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Estate Planning During The Coronavirus FAQs

Estate Planning Lawyer Sacramento CA

senior couple estate planningWith coronavirus consuming the headlines, you may be thinking about estate planning. Estate planning is much more than merely creating a will. A strong estate plan also consists of several other essential documents. These may include a revocable trust (sometimes called a living trust), health care powers of attorney, financial powers of attorney, and more. These documents serve a crucial role in the overall planning.

What is a Last Will and Testament?

This document offers legal instructions to direct the distribution of your property after your death. It allows you the opportunity to appoint an executor, who oversees the distribution of your assets. 

Everyone has assets, and without a will, there is no direction as to how those assets will be distributed. If no will is in place at the time of your death, the distribution of your assets will be handled by the state.

A will also offers you the opportunity to appoint a guardian to take care of your minor children. If you don’t have a will in place, a court will decide who will best fulfill that role. 

What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

A health care power of attorney (HCPOA) gives an agent of your choosing the legal authority to make health care decisions for you if you are not competent or are incapacitated. If you don’t have an HCPOA and are over the age of 18, your family members will have to request that the state probate court appoint a guardian to wield these powers.

What is a Financial Power of Attorney?

A financial power of attorney (FPOA) document gives an agent of your choosing the legal authority to carry on with your financial affairs and protect your property. The FPOA allows the agent acting on your behalf the ability to pay bills, make deposits, write checks, sign tax returns, and sell or purchase assets.

What is a Living Will?

A living will is also known as an advance health care directive. It allows you to specify the specific end-of-life treatment you do or don’t want to receive if you are permanently unconscious, terminally ill, or won’t survive without life support.

What is a Living Trust?

A revocable living trust is a legal contract that you enter into with yourself to create an entity to hold your assets. It’s revocable, so you can change it at any time. If you become unable to manage your estate, your living trust prevents the need for a court to appoint conservatorship. You designate a successor trustee who manages your affairs without the court being involved. A trust also affords you the utmost privacy surrounding the details of your estate. It avoids the need for a public probate process.

How Can I Plan My Estate During the Coronavirus?

The coronavirus situation has made accomplishing some tasks nearly impossible. This is not the case with estate planning at Yee Law Group. The estate planning professionals at Yee Law Group are doing virtual meetings. You can talk to us about your estate from wherever you are social distancing. There may not be a better time than now to plan your estate. Reach out to us today to schedule your virtual appointment with an experienced Estate Planning Lawyer Sacramento, CA residents recommend.

Why you should have a Health Care Proxy and a Living Will in the Midst of Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020

Health Care Proxy Covid-19Do you have  a Health Care Proxy? Living Will? 

What happens, heaven forbid, if you find yourself being hauled off to an emergency room during this pandemic? We’ve all read the horror stories of loved ones being taken away and not allowed any visitors. Worse yet, if you are sedated, or in a position not to speak for yourself, who will speak for you in the Hospital? Who will make the ultimate decision if you are in an irreversible state?  Will there be a debate amongst your loved ones as to whether or not to take you off life support? Without a Heath Care Proxy and a Living Will, these scenarios can become nightmarish. 

If you have a Health Care Proxy, it means you have designated a “Health Care Agent,” someone you trust, to speak for you at the hospital. In other words, you have given that trusted person the legal authority to speak for you, to advocate for you. This makes everyone’s life simpler, yours, and the hospital’s in the event you cannot speak for yourself. This is an extremely important document as it gives the Health Care Agent enormous power. These documents should include warning language such as this:

EXCEPT AS YOU OTHERWISE SPECIFY IN THIS DOCUMENT, THIS DOCUMENT GIVES THE PERSON YOU DESIGNATE AS YOUR AGENT THE POWER TO MAKE HEALTH CARE DECISIONS FOR YOU WHEN YOU ARE NO LONGER CAPABLE OF MAKING HEALTH CARE DECISIONS FOR YOURSELF.  YOUR AGENT MUST ACT CONSISTENTLY WITH YOUR DESIRES AS STATED IN THIS DOCUMENT OR OTHERWISE MADE KNOWN.  UNLESS YOU STATE OTHERWISE, YOUR AGENT HAS THE SAME AUTHORITY TO MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH CARE AS YOU WOULD HAVE IF YOU WERE ABLE TO MAKE HEALTH CARE DECISIONS FOR YOURSELF.  

