Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What is an Advanced Medical Directive?

Do you know what would happen to you if you were in a bad car accident?  Does your family know what your wishes are?  Do they know whether you would want to remain on life support indefinitely or whether you do not want extreme life saving measures taken?

An Advanced Medical Directive can make it clear to your friends, family and doctors what your wishes are, should you become incapable of expressing those wishes.  You can choose, and make clear to doctors and loved ones, what life saving measures you would want taken.  You can also nominate someone to make these decisions for you, should your desires be unclear. 

Aside from expressing your own wishes and controlling your medical care in the event that you are unable to express your desires, having an advanced medical directive will ease the burden on your family.  Should you become unable to express your wishes, having family members decide what medical treatment you would want can be a huge burden and stressor on your family.  During an emotional time for everyone, it is best to have a written document that clearly dictates how you want your medical treatment to be handled.

If you do not have an advanced medical directive in place, I strongly suggest you discuss this with an attorney to ensure you have control over your future medical treatment. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Know your rights (Miranda Warnings)

You have certain rights that you can exercise when you are in police custody.  These are typically referred to as the Miranda Warnings:  "You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you.  You have the right to an attorney; if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you."

Exercise your right to remain silent.  Tell the police officers that you do not want to speak and are exercising your right to remain silent.  Know that if you voluntarily speak to the officers in the future, you may be waiving your right to remain silent. 

Exercise your right to an attorney.  Tell the police officers that you wish to consult with an attorney and have the attorney present during questioning.  If the police officers want to do a line up, tell the police officers you want to have your attorney present.  If they insist on doing a line up, cooperate and be polite but do not draw any attention to yourself. 

Keep in mind that you can exercise these rights at any time during the interview process.  It is important, that while being firm and exercising your rights, you are polite to each person you meet.  You should remain cooperative and noncombative while exercising those rights.  You can still, however, insist that you exercise your rights and remain firm in exercising your right.  Finally, do your best to remember each and everything that takes place, as these details may help your attorney with your case in the future. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Benefits of a Will

Following my previous post, I hope you have all decided it is important for you to create a will.  This post will expand on the previous post and provide you with some of the benefits of having a will in place.

First, you have control.  It is within your power and control, even once you have passed away, to determine who obtains your assets.  You determine who will obtain the necklace that your grandmother has passed down to you, the china set of dishes you and your spouse received on your wedding day, your beloved 1969 camaro, etc.  It is within your power to ensure that the sentimental items you have held onto over the years are given to someone who will appreciate them and pass them down as well.  It is within your control to ensure that your children and grandchildren are taken care of with the money you saved up.  With a will, you have control over your assets after you pass away.

Second, your children are taken care of physically and financially.  By this, I am referring more importantly to minor children who could be left without a parent.  With a will you can determine who you want to take care of your children on a day-to-day basis as well as who will manage their finances until they mature.  In this sense, you have the capability to continue to care for your children, by providing this framework to them, after your death.

The final benefit I will discuss is maintaining familial peace.  Regardless of whether you care who obtains your assets, having a will in place will help prevent your family from arguing over your assets.  While you may think your family would never argue over material items, it is better to prevent the problem by having a will.  With a will in place, you will not have sisters fighting over your wedding ring or brothers fighting over that beloved camaro.  Having a plan set out as to who gets what will prevent this unnecessary tension within your family.

I encouraged each and every one of you to consult with a lawyer and have a will drawn up, even if it is a simple will.   Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss the issues surrounding wills further.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why YOU should have a will

What if something were to happen to you tomorrow?  Do you know where your belongings would go?  Who would inherit your money?  Your house?  Your car?  Who would take care of your children? 

A will is an important thing for anyone to have, whether they currently have assets or not.  With a will, you have the power to determine where your assets go when you die.  You have the power to decide how to take care of your loved ones past your death.  In this blog, I will address some of the reasons people believe they do not need a will.  In a later blog, I will discuss the benefits of having a will.

"I have no assets."  While you may not have any assets today, you could win the lottery tomorrow.  Or, more likely, you will gain assets over time and never stop to think of creating a will.  If you create a will today, even with little or no assets, you will be able to protect your future assets and determine who you want to obtain those future assets.

"I have no children."  When you do have children, it is essential that you have a legal document which sets out who is to take care of your children should something ever happen to you.  While you may not have children today, it is important to prepare today.  When a child is born, it is amazing how hectic your life becomes.  With a new born baby creating a hectic life, the creation of a will can be overlooked.  If you create your will today, with contingencies on what will happen if you have children, you can protect yourself and your future children. 

"I want my assets to be distributed according to statute."  It is understandable to not want to go through the cost of creating a will if you are happy with your assets being distributed according to the default statute.  However, you need to keep in mind that the law is constantly changing and may be very different when you pass away.  A will can protect your wishes even if the law changes in the future.

I believe a will is an important legal instrument and is underused by Americans today.  I hope after reading this blog you will reconsider your need for a will.