Welcome to the Florida Elder Law and Estate Planning Practice of Martin H. Cohen, J.D. LL.M. (Taxation)
My practice is limited to counseling individuals and their families on matters involving Florida Elder & Disability Law, Medicaid & Special Needs Trusts, Estate Planning & Asset Protection.
I help people with the following:
Traditional Estate Planning
I provide my clients with the legal tools available for the management of their assets in the event of disability and for passing their estate upon death to their chosen beneficiaries with as little expense as possible. Often this involves a review of my client’s current estate planning documents, as well as the beneficiary designations on insurance products and IRA accounts. Sometimes the estate plan will lead to Revocable Trusts or Joint Revocable Trusts. Depending upon the size of their estates, I show my clients how to minimize income taxes, estate and gift taxes, and how to provide asset protection for their children and other beneficiaries. In most cases, the estate plan will require an updated Durable Power of Attorney, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, Living Will, and Declaration of Preneed Guardian. In all cases, we will find the best estate planning option for the client.
Estate planning for individuals contemplating a second marriage or already married for the second or third time can be very tricky. Often neither spouse wishes to acknowledge the legal rights that each has granted to the other just by getting married. Often, both spouses will say that the other will “do the right thing” to honor their agreements for the estate after one of them passes away. From experience, I know this is rarely what actually happens. I invite you to read about these issues. I show my clients the tools to insure that their estate will ultimately be distributed according to their wishes.
I also guide my clients in their long term care planning options. Seniors should live their remaining years in dignity. To do so they must prevent the impoverishment that can result from the cost of care at home, in assisted living facilities and in nursing homes. There are Florida Medicaid elder care programs that help defray the cost of home health care, assisted living facility care and skilled nursing facility care. Although there are strict financial eligibility requirements to qualify for these elder care programs, I show my clients strategies that enable them to preserve their hard-earned savings and qualify for these programs. By planning well in advance of filing an application for long term care benefits, my clients have a greater chance of protecting their assets and qualifying for the Medicaid elder care programs.
Medicaid Crisis Planning
In many cases, a health crisis arises that results in the immediate need for long-term care services. There are strategies available that permit someone to qualify for Medicaid on an emergency basis. Usually, crisis planning is not as effective as Medicaid Pre-Planning. However, I provide approaches that will permit someone who needs home care, assisted living facility care, or skilled nursing facility care to preserve some or all of his or her assets before applying for Medicaid.
Veterans Improved Pension with Aid and Attendance
The U.S. Department Of Veterans Affairs offers a tax-free benefit to low income wartime veterans known as the Veterans Pension. If a veteran is 65 or older, served on active duty for at least 90 days with at least one day during wartime, and meets the income and net worth limitations, the veteran can qualify for the Improved Pension. In addition, if the veteran is housebound or requires the aid and attendance of another person, the veteran may be eligible for an additional payment referred to as Aid and Attendance. For a married veteran, the Improved Pension with Aid and Attendance can provide as much as $2000 per month tax-free to defray the cost of long-term care expenses. A similar benefit is available to the surviving spouse of a veteran who would otherwise qualify. The benefit to the surviving spouse can provide about $1000 per month. There is legislation pending in Congress that would impose additional restrictions on the ability of a veteran or veteran’s spouse to qualify under this program. If you feel that this would benefit you, you should look into the Veterans Improved Pension with Aid And Attendance sooner rather than later. I invite you to call me if you feel this program would be of benefit to you.
One component of the Elder Law practice that often has nothing to do with “older” clients is planning for disabled individuals of all ages. If one of your beneficiaries is disabled and either receiving or going to receive public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid, giving or devising assets to him or her may cause the beneficiary to be ineligible under one of these government programs. I show my clients how to assist a disabled beneficiary without disqualifying him or her from governmental benefits. In addition, there are circumstances under which the disabled beneficiary receiving government benefits may have an inheritance or personal injury settlement that would cause him or her to lose important government benefits. I show the families of such beneficiaries how to preserve those assets and retain qualification for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and Medicaid.
The legal issues affecting senior citizens and disabled individuals are numerous and complex. More than ever before, it is clear that personal responsibility and careful planning will be the hallmarks of a successful estate plan and long-term care plan.. Therefore, it is critical that you choose a Florida lawyer qualified in both Elder Law and Estate Planning.