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Why is a Health Care Directive Important?

When medical emergencies arise, it’s best to have already defined your health care preferences. A health care directive, also known as a living will, ensures that your wishes are carried out in the event that you’re incapacitated, terminally ill, or otherwise incapable of communicating during a crisis. A health care directive helps us to maintain our dignity and values, even during the most difficult situations. 

 Medical Treatments

Thousands of people a year wind up in unresponsive or vegetative states, often as the result of a traumatic brain injury. Other crisis situations render unfortunate victims incapable of living on their own without the aid of assistive medical technologies. It allows you to make your own choices in regards to things like feeding tubes, ventilators, blood transfusions, antibiotics, dialysis machines, and other lifesaving measures and treatments. 

Your Legal Rights

A healthcare directive specifies your preferences. For instance, you have the legal right to determine whether you want to be resuscitated if an illness or injury were to stop your heartbeat. It’s a clear way to communicate your wishes. It also allows you to name an individual (agent) to make medical decisions on your behalf. If you do declare an agent, make sure he or she is someone you trust. 

Religious Concerns

Some people have religious or philosophical concerns related to certain procedures or medications. A health care directive allows you to uphold your beliefs, even if you’re unable to speak for yourself. A notable example of this is the policy of Jehovah’s Witnesses to abstain from blood transfusions. Most members of this religion carry a medical directive in their wallet or purse. 

Creating a Health Care Directive

There are legal requirements to bear in mind when crafting a health care directive. Unfortunately, you can’t simply write down your wishes and sign on the dotted line. Certain steps are crucial to ensure the document is legally binding. It would be terrible if your wishes were dismissed because of a legal technicality. 

A health care directive must either be signed in front of two witnesses or notarized. Although, neither the notary or your witnesses can legally act as your agent, and one of your witnesses has to be someone other than a healthcare provider or employee of a provider that cares for you.

Overall, a health care directive formalizes our wishes, diminishing the burden of stress and uncertainty for our families and loved ones. For help with your estate planning needs, please contact Lewman Law at (925) 447-1250.

Filed under Estate Planning Tips

Estate Planning Tips During COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has raised a number of concerns and questions surrounding estate planning. Given the current atmosphere, we wanted to share 3 estate planning tips to help you get through this difficult time.

1. Make Sure Your Documents Reflect Your Wishes

During crises like COVID-19, we are reminded of just how important estate planning really is, so be sure that your documents are up to date and reflect your wishes. You’ll also want to make sure that you know exactly where your will and trust documentation are kept. And finally, confirm that all trustees and executors are able and willing to serve.

Due to the impact of the pandemic on our economy, the value of your assets may have decreased considerably. This could reduce the current value of your estate, which is especially true if much of it is tied up in property or non-liquid assets. Many stocks have also lost a significant amount of value in recent months, but this doesn’t apply to all shares. So, be sure to carefully check your estate plan and seek guidance on any changes you aren’t certain of.

2. Review Your Advance Directives

Your advance directives, such as your living will and power of attorney, express your wishes, and authorize your agents to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you can’t make choices for yourself. Similarly, you’ll want to review these documents to ensure the person you’ve entrusted this power to is prepared to act on your behalf. Also, discuss your health care wishes with them so that you can be certain they’d make decisions that reflect your wishes.

3. Interest Rates are Down, so Consider Using Money From Your Estate

Due to the fact that the economy has been seriously impacted by the pandemic, interest rates are exceptionally low right now. If you’re considering using money from your property to invest in real estate, this could be the right time to act. That’s because mortgage rates have not been this low for many years, and they may not be this low again for decades.

Estate Planning Tips

If you have questions about estate planning during the pandemic, rest assured that John Lewman’s mission is to protect your family as if it were his own. For a Livermore attorney who can handle all your estate planning and probate needs, schedule a consultation at (925) 447-1250.

