How Does My Durable Power of Attorney Agent Know What I Want?

A durable power of attorney for health care involves you assigning a certain person or persons to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so on your own. Your agent can make many different kinds of health care decisions including deciding who has access to your medical records, which medicines or treatments you do or do not want to receive and whether or not to discharge or admit you from a nursing home or a hospital.

Your agent can only make these decisions if you are unable to do so yourself and your wishes must be followed by the agent if those wishes have been documented. You can document these wishes in writing to ensure that your power of attorney agent knows what to do.

You might want to state whether or not you wish to donate any organs, how you want your body to be disposed of when you pass away, whether or not you want life sustaining treatment, such as being connected to feeding tubes, whether or not you want doctors to use other machines to keep you alive, or to name a person you want to be your legal guardian. You can choose anyone over 18 years of age who is not your physician to be your health care power of attorney. Your agent might be a friend, spiritual advisor or a family member.

One of the most important things to think about when you are naming someone as your health care power of attorney agent is their overall comfort in serving in this role and their ability to do so easily. Your chosen power of attorney agent should feel confident in carrying out your wishes. Make sure that you consult with an experienced Virginia Beach estate attorney if you have never created a power of attorney document before and need assistance with deciding this important next step.



New Study Shows One Third of People Don’t Have What It Takes for Minimal Long Term Care

Who will foot the bill if you need a nursing home? That’s a question popping up for more and more families in America these days.

Long term care insurance is extremely expensive and premiums have been on the rise in recent years. This doesn’t bode well for those people who are most likely to need long term care after age 65. The possibility of requiring care later in life is a significant concern for any individual as well as their family.

Standalone long term care insurance is decreasing as a viable option for many people due to the number of insurance carriers who have exited the market as well as the overall cost. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also made this situation much worse by putting assisted living facilities and nursing homes under a microscope about what it’s like to live and work in these facilities.

Many people don’t anticipate needing to go into a nursing home and hope that their individual health remains intact throughout all of their later years but failing to plan properly can put them in a difficult situation or force their loved ones to take on care responsibilities later in life.

A new report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that approximately one-third of Americans do not have enough resources to support one year’s worth of minimal long term care. Marital status also plays a significant role in determining who will get the care that they need. If you don’t have a long term care plan as part of your elder law strategy, you need to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable Virginia Beach estate lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights.


Study Shows Retirement Targets Have Shifted

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique set of challenges for financial and retirement planning and now investors are looking ahead to the future with different priorities. A recent research study from Northwestern Mutual shows that over one third of Americans have pushed back or moved up their target retirement age directly as a result of the Covid crisis.

One quarter of those who participated in the survey said that they plan to retire later than expected even though 11% said they plan to retire earlier. The vast majority of those who are planning to delay will push out somewhere between 3 and 10 years.

The youngest generations participating in the study intended to leave the workforce before age 60. Some of the top reasons most people in the study are delaying retirement have to do with the desire to save money and work while also getting flexibility in their workplace.

Other concerns include the rising costs for medical and health care issues and direct withdrawals that were made from retirement savings during the pandemic. Another group of people had also had to take care of friends, relatives or additional dependents during the pandemic.

Together, your retirement plan and your estate plan work hand in hand to support your needs and help you adapt for life after you stop working full time. From income streams to giving to long term care, having the help of a Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer can be instrumental in covering all your bases.

If you are curious about how to align your estate planning in your retirement goals, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced and dedicated estate planning lawyer.


What Digital Accounts and Assets Might You Be Forgetting in Your Estate Plan?

A relatively new category of assets that you should include in your estate plan are those that are digital. Due to the digital age, many people don’t think about how many accounts they have opened or how difficult it would be for loved ones to access those accounts if something happened to them.

Many people now keep digital financial or other property accounts that should all be planned for appropriately within your estate. These assets have a sentimental and monetary value to the estate and should be accounted for, especially for those digital accounts that have any financial value. Other accounts might need to be closed as soon as possible because they are set up for automatic payments and an executor might not be able to easily locate and close these.

