Florida Elder Law Attorney
As we age, our needs change. Our bodies begin to require medical care that we may not have needed when we were younger. Our minds may not process sensory information in the same manner or as quickly as they did earlier in life. The relationships we may have had with friends and family members may change as well. Not only this, but our legal needs are likely to change. The legal situations and circumstances facing the elderly are much different than the challenges and circumstances that are likely facing a young and single individual. To complicate matters, resolving these legal issues and providing peace of mind to the elderly and their family members requires the application of complicated laws and regulations. The term “elder law” is used to refer to those areas of the law that are likely to have a significant impact on the life, livelihood, and legacy of the elderly. Attorney Javier Centonzio of Centonzio Law, PLLC is experienced in assisting senior citizens and their families plan for the later years of life.
Elder Law Covers a Variety of Areas
Having an experienced Florida elder law attorney on your side is important because there are a myriad of federal and state laws and regulations that can have a significant impact on you and your elderly loved one. These laws and regulations can impact (for example) the retirement or disability benefits you or your loved one can receive, the assets that must be expended in order to qualify for assistance with nursing home expenses, and what property is passed upon your death or the death of your loved one. Your elder law attorney will:
- Take a comprehensive view of your circumstances;
- Determine the law(s) and/or regulation(s) applicable to your situation and the legal challenges you face;
- Explain these law(s) and/or regulation(s) to you in a manner that can be understood so that you are fully informed of your legal situation as well as the options you have for resolving your situation; and
- Help you choose the best resolution for your legal challenge or need and then execute the chosen resolution.
The needs that face elderly Florida residents – and, therefore, that can be addressed with the assistance of a knowledgeable Pinellas County elder law attorney – are numerous:
- Asset protection: It is not uncommon for senior citizens to have accumulated a significant amount of assets during their lifetimes. Even senior citizens who do not appear rich or affluent may have valuable assets in their possession such as homes, real estate, investments, and insurance policies. “Asset protection” involves taking the legal steps necessary to preserve the value of these assets for the owner and his or her family members once the owner passes away. In some cases, this may involve transferring the assets into a trust so that they can be managed by a trustee during the owner’s lifetime and thereafter. In other cases, assets may need to be transferred from one type of asset to another in order to preserve the value of the asset. In any case, complex legal documents may need to be created in order to achieve these purposes.
- Medicaid planning and long-term care planning: Many senior citizens rely in whole or in part on government programs such as Medicaid and Veterans Pension (commonly referred to as “Aid and Attendance”) in order to meet their healthcare needs during their later years. This is especially true when the senior citizen requires the services of a nursing home or long-term care facility (either of which can be quite costly). Qualifying for these government programs is much more complicated than simply completing an application. In the case of nursing homes, for instance, government assistance programs such as Medicaid may not be available if the individual has too many assets that he or she can access. Long-term care planning involves discussing the requirements for these programs with senior citizens and then making a plan to help the senior citizen qualify for these programs without having to unnecessarily sacrifice or expend their hard-earned assets. Where the elderly person is a veteran or the spouse of a veteran, there may also be Veterans Pension benefits that can be tapped into in order to help pay for the cost of having someone assist the veteran or his or her spouse with activities of daily living either at home or in an independent or assisted living facility.
This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of claims and legal issues that the elderly may encounter. Predatory schemes that prey on vulnerable elderly citizens, issues and disputes with nursing homes or caregivers who are neglecting their duties, and estate planning matters also impact the lives of Florida senior citizens and their families.
The Largo, Florida law firm of Centonzio Law, PLLC is committed to helping senior citizens and their families meet the legal challenges and uncertainties that often accompany old age. Attorney Javier Centonzio takes the time to address the questions and concerns of his elder law clients and help them understand how the law can assist them in resolving these issues. Mr. Centonzio’s goal is simple: To help his clients take control of their lives during their golden years and enable them – and their loved ones – to enjoy peace of mind knowing that their needs are provided for and their assets secure.
When to See a Largo Elder Law Attorney
It is common for senior citizens and their families to attempt to tackle legal issues and hurdles themselves before seeking the advice and counsel of an attorney. By the time they set foot inside an attorney’s office, they may have been grappling with their legal issue for months (or even years!). In attempting to resolve their matter on their own, these senior citizens and their families often have incurred a considerable amount of expenses and lost countless hours of sleep. They often come to an attorney’s office as a last resort, feeling desperate, powerless, and (in some cases) embarrassed. They are often relieved after meeting with an attorney, having their fears alleviated and feeling empowered. They often wonder why they did not seek out legal assistance sooner.
