Hi, I’m Greg McIntyre, Estate Planning and Elder Law attorney. I know that many of you out there have been affected by this pandemic. I know that I have been, and our office has been. I wanted to write something to help us all be prepared no matter what happens. I have seen friends lose loved ones, be unable to visit them in the hospital, be unprepared for the passing of a loved one. Here are 3 ways I think you can be better prepared, come what may.
Okay, the three things that you should have in place to be prepared no matter what happens. This pandemic has been hard on all of us. It’s been hard on me. It’s been hard on our clients and their families. So I’ve taken the time to write about thee three things, and I’m going to go over to them now that you’ll learn and you’ll know by the end of this article. One, financial power of attorney/general durable power of attorney. Two, health care, power of attorney. They may sound like simple things and simple documents, but they’re not. And three, disposition and protection of assets by will, trust, or deed planning.
- FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY: So let’s dive right into it. Number one, a financial power of attorney, also called a general durable power of attorney is quite possibly the most important document you can have in place if something happens, if you become incompetent or incapacitated due to anything, including the pandemic. If you have your financial power of attorney in place, you’ve appointed an agent the ability to manage your financial affairs to make sure the band plays on, the bills are paid, to make sure that assets can be shifted, legal planning can be done to protect your hard-earned money and property should you fail to do so. And to help qualify you for benefits should you need assisted living or nursing home care. This document is extremely important, and it’s also important that you choose a trusted individual to play this role.
General Durable Powers of Attorneys are not simple documents. We need to take into account whether the agent can gift to themselves and if so, how much. Between a husband and wife, gifting might be unlimited to shift assets around if needed to do whatever’s necessary to protect assets and achieve family goals.
- HEALTHCARE POWER OF ATTORNEY: Healthcare powers of attorney should have HIPAA authorizations built-in to allow for the healthcare agent to pull medical records if they need to. Would it be important to appoint a trusted individual to make your important healthcare decisions if you’re on a ventilator, if you couldn’t speak, if you were incompetent, incapacitated, or in a drug-induced coma? These things are happening all around us right now, and you need to think about who are you going to appoint to make these important decisions?
A living will is something I didn’t say in the three, but we can talk about that with a healthcare power of attorney. If I’m terminal, incurable, maybe brain death has occurred, I’m being maintainable on a respirator or a ventilator, is it okay to let me go at that point? At what point is it okay to let me go? Those are things that you can define in a living will document and not just leave it up to your relatives or a court-appointed person to make those decisions. You take control, and you’re proactive here.
- WILLS, TRUSTS, DEED PLANNING: Number three, disposition and protection of assets. How are things going to pass to heirs? Do you have underage children, grandchildren? How are those things going to be cared for? Are they going to help them go to college or are they going to receive money and property in one lump sum? Trusts can do things that are similar but are not subject to the court process of probate.
Liens attach during probate. So, if you need long-term care, liens can attach during a probate process. Irrevocable and a revocable trust. We can talk about those and how those can work to avoid probate and protect your assets. Also, deed protection. Deed protection is also a simple and cost-effective way to protect your real estate, your home. Tenants in common with rights of survivorship deeds, ladybird deeds, also known as enhanced life estate deeds, traditional life estate deeds, how do those work, and how can they work to protect your property and pass that property to your loved ones.
As a free gift to you, and during this trying time for all of us, I would offer a free consult at one of our locations. We are located in Charlotte, Shelby, and Hendersonville, North Carolina, covering most of Western North Carolina. In addition, we also offer virtual and phone consults to people across the state of North Carolina. I’m with you during this pandemic. We’re all going through this together. Let’s make sure that we have our affairs in order. Take care of ourselves first, and then our loved ones and our family. Thank you. Have a great day.
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