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Arizona Caregiver Charged with Kidnapping of Elderly Patient

By | Elder Care | One Comment

caregiverDeciding that a parent, or other elderly loved ones, needs the type of treatment and supervision that is only available in a nursing home or other long-term care (LTC) facility. Along with the emotional stress that accompanies this decision, you may also have legitimate concerns about the care your parent will receive at a nursing home. Those fears may be intensified when you hear stories like the recent story about a caregiver kidnapping a patient in Tucson, Arizona.  Unfortunately, the story is not as unique as you might think.

According to news reports, a Pima County Grand Jury indicted Christy A. Randolph on kidnapping, theft, and vulnerable adult abuse charges based on allegations made regarding a potentially missing person. On July 20, 2017, the Tucson Police Department responded to a report of a 68-year-old missing person from an assisted living facility in Tucson. Documents filed in the case indicate that the victim was last seen leaving for church the previous evening. Naturally, authorities were concerned as the victim is a vulnerable adult and requires assistance with daily tasks. Randolph is alleged to have moved the victim to Florida without permission after stealing over $10,000 from him while working as his caregiver.

Detectives from the Tucson Police Department’s Vulnerable Adult Abuse and Mental Health Support Team began investigating the disappearance and issued a Silver Alert. The Tucson Police Department, the Arizona Department of Economic Security Adult Protective Services, the Pima County Attorney’s Office, and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office worked together to locate the victim and obtain a nationwide arrest warrant for Randolph. One week later, the U.S. Marshals Service District of Arizona arrested Randolph on a felony warrant in Deltona, Florida. Fortunately, the victim was also found unharmed at the time and was eventually returned to Tucson.

Elder Abuse by Caregivers

Sadly, this story is not a rare occurrence. In fact, financial exploitation of the elderly happens every day, all across the country. Furthermore, it is frequently a caregiver who perpetrates the financial abuse. Although exact figures relating to elder abuse are difficult to compile, experts believe that an older American is the victim of financial exploitation more than five million times every year in the United States. Because victims of elder abuse are often embarrassed, or remain dependent on the abuser, experts also believe that for every one instance of elder abuse that is reported, at least 14 go unreported in the U.S.  What may be the most troubling statistic of all, however, is that three out of every four perpetrators of elder abuse are family member caretakers. When a family member is the perpetrator, two out of three times it is an adult child or spouse of an adult child.

How Can You Prevent Financial Exploitation of a Senior?

Planning ahead and vigilance are the best ways to prevent an older loved one from becoming the victim of elder financial abuse. Once a senior succumbs to dementia, he/she becomes vulnerable and, therefore, an easy victim. If you wait until you become suspicious of a caregiver, however, it may be too late to completely prevent abuse. Instead, you need to put safeguards in place before you reach that point. Incapacity planning can help you do just that. By using estate planning tools such as a durable power of attorney or a revocable living trust you can already be in a position to monitor and protect your loved one’s assets if incapacity strikes as a result of dementia or any other cause. In addition, it is imperative to watch for any of the signs of abuse and to act on any suspicions you may have. Often, an elderly victim cannot, or will not, speak out which makes it even more important to act swiftly if you become concerned that financial abuse, or any other type of elder abuse, is occurring.

Contact Phoenix Elder Law Lawyers

For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder abuse and neglect, contact the experienced elder law lawyers at Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 to schedule your appointment today.

Do I need a Guardianship or Conservatorship Over My Mom?

By | Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Guardianship | No Comments

We can’t make financial or health decisions for another person without proper planning or a court order.  This is true even for our closest of relatives – our parents, our adult children.

I recently met with “Bill” who explained that his 80 year old mother’s memory was deteriorating over the last 6 months. It is worse because Bill’s mother had hoarder tendencies.  Bill explained that his mother’s home was dangerous because she had kept every newspaper, magazine and financial statement she received over the past 40 years. Bill even noticed a pile of unopened bills and other mail on the kitchen counter.

Bill had talked with his mother about his concerns regarding her forgetfulness and safety, and she agreed that something just wasn’t right. Bill took his mother to her doctor and the doctor determined that she was not fit to make her own health and financial decisions.

Bill came to me to find out how he could help his mom with her living arrangements, as well as her finances.

Unfortunately Bill’s mother had never completed any estate planning documents, and because she lacked capacity, the only course of action to grant Bill the power to help would be to start on a court proceeding – a Guardianship/Conservatorship.  The court would rule who is in charge of the person (i.e. health decisions) via the Guardianship and who is charge of the finances via the Conservatorship.

