Plan While You Still Can
Do you know what healthcare treatments you would and would not want if you could not speak for yourself? Have you considered what would
happen if you were no longer able to make decisions for your healthcare or finances?
These are hard questions to think about but taking time to answer them and make them official is essential. To make your decisions known
and give power to those you choose, you need legal documents in place; specifically, a Healthcare Durable Power of Attorney, an Advanced Directive,
and a Financial Durable Power of Attorney. A Healthcare DPOA allows you to document who makes
medical decisions about your healthcare. The person designated as your “agent” is authorized to speak ONLY if you can’t speak for yourself. An Advanced
Directive is a document that states your wishes for medical treatments at the end of life. These documents are essential for making your healthcare wishes
known and avoiding a Guardianship during incapacity. You can prepare these documents with an Estate Planning or Elder Law Attorney, or there are free
versions of them available with the Center for Practical Bioethics. A Financial DPOA is a document that gives authority from one
person (the principal) to another person (the agent) for the agent to act on behalf of the principal. These are much more technical and require the
assistance of an attorney to ensure they are prepared properly. Creating a Financial DPOA is essential for you to ensure your finances are in the hands of
someone you trust. If this year has taught us anything, it’s to plan while you can. Talk to your attorney to get started.
Disclaimer: This is not intended to be legal counsel. The choice of an attorney is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.
This article was submitted by Aaron L. Love, JD, an attorney with The Love Law Group, LLC and may be reached at 816-554-3330 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimers, planning for the possibility of long-term care, and considering who will make decisions if you cant, is not just smart, its necessary. PROTECTING YOURSELFWhile you may think creating legal documents that grant authority for someone to act on your behalf, financially or even medically, will be enough to protect your wishes, usually more is required.When it comes to handling Social Security payments for a disabled senior, establishing powers of attorney, medical directives or guardianship arrangements are not enough. The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires a special designation known as representative payee.A representative payee is someone who acts on behalf of another person who is incapable of representing themselves and is responsible for directing payouts exclusively to meet a beneficiarys needs. The SSA may determine that an individual is incapable of managing or directing someone else to manage his or her benefits and would then appoint a representative payee.Generally, a family member or friend serves as representative payee. If friends or family are not able to serve as payees, the SSA will look for qualified organizations to be representative payees.A critical thing to keep in mind about the responsibilities of acting as a representative payee is that the permissions that accompany the role do not extend to other facets of your affairs. Making medical decisions or signing legal documents on your behalf will still require that someone be granted powers of attorney or guardianship.PROTECTING A LOVED ONEIf you assume the role of representative payee, this will likely require a trip to a Social Security office and a completed SSA-11 form explaining why the beneficiary needs assistance and why they have selected you for the job.Recall, too, that this designation will be in addition to any other legal or medical role you might be playing for your loved one. Its one piece of the larger whole that, with forethought and planning, can help ensure your loved ones or your own future is secure.Editors Note: This article was submitted by Erin Weber. Erin is a Financial Advisor with the Weber Group of Raymond James. She may be reached at 878.208.1285 orErin.Weber@RaymondJames.com. Raymond James & Associates, Inc., member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC
These days, more and more young people are delayingif not totally foregoinga life that involves marriage and parenting. The lack of jobs, crushing student debt, multiple recessions, and the pandemic have pushed many young people into a life path that leaves little room for settling down with a partner and getting marriedand even less room for having children. Yet, for other young adults, staying single and childless is simply a matter of choice. Regardless of the reason, as more young adults opt for non-traditional lifestyles, the number of single childless households is likely to steadily increase in the coming years.While most adults dont take estate planning as seriously as they should, if you are single with no children, you might think that theres really no need for you to worry about creating an estate plan. But this is a huge mistake. In fact, it can be even MORE important to have an estate plan if you are single and childless.If you are single without kids, you face several potential estate planning complications that arent an issue for those who are married with children. And this is true whether youre wealthy or have very limited assets. Indeed, without proper estate planning, youre not only jeopardizing your wealth and assets, but youre putting your life at risk, too. And thats not even mentioning the potential conflict, mess, and expense youre leaving for your surviving family and friends to deal with when something unexpected happens to you. With this in mind, if youre single and childless, consider these three inconvenient truths before you decide to forego estate planning:1. Someone Will Have to Handle Your StuffWhether youre rich, poor, or somewhere in between, in the event of your death, everything you own will need to be located, managed, and passed on to someone, which can be a massive undertaking in itselfone that few families are properly prepared for. In fact, following a loved ones death, American families spend an average of 500 hours and $12,700 over the course of 13 months (20 month if probate is required) to finalize the person's affairs and settle their estate, according to the first annual Cost Of Dying report released this March by tech startup Empathy in partnership with Goldman Sachs. Look for additional articles in the coming weeks covering the Cost Of Dying and the new role Empathy is playing in the end-of-life industry.On top of the logistical complications involved with finalizing your