If You Can't Tell People, Who Will? The "Pay What You Can Afford" promotion.

If You Can't Tell People, Who Will? The "Pay What You Can Afford" promotion.

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It's wet, you're tired, it's just another mile. You fade a moment and lose control.

Who will make your decisions if you can't?

If you are over 18, no one has automatic access to your records. If you have two loved ones who have different ideas about your care, and what steps should be taken, who will get to choose?

Who even knows what you want?

Who will know when You can't tell people?

It's up to you to leave instructions.  I can help you do that.

I am opening my law office, Herz PLLC, in Bridgeport where I’ll be concentrating on just this type of planning: health care representative and guardian designations, trusts, wills, your legacy planning in short.

If you haven’t yet named someone to make medical decisions for you when you can’t, you should. And if you have kids, you should also be thinking about who will take care of them if you can’t.

I’m having a special right now to kick-start my return: "Pay What You Can Afford" for a simple will and health care directive.  And You Decide what You Can Afford. This offer is good until July 31, or I have the first twenty takers, whichever comes first.

Please know that any plan you come up with is likely to give you a better result than what the state will impose if you don’t share your wishes. Also know that while a will and health care directive are a good start, in many cases, more advanced planning makes more sense. While I do my best to take care of all my people within their means, any additional or other services are not included in the “Pay What You Can Afford” promotion. Particularly, this promotion does not include emergency/urgent services and unusual travel expenses. All services to be provided at the new location: 1836 Noble Avenue, in Bridgeport.

You can book an appointment at Herz PLLC.  Use the Quick Consult Link.

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The Importance of Estate Planning

The Importance of Estate Planning

Well Friends: I have put it in a video format for you:

In short, if you haven't looked them in a while, your wills, trusts, and other planning documents should be periodically reviewed.
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COVID-19: The #1 Legal Document Every Adult Must Have

COVID-19: The #1 Legal Document Every Adult Must Have

While the Coronavirus might be disrupting your daily life and leaving you uncertain of the future, there are things you can do to take some control during this pandemic. In fact, now is the time to be proactive and plan ahead should you or a loved one fall ill. One of the most important, and relatively easy, things you can (and should) do is to appoint a Health Care Representative and set up your Advance health care Directive.

What is a Health Care Representative?

In Connecticut we call them Health Care Representatives. You might have heard them called health care agent, health care surrogate, health care proxy, or a medical proxy. What we call them is not important; what they do, that's critical. Your Health Care Representative is the person you authorize to make decisions about your medical care when you can't. He's the person who decides if you are too ill to decide for yourself or simply can't communicate your wishes.

Why is it Important to Choose a Health Care Representative Now?

As of October 8, Connecticut has had a total cases of 60,038 of coronavirus, with 4530 deaths. To put this in perspective, this is more than 10 times the amount of people that die on Connecticut roads every year.

You just can't know how you will be affected by the virus:
plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Almost one percent of the people in Connecticut have already tested positive. Of those, 9% have died, and we now have 1158 are in the hospital. And while most will only have mild symptoms and recover quickly, you just can't know how you will be affected by the virus, it's best you plan for the worst and hope for the best. Part of that planning is making sure someone can make health care decisions for you if you fall ill and can't make those decisions yourself.

Factors to Consider in Choosing Your Health Care Representative:

A Health Care Representative is an important role, and the person you choose will have the power to make critical health care decisions—like consenting to a treatment plan, whether to accept or refuse medical treatment, and which health care providers or hospitals to use for your care. As a result, it is crucial to think carefully about who you choose to fill this role. Many people simply assume that their spouse or their oldest child should take on this role, but they are not always the best suited. Here are some factors to consider when selecting an agent:

