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


6 Considerations to Contemplate Before Retiring

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Before you retire or leave full-time employment for other pursuits, consider the impacts of your decision on the financial well being of your future. The transition to your next phase of life, whether full or semi-retirement, adventure seeking, or family driven, requires thoughtful planning to avoid needless surprises that can mean the difference between financial success or financial stress. Whether you have been planning your retirement for decades or days, contemplating these six key retirement elements can help you avoid unexpected problems.

Can Social Security & Medicare Survive?

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

According to the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), every single day 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 years old. The deluge of aging Americans and the increase in longevity in the already 65 plus population are the main reasons why the Social Security and Medicare programs are expected to have financial insolvency issues in the coming decades. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of baby boomers agree that it is critical to preserve Social Security benefits even if it requires an increase in taxes paid into the system by working Americans. Payroll taxes by far account for the majority of monies available to pay for social security benefits.

Is Social Security at Risk?

Monday, September 30th, 2019

According to a recent government report, available here, Medicare and Social Security are at risk of insolvency. Unless action is taken, Social Security will exceed its income by 2020, whereas Medicare is projected to exceed its hospital insurance fund by 2026. Social Security will have to start spending down, potentially including massive cuts in payments to recipients by 2035. Likewise, Medicare will be forced to leave patients on the hook for more and more of their hospital and nursing home expenses.

What is a Trust?

Friday, September 27th, 2019

This is a common question we hear. Read on for information to help figure out whether you need a trust and, if so, what kind fits your specific situation.

Short Term Disability Insurance For When The Unexpected Strikes

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

Rachel was a caregiver for her 85 yr-old mother. Rachel still worked full time and would help her mom in the evenings and weekends. Unfortunately, Rachel was in a serious car accident and would be out of work for at least 8 weeks. She now faced the challenge of paying her bills while out of work, and finding someone to help her mom until Rachel could get back on her feet.

How to Protect An Inheritance for Children & Grandchildren

Friday, September 20th, 2019

Estate planning for the future inheritance of your children and grandchildren should include protective measures to keep assets from disappearing or being claimed by a creditor.  A simple way to achieve inheritance protection is through a trust. A trust can pass your wealth bypassing probate. This allows specific trust provisions to ensure the money left to a beneficiary is neither squandered or through ill-advised spending or divorce action of the beneficiary.

Are You Retired & Worried About Outlasting Your Money?

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

While the US economy is in a cycle of more than ten years of economic growth, its citizens, even the “wealthy” ones, are worried about running out of cash and are scared to spend. is reporting many retirees, and near-retirees are sitting on their wealth in much the same way large corporations are hoarding stockpiles of cash. Even famed investor Warren Buffet and his multinational conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway Inc are side-lining cash in excess of $122 billion.

Staff Shortages At Nursing Homes

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

There are federal regulatory standards that nursing homes must meet for providing qualified registered nursing staff. According to McKnight’, fully three-quarters of nursing homes seldom meet the federally registered nurse (RN) staffing level guidelines. In particular, on the weekends, nursing homes are often understaffed, or staff is not there at all according to data gleaned from a year’s worth of payroll data as assessed by Harvard and Vanderbilt medical schools.

Are Hospitalizations Reduced By Home & Community Based Care?

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) projects the number of Americans in need of long-term care (LTC) by 2020 to be roughly 12 million with nearly half those seniors exhibiting some form of dementia. According to, about half of all long-term care insurance claims are from policyholders living with dementia. The federally run program Medicaid is the primary financing mechanism of LTC where most of the monies are spent on institutional care settings which are ill-equipped to handle an increasingly large and longer living elderly population. Federal initiatives have been incentivizing States to utilize Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) waiver programs to address the growing long-term care needs of aging Americans. This shift to home and community-based services is often seen as having an obvious benefit. HCBS is seen as an easy fix to offset the increasing demands for long-term care. Evaluation of health outcomes, social equality, and the costs of both settings is necessary to create the most beneficial and efficient systems to care for the aging.

Strategies on How to Avoid Some Common Online Scams

Monday, September 16th, 2019

The online world is rife with scams, and the number of people in the online world makes it a target rich environment for scammers. Seniors and near seniors should be aware of some of the more common attacks aimed to gain access to your money as well as identity. If you have social media accounts, email, or shop online, you are being targeted by scam artists. Here is what you need to know about some of the most common online scams.

Links Between Hearing Loss & Depression

Friday, September 13th, 2019

The findings from a ten-year study by the Journal of the America Medical Association (JAMA) reports of a link between hearing loss and health risks. The risks include a 50 percent greater risk of dementia, a 40 percent greater risk of developing depression and nearly a 30 percent higher risk for unintended falls.

