in varying degrees of intensity.

Should You Change Your Health Care Directives in Light of COVID-19?

Friday, February 19th, 2021

The advent of the coronavirus pandemic forces each individual to assess their values and priorities, and overall health. The little COVID-19 clinical information relating to treatment options and likely outcomes based on personal health history should lead all of us to the same conclusion; hope for the best, be prepared for the worst. If you have a medical directive, it is imperative to review it and make additions in light of the coronavirus pandemic. If you do not have one, it is past time to create it. An advance medical directive makes life decisions for you when you are no longer capable. There are four types of medical directives, but all pertain to your medical treatment preferences and a surrogate decision-maker on your behalf to address concerns not already identified in the directive. This legal document is crucial to have if you become incapacitated due to a serious illness, like COVID-19, or an injury.

The Month of March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Friday, February 12th, 2021

As it has for thirty years, early March marks the beginning of Brain Injury Awareness Month. Brain injury, often referred to as traumatic brain injury (TBI), can range from mild (commonly called a concussion) to severe and is caused by an impact to the head or the body or by a penetrating head injury. But there are also non-traumatic brain injuries that begin internally due to disease, poisoning, a hereditary condition, stroke, lack of oxygen, or other internal medical conditions. Millions of Americans are affected by a brain injury every year, including the family members who make adjustments to accommodate the “new normal” brought about by a loved one's brain injury.

Should I Live With My Loved One That Needs Long-Term Care?

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

Aging in place continues to increase in popularity, but what to do when you notice an older loved one is having trouble living safely at home is an issue many of us face. Troublesome signs like a dirty home in poor repair, unpaid bills, piles of mail, and food out of date or spoiled in the kitchen, poor personal hygiene, and trouble managing medications are all warning signs that your senior is struggling. When visiting, you may notice a loss of weight, disoriented behavior, or lonely and depressive behaviors. When these signs reveal themselves to you, it is time for your older relative to move in with you or into some senior living community where the situation is safer.

Assisted Living Community Provides a "Hug tent"

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

I thought this was a touching article and one that might help others explore options to reconnect with their loved ones receiving care in a nursing home or assisted living community.

Should I Leave Assets to My Children In Equal Shares?

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

When it comes to deciding how to leave property to your children, the clearest choice is to divide everything into equal shares. That is the straightforward choice when all your children are doing equally well.

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

In March of 1987, the Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month began, calling upon all Americans to provide the opportunities and encouragement necessary for people with developmental disabilities to reach their potential. Since then, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) holds a campaign each March to communicate the importance of inclusion and story sharing of individuals living with developmental disabilities (DD). The campaign emphasizes that people with DD can live fully in all areas of community life and help create more strong and diverse communities.

Geriatric Care Managers Are a Valuable Resource

Friday, January 29th, 2021

The name can be misleading as professional geriatric care managers tend to a senior's unique health care situation needs rather than being responsive to a particular age. The truth is aging is a complex, highly individualized process, and a geriatric care manager (GCM) may be appropriate at age 65 or 105 and any age in between. A geriatric care manager is a highly-skilled advocate for older adults and is specially trained to help identify resources to make managing your loved one's daily life easier. A GCM is sometimes referred to as "aging life care professional" or "senior care manager," as some find the term geriatric to be outdated. When is it appropriate to employ a care manager for your aging parent or loved one?

Elder Abuse During the Coronavirus

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Elder abuse manifests itself in many different ways and may present itself in older adults' lives concurrently. Sadly, elder abuse events are significantly underreported. The National Council on Aging reports that estimates range as high as five million older adults experience abuse every year or about one in ten. A study by The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that only one in fourteen cases are reported to authorities. The number of abuse cases is increasing during the coronavirus pandemic as family and caretakers struggle under the strain of uncertainty and pressures of survival. Fully two-thirds of perpetrators of violence against elders are adult children or spouses.

Do You Have Your Financial Info in Order?

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Preparing and organizing your financial information for when you are no longer capable will bring peace of mind to you today and relieve your loved ones' burden in the future. It will ensure proper management of your financial situation and afford control over your end of life and legacy. The goal is to make and maintain an accurate list of accounts and passwords and relevant contact names at financial institutions. Planners and books ("My Life Directory," "I'm Dead. Now What?") are available to help you understand the scope of the project and start the process of organizing all records and personal information. Whether you are a parent, near retirement, or both, informational instructions will spare your family a lot of work and heartache.

