• Elder
    Law
  • Probate &
    Guardianships
  • Medicaid Planning
  • Estate Planning
  • Corporate Law
  • Tax &
    Healthcare Law
Elder Law

Elder Law covers the legal issues encountered by an aging population. In general, an Elder Law attorney will address issues related to estate planning and will counsel clients about planning for incapacity, designating fiduciaries and caregivers to "stand in your shoes," assisting clients in planning for long-term care needs and coordinating the private and public resources that may be necessary to finance the cost of care. The attorney should work to ensure that the client (and family) are well advised when it comes to quality of care issues.

Further information and referrals to appropriate resources related to elder services and activities here in Brevard County, Florida can be obtained by calling the Elder Helpline at 321-504-2038.

Probate

Probate is a court supervised proceeding in which a decedent's assets are collected and protected, creditors are paid or addressed and distributions to appropriate beneficiaries are made. Probate is typically necessary when an individual passes away holding assets titled in his or her name alone, with no beneficiary or survivorship designations noted. Whether or not an individual has a Will is not the determining factor when deciding if probate is necessary; rather, it is the title of how a particular asset is held. The probate process can take anywhere from four months to as long as several years depending upon the complexity of issues, types and locations of assets and family dynamics.

Guardianships

Guardianships are also court supervised proceedings in which an individual (known as the "Ward") is alleged to be (typically by a family member) incapacitated and no longer capable of managing his or her own healthcare or finances. It is an intrusive and often expensive proceeding. Once the allegation of incapacity is made, an examining committee is appointed by the court to visit with the Ward and determine if it is in the best interest of the Ward that the court appoint a full time guardian over the Ward's person and property. Often times guardianships are contested, especially when there is disagreement as to the appropriate person to be named guardian. Generally, once the court determines an individual is incapacitated, a guardian is appointed, assets become restricted and the guardian becomes a fiduciary charged with preparing annual accountings and reports.

Medicaid Planning

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health coverage or nursing home coverage to certain categories of low-asset, low-income people, including children, pregnant women, parents of eligible children, people with disabilities and elderly needing nursing home care. As it relates to the elderly, qualifying for Medicaid is based upon three primary criteria. Increased care must be "medically necessary," which means that a physician must opine that more significant care, such as placement in a nursing home is needed. Secondly, an individual must not directly receive more than the allowable amount each month in income. For calendar year 2014, an individual cannot receive more than $2,163 in gross income per month. Lastly, there is an asset test, in which an individual is not allowed to have more than $2,000 in assets in their name at the time a Medicaid application is submitted. If an individual is married, the non-institutionalized spouse may have up to $117,240 in his or her name. Please note, there are several exceptions to this general rule.

Under current laws there are several permissible and legally responsible methods and strategies that are permitted by the government, which, when put into action, may assist an individual in qualifying for the program. One should not assume that they will not qualify if they do not meet the income and asset test, on its face. If you have questions on eligibility criteria, we would be pleased to discuss your personal situation.

Estate Planning

Estate Planning is a process that all Florida residents should think about at some point in their lives. It is a continuing process, flexible enough to allow for changes and modifications as a person's life moves forward, relationships change and families grow. Typically, a Florida resident, in consultation with an attorney and perhaps a financial advisor will develop a plan and prepare documents designed to conserve, protect and ultimately distribute his or her Florida assets to designated beneficiaries. When preparing an estate plan it is important to consider planning for your own future needs and planning for federal and state tax issues that may arise upon your passing.

At a minimum, most people should consider executing a Living Will, which describes your personal wishes for end stage health care, a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate, wherein you identify one or more individuals to help make medical decisions on your behalf if you're unable to do so, a Power of Attorney, wherein you identify one or more individuals to assist you in making financial decisions, and a Last Will and Testament, identifying the heirs who will inherit your estate. There are other complimentary documents that you may learn about when you visit with your attorney.

Corporate Law

Corporate, or Business Law encompasses the law governing contracts, sales, commercial paper, agency and employment law, business organizations, property, and creditor protection. Business law may include issues such as starting, selling, or buying a small business, managing a business, dealing with employees, or dealing with vendors and clients.

We assist clients wishing to start a new business and incorporate, providing counsel on choosing the right entity formation, registering the business, coordinating with tax authorities and accountants. Businesses often need legal assistance in interpreting contracts or the drafting of various agreements. It is important that an entity seek legal guidance when more than one person will hold an equity interest, as disputes between "partners" or shareholders is a common occurrence.

Tax Law

Most individuals and corporations would agree that one of the most feared problems anyone can face is an issue with the IRS. Whether it's delinquent taxes, an audit, tax liens, wage garnishment or other type of issue, the IRS is an organization that is difficult to deal with when you don't have the experience, and as a result many find themselves overwhelmed by the process.

The key is understanding each type of tax related issue, each tax relief strategy, and which one will work the best for your unique situation. As an attorney with a Masters of Laws in Taxation (LL.M.), Victor Kostro is equipped to represent you before the IRS. Many strategies exist to assist taxpayers in working through tax issues. If you are faced with a tax issue, please call us for a free initial consultation.

Healthcare Law