Today’s Q&A on is about options to Bankruptcy for seniors

Question:  I am a senior and a disabled veteran.  I receive some Veterans benefits and Social Security.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I can no longer pay my credit card debts.  Is bankruptcy my only choice?

Answer:  No, bankruptcy is not your only choice.  Here is why.

In general, the original creditors will try to collect their debts for the first three months.  After that they send it to a collection agency, an attorney or sell it to a junk debt buyer.  These collectors are far more aggressive than the original creditors.  They will call daily and constantly send collection letters.  Many law firms, including my firm, will act as a buffer to keep the debtors free from the creditors’ harassment techniques.  We contact each collector and advise the collector that our client is represented by counsel.  We also advise them that our client is a senior, disabled, and/or Veteran and we issue a Cease and Desist order to each of them.  If the third party collector violates the notice of representation and the Cease and Desist order, we will file FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) violations against them. 

In most states a creditor can garnish wages – but our clients are retired and their income is exempt from garnishment.  A creditor can attempt to garnish a bank account, however, if our client is properly depositing Social Security and Veterans benefits into a bank account, these funds cannot be garnished.  A creditor can put a lien on real property in the majority of states; however there may be ways to legally protect real property with estate planning tools.  Finally, a creditor can only take personal property that you own that is not exempt.  Each state has different exemption amounts; however, most of your personal items are exempt.

To locate Attorneys near YOU who can help you with these types of elder care matters, go to – America’s #1 online source to find Elder Care Experts, Information & Answers to your Questions about a wide range of elder care matters.

Hope this helps.

Jerome S. Lamet, Attorney at Law
Debt Counsel for Seniors and the Disabled
542 S. Dearborn Street
Suite 1260
Chicago, IL  60605
312-939-2221  ext. 1005 is now offering a FREE professional membership option

Question:  I am an Elder Law Attorney who has helped hundreds of families within my state plan for and deal with their elder care matters.  Would you please explain why you are offering a FREE membership option to ALL elder care professionals across America to be listed on your website,

Answer: is a national online elder care resource that is committed to helping families across America plan for and deal with their elder care matters.  To this end, we are encouraging ALL competent, caring elder care professionals across America to become members of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, to be listed on, and moreover, to help us become the “BEST” national online elder care resource in America – helping families: 1) find Elder Care Experts near them 2)  find useful elder care information and answers  to their elder care questions.

We are now offering 2 membership options:

  1. Basic Membership Option  (FREE)
  2. Premium Membership Option ($95/year)

Choose the level of membership that best fits your individual needs and budget.

Regardless which membership option you select (Basic or Premium) – if you are a competent Elder Care Professional, YOU should be listed on this national online Elder Care / Senior Care Resource Directory.

Membership in the national ElderCare Matters Alliance and your Professional Listing on are “cost effective” ways for YOU to “get the word out” to tens of thousands of families across America.

The bottom line is:  If you are a competent professional who helps families plan for and/or deal with their elder care matters, YOU NEED TO BE LISTED ON THIS NATIONAL ONLINE ELDER CARE / SENIOR CARE RESOURCE DIRECTORY.

Phillip G. Sanders, MBA, MSHA, CPA
Founder & CEO of ElderCare Matters, LLC





Today’s Q&A on is about handling financial affairs for the elderly

Question:  “My sister and I have powers of attorney for our mother.  Mom also has her assets in a trust and we are joint trustees in the trust.  We need to take over bill paying and handle financial matters for her.  Would you please answer the following four (4) short elder care financial questions for us?”

1.  When we pay bills, can we sign our own names to the checks since we are joint trustees on her accounts, including her checking?

Answer:   If the checking account is in the trust, depending on the terms of the trust agreement and your state trust code, either one or both trustees should sign the checks in their own name(s) as trustee(s).

2.  When depositing her checks from her long term care insurance company, do we endorse the checks with our names or hers? 

Answer:  How checks are to be endorsed depends on to whom they are payable.  Generally, LTC insurance benefit checks are payable to the insured, in which case they should be endorsed either in your name, followed by “agent under power of attorney”, or in some states and depending on the terms of the power of attorney, it may be proper for you to sign her name, then “by [your name], agent under power of attorney”.

