NEWS / ARTICLES
ONE SMALL STEP TO PREVENT YOUR AGING PARENT'S FINANCIAL DISASTER
The article tells the story of Ruth, an elderly woman who missed making a payment on one monthly bill - because her mailman never delivered the bill, no less - and disaster struck. The bill she missed? Her Blue Cross Blue Shield supplemental insurance payment. The disaster? She ended up in the hospital that very month, had bills in excess of $80,000, and BCBS refused to pay because she missed her payment. Never mind that she had never missed a payment before, or even paid late.
Sadly, Ruth's situation is not unique. As people age, it gets harder and harder to keep up with the demands of our fast-paced, technology-driven world. Yet, this is a situation where technology can help:
Set up automatic payments for all accounts. With auto-pay, you know the bill will be paid on-time for the correct amount, regardless of whether the bill makes it to the house or not.
This is something I have done for my parents. It takes a bit of time to get it all set up, but knowing they won't have to face such a terrible situation like what happened to Ruth makes it all worth it!
A good estate plan includes what we like to call "catastrophic planning," or what the author of this article calls a "Titanic" clause. It's not enough to have a Will that leaves everything to your kids. Such a plan does not take into account what happens if you and your kids are in a tragic accident and all perish at the same time or there's a situation like what happened in December 2016 with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds where deaths are close in time.
In these situations, having a back-up plan is vital! As the article notes, detailed succession planning is "especially important for high net worth individuals, those in second marriages, those with few intended heirs and people whose heirs include either very young children or someone with special needs."
It is also important for anyone who doesn't want to risk the State stepping in and deciding who gets to share in your estate. If your current estate plan does not include this type of catastrophic or succession planning, then contact us today! Do not put your family's future at risk!
Parents, you know your children best! No attorney should pressure you into treating all of your children the same in your estate plan. In fact, there are some very good reasons why one or more of your children should receive "special treatment" in your estate plan. Some of these reasons are addiction tendencies, money-management concerns, special needs or other health-related issues.
It is important that you are forthright and frank with your attorney about your kids and the presence of indicators such as those listed above. Treating your kids differently is not anything to be ashamed of. In fact, it shows how much you care for and love your children that you would take the time to make sure their needs are specifically addressed.
Is anyone ever really "prepared" for the death of their spouse? Of course not. No one even wants to imagine going through their life without their spouse by their side. Yet, losing a spouse is a very real possibility, which is why it is better to get organized now. Gathering together the documents and having the conversations outlined in this article will save you countless hours down the road. Do yourself and your loved ones a huge favor and work through this now, during the happy and blessed times. You do not want to be faced with this task at a time when you are grieving the loss of your spouse.
Part of your preparation absolutely needs to be a review of your existing estate plan, if you even have one. If you do not have one (or if you find your existing one to be woefully inadequate), then please call us today to set up an initial consultation. Estate and inheritance matters are way too important to be left up to the State to decide what happens to your stuff!
Once your child turns 18 years of age, in the eyes of the law, they are an adult. As such, parents lose the ability to obtain medical information, handle financial issues, or otherwise assist their children as they step into adulthood and learn how to manage their own affairs. For example, if you call the health clinic at your son's university and ask for information about your son's recent visit, the health clinic does not have to share that information with you. If your daughter is in a coma resulting from a serious accident, she can't write the check to pay her apartment rent that month. You - her parents - can't write a check against her account either, without her express authorization to do so. That is why both a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Directive (which actually consists of multiple documents) is so vital.
For more on the need for these documents, read this November 2015 article about a mother's nightmare and how hospital doctors were deemed to be her 18-year old son's medical care providers, even though her son was on her insurance policy.
According to the article, blended families are the most common form of families today. A "blended family" could be the result of a remarriage after a divorce or after the death of a prior spouse.
Blended families present unique estate planning challenges. It can be difficult to decide how best to take of your children from another marriage while also taking care of your new spouse. The key is not to go it alone. We can help you tailor your estate plan to make sure everyone one in your blended family is taken care of in the way you desire.
MISSING A SIGNATURE, MINNEAPOLIS MAN'S LAST WILL INVALIDATED
The will at issue in this case was a "holographic will," meaning it was a will written entirely in his own handwriting. The requirements for a valid holographic will in North Carolina are not the same as in Minnesota. Nevertheless, this article highlights the importance of making you sure you meet your state's legal requirements in order to have your will accepted for probate by the court. An estate planning attorney can help make sure your final wishes are honored.
While the article is mostly about the Pet Trust she established to take care of her birds, the more frightening takeaway is towards the conclusion of the article - she used a pen to strike through one name on the will and replace it will another. TAKE NOTE: that simple, seemingly harmless, action actually invalidated the will! If you want to make a change, no matter how simple, contact our office!