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

 

Windfall Elimination Provision & Social Security

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

If you receive a pension from your employment that did not pay social security payroll taxes, your SSA benefit might be reduced by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). How can you know if this is your situation? Your social security statement does not reflect any reduction in benefits because of the WEP. The SSA will wait until you file to collect benefits to tell you what your reduction is in the event you qualify for both social security and a non-covered pension. Without the ability to accurately calculate your social security benefits in advance, your retirement planning becomes challenging. However, you do not have to wait until you file for Social Security to understand if a reduction in benefits will apply to you.

Addressing Abuse in Senior Living Facilities

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

If you have an elderly family member or friend living in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility, it is imperative to stay attuned to the signs of abuse to your loved one. The National Center on Elder Abuse reports the most common types of abuse include physical (29%), psychological (21%), gross neglect (14%), financial exploitation (14%), and sexual abuse (7%). While the facility's staff perpetrates the majority of these abuse cases, 22 percent of cases are a result of resident on resident abuse. However, these statistics reveal only part of the story.

Methods of Holding Title to Property

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

For many people, real property, including their home, is a big part of their overall net worth.  How the home and other pieces of real property is titled deserves careful consideration. Real estate constitutes the land and any structure, including vegetation, livestock, crops, and other natural resources that sit on the land under the state’s law. Real estate can be commercial or residentially owned. Ultimately how you hold a property title has far-reaching consequences for liability, and when it comes time for sale or the bequeathing of it as an inheritable asset.

New Insights on Parkinson's

Saturday, February 1st, 2020

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes a progression of symptoms including, body tremors, limb rigidity, Bradykinesia (slow movement), as well as balance and gait problems. The cause of Parkinson’s disease (PD) remains largely unknown. One well-known indicator of PD is the dying off of predominately dopamine-producing neurons (dopaminergic) in a particular region of the brain. While the disease is not itself considered to be fatal, serious complications can occur. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists complications from Parkinson’s disease as the 14th leading cause of death among Americans. Official estimates for 2020 estimate that approximately 930,000 people age 45 or older will be living with the disease.

Have a Family Caregiving Meeting

Monday, January 27th, 2020

A family caregiving meeting is an essential tool when dealing with the care of an aging loved one. These meetings are beneficial for helping to keep all family members abreast of decisions that need to be made, changes in diagnosis or prognosis, and helps to ensure that all family members feel that they have a voice. Family meetings can also help to keep caregiving responsibilities from falling solely on the shoulders of one family member. In addition, family caregiving meetings can foster cooperation among family members and lessen the stress associated with caring for an aging loved one.

Planning for Blended Families Is Crucial

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Couples often bring children into a marriage from a prior marriage or union and then have children together. This is often referred to as a blended family. Blended families highlight the need for careful estate planning to make sure the needs of each spouse are met, as well as the needs of each parents' children.

Another Way to Pay for Long-Term Care

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

You have probably heard about the astronomical costs of nursing-home care if you become seriously ill or injured. You might also know that Medicare would cover only a minimal amount of those costs. Private insurance doesn’t seem like a good bet either, if you’ve heard horror stories about skyrocketing premium costs and difficulties in even obtaining long-term care (LTC) insurance in the first place.

We Have a Long-Term Care Crisis

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Americans are facing an escalating long-term care (LTC) crisis. Industry driven, massively underpriced policies are playing fiscal catch up with hefty premium rate increases. This price increase is forcing some aging Americans to abandon their policy while others struggle to reduce their amount of LTC coverage to keep their rates affordable or reduce their future lifestyle by dipping into their retirement savings. Abandoning LTC policies turns out to be the last resort for many policyholders as they understand how valuable they are and that a policy lapse would cause them to lose all of their monies paid to the insurer.

It's Important to Have a Living Will

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

A living will lays out your preferences for life-sustaining medical treatment.  It is often accompanied by a health-care proxy or power of attorney, which allows someone to make treatment decisions for you if you are incapacitated and the living will does not have specific instructions for the situation at hand.  “Living will” and “advance directive” are often used synonymously, but a living will legally only applies after a terminal diagnosis, whereas an advance directive is much more comprehensive and includes the health care proxy.

When a Spouse Becomes a Caregiver

Friday, January 17th, 2020

As I’ve written previously, no one desires to contemplate a future that involves needing long-term care.  This is especially true for married couples who don’t want to imagine that their spouse will need such care.  However, the statistics demonstrate that it is likely that at least one spouse will need long-term care and that their respective spouse will be one of the providers.

