New Bill Would Help Special Needs Children of Military Retirees

If it becomes law, a new bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives will provide greater financial security to special needs children of retired military personnel. House Bill 4329, The Disabled Military Child Protection Act, would allow military retirees who participate in the Survivor Benefit...

U.S. Supreme Court cites Florida inheritance law in unusual case

The U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down its decision in the case of Astrue v. Capato. The circumstances of the case are ones most of us will never experience. Nonetheless, the case has lessons for everyone. It underscores the importance of creating a precisely worded estate plan that takes all contingencies...

Disorganization Usually Doesn't Turn Out This Well

He didn't make it easy, but Robert Spann gave his daughters quite a gift. Spann used to hide valuables in odd places in his Arizona home, without documenting or telling anyone their location, not even his heirs. After his death in 2001, the children went through his home and came up with hidden treasure...

Will Medicare Pay for Your Florida Nursing Home?

Are you one of the many Florida residents relying on Medicare to pay your way if you ever need nursing home care? Depending on what you mean by "nursing home," you, your family and your pocketbook could be in for a big shock. Many people fail to realize that Medicare does not cover long-term...

Elder Abuse: Social Media Keeps Grandparent Scam Going Strong

Back in 2010 we warned you about the "Grandparent Scam." It goes like this: A grandparent, other family member or friend receives a call about a loved one. The caller claims that the grandchild is in trouble - arrested or in the hospital, for example - and says funds must be wired immediately...

How to Protect Yourself from Court-Ordered Guardianship (and the Occasional Bad Apple Guardian)

Becoming incapacitated and unable to manage one's own affairs is an unnerving prospect. Having the court appoint a guardian for you adds insult to injury. No one wants the state mucking around in his personal affairs and finances. There's yet another reason to be wary of court-ordered guardianship...

Florida Durable Power of Attorney for Property: New law terminates spouse's powers when dissolution of marriage is pending

Recent changes in Florida Statute 709.2109 state that a person named as agent under his/her spouse's Florida Durable Power of Attorney for Property loses legal authority to act on the spouse's behalf in the event of divorce or annulment, or when an action is filed for divorce or legal separation...

Medicare Part D premium to remain unchanged in 2013

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced that the average premium for Medicare Part D coverage will remain steady in 2013. The average premium will be about $30. This is the third straight year that the Part D premium has not increased. Open enrollment for Medicare Part D plans...

Florida Medicaid Penalty Divisor Increases September 1, 2012

Florida's Medicaid rules are complicated, and always changing. Just a few weeks ago Medicaid increased its so-called monthly penalty divisor. Now, it's been increased again.. Effective Sept. 1, 2012 Florida Medicaid's penalty divisor increases from $6,880 to $7,362. What is the penalty...

Do-It-Yourself Estate Plans: Saving Money or Throwing it Away?

I often warn readers about the dangers of using do-it-yourself websites and pre-printed forms to create wills and trust. Experienced estate planning lawyers do more than put together a pile of papers for you to sign and take home: We offer individualized advice and continuing guidance that obviously...

Don't Let Your Digital Assets Die Hard

A recent story in the press reported that Bruce Willis was considering suing Apple, angry that he could not pass along his enormous I-Tunes account to his daughters in his will because he does not own his account, but merely has a license to access the musical library. Although reports of the lawsuit...

A Not-So-funny Riddle from Medicare: When Is Being in the Hospital Not Being in the Hospital?

When is being admitted to the hospital, not being in the hospital? When you are admitted for observation. This is not just a semantic distinction. If you are on Medicare, the way the hospital stay classifies your stay can have huge implications for your pocketbook, both during your stay and possibly...

Medicare May No Longer Use Improvement Standard to Deny Short-Term Skilled Care

The beginning of open enrollment and intense speculation about the election's impact on Medicare are not the only Medicare-related headlines these days. A new development may greatly help Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions who need skilled nursing and rehabilitation. In the past, Medicare...

After the Election, Still Looking for Estate Tax Certainty

It's over. American voted. We have our winners and losers. With the election behind us, Washington has got to get down to business, and soon. The so-called fiscal cliff is looming. How this issue is handled will likely have a dramatic impact on the structure of federal estate taxes going forward...

Have you funded your revocable trust?

What is the difference between a revocable trust that prevents your estate from going through probate, and a revocable trust that's just a stack of papers? The answer: funding your revocable trust . This is an essential step you must take once the ink is dry on your documents. Without proper funding...

Two States Involved in Food Tycoon's Estate Battle

A new estate battle is capturing public attention. As often is the case, it involves questions about undue influence. What's not so usual is that the conflict is unfolding in two states: Minnesota and Florida. You may not know the late Jeno Paulucci by name, but you probably know the products...

Medicare Part D: It Pays to Shop Around

[ Originally posted Oct 16, 2012 ] Medicare Open Enrollment began yesterday, October 15, and continues through December 7, 2012. The enrollment period ends earlier than in previous years, so those considering making a change should not procrastinate. Medicare beneficiaries should pay particular...

Caregivers Facing More Challenges Than in the Past

Caregiving for an aging loved one: It's not just about bathing, shopping and handling finances anymore. A recent study from AARP's Public Policy Institute and United Hospital Fund finds that caregivers are increasingly taking on tasks that were once performed only by trained medical staff...

Supreme Court to Rule on DOMA: Estate Planning Implications

On December 7 the Supreme Court decided it would hear two cases related to same-sex marriage. One of those cases, U.S. v. Windsor [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ], challenges Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Passed in 1996, DOMA defines marriage as being...

V.A. tightens UME regulations for Pension, Pension with Aid and Attendance

The V.A. has tightened restrictions on the room and board a veteran may deduct from income when applying for Pension, and Pension with Aid & Attendance benefits. These are benefits available to disabled veterans 65 and older who have served during certain wartime periods, and who fall below certain...

Importance of a prenuptial for the Playboy tycoon - and the rest of us

Playboy tycoon Hugh Hefner, 86, and Crystal Harris were to be married in June 2011. Harris, however, abruptly called it off, announcing plans to auction off her engagement ring. But the runaway bride has returned. On New Year's Eve the two tied the knot in California. Harris is 60 years his junior...

Minor children? Here are the steps you need to take to protect them

The importance of life insurance for parents with young children cannot be overstated. However, insurance is just one part of the story. To ensure your child's financial security, you need to properly plan for how the proceeds will be distributed to your child, as well as for how your child's...

No Saturday letters? How it might affect seniors

The United States Postal Service has said it will discontinue Saturday letter delivery beginning August 2013, saying it will save it $2 billion annually. That's a chunk of change, but just a small patch on the red ink: USPS lost $16 billion just last year. It's unclear whether the elimination...

Can you disinherit an adult child?

Not all parents enjoy a warm relationship with all their children. I've met with many parents - some pained, some resigned, others angry - who have been estranged from their children for years. They may have tried reaching out and been spurned by kids who want nothing to do with them. Or the parents...

Widow / Girlfriend of Painter, Thomas Kinkade, Settle Their Dispute over Kinkade's Estate

Painter of Light's estate battle settled quietly, out of court In my June 15, 2012 post I discussed the legal brouhaha over the estate of the late Thomas Kinkade, America's "Painter of Light." Kinkade died suddenly in 2012 in California from a mix of Valium and alcohol. He and his...