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


Selecting Your Legal Representatives

Monday, August 2nd, 2021

If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that life is uncertain. Too many aging Americans found themselves with a life-threatening COVID-19 illness in 2020 without legal documents naming trusted love ones to make decisions for their well-being while they were incapacitated. Family caregivers are generally given the task of some medical and financial coordination on your behalf, and they will operate on your behalf most effectively with documents that afford them legal authority.

Young Adults Need Estate Planning Also

Friday, July 30th, 2021

It is fairly typical for young adults, even those with professional careers who are age thirty or more, to believe they are too young to concern themselves with estate planning. Young adults in their twenties and thirties often think they don't own enough to constitute an estate. However, an estate is the total of all that you own – money, investments, real estate, vehicles, business interests, digital assets (including cryptocurrency), and other personal belongings. No matter how much, or little, you own your possessions need to go somewhere after you die. You may not think you will die young, but if the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that life is uncertain. It is a myth that estate planning is just for the rich and the old.

Pet Trusts--Another Species of Estate Planning

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

You may have heard, back in 2007, of a pet Maltese pup named “Trouble” whose human, hotel heiress Leona Helmsley, left a trust fund of $12 million to pay for Trouble’s care. Unfortunately, pet inheritances ever since have enjoyed a dubious reputation.

Discussing Your Estate Plan & Goals With Your Family

Monday, July 26th, 2021

Preparing for a successful transfer of wealth to your loved ones begins with a comprehensive estate plan. However, many of us often overlook the crucial part of communicating our estate plan to family and heirs. Even with a thorough and up-to-date estate plan, your family may experience emotional or financial turmoil despite your best efforts. To properly manage the expectations of loved ones and provide for a smooth transition of wealth, have conversations and share information about what is to come. Whether you are a modest or a high net worth individual, preparing the next generation for handling wealth is a responsibility to take on while you are alive.

FDA Approves New Drug to Treat Alzheimer's

Saturday, July 24th, 2021

The first US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a drug to treat Alzheimer's since 2003 has recently been introduced under the trademark Aduhelm™. The drug, Aducanumab, is a therapeutic drug that clinically demonstrates a potential to delay further decline from Alzheimer's disease and is also the first FDA approval for a drug that does more than address the symptoms. This drug therapy can target the fundamental pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease. In clinical studies, Aducanumab demonstrates an ability to remove amyloid plaque from the brain, delaying the disease's progression.

Who Receives an Inheritance if the Named Beneficiary Dies?

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

If your beneficiary is no longer, what happens to your inheritance? You may be wondering whether if you leave property to your brother, Mark, but he dies before you, would his kids inherit the property in his place? The answer is, only if your will explicitly states as much. To ensure your document is correct, it's best to say so specifically in various particular ways.

It is Truly Important to Have a Will

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

According to and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, overall percentages of older Americans without a will, in essence, remain the same. Remarkably, younger adults with a will show an increase of sixty-three percent comparative to pre-pandemic times. This 18 – 34 year old demographic is now sixteen percent more likely to have a will than those 35 – 54 years old. These younger adults typically cite COVID-19 as the impetus to start taking estate planning seriously.

6 Steps to Take Prior to Moving Your Parents into an Assisted Living Home

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Assisted living communities provide essential care and a sense of calm and peace of mind for aging your parents. Identifying the suitable facility "fit" for your loved one is a journey requiring matching your parents' needs, budget, and lifestyle with desirable locations. Research and preparation yield the best results when all parties participate by asking questions and engaging in open and honest conversations about expectations.

Pet Trusts = Trusts for Your Pets

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

Whether you have a horse, dog, cat, parrot, or even more exotic pets such as a snake or lizard, it is possible to provide for them after you are gone or no longer are capable of tending to their needs by creating a pet trust. A pet trust is a legal arrangement that will specify how to care for and take care financially of your beloved pet and is legally recognized in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Like wills and other trusts, each state has different laws governing the creation and use of a pet trust so if you move to a different state, include your pet trust in a rewrite, reflecting the state in which you reside.