Care In The Home

Friday, January 17th, 2020

Decades ago in America, it was prevalent that extended family members lived near to one another, providing a system of general support and care for the family young and old. Now many families live far out of reach from the daily lives of their elderly parents save for the internet and internet of things allowing for digital contact. Even those living near to their aging parents are generally immersed in a world where work and nuclear family commitments preclude them from having the time to devote to their parents. So the advent of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) began to meet the living needs of these seniors. A community that allows for stages of aging with minimal disruption to the resident is a great way to offset the adult child’s responsibility of daily care to a parent but still ensuring best practices for the parent’s health and well being.

Are Adult Children Legally Responsible for Their Parents' Nursing Home Costs?

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

The astronomical expense of long-term nursing care is no longer news. Costs can run around $7,000.00 or more per month, depending on location. Hundreds of thousands of people presently need that kind of care and the numbers are rising. Ten thousand “baby boomers” a day turn 65, and it’s projected that seven of ten of those people will need long-term care.

Falling & Immobility

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

There is an entire senior industry built around preventative measures and responses to protect older people from falling, and with good reason. According to the National Council on Aging Falls Prevention Facts, “falls remain the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans.” Aside from grievous and sometimes fatal injuries, falls are costing money, lots of money. In 2015 Medicare and Medicaid paid 75 percent of the 50 billion dollars in total cost due to fall injuries. With an ever-aging US population, the financial toll is projected to reach 67.7 billion dollars in 2020.

Ageism & What You Can Do About It

Saturday, January 11th, 2020

Discrimination comes in various forms – race, religion, color, national origin, sex, disability, and even age. Age-related discrimination has become more and more apparent with the growing number of baby boomers inching into the class eldest to our population. The attention to the mounting presence of ageism has triggered a renewed concern with the discrimination of our aging population.

Are Gifts Taxed?

Friday, January 10th, 2020

The gift tax is a tax on the transfer of assets, cash or property, to another without receiving something of equal value. The asset has to be of a certain value for the tax to apply; otherwise, it falls under the gift tax exclusion, either annual or lifetime. If the gift is above a certain value, you will have to fix out a tax form, but you may still be able to avoid the tax.

Fraud Prevention Tips for 2020

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Welcome to the new decade, replete with new challenges to protect yourself against ever-inventive scam artists. One concern has a simple fix but requires your commitment to add two additional digits when signing or writing documents, letters, emails, and more. The National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) is reporting that the dawn of this decade creates unique opportunities for scammers when you abbreviate the year 2020 on official forms and documents to its shortened form xx/xx/20. The numbers representing the year are easily manipulated by nefarious individuals looking to exploit others, leaving them vulnerable to potential fraud.

Long Term Care Problems & Policies

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

Americans are facing an escalating long-term care (LTC) crisis. Industry driven, massively underpriced policies are playing fiscal catch up with hefty premium rate increases. This price increase is forcing some aging Americans to abandon their policy while others struggle to reduce their amount of LTC coverage to keep their rates affordable or reduce their future lifestyle by dipping into their retirement savings. Abandoning LTC policies turns out to be the last resort for many policyholders as they understand how valuable they are and that a policy lapse would cause them to lose all of their monies paid to the insurer.

When a Spouse is the Caregiver

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

Caring for a seriously ill spouse can trigger relationship challenges.  In the process of change, you can lose your best friend, your love, and your future as you both had imagined it. Promises will change from words spoken in oath on your wedding day to deeds of care in your mostly, but not exclusively, older years. The new caregiver morphs from a loving spouse into their new role, which is an entirely different sort of relationship of primary service. In more tragic cases, the caregiver can become distant to the marital bond, struggling with feelings of loss, fear, anger, resentment, or misunderstanding.

Why Adding a Child's Name to Your Bank Account May Be Bad

Friday, December 20th, 2019

Although it can be useful to have another party available to keep track of bills when you’re sick or away, adding a child’s name to a bank account may be more of a hassle than it’s worth. Doing so may have unintended consequences for both you and the child.

Update on Spousal Impoverishment Protections

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

Federal spousal impoverishment protections were set to lapse in March 2019. Two bills were proposed to deal with that issue. H.R. 1343 is still sitting in the House, but H.R. 3253 was enacted on August 6, 2019.

 

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