Wishing all of the Dads out there a very Happy Father's Day, including our very own Attorney Cuturic! May your days be always filled with joy and love!
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all our Moms out there!
A special shout-out to two moms on the Cuturic Law team-Kyndall and Stephanie! You two women make the world go round for so many! Hope you have the best day filled with love!
So...what *is* Elder Law?
Elder Law is less about a specific legal distinction and more about the PEOPLE it serves-the elderly.
An Elder Law Attorney helps individuals and their families PLAN for the future and PREPARE for the unexpected.
A main goal of Elder Law is to allow an elderly person to maintain autonomy and financial freedom through planning.
Our law firm offers Estate Planning, Asset Protection Planning and Medicaid Planning which are three areas of Elder Law.
In honor of Elder Law Month, talk with your loved ones about their planning!
-Who do they want to protect or provide for?
-What is important/valuable to them?
-What are their wishes for care as they age?
And while we always encourage PROACTIVE PLANNING, we know it doesn't always happen. If you or a loved one are in need of EMERGENCY PLANNING, reach out to our firm for options.
(Photo: Nashua Volquez-Young)
1300 new stepfamilies form each day in the US and over 50% of US families are remarried or re-coupled (Source: The Step Family Foundation)
Unfortunately, blended families are also especially vulnerable to estate disputes and some of the ugliest challenges we have witnessed stem from a blended family without a proper estate plan in place.
From incomplete or DIY documents to old and outdated, many problems can arise if you do not have a complete and up-to-date plan for your unique circumstances.
If you are part of this growing majority of blended families, creating a comprehensive estate plan is a MUST. Put it on the top of the list and get it done. You can do this!
Your loved ones will thank you and your mind will be at peace!
ll of our clients come to us with the same intention:
Take care of the difficult stuff now, so their loved ones don't have to.
Who Do You Wish to Protect and Take Care of With Your Estate Plan?
Is it your:
-spouse or partner
-mother and father
-nephews and nieces
-Fido and Garfield
-a church or charity
Your peace of mind today can extend for generations!
Starting next week Cuturic Law, PLLC will be offering FULLY REMOTE SERVICES to all of our clients.
What Does This Mean?
It Means... We will be able to bring our Florida Estate Planning and Probate Teams right to You!
From first consults to signings and all the in-between we have figured out how to come to you so that Your Life Does Not Have To Pause.
Take that European vacation!
Travel up North to see the grandkids!
Refer a friend from across the State of Florida!
Wherever You Go, We will meet You There!
(I'm thinking Turks and Caicos sounds nice :-)))
Otto primarily works with Birdie in the BARK of Office.
-keeping the systems running smoothly with barks to the mail carrier, amazon driver, UPS worker, sanitation workers, visitors, neighbors, really anyone who approaches him.
-reminding his co-workers to get up, stretch it out, and take a walk around the block
-snuggles to the feet during Florida's excruciating Winters
-prompt alerts to all staff when it is lunch time
-reminding Clients to plan for their pets when setting up their Estate Documents
Such a team player, OTTO! Thank you for all your hard work!
New year means new webinars!
Attorney Cuturic hosts this free Florida Estate Planning Webinar. Topics include: Will vs Trust, Probate, and Nursing Home Bankruptcy.
Sign up here:
A Frequently Asked Question!
Florida law requires an attorney for all Probate Administration. However, not all estates need to go through Probate Administration.
Probate Administration only applies to probate assets.
Some examples of probate assets:
-a bank account in the sole name of a decedent/with no beneficiary
-a life insurance policy, annuity, or IRA payable to a decedent/with no beneficiary
-Real estate that is not homestead (also depends on how it is titled)
Wishing all of our Friends a Happy and Peace-Filled New Year!!
It is not always easy (or possible) to do, especially if you are a parent or a caretaker, but consider these words as we launch head-first into this new year:
“Remember to take care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.” – Buddha
As we say goodbye to 2021, we want to extend a huge and heartfelt 'Thank You' to all of you-our Clients, Friends, and Family-for all of the love and support throughout the year.
