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What You Need To Know About … Guardianships & Healthcare Powers of Attorney

Part One

When a person has a loved one in rehabilitation or in long term care, understanding how guardianships and powers of attorney really work is essential – even if the loved one is competent to make their own decisions. As clients frequently note to me, it’s what you don’t know that can hurt you.

First, What is a Guardianship?

A guardianship is a court procedure through which a person or organization is given the responsibility to make decisions about the medical care of another individual (but to be clear – only medical, not financial. The financial court proceeding is known as a conservatorship). In order to have a Guardian appointed:

  • A person (the “ward”) must be unable to make informed decisions independently (incompetent) and
  • The guardianship must be necessary to provide continuing care and supervision of the individual.

 

A Guardianship is Not the Best Solution for Most People – Consider Powers of Attorney Instead

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What You Need To Know About … Guardianships & Healthcare Powers of Attorney (Part Two)

In Part One, we covered what a guardianship is and why a guardianship is not the best solution for most people. Understanding how guardianships and powers of attorney really work is essential when a loved one is in rehabilitation, or in long term care,  – even if the loved one is competent to make their own decisions. As clients frequently note to me, it’s what you don’t know that can hurt you.

Part Two

Alternative to Guardianship – Medical Power of Attorney (POA) / Patient Advocate Designation

The benefits of pre-planning are numerous. Ultimately, having good powers of attorney in place is a cheaper and easier option that places the least amount of burden on the family and provides more options. Additionally:

  • Powers of attorney are voluntary, PRIVATE agreements.
  • They are cost effective – one of the most cost effective documents done in estate planning.
  • The Court is not involved. No one has to pre-approve the signing of the DNR. No one has...
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The Seven Dumbest Things People Are Told About Estate Planning - Part Two

Part Two

In our family estate planning & elder law office, we often find that people have misconceptions about estate planning that they get though the internet, their friends, and even other professionals.  There are various problems with the Part 2 topics below, but the most fundamental one is that believing any one of them may lead to bad decision-making

4. Talking about estate taxes is a waste of time.

For a majority of Americans, in the current tax year, estate taxes are not an issue – the exemption is currently at 5.49 million dollars. Every dollar above that exemption amount is taxed at a 40% tax rate for estate or “inheritance” taxes. So for those that have less, estate taxes aren’t an issue. This year.

That being said, Congress can change the estate tax exemption (they say they won’t – do you believe anything Congress says these days?). Unless you know that you will die in 2017, you can’t know...

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Three Surprising Things I’ve Learned Working for an Elder Law Attorney (You Might Be Surprised Too)

I’m not an Elder Law attorney – and I don’t play one on TV. That being said, I’ve had the pleasure of working at the Family & Aging Law Center since December of 2015. What I’ve learned has been eye-opening – even shocking. As a well-educated person, I always thought I knew just enough about estate planning and elder law. I was wrong.

~Julie Taylor

First, I’m going to tell you a little bit about what I’ve learned about long term care in Michigan – which is, for most, also surprising. Generally speaking, the cost of skilled long term care can range anywhere from $8,000 - $14,000 a month (or more!). Shocking, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have that kind of money! If my husband or I were ever faced with one (or both) of us needing care, I wouldn’t want to see everything we’ve worked for disappear. Even worse, what happens after our life savings goes to the cost of care?...

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Powers of Attorney - The Facts

POWERS OF ATTORNEY

The Facts...

 

If you become sick or disabled, either temporarily or permanently, who will make decisions for you?

  • A Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust to handle your affairs if you cannot do so. 
  • If you are unable to do it yourself, your family will be prevented from paying bills, getting records, helping you get treatment, pay doctors or qualify for Medicaid, or making other important decisions on your behalf, if you do not have comprehensive, well written, and specific Powers of Attorney in place.
  • Without comprehensive, well written and specific Powers of Attorney, your family may have to file a court proceeding, seeking guardianship of you (for health care decisions) or seeking conservatorship (for financial decisions). This process involves the Court, several lawyers and usually at least $4,000 to $50,000. A Power of Attorney might cost $200 - $500.
  • There are two main types of Powers of Attorney:  financial and health...
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Why Do I Need a Financial Power of Attorney? - Ask The Attorney

Q: Every time I go to the doctor, they ask me if I have a health care power of attorney. I understand why that’s important, but now I’m hearing that I also need a financial power of attorney (financial POA). My family member is joint on everything, so why do I need one?

 

 

A: The short answer is, you need a financial POA in the event that you become unable to manage your own finances. Even though you may think you have everything “taken care of” through joint ownership, it isn’t that simple. For example, you cannot own most tax-deferred assets, such as IRAs, jointly. A beneficiary designation doesn’t give power to your beneficiary during your life. A financial POA, when done properly, also enables a person you trust to apply for important health care benefits (if you need them) and it enables them to preserve your money in times of crisis.  Without proper planning, your loved ones will need to go to court in a process called...

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