Friday, December 19, 2014

Wills vs. Power of Attorney



A will is in effect after death, but power of attorney is a living document. If a person is alive but incapacitated, the rights over assets and their care can be given to a third party.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Five Types of Power of Attorney Privileges

Establishing power of attorney privileges is an essential element of estate planning. POA authorizes another person to make decisions related to finances and healthcare for someone else in the event they are unable to make decisions on their own.

Before bestowing power of attorney privileges it is crucial to understand how the process works and the rights the person will be given. The person appointed to this position ought to be capable of making difficult decisions that might go against what other family members want.

Individuals who are granted authority to make decisions must be at least 18 years of age. It's important to choose a person who will remain true to decisions pertaining to medical and financial transactions.

There are five different types of power of attorney rights and responsibilities differ based on powers authorized. Each consists of two individuals that include the 'Principal' and 'Attorney-in-Fact.' The Principal is the person that sets up the contract and the attorney-in-fact is the person who carries out the duties on their behalf.

Durable Power of Attorney is the most common type of contract. This legal document authorizes the attorney-in-fact to make financial and medical decisions based on directives provided by the Principal. Powers remain in effect until the Principal dies or until powers are revoked.

The next most common document is the Non-Durable Power of Attorney which authorizes the attorney-in-fact to make decisions for specific types of transactions. Non-durable POA is generally used when the Principal must undergo surgery or some type of medical treatment that might prevent them from being able to make decisions. Powers are granted for a specific transaction and expire once the transaction is completed.

A Limited Power of Attorney is typically used to grant authorization to the attorney-in-fact to sell or transfer real estate owned by the Principal. This document revokes privileges when the transaction is completed.

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is needed to authorize a person to make medical decisions on behalf of the Principal It is vital to discuss the types of medical procedures wanted or not wanted with the person who will be in charge of making decisions to ensure they will abide by your desires.

People often feel uncomfortable discussing these topics, but it's best to openly talk about what kind of treatments should be given or avoided if the unthinkable happens. If a person is adamant about not being placed on life support if declared brain dead, they need to make their decisions known in a healthcare POA. Otherwise, medical personnel must abide by state laws and provide life saving treatment.

A Springing Power of Attorney is required to authorize release of medical records and information. The attorney-in-fact is required to obtain court authorization before they can make decisions on behalf of the Principal.

It's recommended to talk with a lawyer before drafting Power of Attorney documents. Lawyers can advise which document is best suited for the situation and help Principal's select an appropriate attorney-in-fact to carry out required duties.
 Simon Volkov is a real estate investor and probate liquidator who shares an extensive estate planning and probate article library. Topics include establishing power of attorney privileges, how to write a will, and strategies to avoid probate. Learn more estate planning strategies by visiting www.SimonVolkov.com.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Advance Directives and Why You Need One

You've probably heard of advance directives, but are unsure of what they actually do and how they can help you. The truth is that these are a great way to plan ahead for your future, but they do require a bit of work upfront first. This is a good thing though, since it will save you time and energy later. It's better to have the work done before you actually need to do it so in a time of emergency everything is already sorted out beforehand.

The first thing to be aware of is the medical power of attorney, also called a healthcare proxy. This person is lawfully able to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to. This includes when you are suffering from dementia and when you are not conscious. This is a big shoe to fit into, so to speak, so it is important that you select someone that you trust completely. Sometimes, you may want to select a backup healthcare proxy in the event that something happens to your original choice for POA. This doesn't happen often, but when it does you will want to be prepared. So having another person you trust on deck allows you to not worry about constantly updating your POA paperwork.

You also need to know that your POA will not be able to make decisions that override your decisions. This is to benefit you, of course. If you were to wake up out of a coma, you would then be able to once again make your own decisions and not have to worry about your POA making a decision that you do not want them to.

Some states do not actually honor other states' advance directives. Some do. So it will require a little research, either on your own or with your attorney, to make sure that if you are moving from New York to California, for example, that your advance directive will hold up under the scrutiny of the legal system. The easiest solution to this problem is to have an advance directive made up for each state that you will be residing in. So if you do move into a California retirement home, make sure that you set up an advance directive as soon as possible once you are a resident there.

A final consideration for the State of California is that if you are in a skilled nursing facility and want to set up an advance directive, you must have a patient advocate sign the paperwork as a witness. Again, this is to protect you and your rights.

Basically, the State of California wants to ensure that the patient is of sound mind and that they are not being taken advantage of. This is why an advocate must sign-they look out for their patients' best interests.

Matthew G. Young is a freelance writer who specializes in financial, sports, and health-related topics. To learn more about in home health care visit Paradise In Home Care
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Four Reasons Why Business Owners Should Make A Will

If you own a business or have shares in a family company then you should consider making a Will. The following are some of the reasons why making a Will for business owners is so important.