Personally, I am uncomfortable with anyone signing someone else’s name, so I recommend that the agent sign his or her own name, followed by agent under power of attorney.  (Agent is the more modern title, but many powers of attorney still use the title “attorney-in-fact” or even just “attorney” for the agent, so use the terminology preferred in your state and used in your mother’s document.)

3.  Do the powers of attorney cover her trust assets or do we just use our rights as joint trustees in dealing with her banks? 

Answer:  In general, no.  There may be exceptions, but in general, powers of attorney granted by an individual are ineffective at controlling transactions within a trust.  The trustees are the fiduciaries responsible for transactions with trust assets and income.

4.  Do we have to send copies of the powers of attorney to her utility and insurance companies in order to have her bills sent to us to pay?”  

Answer:  If utility and insurance accounts are in your mother’s personal name as an individual, you will deal with them by power of attorney.  The companies will probably require a copy of your mother’s power of attorney in order to release information to you about her accounts and to enable you to make any changes in her accounts, such as to change the mailing address.

Martin C. Womer, Esq.
Maine Center for Elder Law, LLC
Kennebunk, Maine  04043
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Maine chapter


What are the financial options that are available to us for paying for long-term care for our elderly parents? For example, will Medicare and Medicaid pay for these elder care expenses?

Answer:  There are three (3) main options for paying for long-term care – out of pocket (private pay), long-term care insurance, and government programs such as Medicare (very limited), Medicaid (income and asset dependent) and Veterans Administration (income and asset dependent).  Which options are available to help your parents will depend on their situation.

Long-term care refers to medical and non-medical care for a person who has a chronic illness or disability.  The need for long-term care, also known as custodial care, occurs when you need care but you are unlikely to get any better. For example, as we age our bodies simply start to wear out and fall apart.  This may result in limited mobility, loss of independence and the need for assistance with every day activities such as dressing, bathing and eating.  Or we may need help with everyday activities due to diminished cognitive abilities, neurological conditions, confusion or dementia.  Things that used to come naturally, such as turning off the stove when you are done, or remembering that you turned the stove on to make lunch are suddenly gone.  The need for long-term care may also arise due to a sudden medical incident such as a heart attack or stroke, which even after the patient reaches “full recovery,” they may still be left with a reduced ability to care for themselves.

Most often long-term care is non-medical in nature and assists with support services such as activities of daily living like dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom.  Long-term care can be provided at home, in the community, in assisted living or in nursing homes.

Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid –  There is a very large difference between Medicare and Medicaid and people confuse the two all the time. 

Medicare is a federally funded entitlement program to provide health insurance primarily to Americans over the age of 65 and many individuals with disabilities.  There are several parts to Medicare:  Part A covers hospital bills, post-hospital nursing home stays and home health care, Part B covers medical insurance and pays most basic doctor and lab costs, and some out-patient medical services, including medical equipment and supplies, home health care, and physical therapy, Part C is called Medicare Advantage and is the Medicare HMO program, and Part D covers some of the costs of prescription medication.

Medicaid on the other hand is a federal program, administered by each State, that pays for certain health services and nursing home care for older people with low incomes and limited assets.  It also pays for some long-term care services at home and in the community.  Medicaid covers a broader range of services and people than Medicare, including children, pregnant women, parents of eligible children, seniors and individuals with disabilities.  Its greatest difference from Medicare is that Medicaid is based on need and financial resources.  In order to qualify a person must fall into a covered group and meet the financial needs test.

Medicare generally doesn’t pay for long-term care.  Medicare also doesn’t pay for help with activities of daily living or other care that most people can do themselves or that can be provided by family or non-medical personnel.  Medicare only covers a small amount of the nursing home care provided in the United States, and only under very limited circumstances, making the hope of Medicare paying the bill quite difficult. 

Medicare pays for 20 days of full coverage if you discharged to a skilled nursing facility after being admitted for at least three days in the hospital, so long as you are receiving skilled care as opposed to custodial care.  If you still need skilled care after the first 20 days, you can get up to 80 additional days of partial coverage from Medicare.  When the Medicare coverage ceases, you will have to pay out-of-pocket unless you have private long-term care insurance or qualify for Medicaid (“Medi-Cal” in California) benefits.

If you need “custodial care,” rather than care associated with an injury or illness Medicare won’t pay a dime.  Custodial care is defined by Medicare as help with activities of daily living, like dressing, bathing, going to the bathroom and eating.  This is the kind of care that can be safely and reasonably provided by people without professional skills or training – like your family.  Custodial care is also called “long-term care” and is the type of care that most people will need as they approach the end of their lives.

