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


Estate Planning Tips for Parents with Children of Special Needs

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

Children with a wide variety of special needs (disabilities) can live more productive lives than ever before with today's medicine and health care advancements. Many scientists regard the term special needs as a euphemism for disability. Yet, the difference between the two terms is primarily one of acceptance and preference as both terms describe the four major types of disability: physical, developmental, sensory impaired, and behavioral/emotional.

What Is The Difference Between Medicare & Medicaid?

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

Medicare and Medicaid are two different government programs for healthcare.  It is important to understand the difference between them.  Here, we will discuss how the program benefits differ, how eligibility for each program is established, and discuss some recent news pertaining to each program.

Access Crucial Info on The Mind Your Loved Ones App

Friday, May 7th, 2021

More Americans than ever store and provide information through digital apps on smartphones and tablet devices. Whether engaging in online banking, using a mobile plane boarding pass, or creating work calendars shared in the cloud, the internet of things provides needed connectivity. Yet critical medical information, health care directives, and other essential legal documents tend to remain in older storage formats such as paper files or on-site at a hospital or doctor’s office. The American Bar Association website displays and recommends an app called Mind Your Loved Ones (MYLO) that provides access to this critical information 24/7.

What a Will Does & Does Not Do

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

A will is a legally binding directive stating who will receive your property upon your death and is an important part of a comprehensive estate plan. If you die without one (intestate), the state will distribute your assets and property via state law and quite possibly at odds with your wishes.  Having a will allows you to appoint a legal representative or executor to carry out your bequests and name a guardian for your children. There is no doubting the importance of having a will, however there are some limitations you should be aware of.

Caregiving From Long Distance

Monday, May 3rd, 2021

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) defines long distance caregiving as providing care for a person who lives an hour or more away. This type of caregiving takes many forms – from arranging for in-home care, money management, bill paying, and information coordinator. You may also provide respite care for a primary caregiver, conduct safety reviews, create emergency plans, or any combination of these tasks. Legal publisher Nolo cites more than seven million adults in the US acting as long-distance caregivers for elderly parents or relatives.

Son Bowls 1st Perfect Game with Father's Ashes Inside Ball

Monday, April 26th, 2021

Thought this article was very touching. 

John Hinkle Sr. never bowled a perfect game while he was alive. 

Danger: Alzheimer's Patients Can Be Overmedicated

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

The concurrent use of multiple prescription medications, or polypharmacy, is prevalent in the elderly American population. The more medications a person takes, the higher the risk of dangerous drug-drug interactions and increased possibility of inappropriate prescribing, adverse drug reactions, hospitalization, and even death. Patients who have Alzheimer's disease (AD) or other forms of dementia often take dangerous combinations of doctor-prescribed medications, increasing their risk of further mental deterioration, dangerous drug interactions, unintentional falls, and overdoses.

Why It's Important to Have a Will

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

A wills survey shows the number of Americans with a will has had a minimal increase of 2.5 percent over the past year. Overall, the percentage of those with a will continues to decline, 33 percent in 2021 versus 42 percent in 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic sees one in three people understanding the greater need for a will, but 31 percent of those acknowledging the need, did nothing about it.

Don't Wait for an Emergency! Plan Now!

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

That sounds like something your mother might say, right? And how often have you wished that you’d followed mother’s good advice?

Potential Estate Planning Impacts of the "For the 99.5% Act"

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Jimmy Gomez introduced a new bill, "For the 99.5% Act," into Congress on March 25th, 2021. The bill's current form is only 18 pages long, but its potential impact on federal estate and gift tax laws significantly affects estate planning. While it is impossible to determine if the bill will pass into law, some of the act's key elements may inspire Congress to increase the estate tax using other mechanisms should this bill fail. They might also seek to remove well-known tools like trusts to bypass taxation upon your death to generate revenue for federal programs.

It Is Not Always Better to Give Than to Receive

Monday, April 19th, 2021

If there is a possibility that a loved one might need Medicaid assistance in the foreseeable future, that person should not be giving gifts. This can be sad if that person gets joy out of generosity. But gifts in that situation can turn out to be very, very expensive.

Stimulus Monies For Most Americans; Even Those on Medicaid

Sunday, April 18th, 2021

As part of the coronavirus recovery effort, most Americans are getting direct payments from the federal government known as “stimulus checks.” This money is paid to ease the pain of the Covid pandemic and to jump-start the economy.

Dementia Does Not Discriminate

Saturday, April 17th, 2021

Jack Hanna, wildlife expert, author, guest TV personality, and TV producer known for starring in shows like Animal Adventures, Voices for Wildlife, and Into the Wild, is retiring from work and public life because he has dementia. Known as "Jungle" Jack, he left the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, where he served as director, then director emeritus, for 42 years in December 2020.

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.