1. The first reason is the fact you can select appropriate executors and trustees, who will be responsible for ensuring the running of the business after your death. Unlike funds in the bank, where management can be fairly minimal, your executors will almost certainly need to ensure the business is kept running in the short term until more long decisions can be taken.

For even the smallest business, your executor's job is to ensure that your financial obligations are met, this can include dealing with tax issues, employees and your business accounts. Failing to do so could have a detrimental effect on the value of the business and therefore mean your family lose out financially. So while your may ultimately want your spouse or children to inherit, if they are not going to be the appropriate executors then you can appoint executors who have the business skills to carry out the executor's duties effectively.

2. The second reason is that by drafting your Will, you can take advantage of the tax breaks offered for business property. There are ways in which the Will can be prepared to ensure that not only do you pass your business to the people you want to inherit, but you do so in a way that limits your total inheritance tax bill as well.

3. The third reason is for making a Will is so that you define exactly how your executors can act. By making a Will, you are able to ensure that your executors have all the necessary powers and authorities they will need to carry on your business and run it correctly. Without a Will, your estate may end up in a position where decisions or steps that are needed to ensure the survival of the business cannot be taken when they need to be. This could mean either a lucrative business opportunity is missed or that an expensive Court application is needed. Either way the result is detrimental to your estate.

4. The final reason for making a Will is to ensure that your interest in the business passes in the way that you want. So for example if you have that children assist in the business while others do not, you can draft your Will to take this into account.

You may therefore decide to ensure that your children who are involved in your business inherit the shares, while the others take cash or other assets. Doing this ensures both a fairness in the way your children are dealt with, but also means that your children who do take a role in the business will not to lose their livelihood following your death. Additionally it means that they will not be forced to sell the business to pay their siblings, a move which may mean they also lose out financially.

If you own a business then making a Will really is something to consider very seriously. The time and effort you have spent in building your business, and its value to it may not be properly passed to your family if you do not make a Will.


Are you are looking for expert wills solicitors? Talk to Hull Solicitors Myer Wolff. Ashley Easterbrook is a partner in the firm's private client department.
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Estate Planning Tools: Durable Power Of Attorney - Seven Factors To Consider

If something happens while you are alive, that makes it impossible for you to handle your financial affairs, sign legal documents or communicate your wishes to others, you could have trouble in many ways. Without a properly executed Power of Attorney, your family may need to get a court order just to handle your affairs. These can cost plenty and waste months of time.

Even though a power of attorney is a relatively simple document and is readily available from many sources, I am still amazed at how many families and individuals do not have one in force. Follow these simple guidelines and make sure that you are protected should anything ever happen that would cause you to need one.

Seven Factors To Consider:

1. Your Agents: One of the most important decisions with a power of attorney is your selection of agents. Will you use a single agent or appoint co-agents? Who will be your successor agent(s) if someone is unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties? These are the questions you need to answer before you are ready. Your agent(s) should be organized, good with numbers and possess great common sense.

2. Access Medical Records: Will you allow your agents to have access to your medical records? They may need this information to keep track of, or to dispute medical bills. But if you want or do not want them to have access to this information, you will need to specify inside your power of attorney.

3. General or Specific Powers: Will your power of attorney provide your agent with broad general powers or very specific powers? You can decide on either, but the more specific you get, the more limited the powers your agent will be allowed. Most people will choose to provide a general power that will include handling most financial, business and personal matters.

4. Beneficiary Changes: You can empower your agents with the ability to change your beneficiaries if you would like, but this can be a risky proposition. In most instances, you will not allow for this provision. You can also provide for the power to refuse potential inheritances. I think this can be helpful in situations where, if someone passes and is leaving you an inheritance, but you refuse it (or are deceased), it would go directly to your children instead.

5. Effective Dates: When will your power of attorney take effect? When will it terminate? You can have it take effect immediately upon execution, you can have it take effect upon the certification of some medical condition or you can specify a certain time period. You might use this if you were going to be out of the country for 3 months or in a rehabilitation program for certain length of time. All powers of attorney terminate immediately upon the death of the individual, but you can set other dates or events as previously outlined.

6. Hire Professionals: Will your agent have the power to hire professionals such as accountants, financial advisers, lawyers, etc? If you want them to be able to handle these on your behalf, you have to specifically allow them by including this power within your document. If not, you may want to specify who you are already working with and require their services if needed.

7. Receive Compensation: Will your agent be allowed to receive reasonable compensation for time and efforts spent acting as your agent? Will they also be allowed to receive reimbursement for any expenses that they incur while acting on your behalf? In most cases you should allow both of these. Taking care of someone's affairs can be time-consuming and there should be reasonable remuneration for these services. While you can specify either way, your agents may be unwilling to participate without it and this could cause bigger problem down the road.