 If you need custodial care there are a couple of alternatives to pay for it.  First, you could purchase long-term care insurance – provided you are healthy enough and can afford the premiums.  Many policies can also be used to pay for assisted living and in-home care, as well as skilled nursing care.  Second, you can pay for everything directly out of your pocket.  Third, if you qualify, Medicaid will pay for your care under certain circumstances.  Finally, Veteran’s and widow(er)s of veterans may receive a Special Monthly Pension called “Aid & Attendance.” This benefit is based on a person’s assets and income.  If approved for Aid & Attendance, the person will receive additional monthly income to help pay for the cost of health care.

Consulting with an experienced elder law attorney can help you determine the options available to help your parents get and pay for the care they need.  It is important that you look at and evaluate all of the options.  Assessing the options to pay for long-term care before the need for care arises or before a crisis occurs will ensure the greatest flexibility.  Even with good advance planning, making long-term care decisions can be difficult.

To locate Elder Law Attorneys near YOU who can help you with your elder care matters, go to – America’s #1 online source to find Elder Care Experts, Information & Answers to your Questions about a wide range of elder care matters.

Heather R. Chubb, Attorney at Law
The Chubb Law Firm
Fair Oaks, California  95628
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, California chapter


Today’s Q&A on is about the options available to pay for Long Term Care

Question:  What are the financial options that are available to us for paying for long-term care for our elderly parents?  For example, will Medicare and Medicaid pay for these elder care expenses?  Please advise.

Answer:  Medicare does not pay for “long term care”. The only time that Medicare will pay for a patient in a nursing facility is when that person is receiving rehabilitative therapy.  In that case, Medicare will pay fully for the first 20 days.  Thereafter, and assuming the person is still receiving therapy treatments, Medicare will pay a portion of the cost for UP TO the next 80 days. After a total of 100 days receiving therapy has elapsed, and assuming the person did not have a valid long term care insurance policy in place, the person must either go on private pay if they wish to remain in the facility or they must qualify for Medicaid.  

There are many issues to be addressed in determining whether a person is qualified for or can be qualified for Medicaid benefits and for that, it is advisable that the family seek the advice of an Elder Law attorney who is experienced in this area.

To locate Elder Law Attorneys near YOU who can help you with your elder care matters, go to – America’s #1 online source to find Elder Care Experts, Information & Answers to your Questions about a wide range of elder care matters.

Beverly J. White, Esq.
The Law Firm of Beverly J. White, P.A.
Tampa, Florida  33624
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Florida chapter


Today’s Q&A on is about the difference between a Will and a Living Will

Question:  What is the difference between a Will and a Living Will?

Answer:  A will deals with assets, whereas a living will deals with medical care. Many States have done away with the so-called living will and replaced it with the advance health-care directive (“AHCD”). An AHCD can accomplish a variety of objectives, from saying who will make health care decisions for you if you cannot communicate with your doctors, to saying under what circumstances conventional health care will be withheld from you so that nature will be allowed to take its course.

If you need additional help with your elder care matters, you can find competent, caring elder care professionals near YOU by searching on

Scott A. Makuakane, Esq., CFP
Est8Planning Counsel LLLC
Honolulu, Hawaii  96813
State Coordinator of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Hawaii chapter

Georgia Elder Care Experts will answer your questions on

Question:  Any idea when you will be providing Georgia families with the opportunity to ask their elder care questions to the members of the Georgia chapter of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance?  My family and I have recently been faced with a host of elder care matters and we need some help, including finding competent elder care professionals.

Answer:  Later this week we will begin posting on the home page of answers to your elder care questions as provided by the experts of the Georgia chapter of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.  

Please submit your elder care questions for our Georgia Elder Care Experts to answer.  And thank you for letting us help you find competent, caring Elder Care Experts, professionals whom you can easily locate on

The national ElderCare Matters Alliance, which now has 2,100+ professional members, is committed to increasing the # of qualified Elder Care professionals who are members of our national Elder Care  Alliance and who are posted on so that we may help ALL families across America with their elder care matters.  To this end, we continue to encourage all competent, caring professionals across America who help families plan for and/or deal with elder care matters to JOIN the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

Please  follow us on as we continue to provide ALL families across America with the opportunity to ask their elder care questions of the members of their state chapter of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance. 

