“I wasn’t expecting…”. “If I had known, I would have…”. Unquestionably having legal documents in place and understanding how they work helps protect your assets and goals when the expected and unexpected arise.
Hopefully, this article promotes healthy concern and action. In writing this article our goal is to help prevent problems, in the same fashion doctors promote an annual check-up – because “we don’t know what we don’t know” and because “it’s not a problem, until its problem…”.
This is one of those unexpected events. We have had the privilege of being able to assist those in particular need due to COVID-19 and those for whom their consciousness has simply been raised during this time.
We believe basic planning documents should be in in place for everyone and right now in particular for those who:
- Work in the health care profession
- Work in essential businesses
- Travel / commute in a public setting
- Are at risk due to age
- Are at risk due to medical condition
- May need to enter or who are now in assisted living or nursing facilities
In the event you are exposed, it is imperative that you have the proper documents in place so that persons have the power to assist you.
We believe these circumstance help dispel the all too common misconception that estate planning is only necessary for the elderly, wealthy, sick, or when death is impending.
Its also about planning with a professional. I use the example that, while I may know enough about dentistry to know how a cavity is filled, I would not treat myself. It is what we don’t know that causes problems, along with our lack of experience and perspective.
The fact is, every plan must be custom manufactured and as unique as each individual, each family situation, each financial situation, and each person’s/family’s concerns and goals.
Today, we find that many clients ask about Medicaid Planning and Asset Protection. While they should be considered – and without question put in place sooner than later if needed – they should only be implemented in appropriate circumstances. They are simply not always right for everyone for many reasons, and must be tailored to tax and personal situation.
Last Will & Testament
Regardless of the value of your estate, a Will assures your assets will land where you intend. Only your Will (or a trust) can take into consideration the age of your beneficiaries, the types of investments you may have (IRA’s pensions, real estate), inheritances, and monies due your Estate. If circumstances change, a Will can update planning for all your assets at once. Lastly “avoiding probate” should only be thought a benefit when it works with your overall plan. It should not be “the goal”. Probate streamlines the process and is often less costly than methods used to avoid probate.
Living Will/Health Care Proxy
In the event of an emergency, illness, or accident leaving you unable to communicate your wishes, a health care directive appoints a representative of your choice to make medical decisions pursuant to your written directions. This document eliminates the need to commence a costly Guardianship proceeding which would otherwise be necessary. In both emergency – and everyday situations – a Health Care Proxy allows your agent to contact and deal with insurance companies, doctors, obtain and deliver information on you behalf from doctors and other medical professionals, if you are not able to do so yourself.
Power of Attorney
A document by which one individual, called the Principal, gives another individual, called the Agent, the right to act on behalf of the Principal. An Agent can legally binds or act for the Principal. The Agent can be given unlimited power to act, called a General Power of Attorney. The Agent can be given powers that are limited in scope or time.
If you do not have these basic documents we urge you to find out more and take action to have a plan in place.
For our part, we are available by phone, video, and in person to safely, understand your family and finances, your goals, and educate and assist you in putting a plan in place.