Help for approaching end of life issues with forethought and dignity.

non-financial estate planning issues

10 Non-financial Planning Issues You Should Consider

Effective planning doesn’t just involve money…

We tend to do things a little differently around here. After years of doing planning the traditional way (and seeing ways that the process could be improved), I started my own firm. Not only is it important for me to educate you about planning financially, I also want you to think about the non-money planning issues that are often overlooked by more traditional estate planning.

Not planning for non-financial issues can be just as tragic as not planning for more traditional money issues. This lack of planning can lead to poor quality of life for you, extra stress for your kids and loss of a legacy.

Here are 10 non-financial planning issues to consider and their solutions:

1. Healthcare. Who will make your healthcare decisions if you can’t? And will they know when to “pull the plug”? When they do pull the plug, will your organs be donated? Solution: You need to cover the proper legal authority through a healthcare power of attorney and a living will. Also, have conversations with your family about your wishes so they know, without a doubt, how you want them to act on your behalf.

2. Pets. Without a plan, your special dog may be bounced around from relative to relative or even put down because there is nowhere for him to go. Solution: Your will or trust can specify who will care for your pet and how the pet’s expenses will be paid after you are gone. (Which reminds me of one of my favorite estate planning jokes.)

3. Wisdom. What does your family stand for? What values were important to your parents and grandparents? Will your grandkids know about those? Solution: Take the time to reflect on these things and write them down. You can find resources for where to start online, or even hire someone to help you at the Association of Personal Historians.

4. Online or computer stuff. More and more of our lives are being lived online – Facebook, online photos, emails with your grandkids.  How will your family access that info after you’re gone? In this day and age it’s important to have a plan for this. (Read a real life story about it here.) Solution: You can store the information yourself in a safe deposit box, you can use one of the newly formed companies out there (SecureSafe or PasswordBox), or your attorney can keep the information for you.

5. Family heirlooms. Grandma’s old table, the shotgun with the homemade stock, the family Bible that’s over 100 years old. What will you pass on? And will you pass along the story that goes with it? Antique shops are filled with stuff that has some value to a stranger, but could have been priceless to family members, if only the story behind the item had been preserved. Solution: Take the time to clearly communicate your wishes or preserve the stories behind those special items. You can include the history of family items as part of your “special stuff list” or in a separate letter your family will get after you’re gone.

6. Guardians for kids. If people who don’t share your values end up raising your minor children, then the money you leave won’t really matter. Solution: We help clients make this tough choice through resources like our Child Raising Priorities Checklist.

7. Sibling relationships. If you become disabled and one child is the primary caregiver, will the rest of the family be prepared? Will the caregiver feel like no one else is helping out? Will the other siblings feel like the caregiver is overspending your money? Only you can know the answers to these questions. Solution: As part of our process we will discuss with you how to best choose helpers and how to make sure they know what to do when the time comes. Good planning helps avoid misunderstandings between siblings.

8. Burial wishes. Do you want to be cremated or have a visitation? What will your obituary say? Will you plan it out or leave it to your kids to decide (or fight about) during a time of grief and high stress? Creating a funeral plan or burial plan can be a real gift to your family and make the time of remembering you more meaningful. Solution: In Illinois, you can specify your wishes in your Disposition of Remains document, which provides binding burial instructions.

9. Living arrangements. If you’re near the end of your life, sick and unable to care for yourself, all the money in the world won’t matter if your living arrangements are not what you want for yourself. How important is it that you remain living on your own? Are there certain facilities you absolutely do not want to be placed in? Solution: As part of your disability instructions in your living trust, you can be very specific about how you want to be cared for and where you want to live.

10. End of life issues. Do you want to be kept alive with a feeding tube? Ventilator? Will your family know what your wishes are? If you are 85 years old with terminal cancer, would you want heart surgery just to prolong your life a few weeks or months? Solution: Your living will and healthcare power of attorney give the legal authority and instructions on those issues. But it is also very important to discuss these difficult issues with your family so they understand your preferences.