It has been a true pleasure serving this community we are lucky to be a part of and we are looking forward to another year of learning, growing, adventuring and making more friends!
Have a safe celebration tonight and WE WILL SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!
(Photo by Vie Studio from Pexels)
Talking to family about Estate Planning can be anxiety inducing. Many put it off for years and not until an inciting event occurs, does the topic get broached.
Here are some tips to talk to family members about Estate Planning:
-Involve other important family members/friends (eg. Siblings)
-Be transparent about why it's important: Honesty, openness, and inclusivity are key. Speak your concerns and be ready to listen, too!
-Empower the family: You are taking control of the future together, as much as is possible.
-Find a reason to talk about it: Whether a neighbor just went through Probate or a friend just recently fell ill, there are always reasons to discuss.
-Be patient! Sometimes it takes more than one conversation and that's ok.
-Have resources on hand: do your homework and have an estate planning attorney researched in their area that you can recommend to them.
While you can only move as fast as the person in need is willing, try these tips to get the conversation started. Having an Estate Plan is truly an act of love and helping someone set one up is as well. They may be difficult talks, but the peace it can bring is priceless.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! Wow!
Today we are grateful for GATHERING.
Many of us will gather this week with family and friends we have not seen in awhile. And while the hustle and bustle of the holidays can be a whirlwind, seeing loved ones again provides an opportunity to check in and see how everyone is doing.
This is especially true for our aging friends and fam. We often hear about Alzheimer's and Dementia and what the signs are.
But Alzheimer's and Dementia aren't the only things to be aware of. Staying connected with others can become difficult, which can create even more physical and mental problems. Depression, anxiety, and OCD are commonly seen in our aging population. Physical manifestations can also occur. Malnutrition and dehydration are common culprits.
Read more about Isolation and the effects it can have below. Remember to check in on your people and on YOURSELF! These issues can effect all of us.
Be kind, Be True, Be Well.
Have you all heard about the moving scam that is happening country-wide? Many of these scams are directed towards the elderly who require more assistance with moving and, therefore, feel they have no other choice than to give more money to make sure their homes are moved. This particular scam involves holding people's valuables hostage, asking for more and more money before delivering. Some people have lost thousands of dollars and after months of waiting, still do not have their personal property back.
While it has been going on for many years, it seems the conditions of both the pandemic and the booming real estate market have made for the perfect storm.
Just in the past two months we know two personal stories of this happening.
Is That Even a Thing?!
If you live in the Sarasota area, you may be familiar with the local legend of Leona Helmsley, an American Businesswoman who famously willed her dog, Trouble, a $12 million trust fund. The matter spent years in court and ultimately the trust for the dog ended up getting $2 million to go towards taking care of him.
This is obviously a very extreme case!
But it is NOT extreme to make a plan for your pets in the event of your incapacity or death. Florida shelters are notoriously over-run with pets who have been abandoned when their owner has become incapacitated or passed away.
A little recommended reading from your friendly neighborhood Estate Planning and Probate Law Firm!
This book keeps coming up with clients, so we decided to do a quick post on it!
So many of our clients are freshly retired, embarking on a new phase of life where they have more time to adventure. Staying mobile is not only crucial to aging gracefully, but essential for playing!
In this book, Katy Bowman gives us simple exercises to keep moving or, if you have been sidelined by injury or illness, to start moving again.
Happy Reading, Walking, Hiking, Swimming, Biking, Golfing, Pickle Balling...Adventuring!
An important part of relocating to another state, that most people forget, is making sure your Estate Plan is updated. State-by-state differences in matters around tax, inheritance, marital property and more make a thorough review imperative. Florida Homestead Laws, for example, often mean out-of-state wills are no longer the most efficient or effective.
