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    Joshua and Laura Meier Newport Beach Trust and Estate Planning Attorneys Focused on Helping Families with Young Kids
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    Category Archives: Power of Attorney

    No More Reasons for Delay in Implementing These 5 Estate Planning Essentials

    Last year’s uncertainty about the future of the estate and gift tax caused many people to put their estate planning on hold, even though estate and gift tax planning is only a teeny tiny piece of estate planning.  Now that the clouds have lifted and Congress has given us clarity, there is simply no reason for anyone to delay in implementing these five estate planning essentials: estate plan

    Will.  Look around you right now.  Everything you see has to be distributed in the event of your death.  Your Will names the person you want to handle it all and can also indicate who you want to receive it all.  If you don’t have a Will, a Judge decides who is in charge of your affairs and State law provides who receives everything you own.  Take control now by getting your Will in place today.

    Kids ICE Plan.  If you have minor children at home, you need a comprehensive set of documents to ensure they are taken care of by the people you want, in the way you want, no matter what.  Not just for the long-term, but also in the immediate term if and when something happens to you.  A Kids ICE Plan does just that.  Only a licensed Personal Family Lawyer has the skills, training, and resources to create a comprehensive Kids ICE Plan for your family, so call us today if you do not have one in place already.

    Advance Medical Directive.  Also known as a health care proxy, durable power of attorney for healthcare or living will, this document provides the legal right for the person of your choice (your representative) to make healthcare decisions for you in case you become incapacitated and unable to make those decisions for yourself.  Plus, it also lets that person know HOW you want decisions to be made if you cannot make them for yourself.  Without an Advance Medical Directive in place, your family could have their hands tied when it comes to ensuring you get the best care possible, in the way you would want.

    Power of Attorney.  In the event you cannot communicate, your Power of Attorney will allow your family to gain access to your financial accounts so they can pay your bills and manage your financial affairs. Without this in place, they’ll face an expensive, long and public court process to take matters into their hands.  Don’t leave your family in that position, handle this today.

    Trust.  If you own any property that would go through the probate process (a home, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, business assets, investment real estate, and other investment assets), you’ll want to make sure to have a Trust set up as soon as possible so your family isn’t stuck dealing with an expensive, unnecessary, long, and totally public Court process in the event of your death.  A revocable living trust puts the people you know, love and trust in control without having to go to Court.

    If you’re ready to do the right thing by your family, call your Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorneys at the Meier Law Firm to schedule a time for an Achieve Your Dreams Planning Session.  Call today and mention this article.

    For Estate Planning, There is No Fix –It-And-Forget-It

    It’s hard to believe that people who spend a lifetime working hard to accumulate wealth spend little or no time planning for what will happen to it after they pass, especially if children are in the picture.  Yet a recent Consumer Reports survey tells us that 86% of people have not reviewed or updated our estate documents in the past five years.

    A lot can happen in five years – your life, the law and your assets will change —  and your estate plan needs to reflect the changes in your life or those of your beneficiaries.  Here’s what needs to be evaluated at least once a year with the help of a Personal Family Lawyer®:

    Title to your assets.  The most important part of your legal planning isn’t necessarily the legal documents your lawyer prepared (though they are important), it’s how your assets are titled.  If your assets are not titled right (and stay that way), your estate plan won’t work and the documents aren’t worth the paper they are written on. This must be reviewed every year.

    Your will and trust(s).  These legal documents determine who gets your assets and who will take care of making sure that it happens the way you want. People marry, divorce and fall out with family members all the time.  Children are born and sometimes, tragically, die.  Property is bought and sold.  In other words, life changes and so should your will and trust, to reflect the changes in your life.

    Your health care directive.  Your health care directive names someone to serve as your agent in case you are unable to make your own health care decisions.  Is the person you originally named still willing and able to serve?  If for some reason they were not able to serve when needed, have you named a back-up?

    Your financial power of attorney.  This is the person who will handle your finances in case you are unable to do so, and there should be a back-up named for this function as well.  If you are over the age of 65 and have a number of different bank and brokerage accounts, it may make sense to consolidate those accounts to make managing your finances easier.

    Your guardian nominations.  As your children grow, the people you named to raise them may not continue to make sense.  And, you absolutely need to have named guardians for the immediate term, so your kids are never taken into protective custody by strangers, and those folks can change frequently as the people in your kids’ lives will likely change regularly.

