Monday, August 23, 2010

Top Five Reasons You Should Have DPOA's

The Top 5 Reasons You Should Have DPOA's

You may be asking, what in the world is a DPOA? That's a good question and before I get into the top 5 reasons you should have them, let's explore what a DPOA is.

DPOA stands for Durable Power of Attorney. This is a legal document where you specify who YOU want to make decisions for YOURSELF if you become incapacitated. By incapacity, I mean when you cannot communicate your own decisions due to illness, infirmity or any other reason.

There are two types of DPOA's. First, there is the financial type. The second type is for health care or medical decisions. These are two separate legal documents which CANNOT be combined. Here's why:

1. Each type of DPOA is governed by different state laws.
2. Each DPOA deals with different subject matter and has it's own individual structure.
3. It is common for people to want one person handling their money if they are incapacitated and a different person talking to their doctors.

For those three reasons, it is customary to have a Financial Durable Power of Attorney and a separate Health Care Durable Power of Attorney.

A word about why it is called "durable". A Power of Attorney that is not "durable" is revoked as a matter of law when the principal (the person who is making the Power of Attorney) becomes incapacitated. A Power of Attorney which is durable, survives the incapacity of the principal.

Now on to the top five reasons you want the two types of Powers of Attorney:

1. To protect yourself. When you have a Durable Financial and Health Care Power of Attorney, it is YOU who decides who YOUR decision maker will be if you are incapacitated. These "agents" are people you have decided, after due deliberation, you trust to make decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. This is crucial with our HIPAA laws because you can name your HIPAA personal representative in the document. Without that, because of HIPAA, it is difficult to obtain medical information about you when you are sick or injured.

2. The law will not protect you. State laws provide for who will make decisions for you if you fail to adopt the two types of DPOA's. However, if they are the same person you would choose, it would be coincidence and only by chance. This is especially true for unmarried persons, or people in unconventional relationships.

Also, because of the HIPAA laws (medical information privacy laws) it is crucial that you have designated someone that can speak with your doctors and medical providers. This is done in a DPOA.

3. To protect your property. The Financial Durable Power of Attorney allows you to select someone you trust to handle your money and property if you are incapacitated. This affords you much greater comfort than having a Court supervised Conservatorship appointed for you. Your choice is generally always better than the choice forced on you by law.

4. To protect your family. By naming your own decision maker you can protect your family by creating greater likelihood that your choices and plans for yourself and family will occur if you are disabled. This affords greater protection and comfort to you and your family. This is not completely foolproof however. The key is choosing your agent wisely.

5. To avoid conflict in the family when you are sick. Nothing will tear a family apart faster than conflicts over who should be your decision maker. When you create your DPOA's, you can, in most cases, eliminate conflict over who should make your decisions if you are incapacitated. To have your own choices respected and enforced will always help you sleep better. Again the key is to choose your decision makers wisely.

Those are my top five reasons I think you should have DPOA's. If you have others, or any questions, please get in touch with me or leave a comment.

Bernie Greenberg

Monday, August 16, 2010

The 5 Top Reasons to Have a Will

The 5 Top Reasons for Having a Will

Before I get into the five top reasons for having a Will, I want to invite you to follow our blog and become a contributor with your comments and questions. Your contribution and participation will help to make our blog better.

Like our recent article about the 5 top reasons for having an estate plan, there are many, many reasons for having a Will. This article will focus on what I believe to the be the top five reasons. You might have reasons that are not discussed here and if so, let us know.

1. You get to pick your Executor or Personal Representative

This is an important reason and introduces the concept of having a Will so your choices are recognized vs. those of your state. When you have a Will, you can choose who will administer the Will and your estate. This is an important, fundamental power that you should not surrender.

2. Your kids won't have to go to foster care, even temporarily.

Most clients with children don't want their kids to spend any time in foster care. But if you die without a Will, this is a real possibility. With a Will of your own, you can provide for the guardianship of your kids to make sure that this doesn't happen.

