Monday, December 29, 2014

The Legal Document that Terminally Ill or Frail Patients Should Have

Persons who are facing an advanced illness are advised to think about having their physician sign specific medical orders which respect patient choices in end-of-life issues.

These orders are referred to in Texas as MOST (Medical Orders Scope of Treatment).  In other states, they may be called POLST (Physician Orders for Life-sustaining Treatment).

Here are some facts to consider:

  1. These orders are recommended for persons who have advanced or terminal illness or are frail and may die within one year. 
  2. The patient or his/her representative speaks frankly with the doctor to choose treatments that the patient wants or does not want.
  3. The preferences are put into writing and are signed by the doctor. 
  4. The form accompanies the patient. It will be recognized by EMT personnel and other emergency responders, ER staff, and other medical or nursing facilities. 
  5. It is a good idea to keep the form on the front of the patient's refrigerator or another spot where it would be seen by emergency responders. 
  6. The MOST is not for everyone.  If the person does not have an advanced illness, an "Advanced Directive" may be the best option.  
  7. An Advanced Directive can be used to designate someone to speak for the patient and discuss medical preferences in more general terms. 
  8. Click here for more information about the POLST. This is a national website. 
  9. Click here for more information about MOST. This is a Texas-specific website. 
  10. If you need assistance, a consultation with an estate planning or elder care attorney can help you and your loved ones determine the best legal documents for your situation. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Great Tips for Avoiding SCAMS!

Scammers. They are out there...  waiting.... waiting for your attention to be distracted... waiting for that moment when you let your guard down for just a minute!

Scammers target the elderly. They also may attempt to extract information from children who answer the phone. They may attempt to get information by calling a business and pretending to be a client, supplier, organization or institution (like pretending to be from the Better Business Bureau or a bank).

Scammers will text or call, email or show up in person. They will threaten you or profess their love for you.   They will offer you lottery winnings, a business opportunity, or pretend that they want to become your customer.  They will entice you to call them back or text them back in order to charge you premium rates or gather your information.

They may offer to pay you for good or services in advance, then steal bank account information or get a refund from you and then cancel the original funds they sent, leaving you holding the bag.

One of the absolute BEST sources of information on scams that I have seen is a Canadian publication.   Although I write a blog in Texas, and even though some of the laws and information may differ, I am sharing the link here because this is such an excellent and helpful publication.   Click here for the "Little Black Book of Scams".     You may be surprised as some of the information you read.

I recommend that you become familiar with the methods used by scammers and arm yourself against them. Also share the information with your elderly loved ones, your children, and your employees.  Don't be a target.

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ex-Spouse Won't Cooperate in House Sale

Sometimes a divorce is finalized but the family home is not sold immediately.   The reasons for this can vary;  the couple wants the home to be maintained for the children, the home is not ready for sale, or the real estate market in the area is changing and the couple is waiting for the optimal time to sell. 

In these cases, the divorce decree should provide specific terms as to who gets what, and there should be language which orders the parties to cooperate with each other. There may be further details about listing the home and accomplishing the sale. 

However, as time goes on, one spouse may become disinclined to cooperate. Sometimes s/he does not really want to sell, does not have the energy to deal with the preparation and sale, or (unfortunately) is holding on for vindictiveness or control.

This can quickly become frustrating for the spouse who is ready to proceed now, especially if the non-cooperation has a negative financial impact and appears to be for no good reason.

A family law attorney can help get the situation "unstuck" by representing the party who is ready to proceed.   Steps that can be taken to get things moving include; 1) Contact with the reluctant party to inform him/her that further legal action will be taken if no cooperation is shown; 2) mediation with a certified mediator to iron out problems or details which have arisen; 3) the filing of a court action requesting enforcement of the decree. 

If the divorce was granted many years ago, the decree may not be as specific as the newer decrees which have been written in the last 10 years or so.  A request can be made to the court for clarification of the language. 

These situations can become long-term frustrating problems.   Having a consult with a family law attorney can help you clarify your options and figure out how to get the ball rolling. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Why Just Having a Will May not be Enough

Do you have a current will?  If so, great!  But there are times when having a will may not be enough, or you may need a will that is more specific to your situation.

Do any of these apply to you?

  1. You own a business, but haven't made provisions for the continued operation of the business if you should die or become disabled. 
  2. You haven't made specific provisions for your minor children in your will
  3. You have a child with a disability but only have a "typical" will.
  4. You have sole responsibility of care for an older adult and have not made provisions for that person's care should something happen to you.
  5. You are in a same-sex relationship and have not addressed that in your will or powers of attorney.
  6. You don't have a health care power of attorney and want to make your specific wishes known. 
  7. You anticipate trouble from your beneficiaries and want to prevent it as much as you possibly can. 
  8. You have one or more animals and you want to make specific provisions for them.
  9. You want to designate someone to conduct "day-to-day" personal business for you in the event you should become disabled. 
  10. You want to designate someone to serve as your guardian in case it should ever become necessary. 
Remember, even if you have a will you should review it yearly to be certain that it still meets your needs.  We recommend the beginning of the year as a good time for review.  You can also ask for a consultation with an attorney to review your estate plan and be certain that it is still the best one for you. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible!