Is Your Legal House In Order?

Greetings, Is Your Legal House In Order?

As I mentioned in my previous post, May is Decision-Making Month.  It is also National Elder Law Month.  This is the month that we reach out and educate people (not only seniors) on the importance of doing basic planning.

What I consider to be basic planning is doing the bare minimum to ensure that your loved ones are protected in case something unexpected happens to you.  There are many types of planning, such as estate planning or Medicaid planning.  However, the planning I’m talking about here is the absolute necessities:  A Will, a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy.

Will allows you to decide how your assets and belongings will be distributed after you die.  If you do not have a Will, the statutes of the state in which you live direct where your assets go.  My rule of thumb for deciding when to do a Will:  when you have your first child or when you acquire your first substantial asset.

Advance Directives

The term Advance Directives refers to the Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) and the Health Care Proxy (HCP).  The DPOA is used to designate a person or persons to handle your financial matters.  The HCP is used to designate a person to make health care decision for you if (and only if) you become unable to make them for yourself.  These basic documents should be executed by all adults.  I always tell clients that they should do these no matter what age they are.

The best reason for this advice is the high cost of guardianship.  Imagine the following scenario:  You are walking down the street, and you get hit by a bus.  You become unconscious and suffer brain damage.  You’re going to make it, but it is going to be a long road ahead.  Unfortunately, your accounts are all in your name, and the bills need to be paid so your family can remain in their house or apartment.  Who can access your accounts?

If you haven’t designated someone, your family will have to petition the court to have a guardian appointed for you.  Guardianship proceedings cost in the thousands of dollars and take months to get through.  Advance Directives cost in the hundreds and typically involve two appointments with your lawyer.

So, during Elder Law Month, we try to get the word out to the community that doing this basic planning can save your family a lot of money and a lot of heartache in the future.  Putting your legal house in order is really an act of love for your family.

We are offering discounted prices on these basic planning tools throughout the upcoming month as an added incentive to take on this important task.  Call or email us for more information.

To your legal health!

Lori Somekh

original post: http://somekhandsarlis.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/04/is-your-legal-house-in-order.html

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