Category Archives: Estate Planning Basics

Barbara Bush’s Comfort Care Decision at End of Life – Rest in Peace


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At the end of life, families are often faced with decisions about whether to continue to treat health conditions facing a loved one or whether to simply provide comfort care. Would you give chemotherapy for cancer to a 90 + year old who is suffering from cardiac failure?  There are often no right or wrong answers to these questions, as they are very personal decisions.

Recently, Barbara Bush’s failing health was broadcast throughout the American media.  The former First Lady and mother of another President died yesterday. By all accounts, her death was peaceful and she was well aware of the loving family that surrounded her. Prior to her death, Mrs. Bush made the decision to shift her health decisions from treatment to comfort care. She then left the hospital and was cared for at her family home until her death.

When faced with a terminal condition, many people choose to sign a POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). POLSTs are similar in purpose, but often more robust than the historically more familiar DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form, and also require a physician’s signature. It is unclear whether the former First Lady signed the POLST herself or whether her agent under Power of Attorney for Health Care actually signed it. The considerations that go into signing a POLST include the knowledge that the person whose life is on the line has a terminal medical condition, there is no hope for meaningful recovery, and treatment will only delay the dying process.

Absent your own capacity, who would you trust the most among your family and friends to make such a decision? A Health Care Power of Attorney allows YOU to choose. Incapacity is not a calendar item. An unexpected and devastating event can put you or a loved one in a mess (family conflict, guilt, legal battles…) that compounds the sadness and difficulties surrounding the medical situation.

If you have not taken action to select a healthcare agent and execute a Power of Attorney for Health Care, we encourage you to do so now.  Call Matlin Law Group, P.C at 1-847-770-6600 or visit our website at www.matlinlawgroup.com

 

Article by:

Eric Matlin

Eric G. Matlin

 

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Should Your Executor Be Your Eldest Child?


When we meet with our estate planning clients to talk about who might act for them in the event of disability or death, we talk about who their children are, good, bad and ugly. For those without children, we look at extended family and friends. Often, the client feels obligated to appoint their eldest child even if this might not be the best choice. It is so important to be honest about these things when planning for disability and death. The relationships of your family members, one to the other and to you, are so important to explore openly.”

Being an agent under power of attorney, an executor, or a trustee is a JOB. Ask anyone who had acted in this capacity for another person. We have had clients tell us that they had no idea how big of a job handling another person’s money was until they had to DO it. They say that, if they had known in advance how hard of a job it was, they might have declined to act! Add on top of it that it is often a THANKLESS job. No one who has not acted in such a position can really understand it.

So, who in your family would be an ideal candidate for such a position? Ask yourself these questions:

1. Who has the time to do this? Do not pick someone who works 90 hour weeks!

2. Who will give prompt attention to the job? Pick someone who will put first things first. Do not pick a procrastinator!

3. Who has the experience to know when to rely upon themselves and when to rely upon others? Do not pick the know it all. Pick someone who knows their own limitations and knows when to seek expert advice.

4. Who has honesty and integrity? Pick someone you believe will not treat your money like their own. Anyone who you have any doubt about in this regard should be avoided. They will only get themselves into a whole lot of trouble.

5. Who has your philosophy about money? Pick someone whose thinking regarding money and its’ appropriate use is in line with yours.

6. Who is firm but fair? Pick someone who has the strength to do what is right, even in the face of opposition, someone who will treat all your beneficiaries with loyalty and fairness. People do not change, if they fought as children, it is likely they will fight as adults.

7. Is your eldest child really the one who is best suited to be your executor based upon the above questions? Do not pick your eldest child, just because they are your eldest child, if they do not have the above qualities.

If no one in your family fits the bill, we recommend using a corporate fiduciary (a bank or a trust company that will efficiently, professionally and unemotionally handle finances for you and your family). Yes. There will be costs associated with that, but maintaining family harmony (and avoiding costs of litigation if things go wrong) are well worth it. We have seen too many families be destroyed by money issues! Do not let this be your family.

Please take action today to explore these issues and make tough choices for yourself and your family.

By: Julie A. Kolodziej

MLG – Matlin Law Group, P.C.

DO “DINKS” NEED ESTATE PLANNING?


DINKs

We often hear the from our married clients who have double income and no kids: “We do not have any kids so we only need simple estate planning, if we need it at all.” This leads to the question: DO “DINKs” (Double Income, No Kids) Even Need Estate Planning? 

