Articles Posted in Living Will

Consider this Estate Planning 101, an introduction to some of the most important steps to take in planning for the future. Most people are aware that they need a Last Will and Testament. But that is not the only essential document in an estate plan.

Below is a list of the 4 essential documents every estate plan needs. As you will see, estate planning is concerned with more than just what happens after you pass away. In fact, the first three documents are designed to assist you and your loved ones during your lifetime:

  • General Durable Power of Attorney – Who should handle your affairs if you are unable to do so? A General Durable Power of Attorney authorizes a person of your choosing to act on your behalf (as “attorney-in-fact”) in matters other than health care decisions while you are still living. This includes everything from paying your bills to filing your tax return. Because it offers a broad authorization to handle financial matters on your behalf, a Power of Attorney should name someone that is responsible, and that you trust completely.

Country music legend Glen Campbell is engaged in a very public struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, a common form of dementia. Campbell announced his diagnosis in 2011 before embarking on a farewell tour with his family, which was documented in the feature film, “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.” The film depicts in sometimes painful detail the impact of Alzheimer’s, not only on the person afflicted with the disease, but also on the loved ones faced with finding the right care and making decisions for someone no longer able to make decisions for himself.

The “Rhinestone Cowboy” is now in a long-term care facility with round-the-clock care.  After facing numerous health care issues and a legal challenge from two of his children from a previous marriage, his wife Kim is speaking out to help families dealing with the cruel disease, which affects about 6% of the over-65 population. “Estate planning is very important,” she said, according to a Lexington Herald-Leader report. “Advance health care directives are also very important.”

Kim Campbell is right. Planning ahead for health care crises can alleviate much of the anxiety for both the patient and his or her loved ones, and should be a standard step in every person’s estate planning process.

This is a difficult question to answer for many people. Often, it is because people do not know the difference between the two or what is involved in each. It is important to choose the one that is best for your needs so that your loved ones and family members will be protected and taken care of after you pass away. Here are some things we consider with our clients when helping them decide between a living trust or a last will. If you have any more questions about a living trust or a will, you should speak to one of our lawyers with the Higgins Firm. We will go through each option with you and help you with the planning of your estate.

First, it is important to know what a will and living trust mean. A will is a written document that is signed and witnessed that describes how you wish for your property to be divided after you die. It is revocable and can be amended or changed at any point during your lifetime. Finally, it allows you to appoint guardians for your young children. A living trust can provide life-time and after death management of your property. It is a legal written document that places your assets into a trust for your lifetime and then is transferred to a certain beneficiary or beneficiaries when you die. This person is known as a “successor trustee.”

You have probably been told before that a day signified a certain nationwide event like National Donut Day or National Hot Dog Day. Often these days are used to celebrate and bring awareness to certain areas in life. The same goes for estate planning. October 20-26 marks this year’s National Estate Planning Awareness Week. While National Estate Planning Awareness Week does not sound like as much fun as National Donut Day, it does seem to hold much more importance. With upwards of 120 million Americans who are lacking an up-to-date estate plan to protect themselves or their families in the event of untimely sickness, accidents, or even death, obviously this week emphasizes the value of having an updated estate plan in place.

So why is having an estate plan so important? An estate plan can ensure that your loved ones are provided for if you were to pass away or that a loved one is able to make a decision on your behalf if you were unable to do so. In a general sense, an estate plan is typically comprised of legal documents that designate your specific decisions to a number of choices thereby eliminating any potential uncertainty.

One of the most basic estate planning documents is a last will and testament. This document primarily directs where you would want your assets to pass in the event of your death. Without a will, state statutes will determine where your assets would pass upon your death. A will can also direct who should be appointed as a guardian for any minor children. A will can also direct who you want to act as the executor of your estate. It is important for adults of any age to have a last will and testament in place.

Recently attorney Jim Higgins stopped by WSMV’s Better Nashville to discuss essential documents that every family should resolve to have this year. Those essential documents include a last will and testament, a power of attorney, and a living will. There are any number of reasons why you may put off these drafting legal documents. However, these legal documents are not expensive, and they provide your family the protection that they deserve. You can watch the interview with attorney Jim Higgins below. If you have any questions about a will, power of attorney, or living will for your family, be sure to contact The Higgins Firm today. One of our estate lawyers would be happy to provide you with any answers.