See our Infographic illustrating these issues HERE.

We are always happy to talk with you about any questions or concerns you might have. Just give us a call at 217-726-9200. And if you want to learn more about the process of planning, feel free to check out a free workshop. Our workshops are a great way to learn about our unique process.

david edwards estate planning elder law

5 Things to Think About Before Naming Co-executors

We often get the question, “Should we name more than one child as a co-executor?” In the end, it’s a personal choice as to whether you do or not, but here are some things to think about.

1. Who will really do the work? Often if there are co-executors, we all know that one of them will end up doing all the work. (Kind of like group projects at school.) It may be because one child has more time, lives closer, likes dealing with paperwork, or any number of reasons. But if you know one child will end up doing the work anyway, then why not just name that child to begin with?

2. Do you need a watchdog? One reason to name co-executors is to make sure that one of them does not do something bad, like steal money. But ask yourself, is that really a true concern for your family? If so, maybe that child shouldn’t be named at all. Or maybe in your case, a co-executor really is a good idea.

3. Naming co-executors creates extra work. If you name co-executors, then often both of them will need to sign financial and legal paperwork. If one of them lives out of town or is hard to reach, will it be a burden to track them down every time a signature is needed?

4. Naming co-executors can result in deadlock. The good thing about co-exceutors is they help watch each other. The bad thing is if they truly don’t agree on what to do, then you have deadlock — and in some cases it may take a court to resolve the dispute.

5. Naming co-executors can result in procrastination. If you name co-executors, what if both of them say, “You do it,” and they end up procrastinating and neither of them do it? Sometimes it’s just better to have one person who knows it’s their job to get things done.

Whether you name co-executors or not is a personal preference and choice. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but unless there’s a good reason, I usually lean away from recommending it.

If you have questions or are ready to schedule an initial meeting and get started planning, give us a call at 217-726-9200.

david edwards estate planning elder law

Long-term Care Planning and Why It Matters: 6 Goals of Planning

I know from experience that everyone who comes into our office has goals and expectations that they bring along with them. But did you know that we have goals for each of our clients as well?

Some people see long-term care planning as a shady way to get around having to pay for care as one ages. I can assure you that nothing we do when it comes to long-term care planning is shady. We truly care about helping people during one of the most difficult times in their life.

Here are 6 goals we have for every client who comes through the door and needs help with long-term care planning:

  1. Make sure they get good care when it’s needed. Aging in America is expensive, and we’ve all heard horror stories about nursing homes. (Or, sadly, experienced them firsthand with aging grandparents or parents.) Nobody wants to be neglected or mistreated as they age. By planning ahead, we can help make sure that the best possible care is available when the time comes.
  2. Make sure the right people are in charge. As one ages, there may come a time when someone else will need to make financial and medical decisions (because of stroke or dementia). We help our clients think through who might be best for that role. Read more about how to choose good helpers here.
  3. Maximize legally available benefits such as VA and MedicaidIt never ceases to amaze me how many people do not realize they are eligible for benefits, either from serving in the military (or being married to someone who served) or by paying taxes most of their life. Because we do this everyday, we know what help is out there. Long-term care is outrageously expensive. Maximizing available benefits is a must.
  4. Get the benefits as quickly as possible. We often help clients get benefits quicker than they otherwise would without us. With good Medicaid planning, we can protect assets and start nursing home benefits months or even years quicker than without planning. With the VA, our clients often get approvals in weeks, whereas some families trying it alone are stuck months or even years in endless bureaucracy. Quicker benefit approval means thousands of dollars more that will be available to pay for care.
  5. Protect assets if we can. Under Medicaid guidelines, a person is only allowed to keep $1 per day! That is not enough for extras that your loved one, or you, might need as you age. By protecting assets, we can make sure there is money for extras that otherwise couldn’t be afforded.
  6. Make things easier on your family or power of attorney. Dealing with a sick or aging loved one is incredibly stressful. We see it everyday. But families don’t need to go it alone. There are many things we can do to help ease the burden so your loved ones can enjoy their final years with you instead of having to stress about how to find care, how to pay for care, etc.

