Posts Tagged ‘Advance Directive’

Does Mom (or Dad) seem to be slowing down?

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

I love holidays!  I love the lights and the colors and the smells and the gathering of family and friends.  I look forward to each year with anticipation and excitement.

But holidays are also a way of keeping track of the passing years.  It seems like just yesterday I was sneaking down the stairs to see what Santa had delivered.  However, it’s been a lot of years since I was good at sneaking anywhere!

Sometimes it is easier to tell when a parent is losing his or her edge when we only see them on the holiday.  When we talk on the phone, we don’t see the extra time it takes for them to get out of a chair.  And perhaps we have never noticed before that there are times when they go into a room and seem to forget why they went there.

Now might be a good time to talk with your parent about making sure they have all of their estate planning documents in place and current.

Most people are confident that they need a Will to distribute their ‘stuff’ after their death, but what about the other documents that will help them as they get older?

A General Durable Power of Attorney is one very valuable document that must be signed while the person has the cognitive ability to do so.  A Medical Directive (also known as a ‘living will’) is another.

These documents can go a long way to improve the quality of life of our parents (or ourselves).  They also make it easier for those family members that will need to help the elders in our lives.

And at this time of year, when we are all thinking about gifts, perhaps we should consider the gift of peace of mind….for ourselves and for our families.

We would love to meet with you and discuss the various parts of an estate plan and how we can help you achieve a little more peace of mind.  Please consider calling us at 757-234-4650 to schedule an estate planning consultation.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Another New Year! Time to review your estate plan!

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Happy New Year!  I hope that everyone has a great and wonderful 2013.

And, to get things off to a good start, I’d like to suggest that you review your estate plan to make sure it is up to date and has taken into account all of life’s changes since you created the previous version.

New members to the family?  Some members no longer with us?  Perhaps a new pet that you want to make sure is taken care of if you are not able to care for him or her yourself?  Have you become involved in a new charitable organization that you think deserves a gift?  Perhaps the person you have named as the agent under your Power of Attorney is no longer capable or willing to do the job?  Perhaps someone in your family has received a college degree that would make them a better fit for the job of executor or agent?  Perhaps you have new acquisitions that need to be re-titled in the name of your trust?  Planning a job change this year?  Perhaps retirement?  Is your health status changing?

This is a good time to take a few minutes to just think about these ideas.  And if you think your estate plans needs to be updated, please give us a call.  We’d be glad to help!

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

The Difficult Talk About End of Life Issues

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

When my kids were little, I worried about ‘the talk’.  You know…the one about the ‘birds and the bees’.  Like most things in life, it wasn’t as bad as the worry beforehand!

Now is the time to have another type of difficult talk.  This is the talk about end of life issues.  What sort of medical treatment do you want in case you are found to have a terminal disease?  Who should be in control of your finances in case you develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia?  Who do you want to take care of your kids if both parents are hurt and not capable of taking care of them?

I wrote a post some time ago about whether or not you need a Power of Attorney.  This was followed by a post on who you should name as your Power of Attorney.  Yes, these posts are pretty old, but they also still make good sense, just like some good advice such as “don’t spend more than you make”.

Another difficult topic for ‘the talk’ is how to handle medical decisions if you are not able to make those decisions yourself.  Again, I had a previous post about making an Advance Directive that you can find here.

The holidays are a time when families get together and it might be a good time for ‘the talk’.

I know people don’t want to dwell on unpleasant things and the incapacity or death of a loved one is unpleasant.  But I have found through personal experience that it is so much easier to go through those difficult times when I knew what my loved one wanted to have happen.

Sometimes it might be easier to have this talk with an outsider.  As an estate planning attorney, I have this conversation with clients and families all the time.

No, this isn’t because I like being ghoulish.  I do this because this type of talk can give the gift of peace of mind to the entire family. Things are always easier to face when we have a plan.

If you already have these documents in place, this is a good time to review them to make sure your wishes are current.  Sometimes we change our minds and that’s ok.  And sometimes we have the documents in place but haven’t discussed them with the rest of the family.  Now might be a good time for that talk!

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Virginia Advance Health Care Directive Registry

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

In 2008, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to allow the creation of a secure online registry of advance medical directives.  This registry is now available at

This Registry allows Virginia residents to store copies of their health care related legal documents in a central electronic space so that these documents can be found quickly by their doctors, hospitals, family members, emergency responders and anyone else that is authorized by the resident.  This electronic Registry makes it easier for people to distribute the information that is held in the paper legal documents that are otherwise stored in safe deposit boxes, home safes, home fire-proof boxes, or in a drawer in the home.

These health care related legal documents generally include an Advance Medical Directive, a Power of Attorney for Medical Purposes, a HIPAA release and an authorization for anatomical gifts.

There is no charge for the use of this Registry by Virginia residents.

The Online Registry website is a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Health, UNIVAL,Inc  and Microsoft Corporation to provide a secure environment using a Personal Identification Number (PIN) and a password needed to access your documents.  Once you have registered, you will receive an identification card containing the information that can be used by professionals to access your documents when needed.  When you sign up for this service, you can also enter the email addresses of those you want to have access to your documents and the system will notify them about the Registry so they will know how to access your documents when they are needed.

According to information on the site, all registered users will need to renew their Advance Directives on an annual basis and the system will send you a reminder.  If the user does not renew their documents within 6 months of being notified, their documents will be moved to an archive system and held there for 5 years.

We always encourage our clients to provide paper copies of their Medical Directives to their doctors, hospitals and to the person that is named as their Health Care Power of Attorney.  This online Registry is another way to ensure that your Medical Directives will be accessible by those that need to know your wishes.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Being Prepared Works!

Monday, August 29th, 2011

I hope this finds everyone safe.  Hurricane Irene has come and gone and it appears that most of us on the Virginia Peninsula are ok, although some of us are still without power.

I know that in my family, we are fine.  We were pretty lucky in that the power in our house never went out.  However, we put all of our frozen foods into a cooler with dry ice ‘just in case’.  We also brought in everything from the yard that might be picked up in the high winds, tied down those things that couldn’t be moved inside, and got most of the ‘stuff’ off of the floor in the garage (our garage almost always floods in a storm).  We moved our vehicles to higher ground so they wouldn’t be flooded.

And then we left town since the area where our house is located was told to evacuate.

It was hard to sit and wait with that feeling of being powerless.  However, it helped that we had done everything we could to be prepared for whatever might have happened.

I think of this today as I am also grateful that we have the proper legal documents to assist our family if an emergency were to happen and we were unavailable.  We have the Power of Attorney so that someone could pay our bills.  We have the medical directive so that our family would know what to do if we were injured and unable to make our own decisions.  We have the Will and Trust documents so that our property could pass more easily in the case of our deaths.

Estate plans are just one more way to be prepared.

I could have been really irritated that we went to so much trouble last Friday to get prepared for things that (luckily) we did not need.  Instead, it was comforting to know that our preparations were done ‘just in case’.

If you want to discuss how you can be prepared for a personal emergency, call the office for an estate plan consultation!

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at