affairs, without a clear estate plan, including a will or trust, your assets will go through the court process of probate, where a judge and state law will decide who gets everything you own. In the event no family steps forward, your assets will become property of the state.Why give the state everything you worked to build? And even if you have little financial wealth, you undoubtedly own a few sentimental items, maybe even including pets, that youd like to pass to a close friend or favorite charity.However, its rare for someone to die without any family members stepping forward. Its far more likely that some relative you havent spoken with in years will come out of the woodwork to stake a claim. Without a will or trust, state intestacy laws establish which family member has the priority inheritance. If youre unmarried with no children, this hierarchy typically puts parents first, then siblings, then more distant relatives like nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and cousins.Depending on your family, this could have a potentially troublingand even deadlyoutcome. For instance, what if your closest living relative is your estranged brother with serious addiction issues? Or what if your assets are passed on to a niece with poor money-management skills, who is likely to squander her inheritance?And if your estate does contain significant wealth and assets, this could lead to a costly and contentious court battle, with all of your relatives hiring expensive lawyers to fight over your estate. In the end, this could tear your family apart, while making their lawyers richall because you didnt think you needed an estate plan.As your Personal Family Lawyer, we will work with you to create an estate plan that ensures that your assets will pass to the proper people, while avoiding both unnecessary court proceedings and family conflict.2. Someone Will Have Power Over Your HealthcareEstate planning isnt just about passing on your assets when you die. In fact, some of the most critical aspects of estate planning have nothing to do with your money at all, but are aimed at protecting you while youre still very much alive.Proactive planning allows you to name the person you want to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make such decisions yourself. This is done using an estate planning tool known as a medical power of attorney.For example, if youre incapacitated due to a serious accident or illness and unable to give doctors permission to perform a potentially risky medical treatment, it would be left up to a judge to decide who gets to make that decision on your behalf. If you have a romantic partner but arent married and havent granted him or her medical power of attorney, the court will likely have a family member, not your partner, make those decisions. Depending on your family, that person may make decisions contrary to what you or your partner would want.And if you dont want your estranged brother to inherit your assets, you probably dont want him to have the power to make life-and-death decisions about your medical care, either. But thats exactly what could happen if you dont put a plan in place.Furthermore, your family members who have priority to make decisions for you could keep your dearest friends away from your bedside in the event of your hospitalization. Or family members who dont share your values about the type of food you eat, or the types of medical care you receive, could be the ones making decisions about how youll be cared for.To address these issues, you need to implement an estate planning tool that provides specific guidelines detailing exactly how you want your medical care to be managed during your incapacity, including critical end-of-life decisions. This is done using an estate planning vehicle known as a living will.Bottom line: If you are single with no kids, you need to create an estate plan in order to name healthcare decisions-makers for yourself and provide instructions on how you want those decisions made should you ever become incapacitated and unable to make those decisions yourself.3. Someone Will Get Power Over Your FinancesAs with healthcare decisions, if you become incapacitated and havent legally named someone to handle your finances while youre unable to do so, the court will pick someone for you. The way to avoid this is by granting someone you trust durable financial power of attorney.A durable financial power of attorney is an estate planning vehicle that gives the person you choose the immediate authority to manage your financial, legal, and business affairs if youre incapacitated. This agent will have a broad range of powers to handle things like paying your bills and taxes, running your business, collecting your Social Security benefits, selling your home, as well as managing your banking and investment accounts.Without a signed durable financial power of attorney, your family and friends will have to go to court to get access to your finances, which not only takes time, but it could lead to the mismanagementand even the lossof your assets should the court grant this authority to the wrong person.Whats more, the person you name doesnt have to be a lawyer or financial professional; it can be anybody you choose, including both family and friends. The most important aspect of your choice is selecting someone whos imminently trustworthy, since they will have nearly complete control over your finances while you remain incapacitated. And besides, with us as your Personal Family Lawyer, your agent will have access to our team as their trusted counsel should they need guidance or help.Dont Leave So Much At RiskGiven these potential risks and costs for yourself and those you care about, it would be foolhardy if you are single without kids to ignore or put off these basic estate planning strategies. Identifying the right estate planning tools is easy to do, and it begins with a Family Wealth Planning Session. During this session, us, your local Personal Family Lawyer will consider everything you own and everyone you love, and guide you to make informed, educated, and empowered choices for yourself and your loved ones.In the end, it will likely take just a few hours of your time to make certain that your assets, healthcare, and finances will be managed in the most effective and affordable manner possible in the event of your death or incapacity. Dont leave your life and assets at risk or leave a mess for the people you love; contact us, your Personal Family Lawyer to get your estate planning handled today.This article is a service of Sharek Law Office, LLC. We dont just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life and Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than youve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Life and Legacy Planning Session and mention this article that you found on SeniorsBlueBook.com to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
