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.
You have the right to decide what kind of medical treatment you want to receive from doctors and health-care providers. If you can speak up at the time, you can express your wishes yourself. But if you become incapable because you’re ill or injured, you need to plan in advance. Designate a person whom you trust to speak for you. You do this by creating what’s known as an “advance directive” or health care power of attorney.
Your last will and testament is a set of legal instructions that communicates your wishes regarding your dependents and how to dispose of your property when you die. If you have people who you love and care for, then creating a will for your peace of mind and their protection is the right thing to do. Though crafting your will can make you face some uncomfortable topics, like mortality, it does not compare to the difficulty your loved ones will face trying to handle the logistics problems in the absence of your will.
For many of us who are staying at home during this pandemic, the internet has become the principal source of action and connection. In many states, lawyers can now create estate plans remotely from start to finish. Likewise, many doctors are now practicing tele-medicine over the internet. Groceries, pharmaceuticals, clothing, all these and more can be ordered through the internet, without setting foot out the door.
Kaiser Health News is reporting the coronavirus pandemic is prompting seniors to create or modify their living wills. Specifically, intubation is the topic that has many seniors crafting or rethinking their strategies amidst a wealth of disparate COVID-19 information that makes forming reliable conclusions for decision making, dubious at best.
There are over 400 types of dementia. While that number is staggering, the most common cause of dementia is due to Alzheimer’s disease, according to the 2020 Facts and Figures report published by the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org). Other better-known types of dementia include vascular, Lewy Body disease, frontotemporal dementia, and early-onset dementia.
Electronic signature laws during the COVID-19 pandemic are playing a more significant role than ever before. The laws outlining acceptable electronic transaction standards that have the same effect as paper and ink signatures are the state Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN).
As some of the most vulnerable Americans to the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults are staying at home to lower their risk of infection as the coronavirus spreads throughout communities. The American Bar Association (ABA) reports that an unfortunate outgrowth from this isolation is an increase in risk factors for elder abuse, exploitation, and neglect. Senior adults facing self-imposed or long-term care facility lockdown need to follow health and safety guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outline to protect themselves. Also, if you have a senior family member, you need to understand the guidelines set forth for the protection of your loved one.
Recent events have made many of us think about our mortality and how to make sure our loved ones are taken care of especially if we die unexpectedly. Life insurance can be an affordable way to provide for our children, a spouse, a sibling, aging parents, and other loved ones. Life insurance can provide heirs numerous benefits: extra income to help pay ongoing household bills; funds to pay off a mortgage, credit cards and other debt; money to pay for college, or money to pay funeral costs and other final expenses. For business owners, life insurance also plays a vital role in business succession planning.
Uncertainty can breed fear, particularly when it comes to caring options for a loved one currently in a nursing home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing the questions like how long this health crisis will last and will there be secondary, or even more waves of infection, give pause to those with loved ones in these vulnerable nursing home environments. Whether it is your mother, father, or spouse, you are considering moving; there is no right or wrong answer, only choices because all decisions come from a place of love. It is never wrong to try to help those you love to be better protected. Here are some things to consider about changing your loved one's residence during this pandemic.
The Alzheimer's Association has published its 2020 report entitled Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures (alz.org). The findings give pause when contemplating the future of many Americans who will be living with crippling dementia. Health care and long-term care costs for individuals with Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) are staggering as dementia is one of society's costliest conditions.
As many state officials now begin to ease current Covid-19 restrictions, the May 10th Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering likewise for nursing-home residents and their families.
Family members often end up arguing over mom or dad’s favorite items when that parent dies. Arguments can take place over things like a coffee mug, a piece of jewelry or a painting. These types of arguments can be eliminated by filling out a personal property memorandum and keeping it with your will or trust.
Who should you trust to manage your financial well being when you are no longer able to do so? A power of attorney (POA), otherwise known as an agent to your principal, has the legal authority to represent and make decisions on your behalf. What characteristics should you look for when designating a power of attorney? No matter what type of power of attorney you seek to arrange, your potential agent must be a person you deem to be trustworthy and honorable to conduct your affairs in your best interest.
In this Covid-19 epidemic, a wrenching question especially demands an answer: if you or someone you love is taken down into life-threatening illness, how far would you want extreme life-prolonging measures to be tried?
Family systems have a natural habit of stepping in to provide health care to their aging relatives. The love and care many adult children receive growing up become reciprocal, particularly in the case of their aging parents. But with the advent of longer lives, it is not atypical that a senior parent may still be caring for their parents or spouse. More than 16 percent of adult Americans are unpaid caregivers to someone age 50 or more according to Right at Home, a leader in the in-home senior care industry, and the number is projected to increase.
The US Social Security Administrations funding trusts are known as the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund and the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund. In their 2019 annual report to Congress, the Board of Trustees released some startling detail about projected insolvency for the Social Security Program by the year 2035. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been dipping into its "trust fund" to meet scheduled benefit payouts. Social Security program costs continue to exceed non-interest income.
There are very few individuals without a digital footprint anymore. From social networks like Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitch.tv and Twitter, blogs and licensed domain names, email, music, photos, seller accounts on eBay, Amazon, or Itsy, gaming accounts, even your financial, utility, and medical accounts are all part of your digital footprint. When most of us created these accounts, we blithely accepted the End User License Agreement (EULA) without much thought to when we would no longer be around to manage their content and activity. However, a EULA designates in detail the rights and restrictions that apply when using the software known as terms of service (TOS). Most EULA's are a standard form of contract, a contract of adhesion, which is known to exploit unequal power relationships. A user has no option to negotiate the terms of a EULA if they want to use the software.
Writing a letter of intent (LOI) for your special needs child can help bring them family continuity and comfort after you are gone. As a parent, the most valuable asset your child has is you and your ability to care for them. You, like no other, fully understand the nuances of your child’s coping mechanisms and what can trigger adverse outcomes. A letter of intent is meant to convey these broad personality traits as well as practical details of your child’s life so that in your absence, another family member or caretaker can make sound decisions about your child’s forward care. Don’t think a letter of intent is something to write when you get older. Parents of all ages with special needs children should have a letter of intent, review it annually, and update its contents if appropriate. Accidents and illness that may befall you are as prevalent a need to have a letter of intent as is your eventual death.
Many of us are facing unprecedented challenges during this coronavirus crisis in America, and it has increased anxiety and fear levels in all of us. The reactive part of your brain called the amygdala, a human physiological response when faced with fear, takes control of your actions, and you enter what is known as the fight-flight-freeze response. This stress response induces your body to produce a steroid called cortisol to handle the feelings of fear. Unfortunately, cortisol has another effect on your physiology; it weakens your immune system. This effect makes you more vulnerable at a time when you need strength.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across America and disrupt day to day lives. Those who are age 65 or higher experience a higher virus fatality rate, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to recommend that older adults stay at home as much as possible, especially those with underlying health conditions.