Summary: Having a power of attorney drafted is a fairly simple and inexpensive process. You can hire an attorney, use online legal services or purchase a legal software package to assist you with the preparation. It is very important to follow the execution and filing recommendations for your state and county. Having proper witnesses and notarization of all signatures is a great safeguard for any legal documents, so make sure to get them done right.

To discover additional estate, financial and income tax strategies, check out my blog or download your FREE Wealth Expansion Kit by clicking here. The first step to creating wealth is knowing where you are and then charting a path that will enhance your financial strengths and correct your weaknesses.
Keith Maderer is a financial expert and has been a investment and tax adviser in the Western New York area for over 30 years. He is the owner of SENIOR Financial and Tax Associates and the founder of the Maderer Foundation, a private scholarship program.
Keith is also the author of "How To Get Your College Education For Less". Available on Amazon.com - ISBN No: 978-1-4538-2053-7.
You can get your FREE Wealth Expansion Kit, or check out his blog by visiting http://www.sftaweb.com
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Friday, December 12, 2014

The Advance Directive for Health Care: An Overview

An advance directive for health care is a legal document in which you state the medical treatment you want to receive at some time in the future if you are not able to speak or make sound decisions for yourself. Other names for it are advance directive, health care directive and medical directive. It consists of three parts: the living will, power of attorney and do not resuscitate form (DNR).

The living will is the part of the set of documents in which you make known to your doctor and family members the kind of care you would like to receive as you near the end of life and you can no longer speak for yourself. It is prepared in advance of circumstances requiring its use and does not override your expressed desires.

Therefore, your consciously stated desires will always prevail over what's in the document if the two don't agree.

A living will might specify the withholding and/or withdrawing of treatment. It can be general or specific. A general one usually includes wording that directs the withholding or termination of any treatment, other than that for comfort, if you have a terminal illness. More specific instructions apply to the withholding or withdrawing of specific forms of treatment. They might include things such as artificial feeding, intravenous fluids, or intravenous antibiotics.

A medical power of attorney is that part of the health care directive which allows you to appoint someone to act in your behalf in directing your medical treatment if you are not able to speak for yourself or make sound decisions. The health care power of attorney goes into effect when your physician decides that you are no longer able to understand the nature and the consequences of your treatment decisions.

The term for the person appointed to make these decisions is health care agent (proxy). It is most commonly a family member or close friend who fully understands your treatment wishes. The proxy cannot be a physician or other health care provider involved in your treatment though.

With the exception of state restrictions or limitations listed by you on the power of attorney form, your health care proxy will make all decisions with regard to your treatment once the medical power of attorney goes into effect. Therefore, it is very important that the proxy have a good understanding of your wishes.

In order for the document to be official and legal, you must fill out and sign the medical power of attorney form. Your health care agent must also sign the form. You can revoke the document at any time.

The do not resuscitate (DNR) form is the part of the advance directive for health care that allows you to instruct healthcare personnel to not attempt to revive you if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. Unless the form exist and is visible medical personnel will assume that you consent to attempts to revive you. Those attempts might include the placement of a tube down your windpipe, chest compressions and the use of electrical voltage to stimulate your heart.

The do not resuscitate form is particularly valuable outside of the hospital, e.g. in situations where paramedics are called to a home. In that setting, it is important to have the form visibly on display where the emergency crew can see it. Otherwise, they will attempt resuscitation if it appears to be indicated.

Medical advance directive forms can be obtained from a number of sources including medical offices, hospitals, attorneys, social workers and some post offices. You can also draft your own. Because states regulate advance directives each state has its own official living will, medical power of attorney and do not resuscitate forms. Therefore it is probably best to use your state's official forms in order to be fully compliant with all your state's laws.

Victor E. Battles, M.D. is a board-certified internist with 30 + years of patient contact. He has been a principal investigator in several clinical research trials and is the founder of ProHealth Insight.
For articles on health care visit Pro Health Insight.
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Why Advance Health Care Directives Are Important

Consider this scenario. You are in a hospital with a terminal illness, unconscious, connected to all kinds of medical machines, and has a very poor prognosis. Who will speak on your behalf during this time of illness? Who would tell the doctors, the nurses and your family members what your medical wishes are if ever you get into this terminal condition? Who would let your caregivers know what you would like to happen to you and your body in such a condition like this? Would you like to be kept alive by all means? Or would you rather decide not to be subjected to futile treatments knowing that this is not a dignified living for you? But how would you let everyone know all these wishes now that you are no longer capable of speaking up for yourself?

This is why Advance Health Care Directives (AHCD) are very important. As a clinical counselor working in a hospital for several years now, I have personally worked with families and witnessed them break apart because they could not agree in making medical and end-of-life decisions for the dying loved ones. Their loved ones, who were unable to speak up for themselves, did not have an advance directive. Remember the Terry Schiavo case?

