Getting Ready for Spring Break and More with a Family Protection Plan

What If...Getting Ready for Spring Break and More!

Spring break is coming up fast! And it truly is an exciting time of year, filled with both the promise of spring and brief glimpses of Summer. With the brief pre-summer respite, families across America are going to be planning short trips, family outings, and the occasional “stay-cation!”

Whether your plans for spring break include trips to exotic locations, the mall, or simply spring cleaning, this is the perfect time of year to start thinking about what-ifs and how-would-I’s?

What If…Someone Got Hurt On Vacation?

What if on that vacation your loved one were to get hurt? How would you help them, advocate for them, get them home?

The challenges presented by a loved one who is away from home can be exceedingly difficult to work through without prior contingency & family protection planning.  In our article, What a New College Student Can Teach Us About Family Protection Planning, we covered this exact scenario.  Well, sort of.  We assumed the person who got hurt was a young college student away from home.  But the point of the vignette remains the same.   Accessing and advocating for the care of a loved one who is not a minor and is separated from you, is very difficult due to existing privacy laws and policies.

Here’s an excerpt from that article:

“In the midst of your adult child’s medical emergency, they (doctors) are unable to provide authorization to have you get pertinent details of the situation, talk to the doctor, and potentially make very important decisions.  You are now as much in the dark on the whole situation as a stranger, but of course, you’re not a stranger.  Your his or her parent!   This isn’t just a cautionary tale either…  This happens every day.  So, how can you prevent this?!”

What If…Someone Back Home Got Hurt?

What if my husband and I went on a brief overnight vacation and something were to happen to my kids back at home? How would I guarantee they did not end up more traumatized by our absence? Who would look after them?

This is a nightmare scenario.  You finally get some respite time with your hubby, and because you have a young family, you are just going to be gone for a night.  A short overnight trip to a private cabin.  Just far enough from home to let your hair down and reconnect with your best friend and partner.

Unbeknownst to you, something happens to your kids’ caretaker.  The police are on the scene, paramedics rushing about, and no-one knows what is supposed to be happening with the children.  The neighbor, a good friend of yours, and the person you kinda always let know as a “backup plan” when you are leaving tries to let the police know that they can watch them until their parents return, but there’s no documentation.  The police have no idea if the neighbor is your best friend or an opportunist predator.  They cannot take a risk, and your kids are retained by the police until they can talk to a social worker and get them into an emergency shelter – either with someone they do not know or maybe even in a hotel or office building with another stranger until you return home and have to sort things out.

When you get home, what are you going to do?  Could an ounce of planning have prevented the trauma your family endured tonight?

What If…You Never Made It Home?

What if I were to get into a car accident today? Who would be able to speak for me and make my wishes known? How would I make sure a doctor or even worse, a judge, I do not know is not going to be making decisions whether or not to treat me if I were incapacitated?

Car accidents kill and critically injure tens of thousands of Americans per year.  How many of them are parents?  How many are single parents?  It happens, that is what we all need to remember.  While it probably will not happen to you, it can!  Do you have a plan to advocate for your wishes if you were to become incapacitated?

In situations like this you have to consider, do you want to be resuscitated if your injury might lead to a prolonged vegetative state?  Do you want someone else to make that decision?  OR, do you want to make sure someone, in particular, is NOT in a place to make that decision on your behalf?  These are the things of Lifetime movie dramas, but in real life, they are preventable, and you can ensure that in this type of situation that you are protected, your assets are taken care of, and your children will be protected too.  People do not have to figure out the puzzle pieces of your life and wishes because you have made sure of it.

Change Your “What-If” to “Here’s How”

In so many of our blogs, we have broken apart pieces of the what if scenarios above and tried to make them make sense. The truth is that in a real-life situation it will be several items that help you, and not just one.  You cannot look at estate planning as just a Last Will and Testament, or a Healthcare Power of Attorney.  These legal tools are part of a larger Family Protection Plan.

Your Family Protection Plan protects your family when they leave for vacation (or college) by ensuring the powers of attorney and HIPAA authorization documentation necessary are on-hand and available for use.

A Family Protection Plan is there on paper and in your lawyer’s office to ensure your children do not end up as wards of the state for even one night!  You know where you want your kids to stay if there is an emergency, get it down on paper and make your desires undeniable and uncontestable.

And lastly, your Family Protection Plan grants you a sense of protection and self-direction even if you were to become incapacitate or sadly to leave us all too early.  With your plan, you will ensure your assets are transferred to those you want them to be.  You will make sure you are taken care of.  And you will make sure that even in your absence your family remains protected.

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Consider Your Estate Plan Before You Travel

Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, and Wills: What You Need to Know

Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, and Wills: What You Need to Know

The estate planning process encompasses a range of important legal and financial matters.

No one likes to think about death or dying, yet it is important to be prepared in case of an emergency.

Especially, for instance, young parents who have minor children…what will happen to your kids if something happens to you?

The “Durable” Power of Attorney vs. (Non-Durable) Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a written document authorizing another person to act on your behalf. For instance, it may enable you to appoint another person to act on your behalf in certain financial affairs. For example, signing a check, paying your bills, or even buying or selling real estate, would be valid uses of a power of attorney.

However, should you become disabled or incapacitated your power of attorney will end. Well, it will end unless it explicitly states that it is a durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney stays in effect even if you become incapacitated or disabled. In estate and family protection planning this becomes a vital document for your trusted family to act on your behalf when you are not able to.

You can read more about how a durable power of attorney is a cornerstone of a rock solid estate plan, here.

Health Care Proxy, Another Kind of Durable Power of Attorney

A healthcare proxy is also known by other titles, including a durable power of attorney for health care, a health care power of attorney, medical power of attorney, or an appointment of a health care agent. By whatever name you have come to know it as the role of a health care proxy is to act on your behalf in case medical decisions become necessary and you are unable to provide consent.

We covered this in actual real-life scenarios in this article. However, for the case of this discussion, the risk of not having a health care proxy is that someone who does not know you, has no idea of your care wishes, values, or end of life preferences, could be making those decisions for you – absent this contingency. Wouldn’t you rather a trusted family member or even friend made these decisions?

10 Basics of a Will

A will is a legal document that states what you would like to happen to your property and assets after your death. Though essential to your estate plan, and probably the most often thought of a piece of an estate plan, a Will is not the sole part of a great plan. Here is an article outlining the benefits and blindspots of a Will.

While you ponder that – here are ten things you SHOULD place in your will:

1. Name an executor
2. Nominate someone to be the guardian of your minor children.
3. Name the beneficiaries and which specific property or assets they should receive
4. Specify alternate beneficiaries in case one of the primary beneficiaries is no longer living
5. Name a person or organization to take whatever is leftover in the estate
6. Specify how personal assets should be divided and whether they should go directly to the beneficiary or be sold for cash value
7. Allocate how business assets are to be divided and if they are to be kept separate from personal assets
8. Outline how your debts, expenses and tax liabilities should be paid
9. Name a caretaker for your pets because the law considers them to be property
10. Declare/discuss funeral plans

Finding the Best Advocate to Bring All This Together

There is a lot of information online about estate planning. In fact, there are even programs you can buy. However, there is no replacement for a plan built custom to your needs & wishes. A plan constructed in consultation with you by an attorney who specializes in estate planning and family protection law! We think we fit that bill and do a pretty good job too, but you don’t have to take our word for it.