Workshops Discontinued as of April 2021

We’ve been offering free estate planning and elder law workshops for months – even during the COVID pandemic. But we’ve decided to stop offering workshops to the public at this time (we will still work with financial advisors to give private workshops to their clients).

Why? Basically we realized that offering a generic workshop was really just a way of trying to squeeze every unique individual and family into a “one-size-fits-all” box. And we hate classifying people into discrete boxes.

Each one of you is different and has unique situations and needs. We realized we were forcing people who had absolutely no interest or need for trusts or Medicaid to sit through a lengthy presentation that didn’t apply to their situation. That’s a waste of everyone’s time.

From the beginning, our law firm has been focused on providing customized estate plans (done by a lawyer, not a paralegal) and excellent customer service. We provide hours of our time for each family so we can truly understand your situation. We don’t advertise as “affordable” or “cheap,” and we don’t provide our clients with minimal 2-page Durable Powers of Attorney or 8-page trusts. Our plans and our documents are very thorough – we consider them your instruction manuals for when you’re not around.

So, we’re going back to basics. New clients who call us will be scheduled a free 15-min phone call with Cindy to briefly discuss their situation. Cindy will then discuss possible next steps and give a rough idea of pricing (we provide flat fee pricing for most of our estate planning services). If it seems like a good fit for everyone, then a phone, Zoom, or in-person meeting is scheduled to provide more education pertinent to your particular situation, gather more information, and finalize the terms of engagement.

You are unique and so are we. No more “one-size-fits-all.”

Ready to make sure everything’s in order for your loved ones in the event you become incapacitated or die? Give Manasota Elder Law a call at 941-444-5958. We’ll help you determine whether you’re all set, or whether there are still some things that need to be done to protect what’s most important to you … your family.

Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late

In this video, Cindy discusses why you should regularly review your estate planning documents. You may discover you don’t have what you think you do.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

Gun Trusts Are Not a Shield

Don’t Put Money into Property You Don’t Own

Ready to make sure everything’s in order for your loved ones in the event you become incapacitated or die? Give Manasota Elder Law a call at 941-444-5958. We’ll help you determine whether you’re all set, or whether there are still some things that need to be done to protect what’s most important to you … your family.

Should Your Attorney Keep Your Original Will?

Original Will
Some lawyers will store your original Will, others won’t.

When I was a newly-minted lawyer, I sought and welcomed advice from more experienced estate planning attorneys. I still do. Over and over again I heard “Keep your client’s original Will.” When I asked why, I received many answers, among them:

  • Clients lose them;
  • Clients write on them (can make the Will invalid);
  • We’ve always done it that way;
  • Clients expect us to keep them;
  • When the client dies, the family will have to call us for the original Will (for probate); and
  • We can sell all of the Wills to another lawyer when we want to retire.

Some of the answers seemed reasonable, but then I also heard about the costs and problems of keeping all of those Wills. You see, they have to hold onto them because they have no way to know who’s still alive, who’s dead, or who did a new Will with another lawyer. So they pile up. And as lawyers change firms or retire, and as firms buy each other out, the storage problems get worse. Some records are stored on paper, microfiche, and even old floppy disks. Boxes and boxes are stored offsite (not in fire-proof safes) incurring more expenses for the law firm. And the new administrative assistant can’t find a particular Will when someone is looking for it.

So, while I did keep some of my clients’ original Wills when I first started out, I stopped pretty quickly. I do keep a PDF copy for a few years, but I send all of my clients’ original documents home with them. Who better to protect their important documents from fire and hurricanes than the owner of those documents? And it’s so much easier for families to find an original Will in a safe or file cabinet than to try to track down the lawyer who drafted it 20 years ago and hope someone knows where that Will is stored. I don’t believe in holding Wills hostage in the hope that the bereaved family will call my office when probate is needed. I want people to call me because they want excellent service.

So, should your lawyer keep your original Will? In Florida, there’s no requirement that he or she does. It’s really up to your lawyer … and you.

Other articles you may find interesting:

Whose Estate Plan Is It, Anyway?

What is an Antilapse Statute?

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Mind Your Business

In this video, Cindy discusses why you need to take your business seriously, maintain all the appropriate documentation, and disclose your ownership interests and any requested documents with your estate planning attorney to avoid potential future problems.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

Preparing to Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney

What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

How Much Money Is Needed for Long-Term Care?

long term care
Planning for long-term care expenses now can save you and your loved ones a lot of stress later on.

You probably know that health care is a big expense for retirees. Research shows that 70% of seniors aged 65+ will require some type of long-term care in their lifetime. This could be as little as a couple of visits a week from a home health aide to years in a nursing home. If you don’t plan ahead, these expenses could easily  bankrupt you.

Motley Fool’s January 2020 article (which is still relevant a year later!) entitled “The Shocking Cost of Long-Term Care — and How to Tackle It” says that another thing you probably know — or should know —is that YOU’RE footing the bill for long-term care. It’s not covered by Medicare. Medicare will only pay for medical-related services, like those needed to help you recover from an injury, illness, or procedure. Therefore, if you’re admitted to the hospital and then need a few weeks at a skilled nursing facility to finish your recuperation, Medicare will usually pay for that short stay. However, if you need help getting dressed in the morning due to chronic conditions or merely your advancing years, are bedridden, or will need to move permanently into a nursing home, it’s not covered. You’ll have to pay for that care yourself.

Let’s look at the average annual cost nationwide of what some common services will cost you, based on 2019 data from Genworth:

  • Assisted living facility: $48,612
  • Home health aide: $52,624
  • Shared nursing home room: $90,155
  • Private nursing home room: $102,200

Remember that these are just averages, and in some parts of the country, you’ll pay much more. You can, therefore, see why it’s critical to have a plan in place for covering long-term care costs in your senior years, before that expense hits you.