The answer is YES! DINKs need at least as much estate planning as anyone else. It is especially important for a couple with no children to carefully choose the people who will make healthcare and financial decisions for them if they are disabled. We find that the worst people step up to the plate to “help out” in the absence of preset direction from YOU. At the very least, powers of attorney and various contingency planning, whether via wills or trusts, are called for.  When our clients think about their family members who might volunteer for the job of handling money for them, they often shudder at the thought. Especially as they get older, the thought of being taken advantage of looms in the horizon.

Why leave it to chance? TOMORROW IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER – PLAN TODAY

In our practice, we treat DINKs as a type of blended family when giving them estate planning advice. DINKs are similar to second marriage situations, where there may be “his,” “her,” or “their” children. Assuming the DINK couple want to primarily benefit each other during their joint lifetimes, then any analysis leads to contingency planning. This is because if either of them wants money to ultimately go to his or her family, friends or charities, the choice is either cashing out those contingent beneficiaries upon the death of the first-to-die or careful trust language protecting the rights of the intended secondary heirs of the first-to die spouse during the lifetime of the surviving spouse.  Leaving everything outright to the survivor with the expectation that he or she will not change the flow of assets to the first-to-die person’s preferred set of ultimate beneficiaries very often results in those people or charities getting nothing.

Everyone needs planning, including DINKs! CONTACT US TODAY FOR A FREE ESTATE PLANNING CONSULTATION

     eric_matlin                         jkolo
Eric G. Matlin, Esq.           Julie A. Kolodziej, Esq.

A blog article by Eric G. Matlin and Julie A. Kolodziej.  Eric and Julie are Principals at Matlin Law Group, P.C.   Please feel free to contact Eric Matlin  or Julie Kolodziej at Matlin Law Group, P.C. regarding this or any other matter.  Phone number 1-847-770-6600.  Our attorneys have the experience to guide you through your estate planning needs.

Disclaimer – The content of this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship with the person reading it.

DO YOU KNOW WHO YOUR HEALTHCARE AGENT SHOULD BE? TAKE THIS QUIZ TO FIND OUT.


Quiz letters

QUIZ for HOW TO PICK A HEALTH CARE AGENT OR PROXY

Sophie was laying in her bed feeling feverish and a little bit lost.  She was wondering how she was going to pull herself out of bed to get to the health clinic.  She longed for the times when her mom would take her to the doctor, but mom was not there and so Sophie would have to fend for herself.

For most of us, as children, our parents were there to help us when we were sick.  Wasn’t that chicken noodle soup your mom made you when you had a cold the best?  But as adults, we are often left to fend for ourselves when we are sick. For the typical house cold or flu, we are able to manage.  But what if we come down with a health condition that effects our ability to make decisions for ourselves?  Who makes decisions for us in that scenario?

Experience dictates that YOU are the best judge of who is the right candidate to act for you to make health decisions if you cannot.  If you leave the decision about who will act to chance, it is possible that your family may disagree about who should act and what health decisions should be made on your behalf.

  • 82% of people say it is important to put their wishes regarding health decisions in writing. 
  • 23% have actually done it. (California HealthCare Foundation,  2012) 

Think about who in your life shares your philosophy about major health decisions.  Would you want to be put on a ventilator? A stomach tube?  Do you want your life prolonged or are you a “pull the plug” type?  Should your 20 year old daughter make these decisions for you?  Your 80 year old mother? These are tough decisions and they love you.  Maybe your daughter would want to do this for you.   It is important to select a healthcare agent and to execute a legal document (called a power of attorney for Healthcare in Illinois) to legally select your chosen healthcare agent and to ensure that your philosophy is carried out.

CLICK HERE for a link to the QUIZ  for HOW TO PICK A HEALTH CARE AGENT OR PROXY from the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission for Law and Aging Consumer’s Tool Kit for Health Care  Advance Planning.

Tomorrow is right around the corner. Plan today. 


Julie A. Kolodziej, Esq.

jkolo   A blog article by Julie A. Kolodziej ©2017. Julie is a Principal at Matlin Law Group, P.C. Please feel free to contact Julie Kolodziej regarding this or any other matter. Phone number 1-847-770-6600.

Disclaimer – The content of this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship with the person reading it.

Should You Use A “Do-It-Yourself” Estate Planning Service?


