Why It Is Important To Hire A Healthcare Proxy

This is the image description

 

 

It is quite comforting to know that medical professionals today are ready to use various treatments and tools at their disposal to save our lives. It is also important to have the assurance that those caring for us at a time of crisis do so according to your desires and wishes.

Life-sustaining procedures such as feeding tubes, respirators, DNR orders, cardiac resuscitation, etc. might not be what you want. Treatment preferences usually reflect a person’s religious views and personal values.

If you become unable to communicate your healthcare decisions to the care providers, your treatment preferences could be at risk. Fortunately, you can use a Healthcare Proxy to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

What is a Healthcare Proxy?

It is a legal document giving specific instructions and rights regarding medical care. It ensures that the person’s preferences are adhered to in case he or she is unable to communicate their healthcare decision.

The Healthcare Proxy is designed to help you (the Principal) to select in advance the person that will be responsible for making your healthcare decisions if you become unable to make your own decisions regarding your health.

How Does a Healthcare Proxy Work?

It permits you to appoint an “Agent” who is allowed to make various medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able to communicate your wishes. The Healthcare Proxy can be more or less specific on the choices that you would like the Agent to make on your behalf.

The Healthcare Proxy goes into effect once the attending physician determines in writing that you are not able to communicate or make healthcare decisions yourself. If this determination is made on the basis of developmental disability or mental illness, the physician is required to consult with a specialist before making the final decision regarding the inability of the patient to make decisions.

Once it is determined that the patient is no longer able to make his/her own decisions, the medical facility will turn to the Agent named on the Healthcare Proxy to make healthcare decisions on his/her behalf.  The Agent’s authority ceases once the patient regains his/her ability to make informed health decisions.

How Do You Choose the Best Agent?

The Agent should be a person you trust to make significant healthcare decisions in certain medical situations including the use of experimental treatments, treatment options for patients in persistent vegetative states (very deep comas), and the use of feeding tubes (food delivered to the person’s stomach through a tube).

It is also important to consider the Agent’s willingness to follow through on difficult healthcare decisions. Disagreements may occur among relatives, physicians, and friends as to the proper course of treatment. It is during such times that the Agent should communicate your wishes and ensure that your expressed wishes are followed.

The Bottom Line

It is essential to have a Healthcare Proxy in place so that in the event of your medical incapacitation, someone with your authority will be there to ensure that the medical decisions are made according to your wishes. While some simple forms are available at nursing homes and hospitals, getting the more extensive forms and the associated counseling from an experienced elder law attorney is the best way to make a Healthcare Proxy more effective.

Schedule Your Consultation with Our Experienced California Estate Planning Attorney

Celaya Law is an estate planning law firm in Napa, California. Attorney Anthony Celaya helps families in Napa, Sonoma, St. Helena, Calistoga, and the surrounding areas with setting up wills and living trusts, special needs planning, asset protection, probate administration, business law, and retirement planning.

Schedule a planning session with our experienced Napa attorney today to learn how we can help you and your family: (707) 492-3112.

3 Important Reasons to Avoid Probate

This is the image description

 

With or without a will, estates may have to go through a probate process. Typically, the probate process is used for one of two things. It might certify the validity of a will and the executor’s authority to carry out the wishes in the will. Without a will, the probate process must name an administrator to ensure that assets get distributed fairly and that taxes or other estate debts get paid. Depending upon the circumstances, probate can become a long, drawn-out, and expensive process.

Three Critical Reasons to Avoid Probate

In any case, it’s best to ease or even entirely avoid the probate process by planning well in advance. These are some of the best reasons to avoid or minimize probate:

  • During this process, none of the estate’s inheritors can touch their inherited assets.
  • Besides having to wait for a distribution of assets, somebody may have to pay an attorney a considerable amount of money to represent them.
  • Also, since the court has to make probate records public, the will’s beneficiaries cannot maintain their privacy.  

Most families would prefer to get the assets from an estate divided up as quickly as possible. Certainly, they would rather avoid having to pay a lot of funds to a lawyer before they can even claim their assets. Some families would also prefer to keep their affairs as private as possible.

How To Avoid Probate Court After a Loved One Passes Away

Even a will cannot help the survivors entirely avoid a probate court. However, some tools can be used to accomplish this.

Living Trust

With a living trust, the owner of assets is free to use them in any way he or she pleases while alive. After death, a trustee will ensure that there will be a distribution of assets according to the deceased owner’s wishes. Unlike a will, a living trust can be used to avoid probate. It’s a little more complicated to set up, but it can avoid problems later.

