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Port Charlotte, Englewood, North Port & Sarasota Elder Care Attorney

Medicaid Planning | Guardianships | Veterans Planning | Elder Abuse

Helping You And Your Family Navigate The Elderly Years

Department of Elderly Affairs Information for Florida: http://elderaffairs.state.fl.us/doea/resources.php

Florida’s increasing population of seniors are living longer than ever before. This
 presents a unique situation in which they can potentially outlive their ability to care for themselves.

A higher life expectancy means that seniors will require a long-term care plan for their future that includes having access to:

  • quality medical care
  • safe housing options
  • government assistance programs

That’s why it’s so important to consult with a seasoned elder law attorney now so you can begin the process of putting plans in place to protect your long-term physical and financial well-being.

Whether you are a senior planning for your own future, or a caretaker making decisions for a loved one, Lehn Law, P.A. can help chart a road map for the future. 

It’s never too early to be prepared. Call us today at (941) 255-5346 or (941) 487-7100 to setup a Free consultation with our founding attorney, Joseph W. Lehn.

Find out the answers to these and other questions:

  • How will I pay for my healthcare?
  • Will I be eligible for government benefits like Medicare or Medicaid?
  • What will I do if I have special needs or become incapacitated in some way?
  • How can I ensure that my assets are preserved and protected so I can receive quality care at home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home?
  • If I’m a veteran, am I eligible for Veterans Benefits? How can I get them?

Lehn Law, P.A. has solid expertise in many areas of senior law and can assist you in an immediate crisis. We also offer pre-planned solutions for long-term care issues you may face in the future.

Acting as part financial advisor, part family advocate, Attorney Joseph W. Lehn will customize a plan that fits your current or future needs and puts you in the best position to enjoy the highest quality of life in your golden years.

Providing Counsel And Legal Services In Elder Law

  • Medicaid (Asset) Long-Term Care Planning
  • Veterans Long-Term Care Planning
  • Establishing Guardianships and Conservatorships
  • Financial and Healthcare Direct Powers of Attorneys
  • Nursing Home Litigation/Elder Abuse

Planning For Long-Term Care In A Nursing Home

There is a strong likelihood that most of us will need some form of long-term

care as we age. Even if you can rely on a family member in your later years, there may come a time when your needs exceed their capabilities. In this instance, you may consider an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Assisted living and nursing homes are very expensive. Without advanced planning, Floridians can be blindsided by the heavy financial burdens it can place on their hard-earned savings.

The costs of nursing home care in Florida average between $6,000 and $8,000 a month. Many seniors and their families are unable or ill-prepared to afford this kind of expense.

Preserving Your Assets Through Medicaid Planning

At Lehn Law, P.A. we can help you preserve the “nest egg” you have accumulated and reduce the costs of long-term care by seeking assistance through Medicaid’s Institutional Care Program (ICP). With the costs of long-term care sky rocketing to nearly $9,000.00 per month many seniors simply cannot afford this expense and are left with no choice but to apply for public benefits.

This public benefit can cover the cost of nursing home care. In fact, Medicaid is the single largest payer of nursing home bills in America.

Am I Eligible For Medicaid?

Medicaid is a needs-based program. In order to be eligible for Medicaid, you need to meet the following criteria or tests:

  • Medical Necessity Test
    To obtain nursing home Medicaid benefits, a person must be at least 65 years of age, blind, or disabled, and have the medical necessity to be in a nursing home.
  • Income Test
    Florida is an Income Cap state, which means there is an income limit for Medicaid eligibility. If an applicant’s gross income exceeds $2,199 per month, they would not pass the income test, nor qualify for Medicaid.
  • Asset Test
    The applicant can only possess $2,000 of countable assets. Examples of countable assets are:

    • cash in the bank
    • cash
    • stocks
    • annuities
    • bonds
    • land
    • minerals
    • non homestead property
    • notes receivable
    • boats
    • certain extra vehicles

In 2016, a married couple in Florida may keep up to $121,220 in countable assets, which is $119,220 for the “community” or healthy spouse, added to $2,000 in assets allowed for the nursing home spouse.

Can I Still Receive Medicaid If I Exceed The Income Cap?

Seniors who have too much income to qualify for Medicaid worry that they will have to spend all of their life savings in order to become eligible for benefits.

At Lehn Law, P.A., we can help you restructure your assets so you don’t have to “spend down” everything you’ve worked so hard to accumulate and still qualify for Medicaid.

