Advance Directives

Incapacity Management: Do I Have All The Right Documents?

If you’re in a tragic accident that leaves you in a coma, there will be financial decisions that will need to be made. If you don’t plan ahead for incapacity, a family member will have to hire an attorney and ask a judge to grant a Power of Attorney that will permit her to act on your behalf. That could be an expensive and time-consuming task.

AL.com’s recent article, “If You Don’t Have This, You Need It” says that a better solution is to be proactive and have your attorney create a Power of Attorney before you need one. Let’s look at the different types of POAs.

  • Springing Power of Attorney. This only becomes effective under certain conditions, typically incapacity. A big disadvantage of this POA, is that when someone tries to use it on your behalf, they may be required to “prove” that you are actually incompetent, creating inconvenience and delays.
  • General Power of Attorney. This document is one in which you give your attorney-in-fact the authority to act on your behalf at any time. However, if you become incapacitated, this document is null and void.
  • General and Durable Power of Attorney. This document lets your attorney-in-fact continue acting on your behalf, if you become incapacitated.
  • Limited Power of Attorney. Here, you appoint someone to act on your behalf, only under certain conditions, such as only when you’re out of the country.

Consider your own situation. Which Power of Attorney is most appropriate for you during times of incapacity? Our experienced estate planning attorneys help make this decision more accurate and easier. You will then decide whom you’d appoint as your attorney-in-fact. If you’re married, a natural choice is your spouse. However, you should also have at least one successor attorney-in-fact.

Consult with our estate planning attorneys to be sure the document conforms to state law. We can help you decide which Power of Attorney type is best for your situation.

Advance Directive for Healthcare. This document describes your wishes on end-of-life care. These documents aren’t legally binding agreements, but it’s seldom that their instructions aren’t followed and accepted by healthcare professionals. Talk to our attorneys, because they do vary by state. They’re typically, divided into two parts:

  • Living Will. In this, you’ll give detailed instructions on the level of care, should you become incompetent and facing a potential end-of-life situation. This should talk about whether you’d want to stay on life-support, remain on a feeding tube, or if you’d want hydration or pain medicines administered or withheld, should you ever be in a vegetative state. It’s far better for you to make these calls, instead of leaving it to a physician or a family member.
  • Healthcare Proxy. With this document, you appoint the individual you’d want to speak on your behalf concerning healthcare decisions. As an alternative, you can state that you’re requesting your Living Will instructions be strictly followed, and you explicitly indicate you don’t want someone to speak on your behalf.

Reference: AL.com (October 26, 2018) “If You Don’t Have This, You Need It”

Preparing for the Inevitable: End of Life Decisions

“Are you ready for the end of life? Many of us can resolutely answer “no.” I am not implying preparation for life after death, salvation or eternal darkness—I simply mean forethought in the medical care that you wish to receive in a life-threatening illness or injury.”

When most people think of preparing for the end of their lives, it’s accompanied by an image of an elderly person surrounded by loved ones. Not everyone is lucky enough to have what we call a “good death.” …

You Can Avoid Elder Financial Abuse, But How?

“While a longer life is a good thing, it will also present challenges – and unfortunately, sometimes financial predators.”

The prospect of a long, healthy and active life is a wonderful thing to consider. However, one in 10 seniors have suffered financial abuse, according to The Kansas City Star’s article “Five ways to avoid elder financial abuse.” The grandson of Brooke Astor spoke at a conference about how his grandmother’s last years were spent living in squalor, as a result of her son and guardian stealing from the estate and cutting the amount of money available for her care. The grandson and his brother sued their father to protect their beloved grandmother, a leading philanthropist and one of New York’s high-profile society figures.

If It’s Not on Paper, Your Wishes Won’t Come True

Do not buy into the myth that estate planning is only relevant for wealthy individuals who need tax planning. A comprehensive estate plan is an easy way to make sure your wishes are followed should you become incapacitated, and upon your death.

One of an estate planning attorney’s main responsibilities is ensuring that clients understand the importance of addressing these matters before they become an issue, reports the New Jersey Herald in the article “The importance of putting plans in writing.”

Who Would You Trust with Your Life? Health Care Power of Attorney

Selecting someone to make health care decisions for you when you are unable, requires a great deal of trust and is considered by many to be the most important estate planning tool, according to The Daily News in “Choose Health Care Power of Attorney Carefully.”

The Durable Health Care Power of Attorney—HCPOA—is similar to the general POA in that both can be used to provide your representative with either very broad or very limited acting authority.  However, they are also very different. The HCPOA can be drafted to retain its effectiveness, while you are alive and after you pass away. …

Facing the Worst News and Preparing for the Inevitable

“A bad medical diagnosis can make a person realize that he suddenly has far less time to get his affairs in order. What’s the best way to leave assets to your heirs? Should you pay off your mortgage?”

Receiving a terrifying medical diagnosis of a fatal illness, can leave you and your loved ones stunned and afraid. Once the initial shock has subsided and you have put the emotional and medical resources in place, it will be necessary to address the legal aspects, according to a recent article from CNBC titled “When end-of-life planning is suddenly a lot closer than you thought.”

