Category Archive: Legal and Financial

SPECIAL May Elder Law Month Workshop

Kathleen FlammiaIn honor of May National Elder Law Month, we are offering a *FREE* and *SPECIAL* Workshop. This event will take place on Tuesday, May 22nd from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at One Senior Place located at 715 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714.

During the first half of the workshop I will be discussing the in’s and out’s of Elder Law, what documents you need and what you need to do to save your assets from the always growing Nursing Home costs!

The last portion of the workshop will be dedicated to a FREE Estate Planning document review by an Attorney. If you would like your current Estate Planning documents reviewed for FREE by an ATTORNEY, call 407-478-8700 today! We are only accepting the first 20 pre-registerered guests, so call now before it’s too late!

 

Understanding Florida ABLE Accounts

H&B new picThe Achieving Better Life Experience Act, or ABLE Act, was signed into law by President Obama in December 2014.  ABLE updates the Internal Revenue Code to allow eligible individuals and their families to establish a tax-exempt savings account that allows for disbursements of income tax-free funds for “qualified disability expenses,” including education, transportation, housing, obtaining and maintaining employment, personal support services, assistive technology and health and wellness.  Money contributed to an ABLE account is generally disregarded, or not countable, when determining eligibility for federal benefit programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.

The Florida legislature passed the Florida Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, which was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott on May 21, 2015. This state law establishes ABLE United, to oversee the state of Florida’s qualified ABLE program. As of this month, July 2016, eligible Florida residents may establish ABLE accounts.

In order to establish an ABLE account, the individual with a disability must be a Florida resident. Further, the ABLE Act limits eligibility to individuals who have developed significant disabilities before turning 26 years old.  You do not have to be under the age of 26 to qualify as long as you have documentation and/or medical records which prove the onset of the disability before age 26.  If you meet the age of onset criteria and are receiving benefits under SSI and/or SSDI you are automatically eligible.  Otherwise, you must have a condition listed in the “List of Compassionate Allowances Conditions” maintained by the Social Security Administration, certify blindness or have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment.

An individual may only have one ABLE account and the total annual contributions, by all contributing individuals, including family and friends, is $14,000. This amount will be adjusted annually for inflation. Under current tax law, $14,000 is the maximum amount individuals can gift to someone else and not pay taxes. For individuals with disabilities, who also receive SSI and/or Medicaid, there are further limitations. The first $100,000 in an ABLE account will be exempt from the SSI $2,000 individual resource limit. When an ABLE account exceeds $100,000, the beneficiary will be suspended from eligibility for SSI benefits and no longer receive that monthly income. However, the beneficiary will continue to be eligible for Medicaid, as there are no Medicaid limits for ABLE accounts.

If you would like more information about ABLE accounts please contact the Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan at (407) 977-8080 or visit HoytBryan.com, for more information.

Long-Term Care Insurer Cannot Be Sued for Elder Financial Abuse

Submitted by: Kathleen Flammia, P.A., Board Certified Elder Law Attorney, One Senior Place Resident Business

Kathleen FlammiaLong-term care insurance policyholders suing Bankers Life and Casualty Company were dealt a blow by the Oregon Supreme Court when it ruled that the state’s elder financial abuse statute does not apply to their case.

Residents of Oregon who bought long-term care insurance policies from Bankers Life and Casualty Company sued the insurer five years ago in federal court. The policyholders claimed that the company violated Oregon’s elder financial abuse law by purposely delaying and denying insurance claims. The policyholders alleged that, among other things, the company didn’t answer phone calls, lost documents, wrongly denied claims, and paid less than policyholders were entitled to.

The lead plaintiff, 87-year-old Lorraine Bates, moved into an adult foster home in 2009 but Bankers refused to pay her claim, saying the facility didn’t meet its policy requirements. Another plaintiff, Eileen Burk, purchased a long-term health-care policy from Bankers.  After she moved into an assisted living facility, her son had trouble filing a claim with the insurance company because the company refused to assist him.

