Category Archives: Important Documents

What is a Medallion Signature Guarantee?

By Jon Stevenson

The Medallion Signature Guarantee is used to verify the identity of an owner when selling or transferring traded assets such as stocks or bonds.This reduces the risk of the company processing the transfer by sharing the liability with the institution that provided the guarantee stamp. It serves as protection for the owner by limiting the likelihood of an unauthorized transfer and the transfer company by reducing losses if a signature is forged.

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The Medallion Signature Guarantee is not the same as a notary stamp and they cannot be used interchangeably. The Medallion Signature is provided by financial institutions such as banks and credit unions because they are able to take financial responsibility. Notary Publics are government officials that certify signatures for legal documents but do not take on financial responsibility.

It is also important to note that different companies are able to provide different amounts of coverage for the transfer. If you are planning on transferring or selling an asset that requires the Medallion Signature Guarantee you will want to make sure they can cover the full amount of the asset or your request may be rejected. For more information about surety limits: https://alliancebernstein.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1343/~/what-are-the-surety-limits-associated-with-medallion-signature-guarantee%3F.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

The Accidental Beneficiary

By Attorney Daniel Vu

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 1.28.55 PMChanging who will inherit your estate can be a lot trickier than you think. You might think that all that you need to do is change your Will. However, changing only your Will would be a costly mistake. The beneficiaries you intend to inherit your estate will lose out on any asset not governed by your Will. Any asset that has named beneficiaries avoids probate and is not governed by a Will. For example, your IRA avoids probate because you most likely have designated beneficiaries on each individual IRA policy. This is also the case with your life insurance policies and many other types of financial accounts. So if most of your assets will avoid probate, changing just your Will would effectively change very little of your estate distribution and it may cause you to accidentally leave something to someone you had no longer wanted to receive as much or anything at all.

If you want to make sure you are not creating an “accidental beneficiary”, you will want to coordinate the changes on your Will and each and every asset that has named beneficiaries. In many cases a Trust can make this easier. For example, if all of your assets are owned (“funded”) into a Trust or made payable to a Trust, then you can make a change with one simple amendment to the Trust. The beneficiaries on all assets owned by the Trust would automatically change. But beware, even if you have a Trust it does not mean that everything will be controlled by the Trust. For various legal or tax reason there may be a select few things that must be left out of the control of the Trust so you will still need to do your due diligence to make sure that all of your distributions by Will, Trust or otherwise are updated to reflect your latest wishes.

Of course it is not uncommon to see people will change their wishes on their Will or Trust but forget about changing their IRA or something else not in the Trust or probated by the Will. This is fine if that difference was intended! Otherwise it's a costly mistake for your intended beneficiaries and a very lucky thing to happen to your now accidental beneficiaries!  

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

What Should I Do If I Can’t Find Mom or Dad’s Original Will?

By Mary Roberts

When a loved one passes away, one of the first things family members do is look for the Will of the deceased. The Probate Court requires the original Will, but if that document was created 20, 30, 40 or more years ago, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to find. So what do you do if you can't find that original Will? Here are a few things to try:

  1. Call the Probate Court in the county in which your parents lived and check to see if they have filed it there for safe-keeping.

  2. Call any previous attorneys that have represented Mom and Dad. They may have retained it in their safe.

  3. If you have a signed copy of the Will, contact your attorney of choice and ask him or her to probate the signed copy. There is a process by which the Judge will admit a signed copy of a Will to probate. This is known in the court's terms as a “Spoilated Will”. It is a fairly simple process where the witnesses are asked to verify that they did, in fact witness the signing of this Will. The attorney who prepared it can also verify it for the Court.

If you or a loved one needs help with estate planning, please contact Cooper, Adel & Associates at 1-800-798-5297 for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.  

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

Facts about the 4th of July

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By Attorney Ted Brown

As the firm's dedicated history buff, I wanted to share a few quick historical facts about the Fourth of July that have been largely lost on our collective common knowledge. Just like real life, history is rarely the cut-and-dry retelling of names and dates that the history books like to depict.

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress formally voted to declare independence from Great Britain. Two days later, on July 4th, the Delegates unanimously approved a final draft of the Declaration of Independence. However, the Declaration itself was not actually signed by the 56 delegates until August 2, 1776. July 4th was assigned as the actual date of the document by the printer who was tasked with distributing (hand-made) copies of the draft version to the public. Great Britain did not actually learn of the Declaration until months later.

