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Archive for June, 2012

WHERE SHOULD A GUARDIAN ADVOCACY BE ESTABLISHED?

Thursday, June 28th, 2012 by

(Guardian Advocacy Series – Part Four)

     Guardian advocacy is a special form of guardianship for individuals with developmental disabilities.  Like other forms of guardianship, guardian advocacy involves the court appointing one or more individuals (“guardian advocates”) to help take care of the person with a developmental disability (the “ward”).

     Florida law requires that a guardian advocacy be set up in the county where the person with developmental disabilities resides.  For example, a resident of St. Johns County seeking to become the guardian advocate of a special needs individual living in a group home in Duval County, would work with the court in Duval County to establish and administer the guardian advocacy.

     If  the guardian advocate is given the right to determine the residence of the ward, as is common, he or she may move the ward to a different county or state.  However, the court where the guardian advocacy was set up must be notified and/or give permission for the move.  If the guardian advocate is only relocating the ward one county away (i.e. to a county that is adjacent to the ward’s current county) then the guardian advocate only needs to tell the court that the ward has moved, the reasons for moving, and how long the ward is expected to stay in the new county. Alternatively, if the guardian advocate wishes to move the ward to a county that is not next to the ward’s current county or to another state, the court must give permission for the move before it occurs.

     Our firm is happy to assist with guardian advocacies for individuals who reside in Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Bradford, Baker, and Nassau counties.

     This blog is the fourth part of a series on Guardian Advocacy.  One final part will follow next month.  If you have individual questions about guardian advocacy, please feel free to call and make an appointment.

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PROTECTING YOUR CHILDREN

Thursday, June 21st, 2012 by

Summer is here!  That means lots of sunshine, warm weather, and kids enjoying time to play outdoors.  But will your kids be able to enjoy their summers if you are not around to care for them?  Most people do not like to think about the possibility that something may happen to them where they would not be able to care for their children, but the unfortunate reality is that unexpected things do happen.  If something occurs that renders you unable to care for your children, even for a brief period of time, and you do not have a plan naming guardians in place then the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) likely would have to take your children.  This means that your children would be cared for by strangers until you either were well again or until the authorities could figure out other arrangements.  No parent wants that.

Only about 31 percent of parents have named a guardian for their children in the event of disability or death.  This number is regrettably low considering the alternative is the DCF.  Even within these 31 percent of parents who do have a plan, there is a good chance that they have made a basic, but crucial, mistake when creating it.  For example, if a couple was named to act as guardians, what happens if they were divorced?  Or, you may not have named alternatives in the event that something happened to your first choice or in the event that first choice was unwilling to serve.  In these cases and many others, again, the DCF might take charge of your children until the authorities could sort out the issues.

Many parents are unprepared for the unexpected.  With the well-being of your children at stake, though, isn’t it time to change that?  Cramer Law Center, P.L. can create a child protection plan especially tailored to suit your individual situation.  We can help you name guardians, prepare financial plans for your children’s care, and make sure your children will be taken care of the way you want, for both short-term and long-term care.  Please feel free to call us at (904) 448-9978 to create your child protection plan.  And everyone enjoy the coming of summer!

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WHEN SHOULD A GUARDIAN ADVOCACY BE ESTABLISHED?

Thursday, June 14th, 2012 by

 (Guardian Advocacy Series – Part Three)

      Guardian advocacy is a special form of guardianship for individuals with developmental disabilities.  Like other forms of guardianship, guardian advocacy involves the court appointing one or more individuals (“guardian advocates”) to help take care of the person with a developmental disability (the “ward”). 

      Florida law does not specify when a guardian advocacy may be established.  However, most of the guardian advocacies that we set up are for developmentally disabled individuals who are seventeen or eighteen years of age. 

      Eighteen is a critical age for guardian advocacy because all children become legal adults on their eighteenth birthdays.  Parents lose their status as natural guardians and consequently their right to make decisions about health care, living situation, and social environment for their child.  They also become powerless to prevent him or her from marrying, signing contracts, or managing money.

      In our experience, getting a guardian advocate appointed usually takes two to three months.  To ensure that parents do not lose the legal authority to assist a developmentally disabled child, we recommend starting the guardian advocacy process at least three months before the child’s eighteenth birthday.

     Of course, a guardian advocacy can also be set up for a developmentally disabled adult. Sometimes a parent manages to care for their special needs child without a guardian advocacy for years after the child reaches adulthood.  But the parent eventually becomes incapacitated or passes away and someone else needs to care for the developmentally disabled person.  This is also a great time to set up a guardian advocacy so that a sibling, other relative, or even professional guardian can take over the parent’s role.

     This blog is the third part of a series on Guardian Advocacy.  Additional parts will follow over the next month or two.  If you have individual questions about guardian advocacy, please feel free to call and make an appointment.

    

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WILL YOU HAVE TO PAY YOUR PARENT’S NURSING HOME BILL?

Thursday, June 7th, 2012 by

     A majority of states now have laws (called filial responsibility laws) that require adult children to financially support their parents.  These laws make children responsible for providing basic necessities, such as food, shelter, and medical care, to parents who cannot afford them.  Historically, enforcement of these laws has been rare, but changes to Medicaid laws and a recent Pennsylvania court case may encourage nursing homes to make use of filial responsibility laws or lobby for their enactment.

     To address the booming demand for and rising costs of long-term care funded by Medicaid, the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 made it more difficult to qualify for the program.  This has resulted in more individuals in nursing homes being unable to pay for their care and has nursing homes looking for other ways to get their money.

     A Pennsylvania court recently held that an adult son had to pay his mother’s $93,000 nursing home bill.  The nursing home was able to sue the son under Pennsylvania’s filial responsibility statute, even though his mother had applied for Medicaid and was awaiting a decision.  The court also found nothing wrong with the nursing home suing only the son without going after the mother’s husband or other adult children.

     Florida does not currently have a filial responsibility statute, but that may change as Florida retirees, many of whom are living on Social Security income alone, age and require greater care.  For information on which states do have filial responsibility laws, see this helpful chart provided by AARP: http://assets.aarp.org/www.aarp.org_/articles/bulletin/interactive/filialpiety/index.html

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