To read more about long-term care planning, check out this article: 8 Keys to Effective Long-Term Planning. If you have a loved one facing immediate needs related to long-term care issues, please call our Elder Care Advisors at 217-726-9200.

nursing home medicaid planning

14 Home Healthcare Mistakes to Avoid

Choosing home healthcare can be a very difficult and complicated decision. Experienced elder law and estate planning attorneys should be able to help you avoid home healthcare mistakes because they have experienced in this area. We actually have quite a few tools that we can use to help make good decisions and safeguard against risks. The following is a list of 14 things to watch out for when deciding whether or not to have home healthcare.

Avoid these 14 home healthcare mistakes:

1. Inattentive caregivers without proper supervision. Who can check up on what’s going on at the house? It can be family who’s close by or even a hired “watchdog.” Either way, it’s important that there is some oversight happening.

2. Hiring caregivers on your own without thinking of all the management, tax and liability issues. While hiring someone on your own may seem like a good way to get quality care, there is a business side to things that you may not really want to deal with.

3. Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits only cover medical expenses, not household help. If all you need is help around the house now, then it is too soon to seek VA benefits for care.

4. Gifting to kids, when it is actually payment for care, may jeopardize future Medicaid options. Most people are aware that qualifying for Medicaid can be tricky. When the time comes for Medicaid, you want to be sure it’s available to you.

5. Mixing up your finances and bills (accounts, income, credit cards) with your child’s finances and bills can lead to problems.

6. Wearing down your spouse or kids if they are the caregivers. Caring for a loved one can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Are your loved ones able to handle the responsibility and physical demands?

7. Theft by caregivers. Sadly, this is all too common — which is why No. 1 is so important. Read more about the most common types of elder fraud here.

8. “Under the table” cash payments can cause a lot of problems down the road. They can jeopardize future Medicaid benefits, aren’t deductible as medical expenses and expose you to the possibility of an IRS audit for lack of payroll tax withholding.

9. Lack of liability insurance for the actions of caregivers. If, for example, there is a car accident involving the caregiver while on the job, lack of liability insurance could jeopardize your financial security.

10. Doing finances on your own if you are too sick to give it proper attention can lead to a greater risk of falling for scams, misuse of funds by others or unpaid bills.

11. A child who is “helping” but ends up using your money unwisely for their own purposes. Sadly, this is fairly common. Before allowing a child to help, consider that child’s personality and their track record of responsibility.

12. A “moocher” relative offers to live with you, but in reality is not much help. Just like No. 4 above, before hiring a relative to help, take into consideration why they would be a good caregiver. Don’t just give them the job because they’re related to you.

13. One child does all the caregiving, but is not paid for it — and this is perceived as unfair, which causes problems.

14. One child is getting paid for providing care, but siblings think that is unfair — and that causes problems among your children.

There is a lot to keep in mind when considering home healthcare, but we help guide people in these decisions every day — weighing the pros and cons. Be sure to check out our post, 9 Ways an Elder Law Attorney Can Help You With In-Home Care for more information. If you need to speak to someone right away about your current situation, our Elder Care Advisors are the first line of help when it comes to most elder issues. We would be more than happy to speak with you at 217-726-9200.

 

 

3 Things to Do Before You Hit 70

Decision making gets harder as we age. Here are 3 crucial decisions you need to address before you turn 70.

Researchers say that decision making gets harder as we age, even if we don’t have dementia. What does this mean for you? There are many important decisions regarding your health, well-being, family and finances that can be made sooner rather than later. Many people put planning off because it’s unpleasant to think about. I can assure you, it’s much more unpleasant to be the family members on the other end of a stroke, long illness or death where the person did not plan ahead.

