Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Gift For Thanksgiving? How About the Gift of Being Current?

The Gift of Being Current

As an estate planning attorney, as you might guess, I think a lot about estate planning. Recently, two experiences with clients reminded me of how important your estate plan is to protecting you and your family. The experiences of those two families is about the importance of having a current plan rather than one that is old and out of date.

Current Powers of Attorney

The first case involved a client who suffered an illness that left them incapacitated. The issue we faced is that the client's documents did not have current HIPAA language. This means that having the right family members with access to the client's doctors took some work. First lesson: make sure you have current Powers of Attorney that contain the appropriate HIPAA provisions so that the family members you want can speak to your medical providers should you suffer an incapacity.

A Current Will

The second case was more problematic. This client had not updated their Will concerning who would be the Personal Representative (that's the Executor in Colorado). When the client died two months ago, the family was not pleased that someone no longer involved with this client was named as the PR. We were able to solve this sticky problem with a series of meetings and negotiations. Lesson two: keep your Will or estate plan up to date.

What started me thinking about this is the holiday season. The holidays are when most people think the most about family (except some the stores that are forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving; a subject for a different article)and is always my busiest time of the year. So when you are thinking about your family this Thanksgiving, you might also think about whether your documents, Powers of Attorney, Will or estate plan are up to date and current. If not, how about that for a way to remember your family? Protect them and yourself with current documents.

And of course, if you don't have these documents yet, the holidays are probably the best time to get started.

What do you think? Please join our conversation with your comments, thoughts or questions. As always, thank you for your interest.

Bernie Greenberg

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