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I am here to assist individuals with moving into their retirement years with financial certainty and the dignity of self determination. I have been in the Riverside area of Jacksonville for more than seventeen years, focusing my practice in the areas of Estate and Medicaid planning, Elder Law, Veterans benefits, probate, guardianships and real estate transactions. My firm has helped thousands of persons and families protect their loved ones by planning for their financial and physical future.
Why I Chose Elder Law
In the mid 1990’s, a close friend and mentor developed diabetes which required frequent surgical procedures. I urged him to create his Advance Directives, such as a Living Will and the appointment of a Healthcare Surrogate and Power of Attorney. These are legal documents that express your wishes concerning medical treatment and appoint a surrogate for medical decisions and Power of Attorney for financial affairs in case you become incapacitated. Despite my pleas, he kept putting it off. Then, the evening after an operation, he suffered a stroke and went eight minutes without oxygen, leading to brain damage and his deterioration into a permanent vegetative state.
Because he had no Advance Directives and no identification of a pre-need guardian, there were no instructions explaining his desires to the medical staff to stop the machines that would keep him alive for the next 2 1/2 years with no brain function. I know that my friend would not have wanted that. He would not have had to go through that if he had followed through with his Advance Directives.
This experience convinced me to begin focusing my law practice on estate planning and elder law, probate and guardianships to help keep others from going through the same misery that my friend suffered through.
Organizing Your Estate and Long Term Care Plan
I also witnessed my own family members struggle with life insurance and disability policies when a loved one very close to me became ill. When it was time for the insurance companies to pay benefits, they passed responsibility from one to the other. Working through all of that led me to understand just how difficult the coordination of benefits and policies can be for families at an already stressful time. When is a policy supposed to pay? What are the triggering events that allow you to receive the benefits?
Part of my role as an elder law attorney is to help families organize their estate and long term care planning. I urge everyone to write down their benefits policies and the purposes of each, whether it is private or government based. For example, have you bought a Medicare supplement? What are you entitled to receive from a past employer? Are you a veteran and do your family members qualify for VA benefits and healthcare? Start with a list of your assets, then your liabilities. By doing this, you can be proactive rather than reactive, and in the process, plan your future and save a lot of money and unnecessary stress.
Over the last 17 years, I have undertaken extensive research and study into the changes in Medicaid qualification, SSI and Social Security Disability qualifications, VA Benefits and I am proficient in the use of Special Needs Trusts to help victims of developmental disability and catastrophic events. 8 years ago I was certified as a Veterans Administration Benefits Attorney.
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