QUESTION: Should You Use A “Do-It-Yourself” Estate Planning Service? Many people ask whether it is a good idea to use a DIY estate planning service to create an estate plan (Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney). As attorneys, we might seem biased when answering this question. However, the American Bar Association, as a part of its discussion in Do It Yourself Estate Planning, gave the following example, which is compelling:

“A New Jersey resident opted to purchase — surely at a nominal cost — a Will form kit. He carefully handwrote his intended dispositions into the form document. He did not have it properly witnessed. Undoubtedly believing he had completed his “simple Will” properly, he signed it and then apparently committed suicide. His heirs, however, eventually paid for his efforts. In the ensuing lawsuit (Matter of Will of Feree), a New Jersey trial court struggled to find a way to interpret and give effect to his handwritten additions to the form. Under New Jersey probate law, the language on the pre-printed form was not admissible because the Will was not properly signed by Mr. Feree (most states require a Will to be signed in the presence of two witnesses, a few even require three witnesses). The Court’s effort to salvage Mr. Feree’s work — and the ensuing trip to the New Jersey appellate court — almost certainly cost the family tens of thousands of dollars or more. At least Mr. Feree never saw that enormous expenditure — he passed away believing he had saved money.”

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_estate/resources/estate_planning/diy_estate_planning.html

ANSWER: If you want you make sure your intent is carried out with as little cost as possible, contact an experienced estate planning attorney to implement an estate plan tailored to your needs and concerns.

Tomorrow is right around the corner. Plan today. CONTACT US TODAY FOR A FREE ESTATE PLAN CONSULTATION


Julie A. Kolodziej, Esq.

jkolo   A blog article by Julie A. Kolodziej ©2017. Julie is a Principal at Matlin Law Group, P.C. Please feel free to contact Julie Kolodziej regarding this or any other matter. Phone number 1-847-770-6600.

Disclaimer – The content of this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship with the person reading it.

Living Without a Will


A recent Gallup Poll has indicated that at least 56% of U.S. citizens do not have a will in place. Taking a closer look at the numbers, certain trends emerge. Older people are more likely to have a will, as are the more affluent and those with advanced degrees. This is not surprising, as there is a common misconception that only the wealthy need estate plans. However, every U.S. adult should have some sort of plan in place – at the very minimum a will and powers of attorney for healthcare and property (although for many, a trust may be a more appropriate option).

A will offers a number of necessary advantages over the State’s default designation (known as the laws of intestacy), including the ability to appoint guardians of minor children, the ability to choose an Executor of an estate, and the ability to direct where (and to whom) assets shall be distributed upon death. These designations are often very personal, and most people when pressed have some sort of preference that may or may not align with the State’s default law. If you are one of the many people without any estate planning, now is a good time to speak with an attorney to put a plan in place. Contact Matlin Law Group, P.C. for a free initial estate planning consultation a 1-847-770-6600.

Pen Paper Blue Shirt

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[1] http://www.gallup.com/poll/191651/majority-not.aspx


Michael A. Goldberg

michael_goldberg A blog article by Michael A. Goldberg ©2017. Michael is an Attorney at Matlin Law Group, P.C. Please feel free to contact Michael Goldberg regarding this or any other matter. Phone number 1-847-770-6600.

Disclaimer – The content of this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship with the person reading it.

Spring Cleaning – Getting Your Documents Organized for Your Estate plan


spring-cleaning

It is officially spring!  When many of us awaken from our long winter hibernation just in time for annual spring cleaning, the perfect opportunity arrives to whip our homes and lives into shape.

  Ideally, estate planning is the perfect catalyst for organization. The more you know about what you own, the more complete your estate plan will be. Organizing your paperwork and your mind may seem like a daunting task, but the resulting relief and satisfaction are worthwhile from not only a practical but a psychological and emotional standpoint.

An aversion to lawyers and arcane legal documents, or even a case of papyrophobia may leave you paralyzed. Perhaps a serious paperectomy is in order. If you cannot muster the organizational energy to sort your piles of paper, consider hiring someone or seeking the help of a professional, friend or relative. You will find it worth the effort and expense. Do not wait for a wake-up call – you may not get one.

If the mere thought of planning your estate and all of the work entailed triggers panic, this questionnaire may get you on the right track. If such a detailed questionnaire is itself a major obstacle and you are meeting with a lawyer for the first time, ask the lawyer what s/he needs for a get-acquainted meeting. You may find that you can accomplish a lot with minimal advance preparation.

Matlin & Associate, P.C. offers a free estate planning consultation. This consultation is a great opportunity for you to ask one of our attorneys what documents you may want to get organized. Please feel free to give us a call at 1-847-770-6600.