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Caregivers may benefit by having elder law planning in place

It is sometimes difficult to assess when the duties of a primary caregiver must give way to institutional or professional caregiving for a spouse, parent or other loved one. Nearly half of family caregivers nationwide and in Florida who are 75 and older are caring for a spouse or partner, according to a 2015 report. Caregiving by an elderly spouse may go on until the loved one is approaching full incapacity and cannot participate in assisting any longer or where terminal illness is diagnosed. Consultation with an elder law attorney is therefore desirable and may be more effective if it is arranged early enough in one's retirement years. 

When illness interferes with the common plan of a couple to enjoy their twilight years in leisurely retirement, it may be a stressful turn of events. It may be less so if the couple have prepared in advance for this type of health care need. Planning will be more successful when the affected family members are still able to discuss their preferences for future care. This may include discussing financial issues, the desirability of certain facilities and other issues likely to develop.

Estate planning may provide provisions for charitable giving

In Florida, it is generally easy and convenient to leave funds or other assets to charitable organizations. Many people believe that they cannot afford to give to their favorite charity without upsetting the other bequests to their family and friends. That is generally a false presumption because there are various tax benefits for charitable gifts that may possibly make up for any loss in one's corpus. The best way to see what can be afforded and how to set it up is to meet with one's estate planning attorney and, if needed, a qualified financial planning expert.

It is popular for people to donate funds to charity at the time of their death. Although it may appear to be complicated, the steps are actually fairly easy, after the determinations are made regarding gifting, tax considerations and the achievement of one's estate planning goals. The gift at the time of death will be set forth in one's will, where it can be easily measured against the gifts to a person's heirs.

Elder law planning sets one's preferences for long term care

It is highly recommended that the many retired persons residing in Florida engage in a process of elder law planning to protect the security of their remaining years. Engaging in elder law research to learn the ins and outs of long-term care planning could provide great benefits. Many people may assume that they will be maintained in their homes until death, but it does not always turn out that way.

When the demands of staying in the home become arduous, options may be available. Setting up a plan to establish one's preferences in the event of physical incapacitation is a wise strategy to implement. One way to create an effective strategy is to consult with an experienced elder law attorney as soon as possible.

3 things you must consider after retirement

Retirement is a time for you to relax and enjoy life after a lifetime of working hard. While you may not want to think about additional planning or life logistics now that you no longer have to go to a job every day, the reality is that there are some issues that you should not overlook now that you are in your retirement years.

Estate planning is a comprehensive term for a series of legal documents and decisions that you can make in advance regarding your financial situation and the distribution of your assets after your death. While no one necessarily enjoys having to consider issues surrounding mortality, if you plan in advance, you can bring peace of mind both for yourself and your family.

Estate planning for minor children provides important protections

Parents of minor children in Florida will benefit by consulting with an estate planning attorney to determine the best measure of protection for the children in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Estate planning for minor children is very important for several reasons. The parents can each include a provision designating who will serve as guardian of the children if both parents are deceased. Thankfully, this happens rarely, but it is best to prepare so that the children are not put through additional stress and uncertainty in the event of a crisis.

The appointment of a personal guardian for the children is a decision that must be given serious thought and consideration. Choosing the right person for the job may not be as easy as it seems. Thus, the closest relative is not always the best selection. It may be that someone else would be more ideally suited due to experience and that special kind of caring and sense of responsibility that the person has for children. For example, an uncle who is still sowing his wild oats would likely be a poor choice.

Technology problems make for fluctuations in veterans' benefits

Students in Florida and nationwide who are veterans are entitled to receive payments toward their housing expenses through what is called the GI Bill. The Department of  Veterans Affairs has confirmed that software glitches made payments for housing allowances in August smaller than veterans' entitlements under federal law. In fact, veterans have suffered various paperwork glitches over the past 10 years that have kept their veterans' benefits inconsistent and in a state of periodic chaos.

The problems reached critical mass this school year, leading to 15 veterans groups recently sending a letter to the VA calling the breakdown "an organizational and customer service failure" of the highest kind. The letter asked the VA to stop letting students, their families and the schools remain in confusion and suspense while the VA continues to fail in finding ways to restore the system. A change in law last year had an impact on the amount of various allowances, but the VA has been unable to make the data and programming changes to reflect the proper amounts.

Estate planning: Health care directives pattern state law

People may tend to confuse a health care proxy with a living will. They are two different legal instruments in estate planning that produce two distinctly separate outcomes. Each state, including Florida, will have statutory rules that define the requirements of each of these, but in general most states will achieve the same outcome with little real deviation.

Both of these tools deal with the issue of medical treatment and services for the individual who makes them out and signs them. That person, in the case of a health care proxy, designates someone else, usually a trusted relative or friend, to make medical decisions on his or her behalf if the person is incompetent or otherwise disqualified from being able to speak for oneself. Of course, this type of arrangement works best if the designated spokesperson and the maker of the instrument discuss the maker's intentions and medical preferences while the maker is fully competent and lucid.

Elder law planning is necessary for post-retirement years

Studies pertaining to Florida and nationwide indicate surprisingly that cognitive decline regarding sound financial decisions may begin to occur when one is in his or her 30s. It may not be noticeable, but the gradual toll may occur over the next several decades and may lead to a point where it is to some degree noticeable. Researchers have discovered that persons in their 70s, 80s and beyond can be capable of keeping up with the more basic tasks, such as paying bills, the mortgage and conducting most or all everyday living tasks. For these reasons, some preliminary elder law planning can help in meeting any future challenges.

Although taking care of bank accounts, basic light shopping, paying bills and the like may be perfectly manageable for most healthy people, there are some older persons who may become disabled or incompetent to handle most or all of their necessary tasks. The durable power of attorney will have been prepared when the will and other estate planning documents are done. This provides for a trusted family member, friend or institution to manage one's daily and long-term financial tasks during an incapacity.

Estate planning can provide for emergency situations after death

The benefits of estate planning for Florida residents cannot be overstated. In some instances, tax burdens can be reduced. Probate fees may be lowered or even eliminated. Importantly, the empowerment that one derives from having prepared an estate planning framework for precisely how things will work after death is usually very gratifying.

The gratification pertains mainly to knowing that one's heirs will be treated just like one would want it to happen. There are no false paths or lost inheritances that one has to worry about from the prospect of having the state's laws dictate how one's assets will be distributed. The feeling of empowerment and peace of mind can be enhanced even greater by doing some very specific "micro estate planning," as one financial planning expert puts it.

Why you need to review your estate plan regularly

Creating an estate plan can give you a sense of accomplishment. If you made a plan years ago, you may feel there is no need to revisit it. However, it is crucial to take another look at those dusty old documents in your safe deposit box. 

You should review your estate plan regularly–at least once every five years and whenever anything significant changes in your life or family. Here are some core reasons why you should dust off that old binder and make some adjustments to your will.

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