Don't Drop Off Your College Student Without These Documents - The Estate Planning Documents Every College Student's Parenta Should Make Sure Thier Child Has Before Leaving For College
It sounds like the start of every parent's nightmare - you get back late a night from dropping your child off at college several hundred, or several thousand miles away. As you get ready to turn into bed the phone rings, your child’s new roommate is on the phone. They tell you child child has just been rushed to the local hospital and give you the number for the emergency room. But when you call, the attendant refuses to give you any information about your child. Immediately, your thoughts begin to race: Will they be OK? What is wrong? If my child is unconscious who is making their medical decisions? How can I find out their status?
The risk that your college student will be hospitalized or otherwise require emergency medical attention at some point in their college experience is, unfortunately, real. Accidental injuries are the leading cause of death among college students and the broader 18-24 year old population (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4535338/). According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism researchers estimate that each year 1825 college age students are killed in alcohol related unintentional incidents and over 600,000 students between 18 and 24 are assaulted by someone who has been drinking (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/CollegeFactSheet/Collegefactsheet.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwiHysS6lIjdAhUDhOAKHQmwDOgQFjAJegQIARAB&usg=AOvVaw1pKdki_szVZnruSXkhL8rW&cshid=1535198796236).
Once your child turns 18, the law says they are strangers to you. You have no more right to information about their healthcare than you do your neighbor’s down the street. This is true even if you are paying the bill and you claim them as a dependent on your taxes or if they are covered under your insurance.
Under HIPAA, medical providers do have the option to choose to disclose medical information about a family member, even without a patient's authorization, if, in their professional judgment it serves the best interest of the patient. But many state laws place additional limitations on a providers ability to do this, and many providers, including hospitals and emergency rooms have formal policies against making disclosures about anyone over legal age without a written authorization or healthcare power of attorney.
How to guarantee you’ll have access to information about your child.
Parents and their college-age children are often surprised that they need to take steps to make sure that they can continue to have access to the sort of information they assume all parents should have about their children.
While the law says college age students are adults separate from their parent’s authority or decision making, most entering college freshmen, view things a little differently, particularly in an emergency. Indeed, most college student want their parents to have access to information about them in an emergency, and to be the emergency decision makers if they are incapacitated. In order to make sure this desire is carried out, they need to sign a durable healthcare power of attorney, sometime also known as a healthcare proxy.
Even though they want to make sure their parents can act in emergencies, sometimes college age students worry about their parents gaining access to too much private information. These students need not worry. Authorization for access to healthcare information can easily carve out information about sexual activity, drug use, or mental health treatment, to keep private, while allowing access to broader information necessary to respond to emergencies or make life-and-death decisions. While federal law does not technically require a HIPAA authorization to be notarized or witnessed, I have had clients get pushback from ill-informed, low level hospital staff.
Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney
A durable healthcare power of attorney works by designating someone to serve as your “agent” to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to make those decisions for yourself. Depending on the state you are in, a durable healthcare power of attorney might go by one of several other names including: a medical power of attorney, healthcare proxy, healthcare power of attorney, or living will (in some states this is a separate document dealing specifically with life-and-death circumstances). But in every case these documents are advanced directives that empower the appointed healthcare agent with the right to make medical decisions for the person who signs the document.
In many states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the most common types of healthcare power of attorney combine the HIPAA authorization, living will directives, and medical decision making authority into one document. But it is also important to know that these forms change from state to state. Even though most states will honor the durable healthcare powers of attorney from other states, for ease of use, I always recommend that college students traveling out of state execute healthcare powers of attorney for their home state as well as the state where their college or university is located, and provide a copy of both to their parents. This way the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are familiar with the forms they are presented, limiting the chance for pushback or confusion based on the home state forms.
Durable Power of Attorney (for financial affairs)
In addition to medical decision making, it is also advantageous for students to sign a financial durable power of attorney. Signing a durable power of attorney allows a parent or other designated agent to make financial transactions for you and the powers granted are typically very broad. This could include things like talking to the registrar or bursar at school, accessing your bank accounts at home, signing your tax returns, registering your car, paying bills, or even selling off your investments or buying property in your name. Obviously, it is important that you completely trust anyone to whom you grant a financial power of attorney. The financial decisions they make for you can have a lasting impact on your financial condition and credit for years to come. For that reason, even if your trust your parents with your medical decisions, if you have any reason to suspect they are not good at managing money, you might want to think twice before granting one or both of them this power. Generally though, college students continue to rely on the administrative and financial support of their parents until they graduate college. Granting them a financial power of attorney makes that support easier for them to give.
