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Elder Law 101

5 Benefits of Having a Medical Directive

Having a medical directive is something you should think about obtaining, even if you’re still young and able to care for yourself. The last thing you want is to wait until it’s too late and there’s no directive in place. Medical directives can benefit you by:

1. Keeping You In Control Even When You Cannot Speak For Yourself

A medical directive is a legal document that details specifically what you want to happen with your person and your property in the event that you become incapacitated or pass away and are no longer able to make decisions yourself.

Medical directives are written when you are lucid and have the legal mental capacity to create and sign such a document, so even if you are incapacitated, your wishes will still be carried out when you have a medical directive in place.

2. Preventing You From Having to Endure Unnecessary Procedures or Pain Against Your Will

Because a medical directive specifies in advance what you want to happen in different hypothetical situations, you will not have to endure a procedure or be in pain if that’s not what you have explicitly stated you want. Without a medical directive on file, your next of kin or even the state could be in charge of your medical care, subjecting you to procedures or life-prolonging care that you don’t want.

3. Minimizing Stress During an Emotional Time

When you pass away or if you become incapacitated, this is a highly stressful and emotional time for your loved ones. Big decisions will need to be made quickly, and your loved ones may not be in a sound emotional state to make them. Finding out that a loved one has a medical directive can be an immense relief for people who feel incapable of making such critical decisions with the life of a family member in the balance.

4. Affording Your Loved Ones Peace of Mind

If your loved ones know of your medical directive in advance, this can give them peace of mind knowing ahead of time that those critical decisions were already made by you. When you’re grieving and in distress, being able to follow a clearly detailed plan that you know your loved one wants can be comforting and may afford your family peace of mind even well before you need a medical directive.

5. Reducing the Potential for Conflict Among Loved Ones

If you fail to specify your wishes and pass away or become incapacitated, and your loved ones have to make decisions for you using guesswork as to what you would have wanted, this can lead to high-stress conflict.

Many family fights are started after a person dies or is no longer able to care for themselves and remaining family members have to figure out what to do next with no guide or ability to ask you what your preferences are. If you have a medical directive in place, your wishes are clearly stated and there’s simply no room for conflict.

Get Help Creating a Medical Directive: Call Beasley & Ferber Today

Interested in learning more about how a medical directive can benefit you or want to move forward with formally creating one? Beasley & Ferber can help. Call us now for an appointment at 1-800-370-5010.

Why Plan Now for What Comes Later?

Nobody wants to think about dying, let alone talk about it. But the truth is, funerals are expensive. Long-term care is expensive, too. And unless you want to pass your debt down to your children, you need to make plans for the inevitable. There’s no need to wait until you pass that senior citizen milestone to begin thinking about end-of-life expenses. In fact, the sooner you begin putting money away and channeling your savings where you want it to go, the better you can provide for those you love after your absence. Speak with an elder-law attorney at Beasley & Ferber today for answers to all your frequently asked elder-care questions.

I’m Still Young. Why Do I Need to Start Elder Planning Now?

Tomorrow is not a sure thing, and if the unexpected should happen sooner than later, would your loved ones be financially prepared to go on without you?

Planning for the future means more than just financing a burial plot and prepaying a funeral home for your interment. It might also mean helping your spouse keep the house in the event of your death or keeping your kids in college should your income suddenly cease. By talking with a specialist in elder law, you can learn how to minimize the financial impact of your death on those you love.

Won’t My Life Insurance Pay for My Funeral?

Your life insurance will pay a death benefit to your beneficiary upon proof of your death, but it’s important to make sure that number is enough to do more than just offset the costs of your funeral. If you’re half of a two-income household, your absence will leave a huge financial hole. An elder law attorney can help you choose the right amount of coverage to suit your health, your lifestyle, and the cost of premiums you can afford.

As Long As I Provide for the Necessities, My Family Should Be Okay, Right?

Unfortunately, nobody has a crystal ball that helps them foresee what the necessities will be. And your quality of life as you age will play a major role. You may eventually need the services of a long-term care facility, and Medicare doesn’t typically cover this expense. Therefore, you’ll need protection for your assets, so your children aren’t denied their inheritance. Making an appointment with Beasley & Ferber can help you protect what’s rightfully yours. It can also help you better predict the sort of expenses you might accrue as you age.

I Don’t Have Children, So Why Should I Worry What Happens After I Die?

While it’s true your financial worries will cease upon death, there’s no guarantee that you won’t need help in the years leading up to your final exit. With no children to help care for you in your old age, you may need to hire a professional caregiver, and they don’t usually come free. If you begin planning now, you’ll be able to rest easier later.