I have witnessed many cases where, because patients did not have an AHCD, families and caregivers are plagued with guilt and have constantly asked themselves if they were making the "right" decision for their loved one or for themselves. Yet, I have also witnessed many cases where, because patients had an AHCD, their families and caregivers felt at peace, in spite of the pain, just because they knew they were honoring their loved one's medical wishes as reflected on their AHCD.

WHAT ARE ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES (AHCD)?

AHCD are legal documents that enable you to do the following:

1. Appoint or designate a primary and secondary power of attorneys for health care whom you trust to speak on your behalf and honor your medical wishes in an event that you could no longer speak up for yourself.
2. Appoint a primary physician whom you trust to be your doctor or caregiver.
3. Make your end-of-life wishes known.
4. Make your wishes known regarding organ donation.
5. Make your wishes known regarding pain control.

For an AHCD to be legal, it has to be signed by you (the person creating the document) before two witnesses. These witnesses could not be your designated power of attorneys or your immediate family members or your health caregivers where you receive medical care. Close friends or distant relatives could be witnesses. If you cannot find witnesses, the document could be notarized by a notary. The notary can only notarize an advance directive if you have a valid photo ID (e.g. driver license or passport). This process applies particularly in California. Other states may have different processes.

I would also like to mention that a Living Will is a kind of AHCD. Likewise, an AHCD could also be known as "Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care."

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUR ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE?

Once you created your AHCD, you keep the original and remember to keep it in an accessible place in your home. If possible, make several copies to give to your designated power of attorneys, your primary physician and to your hospital. I strongly encourage people to always bring a copy with them whenever they go to the hospital so that the hospital will not only have a copy of your document but also will know and honor your medical wishes. While creating an AHCD is not mandatory, it is a Federal Law that hospitals have to ask patients during their admission if they have an AHCD.

WHERE CAN YOU GET ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE FORMS?

Most, if not all, hospitals have AHCD forms. You can always ask your hospital if they have available forms. You can also ask your doctor if he/she has a form. There are many websites now on the Internet that offer AHCD forms. Just do a search on "Advance Health Care Directives."
I believe that your completed (properly witnessed or notarized and signed) AHCD is legally recognized in states other then your own. However, since each state may have its own froms and probably laws on AHCD, the best thing to do is to always bring an extra copy with you when traveling.

WHO CAN FILL OUT AN AHCD?

Many folks think that an Advance Health Care Directive is only for patients who are terminally ill. Not so. Any competent adult, 18 years old and above, can fill out an AHCD. I remember dealing with the family of a 20 year old woman who ended up on a persistent vegetative state (PVS) as a result of a car accident. Her parents ended up divorcing just because they could not agree as to what to do with her in her grave condition. The mother believed that her daughter loved life so much that she would not like to be living in such a terrible medical condition where there is no dignity of life any longer. The father thought otherwise. This sad break-up of a family would have not happened if, even at early age, their daughter had an advance heatlh care directive.

I strongly encourage you to talk to your physician or family members about this difficult yet very important subject. I just hope that this article has been a source of help.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Estate Planning : What Is a Revocable Living Trust?



Revocable living trusts are 98 percent of living trusts; they help avoid probate and allow others to use money to take care of the trust maker. Find out what an irrevocable living trust is from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Aging, Communication, and Preparation

Making plans for retirement is clearly one of the highlights of your life. From the time you get out of college and enter the workforce most of your time is accounted for, and over those years there are invariably going to be many experiences that make their way onto your "to-do" list. The day that you retire is the day that you start to check things off that list, and your life experience in enriched with every mark.

We often talk about the fact that one of the challenges that is inherently part of any type of long-term planning is the fact that you can't predict the future with any degree of certainty. This is true of financial markets, laws, our own health and that of our loved ones. All of these things impact retirement planning, but there is another factor that can be difficult to fully digest.

Your mental capacity may not be the same as your retirement years pass. When you are planning for retirement it is very important to be realistic and keep this in mind. What happens if you need long-term care? What if you never made your medical preferences known via the execution of advance health care directives? You don't want to start considering these matters for the first time when you are in the latter stages of your life.

It may be a good idea to plan for your twilight years simultaneous to making plans for an active retirement both emotionally and financially. Bringing the issues of long-term care and possible incapacitation out in the open with your family long before they are directly relevant is also something to consider. Successful people generally confront reality and stay ahead of the curve. If you follow the same path that brought you success throughout your life you will invariably age just as successfully.

Alan L. Augulis is a leading provider of expert estate planning guidance in Warren, NJ. For more information on retirement plan and other estate planning services, visit our website.
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Sunday, December 7, 2014