Spending Time With Pets is Good For You!

Most seniors want to stay at home while they age, but social isolation is a common problem.  A new survey done by a senior home care agency reports that one in five senior Americans reports feeling lonely.  The survey concludes that seniors who own pets are healthier and happier!

Survey results found that senior pet owners cited stress relief, sense of purpose and exercise as leading benefits to owning a pet. Pet owners are also more likely to have lower blood pressure and pets have even been shown to aid in recovery after a heart attack.

Research also shows animal interaction can help perceptions of pain and discomfort, and improve motivation for treatment protocols for diseases such as cancer by helping individuals feel more focused and positive moving forward.

Seniors should be encouraged to be safe and happy in their own homes for as long as possible. That may include helping them with their pets, taking them to dog parks or visiting pet-friendly businesses.

And what about those seniors who want to move to a senior living community?

Eight-two percent of senior animal owners surveyed said they would not consider moving to a senior living community without their pet.

Some senior living facilities accept pets and almost all encourage visits from pets.

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 Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

Are you registered to vote?

The primary election of August 28th is rapidly approaching.  The deadline to register for this election is July 30th.

If you are at least 18, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of Florida, you can register to vote.  It’s easy to register to vote:  you can do so online at: https://registertovoteflorida.gov/en/Registration/Index

After you register to vote, you will be notified of your voting precinct and the location of the place you are to vote.  If you are not able to get to your voting precinct, contact the local supervisor of elections to obtain an absentee ballot so you can mail in your vote.

The purpose of primary elections is to select a candidate to represent the political party in the general elections.  In the primary, if a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote then the race is over.  That is why the primary is so important. EVERY SINGLE VOTE COUNTS!

Consider this recent headline:

“Americans in 26 states are struggling with heat warnings and advisories as near triple-digit temperatures smother states from New York to California”.

So, Snowbirds, if it’s getting hot EVERYWHERE in the summer, maybe you ought to just stay put in Florida.  From a legal point of view, consider these advantages of making Florida your home:

  • Florida Homestead. You will receive a reduced property tax rate for your primary residence in Florida.  Additionally, your homestead is pretty much bullet proof from creditor’s claims.  And if you leave your home to a spouse, descendants or certain relatives, they will also receive the benefit of creditor protection on the home.  Also, if you need long-term care and cannot afford it, the state of Florida does not require you to sell your home to pay for your care before you can be eligible for Medicaid.
  • You had a taxable estate in your old home state: Florida does not have state Estate tax.  If your assets are lower than $5.49 million you may not need a lot of tax planning. A Florida attorney can help you create a much simpler plan for after death.

If you do make the move, don’t forget to consult with a Florida Estate Planning attorney or Elder Law attorney. Your Power of Attorney and Will may not be valid in Florida.

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.

 

 

Important Tips for New Florida Residents

Welcome to Florida.  To ease the transition to your new home, below is a checklist of important tasks to complete your move.

  • Driver’s License or ID Card:  Florida requires that you obtain a Florida driver’s license or ID card within 30 days of moving to the state.  To obtain this, there are extensive document requirements: proof of identity, proof of residency, proof of social security number and proof of car insurance. For a new license, you will also need a valid out-of-state license and a vision test is required.  When you get your license, you can also register to vote.
  • Property Tax: If you purchase real estate, the new ownership information will be automatically updated on the tax roll after the deed is recorded.  You should check your eligibility to file for any exemptions with the Property Appraiser.
  • Vehicle Title and Registration: Florida law requires a vehicle to be registered within 10 days after the owner establishes residency. You will need the current title to register and title your vehicle. If your title is being held by a lender, you must provide your registration.  You must present proof of insurance.  The vehicle VIN number must also be verified; therefore, you must bring the vehicle with you.
  • Boats: Florida titles and registers most vessels.  You must present your registration from your old state.
  • Hunting and Fishing: To hunt or fish, you may be required to obtain a license. If you already have a license, your address will be changed when you update your driver’s license.
  • Tourist Tax: If you purchase a property for 6 months or less, you must register to pay the Tourist Development Tax.  If your property is rented for 1 month or less, you will also have to pay the Business Tax.
  • Update your Estate Planning documents: If you have a Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, or Living Will from another state,  the documents might not be effective in Florida.  See a Florida Estate Planning or Elder Law attorney for a consultation and bring along your documents for review.

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.

 

The contributions of older Americans is recognized each May.  This year’s theme is “Engage at Every Age”, which emphasizes that you are never too old to enrich your physical and emotional well-being.

To encourage healthy and productive Golden Years, consider these tips:

  • Get an annual medical exam. Annual visits are important for identifying potential health issues early.  Medicare and most Medicare Advantage and Supplement plans cover annual exams at no extra cost.  Check with your plan for details.
  • Take medications as prescribed. And make sure your doctor knows everything you take, including over the counter drugs.
  • Stop smoking. Some Medicare plans cover smoking cessation counseling and prescription medications.
  • Exercise.  Exercise.  Regular exercise will help older adults stay independent and prevent many health problems that come with age. Many Medicare Advantage and Supplement plans offer exercise programs such as Silver Sneakers at no extra cost.
  • Socialize and have fun! Make time for activities you enjoy and seek out others whose company you enjoy.
  • Plan for Incapacity and End of Life. Don’t wait until it’s too late.  Stop worrying about who will make decisions for you if you become incapacitated or who will get your assets when you pass.  Schedule an appointment with an Estate Planning or Elder Law attorney and make a plan.

