Published: 7 years 248 days ago
Focus on Follow Up
newsletter is dedicated to making sure that our clients have communicated their
estate planning wishes to their family and/or their designated agents. As I get close to celebrating 19 years in my
estate planning practice, I am learning that many of my clients have never given a copy of their
documents to the individual(s) actually designated to act in those documents.
If your Agent, Trustee or Medical Advocate does not have a copy of your
documents, there is also a good chance that you have never discussed your
wishes with that individual and in some cases you may not have obtained their
permission to designate them.
something, such as death or incapacity were to occur, would the individual(s) that you have
designated know where to start or what to do?
The problem that we have run into over the years involves a situation
where a client becomes mentally
incapacitated and we subsequently learn that the client failed to provide a
copy of the medical and/or financial powers of attorney to the designated
individual. Since the designated
individual was never made aware of the documents or the permission they were
granted, that individual ended up contacting their own attorney for help. If no one knows you have a medical or
financial power of attorney, or even a Trust, it is likely that the attorney
that is consulted will recommend having a guardian and conservator
appointed. Guardianship is getting permission
from the court to handle medical decisions and placement decisions for an
individual. A conservatorship is getting
permission from the court to handle the financial affairs for someone that is
not mentally capable of handling his or her own affairs.
reality is that the medical and financial Powers of Attorney that were set up
by our office gives an individual permission to do everything a guardian or
conservator could do...and more! The
petition for a court appointed guardian and conservator was never
necessary...and neither was the expense! It is our hope that upon reading
this newsletter, you will review your
estate planning documents and that you will
personally contact each of the individuals that you have designated to
serve and discuss your wishes. You
need to make sure that they are not only aware of these legal documents, but
that they also have a copy of the
documents. If you have never reviewed
or discussed your estate planning documents with your designated Trustee, Personal
Representative, Power of Attorney and/or Patient Advocate, I would recommend that you take the time to
sit down in the very near future with each of these individuals and review the
documents with them.
for many of you, your Trust notebook contains an explanation of each
document. Additionally, if you look on
my website, there are articles that discuss the difference between a medical
and financial power of attorney as well as the difference between a simple Will
versus a Trust.
we are talking about your estate planning documents, many of you were provided
with additional paperwork that I frequently refer to as “your homework”. These forms include questions regarding your
funeral/burial wishes, specific gifts of tangible personal property, pet
instructions, advisor/banker/CPA information, and much more. Many of the clients that have come into my
office to review their documents over the years
have admitted that they have never taken the time to complete these
forms. Although the forms themselves are
informational, they assist and guide the individuals that you have designated
to serve when you cannot. For example,
does your family know whether you want to be buried or cremated, does your
family know where you “hide” important financial information, or does your family know if you are an organ
Medical Emergency Card
way of advising other individuals or family members of your medical wishes is a
simple card that you can complete and place in your wallet for use in an
emergency. This card can be located on
the Michigan Secretary of State’s website at www.michigan.gov/sos. Click on “Organ Donation”, select “Publications
and Forms” and click the link titled “Your Emergency Medical Card”. This is a printable PDF form. You should complete the card, laminate it (if
possible) and place it in your wallet.
you have designated a corporate successor
trustee, now may be a good time to touch base with that corporate
trustee. Many of the corporate trust
departments in this area may have experienced a name change, but most of them
still employ many of the same trust officers.
It is important that you periodically contact the trust department and
make sure that they still have record of your Trust documents (our office would
have sent them a copy shortly after your documents were signed). When you contact them, it would also be a
good idea to discuss some of the unique or particular provisions in your Trust.
example, if your Trust provides for income only to a child or grandchild until
age 30, the Trustee may want to have notes in the file to confirm why there is
such a restriction. Alternatively, if
time does not permit a one-on-one
meeting, many of you may want to put your thoughts in writing and send the
corporate trustee a simple letter of intent and request confirmation that they
are still in possession of your Trust documents.
Change in Circumstances - Yours, Your Family’s and Your
will always remind you to keep us up-to-date on any changes that you have made
with regard to your home address, your email address, and/or your phone
number. In an effort to keep our costs
down and to be as efficient as possible, we have begun emailing this newsletter
to approximately two-thirds of our client base (we do not actually email the
newsletter to you...we give you the link to our website). If you have received a postcard it means you
have not contacted us with an email address nor have you confirmed that
you do not use email. Some of our
clients have been hesitant to give us an email address and we want you to know
that we will only contact you via email one or two times a year. Our primary purpose for having your email is
to notify you of our annual newsletter, of an upcoming semiars, and to notify
you of any other updates throughout the year.
It is a cost efficient way for us to keep our clients up-to-date. With regard to your email address, we will
NOT be forwarding lengthy articles to you or sending you political emails or
jokes. On the flip side, we would ask
that you keep your emails to us limited to matters related to your estate plan
or any legal issues that we can assist you with. It is my goal to try and respond to client
emails as timely as possible, but keep in mind that if you need an immediate
response, you should call the office.
We encourage you to use my email to update us on changes in your family’s
addresses, changes in your Trustee, power of attorney or medical advocate’s
address, purchase of new property, change of account information and/or change
of a financial advisor. If you have
non-estate planning issues that we can help you with, we are happy to be
contacted on these matters via email as well.
you have made a charitable contribution in your Will or Trust, many of the local charities have asked me to
pass this request on to you. The
charities would ask that you contact them and let them know that you have
provided for them in your estate plan.
This would primarily include Wills and Trusts that provide for an
immediate gift at death and not a gift to a charity if you have no other
if you have provided for an immediate gift to your favorite charity, that
provision can be located in Article 3 of your Trust or in Section IV of your
year I am scheduled to present various seminars throughout Southwest Michigan.
I will be presenting on the topic of Charitable Giving for the Allegan General
Hospital Foundation and the Allegan Community Foundation. I will also be
scheduling a seminar regarding the new Michigan Trust Code. As of April 1,
2010, this new trust code will have an impact on the laws related to
Trusts. Dates, times and locations for
each of these seminars will be posted on our website. If you are interested in
attending one of our seminars, we would ask that you call our office to confirm
your attendance. Sometimes the weather or circumstances requires that we cancel
or reschedule and we would want to be able to notify you of any changes.
Michigan Trust Code
I will be posting an article
on our website later this year regarding
some of the changes to the trust code and how it may impact your Trust
agreement, if at all.
Our office continues to offer the following legal services:
▴ Chapter 7 & 13 Bankruptcy ▴ Drunk Driving
▴ Criminal Law ▴ Minor in Possession
(special focus on college students & young adults)
▴ Social Security Disability