Sleeping is Even More Crucial As We Age

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

How often we hear it from older family and friends, or perhaps you say it yourself  "I had a terrible sleep last night." Or perhaps "I kept waking up with my mind racing and couldn't fall back to sleep." Sleep patterns tend to change, and that is perfectly normal as we grow older. Research shows that older adults may require less sleep than in younger years as they typically experience decreased physical activity.

Helping Family Members in Need

Monday, June 28th, 2021

These days there are so many people out there who are struggling with a substance-abuse problem, or living on the streets, or suffering from mental disability – or all three simultaneously. Many families want to assist family members who are struggling like that, but families are unsure about how to offer that assistance, given that money might hurt more than help. Especially inheritances, which can come in one lump sum, could be squandered on self-destructive behavior or exploited by street “friends.”

A Letter of Intent--Why It Can Be Useful

Sunday, June 27th, 2021

A letter of intent (LOI) can address many issues in both business and in more personal realms. Your LOI is a valuable piece in your estate planning, and although it is an informal letter, it can more fully represent your intentions after you die. Everyone knows they need to make a will, but this lesser-known document can also be a crucial estate planning tool.

For the LGBTQIA+ Community--Estate Planning is Crucial

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

Whatever your orientation, estate planning is crucial to protect your loved ones. In the LGBTQIA+ community, estate planning can legally protect against discrimination even if others are reluctant to recognize your relationship and your desire to permit your partner to make decisions for your care should you become unable to. Estate planning can also create mechanisms that financially provide for your partner as well.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Reinforces Lessons About Loneliness Among Seniors

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

For many seniors and near seniors, growing older can be a challenge and not the pleasant experience they envisioned. Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart conditions, and pulmonary problems are common hurdles to overcome or manage. Apart from these well-known health issues growing evidence points to the powerful negative effects that loneliness plays in the life of senior well-being. Sadly, millions of American adults live their lives devoid of meaningful social connections, and the problem is so big, experts are declaring “loneliness a bigger health epidemic than obesity.”

Who Will Get the Farm?

Friday, June 4th, 2021

Suppose that mother and dad have run the family farm for a long time. Now, though, they’re getting on in years and they’re considering moving into a smaller place. One of the daughters and her husband help run the farm, but the rest of the siblings have moved away and they aren’t interested in returning. It’s now time to think about how the farm legacy should be worked out.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts & Wealth Management

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

It may be time to reconsider how you plan to pass generational wealth to your heirs since the federal estate tax exemption allowance appears to be in jeopardy of being lowered. Senate Democrats are proposing to lower the current estate tax exemption from $11.7 million to $3.5 million for individuals and $23.4 million to $7 million for couples. Whether this particular Congressional bill will pass into law is unknown; however, change is likely coming to estate tax exemptions. Even without action by Congress, in 2026, the current rate will sunset and essentially be cut in half to about $6 million per individual.

Caregiving While In a Crisis

Friday, May 21st, 2021

A caregiver tending to a loved one, a care partner, during a crisis is challenging, and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic deems that being prepared is more important than ever before. Caregivers must balance the need for their care partner's health and balance it with that person's safety. As the US heads into seasonally extreme weather months, it is prudent to create or revisit existing plans for evacuating a patient or loved one displaced or challenged by tornadoes, blackouts, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, cyber ransomware attacks, even a resurgence of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Is Changing Advance Directives

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

A year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and advance care planning and directives are as important as ever. Responses to vaccinations and understanding their efficacy, reinfection potential, and long haul symptoms resulting from COVID-19 continue to baffle our scientific understanding. It appears the coronavirus will continue to challenge Americans, indeed the world, as according to an article in Nature, long haul symptoms may include: respiratory conditions, diseases of the nervous system, mental health burden, metabolic disorders, poor general wellbeing, cardiovascular conditions, gastrointestinal system burdens, skin disorders, arthralgia and arthritis, and infections. Our world is forever changed, and so too our need for planning.

Older American Workers Can Help Alleviate the Workforce Shortage

Friday, May 14th, 2021

The April 2020 unemployment rate for workers 55 and older rose to 13.6 percent though many of these Americans want to work. COVID-19 restrictions and associated layoffs account for some unemployment increase, but so does the lack of employment opportunities among older Americans.