YOUR AGENT HAS THE POWER TO MAKE A BROAD RANGE OF HEALTH CARE DECISIONS FOR YOU.  THE PERSON YOU APPOINT AS YOUR AGENT SHOULD BE SOMEONE YOU KNOW AND TRUST.  YOU SHOULD DISCUSS THIS DOCUMENT WITH YOUR AGENT.

This language is not all inclusive, but certainly illustrates the point.

If you have a Living Will it can be used in tandem with the Health Care Proxy to put the World on Notice of what YOUR desires are in the event that you are in an irreversible state and constitute your exercise of  your legal right to refuse treatment. Some of the language in document could include the following:

“Therefore, I expect my family, physicians, health care facilities and all concerned with my care to regard themselves as legally and morally bound to act in accordance with my wishes, and in so doing to be free from any liability for having followed my directions.  These directions reflect my firm and settled commitment to decline medical treatment under the circumstances indicated above.  I intend these directions to be carried out, unless I have rescinded them in a new writing or by clearly indicating that I have changed my mind.”

As you can see, in these uncertain times, it is extremely important to be prepared with these two documents-in our future postings, we will discuss the importance of  having a Power of Attorney and a Last Will and Testament, all of which can be prepared by a qualified attorney.

In the meantime, please stay healthy and safe!

Thanks to our friends from La Pietra & Krieger PC for their insight into health care proxies. 

 

As a Cyclist, What Are My Biggest Threats On The Road?

If you are a cyclist who enjoys going out for a ride on a regular basis, then chances are you have been involved with some close calls. Perhaps a car driver had gotten just a little too close, someone getting out of their car had not looked before stepping out, or the road wasn’t maintained properly and you had to swerve at the last second to avoid crashing from a pothole. There are so many threats to cyclists on the road, including vehicle drivers, people opening their doors after parking, street construction, debris in the road, and much more. 

What are the most common reasons for bike accidents?

There are several ways that bike accidents occur, with the most common being from car doors opening, reckless car drivers, or being overtaken/sideswiped. Car door accidents happen when the driver parks, and then open their door as a cyclist is cruising by. These accidents tend to occur more often on compact urban streets where cars park in a parallel fashion, and bike lanes are painted right next to these parking spots.

Another main reason for bike accidents is because of reckless drivers. You may have experienced this yourself, where a car driver had zipped by you with only inches to spare, which sent your heart racing. Or perhaps you were actually struck by a car driver and now have injuries that require medical care. If this situation applies to you or a loved one, then you must speak with the best bicycle accident lawyer in Memphis, TN about how to hold the offending driver responsible for their carelessness.

Lastly, cyclists are vulnerable to getting overtaken or sideswiped. Being sideswiped happens when either side of the vehicle comes into contact with the right or left side of the cyclist. Drivers may complain that cyclists always ride too close to the street lane versus the sidewalk, however, if there’s parking along the sidewalk then they may be leaning more to the left to prevent being doored. 

Other influencing factors for bike accidents include drunk drivers, distracted driving, speeding, not obeying street signals or signs, road defects, poor weather conditions, and bike defects. 

If I get hit by a car, is it possible to walk away unscathed?

The chances of a cyclist not getting injured at all after being clipped by a car are very slim. Think about it this way, a car is so hefty and large, that the human body just cannot put up a fight against it. A bicyclist doesn’t have a protective shield surrounding their body, like a car driver does, to deflect impact. And, a cyclist will not only get hit by the car itself, but also hit the ground if ejected from their bike. Common injuries for bike accidents include:

  • Soft tissue damage
  • Broken bones
  • Head/brain injuries
  • Facial wounds
  • Nerve damage
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Anxiety, depression, PTSD
  • Fractured clavicle
  • Paralysis
  • Dental/jaw injuries
  • Spinal cord damage

Thanks to Wiseman Bray, PLLC for their insight into personal injury claims and threats on the road for bicycles.