Filed under Estate Planning Tips

The Top Things People Forget in Estate Planning

Creating an estate plan is never something to take lightly. Even if you’ve already written a will or estate plan as part of your contingency, are you sure you have everything documented? There are so many different aspects that it can get confusing at times, which is why a Tracy trust attorney will always recommend checking your estate plan for any issues. More often than not, most people forget a few things that could cause trouble when the estate plan comes into effect. Here are the key points people overlook in the estate planning process…

Remember Alternate Beneficiaries

Keep in mind that if the original beneficiaries are unable to claim the assets designated for them in your estate plan, it will be up to the government to decide. It would be a shame for the important people in your life to lose out on your estate plan because alternate beneficiaries were not included.
The crucial thing about naming alternate beneficiaries is that it adds a “plan B” to the original outline. After all, things do not always run smoothly, and only time can tell what the future holds.

Make Arrangements For Your Pets

Without a doubt, any Tracy trust attorney will also remind you to consider your pets. Pets are some of the most beloved members of the family. It’s a very real risk for pets to become displaced due to mistakes in estate planning. When documenting your estate plan, ensure that you also consider where your beloved pets will go. It is one of those things that many people tend to forget due to the grim subject matter. So much heartache can be avoided by considering the placement of your pets, and their care.

Exploring Digital Assets

As strides are being made for more and more assets to be transferred into the digital environment, it can be risky to leave digital assets out of a written will or estate plan. Keep in mind that digital assets are also a legacy that can be transferred to others. This is why a Tracy trust attorney will tell you it’s crucial that you consider digital assets during the estate planning phase.

Are There Family Heirlooms?

Surprisingly enough, one of the most common things to get lost when an estate plan isn’t prepared properly is that precious family heirlooms are misplaced. Such possessions are not necessarily expensive, but they are often worth their weight in gold when it comes to sentimental value. Don’t allow your family to be deprived of such personal items.

Your Tracy Trust Attorney

Tracy trust attorneys understand how easy it can be to forget something important when it comes to estate planning. From pets to heirlooms, be thorough when documenting your estate plan! For questions or help with your estate planning needs, please contact our office at (925) 447-1250.

Filed under Estate Planning Tips

Creating an Estate Plan During the Pandemic

The pandemic crisis is causing more people to consider their estate planning needs in this time of worldwide uncertainty. Alarmingly, America now has more active cases of COVID-19 than any other nation. Symptoms remain mild for most people. But our lives have been disrupted in a way that has forced us to collectively consider our own mortality. The following are some thoughts on the importance of having an estate plan during this global emergency.

Why it Matters

Everyone’s situation is unique, but planning ahead offers all of us more peace of mind. Each state has its own intestacy laws, which determine who receives your property in the absence of an estate plan. Essentially, if you don’t leave behind a will, the state makes one for you.

Maybe you live with a partner but choose to remain unmarried, or you have children from a previous relationship. Family dynamics are often complex. Unfortunately, without legal documentation, it’s highly unlikely your wishes would be fulfilled if you were to become suddenly sick during the pandemic.

Also, keep in mind that states have separate execution requirements. For example, does your state require one or two witnesses? Can documents legally be notarized online?

Other Documents for Pandemic Preparation

Of particular importance during the pandemic are documents that go into effect while you’re still alive, such as a health care surrogate, living will, or power of attorney.

Most people understand a POA authorizes someone to act on your behalf. A health care surrogate is similar in that it appoints someone to make health care decisions for you if you’re no longer able to choose for yourself. Sadly, this is a critical aspect of estate planning, especially now because many people are intubated during treatment for COVID-19.

How We Can Help During the Pandemic

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed right now. No one quite knows what to expect, and the news changes by the hour. But it’s better to have some kind of plan in place, rather than no plan at all. It can always be revised as circumstances evolve. Stay safe, and for help getting your documents in order, please contact our office at (925) 447-1250.

Filed under Estate Planning Tips