Our Florida elder law attorneys combine knowledge and compassion to protect your legacy.
We concentrate our practice on the legal needs of seniors and persons with disabilities and work in a wide variety of legal directives and planning techniques to meet our client’s goals.
By using a holistic approach, we are able to counsel clients on a wide range of issues, including:
- Medicaid Planning
- Estate Planning
- Probate & Trust Administration
- Advance Directives
- Special Needs Planning
- And More
When paying for assisted living or nursing home care, many people rely on Medicaid and similar government benefits. The requirements for such programs can be confusing, and many facets of the process need to be considered such as establishing eligibility, compiling a strong application, and participating in an appeals process. Choosing the right strategies will depend on your specific needs and circumstances.
Our experienced attorneys help families have difficult conversations, especially those involving senior members. Often families are unwilling or uncomfortable having important discussions about critical topics, but with the use of a skilled legal professional who can serve as an objective third party, those conversations can result in positive planning.
What Do Elder Law Attorneys Do?
Our elder law attorneys can help you or your loved one file your Medicaid eligibility application. We assist you as you gather all the necessary documents and submit the application on your behalf for a fee. Once the application is submitted, we will follow up with you throughout the process.
Other areas our elder law attorneys can assist you with include:
- Protecting the rights of a healthy spouse: Let’s say you have a loved one married to a spouse who does not require long-term care. The spouse’s assets can be counted against Medicaid eligibility. In that case, we can help protect spousal income and assets over the Medicaid limit. As a result, we ensure that a spouse can continue living in the family home and income can be set aside for their continued spending needs.
- Creating an estate plan: Many families make the mistake of failing to hire an elder law attorney for estate planning. They end up spending their loved one’s life savings on nursing homes or care costs. However, an elder law attorney can assist with setting up trusts and other structures to ensure that the client has assets to fall back on or to pass on to their heirs.
- Incapacity planning assistance: Through the use of a financial power of attorney and health care surrogate, elder law attorneys are able to help empower clients even when they aren’t able to manage their own affairs. These documents help family members or loved ones step in during a time of need to continue a client’s financial affairs and make medical decisions when they need it most.
- Life care planning: Elder law attorneys offer invaluable legal services related to aging. For example, we can help you choose the facility that will preserve your loved one’s dignity and independence. Furthermore, by securing safe and trusted in-home care, you can have peace of mind by preventing elder abuse. Our goal is to help you find the best care at the best price.
Note that Medicaid has strict eligibility requirements that vary by state. Unlike Medicare, which is available to most Americans over 65, Medicaid has coverage that is based on income and assets. So, for example, a person may reach age 65 and remain eligible for Medicaid while also qualifying for Medicare. Individuals with higher income might find that Medicaid will cover their Medicare Part B premiums. On the other hand, lower-income individuals may continue to receive full Medicaid benefits.
We can help your family through some of the most challenging times in their lives. We have completed numerous Medicaid applications while protecting our client’s assets. Call us today if you or a loved one needs help applying for Medicaid.
Government Programs to Discuss With Your Florida Elder Care Lawyer
1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
SSDI is like an insurance policy. Your employer usually pays the premium as you work. If you cannot work, you could get a monthly income, depending on how much you’ve paid into the system.
With SSDI, your assets do not affect your social security disability eligibility. If you paid insufficient quarters or credits, you are entitled to SSDI income once deemed disabled. After two years on SSDI, you automatically become eligible for Medicare benefits. Then, when you reach retirement age, your SSDI becomes your social security retirement.
When you turn 65 and have enough credits through social security, you can get Medicare Part A. Medicare part A generally entails hospitalizations, surgeries, and some skilled nursing or rehab for free. You may have to pay a premium for Medicare Part B coverage. Medicare part B coverage generally entails doctor visits, outpatient procedures, etc. Medicare part B premiums are usually automatically deducted from your social security retirement payments. You can sign up for Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage Plan to cover any other additional medical bills or prescriptions.
3. Social Security Income
SSI recipients are usually under 65 and deemed disabled. However, they can also qualify if they are over 65 but have not worked sufficient quarters to qualify for social security retirement, regardless of disability.
SSI is a means-tested program. There is a maximum allowance for income and assets to be eligible for SSI. As of 2020, SSI recipients can receive up to $783.00 monthly. In Florida, SSI recipients are automatically entitled to Medicaid health insurance.
4. You May Still Qualify for Medicaid Even if You Are Not Eligible for SSI
However, to qualify for Medicaid, you must be deemed disabled or “aged.” You must also have less than the asset and income limits for the Medicaid program you apply for. Medicaid is not just one program but an umbrella term for multiple programs.
Do Florida Elder Law Attorneys Help With Medicaid Planning?
Not all elder law attorneys offer Medicaid planning services like we do. Medicaid planning is a very particular sub-specialty that requires an experienced attorney. In addition, Medicaid planning is a federal and state joint program. Therefore, elder law attorneys must stay up to date on current state laws and any regulations by the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Agency for Healthcare Administration. They are the respective agencies that determine Medicaid eligibility and administer services.
Florida Medicaid numbers change from time to time. A knowledgeable elder law attorney should be up to date with all current changes. Our elder law attorneys specialize in assisting aged and disabled clients who qualify for:
- Florida Institutional Care Program (ICP) program (nursing homes and rehab facilities)
- Medicaid Home and Community Based Waivers (for assisted living facilities and home health care)
- And Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Medicaid or QMB (help paying for prescription medications and doctor co-pays, helping clients save money by offsetting Medicare premiums)
Can a Florida Elder Law Attorney Also Help With Estate Planning?
Yes. We handle estate planning as part of our elder law practice. If you or a loved one needs assistance with any of the following, we can help:
- Revocable trust
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Healthcare Advance Directives
- Any other estate-planning documents
We are caring and compassionate elder law attorneys who guide our clients through issues that uniquely impact their lives. Our services go far beyond Medicaid planning and legal assistance. We help our clients and their families get through emotional and uncomfortable family dynamics.
For example, it can be tough to talk to an elderly parent about taking away their driving privileges or their will. We can help with these tender subjects. Furthermore, we regularly assist clients with estate planning issues. Such family affairs can often involve emotionally-charged interactions between family members. However, with an elder law attorney, you can be sure that your interests are represented, and your rights are protected in a civil manner.
Is There a Difference Between an Elder Law Attorney and an Estate Planning Attorney?
While traditional estate planning involves the plan for after death, elder law attorneys help plan for strategies during life. In addition, we keep the need for incapacity planning in mind. Finally, we strive to allow people to age with dignity and have control over their estate plan and what happens afterward.
Estate planning attorneys can help draft advanced directives and a power of attorney. Most of their practice is centered around Wills and Trusts.
The trust and will are also vital documents for an elder law attorney. However, power of attorney and advanced health care directives are also, if not more, essential documents we deal with. Such records will serve our clients while they still live and need extra help accessing affordable healthcare. While it sounds simple, the process is often confusing and complex. As elder law attorneys, we provide practical support that tremendously benefits our clients’ actual lifetime needs.
Contact a Florida Elder Law Attorney Today
We can help protect yourself and your loved ones. Regardless of where you are in life’s journey, we can offer sound legal advice for the present and future.
If you have any questions about aging and the relevant legal processes, it may be time to contact a Florida Elder law attorney. In addition, we can assist you if you need to update your estate plan or prepare for future long-term care.
Contact us today for a consultation or call (727) 381-2300.