I recently received a call from a client who has a daughter attending college on the mainland. She had found out that her daughter had been in a ski-accident and was in the hospital. When the mother called the hospital to find out the status of her daughter, the hospital would not release any information and did not allow the mother to make any decisions on her daughter’s behalf. You can imagine that stress that this caused the mother, being thousands of miles and hours away from her daughter.
This situation is all too common and easy for families to overlook when children leave for college. Once your child reaches the age 18 you are no longer entitled to see their child’s medical and financial records or make decisions on their behalf. As a result, it is important for young adults to appoint trusted individuals to make medical and financial decisions in the event they are unable to do so.
Few 18-year-olds consider the need for an estate plan, simply because most have little in the way of property. But if your child were to lose the ability to make or communicate decisions, medical professionals might refuse to consult with or even release information to you. Without proper documents, parents generally can't access a child's financial accounts, either.
When a child leaves home to attend college, whether it be in the US or abroad, many parents fear a call from law enforcement, a hospital, or their child’s friend, informing them that their child has been in an accident or an emergency has occurred. Chances are that most of the calls you will receive from your child during the four years they are away for college will be happy, and will involve a request for money. If the unspeakable does happen and you receive a call informing you that your child is in the hospital unconscious, in trouble, or in need of your help, there are things you can do now to make handling such a crisis much easier. Even in situations that are not emergencies, the options discussed will facilitate actions that need to be taken.
There are two important Powers of Attorney your child will want to consider making:
An Advance Health Care Directive gives you the ability to act on your child’s behalf with regard to medical decision-making, if your child is unable to do so.
A General Durable Power of Attorney gives you legal authority to act on your child’s behalf, regarding financial matters, regardless of whether they are able to make decisions on their own or not. It can be used in matters of both emergency and convenience.
During the month of June, I am extending an invitation to anyone who would like to have a Durable General Power of Attorney and Advance Directive prepared. My usual fee for these is $500.00 per Power of Attorney (one for health care matters and one for financial matters). However, for the month of June, I will prepare both of these for a total of $375.00 plus the General Excise Tax, for a savings of $625.00.
For those of you who have not yet taken advantage of the new State of Hawaii law affording creditor-protection for property transferred to a Revocable Trust, I will prepare and record these deeds for $250.00 plus the recording fee and the General Excise tax, a saving of $250.00 off of my usual fee for deed work of $500.00.
As a gently reminder, please also keep in mind that if we have not seen you in the past three years, or you have experienced any significant changes in your life, please schedule a review appointment.
And, if you or someone you know has separate trusts, one for each spouse, please consider discussing the Joint Legacy Trust as an alternative. I discussed this in the 2013 Newsletter, and a recent article in Forbes Magazine addresses this.
The new estate tax law and the creditor-protection deed law favor married couples, and these new favorable laws provide married couples who consider most of their assets as jointly-owned a never-seen-before opportunity to (1) save thousands of dollars in potential capital gains tax; (2) simplify their estate plans; and (3) secure creditor-protection for their Hawaii real estate. Please call my office to come in for a free consultation to see if this Joint Legacy Trust is right for you.
Please find enclosed a complimentary copy of the Forbes Article.
Thank You for allowing me to help you with your estate planning needs. We are constantly looking to improve the way we assist families with not only creating meticulous estate planning documents, we also strive to help our clients make informed decisions for all phases of life – from wellness, to diminished capacity, to incapacity, to end of life decision making, and finally passing on. We not only look to assist clients in communicating their instructions, we also want to help clients pass on their intentions and reasons for making their plans. And, we also want to help our clients’ Trustees, advisors, and beneficiaries clearly receive these instructions and intentions: to honor and respect our clients’ decisions, to make life easier for their loved ones and to preserve family relationships.