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Blog & Resources

Health Care Declaration & Power of Attorney

| By: Kira Kauffman

The Health Care Declaration and Powers of Attorney, often called a Health Care Power of Attorney, is another key document that is part of one’s estate planning “suite” of documents, along with a Financial Power of Attorney and a Will. The need for a Health Care Power of Attorney has increased in recent years. Doctors and other medical professionals regularly request that their patients provide a signed Health Care Power of Attorney for their files. Upon admission to a hospital or nursing home, it is now common practice to either produce your own executed Health Care Power of Attorney, or sign a form required by and produced by the attorneys of that particular institution. A standard Health Care Power of Attorney document generally includes the following: a section specifying the specific powers granted to the fiduciary, a section where the signer may elaborate on what sort of care they wish to have provided to them in an end-of-life situation, and whether the signer wishes to donate any organs or tissue following death. Because it allows an individual to specify what end-of-life care regimen should be followed when that time comes, the Health Care Power of Attorney is an effective document that gives the fiduciary named in the document some peace of mind when having to make these health care decisions under stressful times.

COVID-19 Update

| By: Kira Kauffman

Aevitas Law is committed to serving you in the wake of COVID-19. In the interest of global and community health, our office is utilizing remote capabilities to continue providing prompt and quality service. We are staying up to date on the latest developments regarding how court deadlines and filings are affected, as well as creative opportunities for business owners during this time. In addition, this is an opportune time to review those personal documents and communication tools that might be needed if you are unable to make decisions yourself (either due to illness or just the inability to leave your residence). Two important estate planning documents, your Financial and Healthcare Powers of Attorney, help ensure that you don’t miss a beat. If your Financial Power of Attorney (FPOA) was signed prior to 2015, it is likely missing new PA statutory language that is required by many financial institutions. Making sure your Healthcare document has adequate HIPAA language is also important. You can learn more about these documents and the process at aevitas.law/blog/. If you’d like to get started, contact us at [email protected] We are honored to serve you and walk with you during this time and always.

Durable Vs. Springing Powers of Attorney

| By: Kira Kauffman

Most Financial Powers of Attorney are known as Durable Powers of Attorney. That means that upon signing the document (and the document is notarized), your appointed Agent will be able to act on your behalf right away, as well as after such a time as you may be unable to act for yourself. This ability to appoint someone else to step in and act for you is one of the primary reasons someone chooses to execute a Power of Attorney, so it is important to ensure the financial document you are signing does indeed include the language to make it “durable.” A “Springing” Financial Power of Attorney, in contrast, only goes into effect when you cannot act for yourself. Until you are deemed incapacitated, your Agent may not step in on your behalf. This allows you to maintain sole control of your financial affairs until such a time as you are unable. However, if an emergency arises while you are unavailable, such as a resolving an insurance claim while you are traveling abroad, your Agent would not be able to step in for you. Generally, as long as you are appointing someone you trust as your Agent, you should be confident to sign a Durable Power of Attorney document to cover any unexpected situation that may arise.

Financial Power of Attorney

| By: Kira Kauffman

One type of fiduciary role is contained within the Financial Power of Attorney document. Proper preparation of these documents is key in order to allow whoever is named in the document to handle any financial matters that we cannot handle ourselves, whether that be due to illness, incapacity, or even for such reasons as being away due to travel. Whoever we name in the document is our Agent, and our Agent acts in a fiduciary capacity in fulfilling his role. (Please see previous blogpost What is a Fiduciary.) One important note regarding Financial Power of Attorney documents is that many states have developed uniform provisions that require precise notices and acknowledgements in order to be valid. These states often require the document to be notarized and signed by two witnesses, modified wording to the official Notice on the first page, and revised wording to the Acknowledgement form at the end. Accordingly, if you have not updated an official Power of Attorney document that meets these requirements in the past four years, it would be wise to review your current document to ensure its validity.

How to Appoint a Fiduciary

| By: Kira Kauffman

Fiduciaries can be appointed to serve you in a variety of ways. Three of the most common roles of a fiduciary include acting as an Agent or Attorney-in-Fact in financial or health-related matters during your lifetime, as the executor of your estate once you pass, or as a trustee. When preparing your estate plan, you may find that there is one person best suited and willing to serve as your fiduciary in all of these roles, or, more commonly, you may choose to appoint different individuals for your various fiduciary needs, according to their giftings and the dynamics of your family. When appointing a fiduciary, it is often wise to consider a “successor,” or back-up person, in case, for whatever reason, your first choice is unable to act when the time comes. The names and structure by which you choose to appoint your fiduciary can be identified in the corresponding formal document drawn up for this purpose.

What is a Fiduciary?

| By: Kira Kauffman

What happens in the event of your death or incapacity? Or, perhaps more importantly, who is carrying out your plan? What should this person do? What if the doctors are saying that all hope is lost and you should be taken off of life support? Have you effectively communicated your wishes? What type of person is well suited to balance your care with your goals and objectives? A person designated to “step into your shoes” and act when you can’t is known as a fiduciary. Essentially, a fiduciary is a person (or organization) acting on behalf of another person, putting his/her own interests behind that of the person being served, and being bound by the duties of good faith and trust. When choosing a fiduciary, there are three key characteristics to consider. In order of importance, the first key is values. It is essential that your fiduciary share your values. When the rubber meets the road, you want to know that the person you select will land on a decision the same way you would. Next to values, it is important to have a fiduciary that possess some degree of knowledge. Although the vast majority of fiduciary functions can be outsourced to other professionals, having a fiduciary that shares your values and has a sound head on his/her shoulders is ideal. Lastly is proximity. In today’s day and age, being “there” is not nearly as important as it once was. That said, having a fiduciary that embodies all three of these key characteristics makes for a great pick!

What is a Legacy Plan?

| By: Kira Kauffman

Estate planning is commonly defined as the preparation of structures that serve to manage an individual’s asset base in the event of incapacitation or death. Having an estate plan is essential and as you consider crafting your own, you would be wise to consider how your estate fits into your overall legacy. As previously discussed, your legacy (and your legacy plan) represents more than just your “stuff.” How will you be remembered, when you no longer have a pulse? What will that fingerprint that you leave behind look like? You will, undoubtedly, need to ensure clear communication of those things important to you, but you must also guard against two other challenges to leaving a lasting legacy: taxes and long-term illness. Planning for the challenges that each of us faces in today’s world is the best way to give you, your family and the charities you support a “leg up” on the multitude of factors that can ravage your estate and your entire legacy.

Everything Starts with Communication: Why Have a Legacy Plan?

| By: Kira Kauffman

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw. Perhaps more truer words have never been spoken when it comes to intrafamily discussion surrounding financial and estate planning.  In fact, a lack of communication is regarded by most as the single biggest challenge to leaving a lasting legacy.  Your legacy is much more than just your “stuff,” of course.  In large part, your legacy is the fingerprint you leave behind for future generations: your values, your time-honored traditions, as well as words of wisdom, perhaps, that you have yet to say in person, just to name a few.  Part of your legacy does, however, involve the way in which you set your loved ones up for success after you are gone. In order to leave a lasting legacy, you have to start with adequate communication.  Adequate communication, for most, begins with the completion of your estate planning documents: Powers of Attorney, Wills and, perhaps, Trusts.  If you don’t take the time to communicate your wishes with regard to your “stuff,” the likelihood of your fingerprint surviving you after death is slim.  In this blog series, we will explore several of the key communication devices in estate and legacy planning, as well as how to navigate the pitfalls that exist in each.