Category Archives: Important Documents

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.

 

Are Joint Accounts with your Children a Good Idea?

By Attorney Ted Brown

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 3.21.03 PMI often meet with clients who want their children to be able to access their accounts to help out with writing checks or paying bills. I also frequently meet with children who are glad to help aging parents manage their finances. However, these good intentions can create a very serious risk of major liability if carried out incorrectly.

THE WRONG WAY
When going to the bank, parents request that the helper child be “added to the account” which the bank obligingly does. In doing so they make the helper child a legal co-owner of the account. This act financially ties the parent and child exposing both to joint liability.

For example, if the helper child runs into financial difficulties such as a bankruptcy, or a divorce or a lawsuit, the parent’s account is considered to be their asset. Under the law, jointly owned assets are vulnerable to claims of either owner. Therefore the parent’s money can be lost paying for the child’s debts.

THE RIGHT WAY
Instead of adding the helper child as a co-owner, they should be added as a “Power of Attorney” acting under a properly drafted and executed Power of Attorney document. A Power of Attorney is designed to allows you to appoint someone else to act on your behalf. The Power of Attorney or “Agent” is obligated by law to act in the principal’s best interest but are not personally liable for the debts of the principal. Moreover, the principal is not personally liable for the debts of the agent.

Designating the helper child as a Power of Attorney allows the child to access the account, write checks, pay bills and do everything the parent needs without connecting them personally to the account or exposing assets to the child’s liability.
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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.

 

 

Deed Scam – Do you need to pay attention to a Deed Processing Notice

By Kathy Cooper

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 10.26.39 AMOnce again this year, some of our clients have received very official-looking letters that say something like this one that was sent to us:

“… Transfer Services recommends that all OH homeowners obtain a copy of of their current Grand Deed. This document provides evidence that the property at [your address] was in fact transferred to the individual [your name]”.

These hucksters give you a “Compliance Response Date” or other call to action. It is bogus!

These letters list property values and information that makes it look like it came from a government agency – how much you paid for the property, when you bought it, how big it is, etc. IT DID NOT COME FROM A GOVERNMENT AGENCY! The information printed is from public sources available to anyone on the internet. Yes, it is surprising what is available on the internet but unfortunately scam artists are very much aware of what is there about you and about your property. They can use it to trick you into spending money for a deed you don’t need!

How can you tell if it’s a scam? There are usually a few things that can tip you off:

Where is the company located? Official correspondence from your county comes from your county, not Wilmington, Delaware or Willard, Texas!

A “Transfer” company is not your county government.

Read the entire document before you act. Most – but not all – of the time, there is a disclaimer. “This is an advertisement” may be somewhere in the fine print. This is not always the case. We hear from many clients who have received a demand for payment with no disclosures.

Do you need an official copy of your deed? Not really. You can always go to your county (or call our office if you are one of our clients) for a copy of your deed. Your county will print your deed for a small expense fee around $2 or $3 and not $83 like the one a client recently sent us!

Not sure, call our office or the Attorney General. Don’t let these scam artist take your hard-earned money!

 

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Contact us for a free consultation.

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.

 

Tax Documents You Need Now for 2013

 

Sometimes there's a must-read article. "Tax Documents to Have on Hand Before 2013", originally published on the Dimespring.com website, is one of those must-reads. Our very own Senior Partner, Attorney Mitch Adel, is a contributor to the article. Who says it's a must-read?

Dayton Daily News

WHIO TV Dayton

WSOC TV Charlotte

Austin American Statesman

Springfield News-Sun

WSBT TV Atlanta

 

Click on any of the links above to read the article. Have questions or want to discuss your personal situation? Give us a call.

 

 

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (or in any attachment) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication (or in any attachment).

 

7 signs that our parents may need help managing their money

By Angie Hall

As the holidays approach and you spend time with your aging parents, it may give you the opportunity look for some warning signs that your parents may need your help in managing their finances. You may not have noticed any issues if you are only speaking to your parents over the phone. So spending a few days with them over the next few weeks, gives you the ability to really evaluate whether or not their memory and ability to manage their finances is in trouble. According to an article, titled “7 Signs Your Parent May Need Help with Money Tasks”, Author Cameron Huddleston, Contributing Editor at Kiplinger.com, suggests seven things to look for if you are visiting your parents over the holidays.

  1. Organization of important financial documents are in disarray. Important papers are scattered throughout the house.

  2. Their mail is full of solicitations asking for donations. Especially from groups and organizations that they had never been involved with before.

  3. The next one could be difficult: mistakes in their checkbooks. Maybe they are having difficulty writing checks. For example, they can't remember where the date goes or how to write out the amount.

  4. Piles of unpaid bills or mail that hasn't been open. Disconnect notices for unpaid utility bills.

  5. The refrigerator has a lot of expired food. Or, looking in the pantry, you might notice multiple packages of the same items.

  6. A once spotless house is no longer clean. You can tell it hasn't been dusted or the vacuum hasn't been used in a while.

  7. Reminder notes. Information written on backs of envelopes or scraps of paper throughout the house.

If you notice any of the seven signs, this may be a good opportunity to have a discussion with your parents and suggest some measures that they could take to get them the help that they may need. A meeting with the doctor would be one of the first steps and then the next step could be, scheduling a meeting with a certified elder law attorney who could assist with establishing power or attorney documents that would make it possible for the child to help their parent manage their financial affairs.

http://www.kiplinger.com/colums/kiptips/archives/7-signs-your-parents-may-need-help-with-money.html

 

 

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (or in any attachment) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication (or in any attachment).

 



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