Monday, September 18, 2017

Equifax--Be Careful of Accepting Help From Equifax


I was asked to comment on the Equifax credit dispute.  Be careful of accepting the free credit monitoring service.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

FOUR ESTATE PLANNING TOOLS EVERYONE NEEDS

WARNING: At some point in your life the unexpected will happen.  If that “unexpected” is sickness, becoming mentally incompetent, or dying, you will need certain legal tools to get you through that period.  As you are guaranteed to either get sick, become mentally incompetent, or die, or all of them, my advice to you is obtain the following four documents:

          Will: A Will directs how you want your property distributed on death. It also may describe, among other things, who is to manage your Estate (e.g. personal representative or executor), who you want to take care of your children, and instructions about the payment of debts.  It does not avoid probate.  It is a “one way ticket” to probate.

            Durable and General Power of Attorney: A power of attorney gives someone the power to act on your behalf for legal matters.   A durable power of attorney springs to life if you are not medically competent to act for yourself. A general power of attorney gives someone broad authority to act on your behalf and should be carefully drafted to give authority in every legal area that you will need.

            Healthcare Power of Attorney: A healthcare power of attorney gives someone authority to make medical decisions on your behalf should you lack the ability. 

               Living Will:  A living will informs and gives direction about what medical treatment you want should you be unable to express you wishes.  In other words, if you are unconscious or mentally incompetent, this document will state whether you want life sustaining treatment, heroic lifesaving measures, or simply manage the pain while you pass.  

The above documents are the essential estate planning tools.  If you do not have the documents above, there are laws in place to compensate for your lack of planning; however, your end of life could become more complicated and more expensive for you and your loved ones.  Here are the legal alternatives that take the place of the above estate planning tools: 
  
Missing  Estate Planning Tool
Explanation of Why You Do Not Want This Result
Will
If you die leaving no will, the State will decide how to divide your assets at death. Please know that the rules for distribution may cause you to enrich someone that you did not intend or wish to enrich.
Durable and General Power of Attorney
A conservator is someone appointed by a court that manages all your assets, if you are not competent to do so (e.g. you are addicted to drugs, suffer from dementia, etc.).  The conservatorship is frequently thousands to administer.  The system is ripe with mismanagement, is cumbersome to administer, and can take hours of your loved ones time to administer.   
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A Guardian is someone appointed by a court that manages all your healthcare needs.  If you value privacy, you will no longer have it with the guardian process as your healthcare is the subject of the court.  Moreover, it can costs thousands to administer.
Living Will
If you have not planned for your end of life, someone will plan for you.  This may mean that you are placed on life support for a prolonged period. Moreover, it means that you may burden your loved ones with the decision to terminate or extend life support. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Death and Debt

This is a terrible and misleading article and I want to set the record straight regarding debts and death:

1. If your loved one dies (who is not your spouse) and the loved one leaves behind debt, the survivors are NOT responsible for that debt; rather, the estate of the deceased is responsible.  It is important to note that the deceased cannot avoid the debts by giving his assets to his heirs through beneficiary designation, joint tenancy, or similar device.  The deceased will not escape those debts and creditors may, under the right circumstance, reach into funds transferred in that manner.    

2.  If your spouse dies and leaves behind debt, the spouse is frequently, but not always, responsible for the debt.  For example, the spouse leaves a credit card in his name but not in the spouse's name, the surviving spouse may be found responsible for the debt. A spouse should seek counsel regarding the debt from a qualified attorney because the issues are seldom clear.