Ocala, FL attorneys

Ocala, FL Elder Law FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions: Elder Law

Rely on experienced elder law attorneys at Schatt Hesser Mcgraw for advice and guidance on all issues concerning elder law. Contact our elder law firm in Ocala, FL today.

What is elder law?

Elder law is the technical term used to describe the area of law that addresses the legal needs pertaining to the aging population. Elder law lawyers in Ocala can help with issues affecting aging citizens that may include healthcare, estate planning, long term care planning, guardianship, retirement and federal benefits (i.e. Medicaid, Social Security).

Why would I need an elder law attorney?

Senior citizens often face unique issues that require effective management to prevent the elderly from being taken advantaged of. If you are seeking to acquire sound healthcare, draft a will, gain a guardian, retire or obtain federal benefits, you may need an elder law attorney in Ocala, FL.

Does Medicare cover the cost of long-term care?

No. Medicare is a federal program that affords the medical expenses of aged citizens with little to no income. In medical cases involving care in a long-term care hospital, care provided by nursing home facilities, home health services and hospice, Medicare will cover all expenses. Long-term care, however, usually refers to services that are provided to help others with everyday activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, sitting and eating. Because these needs are not medical needs, Medicare does not cover long-term care expenses.

What is long-term care insurance?

Long-term Care Insurance (LTC) is an insurance policy that covers long-term care expenses that it typically not covered by federal programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare. If you are interested in LTC Insurance, Ocala attorneys at Schatt Hesser Mcgraw can assist you with finding the appropriate policy for your level of needs.

How much does long-term care cost?

Long-term care varies depending on the type of services that are needed. The cost is typically higher for professional facilities. Consider the following price ranges for long-term care in the state of Florida.

  • Home Services: $46,000 to $57,000 annually
  • Assisted Living Facilities: $46,000 to $72,000 annually
  • Nursing Home Facilities: $91,000 to $270,000 annually

How do I pay for long-term care?

Long-term care can be expensive, but there are creative ways to afford such expenses. Popular sources include life insurance, annuities, reverse mortgages, savings and retirement funds. If you are unsure if you or your loved one is able to afford long-term care services, you may wish to consider contacting an elder law attorney for financial planning assistance.

When should I begin elder law planning?

As a general principle, it is best to begin the elder law planning process as soon as possible. However, we have found that aging citizens between the ages of 65 and 70 are the most vulnerable and should begin executing their elder law plan. An elder law attorney can help you navigate elder law planning for your unique circumstance.

Can I refuse to serve as executor?

You are not required to serve as an executor if you do wish to. If your loved one is alive, you may wish to convey this information to him/her so that the will can be amended. If not, it is your job to indicate to the court (via writing) that you are unable to serve in this capacity. If there is an executor successor, he/she will be assigned. If not, the court will assign a competent individual to serve as the executor.

What is a Qualified Income Trust?

If it is determined that you exceed the amount of income that is needed for Medicare long-term care services, you may qualify for Qualified Income Trust (QIT). This program allows individuals (who may otherwise not qualify for Medicare) to rely on Medicare benefits. Recipients are required to pay/transfer a specific amount of their income into a separate trust account for the full duration that they receive Medicare benefits. To learn more about how a Qualified Income Trust works, you should contact a medicaid attorney in Florida.

Does my home count as an asset for Medicaid qualification purposes?

It depends on the value of your home. If your home is valued at 500,000 dollars or less at the time of your application, then your home will not be included as an asset for Medicaid qualification purposes. If your home is valued higher than 500,000 dollars at the time of your application, then it will be accounted for as an asset during the Medicaid qualification process.

Do I need to divorce my spouse in order for them to qualify for Medicaid?

Many people gain divorces with the goal of making the ill spouse eligible for Medicaid. This tactic is not always successful. During a divorce, a judge will consider the financial state of both individuals in the marriage, including needs, income and expenditures in order to determine how the marital property will be distributed. In some cases, such equitable distribution ends in the ill spouse still possessing funds that exceed the maximum limit required for Medicaid recipients. As such, it is best to consult with a divorce attorney that is well-versed in Medicaid services before making the decision to divorce for the sole benefit of federal aid.

What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

Both Medicare and Medicaid are federal programs that provide aid for medical needs. Medicare is an insurance program for citizens that are at least 65 years old. Meanwhile, Medicaid is an assistance program that affords the basic medical needs for people with little to no income. People of all ages can apply for Medicaid.

Do I get to keep any of my income if I apply for Medicaid?

Yes. There are specific income requirements to be considered eligible for Medicaid in the first place. If you are approved, it is because the state deems that your level of income (against your level of expenditures) requires additional assistance for medical expenses.

Does my spouse get to keep any of my income if I received Medicaid to help pay household bills?

In most cases, no. However, it is best to contact an experienced medicaid planning attorney in Ocala, FL to understand how Medicaid may impact your income, especially if you are married.

Are there any powers over my property I cannot give under Florida law?

No. In the state of Florida, you have the right to give your agent the freedom to do whatever it is that you desire to be done with your property. It is best, however, to be specific and detailed with your power of attorney contract.

What powers can I give through a power of attorney?

Powers given through a power of attorney may be limited (outlining specific acts), general (granting agents broad powers to act on the behalf of the individual) or durational (temporary). You may allow your agent to sell your property, sign legal documents on your behalf, make health and financial decisions, and/or access your financial information.

What is a durable power of attorney under Florida law?

Under Florida law, a durational power of attorney is a document that allows an agent to continue to serve with specified duties after an individual becomes incapacitated.

Can I name more than one person as agent of a power of attorney?

Yes. In fact, you may have different agents handle the different aspects of your life on your behalf. It is common for individuals to grant an agent and third parties with a power of attorney.  The key is to be specific, detailed and clear about the roles, duties and rights of each agent.

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