March 2005

South Florida Law Firm Provides Dual Expertise
in Asset Protection and Elder Law

by John Fries

For senior citizens and their families, itÕs not unusual to spend long hours dealing with issues that range from wills, trusts and insurance to care planning and management. ItÕs important for individuals and families to preserve their wealth for future generations Š maximizing inheritances, while minimizing taxes.

At the same time, and often, for the same reasons, physicians, business owners and executives require a high level of asset protection. The good news is that those services are all available in one place.

Elder Law Associates, P.A., specializing in elder law, and the Law Offices of Stuart R. Morris, P.A., specializing in complex estate planning, administration and asset protection, collaboratively serve clients in South Florida and across the U.S. from their offices in Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, Aventura, Weston, and West Palm Beach.

Founding Partner Stuart R. Morris and Managing Partner Ellen S. Morris are highly skilled and experienced in elder law. Stuart is also a nationally recognized authority in estate planning and asset protection.

Also husband and wife, they met during the 1980Õs when both were students at the University of Florida. After graduation, Stuart worked as an associate with Broad and Cassel in Miami, while Ellen served as assistant state attorney for Dade County under then-State Attorney Janet Reno.

Stuart, who holds degrees in law and accounting, opened his estate planning and asset protection firm in 1991, then established Elder Law Associates a few years later. Five years ago, Ellen came on board. Since then, the couple and their staff of attorneys, legal assistants, and support personnel have carved out a niche. Today, they serve clients throughout South Florida and across the U.S.

Elder Law Associates is an elder law boutique law firm that practices exclusively in wills and trusts, elder law, Medicaid and nursing home planning, Medicaid applications, disability planning, and geriatric care management. "We provide a beneficial service for seniors who have worked hard all their lives," says Ellen. "These are people who will become impoverished if they have to pay to live in a nursing home. We help them save their money for their care and for their beneficiaries."

Elder LawÕs main goal, according to Ellen, is to structure clientsÕ assets so they can stay at home as long as possible. The firmÕs work encompasses such professional services as creating comprehensive Durable Powers of Attorney, helping clients create Living Wills, Health Care Surrogates, living and other forms of Trusts, providing counsel and assistance with long-term care insurance, providing advice regarding long-term living arrangements, and coordinating geriatric care to help with the ongoing daily needs of elderly and disabled clients. "Research shows that seniors who are also caregivers for their spouses are often first to die, due to the stress and strain of providing care.

Ellen and her staff work extensively with geriatric caregivers whose adult children live outside the region. "We provide a team approach to protect them from fraud and from those who prey on seniors," explains Ellen, "and everyone is held to the strictest ethics." Ethics are extremely important to Ellen and Stuart and they hold themselves and their staff to the highest standards.

Ellen notes that elder law is a challenging field because the laws continue to change very rapidly. "The State of Florida is now trying to enact Medicaid reform," she says. "While theyÕre trying to cut services, weÕre trying to serve as a voice for the elderly who need those services."

As both a lawyer and CPA, Stuart works closely with numerous physicians, owners of closely held companies, CEOs (some from Fortune 500 companies), and other executives to provide them with asset protection and wealth preservation. His work encompasses estate planning and administration, corporate and partnership planning, charitable planning, business succession planning, and probate administration.

In light of the recent increase in cost and lack of availability of medical malpractice insurance, Stuart spends a significant amount of his time counseling individual physicians and practice groups about protecting their practice and themselves. This includes their individual assets as well as practice assets, such as accounts receivables and equipment. With many physicians going bare, failure to protect their assets can result in a major financial crisis for many physicians.

Stuart Morris, a member of the Florida Bar and the American Bar Association, is Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Wills, Trusts and Estates and Elder Law and is a sought-after local and national speaker. Ellen Morris is a member of the Florida Bar and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Both Ellen and Stuart are active in numerous charitable and professional organizations and volunteer their time. Stuart is on the board of directors of SOS ChildrenÕs Village and Ellen is Co-President of the National Council of Jewish Women, University section.

When not at one of their offices, the Morrises and their three daughters Š 12, 10 and 8 Š live in Parkland. They enjoy traveling, kayaking, biking and skiing.

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Copyright © 2005 by John Fries, Pittsburgh, PA.
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