The court process of a Guardianship and Conservatorship is time consuming, public, expensive and can be humiliating. The judge will appoint the person who has the best interest of Bill’s mother. For example, if Bill and his sister Susan want to each be their mother’s Guardian/Conservator, but do not want to act together, the judge, in his own opinion, will have to choose which one would act in the best interest of their mother. The cost of an average proceeding is approximately $5,000-$8,000.  Then on an annual basis, the appointed guardian and conservator is required to report to the court on the status of the incapacitated person – adding more cost.  All of this money is coming from the incapacitated person; money that can be better used caring for her.

If you are over the age of 18, you must have healthcare and financial powers of attorney nominating an agent who will handle your affairs – a person that you know and trust. If you fail to plan, your loved ones will be forced to initiate a Guardianship/Conservatorship proceeding should you become incapacitated before you pass away.

Call us today to meet with one of our estate planning attorneys to get your (or a family member’s) plan in place.

Wendy-Harn-Photo  Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Tucson and Oro Valley Estate Planning Attorney and Partner, Wendy W. Harn.

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall, PLLC Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

 

Taking Care of Your Pets

By | Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Other, Pet Trusts | No Comments

I love my dogs.  There have been dogs in my family since the day I was born.  And most of the time we have had two or three dogs.  They are, and always will be, a part of my family.  However, most states, including New Mexico and Arizona, consider pets as property.  It is an important distinction in terms of rights and how a pet is treated if you are not around – you get to do with your pet what you want, and if you didn’t make provisions, then the State decides what happens.

So planning for your beloved pet is important.  Deciding who will take care of your pet if you are unable ensures that your pet will be able to enjoy the rest of their lives.  In addition, whether you think your dog will grieve for your loss or not, they will have to adapt to their “new normal,” and that is hard for all of us.  The better your plan, the better your pet will be prepared.

But this planning can go a bit too far.  An Indiana woman made provisions for her dog in her Will.  However, her wish was that when she died, her dog was to be euthanized and their ashes are to be mixed.  All accounts indicate the dog is healthy, and otherwise would not need to be put down.

The good is that the woman made provisions for her pet in her estate plan.  The bad is that the woman decided to treat her pet as she would any other piece of property, rather than a living animal.  I hope that there was a misunderstanding in the drafting of the Will.

The wish to spend eternity with her pet is not out of the ordinary, but it is important to make sure your plan states that this will happen upon the natural death of the animal.  But until then, your furry friend will be able to spend the rest of its days with family or friend that you have predetermined would be the best fit.

For all of you like me, true animal lovers, make sure your pets are provided for in the best way possible.  Make your appointment today and discuss with one of our attorneys the best way to provide for your pets.

Albuquerque, New Mexico Estate Planning Attorney James PlitzContributed by MH Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces Estate Planning Attorney, James P. Plitz.

About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years.  Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects.  We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

Will Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) Avoid Probate?

By | Elder Care, Estate Planning, Estate taxes, Probate | No Comments

The answer is maybe.

There are two types of probate, a Living Probate and a Death Probate. To best illustrate both probates, here are two examples.

1) Sally is 42 years old and while driving to work gets into a car accident which leaves her in a coma. Sally is unable to make her own healthcare or financial decisions. Two years before the accident Sally filled out a POD form at her bank leaving the account equally to her 3 adult children. Will the POD form avoid a Death Probate? Yes, eventually when Sally dies; however, Sally is still alive, and unless she previously executed a Power of Attorney that the bank will accept, there will need to be a Living Probate initiated whereby a Conservator is appointed to manage the bank account on behalf of Sally.

Unfortunately, even with a properly executed Power of Attorney, a financial institution could require additional paperwork to be signed by Sally (who is unable to because she is incapacitated), and a Conservatorship would need to be filed with the courthouse.

2) Sally is 85 years old and dies in her sleep. Two years before she died, Sally filled out a POD form at her bank leaving the account equally to her 3 adult children. Will the POD form avoid a Death Probate? Yes, the account will be distributed equally between her 3 children, outside of a probate proceeding.

However, with the same facts, but 1 of the 3 children is a minor. Same result? No, the minor will not be able to receive the funds until he/she reaches the legal age of eighteen; a Conservator will have to be appointed by the court to be in charge of the funds until the minor reaches eighteen.

Same original facts, but 1 of the 3 children is receiving government benefits for special needs. This new inheritance will force the government benefits to cease until the inheritance is used up; and then a new application for government benefits would have to be initiated.

