Alleviate Stress: Plan Your Estate Correctly
As many of you know, not all estate planning documents are alike just as not all estate plans are alike. People often ask as if their documents are “OK” or “good enough”. I typically answer with every attorney’s favorite response, “Well, that depends.”
There are many court battles over whether certain documents are sufficient for circumstances that have arisen. Lawyers litigate over this all the time. And clients pay them well to make these arguments to enforce these documents.
But when it comes to estate and elder law planning, we cannot afford to have any uncertainties as to whether our planning will perform well under stress. For example, if someone is truly wondering whether his or her power of attorney (“POA”) is sufficient, one needs to have the POA reviewed and potentially updated.
Understand that it is not enough to simply know that planning documents will be judicially upheld. What should be assured is that they will have the practical effect that the person desires. For example, the POA needs to act for his father suddenly due to him being placed in a long-term care facility. He needs to use his father’s monies to pay bills and should consider Medicaid planning to help pay for that care. The son takes the POA to the bank to access the accounts only to be told that the POA needs to be sent to the bank’s legal department for review.
Know that elder law planning documents are usually needed in an emergency. And in an emergency, the last thing the son needs is another obstacle. Quite simply, there is no time for delay or to be fighting with financial institutions. What the son needs right then is to have immediate access.
I believe clients are seeking something I have coined as “A Quiet Comfort”. This is a comfort that allows your head to rest on the pillow each night knowing that your wishes will be followed and that your affairs will be easily managed by your family.
If you want to alleviate stress for you and your family, it is advisable to create and/or improve your planning under the advice of an Estate Planning/Elder Law Attorney (preferably one that is board certified). Once you accomplish this planning, I am confident that you will feel less stress and will begin to enjoy “A Quite Comfort”.
Jason A. Penrod is only the 20th attorney to be Board Certified as an Elder Law Expert by the Florida Bar and the National Elder Law Foundation. He is the founder of Family Elder Law (www.familyelderlaw.com) which has offices in Lakeland, Lake Wales, and Sebring, Florida.