If you are in need of an Estate Plan refresh, Cuturic Law can help. We will review your old plan, guide you through your options, and help you decide on the best fit for your needs.
And if you have pets, we can make sure they are included in your Estate Planning documents! As Birdie and Otto here like to say: No Pets Left Behind!
If you are in the market for special needs housing, it is essential that you consider some important factors. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website lists state, local government, and other organizations that can help you. At the federal level, the agency also provides information about HUD's Section 504 regulations that define federal financial assistance, in particular, Section 811 outlines its program for Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities. It is important to research what assistance is available before contacting a realtor.
Once you have a strategy in place to utilize available programs to minimize costs, it is time to think about the housing location. Is the special needs individual employed or a student? Can they drive a car or do they need to be near public transportation to get to work or school? If the individual is a K-12 student, pay particular attention to school and after-school programs. Research what is available as many schools have programs for children with special needs that are offered outside of the standard school zoning in some neighborhoods. Also, take into account the proximity of hospitals and doctors. Consider the location of shopping (food and otherwise), dining and entertainment. Be sure to note whether there are any restrictions regarding support animals (if relevant to you or your loved one).
Once the location list is narrowed down talk to others who have faced the same housing challenges; whether it is a support group, school parent message boards, housing assistance advocacy group, or online forum you can save a lot of time and money by learning from others who have gone before you. In these discussions ask a lot of follow-up questions. Dialing into the details can help save you from missteps in your process.
Once you have identified a general location that meets some of the criteria above, it is time to canvas the availability of appropriate homes. When thinking about the layout and design of a home consider the rambler or ranch style house. They have a long low profile, very few stairs to navigate (if any), and have minimal exterior and interior decoration. These rambler attributes make the home reasonably easy to modify.
If mobility is an issue, look for a house with smooth floorings such as hardwood floors or laminate flooring. Smooth surfaces provide easier access to shower and bathroom areas. Also, check to see that the doorways in the home are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Assess how many modifications would be required to address your or your loved one’s needs while remaining within a budget. Grab bars, ramps, and other similar amenities are reasonably simple to add, and some states, cities, and counties will help pay for the modifications.
Not only are there federal, state, and local agencies to help you meet the requirements of a special needs home, there are also lenders and realtors who specialize in financing and purchasing this type of home. A good lender and realty agent will be familiar with the agencies and government programs that can help their client get approved for a loan and maneuver the housing marketplace for the right fit.
Realtor.com, Zillow, Homesnap, and Redfin are just a few of the online options to explore real estate from your home or mobile device. Just plug in an address of a home in the area that meets your criteria and you will get stats on that home as well as an aerial map of the neighborhood that allows you to click on and get information about homes that are not currently on the market but maybe soon.
Realize this process takes time. Identify a strong, competent real estate agent who understands your special needs parameters and is willing to put forth the time to find the right housing solution for you. Also, speak with a trusted attorney to ensure you have maximized all potential program benefits available to you. Buying a home is probably the biggest purchase you will make in your life. Buying a home that accommodates special needs adds a layer of complexity that should be well thought out before hiring a realtor.
If you have questions or would like to discuss your particular situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Please contact our office at 1 (941) 441-9193.
Imagine a pair of aging parents who are farmers. They are getting on in years and are considering moving into a smaller place. One of the daughters and her husband help run the farm, but the rest of the siblings have moved away and they aren’t interested in returning. It’s now time to think about how the farm legacy should be worked out.
The first order of business is to plan the finances so the parents can enjoy a comfortable standard of living in their later years. They may need long-term care in the future, so they should consult an elder-law attorney about how to plan most effectively. If they don’t plan, they could lose the farm later to a lien, to reimburse the government if they end up needing Medicaid assistance.
