In such a youth-oriented society, it’s easy to feel over the hill at age 50 or 60. It really is the prime of life, and that means it’s time to update your affairs so you can enjoy retirement and your grandchildren.
Get the proper legal documents in place. That includes a Last Will and Testament, Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will Declaration and maybe a Living Trust.
Without a will specifying who’s in charge and who gets what, the wrong people might inherit your assets. For example, if you wanted to leave all of your assets to two of three of your children because you already gave the third child money, it needs to be specified in your will. Without a will, Ohio law would force your assets to be paid in equal shares to your three children, with no regard to your wishes.
Who’s In Charge?
If you become disabled, you’ll need a Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, and Living Will Declaration to name someone who will handle your affairs. Without these documents, the court will appoint a guardian to oversee your affairs. That’s a lot of money and paperwork that can be avoided with smart legal planning. Keep copies of these documents handy so your family can find them when needed.
Coordinate your bank accounts, investments, retirement funds, life insurance, real estate and cars — the titling, the beneficiaries and the asset allocation. This may take a team, which might include your attorney, financial planner, tax preparer, banker and life insurance agent. Your family will thank you for making sure everything is organized and easy to find.
Take advantage of senior discounts and bank accounts. Turning 50 makes you eligible for AARP. Sign up and use it for the many senior discounts available — don’t let it make you feel old....
By Kabb Law
What and who is the Sandwich Generation? It’s group of people mostly between the ages of 40 and 65, who are “sandwiched” between the obligations of bringing up their own children, a job and caring for aging parents.
What are the problems? They include stress from financial, legal, care and family dynamics, and pressure from the responsibility of providing for parents and the loss of parents’ financial assistance. The result for caregivers may be family arguments, higher health costs for themselves from stress, illnesses and substance abuse.
What are some solutions? Open communication on aging, driving and finances. Get legal documents in place. You can prevent caregiver burnout by finding solutions early and building a support network. If it is difficult for a child to have “the talk” with elderly parents, seek out professional services to be a facilitator. Good planning will allow you to be free to manage the sandwich and enjoy the process....
Many folks see springtime as a time of renewal, new life and a fresh start. When you start your household cleaning this year, think of your important papers, too.
Everyone should have a Last Will and Testament, a Financial Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will Declaration. Too many people see these documents as a once-and-done proposition. Nothing could be further from the truth. They need to be reviewed on a regular basis to make sure they still meet your needs. Times change, and so must your documents.
How do you know when it’s time to make a change? A good time frame is that you should review your documents every three to five years. Tax, trust, estate and financial law changes may impact your documents.
For example, the repeal of the Ohio estate tax rules several years ago allowed many folks to simplify their planning, eliminating the need for complicated Trust Agreements. The ramifications of the most recent tax changes are still being evaluated. That could signal a trip to the attorney to find out if they affect you.
Changes in family situations can mean updates for your will or powers of attorney. Examples are illness, death, marriage or divorce of a family member, executor, trustee, guardian or beneficiary. A job change or loss also could impact estate planning documents.
If you have started your own business or become involved in a partnership, or closely held corporation, not only might your documents need to be changed, but your tax situation could be affected. A large increase in assets from an inheritance is another signal that it’s time for a review.
Changes in mental or physical health requiring long-term health care planning definitely mean that you need to consult an elder law attorney for guidance....
It’s fun to make a bucket list of all the exciting things you want to accomplish before you die. Personally, I want to travel overseas.
You also need to have a legal bucket list of documents that must be signed now — before life’s inevitable curveballs come your way.
What You Need
Everyone should have the following Core Four documents in place before a health crisis happens: a Last Will and Testament, Financial Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will Declaration. Let’s review each of those documents.
A will is a written document formally signed in which you describe how your assets should be distributed at death and who will be in charge of your estate. Your will directs what happens with your probate assets, which are assets in your sole name alone. A will simplifies the probate process and gives authority to the executor to handle legal issues. Without a will, the probate process is more complicated and costly.
Most people want to avoid probate. Solely owned assets have to be probated because there is no beneficiary connected to the asset. For example, if your assets listed as joint and survivorship, Payable on Death or Transfer on Death are in a Trust Agreement or name a beneficiary, your assets won’t have to go through probate and will go the people named to receive them. If assets are titled correctly to avoid probate, then you don’t have to use a will, but it’s still a good idea to have a will just in case of a snag.
The Financial Durable Power of Attorney is vital because it names the person who will oversee your financial matters if you become mentally or physically unable to take care of them yourself. Many people think that spouses don’t need to have these for each other because they are married, but that is not true....
Volunteers are the backbone of many organizations, especially nonprofits. Without their tireless work, many organizations would be unable to provide valuable services.
Nonprofits are involved with many activities that may expose the organization, the officers and the volunteers to potential liability. We might not have as many volunteers if they faced liability for their acts. Fortunately, federal and state governments have laws in place to help.
Protections for You
In 1997, Congress passed the Volunteer Protection Act (VPA) to provide protection from lawsuits that might be filed against individual volunteers for nonprofit organizations for activities they do on behalf of the organization.
Ohio has a similar law that also protects volunteers so they can be confident that their good work doesn’t expose them to legal liability.
The federal and state volunteer protection laws provide that an unpaid volunteer of a nonprofit organization or a government entity acting within the scope of their responsibility are not liable for ordinary, accidental negligence.
The law doesn’t cover willful or criminal misconduct, gross or reckless negligence, or a conscious or flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed. It doesn’t cover injuries caused by operating a motor vehicle. It also does not cover volunteers for businesses or the organization using the volunteer.
However, if you volunteer for AARP or for a political campaign, as long as you use common sense and perform lawful acts within the scope of your work, you can’t be sued for your actions.
What about the organizations? How are they protected? Under the VPA, organizations can be sued for wrongful acts of their volunteers. Luckily, most larger nonprofits have insurance to cover this, and the insurance will pay. Unfortunately, some smaller nonprofits or organizations might not be able to afford insurance. One horrible mistake could put them out of business....
College Kids and Grandchildren
As your child heads off to college (or as you watch your grandchild head off ) you feel a sense of relief and, of course, sadness as your baby moves to the next stage of life.
You’ve purchased the dorm room supplies — a small refrigerator, dorm-size sheets, new towels, decorations — and you are prepared to drive, fly or otherwise get them to their campus on time. Can you sit back and put up your feet on a job well done? Maybe not; there might just be one last task you need to check off your to-do list.
College Student Paperwork
As your child or grandchild gets older, you have less control over their life. This also becomes legally true when they turn 18. Once that happens, you do not automatically have the right to speak to their doctors, for example. Your child’s finances (even if you are supporting them) are private as well. So, you need them to sign three critical documents: a Health Care Power of Attorney with a HIPAA Release, a Durable Power of Attorney, and a Last Will and Testament.
The Health Care Power of Attorney allows you, after your child is 18, to make medical decisions if the child cannot do so.
When your child is younger than 18, you can make all medical decisions for them. That changes after they turn 18 and you lose that right. If they’re in an accident and are unable to make medical decisions for themselves, a Health Care Power of Attorney signed in advance would allow you to be their health care agent.
The HIPAA release form also is important. Many parents are probably still paying medical bills for their college-age students and helping them make medical decisions....