Changes in Florida’s Healthcare Surrogate Law and What They Mean for You

A Designation of Health Care Surrogate, also sometimes known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, is typically prepared as a part of a person’s overall foundational estate plan. It is a written statement indentifying the person who has authority to make healthcare decisions for the individual (the “principal”) or receive health information on the principal’s behalf in the event he or she is unable to do so. October 1, 2015 brought legislative changes to the laws controlling the Designation of Health Care Surrogate.

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Financial Exploitation: Florida Law Provides Powerful Help for Seniors

We live in one of the most popular retirement states in our nation. The Baby Boomers have reached retirement age and the “great wealth transfer” has begun. According to a study from consulting firm Accenture, when this transfer is complete, some $30 trillion (yes, with a t) will be transferred from one generation to the next.[i]

elder couple

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Do You Need an Attorney when Someone Dies?

When a loved one passes away, undoubtedly you will wonder what you need to do. First, you’ll make the necessary funeral or memorial arrangements. Then, we recommend taking care of yourself and your family. If your loved one passed after a prolonged illness, you may just need to take a break. If your loved one passed suddenly, you may need to wrap your thoughts around what has happened. After you’ve had some time to heal, it’s a good idea to speak with a qualified estate administration attorney.

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Probate v. Non-Probate Assets

When preparing an estate plan, it’s important to understand the difference between probate and non-probate assets. Probate is probably one of the most misunderstood areas in estate planning. People often say, “How can I avoid probate?” However, most people do not know what probate is. Probate is a court administered process that determines how your probate property will be distributed after you die. It is important to note the words “probate property” in the last sentence. What are probate assets? And, how do you determine what is a probate asset and what is not?

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How Can I Spend The Personal Needs Allowance?

When receiving Medicaid benefits under the Institutional Care Program (ICP), a Medicaid recipient is allowed to retain a portion of their income as their “personal needs allowance.” In Florida, the current personal needs allowance is $105/month, whether you are a single or married individual. This amount may seem very small, but when all of your expenses are otherwise met through your own income, Medicare, Medicaid, or other supplemental insurance, the $105/month personal needs allowance can be sufficient. (more…)

The Green Way to Eternal Rest

Funeral homes are getting in on the “green” movement. They now offer different types of “green” burials. Chemicals are not used in these types of burials and you can opt for a biodegradable casket, or a “natural” burial where no embalming fluid is used and the body is wrapped in a biodegradable material, buried in the ground and allowed to decompose naturally. Natural burials take place at specially preserved “conservation cemeteries” monitored by the Green Burial Council or GBC. The GBC has strict rules that restrict how the grave site is dug, the types of markers that may be used, how soil is removed and replaced, and restricting the use of vaults or cement grave liners. Only biodegradable material is allowed to be buried with the body. (more…)

The Reading of the Will – Fact or Fiction?

Inevitably, after a client has passed away, a family member will call and ask, “Will there be a reading of the Last Will?”  The answer is:  only if the family wants it.  The “reading of the will” is generally something you only see in the movies.  It adds to the movie drama (cue the music), when the son finds out in front of the family he has been disinherited. (more…)

Cryopreservation – Not just for the rich anymore

Have you ever wished you could see into the future? Not just 5 or 10 years ahead, but 100 or 200 years ahead? It may now be possible. The field of cryogenics – the study of what happens to things at really low temperatures – has spawned the process of cryonics.  Cryonics is the process used to store human bodies at really low temperatures in the hope of reviving them at a date in the future. (more…)

A Tale of Forty Heirs

Do you have an estate plan?  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: If you don’t have an estate plan, the State of Florida has one for you and it may not be the one you want.  The majority of Americans likely do not have a relevant and proper estate plan.

Not having a proper estate plan could require an unintended probate for those you leave behind.  Probate is not necessarily a bad thing and is very appropriate in many circumstances.  But let’s consider a case where a lack of planning resulted in unintended consequences for one family. (more…)

Divorce Your Spouse Not Your Money

No one likes to contemplate divorce. Unfortunately, the reality is that 40% to 50% of marriages will end in divorce. This raises issues that should be addressed by couples considering dissolving their union. Jeff, and his wife, Sue, were in the process of divorcing when Jeff unexpectedly passed away. The divorce was contentious, to say the least, and had not yet been finalized. Jeff’s siblings wanted an autopsy done to confirm his cause of death. Sue, still legally his wife, had all the control and opted to have Jeff cremated immediately. As a result, there was no closure for the family and all of Jeff’s assets passed to Sue since there was no estate plan in place. (more…)