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.

 

The 19th annual National Women’s Health Week kicked off on Mother’s Day, May 13, and is celebrated through May 19, 2018. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health leads National Women’s Health Week to encourage all women to be as healthy as possible.

The week serves as a reminder for women to make their health a priority and build positive health habits for life.

What steps can you take for better health?

  • Visit your doctor for a check-up and pre-screening exams.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, texting while driving and not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
  • Plan for the future. Prepare for illness, incapacity, and end of life.

If you do not have an up to date estate plan, including a Will, Medical Directive, and Living Will, now is the time to put your affairs in order.  Don’t wait until it’s too late!

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.

 

A Florida Durable Power of Attorney is an important part of your estate plan.  This legal document gives control over who will manage your property during periods of lifetime incapacity.

Recent changes to the Florida Power of Attorney statute make this an excellent time to re-evaluate and possibly update existing powers of attorneys.

A Power of Attorney is a powerful document.  People create these documents to ensure continuity of their financial affairs in the event of future incapacity, naming trusted family members, friends, or professional fiduciaries who can step in to manage what is needed.

Unfortunately, these individuals can and do, sometimes abuse their authority.  Updating your Power of Attorney can give you additional protections.

First, who is your designated agent?  Is this person still the person that you trust the most?   Have you named a successor agent in case your named agent is unwilling or unable to serve?

Second, the new Florida Power of Attorney gives added protections for the Principal (the person creating the document) by requiring the Principal to specifically grant or withhold certain powers.  For example, if you are creating a Power of Attorney under the new law, you can decide whether or not to allow your agent to make gifts, or change beneficiary designations on your accounts.

If you created a Power of Attorney under the old law, your document is still in effect.  However, since the new law includes many advantages over the previous one, it is a good idea to create a new one to obtain the added protections under the new law.

I love reading the local newspapers. I like to feel connected to my community, especially here in New Smyrna Beach and Port Orange where I live and practice law.

This week I read about a 100th birthday party held at a local assisted living facility for a lovely lady who is not only a centenarian but is also the oldest WWII veteran in the U.S. Navy WAVES, in Volusia County.

Then, I got to thinking: I know folks are living longer, but just how many centenarians are there in the USA?

According to the most recent Census Bureau statistics on this topic, nationwide, the centenarian population has grown by 44% in recent years, from 50,000 in the year 2000 to 72,000 in 2014!

This is means that more of us are going to need long-term care in residential settings. Not all of us will have enough money to pay for that care. Today, in Florida, the median annual cost for a room in an assisted living facility is over $3000. Care for a private room in Florida skilled nursing averages $8000 per month.
Now is the time to consider your options. If you do not have private long-term care insurance, and most Americans do not, you should consider an Asset Protection Plan which will allow eligibility for Medicaid Long Term Care assistance.

The Law Office of Debra G. Simms, will be glad to assist you with Asset Protection Planning. Call us today at (386) 256-4882.

NEWS ALERT!

IRS TAX SCAMS!! DON’T TALK AND DON’T CLICK!!!

I am a member of a wonderful neighborhood internet community called NextDoor.com. I check it regularly for neighborhood news, garage sales, restaurant openings, and general good cheer.

Recently, I read an all too familiar post about a common scam – the IRS Impostor Scam.  This one targets all of us, not like others which tend to mostly target our senior citizens.  Here’s how it works:

You receive an aggressive phone call from someone impersonating an IRS agent.  He says you owe back taxes and demands immediate payment – usually by wire transfer or worse, they want your bank account number for an immediate debit.  If you don’t agree, they threaten fines, arrest, or driver’s license revocation.  If you still don’t agree, they say they will refer your case to their lawyers.  Sometimes the call comes in the guise of verifying tax return information; they say they are reviewing your return and need to verify a few details to process it.  The scammer tries to get you to give up personal information such as a Social Security Number or personal financial information.

There are also new reports of e-mail scams where you get an e-mail that appears to come from the IRS.  These senders are “phishing” for your private account information so they can use it to commit fraud or identity theft against you. They try to trick you to give up personal information.  Do not respond or click the links.  Doing so can connect you to a site that looks like an official IRS site, but in addition to asking for personal information can carry malware, which will infect your computer.

These IRS Impostor scams are NUMBER 1 in the top ten scams in order of the number of complaints made last year to the US Special Committee on Aging.  The list also includes Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams, Robocalls, Contest cons and Survey swindles, and Wifi Hackers.

Be vigilant and look out for your loved ones – the elderly are particularly vulnerable to these scams.

The Law Office of Debra G. Simms is ready to answer your questions about Elder Abuse and Exploitation. 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