Creating A Trust To Reduce Income Below The Income Cap

To solve the “income cap” problem, an income trust must be created. Those authorized to create the trust can include:

  • the applicant
  • his or her spouse
  • a guardian or court
  • or a person holding a durable power of attorney

Each month, you would deposit the amount of income that is over the cap, or the “excess” income into a checking account. The account needs to be funded every month or you will lost your benefits for a certain period of time.

Veterans’ Benefits For Long-Term Care

If you are a veteran, veteran’s spouse, or veteran’s widow or widower whose medical costs exceed your income, you may be able to access Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits to help you pay for:

  • home care
  • assisted living
  • nursing home care

If you qualify, it can pay up to $2,120/month for a couple, $1,788/month for a single veteran and $1,149 for a single surviving spouse.

Planning For Incapacity Through A Durable Power Of Attorney

A durable power of attorney (POA) enables you to appoint an “agent,” such as a trusted
relative or friend, to handle specific health, legal and financial responsibilities in the event that you become incapacitated.

Families should consider preparing these legal documents long before someone starts having trouble handling certain aspects of life.

Similar to a trust, the POA can be written so that the transfer of responsibilities happens immediately, or at the time when the elder is determined to be incapacitated. Up until that point, the elder can continue to make decisions on his or her own.

When Is A Guardianship Necessary?

It’s very painful to watch a loved one become incapacitated due to the natural aging
process. They may end up suffering from a physical disability or develop a cognitive impairment or debilitating disease, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s

If this happens, the incapacitated person may need to have a guardian appointed to assume responsibility for their overall welfare. This only becomes an option in the event that the elder does not have a power of attorney or advanced directive in place.

Guardianship is the legal process of having a court determine if a person lacks the capacity to care for themselves and cannot perform certain daily tasks, such as driving.

An appointed guardian will have the legal authority to make decisions related to the incapacitated person’s finances, medical care, and place of residency.

Elder Abuse In Nursing Homes

Neglect and abuse can sometimes exist in nursing homes. If as a result of negligence, physical or emotional abuse, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation for your losses.
you or a loved one have been victimized in a nursing home
At Lehn Law, we are fiercely protective of elders who have suffered abuse and will not hesitate to file a civil action lawsuit against the nursing home who inflicted the abuse.

Attorney Lehn can report the abuse to the proper authorities and inform the nursing home of the impending allegations. In some cases, the nursing home may agree to settle. If they don’t, we will pursue justice in court.

Types of Elder Abuse

  • Physical Abuse — In addition to  battery, this form of elderly abuse can include force-feeding, over medication and excessive use of chemical or physical restraints.
  • Emotional Abuse — Mental abuse caused by verbally degrading an elder with threats, isolation, sarcastic remarks or insults. Emotional manipulation may also take place when a staff member deceitfully influences a resident to their own advantage.
  • Sexual Abuse ––  This can occur when the resident is forced or tricked into sexual contact, or is too weak or ill to give consent.
  • Financial Abuse — This type of abuse occurs when the person responsible for managing the elder’s finances mishandles funds, property or other assets. Examples may include:
    • not paying bills on time
    • using funds or property for their own benefit
    • forging signatures
    • tricking them into signing a will, contract, or other legal document
  • Neglect — A nursing home caretaker is negligent if they fail to execute a degree of care that is expected from someone in their position. Examples may include:
    • failure to assist with personal hygiene or acknowledge unsanitary conditions
    • failure to provide ample food, clothing or shelter
    • failure to provide necessary medical treatment

Grounds for filing a nursing home abuse claim

  • Negligent hiring
  • Understaffing
  • Inadequate training
  • Third-party responsibility claim
  • Breach of statutory or regulatory rights
  • Medication errors

Warning Signs of Elderly Abuse

  • Bruises or bleeding
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Bedsores
  • Silence around caretakers
  • Bruises on or around an elder’s genitals
  • Unexplained diseases or infections
  • Physical discomfort
  • Sudden financial difficulties
  • Bills left unpaid by the elder
  • Changes in the elder’s will
  • Change in power of attorney

Lehn Law, P.A. helps seniors, disabled persons, their families and caregivers plan for the future. We provide elder care services including Medicaid planning, veterans planning, guardianships and elder abuse litigation.

Contact Lehn Law, PA today at (941) 255-5346 or (941) 487-7100 for more information.