3. Your pets won't have to go to a shelter or be euthanized.

For many clients their pets are like children and they want to be sure the pets are cared for if something happens. With a Will you can provide for custody and living arrangement for your pets. Those arrangements are problematic without a Will.

4. Your property will go to who YOU want when YOU want.

If you die without a Will, the state provides one to you in the form of the state's laws of intestacy. So, if you want your property to go to certain persons in a specific way, then creating a Will is a must. Otherwise, the state will dictate where your property goes and if property ends up where you want, it's only a matter of coincidence.

5. You can protect your children or loved ones from wasting their inheritance and destroying your legacy.

Most clients I speak with are adamant that they do not want large sums of money delivered to their children at young ages. If you don't want your kids inheriting your estate at an early age line 21, then creating a Will is a must. In your Will, you can stage the delivery of a child's inheritance until they achieve an age that you believe is more suitable for handling money and property. Who wants their estate to be wasted buying a $200,000 car for an 18 year old? If you don't, then you need to create a Will.

A final thought. I have written before on the dangers of internet Wills and Wills from software programs. I encourage you to read that article. One popular internet Will is being sold by one of OJ's lawyers. In a recent poll we conducted, not one person who responded was interested in buying an internet Will from that source.

We recommend that you deal with a qualified estate planning attorney when you decide it's time to create your Will and estate plan.

Let us know if you have other reasons for creating a Will.

Bernie Greenberg

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Top 5 Reasons You Should Complete Your Estate Plan

The Top 5 Reasons for Completing Your Estate Plan

There are hundreds of reasons for you to complete your estate planning. Recently at a talk I gave on estate planning and Wills and Trusts, I was asked, "Bernie, what are the top 5 reasons I should do an estate plan"?

That's a great question because it forces us to really focus on the true reasons that estate planning in some form is necessary for everyone. I mean everyone, regardless of age, relationship status or wealth.

So here we go, the top 5 reasons you should complete your estate plan ASAP:

1. Certainty

Your estate plan creates certainty. For yourself, your family, your pets and your property. A good estate plan will ensure that what you want to happen and when you want it to happen will.

2. Creativity

Since it's your estate plan, you can be as creative as you want to be. Your only limitations are: how much you want to spend and keeping it legal.

3. Continuity

All of us have plans for the future. Some of those plans involve ourselves, and some involve our loved ones. A good estate plan can make sure that those plans will happen and your dreams for your family can continue into the future even if you are not here to see it occur.

4. Comfort

Having a good estate plan will make you feel more comfortable. Comfortable knowing that you have protected those and that needing protection. You will be comfortable knowing that you have done what less then 20% of adults have done--your estate plan. You will have thought through those issues we all avoid and don't think about. And that brings an incredible sense of comfort.

5. Confidence

A good estate plan will create confidence for you and your family. Knowing that they are protected and cared for makes you more confident to live your life. Never again will go to sleep worrying.

Those are the top 5 reasons I think you should complete your estate plan. Maybe you have others. If you do, I'd like to hear from you and would also like to hear from you if you have comments or questions about this list.

Bernie Greenberg

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to Control Your Future

That would be great wouldn't it? Controlling our futures? Is this something out of science fiction? No, it is something that anyone can do.

So how can you control your future? With estate planning of course! Estate planning, once complete, is a process that allows you to control the outcome of future events.

Now, we are not talking about controlling what happens in the future. That would be beyond what estate planing can accomplish. What estate planning allows you to do is to control outcomes of an uncertain future.

How about some examples:

1. We cannot predict our health in the future. With estate planning, you can control how you are treated and who would make decisions for you if you suffered incapacity. That's controlling the future.

2. We cannot predict WHEN we might die. But with estate planning, you can control how your property is handled, who would raise your children or pets and many other things if you suffered an untimely death.

These are only two examples of hundreds of others of how you can control your future with estate planning. So if you are interested in having some control over how your future will turn out, start by completing your estate plan.