Recently Divorced? Here Is How This Affects Your Estate Plan

A divorce not only disrupts your present-day life, but it can also have a significant impact on the plans for your future. If you created a will while in the marriage, then chances are you left property, money, or other assets to your spouse. Perhaps you had named your spouse as the executor of your finances and health, meaning that they would be the person making financial or medical decisions on your behalf in the event you were unable to. Maybe at the time this sounded reassuring, but post divorcce, it probably gives you goosebumps and a little bit of fear of what your ex would do if put in such a situation. Needless to say, it is important to revisit your estate plan and make changes where needed.

Keep in mind that even if you didn’t write an estate plan, your spouse could be listed on documents such as your life insurance policy or retirement fund. Unless you want to risk your spouse getting this money, then you need to make edits immediately with an estate lawyer in Allentown, PA.

Power of Attorney
If you write your ex’s name down on documents related to durable power of attorney, an advanced healthcare directive, and/or healthcare power of attorney, then you probably need to write new ones and appoint another person instead. You can make these changes at any time, you don’t have to wait until the divorce has concluded. If you have established a will, then you may have also signed these documents: 

  • Advance Directive or Living Will: you may have listed your spouse as someone who gets a significant portion of your assets. 
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney: the person you appointed would make decisions related to your medical care if you became incapacitated or unable to communicate your wishes.
  • Durable General Power of Attorney: the person you appointed would take over your financial and legal affairs if you became unable to manage them. 

Making Changes To a Will (or Writing Your First One)

Depending on your state laws, you may be permitted to write a new will while going through the divorce process. Or, you may need to wait until your divorce has finalized before you can make edits. Here are just a few reasons why you must prepare a new will, or write a will for the very first time, after divorce: 

  • The will you have currently may list someone who now doesn’t care for you very much since the divorce, such as your ex brother in-law, to take care of your kids in the event that you pass away. While the judge will make the final decision, if that person is still appointed as their guardian, then there’s a strong chance they will be raising your children. 
  • You listed your ex as an executor of your will, meaning that he or she will be responsible for handling your affairs and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Unless you want your ex to have this role, then you must remove them and appoint a new person right away. 

Thanks to Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning and divorce.

Can You Kidnap Your Own Child? 

Estate Lawyer

Kidnapping is considered an unlawful act in which a person knowingly holds another individual captive or against their will. At times, kidnappers are strangers, but in some cases a kidnapper can be a family member or even a parent. Often when parents are engaged in unpleasant custody battles, emotions tend to escalate. Rarely, but not completely unheard of, will a parent purposefully move a child from one location to another in an effort to  conceal them from the other parent. While this act may seem harmless as most believe it is in the best interest of their child, this act of kidnapping is a serious allegation and can result in criminal charges. How will a court determine if an act is indeed associated with parent kidnapping? Here are three questions that you may encounter as a result of unlawfully moving your child:

  • Are you a legal guardian or parent of the child?

One of the most important matters in parental kidnapping situations is determining your relation to the child. In order for a court to determine the best interest of your child, the totality of circumstances must be weighed, including your relation to the child.

  • Do you have current court orders prohibiting the movement of your child?

In most cases with child custody orders, courts may elect to enforce parental rights. If there is no custody order in place, the act of moving your child may not constitute parental kidnapping, but your acts may still be seen as an interference with the time that the other parent deserves with your child. 

  • With what intent did you move your child?

In some cases, there may be exceptions to parental kidnapping. If you are escaping domestic violence, you may be able to argue that moving your child was a result of  fleeing a violent situation and the act was committed with the intent of protecting him or her.

Understandably, child custody battles and child custody litigation are difficult situations and may invoke a fervor of emotions that only the engaged parties understand. If you have been accused of unlawfully moving your child with hidden motives, you may risk the chance of retaining or getting child custody in the future. Furthermore, if you are in the midst of a custody battle you should seek the assistance of a qualified child custody lawyer, like a child custody lawyer in Dallas, TX, before commiting the act of concealing your child. 

It is important to note that every child custody case is different. If you or someone you know has been affected by allegations of kidnapping or is embroiled in a custody battle, contact an attorney to schedule a consultation for legal advice that will answer all of your legal questions. 

 


 

Thanks to Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into the repercussions of kidnapping your own child. 