Other accounts could be helpful for gathering additional financial information. Those documents that could eb associated with the administration of a trust or an estate, for example, could be found in digital form on flash drives, online accounts, smartphones, and laptops. Examples include social media accounts, online video accounts, data storage accounts, financial online accounts like PayPal, domain name memberships, online music accounts and email.

One of the biggest problems with digital accounts is that each of these companies will have their own individual terms of service and requirements. This means that you will need to review this data and include appropriate information for your executor or personal representative to access this material. To better understand how digital accounts fit into your estate plan, schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer in Virginia Beach.


What Is a Fiduciary’s Duty of Impartiality?

A fiduciary has several different responsibilities to the beneficiaries of an estate or a trust. Violating these could constitute a breach of fiduciary duty and being removed from this role or even being found personally accountable for financial mistakes that harmed the value of the trust or the estate.

One of these duties is a duty of impartiality. An executor or trustee cannot favor one beneficiary over another. If someone is serving as a trustee and is a fiduciary in that manner, they must balance the interest between the current and future beneficiaries. Future beneficiaries may be interested in how much the assets can grow over time, whereas income beneficiaries are interested in what they can receive right now.

The trustee cannot bend to pressure either side. By weighting the portfolio of investments in either particular direction the trustee is violating their duty of impartiality. The duty of impartiality also applies to the charging of expenses. Expenses that are charged against income will affect the income beneficiaries and charges against the principle will impact how much is inherited in the future.

Any distributions of principle or income to current beneficiaries should be made with impartiality in mind. Some people choose to appoint a professional trustee like a bank or a lawyer because those individuals might have more experience in handling complex concerns associated with a trust. This can also remove the personal level of connection that another family member has, which could cause friction between them and beneficiaries of the trust.

If you are not sure how to balance these competing interests or have more questions about how this applies to your estate, set aside a time to speak to a knowledgeable lawyer.

What Is Intestate?

Estate planning refers to comprehensive financial planning such as making a will, using trusts or pulling together other strategies that help pass on your assets after you pass away. If you do not have a will as part of your estate planning, however, you will die intestate. This means that the courts will determine the distribution of your assets and the beneficiaries who will receive them. This might or might not be in line with what you intended for your personal estate.

Every state has individual laws about intestate succession but many of them are similar. You can accidentally provide for beneficiaries that you did not intend to support if you do not have a will created. You provide a great deal of control when using a will in conjunction with an estate planning strategy, such as a trust and when working with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer, you will learn more about this process and how to create a will accustomed to your specific needs.

At a bare minimum, your will lists the executor of your estate, the assets you own and a list of your desired beneficiaries who are to receive those assets. Without a will, a judge in court determines the disposal of your assets. Far too many people believe that when they have a small estate, they do not need to create a will at all but this can be chaotic, confusing and time consuming for your loved ones. Setting aside time to work with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to create a custom plan for your future is recommended.

Want help with a comprehensive Virginia Beach estate plan? Set up a consultation today for more information.

Are You Sending Your Child to College with a Power of Attorney Form?

As a parent it’s easy to feel like your job might never be done but as your child goes off to college this fall, remember that you will not be able to make decisions for them if they are age 18 and above. This is because they are viewed as a legal adult and you are no longer able to make decisions on their behalf which can become problematic in a medical emergency. This is why many parents are increasingly talking about having their college student sign medical power of attorney forms.

Whether you’re sending your student to UVA, Virginia Tech, George Mason, Tidewater Community College, Liberty University, Old Dominion, College of William and Mary, or any of the other great schools in Virginia, get a power of attorney created first.

Hopefully, you’ll never have to turn to or use this form but it can give you great peace of mind if and when something happens to your loved one on campus and you need to be able to take action quickly.

Hospital legal departments are well aware of what is and isn’t allowed, meaning that they might not allow you to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated legal adult, even if you are able to prove that you are the parent. A power of attorney can name you as a person eligible to receive this information or to make decisions on behalf of your child if something happens to them.

