Estate planning is not just about what happens to your stuff when you die. It is about coordinating all aspects of your life so you can be taken care of during times when you are unable to care for yourself, and your money and property are distributed to the individuals you have selected upon your death, in the way you want.
1) Lack of Healthcare and Disability Planning. The majority of deaths occur in hospitals or other institutions. Patients may be incapacitated to the point where they can no longer communicate their healthcare wishes.
A scary health diagnosis can be emotionally and logistically challenging for many reasons. For instance, how can you take care of your family if you’re physically incapacitated?
Depending upon the state in which you live, a medical agent could also be known as an agent under an advance healthcare directive (also called a living will), an agent under a medical or healthcare power of attorney, a health care surrogate, a health care proxy, a medical proxy, or a variety of other names. Regardless of the title used in your state, the bottom line is that your medical agent is a person you authorize to make decisions about your medical care if you are too ill to make them yourself or are otherwise unable to communicate your wishes. It is an important role, and the person you choose will be authorized to make critical health care decisions, including whether to consent to or refuse medical treatment and which health care providers or hospitals to use for your care.
After the 2018 passing of the legendary singer Aretha Franklin, her family and lawyer initially thought she had died without a will. But earlier this year, three handwritten wills—two from 2010 that were locked in a cabinet and one from 2014 that was hidden under a couch cushion—were found in Franklin’s home in Detroit. Franklin’s attorney filed the wills in probate court but was uncertain whether they were legal under Michigan law. One of Franklin’s sons questioned whether she actually wrote the wills and convinced the probate judge to allow a handwriting expert to examine the documents to verify whether the handwriting is Franklin’s. It is likely that the battle over Franklin’s estate, reportedly valued at $80 million, has just begun.
The internet offers all the information and tools we need at our fingertips to create our own estate plan, right? For most people, this is simply not true. Several years ago, Consumer Reports®, an independent nonprofit consumer watchdog group, created wills using the forms provided by DIY websites and asked three law professors to review them.
Even if you are currently the picture of good health, you may suddenly become too ill to make healthcare decisions for yourself or become unconscious after an accident, needing someone to stand in your shoes to make those decisions for you. A medical power of attorney is a crucial part of your estate plan that enables you to name a trusted person to make healthcare decisions for you if needed. It is essential for the person you name to have the information necessary to carry out your wishes for your medical care.
FEBRUARY 11, 2017 GARY R. KERSHNER
A married couple establishes a joint trust with each contributing their share of their joint or community property (if any) and their own separate property to the trust. What happens to the property in the trust when the first spouse dies? As a general rule, the surviving spouse’s share (i.e., their own separate property and one-half share of the joint or community property) simply transforms into the so-called Survivor’s Trust. As the name implies, this is the property that belongs to the survivor. The surviving spouse can continue to make changes to this…