Life After Probate

In the emotional aftermath of losing a loved one and working with an estate planning attorney in Mesa, AZ, and in the chaos of making final arrangements and adjusting to life without them, it may feel like this chapter of your life will never end. And though time may feel like it’s in slow motion, the chapter will eventually transition into the next one. At that point, you may feel as if you have swapped one set of challenges for another. This may be the case, but there is assistance available, particularly when it comes to distributing some of the estate’s assets and dealing with your loved one’s home. Rather than place the burden of handling everything on your own, consider taking advantage of the services of a moving company.

Not All Moving Companies are Equal

Many moving companies specialize in picking up cargo or a home’s contents and transporting it to another location, whether it’s across town or across country. A smaller number of moving companies offer additional services as well. In the context of dealing with the closure of an estate, or cleaning out a deceased relative’s home, those moving companies that offer the following services can make a great deal of difference:

  • Transportation of unwanted items that are suitable for donations to charity organizations.
  • Transportation of recyclable materials to a recycling facility.
  • Transportation of junk items to a refuse facility.
  • Transportation of items to another location such as the heir’s home.
  • Packing of items prior to transfer, whether they are large and heavy, fragile and valuable, or small and lightweight.
  • Unpacking of items after transporting them to the new location.
  • Cleaning of the original building as well as the new location prior to unloading items.

The Advantages of Hiring a Moving Company During or After Probate

One of the responsibilities of an estate executor is to locate the decedent’s assets. In many cases this is very straightforward if their assets are limited to retirement accounts, banking accounts, and items in the home as well as the house and vehicles. However, in other cases it can be more difficult. Assets that include commercial machinery located in other places or possessions that have been borrowed by others are but two examples. If the decedent owned an airplane, it may require special freighting, particularly if there are questions about its airworthiness. Hiring a moving company that is experienced with moving whatever assets need to be moved can take a lot of weight off the family’s shoulders when its time to transfer them post-probate.

Another advantage of hiring a moving company is that it can create a healthy buffer surrounding the assets. For instance, if it is too emotional to be in the now empty family home, hiring a moving company to transport the contents can make it easier on the surviving family members. Also, if the family home is not located nearby, out-of-town family members can arrange for a moving company to transport items so that they do not have to do this themselves.

If you are in the process of dealing with the loss of a family member, consider enlisting the help of a moving company to ease the difficulty of probate.

Thanks to for their insight into estate planning and life after probate.

Why Permits Are Necessary

Estate Lawyer

Home improvement projects take on a life of their own. Sometimes a person wants to change the paint color in the living room and suddenly they find themselves completely overhauling their bathroom. It is natural to want to make changes in a home but it is important to remember that there are limits to the changes that can be made without city approval. If a home is undergoing major construction, the city must ensure that there is a plan, accountability, and standards to be met.

Planning:

 Architects, plumbers, and electricians are all trained professionals who have studied extensively to do the job they are hired to do. An uncle who does botched construction jobs because “they work anyway” is not a professional. Before a project is started there needs to be a plan drawn out or a blueprint that specifically states the intentions of the renovation. This plan is then submitted to the city with the permit application and the city determines whether the plan is approved or denied. If approved, construction can begin immediately. If denied, the plans must be revised to meet the city’s expectations. This process depends heavily on the extent and complexity of the renovation.

Approval and Accountability: 

Permits are required when the remodeling of a home can put at risk the integrity of that home. Changing the cabinets in the kitchen is not the same as taking out a wall. Creating an opening from the kitchen up to the living room has become the newest trend, but that means that there is a section of support that is no longer there. Every home improvement show on HGTV has a contractor that pulls permits all the time. A permit sets a cohesive set of standards and requirements that everyone must follow. It also alerts the city of any possible issues that may occur.

On October 12,2019 a hotel building under construction in New Orleans collapsed. Although the incident was only a partial collapse, twenty people were injured and two others lost their lives. Upon further investigation, it was uncovered that the metal decking used on the roof for the floors was changed and the city never approved them. This in turn, was the cause of the collapsed infrastructure. The persons held responsible or liable for this event were the engineers.

This is only one of many events that have happened throughout the years, so it is important to remember that it is the safety of the people involved in the projects that really matter.