As these two simple examples illustrate, estate Planning involves planning for today while we are still alive, and also planning when we pass away. If you are over the age of eighteen, you should see one of our estate planning attorneys to discuss how we can help you and your family avoid both a Living and Death probate.

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:

The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

"The Talk" Part Four

By | Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Estate taxes, Living Will, Other | No Comments

So now, you know the importance of talking to your loved ones about your estate plan as discussed in “The Talk”: Part One.  You know what to say to your decision makers, quasi-decision makers, information agents, and non-decision makers (click here).  Now I will focus on your beneficiaries and people not included in your trust but who may be under the impression that he/she will be included.

Beneficiaries:

Ray Charles tried to do the right thing.  He met with 10 of his 12 children in Los Angeles to discuss his trust and to try to prevent issues from arising once he passed.  However, it appears he was not clear enough with his kids.  Although he stated that each kid would receive $500,000 upon his death, each kid thought he/she would receive $1,000,000.  Additionally, the kids thought they would inherit the right to license his name and likeness for profit based on Mr. Charles' statement that they would receive more “down the line.”  This ambiguity called into question whether his trust was really his final wishes.  We may never fully know what Mr. Charles meant when he said “down the line” but I do know that if he had been specific and not added any comments, the children most likely would have not contested the trust.  Read my earlier blog about if a trust can be contested.  Therefore, the moral of the story, let your beneficiaries know what he/she is expected to receive or not to receive.  You can provide your beneficiaries with as much information as you feel is necessary, but do not feel like you need to tell them what everyone else is getting. Make sure you are specific and choose your words carefully.

People not included, but think he/she will be included:

One of the hardest parts of my job is explaining to someone that he/she has been excluded from a trust.  It can be devastating, especially if you do not leave an explanation of why this particular loved one, or not so loved one, was intentionally left out of your trust.  People are left out of trusts all the time and for various reasons.  Sometimes the loved one has built up a sizable estate, and you do not want to create a tax issue.  Or maybe the child has a drug problem so you do not want to finance his/her drug habit.  Whatever the reason for the exclusion, you need to talk to the loved one to prevent confusion and deter him/her from contesting the trust.  Better yet, talk with your attorney to see if there are ways that your trust can be drafted to be able to not exclude, but set aside, the loved one's share.

Keep in mind that all situations are different and there may be certain situations where you may not want everyone to know about your final wishes. Make an appointment today to speak with one of our knowledgeable estate planning attorneys to discuss your specific situation so that your wishes will be carried out in the manner that you choose.

MHContributed by an MH Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney.

Why Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall?  First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters.  Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones.  We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership.  If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

 

“The Talk” Part Two

By | Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Estate taxes, Other | No Comments

The other day I wrote a blog about having “The Talk” with your loved ones.  Today, I want to go over discussion points for when you have “The Talk.”  These discussions points include:

  • Who should have access to your estate plan?
  • What type of talk should it be: a lecture or a heart-to-heart?
  • How detailed should the talk be?

The answers to these questions will depend on who you are talking with and your specific circumstances.  Under some circumstances, you may want to provide the decision maker with more information than the non-decision maker. Other circumstances may warrant providing information to everyone in between. And there may be times when you want to provide information to everyone associated with your estate. Typically, you will be dealing with decision makers, quasi-decision makers, information agents, and non-decision makers.

The decision maker for health care matters will be your acting health care and mental health care agents.  Usually these agents are the same person.  There are also quasi-decision makers.  Quasi-decision makers only become decision makers once the acting agent becomes unable to perform the agent’s duties.  Then there are the people listed on your HIPAA form who are authorized to receive medical information from your health care providers. These are information agents.  Non-decision makers are everyone else.

Decision Makers:

So what do you talk about and what do you provide to your decision maker during “The Talk”?  Most importantly, you should make sure your decision makers understand your final wishes. Do you want to be kept on life support?  When can they take you off life support?  Do you want to be cremated, buried, or frozen?  These things need to be talked about.  You need to be specific to ensure your wishes are carried out.  Next, you should talk about what happens if you develop alzheimer’s or dementia.  Do you want to be placed in a care facility or live at home?  If at home, who do you want to take care of you?  Additionally, you need to discuss if you have long-term care insurance.

The most common question I receive is should I give my agent the health care documents.  This is not necessary, but is advisable if your health is in question.  You do want to make sure that your agent has access to your documents.  If you have a debilitating disease, terminal illness or mental condition (e.g., terminal cancer, alzheimer’s or dementia, etc.) you may want to give your agent a copy of your documents.  Keep in mind that everyone’s situation is different, so contact your estate-planning attorney if you have questions about your situation.