After the federal district court dismissed the lawsuit, the policyholders appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Because the legal question centered on the state’s elder financial abuse law, the appeals court asked the Oregon Supreme Court to determine whether the policyholders could sue the insurer under state law for wrongful withholding of money. The financial abuse law prohibits an entity or person that is holding or controlling an elderly person’s money from withholding that money if the money was acquired from the elderly person. The policyholders argued that the insurance company acquired money in the form of premiums from the insurance company and then refused to return it in the form of benefits.

The Oregon Supreme Court determined that the elder financial abuse statute does not apply to an insurance company that delayed the processing of claims and refused to pay benefits. The court rules that the law applies only when one person or entity holds the money that still “belongs to” the elderly person. According to the court, the money the policyholders paid to Bankers became Bankers’ money and no longer belonged to the policyholders.

To read the Oregon court’s decision, go here: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/S064742.pdf.

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The Law Office of Kathleen Flammia has been serving Orange County and surrounding areas for the past fourteen years. Kathleen Flammia began her Elder Law practice in the heart of Winter Park, Florida after being in the criminal defense arena for 15 years.

“Veterans Benefits: Best Kept Secrets”

One Senior Place & VITAS Healthcare’s Veteran’s Benefits Resource Fair A Success!

The Best Kept Secrets About Veterans Benefits Were Revealed!

B-20882 BVD Once Senior Place Veterans Resource Flyer-5

Last Friday, March 16th from 2-4pm One Senior Place and VITAS Healthcare held their first free Veterans resource fair to share the Best Kept Secrets when it comes to Veterans Benefits.  Four presenters came out to speak on their respective specialties in order to give the Veterans the best assistance they could receive.  They included:

 

Doug Walton from FDVA: Disability Benefits

Dennis Vannorsdall From the Brevard Veterans Service Office: Aid and Attendance

Don Murphy From Cape Canaveral National Cemetery: Burial Benefits

JC Burchette From Eastern Florida State College: GI Bill

 

The event brought at least 40 individuals out to the Veterans Memorial Center, with an overall estimated 70 people in attendance including various vendors and organizations.  Attendees asked great questions not only to the presenters, but also to the vendors. There was a local high school JROTC that came and presented the Flag for the Pledge of Allegiance. Afterwards, the Museum donated a check to support their program. Everyone was thrilled to see them come out and show off their skills.  Rob Medina from Congressman Bill Posey’s office gave the invocation and spoke briefly.  Mr. Medina commended both One Senior Place and VITAS Healthcare for holding such a great event for our Veterans.

One big highlight of the event was when a 94 year old World War II Veteran got up and asked a question. He briefly went into his service to our country and mention that he and his 92 year old wife are doing well. He told a few jokes and everyone truly enjoyed his contribution to the event.  He was given a huge round of applause which was very touching.  The entire event was a wonderful success!

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The team involved would like to give a special thanks to those who came out to support the event including One Senior Place CEO and Founder, Don Kramer; OSP Referral Specialist, Barbara Fradkin, BSW; along with VITAS Healthcare representatives Sara Goldberg, Brianna Sequeira, and Kathi Ridner.  We would also like to thank the 15 various vendors that were in attendance who aided in the explanation of various Veterans benefits and services as follows:

 

VA Clinic Viera

Vet Center Melbourne

UCF Restore

Space Coast Honor Flight

Volunteers of America

211 Brevard

Aging Matters Brevard

Helping Seniors Brevard

Sonata Viera

Housing for Homeless Titusville

Jewish War Veterans

 

One Senior Place and VITAS Healthcare look forward to bringing this event to the community again and again to give the Veterans of our community the important information and recognition that they need and deserve!

