Uhhhhh… “What’s Estate Planning?!”

HipaaWhen Craig Evans Carnick accompanied his wife of 46 years to a medical procedure recently, he got a bit of a surprise when he asked a nurse a question about her care. "She ignored me, then asked my wife if it was all right to talk with me," said Carnick, a financial planner in Colorado Springs, Colo. It was a small hiccup, but also a stark reminder about today's medical information disclosure laws.

This isn’t just a concern for spouses. With many adult children putting off marriage and with their elderly parents living longer, many people in the “Sandwich Generation” really aren’t ready to care for loved ones, warns the a recent Chicago Tribune article titled “Checklist for updating, organizing estate planning documents.”

The Tribune reports that a new survey of 1,000 adults for www.caring.com shows these startling figures:

  • Roughly 55% said their parents have a will or trust document;
  • 25% of people 65 and older said they don't know where their elderly parents keep their estate planning documents; and
  • 44% don't know what's in those documents.

Those are some big numbers!

The survey officials commented that many respondents reported situations where parents passed away without leaving behind legal documents. This has led to some sad stories about people having money tied up in court and not being able to pay their parents' final bills and funeral costs.

In addition, the survey revealed that very few families have health care directives for adult children. It’s not just about the elderly parents, the article reminds us. This is a major issue for people with adult children who are away at school or living on their own as an unmarried adults. What happens if they get in an accident?"

The article offered these tips to keep in mind when working on these tasks:

  • Take Five: No, don’t take a break! Estate planning attorneys suggest that you update your will, trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives at least every five years or when a major life event happens, such as a new child or grandchild, moving, a new job, or divorce.
  • Share the Secret: If you have estate planning documents, it's very important to share the information with those who will be helping you as you get older. For example, your physician needs a copy of your health care directives.
  • Get It Together: Many folks use binders for keeping important documents with notes on financial account information and passwords. While this is a great idea, the binders are usually locked away for safe-keeping. Keep the documents in an electronic format that can be accessed by your representatives when needed.

Some estate-planning attorneys also recommend designating trusts as retirement account beneficiaries, even though the accounts already might contain beneficiary designations.  This is especially important in light of the recent Supreme Court decision in Clark v. Rameker. which decided that with the exception of spousal rollovers no inherited IRA's had asset protection.  Inheritance trusts, on the other hand do enjoy asset protection of properly designed.

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.  However, proper estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project.  Why not call us for a complimentary consultation at 757-259-0707.  

Reference: Chicago Tribune (May 10, 2015) “Checklist for updating, organizing estate planning documents”

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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.