    If you would like to create or update your estate plan, call your Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorneys at the Meier Law Firm today to schedule an Achiever Your Dreams Planning Session.

    Why Everyone Needs an Agent

    Everyone needs an agent – and not the Hollywood type. An agent is someone you designate to handle your estate after you’ve gone or who can make decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. Here are the kinds of agents everyone needs:smiling woman

    Executor – an executor is the person you designate to carry out your wishes for distributing your assets as listed in your last will and testament. You can choose a family member, a trusted friend or even a professional to fill this role.

    Guardian – if you and your spouse die before your children reach adulthood, a guardian is the person you designate to take care of your minor children as well as handle their finances. Sometimes people decide to split the roles – one guardian to raise the children and another to handle the finances.  Choosing a guardian (as well as a backup in case your first choice cannot serve) ensures your kids are taken care of by the people you know, love and trust, no matter what. One of the best ways to protect your children is to have a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan®. Without it, your children are at risk of being taken into the care of strangers if the people you’ve named as permanent guardians don’t live nearby or if your legal documents cannot be located.

    Durable Power of Attorney – this person is designated by you to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become disabled or otherwise unable to manage your financial affairs.

    Power of Attorney for Healthcare – also known as a healthcare proxy, this is the person you designate to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself and is an important decision when creating your advance medical directives. Their powers can be invoked if you become disabled and unable to make your own decisions about your health care, so your choice should be someone you know will carry out the wishes you have expressed in your advance medical directives or Living Will. They also need to be able to stand up for you if family members have different ideas than you do about your medical treatment.

    One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours, plan for the protection of yourself and your family through thoughtful estate planning. Call your Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorneys today at Meier Law Firm today to schedule an Achieve Your Dreams Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family.

    Powers of Attorney – Not A Good Idea for The Do-It-Yourselfer

    There are many do-it-yourself power of attorney forms available; however, it is a good idea to have an attorney draft the form for you. There are many issues to consider and one size does not fit all.

    The internet has become an unprecedented tool for legal research and empowerment. For example, I write here to advance public awareness of estate planning law through the power of the internet, after all. Nevertheless, too much information can lead to a dearth of actual information, or at least a lack of good useful information. Beware of the simple estate planning tools you find online, as confirmed in a recent Elder Law Answers post.

    Off-the-shelf and stock power of attorney forms not only can be ineffective, but they also can prove a liability and a detriment to your plans. Such forms may purport to cover every conceivable situation only to find that they do not satisfy the statutory substance or format required by your state.

    Moreover, anyone who has had an encounter of the first kind with any aspect of a bureaucratic system (you’ve finished your taxes, right?) knows that one-size-fits-all forms have their limitations.

    Reference: Elder Law Answers (February 2012) “Why Not Just Use an Off-the-Shelf Power of Attorney Form?

    IRS Changes Its “Power Of Attorney” Rule for Spouses

    The IRS makes little changes all the time and while not all such changes are life threatening (or estate plan threatening, as is more likely) the devil is often in the details.

    In the interest of tracking changes, then, it’s worth noting that the IRS is changing its filing practices for power of attorney. As pointed out here in the Journal of Accountancy, the IRS will no longer be accepting the old version of form 2848 and will only be accepting the new version that has been available since October 2011.

    What’s interesting is that while the old form allowed a husband and wife who filed a joint tax return to also jointly file for power of attorney, the new procedure doesn’t allow this. Now, such couples will have to file their power of attorney documents “separately,” even if they file for the same individual and even if they file taxes jointly.

    This won’t affect couples who have already filed, and only marks a turning point in a certain kind of filing; that is to say that it seems minor at best. Nevertheless, this change means that the IRS is working to acknowledge spouses separately (at least to a certain extent).

    For estate planners it has to mean the opposite; that couples will have to work ever more intently together as a partnership. Is this a trend that will continue in all aspects? Further, it may also be worth thinking about whether this is how you and your spouse plan (or ought to plan).

    For more information, visit Meier Law Firm today.

    Laura K. Meier, Esq.

    Reference: The Journal of Accountancy (February 6, 2012) “Couples who filed joint returns must now file separate powers of attorney”

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