People are constantly trying to create the next wonder of the world. It is not the city’s intention to limit the engineers or the contractors, it is their duty to ensure that safety is kept on the forefront of every project. The Empire State Building in New York is 86 floors high, creates static electricity between people, and overlooks six states on a clear day. This project was built in a short thirteen months and is a wonder. Properly built, the structure stands tall almost ninety years after its construction was completed.

Permits in Arlington:

Every city has a unique approach for processing permits, but the city of Arlington allows for its residents to apply for permits online. One can apply for a permit but it is important to remember that the person who is applying for the permit is perceived by the city to be the “contractor.” A contractor is the person solely responsible for ensuring that all construction meets the specific city codes. In the event that a person hires an architect, plumber, or electrician, those professionals would be considered the contractors and therefore responsible for meeting city codes.

No matter what kind of home improvement project is around the corner, it is important that a person remains well informed. Every city has their own website with information about individual ordinances, codes, and details about what projects require a permit. Pulling permits may be a hassle and seem tedious at times but it is better than having to tear down half the project for not having a permit. It really is all about safety. Permits for major projects are not optional, they are a requirement that needs to be honored. 

If you’ve been injured from a construction site that did not follow the proper safety guidelines, a personal injury lawyer in Arlington, TX can advise you on your next steps for taking legal action.

 


 

Thanks to Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into personal injury claims and why you need building permits.

What is an Executor of Someone’s Estate?

When someone passes away, his or her assets must be legally transferred to living beneficiaries through a process called probate. The person who is responsible for taking care of the decedent’s estate during this process is called an executor. The executor will make sure that all the debts and liabilities are paid from the decedent’s estate before the rest of the assets are distributed among the living beneficiaries.

The Executor’s Role

Generally speaking, probate can last somewhere between a few months and several years. The more complicated the estate is, the longer the case will take. The executor is the person who is responsible for managing the estate during the whole process. This will usually involve several court filings, court appearances, and even gaining approval from the probate court before taking certain actions.

The executor will also have to take into account the needs of beneficiaries and heirs, as well as any professionals who may need to be paid from the estate. Though probate laws vary from state to state, the process generally occurs in the same order no matter where the estate is located.

The first official duty of the executor is to submit the decedent’s last will and testament to the court. Following submission, the executor must attend a court hearing where the judge will inform the executor of the validity and legality of the will. In addition, the hearing generally allows others to contest the will if they have an interest in the will and feel that it’s not valid. In these cases, the contestant will need to file a separate lawsuit and prove to the court that the will is invalid.

Appointing an Executor

Decedents will often name an executor in their will, as they will typically have some idea of who they want to take care of their affairs. Unless the other beneficiaries object, this person will be named the executor of the estate.

If there is no will, however, or an executor has not been appointed in the will, the judge will most often choose a close family member to fulfill the role of the executor. Most states have specific laws regarding which family members may qualify, and in what order.

Once the executor has been chosen, the judge will grant the authority to act in the interest of the estate through letters of administration. Also known as letters of testamentary, these documents are necessary to provide professional companies – such as banks or insurance companies – proof that they can act on the estate’s behalf.

If you have been pointed as executor of someone’s estate, it may help to talk with a probate lawyer, like a probate lawyer in Cherry Hill, NJ, to help you with the process.

Thanks to Klenk Law for their insight into what the executor of an estate is.

elderly woman and daughter doing a puzzle

Essential Estate Planning Steps For You And Your Parents

Talking about making a will and estate planning is often difficult for most people because whether or not it is for themselves or for someone they are close to and love, it means thinking about a time when they and/or the people they love will not be around anymore. It is important to do this though because having a legal will and well-made plans for a person’s estate when they are gone, protects a person financially now as well as their legacy in the future.

A surprising experience that many people have when they finally make the move and start to plan their own will or have that difficult conversation with a parent or other close family member about doing this, is a sense of relief. Especially when the will has been signed and finalized, and a person’s estate is in order legally, many people feel comforted and more relaxed knowing that their affairs are in order, rather than feeling like what they thought they might feel.

Planning an estate for a parent, a much loved relative, or for yourself, is not a way of saying goodbye- but rather a way to have peace of mind and to be able to enjoy time in the here and now.

