By Ruth Fortune
“My friend put her house in her childrens’ names” … “my neighbor says I should put my son on my bank accounts.”
Powers of attorney are a wonderful tool in the hands of a trustworthy person. But because it comes with a tremendous responsibility, it can also be a dangerous tool in the hands of the wrong person.
Learn all you can before choosing your power of attorney. We have had too many cases where the wrong choice resulted in exploitation or abuse by a family member or friend.
What is a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a document where you authorize someone, often called an agent, to act on your behalf should you no longer be able to do so. Examples include paying your bills, managing your investments. Continue reading
Sibling relationships can be fraught even in the best of times. Under the stress and strain of dealing with the needs of aging parents, they can deteriorate swiftly and dramatically. It’s a common issue faced by families from all walks of life. But it can be easier to manage if you know that to expect.
It’s important to make the distinction between knowing what to expect and having expectations.
Most people, if they are honest, have an idea of how they’d like their sibling group to handle the various financial, emotional, and day-to-day needs as parents get older. But reality doesn’t always line up with those expectations. With the added pressure and anxiety of having to make important decisions and sacrifices, adult siblings often fall into old childhood patterns, triggering each other in unhealthy ways. Emotions run high. The concept of what’s “fair” gets distorted.
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.
SSDI pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured,” meaning Continue reading
In your estate plan, you leave behind financial wealth and possessions, but the most valuable items you can pass on are those that cannot be measured. That’s why you should consider writing an ethical Will.
An ethical Will is a great way to reinforce, to those people dearest to you, your values, insights and beliefs. It is a profoundly meaningful piece of writing that captures a part of you, perhaps your very essence, that won’t be found in any formal estate plan.
An ethical Will is not a legal document; you don’t need an elder law attorney to help you draft one. In fact it’s about as official as an envelope you might use to scribble your grocery list. It’s simply your opportunity to leave a spiritual legacy to your family.
You could think of it as a love letter to those you hold close. Continue reading
Serving as trustee for a special needs trust demands time and skill. Time to work with professionals who provide counsel, and time to make critical decisions that could impact a beneficiary’s quality of life and financial security.
So what’s involved and who should you choose as trustee? Continue reading
Under the most ideal of circumstances, discussions about end-of-life care decisions are difficult, uncomfortable and often thought of as a talk better suited for a later time. But as unsettling as it is, if now is not the time to have a plan in place about your health care wishes, then when is?
No one ever wants to think about the possibility of being incapacitated or in a terminal state. But if that were to happen, would your loved ones know what your wishes are? Would they know where you stand on being kept alive artificially?
Having your health care and end-of-life wishes documented and in place are important for not only your peace of mind but also for your loved ones who may be tasked with seeing your wishes are met.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only brought the world to a standstill. It has brought us face to face with our own mortality. The news headlines are filled with daily stories about the tragic loss of life and those stories make it clear that this virus is deadly to people of all ages and lifestyles.
A recent piece published by Dr. Asha Shajahan, a primary care physician in metro Detroit, poignantly conveyed the reality of life and death in a COVID-19 unit. Dr. Shajahan opened his piece with the following,
If we’re honest, most of us have spent some time in the last few weeks thinking about mortality—our own and that of our loved ones. It’s not surprising given the fact that we’re living through a pandemic that has caused unprecedented disruptions to our daily lives. We’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty, which can be scary.
Being prepared is one of the most effective ways to alleviate anxiety caused by uncertainty.
While none of us can hope to fully control the current situation, there are things each of us can do to help ensure that we have fewer things to worry about in case of dire emergency.
There is no perfect time to talk with your parents about their finances. No matter when you bring it up or how you broach the subject, it’s bound to be awkward for you—the adult child—and your parents. Be that as it may, having “The Money Talk” is a critical part of ensuring that everyone is prepared for whatever may come.
Right now, such conversations may seem almost inappropriate. The entire global population is dealing with the frightening and life-changing experience of living with a pandemic. Our minds are focused on day-to-day needs and the swiftly changing news, not long-term financial planning. On the other hand, the reality of the situation is drawing attention to places where we might want to ensure a little more certainty, including addressing big questions about estate planning and other money matters.
Why this is such an important conversation