 

Now that we have entered 2014, you may or may not still be keeping your New Year’s resolutions. Hopefully, your resolutions are going strong and you have developed great habits throughout your life. However, if you have already slipped back into the habit of eating a little more junk food than you planned on doing, that does not mean that you should give up on all of your plans for this year. Similarly, you should resolve to review your estate planning documents. There are a number of reasons why you should periodically review your estate planning documents. Doing so can make sure that you are set for 2014 and beyond.

Reviewing Your Will Following Major Life Changes

It is always important to review your will following any of your major life changes. Whether you recently had a child, got married, or lost a loved one, each of these major life events can impact your will. As a result, you should review your will for any potential updates that need to be made.  If you’ve recently had or adopted a child, you should update your will. Similarly, if you have gotten married, you will want to add your spouse to your will.

As 2013 comes to a close, many people will be looking beyond into 2014 for a fresh start. Many of those may be looking to accomplish bigger and better things. As a result many people will look to set New Year’s resolutions or goals to accomplish during 2014. So many resolutions require a large amount of planning and effort.  Some popular New Year’s resolutions typically include getting into shape, eating better, or being more frugal.  However, one of the more important resolutions that you can make is developing your estate plan. The good news is that developing an estate plan does not require a great deal of time or expense. Creating your estate plan can end up being one of your easier resolutions while also being one of the more important decisions that you can make.

You may be wondering what exactly is involved in developing an estate plan. An estate plane can involve a number of different aspects to make sure that your wishes are carried out if you were ever unable to make those decisions. One of the most important pieces of an estate plan is a last will and testament. A will in its most basic form designates where you want your assets to go upon your death. However, a will can include much more than the distribution of your assets. A will can allow you to specify a guardian for any minor children, set forth specific gifts to certain individuals, or even designate your wishes regarding your remains.

Another important piece of estate planning is a health care directive. A health care directive is a legal document that sets forth your wishes for your care in the event that you are unable to make a decision for yourself. There are number of different documents that can be considered a health care directive including a living will, a power of attorney, or an appointment of a health care agent. While each of these documents serves a different purpose, they each allocate the decision making authority regarding your health care treatment to another person if you are incapacitated.

I recently appeared on WSMV’s Better Nashville to talk about the importance of having certain estate planning documents including a will, power of attorney, and living will.  You can watch the segment below. If you have questions regarding any of these important legal documents, be sure to contact the Nashville wills attorneys at The Higgins Firm. We would be happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding these estate planning documents.

This time of year is a chance for families to enjoy one another’s company and simply be thankful for one another. It is a time for food, fun, family, and maybe even a little football.

Whether you are planning on having a large family gathering or smaller get-together with friends, this is a great opportunity to talk with your loved ones about your potential estate planning. Talk with your loved ones about what would work best for you and your family. A conversation can be a great way to start thinking about your family’s estate planning.

Whether you need a will, a power of attorney, or a living will, a conversation with your loved ones can help you recognize what legal documents may need to help provide for your family in the event that you are no longer able to do so. Following your conversation, you can begin to think about addressing specific cares or concerns that your family may have. You can then take these concerns to your estate planning attorney to begin the process of developing or amending your estate plan.

An Indiana man chose to withdraw his own life support following a hunting accident that left him paralyzed and unable to breathe on his own. 32 year old Tim Bowers had been out deer hunting when he fell 16 feet from his tree stand crushing his C3, C4, and C5 vertebrae. As a result of the injury, Bowers was paralyzed from the shoulders down and required a ventilator to breathe. Doctors had determined that Bowers would likely not be able to breathe on his own ever again.

While still sedated, the family asked doctors if Bowers could be brought out of sedation to determine what he wanted to do. The family wanted Bowers to make his own decision regarding his life. The doctors complied and brought Bowers out of sedation. The family then explained the prognosis and asked Bowers whether he would want to continue the life support. With the ventilator tube still in place and unable to speak, Bowers shook his head emphatically no. The family then asked Bowers if he would want the tube reinserted if he struggled, and Bowers again shook his head no. Subsequently, the doctors came in and asked the same questions. Bowers gave the same responses. Doctors then removed the ventilator tube.

Bowers was able to spend the last several hours of his life surrounded by friends and family. During that time Bowers never wavered in his decision to die. The family felt comfortable knowing that he had made his own decision rather than attempting to make a decision for him.