Designating Beneficiaries

Some financial investments are handy because the owner can set up beneficiaries. Upon death, these assets will pay directly to those named beneficiaries in the portion initially requested by the deceased owner. Some common examples of these kinds of assets could include life insurance, annuities, and other retirement accounts. In some cases, it may also be possible to set up beneficiaries on other financial instruments like home mortgages.

POD Accounts

A payable upon death or POD account can be used by the owner just like any other bank account while they are alive. However, the account can be set up to include a beneficiary who will have access to the funds in the account upon the first owner’s death. These can serve as a quick way to pass some immediate cash to an heir. However, they aren’t as good for complex estates because they only name the beneficiaries but don’t give any instructions about how to use the money.

Shared Accounts

In simple cases, the owner of an account might simply put the name of a close family member on the account with them. This requires confidence and trust, and it has some of the same drawbacks of a POD account.

Get Help to Avoid Probate

In any case, it’s best to make some plans to ensure that an estate can be distributed quickly, fairly, and privately. There are several ways to do this, but they usually take some work before the owner passes away. It is best to call upon an estate planner for advice.

Schedule Your Consultation with Our Experienced California Estate Planning Attorney

Celaya Law is an estate planning law firm in Napa, California. Attorney Anthony Celaya helps families in Napa, Sonoma, St. Helena, Calistoga, and the surrounding areas with setting up wills and living trusts, special needs planning, asset protection, probate administration, business law, and retirement planning.

Schedule a planning session with our experienced Napa attorney today to learn how we can help you and your family: (707) 492-3112.

Tips For Updating Your Estate Plan As You Approach Retirement

While most people look forward to retirement, not everyone has their estate plans in proper order. Even if you have created a will and related documents in the past, it is essential that you have them updated as you enter the retirement years.

The most basic document in your estate plan is your will. Though some people think this unnecessary, lack of a will can create undue problems for your loved ones. Without one, your heirs will have to undergo the costly probate court processes.

If you have any retirement accounts, such as a 401(k), review the beneficiaries. You might be surprised to discover that you never changed it after a life-altering event, such as a divorce. Make certain that the appropriate powers that be have the updated information on file.

Trusts are an excellent estate planning tool that can keep some or all of your assets out of probate court. There are several different types available, and in most cases you will have access to the assets as long as you are of sound mind and body.

Revocable and irrevocable trusts are also ways to reduce your tax obligation. Of course, you need a legal professional to help ensure that you have set the trust up according to the law. Your representative will also guide you in making the choices that best suit your current financial situation.

Though most people don’t want to think about the possibility of becoming incapacitated, you need to. Ignoring it will only put your estate planning efforts in vain. A living trust is one method you can use to express your wishes regarding what types of life-saving interventions to use in case of incapacitation. For instance, many people have clear instruction regarding resuscitation and life support. For this to be effective, you need to distribute it to at least one trusted family member and your primary care physician. Some hospitals also allow you to include a copy in your patient records.

Since these documents don’t account for every possible scenario, you should also have a health care proxy. A designated party will speak your medical wishes should you be unable to voice your wants and needs.

In addition to this health care power of attorney, you need to designate a financial power of attorney. This person can handle your financial accounts while you are incapacitated. For instance, during your recovery time after a complicated medical procedure. A limited power of attorney provides them restricted abilities related to your finances.

While not an official document, you should make a complete list of all of your assets and debts. This should be put together in a professional manner that makes it easy for your loved ones to navigate through the legal system.

Your retirement years should give you the opportunity to relax and enjoy life. By taking care of these important estate planning needs, you can scratch that worry from your list. Then, you can focus on packing for a trip to your favorite tropical island, or whatever else excites you!

Schedule Your Consultation with Our Experienced California Estate Planning Attorney

Celaya Law is an estate planning law firm in Napa, California. Attorney Anthony Celaya helps families in Napa, Sonoma, St. Helena, Calistoga, and the surrounding areas with setting up wills and living trusts, special needs planning, asset protection, probate administration, business law, and retirement planning.

Schedule a planning session with our experienced Napa attorney today to learn how we can help you and your family: (707) 492-3112.

The Holidays: An Unexpectedly Excellent Opportunity To Discuss Estate Planning With Your Parents

Your parents have always been there, guiding you from your first steps to choosing a university and beyond. This can make it difficult for adult children to recognize that it is time to begin assuming more significant involvement in the needs of their parents. Though it might be a touchy subject for them, you and anyone else who is impacted by these decisions, it has to be done.

Even people who realize that their parents are in need of additional planning and care often don’t know when or how to broach the topic. Fortunately, the holidays are right around the corner, providing you a timely opportunity to have this uncomfortable discussion. Though you might be concerned that it will dampen the holiday spirit, that doesn’t have to be the case.

