Accessible Elder Law Attorney at The Villages in Central Florida
Your golden years afford you the opportunity to relax, spend time with your family and focus on your personal interests. By handling your legal concerns, Trotter & Soulsby, PA helps you enjoy this special time in your life.
For 21 years, we have assisted seniors with their unique legal issues, including:
Unlike other areas of law, which are defined by technical legal distinctions, elder law is defined by the needs of the client. Senior citizens face a number of unique legal issues which can often be confusing and difficult to manage without the appropriate counsel of an elder law attorney.
Elder law attorneys focus on all aspects of planning, counseling, educating, and advocating for the senior client. An elder law attorney is dedicated to meeting the legal needs of the elderly and uses a variety of legal tools and techniques to meet the objectives of older clients and their families. The elder law attorney stays abreast of constantly changing estate planning laws to help older clients plan and protect their future.
Following a holistic approach, the elder law attorney handles estate planning issues, counsels the client about the best methods for handling particular situations and executes the required documents to ensure that the client's wishes and desires are fulfilled. The primary objective of planning is to maintain control of your desires and assets. The goal is to keep control within the family. This control is broken down into two areas: control of your finances and property, and control of your health care decisions.
We understand that you have worked hard to save your money, and our firm will ensure it is skillfully protected. We help protect the hard-earned assets and investments of individuals throughout the Central Florida area from probate, nursing home costs, unnecessary estate and income tax consequences, and lawsuits.
Many people think asset protection is an endeavor only for the wealthy. For high-asset individuals, this is undeniably true. Yet anyone with net worth should consider safeguarding their wealth. Everything you have worked so hard for may be at risk if you do not have a proper plan of action: learn your worth by valuing your property, and protect what you have.
Protecting your assets involves planning your estate in the event you become disabled, and planning for the event of your death, making sure that your assets and property go to the heirs you choose. You want to minimize taxes as much as possible.
Asset protection includes the careful creation and use of Wills, Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney, Gifting, Estate Tax Planning, and Living Wills. These essential legal instruments have important functions that protect you and your assets while you are living and to protect you when you pass. These documents can also protect your beneficiaries from unnecessary taxation that can drastically reduce their inheritance.
By combining an estate plan with an asset protection plan, we can help you minimize estate taxes, and make sure your heirs are taken care of upon your death. We can help protect your assets from creditors and wasteful heirs. Most of all, we can help you transfer your assets in a way that gives you the most control over the process and the outcome.
Probate follows what is typically a painful emotional loss. Our knowledgeable, meticulous probate attorney Edward W. Soulsby has a combined 21 years experience in probate law and knows how to ease the stress of probate by guiding executors and beneficiaries from start to finish. Most executors have rarely if ever probated a will and know little about the process. Trotter & Soulsby, PA can guide you through the complex probate process, including:
Filing the will with the Florida Probate Court
Developing the best strategy for fairly and expeditiously probating the estate
Finding and closing assets
Closing and opening bank accounts
Transferring assets from the deceased to the estate
Paying estate taxes
Valuing, managing, preserving and liquidating the estate
Hiring experts, when appropriate
We assist executors with the arduoud process of collecting, managing, valuing, protecting and liquidatin the assets of the estate. We have a team of experts available to assist in every aspect of the probate process. When appropriate, the firm calls upon accountants, financial advisers, real estate agents, property managers and other professionals to assist with executor duties. We can access expert opinions about unique assets such as antiques, rare books, automobiles and other collectibles for accurate valuation, management, and possible sale.
Even in apparently straightforward estate cases, there are sometimes disputes between beneficiaries. Our professional courtroom presence can calm the emotionally-charged process of probating a challenged will or disputed executor or judicial decision. When it is in the best interests of our client to preserve cordial familial relationships, our attorneys are adept at mediating these disputes. When necessary, we assertively defend our client's beneficiary rights within the Florida probate court.
In situations in which your loved one has created a trust, Trotter & Soulsby, PA provides the legal assistance you need to ensure that the trust is properly adminsitered and trust assets are distributed in accordance with the trust's provisions. During the trust administration process, our firm provides advice and guidance on the various trust administration concerns you may face, including:
Responsibilites and duties of the successor trustee
Compliance with the trust's distribution rules.
