Many of us tend to procrastinate about making hard decisions.  Unfortunately, with estate planning and elder care, this can have dire consequences.

Recently, an 80 year old lady came to see me about doing her Will.  She was clear in her mind about who she wanted to leave her money to when she died and who should take care of her finances if she became too ill.  And, she knew what kind of care she wanted if she could no longer live alone.

I was hired to do a basic Estate Plan for her – Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, and Living Will.  I prepared the documents and called her to come in to sign.  No Answer.  Next day, No Answer.

It turns out my client had a stroke and was unlikely to recover.  She had no legal documents in place to authorize any of her children to handle her finances or make decisions regarding health care.  The children could not agree, and a guardianship case was opened in court while my client remained in the hospital unable to communicate.

This is an all too familiar story in my Elder Law practice.

Why do people procrastinate about these important planning tools?  It’s simple:

  • No one wants to think about mental incapacity or death.
  • No one likes to pay attorney fees.
  • No one likes to expose their personal life to another person, even an attorney.
  • No one wants to give a child the authority to “put them in a home”.
  • Sometimes it’s not easy to decide how to divide your estate.

It’s wise to start your estate planning early.  Here are some top reasons:

  • The top reason, of course, is my 80 year old client.  You might lose your ability to sign documents.
  • Like my client, you might lose your ability to communicate your wishes to your family or doctors.
  • Keep harmony among family members – my client’s children could not agree what to do – they went to court!
  • You might need someone to handle your finances if you cannot.

After watching my client and many others like her, I know how important it is to plan ahead.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more.

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

Protect Yourself Against Elder Abuse!

Florida is home to many senior citizens.  Unfortunately, this makes Florida a magnet for criminals who take advantage of the elderly.

Many elder abuse scams take the form of offering estate planning or financial services to vulnerable elderly adults.  The scammers convince victims to pay them thousands of dollars for various types of estate planning services such as in-home personal care and companion services, and insurance policies to cover long-term care.

Earlier this year, the Florida Attorney General sued a Broward County couple who allegedly stole a quarter of a million dollars from senior citizens throughout the state of Florida by offering long-term care programs and services.  The bulk of the funds were diverted to the scammers for their personal use.  The Attorney General’s office is suing under “deceptive practices” laws.  The case remains pending.

Proper estate planning can help protect against such abuse by ensuring there is a designated agent available to manage a vulnerable adult’s personal and financial affairs.  A Durable Power of Attorney or Trust are excellent tools to manage such situations.

If you need advice on preparing such documents, call the Law Office of Debra G. Simms today at 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.


A Dementia Living Will is specifically designed to address advance care planning in cases of dementia.  In order to be effective, the document must be combined with a Designation of Advance Healthcare Surrogate and a Living Will.

For many people with dementia, there can be a number of years between losing the ability to make medical decisions and the point at which a living will would take effect.  Multiple medical issues can occur during those years, and a lack of information leaves your healthcare surrogates unprepared.

The purpose of the Dementia Living Will is to provide information to your health care surrogate in case you develop dementia.  It is intended to serve as a communication tool so your surrogate is aware of your medical choices regarding medical issues that are common during dementia.

The document can be completed by anyone over the age of 18 and is particularly helpful for those who are concerned about a diagnosis of dementia in the future and those individuals who have been diagnosed with early dementia are still capable of making their own medical choices.

Disclaimer:  If properly drafted and executed with witnesses the document should comply with Florida law.  However, with any new legal document, there may be some legal issues.   In the case of any challenge to legality, a signed and witnessed documents will provide a presumption of “clear and convincing evidence of the principal’s wishes”.

The Law Office of Debra G. Simms now offers a Dementia Living Will.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

I help a lot of Senior citizens and their families find placement in Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes.  I make it my business to know about the quality of care in the facilities in my community.  This is part of my job.  But most families have no idea how to obtain reliable information about nursing homes and often make regrettable decisions.

Most of us have heard about the 12 nursing home residents that died from heat and neglect in a South Florida nursing home after Hurricane Irma.  But lesser known examples of nursing home neglect abound throughout the State of Florida, a state with over 70,000 nursing home residents.

Last February, an Orlando nursing home sent 9 of its residents on an outing to a supermarket with only one assistant to supervise.  All of the residents needed round the clock care and five of them were in wheelchairs.  The story ends with all of the residents suffering from neglect and one falling and breaking his hip.  The facility was fined for this and for other actions, including failing to provide kidney dialysis to another resident.

The Trump administration is pushing to soften fines against the nursing home industry.  And the State of Florida has begun making nursing home inspection reports less transparent to the public.  State law requires these facilities to carry liability insurance, but not at specific levels.  Many nursing home resident advocates say that residents in nursing homes have far fewer rights than someone living outside one.

All of this has prompted a proposal to revise the Florida Constitution to include a Nursing Home Bill of Rights.  It is Proposal 88, and if approved by the state’s Constitution Revision Committee, after a series of public hearings, it will go before voters in November.  The proposal is being opposed by the Florida Health Care Association, which represents the nursing home industry.

To learn more about this proposal or for information on attendant at the public hearings, visit: Nursing Home Bill of Rights

The Law Office of Debra G. Simms will be glad to assist you with your elder care and estate planning questions. Call us today at (386) 256-4882.



Contact Us

Port Orange Office:
Prestige Executive Center
823 Dunlawton Ave. Unit C
Port Orange, FL 32129
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667
New Smyrna Beach Office:
629 N. Dixie HWY
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667