By Peggy Hoyt

Estate planning is never something you should take lightly. This is especially true if it is important to you that your family is taken care of in the event of your disability or death. In many cases of estate planning nightmares, improper planning is the primary culprit. Without proper planning, your situation could end up like one of these worst-case scenarios:

1. The case of the botched paperwork

The adult children of a resident in a skilled nursing facility were informed that they didn’t need to hire an attorney to help with the Medicaid application for their parent, as the parent’s assets were modest. Meanwhile, the resident was paying $8,000 each month to the facility. The do-it-yourself application was not filled out correctly, causing it to be rejected. As a result, the family was harassed for $30,000 in outstanding payments to the facility, including the possible eviction of their parent. With proper legal guidance, not only would the botched application have been avoided but the family could have preserved family resources to supplement their parent’s care and/or provide for the future benefit of family members.

2. The case of the homestead dilemma

An aging parent stayed in her home until it was no longer practical for her to live alone. Her only child, a daughter, learned from a friend that mom’s homestead would be taken by Medicaid and as a result, it would have to be sold. This was a family home, the daughter had grown up there, and it held many cherished family memories. In fact, the daughter had dreamed of returning to this home and raising her own family there. Instead of seeking advice from trusted legal counsel, the daughter sold the home, and mom moved into a skilled nursing facility. It wasn’t until many months later the daughter learned that Florida homestead is an exempt asset and as long as mom had an intent to return home, it could have been preserved for the daughter and her family. In addition, the homestead property would have been exempt from the claims of creditors, including Medicaid. With advanced planning, the homestead property could have been rented, to provide a monthly income if necessary, while still assuring the property passed to the daughter at mom’s death.

Competent legal advice is your best defense against a bad result. Complex legal issues, particularly those surrounding the area of long term care asset protection planning are best addressed with counsel prior to taking any action.

The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan, LLC is the only Florida law firm with two attorneys board certified in wills, trusts and estates and elder law. Peggy R. Hoyt is a Florida Circuit Court mediator and primarily deals with family business and estate matters. If you need legal assistance regarding estate planning, please call Ms. Hoyt at 407-977-8080 or visit http://HoytBryan.com.

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By Peggy Hoyt Estate planning is never something you should take lightly. This is especially true if it is important to you that your family is taken care of in the event of your disability or death. In many cases of estate planning nightmares, improper planning is the primary culprit....