Elder law is another aspect of estate planning, focusing primarily on the shifting needs of families and individuals as they age. Estate planning, in general, focuses on the best planning to pass assets after death in the most tax, time, and cost-efficient manner. Elder law deals with issues of aging while alive and includes:
- Identifying and paying for senior housing and home care
- Long-term care planning to pay for medical expenses
- Nursing home care
- Health care/financial documents
Our attorneys are experienced in helping manage critical situations that arise during the later stages of life. Whether navigating a medical crisis or planning for the future, we bring clients decades of knowledge and experience. These unfamiliar legal challenges can seem overwhelming, and we help guide you at every turn.
Please read some of our testimonials to learn what other clients in similar situations have experienced when working with our firm.
We handle common matters most often dealt with by Florida’s older demographic, such as:
- Medicaid and long-term care planning
- Planning for the disabled and those with special needs
- Wills, probate, trusts, and trust administration
- Serving as a personal representative or trustee
- Estate planning
Florida Senior Housing & Long-Term Care Options
We are facing a long-term care dilemma. As our population ages, more and more of us confront elder law-related issues, whether for ourselves or our parents. One of the most pressing issues is long-term nursing home care. Depending on where you live, and the level of care you need, nursing home care in Brevard County can average from $120,000 to $150,000 a year. The average stay is slightly more than three years. Most people end up paying for nursing home care until their personal (or family) assets are depleted, then they may qualify for Medicaid to pick up the cost.
Careful planning, however, can help protect your assets from being spent on health care, allowing you to preserve them for your spouse or children. Purchasing long-term care insurance while you are healthy enough to qualify can help. You should also make sure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled under Medicare and Medicaid.
Clients are frequently confused over the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. Though their names are very similar, the programs are quite different. Medicare is a federal health insurance program generally available to those who turn 65. There are no financial qualification rules, unlike Medicaid, which is needs-based.
Parts A and B
Medicare Part A covers in-hospital care and extended care after a hospital stay. Part B covers doctor’s services and lab costs. The rules for nursing home coverage are very strict, and Medicare pays for less than nine percent of nursing home care in this country. It works when people need post-hospital rehabilitation stays at a nursing home until rehabilitation is complete. It will only pay for a maximum of 100 days. Most long-term nursing home stays far exceed this limit. You can’t depend on Medicare to pay for a significant long-term care stay.
Medicaid is a joint federal-state program, subject to certain federal requirements. Each state implements its own regulations on how the program is managed. Medicaid is not an entitlement program like Medicare but rather a form of welfare. Florida Medicaid eligibility is determined after the proper application is submitted to the state. There are many Medicaid insurance programs available in Florida, from basic medical coverage to nursing home programs.
The attorneys at the Estate Planning & Elder Law Center of Brevard assist seniors and their families in making tough decisions regarding long-term care planning, including whether Medicaid eligibility may be an option.
Florida Senior Housing Options
The death of a spouse, declining health, or safety concerns can trigger the need to move. Helping a parent move to senior housing can be intimidating and emotional. Realizing that living on their own is no longer a suitable option can be very unsettling for them. You’ll need to locate a facility that has the amenities and necessary level of care while downsizing a lifetime of property and memorabilia.
The founder of the Estate Planning and Elder Law Center of Brevard, Robin M. Petersen, has personally experienced many of the steps in the elder care journey with his parents, as well as thousands of client families. He offers tips to help make the transition easier:
- Plan ahead. Don’t wait for a health crisis to start the process. Unfortunately, many people find themselves in an emergency with limited options due to time constraints. The smoothest transitions occur when you are in the driver’s seat. Creating a plan helps you prepare for long-term care expenses and gives you ways to offset medical costs using Medicaid or VA benefits. There is time to look into new long-term care insurance policies to help pay for care designed to pass benefits to heirs if long-term care is not needed. Once a health crisis has happened, it’s too late.
- Get a full objective assessment of the current situation. Obtain it from others who have helped people in your situation. Care planners and elder law attorneys are fountains of insight. Physical care needs and financial resources are a great place to start. Consider the costs of aging in place, including home renovation and ongoing maintenance. Add the cost of rising utility bills and taxes, and don’t forget transportation and food. Make a list and decide whether it’s cheaper to stay or move to a community designed for seniors.
- Take a multi-phase approach. Seniors often take longer than a year to make a move and even longer to admit they can no longer safely remain in their home. With new housing options, it is possible to transition from a 55-plus community into assisted living and then nursing home care. They may not even have to move from the property location.
Planning for disability takes time and requires executing several estate planning documents, including:
- Durable Powers of Attorney
- Health Care Surrogate Designations
- Living Wills
- Preneed Guardian Designations
Please explore our website to learn more about our practice areas in estate planning and elder law, including Medicaid planning, special needs planning, dementia/Alzheimer’s planning, and probate. Please contact us to meet with one of our experienced attorneys.