A Guidebook to Planning for Old Age

Submitted by: Kathleen Flammia, P.A., Board Certified Elder Law Attorney, One Senior Place Resident Business

16548-Loverde 2Joy Loverde. Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? Plan Now to Safeguard Your Health and Happiness in Old Age. New York, NY: Da Capo Press, 2017. 313 pages. Click here to order book via IndieBound.org

Millions of Americans are facing old age essentially alone.  One in three baby boomers is single or no longer part of a couple due to divorce or death.  Others may be in a relationship where chronic illness has struck both partners simultaneously. Children may live too far away or lack the resources to offer a parent meaningful help.

But there is no reason why circumstances like these should bar anyone from a quality old age.  It just takes planning, which is where this empowering book comes in. Full of helpful checklists and worksheetsWho Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? is an essential guide to preparing for and navigating the inevitable losses that aging entails – the loss of functioning, the loss of loved ones and friends, and the loss of income.

Joy Loverde, a consultant and speaker on aging issues and the author of The Complete Eldercare Planner, has written a self-help book that offers both emotional and practical advice.  The first chapters address overcoming the psychological barriers to planning.  After all, the prospect of growing old and needing care is something most people would prefer not to think about, much less plan for.  One early section suggests ways to avoid self-sabotaging thoughts.  Other section headings include “Lessen the Grip of Guilt” and “Motivate Yourself.”

The book then turns to the planning work at hand.  An early chapter deals with how to stay afloat financially.  Near the top of the list are getting one’s legal affairs in order, including consulting with an elder law attorney.  Loverde suggests ways to create an income stream in retirement and lists scores of job possibilities.  She even has recommendations for lowering grocery bills.

Kathleen FlammiaSucceeding chapters present ideas and resources for successfully aging in place alone, exploring housing options both in the U.S. and abroad, coping with widowhood, “foraging for a family,” staying connected with those you know and making new friends, and evaluating medical providers.  One chapter is devoted to considerations in adopting a pet.

The final chapters deal with strategies for coping when old age becomes seriously challenging.  Loverde covers “the game changer” of chronic illness, including how to effectively advocate for yourself or find a professional to advocate for you.   A chapter titled “‘Just Shoot Me’ Is Not a Plan” maps strategies for ensuring quality care at the end of life.  There is even a list of resources for those considering “suicide tourism.”

Throughout the book, Loverde provides names of helpful organizations, and one fun feature is that each chapter ends with one recommended book, YouTube video, movie, song and TED Talk on that chapter’s topic.  Near the end Loverde includes a multi-page goldmine of useful websites (ElderLawAnswers among them).

This is not the kind of book anyone looks forward to reading, but it is a book that is essential reading for anyone who wants to start laying the groundwork now for the best possible old age.

To read more about Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?click here.

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The Law Office of Kathleen Flammia has been serving Orange County and surrounding areas for the past fourteen years. Kathleen Flammia began her Elder Law practice in the heart of Winter Park, Florida after being in the criminal defense arena for 15 years.

Report Finds Lack of Government Oversight of Assisted Living Facilities

Submitted by: Kathleen Flammia, P.A., Board Certified Elder Law Attorney, One Senior Place Resident Business

Kathleen FlammiaThe government is spending billions to fund assisted living services through Medicaid, but government oversight and regulation of assisted living facilities is lacking, according to a new government report.

Medicaid funds long-term care services for low-income individuals. It is primarily used for nursing home care, but 48 states have opted to give assisted living residents the ability to receive Medicaid benefits, mostly through “waiver” programs that promote home health care. More than 330,000 people in assisted living are receiving more than $10 billion in Medicaid benefits to pay for those services. Because the number of individuals receiving long-term care services from Medicaid in assisted living facilities is only expected to grow, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) surveyed state Medicaid agencies and interviewed officials for a report on federal oversight of these facilities.