Quasi-Decision Makers:

The only difference between a decision maker and a quasi-decision maker is when they serve as your agent. A quasi-decision maker (back-up agent) will not become a decision maker (agent) unless your current agent is unable or unwilling to act.  Thus, you may not want to provide your back-up agent with copies of your health care documents.  However, your back-up agents should know where to find the documents if your agent can no longer serve.  Additionally, you want to make sure he/she knows your wishes.  You never know when he/she will become your agent.  Most likely, this will happen once you are incapacitated and not able to express to him/her your final wishes.  One way to make sure he/she knows your last wishes would be to have him/her at The Talk that you have with your decision maker; although this may not be the most practical of solutions based on locations and times of the parties.

Information Agents:

Information agents include decision makers and quasi-decision makers.  Loved ones that you want to have access to medical information may also be information agents.  This usually includes your remaining kids.  The best advice I can give about what information to provide them is to let them know your final wishes.  You want to give them all the same information as the decision makers and quasi-decision makers regarding your health care decisions.  It is especially important if you think one of the information agents will not agree with your wishes.  For instance, you want to be taken off life support but they look at that as assisted suicide, which they are against.  However, you do not need to give them a copy of your health care documents and they do not need access or knowledge of the location of such documents.

Non-decision makers:

Non-decision makers will be your loved ones, including your friends and neighbors.  The amount of information you provide non-decision makers depends on your comfort level. If you have a terminal illness or mental disease, you may want to disclose information.  If you are healthy, disclosing your wishes may not be as important.  Keep in mind that every situation is different, so make sure to discuss this with your estate-planning attorney. If you do not have an estate planning attorney, the attorneys at Morris Hall are ready to assist you.

MHContributed by an MH Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney.

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

 

It’s About Estate Planning…and So Much More

By | Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Estate taxes | No Comments

You can integrate your various planning with your estate plan

At Morris Hall we focus our legal practice on estate planning to provide the best possible protection for your most important assets – your family.  However, to provide our clients with a full-circle of protection, we have financial, accounting and real estate divisions to handle all aspects of your planning and ensure that everything integrates together perfectly.

 

Basic or advanced – we do it all!

Whether you are in need of a basic estate plan or you have a more complex situation that requires advanced planning – we’ve got you covered!  MH can help you with planning for the most complex of situations – whether it’s a complicated family situation or you have a number of companies or corporations that need to be incorporated, we can help you ensure that everything is properly protected.

 

Flat fees let you get help when you need it, without surprise costs

At MH we charge a flat fee for your documents, a fee which includes free future reviews, phone calls for advice and consultations after the passing of a loved one.  At other law firms you would be charged by the hour.  If you called the attorney to ask a simple question, you’ll receive a bill for the duration of the call.  These surprise costs can really add up.  Avoid surprise fees and get the help you need with MH!

 

We are here for you during times of need

The hardest time that any of us will face in our lives is upon the death of a loved one.  Not only do we feel grief and loss, but we are faced with a great number of difficult decisions that must be made immediately. It is often difficult to know where to turn and what to do next.  We encourage our clients to call us after a loved one is incapacitated or passes away.  We help them navigate the complicated waters of administering the trust and taking care of the assets.

 

Schedule a free consultation with an MH estate planning attorney by calling 888.804.5340 today!

 

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

The New Sandwich Generation

By | Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning | No Comments

Have you ever felt squeezed by the responsibility of caring for your children while also helping your aging parents? If so, you are part of the new Sandwich Generation—a generation caught in the middle of caring for their own children as well as their aging parents. As the Baby Boomers get older, the numbers of those sandwiched in the middle is vast.

You’ve thought about what will happen to your children if you die or become incapacitated, but have you thought about what will happen to your parents? Will your siblings step up to help your parents get to their doctor’s appointments? Will your parents have to rely on their neighbors to make sure their bills are paid?

For those feeling the pinch, the most important thing to know is—DO NOT WAIT! It is never too early to properly plan for your parent’s physical and financial needs in case you are not available to help. This issue is seldom addressed in estate planning, with sad consequences for the one in four families—45 million Americans—feeling the pressure of caring for elderly parents.

Will your parents need long term care if you aren’t around to help? Currently, over two-thirds of people age 65 or over need long term care. This care may be provided at home, in adult day care, assisted living, or even in a nursing home. Social Security and Medicare won’t pay for long term care, and your health insurance won’t provide coverage either.

Parents are living longer, and as they age, their expenses sky rocket and deplete their resources. It should not come as a surprise to you that if your parents fail to plan properly, your help may be needed to pay for their long term care. If something happens to you, who is going to help financially?