You have a few choices for addressing the major expense of long-term care. One is that you can add to your retirement savings as much as possible. IRA contribution limits for 2021 max out at $6,000 a year for workers under 50, and $7,000 a year for those 50 and over. With a 401(k), you get even more flexibility to fund your savings. Workers under 50 can deposit up to $19,500 annually, and if you’re 50 and over, you can go up to $26,000. The more money you add to your savings while you’re working, the more funds you’ll have available in case you need to pay for long-term care when you retire.

Another option is to contribute to a health savings account, or HSA, and carry unused funds into retirement. You can then take withdrawals to pay for long-term care. Annual HSA contributions for 2021 max out at $3,600 a year for those who save on their own behalf, or $7,200 for those saving on behalf of a family. Workers 55 and older get an additional $1,000 per year to contribute. HSA funds never expire, so these accounts are a very effective way to save for future healthcare costs, like long-term care, in a tax-efficient manner.

Finally, you can buy a long-term care insurance policy which will pay for a big part of your costs when you have large bills. Very few insurance companies offer pure long-term care insurance any more – and even fewer people want to pay those premiums. Most people today are opting for life insurance or annuities with long-term care riders. Optimally, you should apply for long-term care insurance in your 50s, but many seniors get approved in their 60s. You can use funds from your HSA to pay for them.

Long-term care is an expense many seniors will have to address. If you want to avoid a situation where you’re forced into severe financial times, talk with your financial advisor today. Plan now to give you, and the people who care about you the most, less to worry about in the future.

Why You Might Not Get What’s in Mom’s Will

In this video, Cindy discusses why sometimes beneficiaries don’t actually receive what Mom left them in her Will.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

Death Quest: The Morbid Scavenger Hunt

Beware of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Why Would I Need a Durable Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney
In most cases, a comprehensive Durable Power of Attorney will avoid the need for guardianship.

There are several reasons you may want to have a Durable Power of Attorney.

  1. Choose Who Can Make the Decisions on Your Behalf. If you’ve signed a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) and later become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions, the agent you named in your DPOA can step in on your behalf.
  2. Avoid Guardianship. If you fail to sign a comprehensive Durable Power of Attorney before you become incapacitated, Florida has only one option for you whether you’re married or not – guardianship court. Without a Durable Power of Attorney, loved ones will need to petition the Probate Court to declare you incompetent and have the judge appoint a guardian or a conservator to handle your affairs. The judge will decide who will manage your financial, legal,  and tax matters, and it may not be someone you would have chosen. The court will also monitor the situation for as long as you need a guardian. This can be expensive, and all of this is paid out of your assets.
  3. You Can Discuss Your Wishes. Who you appoint as your agent is an extremely important decision. When you decide to sign a Durable Power of Attorney, it offers you the chance to discuss your wishes and the expectations with your family and the people you’ve named as your agent (and backup agents) in your DPOA.
  4. Avoid Delays. With a comprehensive Durable Power of Attorney, all the powers required to do effective tax and Medicaid planning are included. Note: if a DPOA doesn’t include the specific power, it can reduce the authority of the agent and may lead to significant setbacks.

Contact a qualified estate planning attorney today to discuss creating your Durable Power of Attorney.

Other articles you may find interesting:

What’s a Restatement of a Trust?

Pet Trust FAQs: For the Love of Harley

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Shorter Isn’t Always Better

In this video, Cindy discusses why longer, more detailed estate planning documents are better than shorter ones.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

What’s the Difference? Living Will, Health Care Surrogate, DNR

Durable Power of Attorney: What You Need to Know

 

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

What is an Antilapse Statute?

antilapse statuteMost trusts and some Wills have a provision in them that refers to an “antilapse statute.” What does this mean?

The common law (before statutes) held that if your named beneficiary died before you, his or her share would “lapse” (expire) and get thrown back into the pot for the other living beneficiaries. Often that wasn’t the testator’s (the person who wrote the Will) intent. Often, if the deceased beneficiary was a family member, the testator would have preferred that the deceased beneficiary’s share be distributed to the deceased beneficiaries’ children.

To avoid this result, Florida and some other states enacted “antilapse statutes.” Florida’s antilapse statute says that if the deceased beneficiary was the testator’s grandparent or a descendant of the testator’s grandparent, the gift won’t lapse – it’ll go to the deceased beneficiary’s children as long as there’s nothing in the document to the contrary. Of course, that means that if the deceased beneficiary was a friend or extended family member, the gift will lapse and that beneficiary’s children will get nothing.

Today, if you work with an estate planning attorney, she’s going to ask you what you want to happen if your named beneficiaries die. A good estate planning attorney isn’t going to rely on statutes – she’ll specify in the document exactly what should happen if that particular beneficiary dies before you. And because she specified what should happen, she’ll often add a provision to the Will or Trust stating that the Florida antilapse statute doesn’t apply so it won’t wreck your thoughtful plan.

Other articles you may find interesting:

Including Pets in Your Estate Plan

Widowed? What Happens Next?

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***

Whose Estate Plan Is It, Anyway?

In this video, Cindy discusses why sometimes you should limit family members’ or outside influences’ involvement in your estate plan.

Other articles/videos you may find interesting:

Naming a Family Member as Successor Trustee: Pros & Cons

How Can I Move On after a Loved One Dies?

***Want to learn more about how to protect your family from the government, lawsuits, accidental disinheritance, or nursing homes? Click THIS LINK to book a seat at one of our upcoming fun and educational workshops.***