Maria Sonnenberg – Special to FLORIDA TODAY
“Getting older is no problem, you just have to live long enough.”
— Groucho Marx.
Groucho was right. Nobody lives forever.
Deluding ourselves about mortality, we put aside unpleasant tasks such as advance directives and estate planning, and by doing so we hurt the ones we love.
One Senior Place is placing these difficult subjects — and more — squarely in front of our faces through a seven-part series that discusses everything you need to know to get your financial, physical and emotional ducks in a row before you either tip-toe across the human equivalent of the Rainbow Bridge or become too physically and/or mentally incapacitated to care about the emotional and financial mess you are leaving your family.
The series, which begins Sept. 23, focuses on Elder Law, a topic that the once-freewheeling Baby Boomers never thought they would need.
“As the demographic wave of aging Baby Boomers sweeps over our country, we are facing new challenges in the aging arena,” said attorney William Johnson, who will lead one of the sessions.
Boomers are facing questions such as, who will make financial and health care decisions should they become incapacitated and need a ventilator or a feeding tube? What happens when there is no durable power of attorney or designation of health care surrogate? What are end-of-life options? The list goes on.
“These are the questions elder law attorneys assist their clients in answering,” Johnson said.
Paying for long-term care remains a huge issue.
“Not many people can afford to pay $12,000 a month if they have a medical event and end up in a nursing home,” said Barbara Fradkin, director of One Senior Place in Viera. “That is where asset protection comes in.”
Joannie Rodriguez, an attorney with Family First Firm, kicks off the series at 4 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 23, with the topic of elder abuse.
“According to the finding and reports from U.S. Department of Justice in 2020, approximately 1 in 10 seniors is abused each year in the United States, and incidents of elder abuse are reported to local authorities in one out of every 23 cases,” she said. “Florida law provides protections for the elderly against abuse and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, but having an established relationship with an elder law attorney and comprehensive estate planning documents is the best preventative measure you can take. The goal is to prevent abuse.”
On Sept. 30, Robin Petersen, attorney and managing partner with Estate Planning & Elder Law Center of Brevard, will focus on the legal ramifications of the shifting dynamics of aging, when individuals transition from parents to grandparents, from spouses to widows or widowers and from being caregivers to needing care.
The rest of the series includes the following topics:
Oct. 7: Love may be in the air for some seniors, but second — or third, or more — marriages can present stressful situations for the couple and their families. Elder Law attorney William Johnson will discuss Florida’s Homestead Law and Elective Share laws, social security laws and pre- and post-nuptial agreements.
Oct. 14: It is no surprise that issues such as medical care, caregiving plans and living arrangements can create myriad opportunities for discord among siblings. As part of the Elder Law series, attorney Roger Klaffka with Estate Planning & Elder Law Center of Brevard will explain the concept of elder mediation, commonly used to resolve disputes outside of the courtroom.
Oct. 21: Also with Estate Planning & Elder Law Center of Brevard is attorney Cassidy Petersen Conti, who will discuss the importance of pre-planning and the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit, which may assist eligible vets or their surviving spouses to pay for long-term costs. Petersen will also list documents critical to have at the ready for peace of mind.
Oct. 28: Join attorney Ruth Rhodes of Rhodes Law in a review of topics that include long-term and crisis planning to protect assets while taking care of your family.
“No matter what kind of situation you are in, a loved one in a nursing home or just trying to talk to the doctors for a sick family member, having well-written estate planning documents in place is very important in order to help your loved during this health crisis,” Rhodes said.
Nov. 4: Attorney Danielle Johnson with William A. Johnson Attorneys at Law will present the entire probate process from A to Z, delving into subjects such as avoiding probate, validity of out-of-state wills and trusts, rights of creditors, Elective Share laws and others.
The series ends Nov. 11 with a question-and-answer session with all seven of the participating attorneys.
Fradkin has consulted with families of seniors with no advance directives and a diagnosis of dementia and knows well what a mess it leaves for the family.
“These seniors are now unable to make those health care decision for themselves,” she said. “The children come in frantic and wonder what they need to do. It becomes a guardianship issue. Guardianships cost a lot of money and take a lot of time to process, unless the attorney files for emergency guardianship. “
One Senior Place’s seven-part Elder Law series will be held at 4 p.m. on Thursdays beginning Sept. 23 at 8085 Spyglass Hill Rd., Melbourne. Individuals can elect to participate in all or just some of the presentations. Admission is free, but registration is required. Call 321-751-6771.
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About One Senior Place– Now in its 15th 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 OneSeniorPlace.com or by calling 321-751-6771. View their video at https://youtu.be/RxFCCL0wnRY.