May is National Elder Law Month, a time dedicated to focusing on the legal issues and challenges that aging adults encounter and how to support them effectively. In Florida, where there is a significant senior population, understanding how to care for aging individuals is crucial. Let us share five essential tips to help provide better care and ensure the legal protection of aging family members in Florida.

1. Understand Florida-specific estate planning tools for elder care. Florida offers unique legal tools tailored for elder care planning, including durable powers of attorney and health care surrogates. These tools allow seniors to appoint someone they trust to make decisions on their behalf should they become unable to do so themselves. During National Elder Law Month, it is advisable for families to review these documents with a Florida estate planning attorney to ensure they align with current laws and personal circumstances.

2. Protect assets and plan for long-term care. One of the most significant concerns for seniors is how to pay for long-term care without depleting their life savings. Florida-specific Medicaid planning can be an essential strategy for asset protection and ensuring eligibility for benefits that cover long-term care costs. An experienced estate planning and elder law attorney can assist families in navigating complex Medicaid rules and implementing legal strategies like irrevocable trusts or appropriate asset transfers.

3. Address homestead and property concerns. Florida’s homestead exemption provides significant protections for seniors, including shielding their home from certain types of creditors and reducing property tax burdens. Families should ensure that their elderly loved ones’ property is correctly titled and that they fully benefit from homestead protections. This might also be a good time to discuss potential needs for transitioning to more suitable living arrangements and how to handle the property in such cases where the Older American is no longer able to live safely alone.

4. Helping Older Americans age-in-place. During National Elder Law Month, it is essential to focus on enhancing home safety for Florida seniors wishing to age in place. Start by conducting a safety audit to identify and mitigate fall hazards, such as loose rugs and clutter, and ensure that all areas are well-lit, particularly hallways and bathrooms. Install grab bars in strategic locations within bathrooms and consider safer bathing options like walk-in tubs or showers with seats. It is also vital to equip seniors with easy-to-access emergency response systems, such as wearable devices that enable them to call for help if needed. Regular maintenance of home systems and timely updates to safety devices like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are crucial to prevent accidents and ensure a safe, independent living environment for aging seniors.

5. Promote awareness and understanding of elder abuse. Elder abuse, including financial exploitation, is a growing concern in Florida. National Elder Law Month is an excellent opportunity for families to educate themselves and their aging loved ones about the signs of elder abuse and the steps to take if abuse is suspected. Florida law offers protections against elder abuse, and understanding these can help families take swift action to protect their elderly members.

Caring for aging seniors in Florida involves more than just meeting their daily needs, it also requires careful legal planning to ensure their rights are protected and their future is secure. During National Elder Law Month, families are encouraged to review and update their elder care plans. When you choose to work with a knowledgeable Florida estate planning and elder law attorney can provide peace of mind that all are prepared for the challenges of aging.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey.  We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering. We encourage you to contact us to schedule a meeting.