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Medicaid planning: State reps ask governor to back expansion

For many families, thinking about long-term care is not high on their list of priorities. However, that doesn't make those choices any less important. It is often crucial for those who have a disability, no matter what their age may be, for their families to determine how to care for that person and to consider Medicaid planning. This may be why some Florida legislators have appealed to Governor Ron DeSantis to expand to help a larger portion of the state population

Several Florida state reps came together to submit a letter to the governor voicing their concerns over the lack of Medicaid expansion. They argue that expanding it will not just benefit families across the state, but also reduce costs to the government. The letter asserts that leaving Medicaid as it is actually costs the state of Florida several billion dollars every year. One analysis puts the figure at $66 billion, which expansion supporters say would be better spent on residents.

Professional guardian accused of harming now-deceased clients

As the population of the United States continues to age, many seniors may need special assistance for their everyday needs. When their families cannot provide that assistance, courts may step in and assign a professional guardian to care for the senior. Though this arrangement often works well for many people here in Florida, there are times when guardians do not fulfill their duties and sometimes even cause harm to their clients. This is what one out-of-state woman and her family allege happened to her parents.

The woman says that she attempted to become the legal guardian of her parents, but that a court decided to appoint a professional. She says that the guardianship company would not allow her to see her parents and that she wasn't even allowed on her parents' property. Local media alleges that the woman who owned the guardianship company financially took advantage of the couple. Legal representatives for the company claim that the daughter and her family were not taking care of the couple and that this is why it was appointed. 

Veterans' benefits may soon include costs of service dogs

Those who have served this country in the armed forces deserve the gratitude of all citizens. One of the ways to do that is by ensuring that each service member can access the appropriate veterans' benefits for continued care. This can be difficult to do at times and laws are constantly changing about what is included as a benefit. Florida veterans and their families may be interested to know that two lawmakers are currently pushing legislation that would cover the costs of service dogs trained to help veterans who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. They say it would positively impact many aspects of the lives of those who need them.

Experts estimate that around 20 veterans take their own lives each day and lawmakers are anxious to change that. They are advocating a program known as Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers. If it passes, the Department of Veterans Affairs would give vouchers of up to $25,000 to veterans with PTSD to cover the costs of having a service dog. The lawmakers say that the dogs can help veterans feel happy, give them a reason to get out of the house and focus on caring for something else. Right now, only veterans with a physical need are able to get a voucher for a service dog.

A look at the basics of an effective estate plan

Let us say that you prepared a will several years ago, which is a good thing. That puts you ahead of more than half the adults in the U.S.

However, you are close to retirement now and thinking about other documents you may need, thoughts that cause some sleepless nights. What are the basics of an effective estate plan?

Family says 90-year-old woman victim of nursing home abuse

When Florida families make the decision to put a loved one into a nursing home, it is generally after much care and consideration. They want to be sure that their family member is given the best care possible. Sadly, far too many residents end up becoming victims of nursing home abuse. This is what one man says happened to his elderly mother, prompting him to get the police involved.

The son claims that a nursing home worker slapped his mother in the face with a wet cloth. He further alleges that his mother was left with bruising after the incident. The worker ended up being charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the second degree and harassment in the second degree. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Budget increase may help with Medicaid planning

Many people assume that planning for medical expenses is reserved for only those who are elderly, but that is not the case. No matter the age, people with disabilities often have different medical needs than the general population. These needs can translate to higher costs, which are often offset by Medicare. Even with government assistance, families have to consider long-term strategies for caring for loved ones with disabilities. Fortunately, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently proposed a budget increase to Medicaid that may help more families with Medicaid planning.

The proposed budget increase would allocate almost $95 million more to Medicaid for those who have a disability. He also wants to allocate almost $240 million for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to make up for deficits there. Around 1,200 people that have been waitlisted will become eligible for a program that offers services to those in need that can be used in their home or community. The plan also includes provisions that will make it easier to import lower cost medication from outside the country.

Lawmakers consider legislation for guardianships

Some people, whether it is due to age or disability, do not have the means to properly care for themselves. Sometimes, their families may decide that the best choice is to establish a guardianship for that person, to ensure that his or her best interests are protected. Though this is often the right decision for many people, professional guardianships here in Florida have recently come under fire. After one professional guardian was accused of misconduct, a state lawmaker decided to support legislation that would protect senior citizens.

Representative Colleen Burton says that she knew she had to act after the death of a man under professional guardianship. His guardian allegedly filed a "do not resuscitate" order and had his feeding tube removed without the proper permission from his family or authorities. The new law would require a guardian to obtain court approval to conduct this type of action in the future.

Trusts are an effective part of Medicaid planning

Planning for the possibility of needing long-term medical care is something few do in Florida or across the country. Some postpone this planning because they simply don't want to deal with the task and its implications. Other do not believe they will need long-term care. Unfortunately, those who reach the age of 65 have a 70% chance of requiring some kind of extensive health care or related support for the rest of their lives. Those who have not done any Medicaid planning may be in a desperate situation.

Saving enough to afford the kind of prolonged care one might need is next to impossible, especially if one is already nearing retirement age. Those who expect to rely on Medicaid to cover their costs may find themselves in a financial dilemma. To qualify for Medicaid, an applicant may not have more assets than Florida law allows. However, to spend down or give away those assets to qualify may result in a delay in eligibility.

As retired member of the military, is your estate plan in order?

When you were serving in the military, you probably prepared a will and may have taken out a life insurance policy to provide for your family in case of your death.

How long ago were those documents created? With your recent retirement, you may need to consider updates as well as more in-depth estate planning.

Estate planning can include family traditions

When people here in Florida think about preparing for the end of their lives, they may first think of how to handle their estate. While that is certainly of vital importance, one thing many people may not consider is how to manage more personal matters and possessions that an estate plan wouldn't normally cover. Experts say that while every person needs to be sure to have a will and other provisions as part of estate planning, it makes sense to also think of how to ensure that family traditions or heirlooms are passed on to the next generation.

For some people, an old family recipe is just as precious as jewelry, though they may not be sure exactly how to pass it on. Experts say that the best thing to do is for the person to have an open dialogue with family members about each item and who the person wants to give it to. These might be difficult conversations to have, since most people don't enjoy thinking about passing away, but it may be the best way to ensure that their wishes are honored.

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