How to Sign Documents as a Power of Attorney

Have you been appointed as “Attorney-in-Fact” by a loved one in a financial Power of Attorney? If so, then you know that this job isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, it carries quite a bit of responsibility with it.

If you’re signing a legal document on behalf of someone else, always remember to indicate that you are acting under the POA authority in your signature.

For example, if you’re Jane Smith empowered as the agent for Dorothy Smith, you might sign either as: 
“Dorothy Smith by Jane Smith under Power of Attorney” or “Jane Smith, attorney-in-fact for Dorothy Smith.”

It’s important to be clear that you aren’t  signing for yourself but are, instead, signing for the principal. If you just sign your own name, it’s possible that you could be held personally accountable for anything you sign.  Always be mindful that your signature clearly conveys that you are signing in a representative capacity and are not signing personally,

Questions about Power of Attorney documents? Give us a call.

We can help.

New Law Gives Grandparents Notice About Adoptions

Is your family considering a stepparent or a kinship adoption?

If so, you should be aware of House Enrolled Act 1245, which took effect in Indiana on July 1st, 2017.

This new law requires certain classes of grandparents to be notified of adoption proceedings.  Perhaps not surprisingly, there is already a healthy amount of debate and varying interpretation surrounding it.  If you would like to learn more about this legislation, you may do so here.

We will be following caselaw and debate on this issue closely.   In the meantime, if your family has any questions about kinship adoption, let us know.

We can help.

INvestABLE Indiana-Giving those with disabilities the ability to save

To all your abilities, now add the ability to save.

As of July 27th, 2017, ABLE accounts are open for enrollment in Indiana.

INvestABLE Indiana was created in response to the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) of 2014, which allows people with disabilities and their families to save for many daily disability expenses on a tax deferred basis without limiting their ability to benefit from SSI, Medicaid, and other federal programs.

Who is eligible to open an ABLE account through INvestABLE Indiana?
You can open an account for yourself, or an authorized person can open one for
you if:

-You were diagnosed with a disability before the age of 26; and
-One of the following is true:
1.   You experience blindness as defined by the Social Security Act; or
2.  You’re eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) or
have a similarly severe disability and can provide a written diagnosis from a
licensed doctor..

What are Qualified Disability Expenses?
These are any expenses that:
-are incurred at a time when the Account owner is an Eligible Individual
-relate to the blindness or disability of the Account Owner
-are for the benefit of the Account owner in maintaining or bettering his or
her health, independence, or quality of life.

Some (but not all) Qualified Expenses include things like education, health, housing, transportation, legal fees, employment training, assistive technology, basic living expenses, and end of life expenses.

Want  to learn more about opening an account for yourself or for a loved one through INvestABLE Indiana?   Give us a call or learn more about investment options and where to begin here.

Stasia is thrilled to serve on the board of the Indiana ABLE Authority, which has helped bring this legislation to life in Indiana.

News/Community Involvement

As an extension of her law practice, Stasia regularly performs at musical events benefitting local organizations who support elders and individuals with special needs.

“Pam’s Party: A Joy’s House Open House” will be held on the evening of Thursday, July 27th @ 6:30pm at Joy’s House in Broad Ripple Village. It’s a celebration to honor caregivers and Guest/potential new Guests.

This open house is free to attend, but you may wish to bring cash for supper and activities, which will be available for purchase.

Hope to see you there!

 

Signed, Sealed Delivered-the Future of Executing Estate Planning Documents

Signed, sealed, and delivered.

One of our wonderful clients just presented us with a new sushi pen for our ever-expanding collection when he signed his estate planning documents this week.

Signed,Sealed,Delivered

But will we always need our fancy and fun pens for this job? Maybe not.

The Indiana Legislature is currently considering a bill that would allow the electronic signature of estate planning documents.

This bill is the topic of hot debate at the moment. Online legal providers such as LegalZoom are focusing on the convenience aspect.

Other practitioners (us included) see some potential benefits, but are concerned with the very real possibility of undue influence and potential difficulties with ensuring proper and personalized drafting/witnessing/execution of documents, especially for our most vulnerable clients..

What do you think of electronic execution of estate planning documents? Opportunity? Headache? Or both?

March is Disability Awareness Month

Did you know that slightly more than 19 percent of Indiana’s population is represented by adults and kids with disabilities?

March is Disability Awareness Month in Indiana and we’re especially appreciative of this year’s campaign theme- “I’m Not Your Inspiration.”

Often, people with disabilities who are successful, athletic, employed, or simply good neighbors are put in the spotlight as inspiration to others.   This year’s campaign theme emphasizes that people with disabilities are people first-people who want to be fully included in their communities, just like everyone else.

You can learn more about Disability Awareness Month here.

