Of Counsel - Florida Law
The 'Boomer Barrister'
Skip Tylman sees a ‘target rich' market.
The Saturday before he took the Florida Bar exam in 2012, Frank “Skip” Tylman hit a curb while on his bicycle, catapulted over his handlebars and landed head-first on a busy street in downtown St. Petersburg. His helmet bore the brunt of the impact, and he escaped the incident needing just a few stitches and a night in the hospital.
Tylman, 63, recounts the occurrence to underscore a key message he tries to drive home with his clients — that life can change in a fraction of a second, and preparation for the unexpected is crucial.“Planning for incapacity is particularly important for Baby Boomers,” he says.
Marketing himself as “The Baby Boomers’ Barrister,” the former consumer products executive has carved out a niche advising his Baby Boomer peers about estate planning and elder care. Much of Tylman’s 2-year-old practice in St. Petersburg is focused on helping clients avoid probate and guardianship by drawing up trusts and advance directives, including power of attorney papers and health surrogate designations.
He also spends a fair amount of time helping clients calculate the costs and complications of caring for elderly parents.
“Just about every Baby Boomer I know has or is dealing with aging parents,” says Tylman, whose father died in 2007 and mother in 2008. Unfortunately, many don’t confront the situation until they’re in a moment of crisis. “Somebody will come in and say, ‘mom fell down, broke her hip and is in a skilled nursing facility, and it’s costing me $8,000 a month. How do I deal with this?’ ”
While 70% of Americans over age 65 will eventually need long-term care, most are in the dark about how much that care will cost or who will pay for it, Tylman says. Medicare only covers the first 100 days of skilled nursing care, with the first 20 days covered in full and the next 80 days subject to a $124 per day co-payment. After that, patients must self-pay or find a way to qualify for Medicaid, intended for low-income individuals and people with minimal assets.
A common problem Tylman sees is clients with too much income or too many assets to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to cover the costs of nursing home care, which averages $7,500 a month in Florida. “If you don’t have any money, Medicaid will cover you. If you do have money, you spend it until you don’t have money, and Medicaid will cover you,” he says. “I help people plan for that event, and we can structure their finances in a way that would allow them to qualify, both for Medicaid benefits and (if they’re eligible) VA pension benefits.”
With the number of Baby Boomers in Florida expected to reach 5.3 million in 2020, Tylman sees a “target rich” environment. So far, he says, he’s been able to attract a steady stream of business through networking and a sponsorship on public radio.
Catering to the generation born between 1946 and 1964 also comes with certain challenges. More active than previous generations, most Baby Boomers don’t think of themselves as old. As a result, many put off estate planning, thinking they’ll deal with it down the road. “I’ll be in a group of people and say, ‘How many of you have an estate plan?’ “ Tylman says.“Maybe 20% raise their hand.”
A Pensacola native, Tylman graduated from the University of California Irvine in the mid-1970s with an undergraduate and master’s degree in engineering. He spent the next 25 years at Procter & Gamble. By 2009, eight years after taking an early retirement, he decided to give law school a try, graduating cum laude from Stetson University College of Law. He says the school’s elder law program sparked his interest in estate planning.