If you or your elderly loved one is struggling with a legal issue or concern, you do not need to spend sleepless nights and countless hours of time and resources attempting to resolve the matter on your own. People often have the misconception that attorneys are too expensive or unaffordable and will only prolong the resolution of their matter in order to make as much money as possible. At Centonzio Law, PLLC, nothing could be further from the truth. Attorney Javier Centonzio works with senior citizens and their families to resolve their legal questions and elder law matters in an efficient and expeditious manner. He understands the mental strain and anguish that a denied claim for disability or retirement benefits can cause, or the hopelessness that can accompany the denial of a Medicaid application in light of a nursing home bill. Mr. Centonzio can help you and your loved ones move beyond these hurdles and get back to enjoying this time of your life.
What to Bring to Your Elder Law Consultation
Resolving your elder law legal issue begins with your consultation with attorney Javier Centonzio and his staff. The purpose of this consultation is threefold:
(1) To help Mr. Centonzio and his staff understand the precise nature of your legal question and situation;
(2) To help you understand the various ways in which your question may be resolved as well as the benefit(s) and/or drawback(s) to each potential resolution;
(3) To help you decide upon a course of action designed to resolve your legal matter in an efficient manner while minimizing any potential drawbacks or negative consequences.
Just as Mr. Centonzio will bring his legal knowledge and experience to the consultation, you too can assist in making your consultation beneficial to you. Prepare and bring with you:
- Your questions. Do not be afraid to ask a question that has been keeping you up at night. Some people refrain from asking a particular question because they are afraid they will appear unintelligent or naïve. In an elder law consultation, there is no such thing as a stupid or dumb question. In fact, asking questions is important to becoming informed and empowering yourself to help resolve your situation. In many situations, the question you are afraid of asking has been asked by numerous other people before who had concerns similar to yours.
You should consider writing your questions and concerns down in a notebook or a pad of paper and bringing this document with you to your consultation. This way, you can be sure to remember to ask all of the questions you may have about your legal matter and its options.
- A trusted family member or friend. At your consultation, can be difficult to remember to everything that you are told. While you can (and should) take notes during the consultation in order to remember important information, you should also consider having a family member or trusted friend accompany you to the consultation as well. This person can also take notes to reduce the likelihood that you will miss important information. Not only this, but in some cases this person may think of additional questions to ask that you had not previously considered.
- Any papers, documents, photographs or other tangible items relevant to your issue: If you have been denied Veterans Benefits or have had your claim for Medicaid denied, bring your application(s) and denial letter(s) with you so they can be reviewed. If you are in need of updating or changing your estate plan, bring your current estate planning documents, such as your will, durable power of attorney, living will, and health care surrogate designation with you so they can be reviewed. If you are concerned about protecting your assets, bring documentation that identifies the asset, its location, its ownership (i.e., who owns the asset), and its value. While having this documentation with you is not essential to providing you with legal representation, the advice you receive can be more personalized and accurate if this information is available for review.
The more time and energy you devote to preparing for your consultation, the more productive you will find the consultation to be. However, do not put off seeing an attorney about your elder law issues simply because you feel unprepared. In most cases, documentation can be obtained at a later date and you may ask questions throughout the course of representation, not just during the consultation. What is important is seeing an attorney as soon as possible in order to minimize the adverse consequences of a pending legal matter.
What Outcome Can I Expect in My Elder Law Case
Because each individual is different and unique, it is impossible to predict an outcome in any particular case. This is true even where two individuals may have similar legal issues and appear to be similarly situated. In every elder law case, however, attorney Javier Centonzio works to achieve a resolution that is:
- Quick, because the sooner your case is resolved the sooner you can get back to more important and enjoyable activities;
- Efficient, because your time and resources are valuable;
- Comprehensive, because you do not want to have to return to court over and over for matters and issues that can be addressed all at once;
- Final, so that you and your loved ones can have peace of mind about the future.
Attorney Javier Centonzio makes it his practice to keep his clients informed about important developments in their cases that can impact the potential outcome of the case.
Contact Centonzio Law, PLLC Today for Assistance
If you or a loved one are retired or plan to retire soon, or if you are continuing to work despite being older, the Largo, FL law firm of Centonzio Law, PLLC is here to assist you with your legal questions and concerns about your present circumstances and your future options. There is a perception amongst some that the elderly are weak and vulnerable, but we seek to partner with our elderly clients and their families to empower them and defend their legal rights. We want our senior citizen clients and their families to be able to face the future confident that their hard-earned assets will be protected and their loved ones and family members will be provided for after they themselves pass. Learn how with the assistance of Florida elder law attorney Javier Centonzio and Centonzio Law, PLLC by calling (727) 490-8712 or by contacting the firm online through its website. If you live in St. Petersburg or Clearwater, you can contact our offices there.