Questions about planning for your loved one with disabilities?

We can help.

disability awareness month

News/Community Involvement

We are so pleased (and proud) to announce that Stasia has been appointed by the Indiana Governor’s Office to serve on the Board for the Achieving a Better Life Experience Program (ABLE.)

The ABLE Act was signed into law in March of 2016 and will allow certain people with disabilities and their families the opportunity to contribute to a tax-exempt savings account that can be used for health care needs and other designated resources that promote independence and quality of life.

The mission of the Indiana Able Authority Board is to help develop and implement a qualified ABLE program for individuals with disabilities in the State of Indiana.

We applaud the members of the Indiana State Legislature for their support of the ABLE Act.   It is a critical strategy to providing a pathway to a better economic future for all people with disabilities.

Stasia is thrilled to have the opportunity to help champion ABLE in our community.

Questions about estate planning, guardianship, or long term care planning for your loved one with special needs?

We can help.

ABLE appointment certificate

 

 

 

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

Did you know that November is annually recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month?

The specific focus of this month is the adoption of children currently in foster care.

While efforts made at the national level certainly help build awareness, participation in local programs, events, and activities by those of us with a direct connection to adoption can often be the most effective way to promote positive perceptions, expose the myths, and draw attention to the tens of thousands of children in foster care who wait and hope for permanent families.

We can truthfully say that working with foster families to ensure permanency for kids is one of the most rewarding parts of our practice. But we also must acknowledge that every adoption, no matter how wonderful, is rooted in loss.

So, while we are privileged to walk alongside families as they legally become what they already are in love and practice, we will never romanticize this work.

Whether you’re a family that wishes to offer sanctuary to an at-risk child, a “first family” who needs support time and tools to help your family thrive, or an adult adoptee seeking support and information about your experience, know that we can help point you towards helpful resources.

In this season of Thanksgiving, we are grateful for those who open their homes and hearts to waiting children. And we are equally grateful for all of the gifts that these children bring with them. . .

national-adoption-month

DIY Estate Planning- Why People are Better than Programs

Are you a “do-it-yourself” type?    If so, we generally stand in awe of your MacGyver-like ability to unclog a stubborn drain, build a treehouse, or fashion a defibrillator out of a set of candlesticks, a microphone cord, and a rubber mat.

We know that it is ultra-tempting for capable DIYers to seek out online solutions for all sorts of things-including estate planning needs.   And we also know that it smacks of self-interest for an estate planning lawyer to caution you against the drawbacks of using these programs.

But, MacGyvers of the world, consider this:

  • Even those in search of a “simple will” may have considerations that aren’t readily apparent on the front end.
    A program can’t guide a client through the implications of estate planning choices with regards to a loved one with special needs or an adult child who struggles financially as the result of substance abuse.  We can.  A program won’t discuss your personal medical history to discuss potential long-term care planning needs and strategies.  We will.Relationships are at the very core of what we do and what makes us tick as effective advocates for you.  The more we know about your family, the better we can help you!

 

  • Each state has very specific (and sometimes differing) requirements for what constitutes a valid will and how signatures should be witnessed.  You can’t count on a program to verify that this is happening correctly and your heirs may only make this discovery later on.  Many mistakes with DIY wills involve the way that documents are signed and witnessed.
    And those requirements vary from state to state.  Example- If you serve as a witness to a will in certain states, then you can’t inherit anything under it.
    Estate planning attorneys are specifically trained in the laws of your state, which are ever-evolving.  And we’re ethically obligated to keep up on those changes.  You can’t count on a program for that.

 

  • Your will only controls “probate assets.  These include assets which aren’t jointly titled with someone else or don’t have beneficiary designations.  Proceeds from these sorts of assets (like life insurance or retirement accounts) are typically distributed according to beneficiary designations and the proceeds are paid out according to those instructions.In addition to preparing your will, we can coordinate all these moving parts to make sure that your beneficiary designations for these assets reflect your estate planning goals.

 

  • Online solutions for estate planning may seem like a cost savings on the front end.  But here’s the catch-if you unknowingly make mistakes on a form for a DIY will, you won’t know.   And the rules of intestacy will apply on the back end, which means that the state will decide how your property should be distributed . . . just as though you had no will at all.We know (really, we do) that it’s painful to spend money on estate planning, because you don’t live to reap the benefits even if you know your loved ones will. We do everything we can to be cost-effective for our clients and we regularly complete estate plans on a flat fee basis.  This encourages as many conversations as necessary for us to get to know you and your family so that we can best effectuate your estate planning goals.

We still stand in amazement of all of the capable DIYers out there-at least with respect to some things.

But people really are better than programs when it comes to estate planning.

And we’re here to prove it.

 

diy