Common Questions About Florida Law
It is natural to have many questions and worries when faced with a legal issue or litigation. The experienced lawyers at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., ask many common legal questions and provide useful answers to help get you in making the best decisions for you and your family.
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What Is Probate in Florida?
Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person and, more specifically, distributing the decedent's probate property to the rightful heirs. The probate process generally involves assets in the decedent’s probate estate, which includes only those assets in the decedent’s own, individual name. The probate process does not generally include assets that are jointly held with rights of survivorship and other assets distributed by contract such as life insurance, IRAs and 401Ks. These are distributed to the survivor or to the designated beneficiary without the estate’s involvement.
An example of probate and non-probate assets is as follows:
Mother, Mary, passes away owning the following assets:
- Stocks certificates titled in her name
- Rental property titled in her own name
- Bank account jointly owned with her daughter
- IRA with beneficiary designation to her daughter
In our example, the probate process only includes the rental property and the stocks because these are the only assets that are owned by the “probate estate.” This means that the heirs must hire an attorney to assist only with these two assets. The bank account would now be owned by the daughter as the survivor and the IRA is distributed directly to the daughter as well, avoiding the probate process and, ultimately, avoiding attorneys.
The probate court has jurisdiction only over the decedent's probate estate. The probate court’s job is to make sure the probate estate is settled in accordance with Florida law. The probate process generally has the following goals:
- Make sure the decedent’s creditors have the opportunity to be paid;
- Make sure the decedent’s taxes are paid;
- Make sure the probate assets are correctly distributed to the beneficiaries; and
- Make sure the decedent’s affairs are properly settled.
Most people would agree that the probate process itself has good goals. Most believe, for instance, that a decedent’s creditors should get paid before their heirs receive their money.
As the probate process is a legal process, an attorney will need to be hired to help go to court to properly follow the correct procedure.
How will Life Care Planning help ensure our loved one's assets are protected?
Life care planning looks at the elder's legal, financial and healthcare. Our stated goals are as follows:
- Make sure our client is getting the right care in the right setting;
- Make sure the client's caregivers (family) gets the right support in making the right decisions;
- Making sure our elder is using the appropriate government benefits, such as Medicaid, Medicare and VA benefits.
Thus, as parts of our life care plan, after making sure our client is in the right place getting the right care, we help make sure his or her assets are protected from the high cost of nursing home or assisted living care. We will look to Medicaid planning and VA Benefits planning to assist with these matters. This also means that any costs to paid to help the elder usually pays for itself many, many times over in good care, peace of mind and more.
Who Is a Life Care Plan For?
Dealing with your aging loved one can be very difficult. When your elder starts to go downhill due to dementia, stroke or other chronic illness, you may need help with a life care planning attorney. A life care planning attorney will help you and your loved one deal with a process that you are already going through.
Our first goal in life care planning is to help make sure our client, the elder, is getting the right care in the right place. We often come into difficult situations such as when the elder is no longer safe at home or after the elder has had a fall or a stroke. This is when things get most difficult as the family must try to advocate in a strange and complex medical system.
Our second goal of life care planning is to make sure our client's caregiver, whether a spouse or child or children, gets the help they need. Trying to find good medical care, good nursing homes, assisted living and other providers can be very difficult. Thus, life care planning is not just about helping the elder but we also help make the caregiver make difficult decisions.
In summation, life care planing helps both the elder by helping them receive good care while also helping the primary caregiver (i.e., the power of attorney/healthcare surrogate) by giving them the support they need. The reality is that there are few places to go in getting help in the long-term care maze - that is why we are here to help!
At What Point Should the Life Care Planning Be Developed?
Most people create a Life Care Plan immediately after a triggering event such as stroke or diagnosis of Alzheimer's or cancer. However, pre-crisis planning is ideal for families because you can immediately tap into the resources available and increase the possibility that your elder can remain in their home.
What Is Life Care Planning?
Life Care Planning is a new approach to dealing with issues created by long life and disability. It involves a team to help with the elder's:
Aspects of the aging process. When an elder is no longer able to live at home without long-term care, the elder, and his or her family, enter the long-term care maze. This maze is difficult and confusing to just about everyone.
The Life Care Plan places special emphasis on issues surrounding long life. The Life Care Plan connects your concerns about long-term care as you go through the later stages of your life with our knowledge and expertise at our law firm.
The Life Care Plan itself is a relationship and a planning process with our firm that changes over time as you and your circumstances change over time. Your Life Care Plan can provide the road map that allows you to follow through to achieve your quality of life and care and long-term care financing goals. There is no specific written document that encompasses the Life Care Plan, but it is our relationship, communication and goals that help guide us.
We have proudly had a Life Care Planning practice since 2010, helping save lives and providing peace of mind to hundreds of families.
Life Care Planning
Life care planning began in the field of personal injury litigation. The intent was to provide costs for care, equipment, supplies and other needs resulting from the injury.
Today, the definition and use of life care plans has evolved beyond litigation. In 1998, the International Academy of Life Care Planners and others described the life care plan as a dynamic document based upon published standards, comprehensive assessment, data analysis and research, which provides an organized, concise plan for current and future needs, with associated costs for individuals who have experienced catastrophic injury or have chronic health care needs.