Getting Help from Massachusetts and Rhode Island Estate Planning Lawyers
Massachusetts and Rhode Island estate planning lawyers at Fabisch Law Offices will guide you through the key steps you need to take to save for college, ensure your child is financially provided for, and make plans for the care of your child if something happens to you. Reach out to our legal team so you can have the peace of mind of knowing you’ve done all you can to protect your child.
To find out more about the services we can offer you, join us for a free seminar, give us a call at 401-324-9344 or contact us online to get help putting your personalized plan in place.
Rhode Island nursing home planning attorneys can provide help with making a nursing home plan. Making a plan is important not only for people who believe that the need for nursing home care is imminent, but also for people who may someday need to get care in a nursing home setting.
Fabisch Law attorneys will work with individuals and families to determine both if a nursing home plan is needed and to determine what legal tools should be used to create a plan. Though it is often possible to help a client who has an emergency or crisis need for long term care, there are often better options that can save you and your family more money and ensure better care by making your plans long before you actually need care. Some of the reasons making a plan is so vital include the following:
There is a High Likelihood Care Will Be Needed
One of the biggest reasons why you should have a nursing home plan in place for your parents and yourself is because there is a high likelihood that at some point you will need nursing home care. The Wall Street Journal has reported that according to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 70 percent of people who are 65 years of age or older will end up requiring long term care services. A person who has reached the age of 65 has a 40 percent likelihood of eventually nursing home care and that same 65-year-old has a 20 percent chance of needing to spend five years or more in a nursing home environment.
Despite the likelihood that nursing home care will someday be required, too many people don’t make plans for the possibility of needing care. The result is that seniors or their families who have just experienced a medical emergency that makes it impossible for the senior to continue living on their own end up scrambling to find a home with an open bed. Yet, the immediate aftermath of a stroke, a fall, or another serious health incident is the worst time to be making important decisions about long-term care care.
Nursing Home Care is Expensive
The huge costs of nursing home care are also a big reason why a plan should be made in advance. In New England, nursing home care can easily cost more than $100,000 per year. Far too many families are simply unable to afford this cost for any length of time. Even those seniors who have been able to build up savings over the course of a lifetime find that this expense quickly depletes their lifetime of savings leaving nothing to pass on to their children and grandchildren.
Long-Term Nursing Home Care is Not Covered by Most Insurance
Unfortunately, while many seniors assume that Medicare will pay for their nursing home, in practice, this is unlikely to happen. Though Medicare covers very brief durations of time spent in skilled nursing facilities to receive specific specialized care. Medicare provides no coverage for custodial care at all, even though most people who go into a nursing home do so because they require custodial care.
Options for covering the costs of nursing home care are very limited if Medicare won’t pay. Long term care insurance is often prohibitively expensive, and the coverage may not be comprehensive, though considering the option of long term care insurance is one of the things we look at with you in putting together a plan. Paying out of pocket or getting Medicaid to pay for care could be the only two viable options. Unfortunately, Medicaid will pay only after you’ve spent away almost all of your wealth– unless you make plans in advance to protect your assets, including your home, while still qualifying for Medicaid coverage. Making a nursing home plan allows you to protect your money, property, and home and qualify to get Medicaid to cover you when you need care.
Planning Helps to Avoid the Risk of Nursing Home Abuse
According to the National Council in Aging, one out of every ten Americans aged sixty or older has been a victim of some kind of elder abuse. Though, unfortunately, too many cases of abuse are not reported, it is clear a substantial number of nursing home residents are neglected or are abused physically, emotionally, or sexually, or exploited financially.
Making a nursing home plan before you need care helps make sure you have the time you need to research care facilities in your area so you can find a high quality home with a good reputation, and where there is less of a chance that you or your parent will become the victim of abuse.
