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.
Age comes with wisdom. Unfortunately, it also comes with some forgetfulness. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep the brain sharp, small daily habits which can reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
According to NerdWallet, more than half of Americans apply for social security before reaching their full retirement age, and more than 30 percent of those apply for benefits at 62 years of age. Americans file early for benefits even though researchers claim it would be better to wait to claim their social security benefits. It DOES matter when you opt-in to take your social security benefit. Between the age of 62 and full retirement, your benefits increase by about 7 percent each year and additionally 8 percent each year between your full retirement age and 70. These percentages reflect an actuary adjustment to ensure those Americans who opt for a larger check for shorter periods do not receive less than those receiving smaller checks for more extended periods.
Your grandfather Arthur can no longer make decisions on his own. A court appoints you to be Arthur’s guardian of property, to help Arthur manage his money. You become Arthur’s “fiduciary.” The law now requires you to act to a high standard of good faith and honesty.
Powerful “power of attorney” (POA) documents are essential, if there ever comes a time when you or your elder become unable to manage your finances or make health-care decisions.
When people think of estate planning, the document most people think of is a Last Will & Testament (often simply referred to as a Will). One of the crucial needs for adults, regardless of age, is to perform some basic estate planning. This article briefly addresses the importance of a durable power of attorney and advanced directives for financial and medical affairs.
As a board-certified expert in Elder Law, I take pride in the medical directives that our firm drafts, reviews, and executes with clients and their families. In fact, many years of planning, as well as the first-hand experience of utilizing such documents before my mother’s passing, have shaped these very documents that protect an enhanced quality of life while advocating for patients.
Like most choices in life, it is important to choose wisely when selecting an attorney. However, it is especially critical to find the right Elder Law attorney when one is needed due to the serious nature of issues that may confront Seniors and their families.
One of my roles as an advocate and a board-certified expert in elder law is to dispel Medicaid myths that continue to confuse clients and their families. In fact, it is a very rewarding experience to comfort a family that is terrified about the future and let them know that they can forget about the misguided information they previously received.
Elder financial abuse has been a growing problem of the past decade. The financial exploitation of older or vulnerable adults can take many different forms. This portion of the population can be exploited by strangers of professionals who deal with their assets, and even trusted family members and friends. It is a problem to which a solution has been difficult to find because many exploited people are ashamed that they were able to be taken advantage of and therein do not report the crimes. Unfortunately, this type of abuse not only affects the finances of the victim, but also their mental and physical well-being. Let’s take a look at the types of financial elder abuse and some measures that can be and are being taking to prevent this type of abuse.
Markets driven by the consumerism of the baby boom generation are changing senior living, and there are more options available than ever before. Medical and technological advancements and a shift to a more customized, individual lifestyle preference are leading the way for seniors to age more securely and comfortably. Senior communities are looking less like institutions and more like homes. Infusing technology with medical support in assisting seniors is a giant step forward in reshaping the way people provide care and when necessary intervention.
A letter of instruction can be a beneficial piece in estate planning. It is an informal document that will give your loved ones important information about personal and financial matters after your death. Letters of instruction are not legally binding and do not replace your need for a will or a living trust, however it can be a nice complement to those documents. The informal nature allows you to create the letter on your own and change it whenever necessary. It is important to keep the letter up to date, as life circumstances change over time. Let’s look at some of the information that may be included in a letter of instruction.
What if you found out that your elderly loved one was given a prescription drug not because they medically needed it, but instead to control “unruly” behavior? Are nursing homes drugging our elderly in order to suppress and control residents with dementia? Several recent reports may indicate that the prescription drug Neudexta is being used for such purpose.
There are demographic and cultural shifts occurring in the United States. The baby boomer generation continues to “gray” the country and is changing the way individual states set budgets and health care policies. More attention will be paid to the needs of the post age 50 generation(s) . Changing attitudes towards working past the age of 65 has taken root in this country and “retirement age” does not necessarily mean a senior is leaving the workforce.
These informal care providers are often referred to as the “sandwich generation” - those people who support their own children while at the same time care for aging parents. The stress of providing practical living and emotional care as well as financial support for two sets of generations, as well as themselves, can become overwhelming and have negative effects on the provider’s self-care and well being. It is a difficult decision to make but at some point formal LTC becomes a necessity for some parents.
In October 2017, President Trump signed into law the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act. This bill was designed to combat the growing epidemic of the elderly being taken advantage of financially and abused physically. A study conducted by the National Council on Aging indicates that approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60 or older have experienced some form of elder abuse. Although, this number is likely higher according to another study which estimates only 1 in 14 elder abuse cases are reported. Financial abuse is more likely to be reported than emotional or physical abuse. The costs of elder abuse are steep. Elders who are victims of abuse have a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who have not been abused. Elder financial abuse costs senior citizens an estimated $36.5 billion per year.
President Trump signed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act into law on May 24, 2018. The Act contains a section that was once a stand-alone bill from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) which is designed to encourage the reporting of elder (age 65 and older) financial abuse witnessed by financial institutions. The Act does not mandate that these institutions report financial abuse directed towards elders to avoid penalties, rather it gives them an incentive to do so. The Act provides immunity from any lawsuit alleging elder financial abuse if the financial institution reports it to state or federal law enforcement agents.
Quite recently, the U.S. Senate passed legislation to increase available health care to U.S. Veterans. The bill will expand long-term and post-acute care (LT/PAC) options. Known as S2373, the VA Mission Act of 2018, it includes a provision authorizing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enter into provider agreements with extended care providers. This would include nursing care centers. The bill, having passed both Houses of Congress, is expected to be signed into law by the President. Once enacted, the law will create the Veterans Community Care Program and a newly developed claims reimbursement process ready for use in 2019.
Going to the doctor is more than just casual small talk with a stranger. Often, you must explain your ailment quickly and succinctly, trust that your doctor has your best interests at heart and will keep your confidentiality; and make yourself vulnerable and talk about health issues that may be uncomfortable. Having a good relationship with your doctor can alleviate all these issues and can even increase the quality of your healthcare. So, you have a good relationship with a doctor you like, and you find out he is no longer in your health insurance network. Now what?