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Success Stories

Accounts of recent results contained on this website are intended to illustrate the experience of my firm in a variety of areas. Each case is unique, and the results in one situation does not necessarily indicate the results of any other client.

Qualifying a Client for Medicaid Using a Qualified Income Trust

Our firm's client, Mr. M, required long-term care services. He wanted to stay in his home and have services provided rather than live in an assisted living facility. His income was over the Medicaid monthly gross income limit. We successfully created a qualified income trust (QIT) to keep his income below the Medicaid allowable limit so that he qualified for community Medicaid and receives home health care. Our services included training the trustee to administer the income trust.

Maintaining a Client s Nursing Home Medicaid Eligibility

Mrs. B resided in a skilled nursing facility and was receiving Medicaid assistance. She decided to sell her home before meeting with Stephanie. Her home went from being an exempt asset to the sale proceeds being a countable resource. We explored the options with the client and she successfully opened a pooled trust account and placed her proceeds into it and she continued to qualify for Medicaid.

Protecting Settlement Proceeds Through a Special Needs Trust With a Guardianship

Miss. S is a young mom with two minor children. She sustained a catastrophic injury due to medical malpractice. Following the injury she remained in the hospital (paid by Medicaid) because of her chronic medical issues. Miss S was eventually moved to a specialty hospital and remains in a vegetative state. The client did not have legal planning documents (such as a Durable Power of Attorney and medical advance directives) naming a trusted person as her financial & healthcare decision-maker. We collaborated with her trial attorney during the settlement discussions. As a result we were able to timely have a trusted family member appointed guardian of Miss S and of her minor children. We then efficiently obtained court approval to establish special needs trust for the mother and her children which preserved the settlement proceeds and maintained their Medicaid benefits.

Reforming a Trust for a Person With Special Needs

Ms. J was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Ms. J. was receiving government benefits. Although mental illness does not necessarily preclude a person from creating legal planning documents, she was unwilling to do so. She stopped taking her medications and neglected herself and her financial affairs. We educated and supported Ms. J's adult son through initiating a guardianship for his mother. Now, her son has legal authority to make healthcare and financial decisions on her behalf and is able to keep her safe.

Upon the death of Ms. J's father, she inherited funds that would cause her to become disqualified for government benefits. We successfully obtained a court order reforming the trust her late father created into a special needs trust so that Ms. J's inheritance would not count under the SSI and Medicaid rules. The funds in the special needs trust have provided Ms. J with better quality of care and quality of life and she maintained her government benefits.

How a Special Needs Trust for a Spouse Preserved Medicaid Benefits & Made Probating the Client s Estate Efficient

Mr. & Mrs. C were clients of the firm. Mr. C was in better health than his wife who was receiving Medicaid assistance. Stephanie recommended that Mr. C create a special needs trust in his Last Will & Testament for his wife's inheritance so that if he predeceased the inheritance would not disqualify her for Medicaid. Mr. C died first. The firm efficiently probated Mr. C's estate and the inherited assets were placed in the special needs trust so Mrs. C continued to receive Medicaid benefits.

Estate and Incapacity Planning for Young Adults

We created estate & incapacity documents for a young adult after her 18th birthday just before she left Florida to go to college in New England. The plan included: a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate, Durable Power of Attorney, and a HIPAA release. A few months into the first semester, the college student became ill and was taken to a hospital. The parent faxed their child's Designation of Healthcare Surrogate to the hospital. The hospital was then willing to speak with the parent about their child's diagnosis and permitted the parent to make the adult child's medical decisions until such time that she was able to make informed decision. The benefit of advance planning is it saved this family the time, expense and loss of privacy that could have resulted if their child did not have the documents and they were required to initiate a guardianship.

Estate Planning for Individuals and Married Couples

We have successfully created a variety of estate plans for clients to achieve their legal planning goals. The estate plan is tailored to the needs and family dynamics of the client. For some clients they have chosen to have a revocable trust so that assets are administered privately and avoid a probate. For other clients, they have chosen to create a trust for grandchildren that will encourage the grandchild to become fiscally responsible. Some clients have designated a relative as a beneficiary and due to the beneficiary's past history of addiction we have carefully crafted a trust that will provide the trustee with discretion if the beneficiary is abusing drugs, alcohol or gambling.

The Florida Bar Board Certified Elder Law
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
South Florida Legal Guide
Super Lawyers
NELF National Elder Law Foundation