The GAO found that there are both gaps in state reporting of cases of harm to assisted living residents – such as abuse, neglect and exploitation – and a lack of guidance from the federal government on what needs to be reported. States are required to monitor “critical” incidents that may harm a beneficiary’s health or welfare, but they have leeway in determining what they consider a critical incident. While all the states considered physical assault, emotional abuse, and sexual assault to be critical incidents, three states don’t monitor unexpected or unexplained deaths and seven states don’t monitor the threat of suicide. In addition, more than half of the 48 states couldn’t tell the GAO the number or nature of critical incidents at assisted living facilities.

“Medicaid beneficiaries receiving assisted living services include older adults and individuals with physical, developmental, or intellectual disabilities, some of whom can be particularly vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation,” the report notes.

The GAO report recommends that the federal government clarify state requirements for reporting program deficiencies and require annual reporting of critical incidents. According to the report, states need clear guidance on what incidents should be reported and the government needs to ensure that the states provide that information on time.

To read the GAO report, click here.

To read a New York Times article about the report, click here.

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The Law Office of Kathleen Flammia has been serving Orange County and surrounding areas for the past fourteen years. Kathleen Flammia began her Elder Law practice in the heart of Winter Park, Florida after being in the criminal defense arena for 15 years.

Estate Planning and Retirement Considerations for Late-in-Life Parents

Submitted by: Kathleen Flammia, P.A., Board Certified Elder Law Attorney, One Senior Place Resident Business

Kathleen FlammiaOlder parents are becoming more common, driven in part by changing cultural mores and advances in infertility treatment. Comedian and author Steve Martin had his first child at age 67. Singer Billy Joel just welcomed his third daughter. Janet Jackson had a child at age 50. But later-in-life parents have some special estate planning and retirement considerations.

The first consideration is to make sure you have an estate plan and that the estate plan is up to date. One of the most important functions of an estate plan is to name a guardian for your children in your will, and this goes double for a parent having children late in life. If you don’t name someone to act as guardian, the court will choose the guardian. Because the court doesn’t know your kids like you do, the person they choose may not be ideal.

In addition to naming a guardian, you may also want to set up a trust for your children so that your assets are set aside for them when they get older. If the child is the product of a second marriage, a trust may be particularly important. A trust can give your spouse rights, but allow someone else — the trustee — the power to manage the property and protect it for the next generation. If you have older children, a trust could, for example, provide for a younger child’s college education and then divide the remaining amount among all the children.

Another consideration is retirement savings. Financial advisors generally recommend prioritizing saving for your own retirement over saving for college because students have the ability to borrow money for college while it is tougher to borrow for retirement. One advantage of being an older parent is that you may be more financially stable, making it easier to save for both. Also, if you are retired when your children go to college, they may qualify for more financial aid. Older parents should make sure they have a high level of life insurance and extend term policies to last through the college years.

When to take Social Security is another consideration. Children can receive benefits on a parent’s work record if the parent is receiving benefits too. To be eligible, the child must be under age 18, under age 19 but still in elementary school or high school, or over age 18 but have become mentally or physically disabled prior to age 22. Children generally receive an amount equal to one-half of the parent’s primary insurance amount (PIA), up to a “family maximum” benefit. You will need to calculate whether the child’s benefit makes it worth it to collect benefits early rather than wait to collect at your full retirement age or at age 70.

To make a plan for late-in-life parenthood, contact your attorney.

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The Law Office of Kathleen Flammia has been serving Orange County and surrounding areas for the past fourteen years. Kathleen Flammia began her Elder Law practice in the heart of Winter Park, Florida after being in the criminal defense arena for 15 years.

