Do you anticipate this time of year and look forward to spending the holidays with your family? Does decorating, cooking, and shopping in anticipation of having visitors over to your home delight you? Do you use the holidays as an opportunity to sit down and visit your senior relatives whom you have not seen for some time? Are you noticing that they are becoming more fragile and less able to take care of themselves as they age? With these observations, do you know if they have made any plans for their future, including a Florida estate plan and even a long-term care plan? This conversation with your senior relatives, especially difficult over the holidays, becomes more and more necessary as each holiday season goes by.

When you take time during this holiday season to talk to your senior relatives, find out their thoughts as to where they want to live in the future. Are they concerned about what will happen to their assets? Do they want to leave a legacy? Are they concerned about their health, their business or their family? Do they wonder what the future may hold for them? Helping your senior relatives complete or update their Florida estate plan may be the best gift you can give them this holiday season. We would like to share a few key topics to consider discussing with your senior relatives:

Wills and trusts: Make sure your senior relatives understand how their assets will be distributed after their death, and who will be responsible for managing them.

Health care directives: Discuss the wishes of your senior loved ones for their end-of-life care, including living wills and powers of attorney for healthcare.

Beneficiary designations: Check that the beneficiaries on the insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other assets of your senior relatives are up to date and reflect their current wishes.

Digital assets: Discuss with your senior relatives what should happen to their digital assets, such as social media accounts, email accounts, and online storage accounts, after they pass away.

Funeral and burial plans: Talk to your senior relatives about their preferences for funeral and burial arrangements so that your family can make informed decisions when the time comes.

Always approach your senior relatives with sensitivity when discussing their estate planning. Remind them that once they have created their Florida estate plan it will be important to review their plan regularly with their Florida estate planning attorney and update it as needed to reflect changes in their life. For example, changes like marriage, divorce, birth of children, or in the law.  

Finally, the completion of the Florida estate plan for your senior relatives is a critical part of their health and well being but there is a second planning component that needs to be addressed and completed as well. This is their elder law planning. Unfortunately, most aging Americans at the age of 70 and older will need some kind of long-term care at some point in their lives. A large majority of this care is not covered by Medicare and may come out of pocket for the average Florida senior to pay.  Be mindful that  it does not have to be that way! We can work with your senior relatives to not only create an estate plan but also a long-term care plan that can protect the estate plan they are putting in place and allow them to be able to leave a legacy for their family, no matter what the future holds.

Planning for the future is critical to ensure that your goals for the end of life are achieved. We know this article may raise more questions that it answers.  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.