PROTECTING OUR CLIENTS' AUTONOMY THROUGH COMPREHENSIVE LEGAL PLANNING
Elder law is an area of law concentrating on the needs of the elderly as they transition into retirement and beyond.
We at Medina Law Group, P.A. believe the focus of elder law should be on protecting the autonomy of our elderly clients, or if incapacitated, assisting family members and loved ones attempting to protect their elderly family members.
We do this by utilizing a comprehensive approach in addressing interrelated issues including estate planning, planning for long-term care, healthcare planning, and planning for any future incapacity.
Through our own professional and personal experiences, we understand the difficult questions we face regarding our finances, health, and needs of our family after we are gone. Confronting these issues is an essential and important part of providing peace of mind for you and your family.
Here at Medina Law Group, P.A. we offer a variety of services that can help you plan for the future.
ELDER ESTATE PLANNING
The elder law emphasis in estate planning is to ensure that our clients can voice their desires even if they eventually become incapacitated and need the assistance of others.
We can provide this peace of mind by setting forth clear directions as to who would become responsible for assets and payment of bills, providing medical consent or obtaining medical information, and clearly listing those authorizations as well as memorializing all end-of-life directions, including how all assets are to be distributed after the person’s death.
LONG-TERM CARE & MEDICAID PLANNING
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides payment for medical care for persons unable to pay for these services. Medicaid covers physicians’ services, hospital care, supplies, and other necessary services once a person has been made eligible for the program. It also pays for the expenses of long-term care in a nursing home.
The Medicaid program is administered independently in each state. While the basic eligibility standards are the same throughout the United States, there are significant differences among state Medicaid programs.
Despite these differences, eligibility is generally based upon the amount of assets a person has, along with the income that the person receives. Eligibility is determined at state Medicaid offices and, in the case of married individuals, the assets and income of both spouses are considered in the determination process.
It is important to distinguish between Medicare and Medicaid.
Medicare is an insurance program providing payment for medical needs for persons 65 and over and for certain people with disabilities. All persons 65 and over, regardless of financial resources or income, are eligible for Medicare.
However, Medicare and Medicare supplemental insurance provide very limited coverage with regard to the cost of long-term care in nursing homes. These non-covered services must be paid privately by the individual, unless the individual has coverage under a long-term care insurance policy.
Medicaid, on the other hand, pays for medical needs for those of any age that have been determined to be eligible. In fact, a person with limited income and resources who has Medicare coverage may also qualify for Medicaid benefits.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Many elder law attorneys have carefully studied the Medicaid statutes and regulations and are able to assist clients.
Medicaid is often of importance to middle-income Americans because Medicare does not cover the costs of long-term care for illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease or paralysis caused by a stroke. Most people who need such care for extended periods of time will eventually deplete their assets and become unable to pay the costs of their care.
At such a time, Medicaid is available to pay the difference between their income and the actual costs of care provided in a nursing home, including room and board, physicians’ care, hospital care, and all other reasonable necessary medical expenses. Medicaid covers the costs of such care in nursing homes, adult care homes, hospices, and, in appropriate cases, in the individual’s own home.
If faced with the possibility of long-term care expenses, there are certain rules that you should be aware of:
It is important to be aware of the state-specific eligibility provisions and exemptions so that assets will not be unnecessarily spent down before applying for Medicaid.
Finally, it is important to know that there are appeals processes built into the Medicaid system. If you are unhappy with your eligibility determinations, care decisions, or placements made under Medicaid, there is a process for an administrative hearing and even court proceedings to enforce your rights.
Though we strongly encourage everyone over the age of 18 to have a plan in place that provides the ability to avoid a guardianship proceeding, many people without such a plan may eventually need a guardian appointed.
This is a process where the courts will dictate who is to be responsible for the person and property (or both) of an incapacitated individual.
Though an incapacitated individual could be someone who is under 18, generally in the elder law context, it refers to someone who has lost the ability to take care of themselves or their finances due to a physical or mental disability, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
The appointment of a guardian under this situation is imperative, as it may be the only means of protecting the individual from themselves or from others who may look to financially exploit or abuse them.
Unfortunately, the guardianship court process can be very cumbersome, lengthy, and expensive, and often brings all the stress of litigation. This stress can be greatly increased if family members disagree over who should serve as guardian.
Due to our experience, dedication, and compassion, we at Medina Law Group, P.A. have successfully guided many families through the guardianship process, ensuring that the idea of personal respect for the incapacitated individual, the guardian, and their family members is upheld throughout the process.
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Your quality of life and your legacy depend upon the accuracy and completeness of your planning
Contact us today to talk to a Florida Bar certified specialist who has the expertise to help you address your needs as an elder.