A life care plan is a method to manage information about the individual. Families use a life care plan in elder care management as a guide to necessary services and resources and outcome evaluation.
For your Life Care Plan to be successful, all of us must have an understanding of your diagnoses,
Medical treatment, estimate, costs of treatment and services, factors affecting care outcomes, psychosocial implications, and ongoing health care and long-term care needs. We must be knowledgeable about community resources and eligibility for these resources. Furthermore, we must be able to identify and develop alternatives for care consistent with patient/family needs. A Life Care Plan represents the integration of these issues into a plan to meet individual needs.
There are three principal goals of the Life Care Plan that we help you develop and implement:
- We help make sure that you or your loved one gets good care, whether that care is at home or outside the traditional home setting. This is the most important of all goals, for it goes to the very heart of your quality of life in your later years. Your Life Care Plan is focused first on your good health, safety, and well-being.
- We help you make decisions relating to your long-term care and special needs. We are your resource of experienced, supportive, knowledgeable, and objective advisors.
- We help you find sources to pay for good long-term care. We work with you through the maze of choices and options to find the best, or often, the most comfortable solution to the asset protection problem created by the need to pay for quality long-term care.
Your Care Questions Answered
We will help you answer your questions about your long-term care and health care choices:
- What health care, chronic care, and long-term care services are available to me? How can I get the good care I need and desire, whether in my own home, in a residential community or assisted-living facility, in a child's home, or in a nursing home?
- How will financial and health care decisions be made for me if I cannot make them for myself? Who can I rely on to make sure that decisions to be made are the right ones?
- If I can't take care of myself, who will make sure my spouse continues to have a good quality of life?
- If there a health care crisis, what will we have to do? Where do we turn for the help we need?
- How do I know I am getting good care? Who will advocate and intervene for me if necessary to ensure my right to quality health care and long-term care?
A Life Care Plan helps you and your loved ones answer other pressing questions as well:
- How do I assure my financial security as I get older?
- What public benefits am I entitled to, and what do I have to do to qualify for them?
- Should I rely on Medicaid or other government benefits to help pay for my care? How do I apply for benefits?
- What kinds of insurance do I need? Should I buy long-term care insurance? Should I join a Medicare HMO?
- How and when should I distribute my assets? Can I save taxes and avoid probate?
- Do I have to spend all of my money on my care, whether in my home or in a residential care facility such as a nursing home? How can I protect my assets to take care of my spouse, to ensure I get good care, or to leave to my children?
- How do I provide for family members with special needs?
Your Road Map
Your Life Care Plan will be customized to fit your desires and needs. Your Life Care Plan can then provide you the road map to follow to achieve your care and asset protection goals. And, when changes occur, we stay with you every step of the way to help you shift to another road as it becomes necessary.
Your Life Care Plan therefore includes both elder law and care assessment and coordination services.
Come to one of our monthly seminars to learn more about how Life Care Planning can help you.
How much financial compensation can I expect to receive from a personal injury case?
There are several factors that determine the amount of compensation you receive in a personal injury claim. While the law allows victims to recover many types of damages in an injury case, it's up to you to prove the amount you lost—and will continue to lose—as a result of the accident.
As your injury attorneys, we'll work diligently to demonstrate your losses, helping secure all that you're owed after an injury.
Factors That Influence Damages in a Personal Injury Case
One of the most important points to establish in your case is whether you're partly at fault. In Florida, you can still collect financial compensation even if found to be partially liable for your injury, but your damages are reduced.
Other factors that affect the amount of your compensation include:
- The severity of your injuries. Injuries that result in long-lasting disability or health complications are more costly to victims than those fully healed. We can create a clear picture of how the accident impacted you and seek an additional amount to cover these necessary extra costs.
- The length of time you're disabled by injury. If you were unable to work for a significant period of time, you may collect an amount for lost wages and costs paid out-of-pocket.
- The cost of medical treatment. You’re entitled to be reimbursed for any medical care related to your injury. This includes any treatment you already received, as well as an estimate of your future medical expenses.
- The emotional or physical suffering you endured. If your injury caused mental anguish or severe hardship, you may be able to collect an additional amount for pain and suffering. The amount for pain and suffering is awarded by a jury, so we'll have to clearly demonstrate how the injury affects your quality of life in order to maximize your recovery.
At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., we carefully review all details of your case to secure the rightful compensation you need to put the accident behind you, and we don't collect any fees until your case is won. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation.
The other person's insurance company has contacted me and wants me to sign documents and give a recorded statement. Should I?
No one should give a statement without fully considering the legal impact of this statement. Before giving a statement or signing any documents, you should consult with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney.
How do I know if I have a Florida personal injury claim?
You must be able to show that you were injured and that your Gulf Beach area personal injury was caused by someone else's negligent or harmful act.
What is considered a personal injury in Florida?
A personal injury in Seminole, Pinellas, or Tampa Bay area is a physical or mental injury to a person that is a result of someone else's negligence or harmful act.