Until recent years, Americans generally did not refer to July 4th as “Independence Day” even after the day was declared a national holiday in 1870. Even today, the holiday is most commonly known as “the Fourth”. This is likely based on the fact that our independence was far from certain on July 4, 1776. At the time, Great Britain remained one of the most powerful empires in the World with a vast military presence. The Delegates who signed the Declaration of Independence knew they were very well signing their death warrants and that a long and bitter struggle would be waged. The Revolutionary War that began in April 1775 did not end until April 11, 1783 which perhaps would be a much more fitting date to hold the title “Independence Day.”

From everyone here at Cooper and Adel, we wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July.  

Should I keep a copy of my Healthcare POA and Living Will on my Smart Phone?

By Chris Meyer

elder law planningThe continuing advancements in cell phone technology have made life more and more convenient for people. One question that we are often asked is “should I keep a copy of my Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will on my smart phone?”

The first response to that question is that not everyone chooses to establish a Living Will. In your legal healthcare documents, you actually have the ability to choose whether or not you want a Living Will. One common misconception is that without a Living Will, the physicians will keep you on life support if you are in a permanently unconscious state with no hope of recovery. In reality, as part of your Health Care Power of Attorney documents, you can actually designate that you want your current acting Health Care Power of Attorney to make the final decision about whether or not life support should be removed. Establishing a Living Will gives a direct command to the hospital to remove life support if you are in a permanently unconscious state. Every person's situation is different, and there are pros and cons to either decision. This is something that should be discussed in advance and not a decision that should be taken lightly.

In terms of whether or not your Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will on your smart phone, the answer to that question is yes – just make sure that the person who will act as your Healthcare Power of Attorney knows how to get to it. Having a copy of your Health Care Power of attorney and Living Will on your smart phone will provide you quick and easy access to them if your hospital would need to see them. Not only will these documents alert the hospital as to whether or not you wish to have life support removed if you are in a permanently unconscious state, but it will also provide information about who your current Health Care Power of Attorney is and how to contact them. Your Health Care Power of Attorney has the ability to make any health care related decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and are unable to make these decisions on your own.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-798-5297. Also, be sure to Like us on Facebook. Follow us to keep up to date with a wide variety of Trust, Medicaid, VA, and other Elder Law related topics.

 

What Are The First Steps To Take When A Loved One Dies?

By Steve Wright

When a loved one passes away, it is an emotional time that you should spend with family and friends. Unfortunately, here are a few tasks that will require your attention soon after the death if you are the estate representative.

An important first step you must take as the estate representative is to locate any legal estate documents that the deceased may have had created, particularly any trusts and/or wills. These documents will play a fundamental role in disseminating the estate. Also, you will need at least one certified death certificate. It's a good idea to have at least three. Most financial institutions will require documentation that you are the estate representative and a copy of the certified death certificate in order to release information to you.

Next, you will want to begin compiling the assets and liabilities the decedent left behind. A good starting point is to check their mail.

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The mail will usually contain updated bank statements and statements from other financial institutions such as mutual funds, stocks and bonds. These statements will start you on the right path of determining what assets there are and what to you will need to do with them. In addition to gathering financial statements for each account that the decedent had, you will also want to seek information on other assets such as real estate, insurance, and titled vehicles.

Another good step to take is to contact each institution that the decedent received any type of income from, such as Social Security, STRS, or the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is important so that you can avoid future repayment requests and it will also inform you of any funds or other benefits that may be due the estate.

Finally, contact the decedent's estate planning attorney if they had one. Often, the law office who prepared the estate plan can provide you, as the estate representative, with invaluable guidance during this process.  

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

What should I keep and what should I shred?

By Kathy Cooper

Our clients often ask which records they should keep for what period of time. Some have every bill they ever paid. Some keep nothing. Most of us are somewhere in between, with documents spread in piles all around the house, on the coffee table, home office, safe and safety deposit box.

One good thing about going through the process of planning what we call your “Life Plan”, is gathering all of the important documents about your life in one place: important information about your children, copies of your military discharge papers, deeds, titles, life insurance and annuity policies, statements from bank accounts and so forth. Once you have the basic set of documents, particularly the “permanent” items, it's easier for you – and eventually for those who need them when you are ill or at your death. You can't stop at one-time organization, however, you need to revisit and refresh your records. We revisit these documents periodically when our clients come in for a review of their Life Plan.

