Happy New Year…Plan for a GREAT Year!
I hope all of you had a great holiday season and a happy new year! Now is the time to think about what you want to accomplish in 2015. I propose one item that can ease your (and your loved one’s) mind. Legally document your wishes for YOU, your loved ones, loved animals and loved charities, etc. in writing in case ANYTHING unforeseen happens to you in 2015. To remind you, here is a summary of BASIC documents you should consider. (These items are discussed in more detail on my website):
1. A Living Will states your wishes and guides your loved ones as to what you want to happen should you be in an incurable state, i.e, do you want nutrition and hydration, do you want to have the machines discontinued if that is the only way you are breathing, etc.? These decisions are very personal and can be heartbreaking for family members to make if they don’t know your wishes. It is critical that YOU have expressed what YOU want to happen.
2. A Health Care Surrogate appoints a “surrogate” who YOU choose to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated. This is imperative if you have multiple individuals who want to act for you. There is nothing worse in a crisis when many individuals are trying to make decisions and the individuals can not agree. It is extremely important that YOU let people know whom YOU want to make those decisions.
3. A Power of Attorney authorizes an “agent” to make financial decisions for you if you become incapacitated. This is a VERY powerful document and one that you must discuss in detail with your attorney. You should name an agent you completely trust to handle these financial decisions. Powers of Attorney can be abused and, because of such abuse, Florida law changed several years ago so that you must specifically initial certain powers that you want your agent to have.
4. A DNR, or a do not resuscitate order, advises paramedics and first responders that you do NOT want to be resuscitated. This form can be obtained from your physician. It is bright yellow and should be posted clearly on your refrigerator at your house or in some other obvious place to alert first responders that you have a DNR.
5. A Last Will and Testament and/or a Revocable Trust provide what happens to you and your assets should you die or become incapacitated (in the case of a trust).
6. Finally, Beneficiary Designations, which may dispose of the majority of your assets! Do you remember whom you named as your primary beneficiary of all of your retirement plans, including your IRAs? What about annuities, life insurance, deferred compensation, etc.? Do you know whom you have named as contingent beneficiaries if a primary beneficiary does not survive you?
Not one of us likes to think about what would happen in these situations but the time to plan is when you are healthy and competent.
ADVICE: Consider my suggestions… Whether it is our office or another office that helps you, please make sure you have these documents. Planning ahead will save you and your family much grief and heartache should anything happen to you. Go ahead, put it on your calendar and make that phone call!
GENEROSITY IS A KEY TO HAPPINESS …REACH OUT AND HELP SOMEONE TODAY!