Here are the three things you need to take care of by the time you turn 70:

1. Incapacity planning.

What would happen if you had a stroke and were unable to make decisions for yourself any longer? You may think that your family would just decide for you, but it’s not that simple. With proper planning, extra suffering and fighting amongst your family can be avoided.

2. Estate planning.

What can we say about this that we haven’t already? Wills and trusts are basic estate planning tools that a majority of people NEED to have. Proper drafting of these documents saves time, money and heartache.

3. Long-term care planning.

Most nursing homes in Central Illinois will cost at least $78,000 per year. It’s important to take action ahead of time to plan and protect yourself from having to go broke in order to pay for nursing home care.

I know it can seem impractical to plan for things that may never happen, but statistics tell us that everyone who ages should be prepared for cognitive impairment of some kind. Statistics also tell us that 70% of Americans over 70 will need some sort of long-term care. The longer you wait, the less prepared you will be to face the reality of aging in America – and that will cost you time and money. It will also cost your family a lot of heartache.

If you’d like to read more on this topic, check out this article from MarketWatch, “The biggest retirement risk no one talks about” or the National Institutes of Health study entitled, “The ability to decide advantageously declines prematurely in some normal older persons”. This study showed decision-making impairment in aging adults with otherwise normal cognitive functioning. According to NIH researchers, “Our finding has important societal and public policy implications (e.g. choosing medical care, allocating personal wealth), and may also help explain why many older individuals are targeted by and susceptible to fraudulent advertising.”

As always, if you have any questions or just need help knowing where to start, we are more than happy to talk with you via phone at 217-726-9200.

myths about retirement

3 Myths About Retirement That’ll Cost You Money

Many people plan for retirement, but there are expensive surprises that can crop up around healthcare and derail your plans. Read on for 3 surprises about retirement that can cost you lots of money.

3 Myths About Retirement That Will Cost You Money

1. You’ll retire at 70. 22% of workers say they’ll wait until 70 to retire, but only 9% of retirees actually retired at that age according to a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Think about your friends and family. At what age did they retire? This is probably a more accurate picture of what the reality will be for you.

2. It’ll be all fun and games. I was recently talking with one of our staff who has a lot of experience in long-term care facilities. She said something very poignant, “Everybody plans and thinks about retirement, but you can’t just plan for retirement. You have to plan for your health.” There will come a time (generally after the age of 75) where the traveling will wind down and your health issues will increase. Will you be ready for that? You can find a great clearing house of information on this topic at the University of Minnesota Extension site, in addition to the information on our own website under Challenges of Aging.

3. Medicare covers everything. Many people assume that once they are 65 Medicare will take care of all their health needs. Generally, Medicare will only cover 48% of costs, and Medicare DOES NOT cover long-term nursing care. That leaves a lot of expensive medical care and deductibles to be paid for out of your own pocket. Read more about Medicare and Medicaid here.

Life Care Planning Can Address These Issues

Life Care Planning can help address several of these myths, making you better prepared to deal with the reality of retirement.

So, you’re probably wondering, “What is Life Care Planning?”

Life Care Planning is a fairly new concept in the estate planning field that came about because people are living a lot longer these days. Estate planning attorneys realized that planning didn’t just need to be “death planning” anymore, that there is a lot that can be done within the law to make the last decades of life a little easier and less stressful.

Life Care Planning can help you and/or your loved ones get the best possible care during their last decade of life and find the best way to pay for it. Good, holistic planning also looks ahead to the various stages that your family may go through during the aging process. Each stage has its own unique goals, pitfalls, concerns, and challenges. Some families may skip certain stages; others may move forward and then go back to a prior stage as healthcare improves or declines.

No matter what your journey holds, your planning should start now by determining where you (or your loved ones) are in the planning stages, while also looking to where they might be in the coming months or years.

Here are the 5 stages of Life Care Planning.

Which stage are you or your parents in right now?

Stage #1: Healthy, but let’s look ahead for the maximum benefit.

