Seniors and their families face many challenges. Welcome, I’m Clearwater Elder Law attorney John Frazier. My practice focuses on the unique legal needs of the elderly population of Pinellas County, and the families who care for them.
Pressing questions—from how to pay for assisted living and nursing home care, or getting on the waitlist and then to apply for assisted living Medicaid coverage, to protecting a loved one with special needs, or preparing for an aging parent’s incapacity—can cause great stress and worry. So many families fear losing control of their situation or think they have lost control already.
Financial and long-term care worries can be immobilizing, but it does not need to be that way. I can help you take control. Together we can prepare a well-thought-out plan that will meet your needs and protect your loved ones.
How Does a Clearwater Elder Law Attorney Help Florida Seniors?
I assist with complex health care planning, long-term nursing home care planning, assisted living Medicaid coverage, senior housing and home care issues, guardianships, health care documents, incapacity planning, Medicare and Medicaid, and many other estate planning and elder law issues facing our seniors, military veterans, and the disabled.
As your Clearwater Elder Law attorney, my goal is to be a true, hands-on resource for you and your family. I believe that everyone should have access to the best quality legal advice at the fairest rates. You will find my fees to the most affordable in Pinellas County and all of Florida.
Aging, Long-Term Care, and Incapacity Raise Hard Questions. How Will You Answer Them?
Florida Elder Law is all about protecting and enhancing the quality of life for seniors. Elder Law is concerned about what happens while we live, get older, and require care. We need to plan for that care, so we are in control of what happens to us as we age.
We also need to pay for that care, which can be unbearably expensive. Long term elder care often involves placing a loved one in a skilled nursing facility, or assisted living facility, or hiring skilled in-home care. These forms of senior housing and medical care are not paid for by traditional sources such as Medicare.
The crushing cost of long-term nursing home care can soon wipe out a family’s savings and inheritance plans. So how do we pay for such care without losing everything? Most Clearwater residents simply cannot afford private long term care insurance, nor have they made provisions to pay for such care if they should need it.
Solutions to these issues and more can be reached through planning with an Elder Law Attorney in Clearwater.
Talking about and making decisions for critical elder years is never easy. But you have more control thank you may think. When we work together, you gain the knowledge of a trusted Clearwater lawyer with extensive elder law experience and insight. You can be confident that your most complex legal needs will be properly handled.
I can help you find answers and plan wisely for the future in the following ways:
Medicaid Planning with Clearwater Elder Law attorney John Frazier can help you qualify for Medicaid so it will help pay for assisted living or nursing home care
We apply Florida’s Medicaid program to help seniors and their families avoid impoverishment resulting from nursing home and assisted living expenses. This legal process is called Medicaid Planning, and it’s the primary alternative to paying privately for nursing home care.
Federal and state laws allow seniors to legally restructure their assets so they become eligible for Florida Medicaid benefits. Even if you have hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets or more and are currently ineligible for Medicaid benefits, careful Medicaid planning can help you legally meet the eligibility requirements for this important program.
Don’t think that this type of planning is for “someone else” but not you. I have helped well over 3,000 people from all walks of life obtain Medicaid coverage for nursing home care. Once you understand the legal strategies of Medicaid planning, you will want to know more. Medicaid planning can save you and your family hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Whether you are facing a medical crisis or planning for the future, we can help. To find out more, call Clearwater Medicaid attorney John Frazier with your questions at 727-260-2581 daytime and 813-431-3193 evenings.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney (POA) is a document that gives a person that you select the legal right to act on your behalf in legal and business transactions when you cannot be present. The person given this power is known as an Agent or Attorney-in-Fact. You are called the Principal. The agent acts as your fiduciary, meaning they have the responsibility for managing your assets and money. The agent must therefore be a person who will act in good faith and serve to preserve your estate plan.
Durable Power of Attorney – Planning for Incapacity
The term “durable” when combined with “power of attorney” means that the powers granted in the document remain in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated, either physically or mentally. Explicit language to this effect is drafted into the POA document and may include a Financial Durable POA and a Durable POA for Health Care. Without this durable provision, a power of attorney is not valid if the principal becomes incapacitated.
Situations of incapacity or disability are the times when a durable power of attorney is most needed; therefore, it is critical to establish a valid durable power of attorney before a person becomes incapacitated. Clearwater Elder Law attorney John Frazier will help you plan ahead appropriately.
Advance Health Care Directives – End-of-Life Care Decision Making
Nowadays, life-sustaining technology can keep a person’s body alive for months and even years, regardless that the brain is no longer active or the person can feel pain. Every able-minded adult has the constitutional right to his or her desires and decisions about how they will be treated and the health care they will receive should they become terminally ill or are in a permanently unconscious state.