Steps for Estate Planning
The following are some of the steps that are essential to planning an estate. Having a good estate plan is a way of protecting someone while they are alive, even if they are incapacitated, as well as their wishes for their assets when they pass.

  • Wills and Trusts
    It is important to have a legal will and for some people, a legal trust.
    Many people recommend enlisting the help of an estate attorney who can give you
    guidance and make sure your paperwork and documents are in order, rather than trying
    to do this on your own.
  • Emergency Information
    Compile a list of more than just doctors and their phone
    numbers. Different people have different needs but examples of things to have in one,
    easily accessible place include but are not limited to; the specifics of digital assets, bank
    accounts, stocks, retirement plans, and storage rental; online accounts with usernames
    and passwords; names and information about lawyers, financial advisors and anyone
    else who has legal knowledge of and/or access to the aforementioned.
  • Power of Attorney
    Designating a durable power of attorney to someone you and your
    family trusts, allows the person to make legal decisions in the event the person whose
    estate they have been appointed to is incapacitated and no longer able to make these
    Decisions for themselves.
  • Advance Medical Directive
    An advance medical directive is a document a person
    decides upon when they are healthy, in case there is a point where end-of-life medical
    decisions need to be made without them being able to say what they want.
  • Talk to Your Parents
    Even though many people have had a difficult time talking to their
    parents in general, and many people have been able to talk to their parents but don’t want to worry them by trying to talk about their financial affairs, it is important to do this while you all can. While these conversations are often not easy to begin, most people have a sense of relief once they have been started and feel better knowing that they now have agreed upon plans in place for the future.

Estate Planning With Parents
It is hard enough for most of us to see our parents getting older and it rarely gets easier as time goes on. But even harder usually, is admitting to ourselves that they can no longer fully manage their financial affairs and that we need to move in and do for them, what we as “children” are so used to them doing for us. As hard as it is, it is important to do this because it ultimately protects your parent(s), their security, and their assets.

For a highly recommended estate planning lawyer in Sacramento CA, contact Yee Law Group.

What Kind of Accidents Can Cause Brain Injuries?

Brain injuries can be traumatic or non-traumatic. Brain injuries can happen to anyone, from newborns to seniors. Children under the age of four, seniors and young adults from 15 to 24 years old are most at risk of brain injuries. You don’t even have to have to an open head wound to have a brain injury; a sharp jolt to your body that jars your head can cause a brain injury. You may not even lose consciousness. Here are some common causes of brain injuries. 

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
A TBI is an injury in which there is a blow to the head or other damage to the head. These types of events include:

  • Sports injuries, especially from sports that are high-impact or extreme, such as skateboarding, football, baseball, motocross, and many more. Youth are at a higher risk because their bones are still developing.
  • Vehicle collisions including those involving bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Violence, domestic violence assaults and child abuse, gunshot victims, or shaken baby syndrome can cause a TBI.
  • Falls, hitting your head on the bathtub or concrete can injure your brain. Older adults are at risk, as are small children.

Causes of Non-Traumatic Brain Injuries
Brain injuries that occur because of an illness or chronic condition are called “acquired brain injuries” (ABI). A brain infection that causes inflammation can damage the brain permanently. Strokes are the leading cause of ABI, making older adults most at-risk, but tumors, a lack of oxygen, or cancer can also cause ABI.

Symptoms of ABI and TBI
Brain injuries, no matter how they occur, can cause many symptoms. There may be physical symptoms, such as paralysis, dizziness, hearing loss, or loss of vision. Some people experience intellectual problems or changes in their cognitive skills. A brain injury can make it more difficult to process information or communicate. Some patients with a brain injury have behavioral changes or social problems. Emotional and mental health issues are also a concern. A brain injury can affect a person for life across the spectrum. You should check with a doctor if you experience any adverse symptoms after you’ve hit your head or been injured. Many symptoms are often subtle changes that people tend to ignore.

Were You Injured?
If you or a loved one has a brain injury that was due to someone else’s negligence, you should speak to a brain injury lawyer, like a brain injury lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, about your rights. There may be compensation to help you take care of medical bills now and in the future.

Thanks to Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insight into the types of accidents that can cause a brain injury.