The situation: More than 5 years until care will be needed. (This is where Life Care Planning can do the most good.)

The person is still living at home, drives, travels, handles finances, volunteers, maybe even works part-time. Hopefully it will be 10-15 years or more until care is needed.

Actions: Update the estate plan, will, and powers of attorney. Review asset titling and beneficiary designations. Consider a “nest egg trust” for future asset protection.  Also, consider a revocable living trust.

Stage #2: Not as young as I used to be.

The situation: May need care or assistance within the next 5 years.

The person continues to drive, shop, and pay bills. But he or she is starting to lean on the family more for help or decisions. Increased health issues may even mean time in the hospital.

Actions: Update the estate plan, will, and powers of attorney. Consider a “nest egg trust” for future asset protection. However, beware of care needs coming more quickly than expected, which will change the legal and financial options.

Stage #3: Needing more and more help.

The situation: Needs help with meals and housework.

The senior’s memory is not what it used to be. You notice increased reliance on the family at home, or the person may be in an independent living facility with their own apartment and meals provided. The person may not drive or drives only during the day or on short trips.

Actions: Plan for looming care needs. May qualify for Veterans benefits now or, if not now, may qualify soon. Important to plan ahead for possible Medicaid benefits later.

Stage #4: Declining, but still at home OR declining but in assisted living.

The situation: Needs medical care at their own home or may be living with family. A lot of times the person has become too much for the family to handle themselves. At this point they may be in and out of the hospital.

The elderly person needs substantial assistance at home or in assisted living. They no longer drive. They need daily assistance that may include dressing, getting up, eating, using the bathroom, bathing. May need help during the day or maybe 24 hours a day. Leans on family for most, or all, legal or financial decisions.

Actions: Plan for looming care needs. Make sure finances are managed well, bills are paid on time, and help them avoid being taking advantage of by others financially. If the person is a veteran, they will probably qualify for Veterans benefits with proper planning. It’s important to plan ahead for possible Medicaid benefits later. Consider a financial plan, whether income will cover monthly expenses, and how long assets will last.

Stage #5: In crisis, either in the hospital or nursing home.

The situation: The person is in the hospital, rehab, or a nursing home. It is expected they will not be able to return home or to an assisted living facility. The next option is a skilled nursing facility.

Actions: Need immediate planning help to maximize Veterans or Medicaid benefits and protect assets. It is rarely “too late” to do anything.

Planning for retirement can be fun if you only think of the ideal situation. But reality may prove otherwise when it comes to unexpected hospitalizations or illnesses. However, by planning for reality and the challenges of retirement, you can make sure that you can still accomplish your goals, whether they be maintaining independence, passing property down to your children or preserving assets for charitable giving. If you’d like to learn more about comprehensive planning, one of our upcoming workshops is the perfect way to do that.

Call us at 217-726-9200 to RSVP for an upcoming workshop today!

will

Save Your Family Extra Anguish After You Die: Prepare a Will

Tarina, our Client Relationships Coordinator, hears it all the time, “I wish I hadn’t put off planning for so long. I just feel so much better now that we have a plan in place.”

Do you want to make things easier on your family?  Or more difficult?  Good planning will spare your family stress, conflict, and expense later.  I will never forget this article from Today.com by reporter Sharon Epperson where she talked about her father passing away and what his planning meant for her and her sisters, “By making some important decisions while living, my father helped to lessen the overwhelming stress of coping with [his] sudden loss.”

Sadly, loved ones left behind bear the burden of lack of planning.

So, what happens when you die without an effective plan or even a will?

In the US courts, if someone dies without a will it is called intestate, which basically means the state will decide what to do with any assets. There will be a lot of paperwork, court appearances, etc.

One of the most difficult things is making a list of all assets and debts. Since these types of things are not typically discussed freely, this can be a real headache for your loved ones left behind. During a time of grief they have to play detective trying to hunt down what you may own or owe.

