Heart Health Month: Keeping Prepared for Anything

Posted by on Feb 25, 2019 in Legal News |

February is Heart Health and Stroke Month, raising awareness of the problems that many Americans face when it comes to cardiovascular health. The statistics certainly seem to suggest that there is a problem. According to the CDC, one in four deaths in America are caused by heart disease. That is 610,000 people. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, with coronary heart disease being most common. The idea behind this month is to discuss healthy eating and exercise habits that will reduce your risks of contracting these illnesses. 

Unfortunately, with the commonality of heart disease, it is all-too-realistic that there may be a chance of heart-related illness affecting your family. When that happens, you need to be prepared for anything. Here is how estate planning can help: 

Healthcare Directives 

While there are many different possible ailments that come along with heart disease, there is a strong likelihood that you might be too incapacitated to make your own decisions. That is definitely true when it comes to a stroke. During a stroke, oxygen to your brain is cut off, and the among the first parts to lose their functioning is memory. That’s especially a problem if you have certain wishes for your healthcare that you formulated when you were not sick. 

A healthcare directive is a set of instructions for your hospital, doctor, nurse, etc. to use when they are deciding what care to give you. The directive ensures that your wishes will be respected. Developing one when you are healthy will protect you when you are sick. 

Powers of Attorney 

Your powers of attorney for finance and healthcare also come into play when you are incapacitated. They make financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf when you are too sick to make them yourself. These positions come with a lot of responsibility. When selecting your POAs, you want to make sure that you choose someone who can be logical, level-headed, and respectful of your wishes. Discuss with your proposed powers of attorney your decision to appoint them to that position. Make sure they are on board before you nominate them. 

Asset Protection 

Unfortunately, as seen in the statistics above, heart disease is deadly. There’s no way around it—it can be a disease that ends lives. If you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one, make sure you or your loved one have a plan in place to protect assets in the even that this happens. Ensuring the smooth transfer of property through a living trust or a similar document will allow your affairs to wrap up easily. It’s not exactly a spirit-lifting topic, but it is an important one if you want to be prepared for anything. 

Avoiding Probate Court 

Probate court is a lengthy, arduous process. If you die without a will (or even with a will), your family will end up there. By putting in place a living trust, you can get out of probate court. Your assets will be divided in a way that best benefits you and your family. Otherwise, they will most likely be liquidated to pay off your creditors first. Then, your family will get what’s left. That’s not the asset plan you or your family deserves. 

You can never be too sure that there won’t be an illness striking your family. Though that’s not exactly a topic any of us want to think about, it is one that happens. The above tools and resources are useful for preventing and protecting against asset loss or diminishment as a result of illness. Consult an estate planner today. 

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President’s Day: What It Can Teach Us

Posted by on Feb 17, 2019 in Legal News |

One thing that presidents have (mostly) been is responsible. Presidents can teach us a lot. They are usually hard-working, dedicated individuals. Despite our political differences, much can be learned from these leaders of the free world. That includes tenacity, perseverance, and responsibility. You might be thinking of your favorite president now. As you can imagine, there were probably a lot of sides to them that the world didn’t see. But they kept a dedicated cabinet around them that helped them make important decisions. Presidents have to be prepared for anything, and so do we. 

Here are ways that you can emulate responsibility (like your favorite president) when it comes to your estate plan: 

Your Kids

If you have kids, there are two major areas in which you can show responsibility. These are guardianship and college savings. Of course, the whole estate plan itself goes towards helping your kids, but these two tools are most specific to them. 

Guardianship. In your estate plan, you can include information about guardianship and who you want to take care of your children in case something happens to you. God forbid anything does, but you need to be prepared for anything, just in case. Choose the guardian that will be most responsible and nurturing day-in and day-out. Check with the proposed guardian first to make sure that they are okay with being named for guardianship. 

College savings. What you may not realize is that the IRS offers a tax-advantaged savings plan for you if you want to save for your kids’ college. You can choose a savings account, or you can pay the whole of tuition as a credit to be applied later. This plan, called a 529 plan, will help you provide for your child’s future. Each state has its own rules, so make sure that you consult an estate planner to walk you through the process. 