What can you do right now to plan ahead? Start with the following:

FIND A QUALIFIED ATTORNEY:  Who can help you and your parents plan ahead. The attorneys at MH can help you find ways to pay for your parents’ long term care and can help your parents get the right care they need and deserve.

MAKE A LIST:  Of responsible people you trust and who you want involved in the event of your passing. For example, make sure your loved ones know about those currently helping your parents and about your close family members and friends.

SELECT A TRUSTEE:  To control the funds you set aside to care for your parents, children or other loved ones.

LOOK INTO LIFE INSURANCE:  As an effective means of leaving funds to help pay to care for your loved ones.

To schedule a fee consultation with the attorneys at MH, call 888-222-1328.

Phoenix, Arizona Estate Planning Attorney Dan MorrisContributed by MH Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and Senior Partner, Dan R. Morris.

Why Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall?  First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters.  Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones.  We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership.  If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

By | Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Guardianship, Healthcare documents | No Comments

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a powerful document which states who will make your healthcare decisions should you be unable to do so. Let’s take the following example. Sally is driving with her boyfriend, Joe, to go to a musical concert in Phoenix. While on the highway, they get in a car accident which leaves Sally in a coma. Sally is taken to the hospital. Can Joe communicate with the hospital staff? Can Joe make surgery decisions for Sally?

In our example, let’s assume Sally doesn’t have any estate planning documents in place. In Arizona, Joe would have a low priority (see below) in order to have the legal authority to communicate with the doctors and make medical decisions on Sally’s behalf.  In order to bypass the statutory priority, Sally must nominate Joe in a valid Healthcare Power of Attorney for Joe to be able to step into the shoes of Sally and make her healthcare decisions should she be unable to do so temporarily or permanently.

According to Arizona law, absent a valid Healthcare Power of Attorney, the following have priority to make health care decisions for the patient and who shall follow the patient’s wishes if they are known:

1) The patient’s spouse, unless the patient and spouse are legally separated.

2) An adult child of the patient. If the patient has more than one adult child, the health care provider shall seek the consent of a majority of the adult children who are reasonably available for consultation.

3) A parent of the patient.

4) If the patient is unmarried, the patient’s domestic partner.

5) A brother or sister of the patient.

6) A close friend of the patient.

Estate Planning is often thought of as only for the wealthy. However, as the above illustration shows, we never discussed Sally’s estate size. Simple planning with a Healthcare Power of Attorney and other ancillary healthcare documents are vital if you want to be in control of who makes your important healthcare decisions. It’s time to discuss with an experienced estate planning attorney whether your existing plan needs updating, or a plan needs to be created to meet your individual situation.

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

Casey Kasem: A Sad Ending to a Radio Legend

By | Celebrity Estates, Elder Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Estate taxes | No Comments

Most of us remember Casey Kasem from his time spent as the voice of the radio program American Top 40 and as the voice of "Shaggy" from Scooby-Doo.  Sadly, this radio legend passed away this weekend, having lost his battle with Lewy Body Disease, a common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s.

Prior to his passing, Kasem’s family members were involved in a bitter dispute for control over his medical care.  Last week, a Washington state judge ruled that Kasem’s daughter, not his wife, would control his medical care.  Then, on June 11th, a California judge reversed a June 9th ruling that Kasem should receive food, fluids, and certain medications. The ruling gave Kasem's daughter the authority to withhold food and fluids from her ailing father.

What can be learned from these unfortunate events?

  • First - execute a Medical Power of Attorney.  A Medical Power of Attorney grants authority to an agent to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Selecting an agent to make these healthcare decisions helps keep these situations out of the courts.
  • Second - choose an agent who will consider your best interests before making medical decisions. Sometimes people don’t want to hurt feelings and end up choosing an agent they really don’t feel comfortable with.  Remember, the person you name as your agent has the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.  You want to name someone who understands you and will follow through with your wishes.
  • Third - create an Advanced Medical Directive, also known as a Living Will. This document comes into effect if you’re in a terminal condition, persistent vegetative state, or a similar condition. The Living Will directs doctors on how to care for you under those circumstances, such as whether to provide you with intubated foods and fluids, drug treatment, or whether or not to keep you on life support.

Taking these precautions does not guarantee that unfortunate situations like Casey Kasem’s will be avoided, but they will help ensure that your wishes are carried out.  If you have questions about what steps to take to ensure your affairs are in order, the attorneys at Morris Hall are happy to assist you.

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.