Elder Law Practice Tips


When I attend seminars, I always feel That I have spent my time wisely if I Get That one “Nugget” That completely Alters my thinking on a subject I Otherwise knew well, or opens up a new level of understanding in the area did not. For this column, I have included Several pieces of information and, hopefully, at least one of Them Will Be a Nugget for you

Homestead Assessments

Be aware That your Clients may add the name of a son or daughter (or anyone else) to Their Deeds with respect to homestead property without causing a change of ownership, triggering a new assessment for tax purposes, Provided That the owner is listed as Both a grantor and a grantee in addition to the child. Clients may find this an attractive option in order to Avoid probate.

One word of caution if your Clients Choose to do this: if the person That was added subsequently files for homestead protection on the property, this Will cause a change of ownership That Will result in a new tax assessment. F.S. 193 155 (3) (a) (3). You also need to be careful to monitor actions Taken by the Property Appraiser. Recently, there have been a number of instances in Broward and Palm Beach Counties where the Property Appraiser’s Office has Increased taxes on a home where Such an increase was not warranted, forcing the homeowner to challenge the Increased assessment.

Guardian Ship involving Non-Resident petitioner

Where your client is a nonresident petitioner in a guardianship proceeding, Consider Requesting That s / he “attend” the hearing and Provide testimony via telephone. General Magistrate Meth Elis has allowed this in Broward County. If you Choose to recommend this approach to your client, be sure to call the Judicial Assistant in advance to verify That the guardianship part in your county is receptive to telephonic testimony. If so, It can save your client valuable time and expense related to attending the hearing.

Reverse Mortgages

Typically, reverse mortgages Requires That the property subject to the mortgage be oversold if the owner is absent for a specified period of time (usually about one year). Where a person is in declining health and requires a higher level of care than Can Be Provided in the home, It can force the sale of the property against the wishes of your client. Consider adding a provision Into the mortgage contract Which Provides That the one year period is “tolled” with a 24-hour stay at the home with That one-year period. This way, your client Can return home for a brief period with Appropriate arrangements, protect the home from a forced sale, and then return to the setting most Appropriate for his / military care needs.

Power of Attorney: To Include a Power to Create or Amend a Trust or Not?

It is always a good idea to revisit your documents from time to time to see if clauses That made sense Way Back When still do . Recently I had the OPPORTUNITY to do that with our power of attorney document. I shouldnt mention That I have struggled with Including authority in the power of attorney, sem authorize the agent to createTextNode or amend a trust. On the one hand, I find it problematic for an agent to be Able to unilaterally alter a principal’s testamentary scheme by Creating and funding a new trust or by amending an existing, trust. That is a broad authority, Which may not be consistent with the principal’s


On the other hand, I Recently represented a client where this authority was included in the power of

attorney granted to the army by military father. Her father, the WHO had a taxable estate, becamean HOSPITALIZED

during the estate planning process and was seems to sign a new trust providing for credit shelter

planning and generation skipping tax planning. If the power of attorney lacked the authority for the

agent to Create a trust, I would not have been Able to Assist this client in achieving Hundreds of

thousands of dollars in estate tax savings. You Will Need to Decide Which direction to take on this

issue, but the Nugget here is to review your documents from time to time to be sure you like what They say.

Submission of DCF Forms

Be sure to use the DCF web site (www.state.fl.us/cf_web) to Obtainment copies of the most current version of forms to be Provided to DCF Every time you submit a Medicaid application. Recently I had a caseworker in Palm Beach County reject the submission of a spousal refusal form Because it failed to containments the “current” DCF logo! I pointed out That the language of the document was verbatim identical to the form on the DCF web site. The only difference was that the Prior logo appeared on the form. I ultimately prevailed on this issue, but not beforehand spending Several hours going up the chain of command at DCF.


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