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Non-Lawyers’ Advice is Unauthorized Practice of Law Says Florida Supreme Court

Beware Non-Lawyers’ Advice to Obtain Medicaid and Veteran Benefits: The Unauthorized Practice of Law

Recently, the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion that identifies what actions taken by non-lawyers constitute the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). This opinion, and reporting individuals who commit UPL to The Florida Bar (TFB), will help protect the public. Be careful: there are some financial advisors, insurance specialists and others who will attempt to charge you for giving advice and filing an application for Veteran Aid & Attendance benefits or, who will attempt to sell you an annuity and tell you it is the only way to qualify for government benefits.

This is what you, your friends and family need to know is considered the unauthorized practice of law:

  1. Having a non-lawyer write an irrevocable trust
  2. Having a non-lawyer determine whether you need a qualified income trust to obtain Medicaid benefits, drafting it or telling you how much to fund it
  3. A non-lawyer hiring an attorney to review, prepare or modify documents for you if: (a) payment to the attorney passes from you through the non-lawyer; (b) you and the attorney do not have direct communication or an independent relationship; (c) the non-lawyer makes the determination that you need a document prepared
  4. Having a non-lawyer create a personal service agreement
  5. Having a non-lawyer provide advice about implementing Florida law to obtain Medicaid benefits including which strategy is appropriate.

There are real life dangers of Medicaid planning by non-lawyers which injure the consumer and either delay being approved for Medicaid or, even worse – denial of Medicaid benefits:

  • Failing to inform the consumer of the legal and tax consequences of a personal service agreement
  •  Giving advice that causes the consumer to be disqualified or delayed in Medicaid approval which then creates an unpaid debt to the facility
  • Creating a document (i.e. personal service agreement) that contains misrepresentations which leads the Medicaid agency to charge the consumer with Medicaid fraud and lose eligibility for Medicaid
  • Failing to identify all income sources and the consumer is over the income limit for Medicaid
  • Failing to identify all countable resources which place the consumer over the Medicaid resource limit;
  • Failing to identify all reasonable means to preserve resources to provide for the consumer’s (or their spouse’s) quality of life
  • Recommending that assets be transferred to a caregiver without a properly drafted personal service agreement.

You, your friends and family deserve to be properly informed of your legal rights and to avoid being taken advantage of by non-lawyers. Please call me to have your situation thoroughly evaluated and your legal options explained to you so you may be confident in achieving your goals.

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