Big Tech's Involvement In Your Health Care & Privacy

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

The likes of Amazon, Apple, and Google are plotting to take over healthcare in the US, and to a lesser extent, so are Microsoft and Facebook, which are also doubling down on entry into the healthcare market. Some of the businesses are underway, like storing medical records in the cloud for a fee or using patient forms that have been "anonymized" to create new tools. Some products already cater directly to patients, such as wearable medical devices with monitoring capabilities through the internet of things. Lobbying efforts by Silicon Valley "encouraged" the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as they defined the rule, known as the Cures Act, improving patient access to all of their electronic health information (EHI) and standardizing their formatting for ease of interoperability. While there is a need to continue the modernization of the health care system, the complexity of the undertaking (legacy computer systems and data), entrenched financial interests, and privacy fears have made a tough go of it.

Coping With More Days of COVID Uncertainty

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

We have vaccines, however the rollout has been slower than expected. COVID 19 is raging throughout many states. So how do we continue to maintain strong mental health during the next several months after enduring so much already?

Memories Often Include Personal Possessions

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

Suppose that your estate plan is all set. It will be taking care of your home, savings, and investments, making sure that your family will get those valuable estate items fairly and efficiently. Your plan will also protect your legacy from your children’s potential divorces or bankruptcies. What could go wrong?

10 Organizations That Help Seniors

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

America's aging population is becoming comprised heavily of tech-savvy baby boomers. By 2030 all boomers will have hit 65 years of age, accounting for 18 percent of the US population. This demographic is driving significant and lasting challenges as 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. Aging in place is a significant trend of the boomer population as regulatory and policy changes create new incentives supporting the independent living movement. The coronavirus pandemic is also accelerating the desire for aging in place because of retirement communities and senior living facility restrictions and risks, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are older and already living independently or are planning to do so, Aging In Place provides a list of ten resources that can help you do so safely and successfully.

Seniors Having Trouble Meeting Basic Needs

Monday, January 4th, 2021

It is nothing short of a national tragedy; 45 percent of aging Americans are not making it financially to meet their most basic needs. Many of these older adults must routinely shuffle their available resources in an attempt to keep quality health care, a roof over their heads, lighting, heating and air conditioning, cash resources for food and medicine, and other life basics. Living paycheck to paycheck has morphed into how do I live day to day? Choices like should I eat today or purchase high blood pressure medication are sadly becoming the norm for many. While this might read as dramatic, the truth is that envisioning lyrical "golden years" for nearly half of Americans 65 or more has become an illusion.

Affordable Long-Term Care Is An Urgent Priority

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

The challenges ahead are many as AARP reports that the population age 85 plus, the most likely to need long-term care, will more than triple between 2015 and 2050. Elected leaders must rethink institutional care and its affordability and make improvements while creating innovative long-term care options for those Americans who are aging in place. Recently the Milken Institute 2020 Future of Health Summit looked into the short-term future of long-term care and deemed improvements a most urgent priority for the US healthcare system.

The VA and US Postal Service Collaborate to Protect Veterans from Fraud and Scams

Monday, December 28th, 2020

A division of the United States Postal Service, known as the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is partnered with the Veteran's Administration Privacy Service (Office of Privacy and Records Management, OPRM) in a two-year agreement continuing to provide veterans and their dependents with important data on avoiding scams and protecting personal information. Operation Protect Veterans is a national anti-fraud campaign that alerts veterans and their families who have a long history of being targeted for financial abuses, often leveraging a veteran's sense of duty and loyalty to fall prey to scams. The USPS also supports the VA's More Than a Number campaign, which seeks to educate veterans and their beneficiaries on protecting themselves from identity theft.

Nursing Homes and the AARP COVID-19 Dashboard

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

As COVID-19 continues its rampant spread among nursing home residents and staff, valuable and accurate data pinpointing areas of concern is often rife with haphazard data collection providing skewed information. The most recent Kaiser Family Foundation data analysis indicates that federal policymakers are slow in meaningful response to the nursing home coronavirus crisis. The increasing loss of life is often due to this inadequate federal and state response during this fall flu season. To better address the concerns, AARP has created a COVID-19 Dashboard that will standardize information collection and provide better data integrity. The 5-point plan aims to save lives by better protecting nursing home and long-term care facility residents at state and federal levels through more accurate data collection and its use in timely responsiveness.


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