There are several reasons that a big family holiday is a perfect time to discuss estate planning matters with your parents. First of all, most of the people who are involved in the plans are likely present in one place. The time off for the holidays reduces the amount of work-related stress everyone is experiencing and gives everyone the chance to relax some during this important discussion.

For those who cannot be there in person, arrange for them to join the conversation via Skype or a similar system. This is a family meeting, and to ensure fairness and lack of conflict later on, everyone should be present to witness the words exchanged and ultimate outcomes of the topics being discussed.

Successful estate planning requires appropriate documents are created, witnessed and filed according to federal and state laws. First, your parents need to update their will to reflect any changes that have occurred since the draft of their current one. Perhaps a new grandchild has been born, or a favored charity fell into disfavor or disgrace. Your parents certainly want to be sure that these issues are corrected.

Oftentimes, older adults don’t want to admit that they are regressing somewhat in their ability to take care of their personal matters. However, it is vital that everyone understands their current physical and mental health, as well as how these matters impact the situation.

Talk to your parents about what they need and areas where they need help. In some instances, you might discover that the fixes are relatively simple, such as changing switchplates in the home.

Even if your family isn’t rolling in the dough, estate planning is still an important part of financial management. The government will intervene without a will, even if the assets total to less than a grand. Spouses often can’t access personal bank accounts of their recently deceased spouse without the appropriate documentation.

The holidays are a wonderful time for the entire family to gather and celebrate. Taking care of matters such as this will help everyone to relax and enjoy the party. The greater peace of mind you and everyone else experiences once this has been completed is well worth any awkward points that occur along the way.

Schedule Your Consultation with Our Experienced California Estate Planning Attorney

Celaya Law is an estate planning law firm in Napa, California. Attorney Anthony Celaya helps families in Napa, Sonoma, St. Helena, Calistoga, and the surrounding areas with setting up wills and living trusts, special needs planning, asset protection, probate administration, business law, and retirement planning.

Schedule a planning session with our experienced Napa attorney today to learn how we can help you and your family: (707) 492-3112.

Estate Planning Tips For Unmarried Couples

Estate planning is a must when you have a life partner but no marriage, domestic partnership, or civil union. Without the certificate, none of you can inherit from each other, and both of you won’t have a say in each other’s end-of-life medical care.

If you don’t write a will, the state laws will be used to decide where the property you owned will go after your death, and it won’t go to an unmarried partner. Instead, it’s your relatives closest to you like your parents that would inherit.  In the same way, only your spouse or a person with a valid power of attorney can make medical decisions for you in case you’re incapacitated. Luckily, you can create all the legal documents you need yourself.

  1. Writing Wills

If there are assets you care about, writing a will ensures that you can leave the property to the beneficiaries of your choice: your friends, your partner, children, charitable organizations, etc. Without a will, a probate court will most likely decide to distribute much of the property you leave behind among your siblings or parents, based on your state’s laws.

For those with young children, the vital thing about writing a will is to choose a guardian for them. The guardian will raise them in case neither parents was able to. Without a valid will, the court appoints another person as the guardian. If you’re the legal parents of the children, it’s best to appoint someone else as the guardian, since a guardian is only needed if both parents are unavailable.

  1. Owning Assets Together

Owning big-ticket items like cars and houses together in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship is another effective way to make sure that you are not left out in the cold in case the other partner dies. Joint tenancy ensures that the survivor partner will automatically own 100% of the property.

Applying for joint tenancy involves putting both of your names on the official title document of the asset, such as the deed or title of your house, or the car’s certificate.

  1. Designating the Beneficiaries for your Bank and other Accounts

Depending on your relationship, you and your partner might not want to share the ownership of assets. Since you can’t share retirement accounts, you will need some other ways to make sure that only the assets in your name will go to your partner after you’re gone.

These valuable assets like investment, bank and retirement accounts may not pass to your will. All you need to do is to leave them to the person of your choice asking for a beneficiary designation from the account custodian or bank, and list the people you would like to inherit your funds.

  1. Make Durable Powers of Attorney and Make Living Wills

If you want to provide your partner the authority over your medical and financial decisions at incapacitation, you’ll need these documents. The durable powers of attorney for finances can be used to give either partner the authority over each of your assets. Durable powers of attorney for healthcare ideally give either partner the authority to make a medical decision for the other, in case you are unable to make them on your own.

Schedule Your Consultation with Our Experienced California Estate Planning Attorney

Celaya Law is an estate planning law firm in Napa, California. Attorney Anthony Celaya helps families in Napa, Sonoma, St. Helena, Calistoga, and the surrounding areas with setting up wills and living trusts, special needs planning, asset protection, probate administration, business law, and retirement planning.

Schedule a planning session with our experienced Napa attorney today to learn how we can help you and your family: (707) 492-3112.