William A. Johnson, P.A. William A. Johnson, P.A.
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Melbourne, Florida, Trust, Estate Planning And Probate Law Blog

Can't qualify for Medicaid? Try a special needs trust

The quality of life for people living with disabilities in Florida is leaps and bounds ahead of what it used to be in decades past. Now, with the right kind of care, these individuals can typically expect to live long, full lives. But what happens when someone with a disability turns 18 or their primary caretaker is no longer able to fulfill their duties? In such cases, a special needs trust is an invaluable asset.

Currently, 40 million people in the United States are disabled. With a population of approximately 320 million, this means that one out of every eight people is living with some kind of disability. These individuals often require specialized care and support that may feel financially out of reach for most families. Medicaid and Social Security Supplemental Income greatly help with this side of things, but they are only available to individuals who have limited resources.

Recently divorced? Your estate planning needs probably changed

Getting a divorce can be one of the best decisions for unhappy Florida couples to make. However, reaching an agreeable divorce settlement can be emotionally exhausting, and many people forget that there is still work to be done when the process is over. Estate planning needs change throughout life, including before, during and after marriage.

Wills are one of the most commonly used estate planning documents, and most people will need to update theirs after a divorce. For those who never had children with their ex this can be as simple as removing them from one's will entirely. Parents need a more thoughtful approach, which will usually include an ex on matters such as guardianship.

Help with Medicaid is essential for Florida elders

End-of-life care is something that everyone should be able to access with dignity. Unfortunately, the cost of residential facilities often exceeds what anyone is able to pay and is particularly impossible for elders who are on fixed incomes. With the cost of Florida nursing homes seemingly out of reach, you may be able to help your loved one qualify for Medicaid to help cover costs.

The monthly cost of a local nursing home can be as high as $10,000, which is even more expensive than the national average cost of about $96,000 annually. If your parent, grandparent or other loved family member is anything like the average person, they'll likely wipe out their life's savings in a matter of months. And that's if the funds even last that long.

Is my will valid since I moved to another state?

It is becoming increasingly common for people to relocate once, twice or several times during their lifetimes. Moving states can have various legal repercussions, which is why it is important for those relocating to learn about the law.

When it comes to the validity of wills, many people worry that an interstate move could invalidate their wills. The answer to this question largely depends on the testator's specific circumstances and the terms of the will.

Estate plan issues plague comic book legend Stan Lee

Stan Lee might be most well-known in Florida for creating super heroes like Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk during his time as a powerhouse at Marvel Comics, but his most recent headlines have more to do with his estate than his creative work. Most people in Florida assume that estate planning only deals with issues after a person's death, but Lee's recent issues highlight the benefits of also planning for the final stages of life. This includes selecting reliable trustees and caretakers who can manage a person's financial interests, medical decisions and other important aspects of their estate plan.

Lee's estate is worth approximately $50 million. A fortune that size plus his business interests require expert financial handling, which many believe Lee is no long capable of making. Over recent years, the health of the 95-year-old comic book creator -- including his vision, hearing and judgment -- has deteriorated significantly. Prior to her 2017 death, Lee's late wife was in charge of his estate.

Wills are an essential estate planning tool

A will can function as a useful tool in settling one's final affairs. Most people know to include a will in the estate planning process, but what exactly can a will do? Individuals in Florida who choose to use a will may wish to find out a little bit more about the functionality of a will

During estate planning, a will may be created. It can be a handwritten or typed document that can be drafted independently or with the help of a lawyer. The will gives instructions to the survivors about handling one's last debts and the distribution of assets. In a will, the person also chooses an executor -- the person who is selected to handle the final affairs. 

An estate plan for the digital age

Many people don't immediately think of their online lives when planning for the future, but most people spend a significant portion of their time online. Whether it is Facebook, points rewards programs or email accounts, most people probably have some type of digital asset that will need to be settled after their death. Incorporating digital assets has become a larger part of most people's estate plan, and in Florida, being ready to transfer administrative power to these assets can help preserve their financial and sentimental value. 

According to the Pew Research Center, about 25 percent of American adults say that they are almost constantly online. They also report that 77 percent of adults go online daily. When one considers the amount of socializing, earning and financial management that happens online, it makes total sense to incorporate one's online activities into an estate plan.

A special needs trust can create a safety net for loved ones

A parent or caregiver for an individual with a disability may wish to create a situation in which his or her loved one can thrive. The disabled individual may also be looking at ways to utilize income and savings alongside government benefits. A special needs trust can be one option for individuals looking to diversify their financial resources. In Melbourne, Florida, individuals can create these trusts and also preserve other benefits. 

Statistics show that more than 57 million individuals in the United States live with physical or cognitive disabilities. Many of these individuals rely on government programs to assist them with medical and financial needs. The rules for such programs can be confusing, while income and asset limits can reduce a person's ability to save for the future or to purchase big-ticket resources. 

Organization and planning help estate administration tasks

A person tasked with resolving a loved one's finances after his or her death may suddenly find themselves with much to take care of. An organized estate plan can aid that person with estate administration, making it less costly and time consuming. In Florida, individuals who wish to prepare for their final needs can ensure that the wrap-up of their final business runs smoothly. 

An individual who is settling the estate of a deceased loved one can also take steps to expedite the process, although one should keep in mind that making too many decisions while emotions are high is not recommended. When the person is emotionally ready to take on the task, the experts say that locating the original will and trust documents can be very helpful. This will allow the administrator to distribute and settle the assets according to the plan. Gathering other important documents and getting multiple copies of the death certificate can be helpful as well.

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William A. Johnson, P.A.
140 Interlachen Road, Suite B
Melbourne, FL 32940

Phone: 321-426-1865
Fax: 321-242-8417
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