There are also many assets that aren’t determined by a will. For these type of assets your loved ones will have to gather the necessary paperwork to prove whom the beneficiary or new owner is. Assets that aren’t passed down by will are:

  • Life insurance proceeds
  • Jointly owned assets, such as real estate or bank accounts
  • Property held in a living trust
  • Funds in IRAs, 401(k)s, or other retirement accounts
  • Payable-on-death bank accounts
  • Residential real estate with a “Transfer on Death Instrument” recorded with the county

We know there are a lot of reasons people don’t plan. Tarina says a lot people admit (after planning) that they were really intimidated by the process or didn’t feel they knew Attorney David Edwards well enough, but none of them regret finally taking the leap and planning. At Edwards Group we’ve worked really hard to make the process as painless and effective as possible. We also offer a money-back guarantee. Now, what attorney do you know of who does that?

If you’re ready to stop gambling on what will transpire if the unthinkable happens, here are the next steps to take:

1) Our free, no pressure workshops are a great way to learn more about the planning needs your family may have at every stage of life. It’s also a great way to get to know our firm better.

2) If, after attending a workshop, you would like to take the next step, call 217-726-9200 to schedule an Initial Meeting. You can read more about that process here.

3) Not ready to talk to a person yet? We have put a lot of our time into developing a website that contains helpful information about all aspects of planning. You’ll find hundreds of articles about estate planning, trusts, Veterans benefits, Medicaid and Medicare on our website. Feel free to use the search button to quickly get to what you need.

No matter what, I hope that you will take the time to learn about ways to protect your family and your assets. The other side of our practice involves helping people who didn’t plan properly clean up the mess that’s left behind. My sincere desire would be for every family to have effective planning strategies in place and for no family to have go through the consequences of bad planning. Take a step in the right direction today by attending a workshop, giving us a call at 217-726-9200, or signing up for our weekly email newsletter.

gamble estate plan

Do You Like to Gamble? Advice for Those Who Haven’t Planned Yet

Michelle and I don’t gamble very often. But when we do, watch out!

A few years go, the kids went to the grandparents’ and we spent the weekend in St. Louis. We were staying near Laclede’s Landing at a new hotel near the Lumiere Place Casino. The evening after we checked in, we headed out to do some serious gambling.

We stopped at the penny slots and started playing. About 10 minutes later, we hit a big jackpot! Being up all of $12, we decided to quit while we were ahead.

Do you enjoy gambling? We find that most of our clients don’t like to roll the dice about their planning. Instead, they want to tie it down so they can have real peace of mind.

Not planning ahead to protect your family and your assets is gambling.

What will happen if you die suddenly? What will happen if you need long term care?

Leaving things to chance is a gamble and the losses can be HUGE.

4 Reasons to Plan Ahead

With good planning, you can have real peace of mind and not gamble that these vitally important things will just work out. By planning ahead, you can avoid these 4 hardships:

1. Stress. You wouldn’t purposefully place extra stress on your spouse or your kids, would you? But a lack of planning on your part can do just that, leaving everyone to wonder, “What should we do? Who do we contact?” Good planning makes it easier on your loved ones by providing a clear plan.

2. Delay. Messy estate plans take longer to wrap up, causing the stress and extra work of an estate to drag on and on. Good planning helps things get wrapped up as quickly as possible.

3. Conflict. Lack of planning can lead to arguments in the family. Arguments between siblings, between the step-mom and step-kids, between nieces and nephews. Good planning will make it easier on the family, making less to fight about and less stress that can lead to conflict.

4. Loss of life savings. Lack of planning can result in the loss of your wealth — to the nursing home, to probate expenses, to taxes, to creditors or to wild spending by your heirs. Good planning will protect what you have worked so hard for.