What is a Living Will?

Estate planning covers more than just creating a last will and testament to distribute your assets upon passing away. While none of us expects to find ourselves in a situation in which we cannot dictate the terms of our medical treatment in an end-of-life situation, we should nonetheless be prepared for situations like these and give guidance to or families on what to do when difficult decisions need to be made.

One document vital to these important health care decisions is a living will, which is not the same as a durable power of attorney that designates an agent to make choices on your behalf. These documents are two sides to a coin that your loved ones will need to instruct doctors on what to do should you be unable to speak for yourself in situations like being placed on a ventilator, a feeding tube, or being in a persistent vegetative state.

Want To Protect Each Other and Teenage Child

A couple came in that had been referred by another financial advisor. The couple had a teenage child and wanted to make sure that their “legal affairs were in order” because they had done no estate legal planning in the past. We will be setting up an estate program for this couple to make legal matters easy or nonexistent when one spouse dies, and then making sure that guardians and trustees are named for their minor child should something happen to the parents before the child is an adult.  The simple goal to protect and organize is accomplished.

Planning for unfortunate situations is a real concern for families.  Rather than relying on good fortune and the law of averages, prudent families plan for contingencies.  While the time and expense of estate planning seem like a “not fun” endeavour, dealing with the mess of having no plan in place is a difficult and expensive process for those left behind.

In this case, our “Essentials Plan” was put in place.  A set of legal documents to provide guidance and authority for this family and their trusted agents in the event of an unfortunate event.

The estate lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.

Contact our office by calling (608) 268-5751 to schedule a consultation or use our online contact form.

Which Of These Powerful Secrets Could You Use To Build Your Ideal Estate Planning Legal Program

Which Of These Powerful Secrets Could You Use To Build Your Ideal Estate Planning Legal Program

  • Keep your estate settlement simple;
  • Avoid the court-supervised Probate process when you die;
  • Avoid federal and state estate and gift tax;
  • Avoid losing your home and life-savings to nursing home expenses;
  • Designate the right person or people to handle your estate when you’re gone;
  • Set up your estate legal program so that it takes days or weeks to settle your estate – rather than months or years;
  • Avoid assets from having to be sold within nine months of your death to pay estate tax;
  • Protect your children’s inheritance from their past, present, or future divorces;
  • Provide for your special needs children and grandchildren so that their government benefits are protected;
  • Protect both your spouse AND your children in a blended family situation;
  • Set up your retirement accounts and IRAs to minimize tax and maximize the benefit to your family;
  • Provide for the distribution of your personal effects without causing a fight among surviving family members;
  • Provide for your unstable children or heirs (on drugs or alcohol, or unable to responsibly handle money) so their inheritance is protected from themselves;
  • Keep your financial affairs private when you die, outside of the public records, and off the internet;
  • Keep your family from having to pay capital gains tax when they sell your property after you die;
  • Ensure that the right family members have access and authority when you become incapacitated and protect what you have while you are alive and need it most;
  • Avoid Medicaid’s Estate Recovery liens from taking your home and vehicles after you pass away;
  • Keep your loved ones from having to make the often-difficult decision to terminate your life and withdraw life-support machines when you are in a profound vegetative state, hooked up to machines, with no chance of recovery;
  • Arrange your estate legal affairs so that when you have a stroke, illness, or accident and become incapacitated, the right people will have the authority to make decisions for you, without interference from other difficult family members, and without the need for a court guardianship proceeding;
  • Provide for your grandchildren in a way that they benefit from the inheritance for decades after you die.

To learn more about these secrets talk to the estate lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.

Contact our office by calling (608) 268-5751 to schedule a consultation or use our online contact form.

What will happen to your online accounts after death?

The internet has turned the paper trail of one’s life into virtual confetti of online accounts. Sure, it’s not hard to find someone’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. You might even be able to guess a password or two. But you won’t guess them all, and even if you could you might be breaking the law; in many places, accounts can’t be legally accessed by anyone other than the holder.

All that gray area creates the potential for Twitter, Facebook, email and other accounts to sit stranded online in a state of suspended animation. At best, they’ll be creepy reminders every time they prompt friends and family to wish a happy birthday to the departed. At worst, they’ll keep important assets, like bank balances, locked away.

There are currently federal and state laws that may make it a criminal offense for anyone other than the account owner to access an account. This is true even if the owner gives another person permission to do so.  By the end of 2017, it is expected that almost every state will have enacted some form of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. RUFADAA will allow for users to request a digital assetsservice provider to give a fiduciary access either by opting in on an online tool furnished by the service provider or through one’s estate planning documents.

The biggest challenge facing your estate may be finding digital assets after a death. If your family or named fiduciary isn’t aware that you have a Dropbox account, no one may ever look for it.

We recently partnered with Directive Communication Systems which provides personal representatives with a powerful solution for managing personal accounts. When the time comes, DCS works with accounts to implement an estate’s final wishes which may include deletion, transference, memorialization or other instruction. Even a financial institution can be contacted to initiate next steps for the attorney. With DCS, you can be assured that accounts will be managed securely and estate administration will be handled smoothly saving both time and anxiety.  …

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