So what should you keep? Like so many other things, the real answer is – it depends. Recently I saw an infographic that offers solid direction about how to approach the task of sorting through your piles of stuff to make sense of what to shred, scan or store. It is included below for your reference.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

Don’t let a stranger decide your fate

By Jeannette McKenzie

Life can be unpredictable so you need to be ready for a time when you might not be able to care for yourself. Among other planning tools, there are two Power of Attorney documents that you should have in place if you are unable to care for yourself personally or take care of your personal business. The first is a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney. The other is a Durable Power of Attorney. These documents allow you to name a trusted family member or friend who will have the authority to take care of your medical or personal business when you are unable to take care of yourself. These documents can help prevent the need for a court appointed guardianship or conservatorship.

A Health Care Power of Attorney allows the person you choose to make inquiries and make decisions about your medical well-being This includes making medical decisions when you cannot.

To be prepared for the times in life when you are unable to deal with your personal financial business, a Durable Power of Attorney is essential. Paying bills, taxes, managing property and handling other financial responsibilities don’t go away when you are unable to handle these responsibilities yourself. As with the Health Care Power of Attorney, a Durable Power of Attorney lets you name a trusted friend or family member who can manage your responsibilities in a manner that is in your best interest when you cannot.

Planning ahead is crucial – you need to get these documents in place while you are still capable of making the decisions required to set them up so that they cannot be challenged. Consider that if you don't have them in place and you become incapacitated, the courts will need to be involved. A judge in a court of law with no personal or emotional investment in your well-being will decide who will manage your financial and health affairs. The court generally appoints a person to take care of your affairs. Even if this person would have been your choice, they will be burdened with extra paperwork and red tape that is not necessary with the proper documents that have the proper authorities for your representative.

At Cooper, Adel & Associates, we invite our clients to work with us to periodically update both Power of Attorney documents to reflect current and critical powers for your representative. Our goal is to avoid the time consuming and often costly court process. Of course, we believe that you should work with an elder law attorney so that your documents are part of an overall plan to preserve and protect what you've worked your lifetime to accumulate.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

Get the Kids Involved

By Attorney Keith Stevens

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 10.27.19 AMIt’s not unusual for clients to want to do their estate planning in a vacuum, that is, without their children. They want to get everything set up to provide for their family if they pass away, or so that the family can provide for them, but they don’t want to get the family involved until that dramatic moment. They may want to create a power of attorney naming their son as their agent, but they don’t want the son to know about it.

Of course, every situation is different. There are situations where children have taken advantage of the powers that their parents have granted them. But by and large, your estate plan will work better if the family knows what’s going on.

Estate plans often include a complex collection of documents and arrangements designed to allow easy, cost-effective proxy representation and private transfer of assets. A modern estate plan often uses family members as helpers, in roles such as attorneys-in-fact, executors, or trustees. Surprising a helper by keeping them in the dark until the moment they are needed usually slows things down significantly, as we have to take time to get the helper up to speed.

Some people seem to have it in their heads that it is improper to discuss their assets with their children. But the advantages of making sure that everyone is on-board and on the same page will outweigh the perceived awkwardness.

So bring your kids along when you meet with your estate planning attorney. They may pick up something that you miss or they may remember some fine detail that fades with time. At the very least, they won’t be lost if you become incapacitated or pass away and have to figure everything out from scratch.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

The Importance of Funeral Planning

By Attorney Ted Brown

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 9.53.41 AMPlanning for your own death is not something that anyone enjoys thinking about. However, it is a necessary step to any well-formulated estate plan. The purpose of an estate plan it to make things as easy as possible for those you leave behind, leaving no room for argument or indecision.

Therefore, it is a common step to set aside funds to be used to pay your funeral expenses. This is usually done in conjunction with putting your wishes in writing. That way, your family has some guidance and doesn’t end up arguing over what “dad would want.”

It is not necessary to plan every single detail. Too often families get bogged down in the details. The important thing to do is to make sure your family has a general idea of your wishes:

  • Burial or Cremation?
  • Viewing or no viewing?
  • A basic service or the elaborate send-off?

The purpose of this exercise is to minimize family disagreement over how much to spend and where you want to end up.

Beyond providing guidance in writing, it is just as important to designate someone to carry out these wishes and make the technical decisions. A Power of Attorney ends at death meaning that your agent will not have the authority to make decisions regarding your last wishes. The Executor of your estate will have this authority, but only if you have probate assets requiring administration in Probate Court.

The goal of most estate plans is to avoid probate. Therefore, having to appoint an Executor to carry out your funeral wishes would defeat that planning. Ohio law now provides for this by allowing someone to appoint a “Funeral Trustee” who is empowered to carry out the decedent’s funeral wishes without the need for Court approval.

Funeral planning is an important part of your estate plan and cannot be accomplished with one simple form. Be sure to contact an Elder Law attorney to discuss your options.

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person’s situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 



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