Elder Law and Estate Planning attorneys are able to assist in three large areas of planning for you and your loved ones that can allow you some confidence and peace of mind as you live your life to its fullest: Financial Management, Health Care Management, and Planning for Death. There’s a lot to think about in each category, and timing issues in many situations can block some choices if you fail to plan in advance (capacity issues or eligibility issues). Therefore, if you want to maximize your freedom of choice and flexibility, you’ll want to think through these three large areas before you actually need the legal authority you require to execute your management plans.
Financial Management includes thinking about how you own things, how decisions will be made about what you own (especially if you become incapacitated), and what protections are available to you. Many people execute a Power of Attorney (POA), which allows someone they choose, called the Attorney-in-Fact, to be able to make financial decisions for them. It can be used to assist you while you have capacity to make your own decisions, and you may choose to make it “durable,” which means the power extends through your incapacity.
With regard to ownership of your assets, what type of title you hold may matter. Simply changing the type of title you hold might be one option. Or, some or all of your assets may be well suited to a Trust, which would own your assets under the management of a Trustee for your benefit or the benefit of others. There are a number of reasons a Trust may be an appropriate financial tool for you or your loved ones. An Estate Planning or Elder Law attorney can assist you in making that decision, based on the types of assets you hold and the nature of those assets.
There are other protections available for those who become incapacitated and have failed to plan ahead using a POA (like Court-appointed Conservator). But, I have found most people would prefer to choose for themselves who will manage their financial affairs if they are unable to do so themselves.
Planning for Death
In addition to Wills and Trusts, most people know about assets that allow you to name a beneficiary to receive that asset upon your death. Many people do not know, however, about Payable-On-Death (POD) accounts, or Transfer-On-Death Deeds (TODD) that allow a person to make a “beneficiary” for their bank accounts (POD) or property (TODD). Additionally, some choose to purchase their Funeral and/or burial arrangements in advance.
We all need to think about these things because we will all move through the dying process at some point – some with more complexities and surprises than others. Give yourself and your loved ones the confidence and peace of mind you all deserve. Ask your attorney to assist you in thinking through these three areas and make sure you understand what kind of plan you need, and how to execute that plan.This blog is written by Bridget-Michaele Reischl, Attorney DECORO LAW OFFICE, PLLC www.decorolaw.com