  1. Emotional maturity: People handle stress differently, and not everyone is able to set aside their emotions and make level-headed decisions when someone they love is suffering. In addition, some people are simply not assertive enough to act as a strong advocate in the face of differing opinions of other family members--or even health care providers--who suggest a treatment plan you have informed your Health Care Representative you do not want. You should choose someone who is able to think rationally in emotionally difficult circumstances, even if that means you must look outside of your family to find the best person for the job.
  2. Location: The person you choose to act as your Health Care Representative should be someone who lives close by and is able to act on your behalf very quickly in the event of a medical emergency or if you need your advocate to serve in that role for an extended time period. In current times, many people might be under a mandatory or recommended stay-at-home order, or may not be available or willing to travel to another city or state.  Consider naming several alternate agents to account for someone's potential unavailability.
  3. Is willing/able to serve. Acting as a Health Care Representative can be a time-consuming and emotionally draining job. Make sure that the person you choose is willing and able to set aside the time necessary to serve as your patient advocate. Don't just assume the person you want to be your Health Care Representative is willing: Be proactive and ask if he or she is willing to take on that role. Keep in mind that if you are elderly, you may want to avoid naming a friend or family member who also is older, as there is a greater chance that they will experience mental or physical decline at the same time as you, which could impede their ability to serve as your advocate when the time comes.
  4. Will honor your wishes no matter what. Your Health Care Representative has a duty to make decisions on your behalf that you would have made to the extent that he or she is aware of your wishes. This is the case even if your Health Care Representative disagrees with your choices. As a result, your Health Care Representative needs to be someone who is willing to set aside his or her own opinions and wishes to carry out yours. It may be prudent to appoint someone who has values and religious beliefs that are similar to yours to reduce the instances in which your agent's opinions differ significantly from yours. Do not choose anyone that you do not trust to carry out your wishes.

People You Should Not Choose

Even if they are otherwise well-qualified to act in that role you should not choose:

  1. Minors: The age of majority in Connecticut is eighteen.
  2. Your Health Care Providers: Connecticut expressly prohibits your attending physician or advanced practice registered nurse to be your Health Care Representative, and there are other restrictions on appointments for certain institutionalized individuals.

Can I do this and Maintain Distance?

Yes. Governor Lamont has specifically made provisions for remote notarizations and acknowledgement. So we can do this without you risking exposure to the Corona Virus while you are arranging your affairs.

Need Help?

Medical directives may be among the most important legal documents you prepare - especially in light of COVID-19. Picking a Health Care Representative can be tricky. I can help you think through your choice.

Urgent Assistance: If you feel you need immediate assistance, please call 203-576-6608 or e-mail david@herz.law. I can make myself available 24 hours, six days a week (I am not available from Friday 12:00 noon until Saturday at 2:00 p.m.).

Regular Care: I can also help with any other estate planning needs you may have—whether that's setting up your financial power of attorney, your last will and testament, or a trust. If you'd like to discuss these please schedule here.

Be Safe. Be Smart

Whatever you do in these days, keep safe. It's usually not worth risking your life, or the lives of those you love. With a little bit of creativity, I'm sure you can find a way to have a full life even in these crazy circumstances.

Can You do it Yourself?

You can. In fact the state has provided you templates for the forms here. However, if you designate inappropriate people, or don't have valid witnesses, or miss other certain details, then all you'll have is a false sense of security.

Disclaimer

I'm sure you can appreciate this is not legal advice: I am not your lawyer unless we actually agree to that, in writing. Everyone's situation is different. You should not rely on what you read on my, or any other person's blog, to arrange your legal affairs. Talk to a lawyer. Talk to me.

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Do They Know What You Want For Them?

Do They Know What You Want For Them?

Do They Know What You Want if . . .

Times like like these have a tendency to focus our attention. On the one hand, we all know that accidents occur, and can occur to us. In the US we have close to 170 thousand accidental deaths a year, better than a fifth of these from car accidents.

And while we know they can occur, the steering wheel is in our hands; we believe at least a part of it is in our control.

But somehow, SARS-CoV-2 (the cause of COVID-19) is different. It's everywhere. If we don't already know someone who has it or has died from it, we will. And if we have old or sick people in our lives, or we have health problems ourselves, we have reason to be worried.

It's scary to know there's something coming for us, and it might give us a fever, fatigue and dry cough, maybe some muscle pain or shortness of breath, or it might kill us.

But even if it does get us, we can avoid that becoming a catastrophe for our families.