If you’re ready to stop gambling on the future and get started planning, we encourage you to call us at 217-726-9200. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and to set up an Initial Meeting.

power of attorney

Power Of Attorney FAQ’s

Elisa (who handles all of our communications like newsletters, mail outs and web content) was on the playground the other day talking to some moms after school. They know what she does, so through the course of the conversation powers of attorney came up. (We’ve talked about them previously here and here.) Some good questions were raised, so today we wanted to address some of those questions:

Won’t my spouse automatically be able to make medical decisions if I’m in an accident?

No. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean your spouse has all the rights to deal with your care and medical choices. In emergency situations, a spouse might be able to act, but any ongoing medical situation will require more legal authority. That authority either needs to be through a power of attorney or else a court guardianship order. And that HIPAA medical release you may have signed at the doctor’s office will not allow you to make decisions, even if it allows you to get information. What you need is a healthcare power of attorney that allows you to BOTH get information AND make decisions for your spouse.

Can’t my spouse manage our finances without a power of attorney?

Not necessarily. A spouse can access joint bank accounts, but other types of assets may be a problem. For example, if a car is in your spouse’s name, you would not be able to transfer it if the spouse is disabled. What if you need to sell your house? Even though the house is jointly owned you will need BOTH spouses’ signatures on the deed to sell it. What if the spouse can’t sign? That’s when a power of attorney will allow you to sign for your spouse.

Why do I need a power of attorney for my college age child?

Once a child turns 18 and goes away to college, you can no longer make decisions for him or her. So what types of issues might arise that would require you have a POA for them to act on their behalf?

  • Illness or accidents: again, if your child is over the age of 18 and is in an accident, just because you’re their parent does not entitle you to find out what’s happening medically. Imagine your child needs emergency surgery and is 8 hours from home. The doctors are not required, and in fact are prohibited, from speaking with you without your child’s approval.
  • After a tragic accident, as the parent, you would not be able to help pay bills or deal with your child’s bank accounts without some legal authority like a power of attorney.

Does an attorney have to draft the POA?

No, an attorney is not legally required to do the form. And the forms are available other places. But if you work with us, we provide advice about HOW to fill out the form. We deal with these issues every single day. It’s ALL we do. Because of that, we think about all sides of an issue, what potential pitfalls might be and guide you through what’s best for your unique situation – that’s why I’m sometimes called a “Counselor-at-law.” I give valuable counsel that can prevent heartache and wasted money. Read about the dangers of a do-it-yourself POA here.

Can’t the person I named as executor in my will just do it?

No! An executor has NO authority to act on your behalf before your death. Just because they have been named as someone to make decisions AFTER your death does not mean that hospitals, doctors, banks and/or the courts will recognize them as such while you are still living. Your death changes the authority that people can use. Before you die, it’s the power of attorney. After you die, it’s the executor.

As always, we’re just a phone call away. If, after reading about POAs, you’ve decided it’s time to do something about this important issue, give us a call. We will talk with you about the specifics of your situation and what the best next step might be. Give us a call at 217-726-9200.

DNR POA

What’s the Difference Between a DNR and a POA?

End of life documents can be quite confusing and intimidating (the use of acronyms doesn’t help). So we’d like to set the record straight and help clear things up. Let’s start with the types of documents commonly used:

DNR

These letters stand for Do Not Resuscitate. A DNR order is given/written by a physician stating the patient’s wishes not to be resuscitated if that need arises. This is usually prepared a short time in advance, generally during a hospital stay or a long illness.

POA

This simply stands for Power of Attorney. When healthcare is involved, it can also be referred to as a Healthcare POA. There are different types of POAs, however, a Healthcare POA (or Healthcare Proxy) is an important legal document that provides authorization for someone to represent or act on your behalf in medical situations where you are unable to do so for yourself.

Advanced Directives/Living Wills

These are end of life documents that work hand in hand with a POA to carry out the wishes and preferences regarding healthcare and end of life procedures (use of ventilators, feeding tubes, etc.). These documents can be a helpful guide to the appointed healthcare agent who has been named in the POA.

Creating POAs is something we do on a regular basis. To read more about Powers of Attorney, click HERE.