Your Assets 

Your home and personal property is important to you, of course, but have you thought of what you will do when you pass on? You want to ensure that your assets are transferred to people you know will take care of them. Or, perhaps you want the assets liquidated upon your death and the proceeds distributed. A trust is often the best way to accomplish this asset protection.

Your Health 

If you become sick and are in the hospital, you may not have the capacity to make your own decisions. Yet, at the same time, you might have specific wishes for your care. In order to communicate those instructions after you’ve become incapacitated, you should have a healthcare directive. This document contains your instructions to doctors, hospitals, nurses, hospice, and others who can ensure that you get the care you need and want.

Your Finances 

Similarly, you might not be able to give instructions about your finances. This is why you should appoint a power of attorney to make these decisions for you. A POA is a trusted official that you designate to take care of your money and allocate your resources appropriately. This is an extremely important position. When appointing your POA, think long and hard about who will best carry this out.

Your Legacy 

Above all, responsible estate planning is about your legacy. You don’t want to stick your family in probate court for month after month. Executing a well-planned estate plan will ensure that your family is able to quickly and conveniently wrap up your affairs.

The list above includes things that are important to everyone. They matter greatly when it comes to your quality of life. Make good decisions when it comes to your future and protect the list above tenaciously. Responsibility is one of the most important traits when it comes to your estate plan. 

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V-Day: Don’t Let Love Cloud Judgment 

Posted by on Feb 12, 2019 in Legal News |

Valentine’s Day is the season of red hearts, chocolate, and flowers. It’s easy to get caught up in the V-Day rush. You’ve probably made plans to go on a date (or not), and the season of love may have you thinking about your assets and who you want to have them. If it’s not getting you thinking about that, you should. All too often, people let love cloud their judgment. It’s not difficult to understand. When you love someone, you want to help them, and that might lead you to make financial decisions you regret later on. That is why it is important to consult with an estate planner before you decide to transfer any assets or make big decisions. You don’t want to end up doing something you regret. 

Here are some ways in which love might cloud your judgment when it comes to your estate: 

Your Assets

Your home and personal belongings are probably among the most important material things to you. When you think of what you want done with them after you’re gone, you likely want them to go to someone you love who will take care of them. We all love our relatives, but not all of them are fiscally responsible. When you’re considering who you should pass on your assets to, think through the scenario fully and take an objective look. Because, often, we have a subjective view of our family, you may want to consult an estate planning attorney about your proposed transferee. 

Powers of Attorney

Your powers of attorney for finances and healthcare make decisions for you when you’re too incapacitated to make them yourself. They decide where your money goes and what it goes to pay off, and they also decide what happens to you in the hospital. Needless to say, these are huge responsibilities. And they require a cool head and a lot of focus. You might love your spouse, but you also might think that they wouldn’t be the right fit as POA. That’s not an easy conversation to have, and an estate planner can help you with that. But one thing you do not want to do is make someone your POA just because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.


If you have minor children, you probably have some idea of who you would leave in charge of them in the even that something happened to you. Make sure you write this down in your estate plan. A guardian is the person who will shape your child and help them become an adult. That has life-changing implications. When selecting your guardian, think about how you want your child’s future to play out. Consult with the proposed guardian before putting them into your estate plan. 

New People Too Soon 

So, you’ve met someone, and you really like them. And that’s great! It’s always a good thing to be able to envision a future with someone. But, not to be a wet blanket, make sure that you wait a little while before giving them a position of power in your estate plan. You don’t want to rush into anything too quickly. For example, if you meet someone and get caught in a whirlwind romance, you might decide to leave them your house. However, if you change the paperwork, they end up turning out to be less-than-ideal, and you die without making the change back, that could spell disaster. You’ve just given someone you don’t even like a house. The point is, don’t rush into anything when it comes to your assets. 

This article probably isn’t the most fun Valentine’s Day read, but it is important. It’s a shame when people allow their love to cloud their judgment and cause them to make decisions that can harm them or their family. Talk to an attorney before making any major, spur-of-the-moment decisions. If there’s one thing you don’t want to do in a rash of decision-making, it’s your estate plan. 

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