November 7

Love Your Lawyer

Love Your Lawyer

Another successful year …

Friday, November 3 was the sixteenth annual National Love Your Lawyer Day!

National Love Your Lawyer Day (originally called National I Love My Lawyer Day when introduced in 2001), was the brain child of the American Lawyers Public Image Association (or ALPIA for short). The holiday was intended to change the often harsh public perception of lawyers.

National Love Your Lawyer Day is the one day of the year dedicated to thanking and showing appreciation to your favorite lawyer or judge for all the work they do. Not just in their practice or on the bench, but in the community.

Celebrating is easy. All you need do is to go one day without telling a lawyer joke or making a harsh comment. If you want to get really wild, you can send a letter, card, or email to your favorite attorney; or post a testimonial to their preferred social media site or sites.

For their part, lawyers and judges honored by National Love Your Lawyer Day are encouraged to complete at least one hour of pro bono work, or donate the equivalent time to charity.

For information about wills, trust, or other estate planning documents, please contact a qualified estate planning attorney … We know a really good one!

September 13

The Advance Health Care Directive

Near the end of her life, comedienne, Joan Rivers joked often about her age and teased audiences that she could, “go at any time.” And yet, when she died on Thursday, September 4, 2014, the public was stunned. Rivers was eighty one years old.

She had been undergoing vocal cord surgery when “complications occurred.” She lost oxygen, her body went into cardiac arrest, and Rivers slipped into a coma. She remained in a coma and on life support for seven days until her daughter Melissa, made the difficult decision to have her removed.

Lucky for Rivers and her family, she had an Advance Health Care Directive (a legal document which per a person’s request, informs their doctor, family and friends of their individual health care preferences. This includes the types of special treatment they might or might not want at the end of life).

Rivers’ family was spared from any family squabbling, lengthy court battles, and/or unnecessary legal expense.

A similar occurrence took place in the ‘90s. Only the end result was much different.

On Sunday, February 25, 1990, an insurance clerk by the name of Terri Schiavo collapsed in her Florida home. Like Rivers, a lack of oxygen caused Schiavo’s body to go into cardiac arrest. Schiavo slipped into what doctors called an “irreversible persistent vegetative state.”

Unlike Rivers however, Schiavo did not have an Advance Health Care Directive. It was left to Schiavo’s husband as legal guardian to make a difficult decision. Assured by doctors his wife had suffered severe brain damage and certain she would not want to be resuscitated, Michael Schiavo chose to have his wife removed from the feeding tubes which kept her alive. Terri’s parents disagreed with the decision.

What followed was a seven year legal battle which ultimately resulted in the removal of Terri’s feeding tube.

According to a 2015 article posted in the “New York Daily News,” members of Terri’s biological family are still praying that one day her widower husband, Michael Schiavo will apologize.

For more information on the Advance Health Care Directive or other estate planning documents, please contact a qualified estate planning attorney.

August 11

Estate Planning for Singles

Singles can benefit from estate planning every bit as much as married people … Maybe more.

In regards to protecting assets:

When a person dies without a will, the law dictates that the person’s assets transfer to their closest living relatives. If the person is married, the assets transfer to their spouse and/or children.

If the person is single, the assets transfer to their children, parents, siblings, etc., providing they have immediate living family. However, if the single person does not have any immediate living relatives, the assets transfer to the state. It then becomes the responsibility of the state to decide how and to whom the assets are to be distributed.

If the person wishes to have a say as to what happens to the assets, the person must make their wishes known through a will and/or trust.

In regards to health related decisions:

Suppose a person became incapacitated and they were unable to make financial or medical decisions for themselves. Or what if they are unable to pay their bills, or worse, make critical end of life decisions for themselves.

When a person without estate planning becomes incapacitated, a family member (often a wife or adult child) will usually see an attorney about gaining a conservatorship of the person.

In regards to our single person, it might benefit them more than a married person not to let this happen; which is to say, to put something in place so their wishes are known should the worst happen.

Luckily, estate planning documents like a Health Care Directive make it possible for a person to choose an agent (someone to make medical decisions on behalf of the person should the person become unable to make decisions for him or herself).

But again, married people often rely on their spouse or adult children to act as agent. Single people on the other hand do not share the convenience of deferring to a spouse. And supposing the single person does not have an adult child willing to serve as agent, who do they choose?

For a single person, having the ability to name a friend or alternate family member as agent could be tremendously important.

Without question, estate planning provides benefits and challenges for all people regardless of their relationship status. And yet, planning might very well provide greater value to those who do not have a spouse or partner to lean on.

For more information about wills, trusts or other estate planning documents, please contact a qualified estate planning attorney.

July 12

George Michael’s Estate Plan

As a rule, when you read an article about a celebrity on an estate planning website, the article usually illustrates how the celebrity died without proper planning. – A mistake which ultimately left his or her estate in total disarray and the family heading towards a long grueling court battle.

In truth, these stories are the exception rather than the rule. Because the simple fact is estate planning works.

Submitted for your approval is the exception to the exception…

Singer/song writer, George Michael died Sunday, December 25, 2016. He was only fifty three years old.

In life, George Michael was something of an outspoken artist with a rebellious spirit. It would be easy to predict his as one of those celebrity estates left in disarray. Only, it wasn’t.

By all accounts, George Michaels’ planning was current and well drafted.

His estate was valued at one hundred five million pounds (approximately one hundred twenty five million in U.S. dollars)

Michael who was particularly close to his sister, Melanie, (who worked as his personal hair stylist), reportedly left her fifty million pounds (more than sixty two million in U.S. dollars).

His sister, Yioda is expected to inherit a healthy chunk of the estate as well. As are his two god children and several charities.

No one needs to be a rock star to have effective planning, any more than they need to be a rock star to have defective planning. Anyone who plans well, works with a qualified attorney and keeps their plan regularly updated should enjoy tremendous peace of mind knowing their assets will go to who they intend them to.

For more information about wills, trusts or other estate planning documents, please contact a qualified estate planning attorney.

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