August is Estate Planning and Beneficiary Review Time

August is the time to review your estate plan and estate planning documents to make sure they are current. This includes wills, trusts, and advance directives. This is especially important if you have had a major life event such as a marriage, birth of a child or divorce. 

Consider if beneficiary updates are needed for retirement accounts and insurance policies.

Thank you to Chris Hall, Founder of EPNavigator (here) for the following thoughts on why College Age Kids Need POA’s: 

Imagine being awakened in early hours by a phone call from your college age son’s best friend announcing that your child is being rushed to the hospital. You’d go immediately but he lives hundreds of miles away. So you call, but the nurse won’t give you any information because of privacy laws. Without the proper documents in place, your son or daughter may as well be a perfect stranger.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of medical records. As soon as your child turns 18, you no longer have access to their medical information even if they’re still covered by your health insurance.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon scenario these days and the risk is real. Accidents are the leading cause of death for young adults, and a quarter-million Americans between 18 and 25 are hospitalized with non-lethal injuries each year. 

The good news is, there is a simple solution. Have your son or daughter sign these key documents to ensure this never happens to you. 

  • Healthcare Power of Attorney. First, a Healthcare Power of Attorney with an Advance Healthcare Directive and a HIPAA form. The Healthcare POA is a document in which you designate someone to be your representative, or agent, in the event you are unable to make or communicate decisions about all aspects of your health care. In the most basic form, a health care power of attorney essentially says, "I want this person to make decisions about my health care if I am unable to do so."
  • Financial Power of Attorney. Second a durable Financial Power of Attorney. The financial power of attorney is simply a way to allow someone else to manage your finances in the event that you become incapacitated and are unable to make those decisions yourself. 

Bottom line, have your kids sign these important documents before you send them off or as soon as it’s feasible and then hope you never need them.

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