Thank you for permitting us to help your family plan for and deal with Elder Care Matters.

With my best regards,

Phillip G. Sanders, MBA, MSHA, CPA
Founder & CEO of ElderCare Matters, LLC


Can Florida ALFs transfer elders without family approval?

Question:  Can an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) in Florida transfer my mother to another facility without my approval, her financial and health care Agent.  Apparently, Mom, who is 87 years old and has dementia, has been somewhat rowdy recently and apparently because of this behavior / acting out, the Assisted Living Facility has made a unilateral decision (without my input at all) to transfer her to another facility on the other side of town.  Can this be done and what is my recourse?

Answer:  In Florida, a resident in an assisted living facility has the right to at least 45 days’ notice of relocation or termination of residency unless a physician certifies that the resident requires an emergency relocation to a facility providing a more skilled level of care or the resident engages in a “pattern of conduct that is harmful or offensive to other residents”.  So, in your particular case, if the ALF has provided proper notice, they can transfer her for any reason or no reason.  If they have not provided proper notice and it is not an emergency transfer as described above, then you may have recourse.  I suggest that you contact the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program through the Department of Elder Affairs for more specific guidance in your mother’s case.   They can be reached at 1.888.831.04040 or at   There is no charge for these services.

Sheri Samotin, President
LifeBridge Solutions, LLC
Naples, Florida  34108
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Florida chapter

"Can two states claim me as a resident for tax purposes if I live in one state part of the year and another state the rest of the year?"

Answer:  You should take all steps possible to avoid a claim of dual domicile upon death.  You should analyze the tax structure of both states and decide where you want to live.  You may wish to consider changing the situs of assets by changing their character.

 Real estate, tangible personal property, and mineral interests are generally governed and taxed upon death only in the state where the property is located.  Intangible property, e.g. securities and partnership interest, are usually subject to taxation, if any, in the state of the owner’s domicile.  Transferring real estate into a corporation, partnership, or certain types of trusts may change the nature of the property from real property to tangible property.

Usually real property can only be taxed at its situs, whereas cash, bank accounts and securities (intangible property) are taxed where the decedent was domiciled at the time of death.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the question of domicile is for the states to decide, and it is not unconstitutional for more than one state to claim a decedent of that state for the purpose of imposing an inheritance tax.  Because domicile is determined under each state’s law, two or more states can constitutionally tax a person’s intangible property.

To constitute a domicile, or to effect a change of domicile, there must appear both an actual residence and an intention to remain there or make it one’s home.  The intention to establish a residence must be bona fide and unequivocal.  If one were to live in Florida for five to seven months and live in another state for the remainder of the year, the determination of where he or she was domiciled would depend on some or all of the following factors:

1.      Whether residence was declared homestead;

2.      Location of personal property;

3.      Location of voter registration;

4.      Location of banking accounts;

5.      Membership in clubs, churches, etc.;

6.      Location of charge accounts;

7.      Location of securities;

8.      Place where will or trust was signed;

9.      Address on tax returns;

10.  Address of automobile license;

11.  Subscriptions;

12.  Telephone listings;

13.  Location of contributions.

Assets in multiple states may also have to go through multiple probate proceedings.  Your attorney may advise you how these assets can avoid probate.

For additional information about a wide range of elder care matters, visit – America’s #1 source to find Elder Care Experts, Information and Answers about elder care matters.

Joseph F. Pippen, Jr., Esq.
Law Office of Joseph F. Pippen, Jr. & Associates
Largo, Florida  33771
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Florida chapter

Today’s Q&A on is about Florida Guardianship

Question:  Is it really true that Florida will not permit a newly appointed Guardian (of the person and property) to move a Ward to another state?

Answer:  You need permission from the Court for a Guardian to move a Ward to another county in Florida or out of state and you need acceptable grounds like facilities better serve the need of the Ward or Ward will live with the Guardian etc.,

If the Court approves the move and it is intended to be a permanent move, the existing guardianship is transferred to the new jurisdiction and the existing guardianship closed.  A Final accounting must be done before the guardianship is closed.

Anne Desormier-Cartwright, Esq.
Anne Desormier-Cartwright, PA
Jupiter, Florida  33458
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Florida chapter 

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