No parent wants to be in the position of trying to get information about their child’s condition from hours or even states away and getting declined. When you have a power of attorney document in place, you can provide this to hospitals or other care providers so that you’re kept informed about your child’s status.

Especially in light of the pandemic and the many different health-related challenges that could face students going off to campus this fall, it’s a good idea to meet with an estate planning lawyer in Virginia Beach and to talk through your options.



What are Some Reasons for Someone to Get Incapacitated?

Estate planning seems like the right choice for someone older with a lot of assets, but this overlooks the possibility of incapacity issues that could derail your family or chosen agents from being able to act quickly.

Incapacity planning is all about thinking through who is authorized to make decisions or take actions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so. When this happens and you haven’t done any advanced planning, your loved ones might have to go to court to get approved as your guardian. This is all easily avoided with a power of attorney document created by an estate planning lawyer.

Some things that might prompt the need for a power of attorney document include:

  • A car or workplace accident where you’re unable to speak for yourself for a few days
  • Going into surgery where you might intentionally or unintentionally be unconscious for a period of time
  • An issue with dementia in which your condition deteriorates from mentally sound to unable to make decisions for yourself rapidly
  • Getting extremely ill, such as developing COVID and relying on a respirator for a short period of time
  • Going into a coma

In any of these situations, you might need someone to manage your financial affairs. While something like a planned surgery gives you advanced notice to get your POA done, other issues named above come out of nowhere and can make things very difficult for your family.

For more information on how to create a power of attorney document, speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer in Virginia Beach today.

What Are Transfer on Death Accounts?

Transfer on death accounts are those accounts that allow you to move ownership to a beneficiary when you, as the owner, pass away. This is recognized under certain state laws and doesn’t require the involvement of the probate courts. Many different assets can be covered by the transfer on death umbrella.

Certain states will allow transfer on death bank accounts, but you might also hear these referred to as payable on death bank accounts. Brokerage accounts, bonds, stocks, 401Ks, and IRAs could all potentially be considered transfer on death accounts. When you pass away, your beneficiary will just need to show proof of ID and possibly your death certificate to get access to those accounts. Each financial institution has different rules around what is required, so it’s worth placing a phone call first to make sure you have everything you need.

If you’re the one who currently owns these accounts, do an annual review to make sure they are properly updated and include the names of your chosen beneficiaries.

You’ll need to make sure that you’ve completed appropriate beneficiary designation forms with each one of these account managers, to ensure that a smooth transfer of assets occurs if something happens to you.

Transfer on death accounts are just a few of the assets that could pass to your loved ones after you death; an attorney can help you create a plan for the rest of your assets. Set aside time to speak with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney in the Virginia Beach area for more information.



What is the PACE Program in Virginia?

PACE stands for the Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly. And this movement has gained a lot of momentum in recent months, particularly as it relates to concerns about care for the elderly and protecting them well into their later years in life. At its simplest definition, PACE is an alternative to nursing homes.

This is a Medicaid and Medicare program that helps to keep people in their own communities. In many cases, the programs are run with the support of in-home care providers at a nexus of community-based centers. This helps to complete an interdisciplinary care team for total comprehensive wellness. According to the national PACE Association, approximately 95% of people enrolled in the program live in the community and only 5% live in nursing homes.

Given that it is required to be eligible for nursing home care before enrolling in PACE, this is a substantial thing to take note of if you have a loved one who is in the process of figuring out the best care solution for them.

Most PACE participants are eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. The operators of these programs will receive specific monthly payments for each participant, meaning that some of it is paid by the payer and some is paid by the provider. COVID-19 played a significant role in increasing attention towards the PACE program. The general death rate in nursing homes across most of the pandemic was 11.8%, where it was only 3.8% in PACE locations.

If you have questions about qualifying for PACE in Virginia or discussing alternative care arrangements, schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer in your area to learn more.