Elder Law is a highly specialized area of legal practice which involves representing, counseling and assisting seniors, people with disabilities and their families in connection with a variety of legal issues, with a primary emphasis on promoting the highest quality of life for individuals. Typically, Elder Law addresses the combination of legal needs with the social, psychological, medical and financial needs of individuals. The Elder Law attorney handles estate planning and counsels clients about planning for incapacity with health care decision-making documents. The Elder Law attorney also assists clients in planning for possible long-term care needs, including at-home care, assisted living or nursing home care. Locating the appropriate type of care, coordinating public and private resources to finance the cost of care and working to ensure the client's right to quality care are all part of the Elder Law practice.
A guardianship is the legal relationship that is created when a surrogate is appointed by a court to protect and exercise the rights of individuals whose disabilities prevent them from being able to make their own decisions and no lesser restrictive means of intervention are available. The person who is the subject of the guardianship is called a "ward". Except in the case of a minor, the ward must be adjudicated legally incapacitated and has had some or all of his or her rights removed. Rights which may be removed and delegated to a guardian include the following: the right to contract, to apply for government benefits, to sue and defend lawsuits, to manage property, to gift or dispose of property, to determine residence, to consent to medical or mental health treatment, and to make decisions concerning one's social environment.
For developmentally disabled individuals, Florida law allows for the appointment of a guardian advocate to assist them in certain areas of their lives, without a formal adjudication of incapacity.
When estate matters must be heard in court, they go to a probate court. These courts are in charge of the administration of an estate, including taxes, debts and payments of the estate, conservatorships, guardianships and property after death. The validity of a will is proved in probate court. We represent personal representatives and other interested parties in both bringing and defending matters before a probate judge. We fully assert your rights and guide your through this bureaucratically-involved but legally-mandated process.
A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is a powerful legal document by which one person (the "principal") appoints another person ("agent" or "attorney in fact"), to act on their behalf. Authority is given to the agent to perform certain acts behalf of the principal. The extent of the powers granted by the DPOA depends on the language of the document itself.
A well written and properly executed DPOA may serve as an advanced directive and avoid the need for guardianship proceedings should the principal later become incapacitated. Compared to a guardianship a DPOA provides the element of control as it allows the principal control over who can make decisions on their behalf, as well as, over the powers an agent is allowed to exercise. In guardianship proceedings these decisions are usually made by a Judge. No judicial proceedings are necessary to establish a DPOA.
Another benefit of a DPOA is that it allows the principal to handle their affairs relatively inexpensively compared to a guardianship after they becomes incapacitated. A DPOA helps to avoid the stigma of being labeled as incompetent, if the principal later becomes incapacitated. In guardianship proceedings the incapacitated person is labeled as such and in legal terms is referred to as a Ward. Setting up a DPOA takes the stress off your family and creates peace of mind that there is someone set up to handled your affairs in an emergency or when the need arises.
As each person's wishes for the final distribution of their property and wealth varies, each estate plan that our firm devises is individually drafted to meet your wishes.
There are basics of all good estate plans. One is to ensure that your final requests are fulfilled. The second is to minimize the financial burdens of those left behind.
Planning for those you leave behind is an intimate and sometimes difficult area for people to discuss. We realize that you want to preserve your wealth and achievements for your loved ones. We also know that decisions on asset transfer, health care requests, and wealth redistribution can also open emotional and sometimes volatile issues within a family.
The legal resources used in estate planning are complex and highly specialized. We skillfully handling these sensitive issues helps. Our counsel helps to simplify the process while establishing peace of mind for you and your family.
The Living Will is a written declaration by which you direct the withholding or withdrawal of life prolonging procedures in the event you should have a terminal condition or is in a permanent vegetative state. In Florida, the definition of "life prolonging procedures" has been expanded to include the provision of food and water to terminally ill patients. A Living Will can list your wishes for pain management at the end of life, can instruct health care professionals on the type of treatments you do or do not want, and can provide for spiritual, emotional and comfort items that you would like to be present at the end of life.
A Health Care Surrogate is used to designate authority to an agent to make all health care decisions during any period of incapacity. The agent provides informed consent and makes only health care decisions which you would make yourself if you were capable of making such decisions. If there is no indication of what you would do, the agent may consider your best interest in deciding on a course of treatment. You can change your agent and the instructions that you provide as long as you retain the mental capacity to understand the change you are making.
The outcomes in a family law case are life altering. Emotions and stress are often heightened for people facing the legal complexities of marriage, divorce, adoption, child custody and support, property division and spousal abuse.
Our legal team guides clients through the legal protections and challenges established under the state's family laws. The goal is to achieve a just resolution – a solution that asserts your rights, meets your best interests, and takes into account the people you love. Our approach to your case is highly personal and deeply professional.
While we are ardent in our representation of you, we seek to avoid protracted legal conflicts that can become financially draining and distract from your ability to move forward with your life.
A Will transfers your property after you have died, to those you have named. Typically, a will names a personal representative or executor to carry out your wishes. For clients with minor children, a will should specify a guardian. We work with clients to design wills that hold up under potential contest or challenge. Wishes expressed in a will are only effective upon death and must be administered through the probate court.