About a year ago, my office implemented a Continuing Client Care program (C3 for short). The purpose of this was to continue to be of service to our clients. The program includes access to an app on your phone for your documents (who wants to carry around paper when traveling?), discounts on updates to Wills and Trusts, annual review meeting (we are starting to charge for these meetings for clients who opt out of the C3 program), and one update per year to your durable power of attorney, health care proxy, and HIPAA release. We offer this program complimentary for the first year, and then it is an annual fee of $399 in 2023. Once you are in the program, we will keep the fee at your original fee, but if you opt-out and come back, the fee may be higher.
However, one client gave feedback to us that he did not feel that he would continue with the program which is completely ok, it’s not for everyone, especially for the younger crowd. Updating the durable power of attorney, health care proxy, and HIPAA release is not necessary. Some people feel that they do not need to make any changes to their documents every year so it is not a good investment and that’s ok.
For those who aren’t sure why some people update their documents every year, I’m going to share a client story to help illustrate who this may be a good fit for. I received a phone call from a daughter of a prospective client. Her mom was on her second marriage (albeit for a very long time) and had developed Alzheimer’s. Mom and her second husband had done their plan together and had named one daughter as health care proxy because she was a trained nurse. However, nurse daughter had moved to the West Coast, and mom was on the east coast. The daughter who called me wanted to update her mom’s documents so she could help with medical decisions. Unfortunately, mom could no longer sign a new healthcare proxy. This happened in 2023. The documents that mom had signed were from 2001. If the originating attorney had known the family dynamics, they probably wouldn’t have let mom continue with the documents as they were.
Part of the problem is that they weren’t looked at every year and talked about whether the named agents made sense or not. They were signed over twenty years ago and set on a shelf somewhere. They assumed everything was all set. If they were in the habit of looking at the documents and talking with an attorney every year about the personalities of the family members named in the documents, it would have become apparent that an update would be very useful.
Regarding the power of attorney, there are constant changes to the financial industry, and I expect more to come. Back in 2001, there was no Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. There was no Bitcoin or cryptocurrency. Durable powers of attorney did not address these things. Also, financial institutions are creating different types of investment accounts for charitable purposes or for individuals with special needs. If your durable power of attorney doesn’t allow for your named agent to access these types of accounts, it could make managing their assets more difficult. Now, my older clients will say that these things don’t apply to them, but they definitely apply to the younger generations who utilize social media for their business and income. And who can predict where the financial industry will turn to next and who it will apply to? And to circle back to the client with Alzheimer’s, who can predict when you will no longer be able to make your own decisions? It’s always better to have something in place and updated regularly to make sure that your last document reflects the most current laws and financial practices. Call Ladimer Law at 508.532.8689 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your documents updated and ready for the future!
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Ladimer Law specializes in estate planning. We protect our clients, their heirs, and their assets by listening closely, knowing the law, and executing estate plans that fit and evolve.