Getting Help from Rhode Island Nursing Home Attorneys
Rhode Island nursing home attorneys at Fabisch Law Offices can provide the comprehensive assistance that you need in finding a nursing home that will provide a high quality of care for you or your loved one. Our legal team will also assist you in taking the necessary steps to ensure you can afford to pay for the care you need it.
To find out more about the ways in which our legal team can help you, give us a call at 401-324-9344 or contact us online to get personalized advice from Rhode Island or Massachusetts nursing home attorneys with experience. Give us a call today to get your plans in place before it is too late and you suffer a medical event that necessitates you go into a nursing home.
Experienced estate planning lawyers can provide you with help in responding to life’s milestones. When you experience big life changes, like marriage, divorce, buying a home, or the birth of a child, you need to ensure that you have an estate plan in place to protect yourself and your family in light of the new circumstances. This can be especially important when you have a baby, as you now have a child depending upon you.
Fabisch Law Offices is here to help if you welcome a new child into your life through birth or adoption. We can work with you to understand the steps you need to take to make sure the child is provided for, no matter what happens in your future. Give us a call today to find out more about how our Massachusetts estate planning lawyers can help you and to discover why it is so important to make or update an estate plan after a baby is born.
Why You Need Help from a Massachusetts or Rhode Island Estate Planning Lawyers After a Baby is Born
When a baby is born, you should get help from an estate planning lawyer because:
These are just a few of the key reasons why hiring an attorney to make an estate plan is so important after your child is born or after you adopt a child. You may have many other issues specific to your family that need to be addressed, so you should reach out to an experienced attorney to get personalized advice on how best you can prepare an estate plan after a son or daughter comes into your life.
Getting Help from Massachusetts and Rhode Island Estate Planning Lawyers
Massachusetts and Rhode Island estate planning lawyers at Fabisch Law Offices will guide you through the key steps you need to take to save for college, ensure your child is financially provided for, and make plans for the care of your child if something happens to you. As soon as your little bundle of joy comes into your life, you should reach out to our legal team so you can have the peace of mind of knowing you’ve done all you can to protect your child.
To find out more about the services we can offer you when you become a new parent, join us for a free seminar, give us a call at 401-324-9344 or contact us online to get help putting your personalized plan in place.
This week, as we all gather with friends and family to take stock and give thanks for all that we have, it makes sense to take a few of those moments to consider and discuss estate planning with loved ones. It is estimated about half (56%) of American parents have a will or living trust document. Yet, the same survey tells us that in more than half of the families where parents have estate planning documents in place, adult children don’t know where their parent’s estate planning documents are, or what is in them. Even worse, too often adult children learn too late that their parents never put in place a plan for a time when age or disability limit the parent’s ability to care for themselves. As a result, in far too many cases families loose much of their intergenerational wealth to the state or wind up incurring expenses and delays they could have easily avoided.
For this reason, many advisors, myself included, suggest using the thanksgiving and other end of the year holiday gatherings to discuss wishes for elder care and estate planning. Though it isn’t always the most lighthearted conversation, the family is already gathered and opportunities for reflection and frank cooperative discussion abound. A stroll around the block with mom after the turkey is in the oven, commercial breaks during the Cowboy’s game, or over a cup of coffee with that one-to-many piece of pumpkin are all opportunities to broach the topic. Because we often have the chance to gather on multiple occasions over the holidays, I often suggest using the Thanksgiving holiday to mention the importance of making sure mom and dad have a plan in place, instead of going ‘full turkey’ into an in-depth conversation about wills, trusts, fiduciary obligations, and healthcare proxies. Then, follow up with your parents about their plan before the end of the year.
Depending on your parent’s goals and objectives, it may make sense to schedule a dedicated family meeting separate from holiday festivities to discuss estate planning specifically or to let everyone know that some of the conversation at the next family gathering will involve family estate planning. While everyone may not always be happy with whatever decision the older generation makes about their care or assets, at least everyone will be on the same page. In my experience, this alone often helps to reduce litigation after a parent passes.
While you are at it, Thanksgiving may also be a perfect time to discuss YOUR estate plan with family or close friends who you would like to name as a guardian for your children or executor for your will. Shockingly, it is estimated that nearly one third of parents do not have even a simple will that would nominate a caretaker or guardian for their children in the event they were to pass. So, while you are finding a quiet moment to talk to your parents about their estate plan, find some time to discuss your own plans with those you would rely upon in the event of your incapacity or passing.
