Advance Directives: The HAVES and the HAVE NOTS

• You HAVE someone in place if you can no longer make your own choices. • You HAVE NOT lost control over your health care choices as long as you can make them.   • You HAVE the ability to give a lot of detail on the kinds of treatments you want. • You HAVE NOT elected  “no treatment” simply by completing an Advance Directive.   • You HAVE great flexibility to modify or rewrite the information until you like it. • You HAVE NOT been stuck with the options on the form.   • You HAVE the option to have an attorney help.  • You do NOT HAVE to hire an attorney draft this for you; you can do it.   • You HAVE the right to say you do not want any treatment under some circumstances. • You do NOT HAVE to accept treatment just because it is available.   • You HAVE the ability to name anyone, even friends over family members. • You do NOT HAVE to let people you do not get along with make your health care choices just because they are family.   • You HAVE the ability to do this anytime you want but every person needs one, not just older or sick people. • You do NOT HAVE to wait for illness or injury to do this.   None of us wants to be the next Terri Schiavo with family fighting over what we would have wanted.  Make it clear what you do want and what you do not want.  The more clarity you give, the less likely there will...

In Case of Death List

In Case of Death List The following agencies need to be notified of your loved one’s passing. Not all may apply to your situation: Social Security Administration Veteran’s Administration (if the decedent formerly served in the military) Defense Finance and Accounting Service (military service retiree receiving benefits) Office of Personnel Management (if the decedent is a former federal civil service employee) U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service (If the decedent was not a U.S. citizen) State Department of Motor Vehicles (If the decedent had a driver’s license) Credit card and merchant card companies Banks, savings and loan associations and credit unions Mortgage companies and lenders Financial planners and stock brokers Your estate planning attorney Pension providers Life insurers and annuity companies Health, medical and dental insurers Disability insurers Automotive insurer Mutual benefit companies All three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion Any memberships held by the decedent (ex: health clubs, professional associations, clubs, library etc.) You can list the decedent on the Deceased Do Not Contact List, maintained by the Direct Marketing Association, which is a service that removes the decedent from all direct mailing...

Same Sex Estate Planning

Same Sex Estate Planning A marriage bestows certain legal and tax benefits to both husband and wife. However, Federal laws generally do not recognize the same rights and privileges for same-sex couples. Since gay or lesbian couples lack the same certain tax, inheritance and employment benefits that marriage bestows, these benefits must be created through other means, like the use of estate planning documents and contracts. The question most people ask is “What if I do nothing?” What happens is if you do not make your choices, the State of California will do so in a process called intestate succession which leaves your estate to your biological family, so brothers, sisters, parents and so on. It does not leave anything to a Partner, a Registered Domestic Partner [RDP] or long-time lover. There are two problems with intestacy. The first and most important problem is that most state intestacy laws discriminate against same-sex couples in that gay and lesbian relationships are generally considered invalid for purposes of distributing the estate of a deceased partner who dies without a will. Generally, under intestacy laws, a surviving partner will be left with nothing upon the death of a partner. This is true regardless of the length and intensity of the relationship between the deceased partner and the surviving partner. California, however, has made substantial progress in reversing this discrimination (“AB 205“). As of January 1, 2005, the law is now: if a domestic partner dies without a will, trust or other estate plan, the surviving registered domestic partner will inherit a portion of the deceased partner’s estate provided that both parties are...

Why Do I Need To Plan My Estate When The Estate Tax Exclusion Is Up To $5,000,000!?

Why Do I Need To Plan My Estate When The Estate Tax Exclusion Is Up To $5,000,000!? I talk to a lot of people who stopped worrying about planning their estates when the 2011 threat of the $1,000,000 limit of assets that could transfer to their heirs without estate tax jumped to an unbelievable $5,000,000 per person! The legislature extended a tax bill already on the books for two more years and increased the exclusion amount from $3,500,000 to $5,000,000. At a $1,000,000 limit, in California, it is fairly easy to see exceeding that amount when one considers the value of your house and retirement assets and planning became critical. Now, it seems people have relaxed and figure, I suppose, that unless they are any where near five million dollars in their estates, they have nothing to worry about. Think again. First, that $5,000,000 amount is only through December 31, 2012, which is next year. Second, it has nothing to do what happens to your body, only your money. Third, the new exclusion amount does nothing for your children should a Guardian be needed. There is much more to planning your life and estate than just how much money you have. Let’s start with a very basic background on the Estate Tax in the United States. The estate tax is one part of the Unified Gift and Estate Tax system in the United States. It is a tax on the transfer of the “taxable estate” at death of any assets by any means, whether via a will, according to the state laws of intestacy, a transfer of property from...
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