Avoiding Spousal Impoverishment In The Face of Long-Term Care Costs

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

30 years ago, Congress put in place protections for the savings of married couples using Medicaid. These protections prevent husbands and wives from bankrupting themselves trying to fund care for their loved ones. They originally required states to allow spouses of nursing home residents to maintain a certain amount of both income and assets; in 2014, this protection was extended to married couples whether the care is provided in an institution or at home.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs): What are they?

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

There are three distinct living phases associated with a continuing care retirement community (CCRC). The first is independent living when a resident enters into the community with few if any disabilities requiring limited assistance. In this phase of independent living, community residents typically take advantage of the broad range of social, physical, and intellectual offerings. The second phase is assisted living, which includes long-term personal senior care support services that include help with activities of daily living like medication management, bathing, meals, dressing, and transportation. The third phase is nursing home care, also known as a skilled nursing facility. This third phase addresses a resident's requirement for 24-hour monitoring and medical assistance in the case of serious injury or severe illness. Nursing home care locations within the CCRC are usually located near an associated hospital if the need arises for acute care or hospitalization. The linked three phases of a CCRC provide a continuum of care so that a resident can spend the rest of their days moving between the levels of care as needed.

Suicide Rates Among Elderly Are Alarming

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

An increasing number of older Americans are turning to suicide particularly when they live in long term care facilities, assisted living, and continuing care retirement communities. Experts agree that this late-life suicide trend is generally under-recognized, under-documented, and poised to grow. The highest rates are among men aged 85 and older, and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 54 percent of those elder Americans who commit suicide do not have any known mental health conditions. Suicide attempts by the elderly are likely to result in death as older adults: plan carefully, use more deadly methods, and are less likely to be discovered or "rescued," and less likely to recover from an unsuccessful attempt due to their physical frailty.

Technology Designed to Help Seniors Age in Place

Monday, September 9th, 2019

The silver tsunami of Americans has inspired the technology industry. There are continuous developments and implementations of inventive digital Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that transform the lives of aging adults as well as their caregivers. Each new tech development cycle strives to provide a product that is more robust while increasing its ease of use. Keeping up with digital advancements and trends can make a profound difference in a senior's life.

Is Assisted Living Enough?

Saturday, September 7th, 2019

Jim’s mother Gwen decided, on her own, that it was time to move into an assisted-living facility. Gwen’s arthritis had worsened to the point where she couldn’t dress herself, she struggled to get in and out of the shower, and she was lonely living by herself.

Medicare & The Latest Technologies

Friday, September 6th, 2019

Many seniors who are financially stable and choosing to age in place already have a “smart” home employing the sorts of technology that can prolong their independent living circumstances. Family caregivers are freer to move about their daily lives knowing they can check remotely on their loved one and that the loved one has a set of controls at their disposal to monitor their environment. Some of these seniors are also tracked directly by medical staff that can assess if any of the patient's medical vital signs are outside of a safe range. While corporate competition for senior market dollars has made many of these devices within reasonable price points, Medicare is attempting to catch up to the market demand for the use of these products and include them as refundable medical expenses. Private enterprise and public policy are not in synch.

Should I Be Someone's Trustee? What does that even mean?

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

Your Aunt Linda has created a trust and she would like you to be her trustee. You want to help, but you’re concerned about all that responsibility. You would be managing Aunt Linda’s property for her and for others whom she names as beneficiaries. You might be paying her bills and taxes, overseeing bank accounts, making investments, collecting rent or unpaid debts, getting insurance if needed, and doing whatever else the trust directs you to do. People named as trustees are considered in law as “fiduciaries.” “Fiduciary” stems from the Latin for “trust.” To merit that trust, you must act in Aunt Linda’s best interests, to the highest ethical standards of good faith and honesty.

You've Been Appointed Representative Payee or a VA Fiduciary; Now What Do You Do?

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

You have been appointed to help your nine-year-old niece Adrianna manage her Social Security benefits. In the Social Security system, you’ll be called Adrianna’s “representative payee.”

The situation is similar if you’re appointed to help your elderly grandfather, who has dementia, manage his Veteran’s benefit checks. In the Veterans Administration system, you’ll be called a “VA fiduciary.”

Your Advanced Directives: Will They Be There When You Need Them?

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Having practiced in the Elder Law field for more than a decade and a half, I have drafted and helped enforce many medical directives for clients and their families over that span.  However, nothing was as impactful to my practice, and how I utilize these documents for clients, as was the hospitalization and eventual passing of my mother.  When you are using these very documents in “real time” for your loved one, you are desperately aware of their practical importance.


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