Massachusetts and Rhode Island living trust lawyers provide help in planning ahead in case of incapacity. Though no one wants to think about it, illness or an accident could leave you incapacitated and unable to manage your own affairs. When this happens, it is helpful to have a plan in place to ensure that someone you trust will immediately begin to take control over your money and property.
Fabisch Law Offices attorneys can work with you to identify the right tools to use to plan ahead for incapacity. Typically, a plan for incapacity should include, at minimum, an advanced directive or health care proxy, to allow someone to make medical decisions in accordance with your wishes, and a financial power of attorney, to allow someone to manage your finances. But while a healthcare proxy and financial power of attorney can be helpful both for making advanced plans for medical care and for giving someone authority to make decisions on your behalf, many people also choose to consider a living trust as part of their incapacity plan. Our Massachusetts and Rhode Island living trust lawyers explain how living trusts work, why they are a valuable part of your incapacity plan, and how we can help you with trust creation. To find out more, give us a call today.
Why Should a Living Trust be Part of Your Incapacity Plan?
A living trust, also sometimes called a revocable trust, is a trust that you create during the course of your lifetime. You can manage the assets that are held in the name of the trust and you have control and flexibility that you would not have with other types of trusts, such as an irrevocable trust.
Though a living trust will not keep your trust assets safe from creditors or to shield those assets from counting if you need to qualify for Medicaid to pay for nursing home care, a living trust will be helpful in case of incapacity because you can name a backup trustee.
The backup trustee can immediately take over the management of the trust assets if something happens to you. You will not need to worry about the delays that can come with a guardianship or conservatorship, while a court determines if you are incapacitated and who should be the guardian of the assets that you own. Instead, the backup trustee can immediately move to keep the wealth that you transfer into the trust safe by managing it in an effective and appropriate manner if something has happened to you.
In addition to providing flexibility and safekeeping during your lifetime, your living trust can also be helpful after you pass away. Assets that are held within the living trust will not need to pass through the probate process, which is a lengthy and expensive process that can leave an executor in charge of assets for many months or years instead of the heirs or beneficiaries who will become the new owner of those assets.
While there are other tools that can, and should, be part of an incapacity plan, because of the substantial benefits that a living trust provides, many clients choose to include this type of trust in their plan. Let Fabisch Law Offices help you to decide if you want to make a living trust part of your incapacity planning tools.
How Can Massachusetts and Rhode Island Living Trust Lawyers Help You?
Massachusetts and Rhode Island trust attorneys can work with you to understand the risks to your wealth and independence in case of incapacity. Some assets must be more carefully managed than others, for example, and the creation of a living trust can be especially important under these circumstances.
We can also help you to follow the formal process required to create a trust and can guide you through the process of funding your trust (putting the assets you want to protect, into the trust) with the assets that you are trying to protect. Your backup trustee will be the person who takes control over the trust assets if something happens to you, so our legal team will also explain the duties of the backup trustee and help you to determine who is best suited to this position based on the responsibilities that the trustee will have in case you become incapacitated.
Contact Massachusetts and Rhode Island Living Trust Lawyers Today
The Massachusetts and Rhode Island living trust lawyers at Fabisch Law Offices can provide you with the help that you need to figure out if creating a trust should be a part of your incapacity planning. We can also work with you to identify other incapacity planning steps that you should take in order to protect your wealth and maintain your independence as long as possible in the event something happens to you.
To find out more about living trusts and other legal tools, including financial powers of attorney, healthcare proxies, and medical orders for life sustaining treatment that you can use to plan ahead in case of incapacity, give us a call at 401-324-9344, or contact us online to get personalized help with your incapacity planning and with your trust and estate plan creation process.
Matthew Fabisch is the Managing Attorney of Fabisch Law, L.L.C. and assists elderly clients and their children with a full range of elder law services including estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, business successions, Medicaid planning, disability planning, and tax planning. Attorney Fabisch also practices in the areas of IRS Tax Controversy, Bankruptcy, and Litigation matters.