Long distance caregiving is described as giving care to a person who lives more than an hour away by The National Institute on Aging (NIA). This type of caregiving takes many forms – from arranging for in-home care, money management, bill paying, and information coordinator. You may also provide respite care for a primary caregiver, conduct safety reviews, create emergency plans, or any combination of these tasks. Legal publisher Nolo cites more than seven million adults in the US acting as long-distance caregivers for elderly parents or relatives.
The greatest success in long distance caregiving happens when there is a foundation of planning and preparation. If there is a primary caregiver for your parent, ask how you can be most useful. Also, talk to friends who provide care to see if they have helpful suggestions. You will need to identify local resources that can help provide care for your parent. Local providers can include Meals-on-Wheels, senior centers, elder transportation, and more. The National Institute on Aging offers several good websites to use as a starting point. It is best to visit your parent before planning to assess their current living situation, identify their health issues, and gather important information.
Things to consider as you go through each room of the home, the garage, and the yard include:
The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) may decrease your SSA benefit if you receive a pension from an employer that did not pay social security payroll taxes. How can you know if this is your situation? Your social security statement does not reflect any reduction in benefits because of the WEP. The SSA will wait until you file to collect benefits to tell you what your reduction is in the event you qualify for both social security and a non-covered pension. Without the ability to accurately calculate your social security benefits in advance, your retirement planning becomes challenging. However, you do not have to wait until you file for Social Security to understand if a reduction in benefits will apply to you.
At some point in time, you are likely to be asked to be power of attorney for an elderly or ill loved one. Your person may be planning for when they might become unable to take care of their affairs. For example, they might become disabled or incapacitated, and they would need a trusted person to step in and manage for them. This is also necessary if the person is writing a will, and his or her estate must go through the probate process.
If you are named as a guardian, executor of a person’s will, trustee, or power of attorney, the law calls you a “fiduciary.” You must act in the best interests of the person who has named you – “selflessly,” in other words. You must act loyally and in good faith.
It is most common for parents to divide inheritance of property or money to be divided equally among the children. But sometimes, parents intentionally choose to not leave anything to a child, and the reasons for doing so may vary. One reason could be that a child who is more financially successful than the others and the parent doesn’t feel it’s necessary to leave anything. Another reason may be a desire to prevent a child with special needs from losing government benefits. Or a parent may not want to leave an inheritance to an irresponsible or drug-dependent child for fear the inheritance will be wasted.
The Effects of Disinheriting a Child
Regardless of the reason, disinheriting a child can negatively affect that child’s relationship with his or her siblings. The courts are full of siblings who sue each other over inheritances but even if they don’t sue, it is highly unlikely they will be a close family unit. Money aside, there is symbolic meaning to receiving something from a parent’s estate.
The risk for Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia diseases increases significantly once you reach 65 or older, which includes much of the baby boomer generation today. By the year 2030, the 65 plus age segment of the population will increase substantially, accounting for over 20 percent of the American people. In the absence of a cure, the number of cases of Alzheimer's disease will increase. Projections that these Americans will survive well into their eighties, nineties, and beyond will dramatically increase. These longer life expectancies are due to continuing medical advancements in conjunction with improved social and environmental conditions.
There are different benefits of using a will and a trust for estate planning purposes. Each state has specific laws and regulations governing these legal documents. You can have both a will and a trust; however, the information in each should compliment the other. As a standalone, it is not accurate to say one is better than the other. The better choice for you, or a blend of both documents, depends on your assets and life circumstances. Begin by assessing your situation, goals, and needs, and understanding what wills and trusts do to guide your decision making. Then, along with an attorney, you will be able to identify the solution that best suits and protects your family.
At its most basic level, a will allows you to appoint an executor for your estate, name guardians for your children and pets, designate where your assets go, and specify final wishes and arrangements. A will is only enacted upon your death. It has some limitations regarding the distribution of assets, and wills are also subject to a probate process (which occurs in court and is overseen by a judge) and, as such, are part of public records.
The information on this website is for education purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. An attorney consultation is necessary for you to receive advice regarding your particular situation.