BE PREPARED!!

By | Estate Planning

“BE PREPARED!”   My brother was an Eagle Scout, and I heard that phrase many times. As an uber planner, I’m all over preparation.  But, even procrastinators need to plan for the future (like when you about to have a medical procedure or are ill or when there’s a world pandemic).

NEWS FLASH – having a plan gives us control and when we have control, we feel better.      A little preparation also helps our family and friends.   The “little preparation” I suggest is to have a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney, a Medical Power of Attorney, and a Directive to Physician.

I have personal experience with the benefits these documents provide because my mother signed these documents.  When she was no longer able to make decisions for herself, these documents made caring for my mother much easier and less stressful.

  1. Statutory Durable Power of Attorney is a written document in which you give someone the authority to conduct business on your behalf – banking, paying bills, dealing with health insurance, Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare issues, etc….
  2. Health Care Power of Attorney is a written document, prepared by an attorney, in which you give a trusted person the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf.      The medical decisions this person makes cannot contradict your Directive to Physician.
  3. Directive to Physician  is a written document in which you decide whether to be put on life support in the event you become terminally ill.    This document is different from a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate Order).   A DNR is an instruction to health care providers not to do CPR if your breathing stops or if your heart stops beating.

What happens if you become incapacitated (i.e. unable to make decisions and/or to care for yourself) and you do not have these documents?   Most likely, a family member will have to hire an attorney and request that the Court appoint a guardian for you.   That process is very expensive and time consuming.

So, to quote Tony Rea – “Being prepared is about anticipating what comes next and getting ready for it.   If there is a barrier to the next step or some action that needs to happen, it’s you who has to make sure it does.”

 

WHERE THERE’S A WILL THERE’S A WAY

By | Estate Planning

Having a Will properly drafted by an attorney is one of the wisest investments you can make.   A life changing event (such as COVID-19, marriage, divorce, having children, etc….)  should trigger each of us to pull out our Will (if we have one) and look at it to make sure that the Will still reflects our desires and intentions.   If your Will needs to be revised or you don’t have Will, a life changing event should motivate you to set an appointment an attorney to discuss your Will.

Basically, a Will is a written document in which the testator (person signing the will) states to whom his or her property should pass upon death.   The Will should contain a provision for the appointment of an independent executor and alternate executor.   The executor is the person who handles the probate of your estate.   The Will can also establish a trust and name a guardian and alternate guardian for minor children.    It is important that the Will is correctly written and properly signed – hence the need for an attorney.

Probate occurs after a person dies.    Essentially, probate is the process by which the deceased person’s property is transferred to the people named in the will.    In Texas, provided the Will is properly drafted and executed, probate is a fairly streamlined process.    On the other hand, if a person dies and does not have a will, administering the estate is often complicated, time consuming, and very costly.

Bank accounts, IRA’s, investment accounts, life insurance, and any account for which there is a beneficiary do not pass through the will and are not a part of the probate.   Instead, these kinds of property go to the named beneficiary.

A person can also simplify things by doing the following:

  • By making sure that all bank accounts have right of survivorship provisions,
  • By authorizing another person to have access to all safety deposit boxes,
  • By providing the executor and alternate executor with a copy of the Will,
  • By providing the executor and alternate executor with a list of all accounts, life insurance policies, stocks, debts, and
  • By providing the executor and alternate executor with a description of and the location of all big-ticket items property.

The process to obtain a will is simple and does not require a face to face meeting with an attorney.   Although strategizing with an attorney about your Will can take place in person, those meetings can also be accomplished by phone calls or zoom.    After you provide your attorney with the necessary information, the attorney drafts the will and then sends it to you for you to read.   Once the will is in final form and each of your questions have been answered, you sign the will.

By taking the time now to make these plans, you will save those you love lots of money, time, and stress in the future.