Tag Archives: power of attorney

Have you done your end of life planning yet?

oldIt’s something no one wants to think about, much less actually do.  However, it’s critical that you make a plan so that your wishes can be carried out.

Do you care about whether the doctor takes heroic measures?  Do you want to be kept on life support?  Do you want to receive treatment if there’s no chance of you resuming a normal life?  Equally as important, who do you want to have the authority to make these kinds of decisions for you if you aren’t able to do so yourself?

Last year, a change was made to Medicare so it will pay your doctor to take the time to talk with you about these important considerations.  You should ask your physician to discuss some of the issues and to help you towards decisions.  Don’t wait until you’re in the ER and in the middle of a healthcare crisis.  Make your decisions now, put them in writing thru a healthcare directive or healthcare power of attorney and be prepared.

For more information about end of life planning, go to our website www.diesmart.com.

 

Have you made a plan?

Screen-shot-2012-05-21-at-9_49_06-AMEnd of life planning is something most people don’t want to think about.  They say that they still have time since they don’t plan to die for many years.  However, this may not be true.  We can’t predict when we’re going to come to the end of our life.  We found two TED talks that are very thought provoking and may get you started on planning what you want to happen at the end.

The first talk “What really matters at the end of life” is by Dr. B.J. Miller.  “At the end of our lives, what do we most wish for? For many, it’s simply comfort, respect, love. BJ Miller is a palliative care physician at Zen Hospice Project who thinks deeply about how to create a dignified, graceful end of life for his patients. Take the time to savor this moving talk, which asks big questions about how we think on death and honor life.”

The second is “Let’s talk about dying” by Dr. Peter Saul.  “We can’t control if we’ll die, but we can “occupy death,” in the words of Peter Saul, an emergency doctor. He asks us to think about the end of our lives — and to question the modern model of slow, intubated death in hospital. Two big questions can help you start this tough conversation.”

For more information on end of life planning, check out our website www.diesmart.com.

Medicare to pay for end-of-life care counseling

Effective January 1, 2016, Medicare plans to pay doctors to speak to patients about their end-of-life care. The doctors will provide counseling and discuss options that range from care that’s more focused on comfort than extending life to doing whatever is possible to resuscitate a dying patient. Some doctors are already having conversations about this topic with their patients but are not billing for it.

Medicare payment will ensure that more doctors will have these conversations which many feel are critical to high-quality care.

The Institute of Medicine issued a report last year which found that few people make their wishes known so many deaths “are filled with breathing machines, feeding tubes, powerful drugs and other treatments that fail to extend life and make its final chapter more painful and unpleasant.” The report, “Dying in America” is free as a PDF or can be paid for and ordered as a bound volume.

While most people have given thought to how they would like to die, many have found it difficult to communicate those views and choices to family and loved ones and, in many cases, family and loved ones have their own perceptions and views about death that can influence discussions about dying.  Most people envision their own death as a peaceful and an ideally rapid transition. However, with the exception of accidents or trauma or of a few illnesses that almost invariably result in death weeks or months after diagnosis, death usually comes at the end of a chronic illness or the frailty accompanying old age. Even though death is very much part of the cycle of life, thinking and talking about one’s own death usually remains in the background, at least until its prospect become more probable or imminent.

Thru the new Medicare offering doctors will be able to discuss with their patients how they would like to die, and to encourage them to put their wishes on paper and share those wishes with their family.

World Alzheimer’s Day

World Alzheimer’s Day, September 21, is a day when the Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations around the globe unite our efforts to raise awareness about the disease and its impact on our families, communities and nations.
Recent research indicates 33 million people worldwide are dealing with dementia, incluing 4.4 million Americans.    Alzheimer’s continues to be a disease without a cure.

With 77 million American baby boomers reaching the age of greatest risk, the crisis of dementia and Alzheimer’s cannot be ignored.  The disease imposes enormous burden on individuals, families, health care infrastructure and the worldwide economy.

It makes planning for incapacity as important as planning for death.

Financial Directives

You can prepare a durable power of attorney for finances giving your agent the right to manage your assets when you can’t.   However, some organizations don’t recognize a durable power of attorney as authority to act on your behalf. You must complete another form authorizing a designated agent to manage these assets on your behalf.

Make sure the agent you named in your durable power of attorney for finances has the right to complete these forms for you.

These assets have special rules:

Social Security

Q. How can you give someone the right to manage your social security benefits?

A. Treasury department regulations do not permit a power of attorney or a durable power of attorney to be used to manage your social security benefits.  A family member or other person must complete a Social Security Representative Payee form designating a “representative payee” to act on your behalf regarding social security benefits.

Social Security will then send your social security benefits to the representative payee.  The representative payee is required to prepare and file an annual report describing how they spent the money on your behalf.

The representative payee is also obligated to report any change in circumstances impacting your eligibility to receive social security benefits.

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Brokerage Accounts

Q. How will your attorney-in-fact be able to manage your brokerage accounts?

A. Brokerage accounts have special rules for your attorney-in-fact.  If your attorney-in-fact needs to buy or sell stocks held in physical form or held in a brokerage account, your attorney-in-fact will need to add a medallion signature “guarantee” to their power of attorney form.  The medallion signature is a stamp provided by a financial institution guaranteeing to a transfer agent that the signature of your attorney-in-fact is actually their signature.

Requests to buy or sell stocks are reviewed by someone referred to as a Transfer Agent.  The Transfer Agent cannot authorize transactions requested by your attorney-in-fact without the medallion signature guarantee evident on the power of attorney form.

Your attorney-in-fact may need to locate a bank participating in the medallion signature program.  The bank should be one the attorney-in-fact does business with that is willing to guarantee its signature.  The bank will place the medallion stamp on the power of attorney form.

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Safe Deposit Box

Q. How will your attorney-in-fact get access to your safe deposit box?

A. If you open a safe deposit box in the name of your trust, the trustee or successor trustee has the legal right to access the safe deposit box.

When you open a safe deposit box in your name, or as a joint tenant, ask whether your bank will accept your power of attorney as authorization for your attorney-in¬fact to access your safe deposit box.  Some banks will not.  These banks may require you to complete a separate form they provide designating a safe deposit box agent. The box renters will complete the form naming a safe deposit box agent in the presence of a bank employee, which gives the bank greater assurance about the validity of the authorization.

Banks and other financial institutions struggle with accepting your power of attorney. Currently, there is no way for banks to know if you have revoked your power of attorney or changed the name of your attorney-in-fact.

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