Performing beneficiary distributions.
Administration of trust funds over time, if required.
Medicaid is a public benefit that is needs-based. It is a jointly funded federal/state program for people 65 or older, or those declared disabled. Medicaid can help pay for long term care in a nursing home or an assisted living facility.
Florida operates its own Medicaid system, but this system must conform to federal guidelines. There are a variety of Florida Medicaid programs available for those who do not have the private funds to pay for their care.
Through Medicaid planning, we help families ensure that a loved one in need of long term care will not be impoverished by nursing home or assisted living expenses. That is what Medicaid planning is all about. It is a way to protect assets for an individual entering a nursing home or assisted living facility.
To be eligible for the Medicaid program, you must meet strict financial requirements. The law provides legal tools to help you meet these requirements so that you may qualify for Medicaid to pay for nursing home care, and still keep your home and many of your assets. We use various legal strategies that will protect and preserve your assets, and provide you with personalized, in-depth guidance about all facets of long term care as your situation develops.
Proper advance planning will enable you to access Medicaid funds to help pay for nursing home costs, while protecting your assets and maintaining access to your savings. When the time comes, you would quickly qualify for Medicaid benefits.
Because everyone’s situation is unique, the strategies are never “one size fits all.” You may be married, single, or a military Veteran. You may or may not own your home. You may have very little savings and income, or you may have moderate to high wealth. In any case, I will walk through the options available to you and help you craft a plan to provide for your future.
Although many seniors require nursing home care at some point during their lives, most are unprepared for the financial burdens it will place on their families’ resources.
With proper guidance from a qualified Medicaid planning attorney, even seniors already admitted into a nursing home can preserve some of their assets. We carefully analyze crisis situations, and present planning options to you from which we formulate an appropriate plan.
Special Needs Planning
Trotter & Soulsby, PA understands the difficulties you face when trying to protect your family from life's certainties and uncertainties. We also understand how much more challenging this task can become when trying to protect the financial and physical well-being of a disabled family member.
If one of your heirs is on public assistance, one of the worst things you can do is leave money or property in their name. Property or money left via inheritance is considered an asset and can disqualify them from recieving government assistance. We can help you avoid this problem by setting up a special needs trust.
Special needs trusts offer several distinct benefits and advantages, including:
Allowing you to leave an inheritance to a disabled beneficiary without disturbing valuable public benefits.
Creating a fund that can be used to pay for ordinary medical and living expenses that public benefits don't cover.
Providing a source of funding for special medical treatment not covered by public benefits.
Curbing irresponsible spending if your child suffers from a drug or gambling addiction.
Special needs trust can be set up for anyone suffering from a mental or physical disease or addiciton, and can provide you with the peace of mind you need knowing that your loved ones will receive the care they need.
Guardianship is a legal process designed to protect and execute the rights of a person who is incapacitated and can no longer make their own decisions. Guardianship applies when that person has not made any plans for this situation in advance or when people are in conflict about the decisions being made by the caregivers or agents under a Durable Power of Attorney or Designation of Health Care Surrogate.
Incapacity is determined by the court, and must be established by clear and convincing evidence through professional examination of physical and mental health, and a functional assessment.
The court appoints someone to be the legal guardian of the person’s assets and health care decisions. The guardian must meet certain legal qualifications. The court will supervise the financial and/or health care decisions they make for the ward.
During the Guardianship proceedings, the court will also consider any advanced wishes expressed by the incapacitated person. For instance, you may have a Declaration of a Preneed Guardian in place, which is a document executed while you are in good health that tells the court who you want to serve as your guardian if you become incapacitated.
Florida Guardianships can cover different situations, including:
Adult Guardianship for an incapacitated adult
Guardianship for adults with developmental disabilities
The court may also authorize full, limited or voluntary Guardianships, depending on the capacity and needs of the ward.
Florida Guardianship becomes necessary when there are no legal documents in place that appoint someone to handle financial or health care decisions for another. We work with my clients to avoid the need for Guardianship through estate planning strategies such as a Durable Power of Attorney, a Trust, or a Designation of Health Care Surrogate.
Once your estate plan is designed to authorize specific agents to represent you during incapacity, it is very likely that you would not require a guardian.