There Are Things We Can Control

If our children are younger, we can make sure that they are cared for by the best people for them. If they are older, we can make sure they know who gets what so they don't end up fighting about it.

If we are caring for a parent, we can make sure there is backup.

We can make sure the people who can handle it are making our health care decisions if we can't.

If we've recently changed status (marriage, divorce, loss, birth), we can (more like must) assure that the beneficiary designations on our insurance policies and IRAs are adjusted accordingly.

If you have a business, we can create a legacy plan.

And I hear myself saying "Man plans, and God laughs." But I also know that if you don't plan, the state has a plan for you, and you can always do better than that.

And there are things we can do for ourselves.

Every time I've adjusted my plans, and sometimes just because, I've found myself writing a letter to my children. There's nothing wrong with telling your people who they are to you.

My father had a map of where everything was in his office. We knew the contacts, the account numbers, the online passwords.

And now that some of us have more time available, we can create new memories.

And there are Matters that Require a Professional

The truth is you can write your own will, but it needs to meet various requirements to be valid.

And there are small things that can become really big things if they aren't considered now.

And if you've got anything more than what you'd want to hand your kids, in cash, when they turn eighteen, you should probably talk to a lawyer.

And of course, I think I am the lawyer you should talk to. I can admit I have a bias. I can also promise to take excellent care of you and yours.

If you'd like to talk, you can click to:

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Why Connecticut’s “Default Plan” may not be for You

Why Connecticut’s “Default Plan” may not be for You

You're young.  You're healthy.  You expect you'll see your children graduate college, get married, and maybe even grace you with grandchildren. And if you are like most young families, you probably don't figure you've got much of an estate to plan.

But, you've also seen plans cut short, and while it probably won't happen to you, it could: a heart attack, a drunk driver, or even the wrong slip on an icy road or sidewalk.

And by law, your people will be taken care of, in a way.  This article is to give you a sense of what that way is, and why you might want to avoid it.

You don't want to send your family to court.

If you don't have a plan, or it doesn't reflect current reality (spouse, kids, etc.), your family will most likely end up in probate court, even if you think it's clear who will care for your children (do you have more than one close adult relative?), and who will manage their affairs.

You've got kids and have ideas about who should take care of them if you can't.

Should it be your parents?  Maybe you're sure that your somewhat flighty sister-in-law would be great parent to your kids.  Maybe you know that your brother's house, with his picture perfect suburban life, two kids and a dog, in a great community, is not the right place for your children.  A court is going to use the available evidence to make the best placement.

Which do you think the court will choose?  Why leave it to chance?

You've got a house with a little bit of equity.

But maybe your brother would be great handling the money left to your kids, either from an insurance policy, what you've saved, or just the equity left when your house is sold. Everyone knows this, and everyone agrees. But he's had some business setbacks, and he can't post the bond.

Unless you've left instructions otherwise, the Court is going to appoint someone who can post that bond. It could be a corporate fiduciary, or a lawyer. What's clear is that person is going to have to make regular accountings, at your estate's expense, until your children are eighteen.

And if your child's guardian has a beef with the fiduciary, your children might end up in the perverse position of paying to sue your estate for their proper support.

You've got a little more and want your kids to use it responsibly.

Maybe you have a little more or expect to before your child turns eighteen. Congratulations on good financial planning. Maybe you've even set some aside in a qualified tuiton (529) plan.

Even so, do you think it would have been wise to put the amount left in your 18-year-old hands?

If you don't have a plan, the court's plan will wind up when your child is 18 or so. Whatever is left will be handed to your children outright.  While some of our kids are mighty adult at 18, others will not manage their affairs the way we'd like them to.

You don't need the world to know your family's business.

Probate proceedings are a matter of public record.  Your business becomes everybody's business, if they are interested.  With proper planning, this need not be the case.

Why You Should Stop Hesitating, Today.

I know that this kind of planning involves some weighty decisions, and often you and your spouse may have different ideas about what might be best going forward. 

That said, I promise you that even your imperfect plan is going to serve your people better than the court could without your guidance.  You want to make sure that guidance is in place.

They might not thank you for it right now, but it's the best gift you could give your family moving into this holiday season.

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