Frequently Asked Questions

Estate Planning

What is an ''Attorney-In-Fact'' and What Can They Do?

Since My Durable Power Of Attorney document says my “Attorney-In-Fact” can act on my behalf, does that mean my lawyer can make transactions on my accounts?

No. In its most general sense, the term “Attorney” denotes an agent, or someone who is appointed and authorized to act in the place of another. So when you authorize your “Attorney-In-Fact” to transact on your bank accounts, to sign deeds, or to enter into long term care planning with your assets, you are referring only to that spouse, child, or close friend that you selected to help you during your incapacity.

Are there benefits to starting my estate planning early?

Are there benefits to starting my estate planning early?

Yes. While seniors in their 70s, 80, or even 90s can benefit from proper estate planning measures, it is often true that the earlier you begin the process, the more flexibility you will have. Many people who plan later in life have a specific goal in mind, such as paying for nursing home care or providing for an ailing spouse. By planning early, you can avoid many potential problems, financial losses, and stresses from last-minute “crisis” planning.

Benefits for Florida Seniors Who Plan Their Estates Early

  • Informed Decisions

    Estate planning can be a complicated process that requires many difficult decisions. Seniors who wait too long may suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other illnesses that prevent them from having the legal capacity to execute legal documents that delegate authority to family members who can then protect their estates.

  • Benefits Eligibility

    The best thing seniors can do to ensure the best of care in their old age is to protect their eligibility for Medicaid. Medicaid benefits will pay for a senior’s nursing home care, but only if the senior has less than $2,000 in available assets. However, you can keep your assets and your benefits by transferring your property into a trust, essentially gifting your belongings to your family before your death.

  • Caregiver Compensation

    Seniors who receive care from a service or family member can enter into agreements that provide payment for the caregiver’s services. Of course, this must be done carefully, as paying too much at one time generates taxable income to the caregiver and reduces the overall effectiveness of this strategy.

  • Emergency Funds

    Some seniors are hesitant to create an Irrevocable trust that transfers assets out of their hands, just in case something goes wrong and they need their money or property back. In addition to Irrevocable trust, an estate planning attorney can help you create a revocable trust—a trust that allows you to retain control over a portion of your assets for personal use.

At Walt Shurden Elder Law, we believe that Florida seniors have a right to know all of their options before making their estate plans.
Contact us today to have us explain how you can protect your rights and your wealth.

Medicare Eligibility

How the 100-Day Rehab Benefit Works with Medicare
If Dad was discharged from a hospital for 100 days of rehab at a skilled nursing facility, and if Dad goes back to the hospital from rehab, does Medicare restart Dad’s 100-day rehab benefit?

A return to the hospital may extend skilled nursing facility coverage by the number of days one spends in the hospital, because the time spent in the hospital should not count toward the 100 days. However, Dad will not receive a new 100-day allotment until he has been out of the hospital and the skilled nursing facility for at least 60 days

Attention Spouses Of Nursing Residents!; You Are A Target!
I have been caring for my husband John for years. He has COPD and complications from diabetes. I promised that I would always keep him at home but now I just can’t. John is a big man and I risk my own health helping him around our home because of my chronic back problems. We have an aid during the day but John requires physical help at all hours. He needs nursing home care, and it is going to cost $8,500 a month. We worked hard and lived within our means. We have more savings than Medicaid allows but now I fear how quickly this money will go. What can I do at this late date? Your advice please, Vicky.

Fortunately, Vicky, Medicaid rules provide help for you as the spouse of a nursing home resident. One important aspect of this help is that you are allowed to have unlimited income. As a spouse, you can make the most of the “unlimited income rule.” How? By employing strategies that convert excess assets to income.

Assume that Medicaid counts your assets of living at home to be $175,000. These resources exceed the 2015 allowable resource limit of $119,220. The excess amount is $55,780 ($175,000-$119,220). Under rules in place since 2005 you could purchase an annuity with the $55,780 and still qualify your husband for Medicaid. If you purchased a sixty (60) month level pay annuity with $55,780, you would receive about $929.67 ($55,780 /60) each month, and you would be much more financially secure as you age.

But hold on, Vicky!

On April 17, 2015 H.R. 1771 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill proposes to count one-half of your annuity income as belonging to your husband living in the nursing home. This bill targets your financial security by reducing the income on which you live.

Assume the bill passes and that you have no better option than to buy the same sixty (60) month level pay annuity. One half of the $929.67, or $467.83 monthly annuity income, is now considered to be your husband’s income who resides in the nursing home. This amount must be calculated into John’s “patient responsibility” and will have to be paid to the nursing home each month unless you have very low income. You can use only the remaining $467.83 for your own needs.

President George Bush’s Administration reviewed Medicaid rules in the Deficit reduction act of 2005. This comprehensive reform looked at what a family could and could not do when one spouse enters the nursing home. This comprehensive review abolished some types of annuities that were considered abusive. But the Act specifically kept the level pay annuity for the community spouse that is being targeted by H.R. 1771. The Act reflected the priority that the community spouse, during her life, would be financially secure.

Congress’s did not extend financial security protection to children of the resident. A provision was added to the law that dealt with the possibility that the community spouse might die during the term of the annuity. If the spouse dies, the Act requires that the remaining annuity payments must be paid back to Medicaid in an amount up to the full medical assistance provided on behalf of the nursing home resident.

Long Term Care Planning.

Although you may have built a nice nest egg, you never know how much you will need. Your rainy day savings can be washed away quickly by the flood of bills that come with a stay in long term care. In order to preserve the assets your family has managed to save, contact a Florida Board Certifed Elder Law Attorney.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Covered Services for Elderly Medicaid Patients in Florida
What kinds of services for the elderly does Florida Medicaid cover?

Under the Florida Medicaid program, most medical services are covered for seniors who have been found eligible for the program. Once they are approved, Medicaid beneficiaries must enroll in a health plan provided through health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and service networks, which are administered much like any other benefit plan.

Covered Services for Elderly Adults Under Florida Medicaid

  • Hospital Treatments

    Medicaid should cover any hospital care, including inpatient visits, outpatient appointments, rural health clinic visits, surgeries, transplant services, care at ambulatory surgical centers, county health department clinic visits, and most treatments administered by a doctor, physician assistant, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, or nurse assistant.

  • Diagnostic Testing

    Any tests you require, such as blood testing, lab work, x-rays, CT scans, MRI, or other diagnostics shall be covered.

  • Nursing Home Care

    Medicaid may pay for intermediate nursing facilities, long-term care, state mental health hospitals, and home health care for seniors who have daily medical needs.

  • Specialist Care

    In addition to regular medical appointments, patients can get payment for podiatry services, dental check-ups, vision care, chiropractic services, mental health care, dialysis center visits, and hospice care.

  • Prescriptions and Medical Equipment

    Any medications, medical equipment, medical supplies, augmentations, communication systems, and assistive devices may be purchased through Medicaid.

  • Miscellaneous Medical Costs

    Medicaid can also be used to pay for transportation costs to and from appointments, and also toward insurance premiums and deductibles.

Florida also offers a medically needy program, allowing seniors who do not qualify for Medicaid to receive a small stipend toward their monthly medical expenses. This program requires seniors to pay for most of their care before Medicaid pays the remainder, and cannot be applied to the costs of long-term care.

If you need help determining your loved one’s Medicaid eligibility, we can help. At Walt Shurden Elder Law, we help seniors get Medicaid approval and protect their families from sacrificing their personal wealth to pay for care.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.