Certain legal documents are used to help you make and declare your end-of-life decisions in advance. Collectively they are called “advance directives.” The documents may involve the following:
- Living will — a written or oral statement of the kind of medical care you want or do not want if you become unable to make your own decisions. It is called a living will because it takes effect while you are still living.
- Designation of health care surrogate — a document naming another person as your representative to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself; and
- Durable power of attorney with health care provisions — in this POA you can name another person to act on your behalf. It is similar to a health care surrogate, but the person can also be designated to perform a variety of activities (financial, legal, medical, etc.)
Clearwater Elder Law attorney John Frazier is experienced in all of these matters and can help you create a plan that best meets your needs and wishes.
Establishing and administering trusts, including special needs trusts
Trusts are the most versatile tool in estate planning. A trust agreement is a document that lists the instructions you want to be carried out for property held in trust for your beneficiaries.
Trusts are often used to protect property in your estate, reduce estate taxes, preserve assets for your children until they are grown, set up a fund for your own support in the event of incapacity, and to avoid probate.
A Special Needs Trust (SNT) creates a source of funds for a disabled or aged beneficiary that does not interfere with government benefits. Remaining eligible for government benefits is the intent. It is a type of Irrevocable Trust, and the assets held in the trust are not considered countable assets. Distributions from the trust are designed to supplement the beneficiary’s public benefits, paying for expenses such as equipment and critical services that Medicaid or other benefits may not cover.
Your Elder Law lawyer will help you understand the various special needs planning options, many types of SNTs in Florida, and key factors to think about when developing a special needs plan.
Establish and administer guardianship (or plan to avoid guardianship)
Creating a guardianship for a loved one may be needed for various reasons: a senior becomes incapable of handling his or her day-to-day personal and health care needs, or of managing money. Dementia, stroke, and other infirmities can rob the strongest person of these abilities.
Incapacity also leaves a person at the mercy of those who would take advantage of them for personal gain.
A guardian is appointed by the court and may be in charge of the ward’s person, the ward’s property, or both the ward’s person and property. The guardian will work with and report to the court. Florida guardianship law requires that a guardian must be represented by an attorney.
The guardianship process is very important, however, it is burdensome and expensive. Guardianships can be avoided through deliberate planning, with carefully drafted Durable Powers of Attorney, Trusts, or Health Care Advance Directives.
Veterans Benefits: Housebound and Aid & Attendance
If you are one of the 9,100 veterans currently living in Clearwater, it is important to know you may be eligible for one of two special monthly benefits in addition to basic VA pension — Housebound or Aid and Attendance (A&A).
Both programs are designed to help Pinellas County veterans and their surviving spouses receive the financial support necessary to ensure continuing care in their own home, in an assisted living facility, or a nursing home setting. Clearwater Elder Law attorney John Frazier is accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs to represent veterans in their claims for these and other VA benefits.
A housebound allowance is a higher rate of VA pension for veterans or surviving spouses who qualify for basic pension, and who are confined to his or her home due to permanent disability.
You may be eligible for Housebound allowance if:
- You have a permanent disability that has been rated as 100% disabling AND because of the disabling condition(s) you are permanently and substantially confined to your home.
- You have a permanent disability that has been rated as 100% disabling AND another disabling condition(s) that are separately rated as 60% or more disabling.
Aid and Attendance (A&A) Benefits
Aid and Attendance is the highest rate of VA pension for a qualifying veteran or the single surviving spouse. The A&A medical rating can often reduce the cost of care for veterans and surviving spouses who require in-home care, private-pay nursing homes, and is particularly beneficial for qualifying residents of Assisted Living Facilities.
Who Qualifies for Aid and Attendance Pension Benefits?
In addition to being eligible for basic pension, the veteran or surviving spouse must also meet at least one of the following criteria:
- You require the help of another person in activities of daily living (ADL) – or –
- You have a mental or physical disability that demands regular care and help – or –
- Disabilities have substantially confined you to a bed – or –
- You suffer from disabling vision impairments – or –
- You suffer from mental or physical disabilities requiring nursing home care.
Contact Clearwater Elder Law Attorney John Frazier
When you’re ready to speak with a lawyer who understands elder law, has helped thousands of seniors pay for nursing home care through sound Medicaid planning, and who works closely with local and community resources for the elderly, call (727) 260-2581 or contact me here.
Are you wondering how to go about choosing a lawyer? Please read why Florida Elder Law planning with my firm might be a good choice for you, and how I provide the clearest, fairest pricing for my services.
My practice has a relationship with the Law Offices of Joseph F. Pippen Jr. & Associates that enables me to deliver to you all of the resources of that firm as well. Learn more about the firm here.