When you’re ready to begin planning for your own elder care or for the care of an aging parent or other loved one, Beasley & Ferber is available to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


What Does It Mean to Have an Attorney on Retainer

It’s likely you’ve heard of someone having “a lawyer on retainer,” but do you really know what this phrase means? More importantly, are you someone who should have a lawyer on retainer?

“Lawyer on Retainer” Definition

In essence, having a lawyer on retainer (also called an attorney on retainer) means having an established lawyer-client relationship with a lawyer. Essentially, in exchange for upfront fees, you are “holding” your lawyer. Then, in the event that you require legal assistance or representation, you will be able to call on that lawyer for their legal help.

Understanding Retainer Agreements

Not all client-lawyer retainer relationships are the same. Generally speaking, you can choose between several different types of agreements when retaining an attorney.

For instance, you can deposit a sum (one that is allocated as your retainer fee) into an account in your lawyer’s possession. If you end up needing legal assistance after this account has been established, any billable hours will be pulled from that fund. Naturally, an account like this won’t likely cover all of the expenses you accrue when using the services of a lawyer. On the other hand, the set-aside account allows you more instant access to your lawyer’s services because you would already have established a relationship with them.

You can also form a general retainer relationship with a lawyer. This is a contract that is usually arranged around a specific project. Instead of your lawyer billing you for the precise hours they work on a given project/your case, your lawyer would simply be available at basically all times to answer your legal questions and discuss your legal options with you as they relate to the project.

Similarly, you can put a lawyer on retainer for a set period of time. In this way, instead of the lawyer being available for the duration of the project you’re working on, he or she will be available until the end of your agreed-upon period.

Who Needs a Lawyer on Retainer?

Not everyone needs a lawyer on retainer, but it may — at some point in your life — be a valuable legal arrangement to utilize. For instance, if you are in the midst of signing business contracts; dealing with a project that requires lots of potential penalties for things like taxes, permits, or zoning; handling the estate plans for yourself or a family member; participating in a large real estate transaction; or even going through a messy divorce, all of these situations may warrant having a lawyer on retainer.

While it is certainly not mandatory to enter into such a contract, it can definitely be beneficial. Moreover, if you expect legal challenges in your immediate (or long-term) future, having an attorney on retainer is an excellent way to put your mind at ease. You’ll know that you have somewhere to turn should a serious legal issue arise that you cannot handle alone.

To learn more about hiring a lawyer on retainer, contact us at Beasley & Ferber today. We would be happy to sit down and speak with you one-on-one about your options.

First Time Parents Why You Need a Will

Becoming a first-time parent can be an overwhelming experience, but it is also a true blessing that you simply cannot fully grasp until it happens to you. The pregnancy and lead-up to the birth of your child or pre-adoption process is just the beginning of both the love — and anxiety — that parenthood will bring with it as the years pass.

From the moment your child enters the world, you will want to do everything within your power to love and protect them — even in a worst-case scenario. For this reason, it is critical to set up a will as soon as possible.

If you’re still unsure of the importance of a will for you and your new family, take a look at these 3 reasons, which more fully explain the importance of this document.

Why a Will Is So Important for New Families

1. It names who your child’s potential guardian will be.

In the event of your death, your will names a legal guardian who will care for and look after your child. Not having a will or naming a guardian means that your child could be lost in the court system and uncertain circumstances for months or even years at a time until a legal guardian is set.

2. It sets up your child’s future assets.

Naturally, if your child were to lose you, they would need funds in order to continue living the lifestyle you prepared for them. In many cases, a will can set up a trust that will provide for your child until he or she turns 18. After the age of 18, a will can also prepare additional funds for your child’s adult life.

3. It names a power of attorney in the event you are incapacitated.

In certain circumstances, you may become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself or your child before they turn 18. In this case, you will be able to name your power of attorney(s) in your will. Most sound wills name both a health care power of attorney (for making health care wish decisions) and a finance power of attorney (for making financial decisions).

This is critical as not naming a power of attorney for either one of these areas could result in decisions being made that you would never be happy with were you in charge.

Contact Beasley & Ferber Today to Set Up Your Will

No parent wants to think of their child living without them. Still, it is the most responsible and thoughtful parents that do broach this subject and understand the importance of will creation in order to secure their child’s safety, happiness, and success in the future.

Although it is difficult to think about an unfortunate event occurring in the future, it is critical to realize the importance of such planning. No one else can make these decisions but you, and it’s worth deciding on them now.

To learn more about setting up a will for you and your family, contact us at Beasley & Ferber today.

