I just saw a video of a man who received an entire face transplant from an anonymous organ donor. As a nurse I am familiar with skin being considered an organ, but it had not occurred to me that someone could be walking around with my face after I die. I asked my lawyer, Elliott Stapleton, if I could stipulate somewhere in my Estate Plan that only a person with a lot of muscles be given my face when I die so that my wife could finally see what that looks like. After the long silence Elliott decided we should review some of the other benefits of having an Estate Plan.
An Estate Plan is a plan that puts all of a person’s affairs in order should they pass away or become incapacitated. It draws a very specific map for the survivors to follow in regards to financial assets, medical decisions, beneficiary designation, and much more! Or in my case, my beneficiaries will receive an actual treasure map, whereby they must go on an Indiana Jones-style treasure hunt, with boulders and poison-tipped darts.
One benefit of an Estate Plan is the ability to create a Will, which allows for designation of Beneficiaries and Guardians (the people who will take care of your children if you die.) I still have not heard back from Oprah Winfrey, which brings me to the point that the Guardian(s) you select should be aware and willing to take your children (which is why I sent Oprah a letter in the first place.)
Another benefit to an Estate Plan is the ability to create a Trust. Putting your assets through probate court eats away at your money and delays payment to your beneficiaries by months and sometimes even years! A Trust allows you to avoid probate court, saving your estate lots of money and time. More importantly though, it designates a Trustee to distribute your assets according to your wishes. The Trustee cannot, however, stop the beneficiaries from throwing away your vintage “We Are the World” vinyl once it is left to them.
You can also designate a Financial Power-of-Attorney to make any financial decisions if you become incapacitated. I’ve discussed this in a previous article, but in summary no one has ever asked me to be a Financial Power-of-Attorney because I aspire to someday have my own expensive Jim Henson-type creature lab.
Another benefit of an Estate plan is the ability to create a Healthcare Power-of-Attorney. This names a person who will make all of the medical decisions if you are unable to do so. I tried to make my oldest brother my Healthcare Power-of-Attorney halfway through my 21st birthday party, but I’m pretty sure the bar napkin I wrote it on wouldn’t have stood up in court.
Elliott explained that a Living Will can also be created to declare personal preferences on life support and other treatments. I declared that if I’m ever incapacitated, someone is to give me daily foot massages. Elliott said that this would be up to my family and close friends to carry out, but would not be enforceable by law.
The final benefit of an Estate Plan I will discuss is the ability to create a Personal Record Book. As a humorist blogger and inventor, if I were to pass away I would want my wife to have access to all of my Good Ideas I’ve had over the years. With a Personal Record Book I can leave her my passwords and grant her access to things like my Facebook page, my blog, and my monthly subscription to Muscle magazine (which I don’t own yet.) Another added benefit of this part of the Estates Plan is that I am able to declare whether I want to be buried, cremated, or in my case have my ashes spread on the salad bar at Frisch’s that I love so much.
I am in no way a controlling person, but the thought of having no control over things like my money, health, and Facebook page if I become incapacitated or die is terrifying to me. Even more terrifying than the thought of some other overweight person having my face.
If you have any questions on the information contained in this blog, see the estate planning website of Cincinnati attorney, Elliott Stapleton, with CMRS Law, 123 Boggs Lane, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246, or contact him at (513) 334-0099.
Why is this Important?
Have you planned a getaway for just the "grown-ups"? If you are arranging a trip and leaving your children with grandparents or a family friend, have you considered what authority the caregiver will have in a medical emergency?
What is the Solution?
If you leave your children (or are a person taking care of the children), it is necessary to have a Temporary Authorization to Approve Medical Treatment signed by both parents.
Putting this Temporary Authorization in place will save parents from cutting their vacation short over an ear infection or a sore throat. More importantly, this Temporary Authorization will ensure the person you put in charge can do everything needed to protect your children.
How can you Create this Authorization?
Typically this authorization would be created by your Attorney to ensure you understand the limitations on the Caregiver's authority. In addition, it is a good idea to ensure your Will, Power of Attorney, and Estate Plan are up-to-date before taking your trip.
How long does it take to update or create a Will and Estate Plan?
After the initial free consultation, it typically takes 2-4 weeks. It is possible to expedite if you have an upcoming vacation or short timeline. In the initial consultation, we will discuss your goals, options for achieving those goals, and the flat rate for services.
_ Yes, generally there are two categories a Power of Attorney will fall into: A Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions and Health Care Power of Attorney.
A Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions can be as broad or as limited as you prefer, even limited to a particular date or purpose. This power can become effective immediately after signing or only become effective if you are disabled/incompetent. For small business owners, it is especially important to have a Power of Attorney reserved for a trusted co-owner or family member.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney grants authority to make medical decisions if you are in a coma or become mentally incapacitated. Within the Medical Power will be specific guidance as to what your wishes were before becoming incompetent.
Without these protective measure, there could be a devastating lapse in time where the business cannot operate should something happen to you.
Small businesses typically have one primary person who is authorized to sign checks, call in payroll, or execute agreements. If this person is also the business owner and he or she is ever incapacitated or incompetent it may be impossible for the business to operate. With everyday the business is stagnant, it losses customers, employees, and value.
That is why every business owner needs to have a Power of Attorney in place. Giving this Power to a trusted family member or employee will ensure that if you are alive, but unable to transact business, the business itself will continue to operate.
Elliott Stapleton Attorney with CMRS Law