Make Sure Your Wishes Are Carried Out

Cute 80 plus year old married couple posing for a portrait in their house. Love forever concept.The importance of making end of life preparations cannot be stressed enough. Many put off making these plans thinking there is always time. The sad reality is that none of us are guaranteed time. Others may be bothered by the thought of death itself and allow this to paralyze them when it comes to making plans and getting their affairs in order for the end of life. However, most of these same people have wishes and thoughts about where and to whom their assets are distributed. Many of them also have ideas about what they do and do not wish to have happen when their life ends. Lack of preparation and planning means that these wishes likely will not be honored. In addition, it causes additional strain and stress on the people who are left to sort out the affairs. An example of this is the story of Frances.

Frances was a teacher who had been retired for several years. She was aging alone. She never married and had no family around. She did have a small circle of friends. After retirement, Frances’ health progressively declined and she had more and more difficulty caring for herself. After a few years, Frances passed away in her home.

Previously, she had conversations with a handful of her friends telling them her wishes for the possessions and assets she had. Because of these conversations, these friends each thought she had made the proper preparations to ensure these wishes would be followed. Unfortunately, Frances had none of the necessary end of life documents that would allow her wishes to be followed. Her friends were left to try to piece together a puzzle that only many missing pieces. Her burial was prolonged and what she did have after paying expenses to settle the estate and bury her will not end up where Frances wanted. This scenario can, however, be avoided.

If you or your elderly loved one have not made end of life preparations, make time to do so as quickly as possible. An elder law attorney can help guide you in what you should be doing, and can make sure the proper documents are in place to carry out your wishes regarding your health, care you want (or don’t want) to receive, and who should receive your money and possessions.

The first key document to be sure you have is a will or a living trust. A will allows you to specify where your money and possessions should go upon your passing. It also allows you to choose an executor of the estate. The executor will take care of managing the estate, paying debts, and distributing property as specified. A will only takes effect upon your death.

A living trust does everything a will can do, but also allows for you to choose someone to manage your assets if you become incapacitated because it is effective during your lifetime. A living trust also provides privacy, as it is not subject to court proceedings that become open to the public like a will is. There are numerous other advantages to a living trust that can be explored with the help of an attorney.

A living will and health care power of attorney are two additional documents that take effect while you are alive. A living will specifies your wishes for end-of-life medical care. For example, you can specify whether you want to be kept alive by artificial means if you are in a terminal state. A health care power of attorney provides for someone to make health care decisions for you, in case you aren’t able to make decisions yourself. Both of these documents outline your wishes about medical treatment and care when you can’t make them for yourself, so it’s important to seek legal guidance to make sure these documents are drafted properly.

A financial power of attorney should be in the plan as well. A financial power of attorney names an agent to handle your finances in the event you are no longer able to. An agent can open and close bank accounts, write checks, and sell property if you choose to allow them the authority to do so. Like the health care power of attorney, the financial power of attorney should be created with legal advice to make sure your wishes regarding your finances are properly documented.

Having an estate plan is necessary for you to have a say in what happens if you become sick and cannot make decisions for yourself, and to determine what happens with your money and your belongings after death. An estate plan also helps those who are left to deal with the estate to do so in a more simple and straightforward manner.

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us at 267-288-5765.

What to Consider in Retirement Planning

retirement money

Read up on retirement planning in America, and you come across some pretty startling statistics:

  • One in three Americans have no retirement savings. The same number of people say they expect to work in retirement to supplement their income
  • More than 40 percent of single seniors over 65 get at least 90 percent of their income from Social Security
  • Even healthy couples will pay close to $400,000 on health care in retirement

With all that in mind, it becomes painfully apparent how important it is to plan for retirement, yet it’s a process that many people aren’t even sure how to approach.

With that in mind, we’d like to suggest some questions you should ask to help start putting together your retirement plan.

Continue Reading What to Consider in Retirement Planning

When to Seek Professional Help

When it comesWhen to Seek Help from an Elder Law Attorney to our family members, we like to think that we know what is best for them.  For the most part that is true. After all, these are people we grew up with or in the case of family by way of marriage, got to know over the years.

Yet there are times, in particular when loved ones get older and need help, that the question, “Should I seek professional help?” arises with respect to the health and financial affairs of your loved one.

Continue Reading When to Seek Professional Help

What is the Difference between Guardianship and a Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney vs Guardianship for seniorsBoth a power of attorney and guardianship are tools to assist someone who is unable to make financial or medical decisions for him or herself by appointing an agent or guardian to act in their stead. However, these tools differ in their responsibilities and the freedom and control they give to the elder or person with special needs.

Continue Reading What is the Difference between Guardianship and a Power of Attorney?

Do You Have A Plan For Your Future?

iStock_000011860918SmallDespite concerns about finances and health, most people look forward to retirement. The idea is that people will have more time for personal interests since they no longer have to work or care for small children.

Of course, things aren’t always ideal.  A serious illness, dementia, or even death can mean that retirement won’t be so golden.  While many health issues can’t be prevented, they can be planned for, especially since a stroke, complications from diabetes or osteoporosis can lead to long-term care situations, such as assisted living or nursing home placement.

How do you plan for a future that may include chronic health issues when you aren’t sure what the future may hold for you?  These things can help:

Continue Reading Do You Have A Plan For Your Future?