Getting Married Again Consider Creating an Estate Plan Now

Remarriage after the end of a previous marriage due to divorce or the death of a spouse is common. Unlike first marriages that typically occur in the middle to late 20s, people getting married a second or subsequent time may be well into middle age. Whether they have children from previous relationships or not, older spouses bring special financial considerations into the new marriage.

Making an Estate Plan Now Can Save Legal Hassles Later

Perhaps you or your future spouse created separate estate plans earlier in life and want to update them to reflect your new marriage. Another possibility is that neither of you have created an estate plan. Whatever your individual situation, entering a second marriage brings up several unique considerations. Examples include:

  • What assets do each of you plan to continue holding individually?
  • What assets do each of you plan to leave to your respective children, if any?
  • Do you plan to have children together? If so, what assets would you like to make available for them?
  • Are either of you bringing individual debt into the marriage?
  • Do you expect to incur new joint debts after the marriage?
  • Will you need to order a new title for any assets you would like to reflect joint ownership, such as checking, savings, retirement, or mortgage accounts?
  • Do you plan to establish a joint will?
  • Do you foresee needing any additional estate planning tools, like a power of attorney, trust, or advanced healthcare directive?

Ideally, you and your fiancée will discuss these questions long before you get married. Neither of you should assume what the other is thinking when it comes to something as important as finances. Couples with substantial individual assets before a second marriage may want to give serious thought to a pre-nuptial agreement. Although it might not sound romantic, taking this step helps to protect individual financial interests.

Special Estate Considerations When Either of You Has Children

Couples often discover how differently each one thinks about certain financial matters when it comes to leaving an inheritance for children. One common example is that one spouse wants to divide their individual assets among their own children while the other would like to divide them equally between children and stepchildren. You also need to consider who would take control of assets on behalf of either party’s minor children should one of you pass away prematurely.

If you already have a will that leaves certain provisions for your children, consider how this decision would impact your new spouse. Some couples resolve this issue by establishing a separate marital trust to make sure the surviving spouse receives assets the other spouse wanted them to have.

Don’t Forget to Update Beneficiary Designations

If you already own assets such as a 401(k) and want to replace the beneficiary with your new spouse, be sure to do this as soon after your marriage as possible. You will need a copy of your marriage license to make the changes.

Beasley & Ferber Law Firm is here to assist you with estate planning. Please request a consultation to discuss your needs.

Raising a special-needs child comes with numerous extra commitments, such as frequent doctor appointments, IEP meetings at school, and physical or speech therapy, to name just a few. For some parents, caring for their child’s basic needs is already a full-time job. They become so focused on the present that they put off dealing with future decisions regarding their special-needs child. While this is understandable, it can put your family in a difficult position both legally and emotionally.

The Importance of Naming a Guardian for Your Special Needs Child

No one knows how to advocate and care for your child like you do. This is something you instinctively know, and you work hard every day because you understand how much your child needs you.

Considering who would care for your special needs child if you or your spouse passed away or became disabled yourself is uncomfortable. Even so, we urge you to think about this question and name a legal guardian in writing. Should the worst come to pass, the fact that you named a legal guardian earlier will mean less disruption for your special-needs child during an already difficult and stressful time. The guardian should be someone both you and your child know and trust.

Becoming Your Child’s Legal Guardian After Age 18

If your child has a developmental or cognitive disability, there is a good chance he or she will not be able to make important decisions independently, regardless of chronological age. By appointing yourself a legal guardian, you can continue to make medical, legal, and financial decisions for your child just as you did while he or she was a minor.

Many parents of special needs children also worry that others would take advantage of their disability once they are no longer around to protect them. Appointing a guardian over a disabled adult child can help to reduce these fears.

How to Set Up a Supplemental Needs Trust for a Disabled Child

This tool ensures that your child has enough financial resources to meet future expenses without losing eligibility for federal or state assistance programs. We have seen many well-meaning parents leave most of their estate to a special-needs child only for their son or daughter to lose social security benefits. A better idea is to establish a trust for your child without putting assets in his or her name.

When you establish a supplemental trust, you choose a trustee to administer it who must follow state guidelines and the requirements you stipulated. The benefit of this arrangement is that it provides for future expenses while keeping your child’s social security and Medicaid benefits intact.

Contact Our Experienced Elder and Disability Law Firm to Learn More

Naming a guardian, becoming your disabled child’s legal guardian in adulthood, and setting up a special trust all require experienced legal guidance to do correctly. We invite you to request a consultation from Beasley & Ferber Law Firm to learn more about each of these processes.


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