5 Ways Technology Will Change Retirement

*CLICK THE ARTICLE BELOW TO READ THE FEATURED WRITE UP IN HOMETOWN NEWS!*

Hometown News 3-8-18

5 Ways Technology Will Change the Way You Retire

Glimpse the future at One Senior Place March 15 in Viera 

 

(VIERA, FL)  February 28, 2018 –  The Live Long & Prosper! discussion series continues at One Senior Place on Thursday, March 15 at 5:30 PM when the topic turns to the 5 Ways Technology Will Change the Way We Retire.  Attendees to the Viera marketplace for boomer and senior resources at 8085 Spyglass Hill Road may be amazed to learn about transportation changes that will keep retirees mobile and how much easier it will be to keep earning from home.  Covered during the event is how social networks will keep retirees engaged, the apps and gadgets that will monitor a person’s health, clean house, shop for groceries and more.  Attendees to the 5 Ways Technology Will Change the Way We Retire will also receive a free soft-bound resource and planning guide by the MIT AgeLab.  Refreshments and a prize drawing will be provided by Whittaker-Cooper Financial Group, which maintains a satellite office at One Senior Place in Viera.  Sponsored by Whittaker-Cooper Financial Group, the Live Long & Prosper! series of free events will feature advice from professional women and men on charting a course for well-being during retirement. Attendees are encouraged to call (321) 751-6771 and RSVP for the hot-topic technology seminar to reserve seating and free resource materials.  For more information about One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging, visit their website at www.OneSeniorPlace.com or call (321) 751-6771.

 

Raymond James Investment Advisor Representative, Jim DeLaura, thinks a glimpse of the 5 Ways Technology Will Change the Way We Retire may give people a leg up on retirement planning.

 

“Our parents couldn’t have imagined what retirement” will look like for today’s generations. Technology that is being perfected now will allow Americans the opportunity to live independently, in their own homes, for many more years,” said Mr. DeLaura. “Learning what the world will look like when we retire is the best way to start planning to live long and prosper!”

 

The 5 Ways Technology Will Change the Way We Retire is just one of the dozens of events presented annually by One Senior Place in Viera.  One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families.  To learn more about One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging, visit www.OneSeniorPlace.com or call 321-751-6771.

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PHOTO  (attached) The role technology will play during the retirement of the future is the subject of discussion at One Senior Place in Viera on Thursday, March 15.  To RSVP, call 321-751-6771. photo courtesy of buzz biz public relations

 

ABOUT ONE SENIOR PLACE– Now in its 11th year, One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging, is a marketplace of resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their family caregivers in Central and East Central Florida.  Completely unique, One Senior Place at 8085 Spyglass Hill Road in Viera is a one-stop information hub and mini-mall “revolutionizing the way America shops for elder care and services.”  One Senior Place is home to a wide variety of senior-focused businesses, a resource library and is the site of educational seminars and presentations for seniors.  In 2008, One Senior Place was named Florida’s Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.  In Brevard, they were honored as  Business of the Year by the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce.  A second location, One Senior Place Orlando, opened in Altamonte Springs in December of 2011.  More information about One Senior Place and One Senior Place Orlando can be found on the company website at www.OneSeniorPlace.com or by calling 321-751-6771.

 

ABOUT WHITTAKER COOPER FINANCIAL GROUP –

The Whittaker Cooper Financial Group Inc. is a full service firm offering accounting and tax services, and where advisors provide financial planning services for clients in Brevard County and Central Florida.  Begun in 1985, Whittaker Cooper Financial Group is headquartered at 1692 West Hibiscus Boulevard in Melbourne, 32901. Business partners include Branch Manager Kenneth Whittaker, CPA/PFS*, CFP®, CLU, ChFC and I. Wayne Cooper, CPA.  Whittaker Cooper Financial Group maintains a satellite office inside of One Senior Place in Viera, located at 8085 Spyglass Hill Road, 32940. For more information on Whittaker Cooper Financial Group, call 321-723-3352 or visit the website at http://raymondjames.com/whittakercooper/.

 

Whittaker Cooper Financial Group is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc.  The accounting and tax advice and services of Kenneth Whittaker, I. Wayne Cooper and Whittaker Cooper Financial Group are independent of RJFS. Raymond James is not affiliated with the MIT AgeLab or One Senior Place. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members. Opinions expressed are not  necessarily those of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. and are subject to change without notice.

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