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Estate Planning, Back From The Future by: Mark Fishbein

The title to this article may sound somewhat silly, however it points to an extremely important factor when considering your future estate planning needs. Whenever you are contemplating planning and drafting of your estate planning documents and related asset accounts, it is imperative to consider the consequences in the future of the decisions you make today. The language in your estate planning documents and the strategy formulated in preparing your estate plan is critical to the handling and management of your trust, power of attorneys, and estate planning documents by your loved ones and designated successors in the future.

Banks and title companies are extremely difficult for secondary representatives of your estate to deal with if the language in your estate planning documents is not correct at the time of preparing these estate planning documents.

If you already have an estate plan in place, we strongly recommend that you have these documents reviewed with the perspective of how they will work for your family and loved ones when the time arrives. If you have not prepared an estate plan, we strongly recommend that you create a living trust and power of attorneys for health and financial. Create these estate planning documents with proper choices and language so the documents will work in the future as intended.

The professional estate planners at ALTA Estate Services, LLC, strongly believe in this concept of taking a future perspective in the drafting of the documents. ALTA Estate Services has the unique benefit to you of having the strong background and experience in trust and estate planning administration, with over 40 years of practice. With this experience, we have seen the hardships that can arise if the language in these documents is not correct.

Strategic estate planning and the choices you make in creating your estate planning documents are just as important as creating these documents in the first place. Strategic estate planning with proper and complete strategy and language will solve many estate planning legal problems that boilerplate (on-line) documents do not resolve. We experience this frequently at banks, title companies, and investment companies. This is not the result that you desire for your loved ones when deciding to draft estate planning documents.

Merely having estate planning documents such as a trust and power of attorneys, simply is not enough. Frequently, we have seen that these documents-without proper and complete provisions-do not work as intended. There is specific provisions and recommended strategies that ALTA Estate Services can teach you to better understand how to best achieve your goals intended in drafting these documents in the first instance.

You should not have your Medical and/or General Power of Attorney become effective upon disability or incapacity. This causes the difficulty and time delay for your designated Medical and Financial Power of Attorney to prove your disability or incapacity in the first place before being able to act when the need arises. It is not easy to establish your disability or incapacity under Arizona State law if you cannot act. Your designated Agent will first have to obtain a court order of disability or incapacity or receive a letter from your attending physician after conducting a mental/psychological exam and determining this fact. Both of these requirements result in additional hardship and time delay to your designated Agent to act on your behalf at banks, financial institutions, title companies, and hospitals when there is a need to act and time is of the essence. A much better strategic choice in the language in your Medical Power of Attorney is to designate your Agent (family members) with the full power and authority to act immediately. This will avoid the necessity of your designated Power of Attorney to establish your disability/incapacity in times of immediate need, and allows them to act immediately.

Designate two (2) Agents as your Medical Power of Attorney and General Power of Attorney, each with the full power and authority to act individually and independently in such legal capacity. This will allow one Agent to act when necessary if the other is not available. This way you will always have someone available to act on your behalf in times of need even if one is not available.

Never use the word “and”; always use the word “or” when naming your different Agents. The word “and” means both Agents must act jointly on all actions. This is a bad choice, by making it difficult to get anything done on your behalf when requiring both signatures of the two (2) Agents to act on all matters. A better choice/strategy in language is to use the word “or… each with the full power and authority to act individually and independently in such legal capacity”. This way only one designated Agent needs to act and/or sign documents making it easier and quicker to act on your behalf.

Make sure you create an asset worksheet listing in detail all your assets, bank accounts, investment accounts, accountant and lawyer contact information, and beneficiaries’ names and contact information. We have a Confidential Estate Questionnaire that allows you to set out in detail all important information that your successors/family members will need in the future. This is made available to you at no charge or commitment by visiting our website at Estate Questionnaire – Tucson Estate Planning | Living Trusts | 520) 797-1400, ALTA Estate Services In times of medical crisis, if you are not available, the Confidential Estate Questionnaire will make it so much easier for your family members to handle your estate administration by providing them with important contact information and all asset financial information, needed to administer your estate.

Set up your bank accounts now in advance of your future needs so that the people you desire to handle your estate administration and financial needs will be able to access your bank account funds to pay future bills and expenses without having to hire lawyers to obtain such authority in a court action.

Teamwork and coordination between you, your designated Successor Trustees under your Living Trust and Medical Power of Attorney and your financial and legal professionals in advance of any life crisis is just as important as drafting these estate planning documents in the first instance. Your spouse, family members, and designated Agents will most likely not know how to handle and proceed as your Agents in times of crisis and need. ALTA Estate Services offers a free “Emergency Hotline Program” to assist you, your spouse, and designated Agents with guidance and assistance in the use of these estate planning documents when the need arises. Planning now for future estate administration needs in times of crisis solves many critical issues. We offer this service at no charge to our clients. We will walk your Agent through the steps necessary to administer your health issues and estate asset administration. We will forward the Medical Power of Attorney to the hospital to open communication between medical staff and your family members. This is not an easy process especially during times of COVID. Without our assistance, communication with medical staff may prove to be difficult. We can open this communication through our Emergency Hotline Program. Visit Emergency Hotline – Tucson Estate Planning | Living Trusts | 520) 797-1400, ALTA Estate Services to learn more about this additional service we provide at no charge to you or your family members, at times of need.

For more information on your estate planning strategy and a Free Consultation, please contact us by clicking the button below, or by calling (520) 797-1400. Mark Fishbein, Tucson AZ