Estate plans are a common way for Americans to get all of their assets in order, especially as they age. However, most people's plans are incomplete and often don't address some of the most important subjects.This estate plan checklist will help you ensure that you have a sound estate plan. However, you should also look into getting an attorney who specializes in elder law, and a financial analyst to help ensure that your plan and your assets are protected and being managed properly. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is a great resource to find an attorney in your area that meets your needs.1. Will A will provides instructions for distributing your assets to your family and other beneficiaries when you pass. Your will also appoints someone to be the executor to pay final expenses, taxes, etc., and then distribute the remaining assets. If you have minor children, a will is also a way to designate a guardian for them. A wont take effect until you die, and it cannot provide for management of your assets if you become incapacitated. Thats why it is necessary to have other estate planning documents in place to utilize if you should be unable to act for any reason.2. Durable power of attorney for business and health care decisionsA power of attorney is a legal document in which you name another person to act on your behalf. You can give this person/agent broad or limited powers. You should choose this person carefully because he or she will be able to sell, invest and spend or distribute your assets. A durable power of attorney continues to apply if you are incapacitated and terminates only upon your death, whereas a traditional power of attorney terminates upon your disability or death.3. Health care power of attorney and living willA health-care power of attorney authorizes a person you designate to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so yourself. This document, coupled with a living will are necessary to avoid family conflicts and even court intervention should you become unable to make your own health care decisions. A living will dictate your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining treatments and other end-of-life medical care in the event of a terminal illness or accident. It states what you do and do not want done in terms of treatment but doesnt give any individual the legal authority to speak for you. That is why it is usually coupled with a health care power of attorney.4. Revocable living trustYoull need one of these to transfer, manage and distribute assets while you are alive and to avoid probate after your death. There are many different kinds of trusts, which are usually put in place to minimize estate taxes. Each trust has benefits and should be discussed with your attorney. There are marital trusts, charitable trusts, generation-skipping trusts, bypass trusts, testamentary trusts, qualified terminable interest property trusts, and more. A revocable living trust is often used in estate plans. By transferring assets into a revocable living trust, you can manage your financial affairs during your lifetime and provide management if you become incapacitated. A revocable living trust lets trust assets avoid probate, keeps personal information private and can designate the disposition of trust assets to future generations.5. List of AssetsA list of assets will serve as a guide for those managing your estate or your affairs if you are incapacitated. Use this form from Retired Brains to list all your assets and where they are located.6. Do not Resuscitate Order (DNR)A DNR medical order written by a doctor instructs any healthcare providers to not use cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if a patient stops breathing or heart stops beating. Some feel this is an important document, while others do not. If it is important to you, include this document in your plan.7. Legacy LetterA legacy letter is an ethical will designed to pass ethical values from one generation to the next. Traditional wills involve what you want your loved ones to have. Ethical wills involve what you want your loved ones to know.8. Discussion with attorney about who inherits what assetsDecide where you want your assets to go and discuss this specifically with your attorney.9. Selection of someone to make medical decisions if necessaryDecide whom you want to make health decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated.10. Instructions on how you want your assets distributedHave this discussion with your attorney and/or spouse or appropriate family member, trustee, etc.11. Guardian decisionIf you have minor children, you may wish to name a guardian to take care of them in the event of your passing.12. Estate plan tax reviewMeet with your accountant and attorney to discuss the tax consequences of your estate plan.13. Instructions on how to handle digital legacyCheck your digital footprints. Most people arent aware of the full extent of their presence online. List any personal sites and review the steps necessary to protect online information after your death or if you are no longer able to act on your own behalf.14. Letters to your familyConsider writing a letter to your spouse or family regarding your funerary wishes should you need to be removed from life support or pass unexpectedly. This letter will make their decisions a great deal easier if you reiterate that this is your wish with a personal, not formal, request.
Your Estate Planning, Elder Law, or Probate needs are likely complex, emotional, and bringing up all kinds of new scenarios you never imagined having to think about. The best way to keep your peace of mind in regards to your estate is planning ahead. Everybody is willing to go to the dentist to avoid pain, but all too often we put off Estate Planning until it is too late. We exist to help you plan well, live secure, and ensure your legacy in order to experience peace of mind. We are here so you dont need to wonder what happens when youre no longer able to make decisions for yourself.As experienced Estate Planning, Elder Law, and Probate professionals catering to the Kansas City Metro area, we serve you by focusing on your individual needs.You are not a number to us.When you choose us as your law team, we will treat you as a valuable client who deserves our time and attention. The Love Law Group will work to develop an individualized plan to preserve and protect your legacy and respond to your immediate needs. Our process is simple: Educate, Serve, Plan, and Empower.