Hello everyone this is Robert Mansour, and I wanted to make a brief video about an issue that sometimes raises its head in the field of estate planning. One of the tools that I help clients with is something called an advance health care directive. An advance health care directive is part of the estate planning legal tool box as I call it. A health care directive is where you name someone called your "agent," to be your health care advocate. They're not only the person who decides "pull the plug" and all the cliches that go with that, it's more. This person is going to be my legal advocate. This is the person who's going to make sure that I'm taken care of properly. This is the person who has the legal authority to talk to health care professionals, to make decisions on my behalf etc. It is a very important tool.
When you walk into some hospitals and some settings like that, sometimes what they do is they give you a form to fill out right when you walk in and they'll say, "Do you have a health care directive with you?" And you'll say, “No I don't," and they'll say, "Well here - sign this." They give you their own health care directive. Why is the hospital giving you their own health care directive? Did you ever think about that? Is it to protect you or perhaps to protect the hospital?
Of course there is some good measure to have one especially if you don't have one at all. You might want to fill out the one that the hospital gives you at the very least, but generally speaking that hospital form that they give you is not effective immediately. It is effective only upon the declaration of your incapacity by a physician or perhaps two physicians or I've seen even three physicians.
You've named this person in this document, but they can't really help you because you haven't yet been declared incompetent or incapacitated by a physician so they can't really be your advocate. They don't have any legal authority to do anything until that happens. Now you might be saying, "Why would I want them to help me?" There's many times when you need a health care advocate and you have capacity, you're fine, but you need somebody else to have that power to act on your behalf. That's one limitation of some of the forms that I see hospitals have people sign.
Another limitation is the following: Generally speaking the form provided to you by the health care facility does not allow access to the health care records. Why wouldn't the health care facility want you to have access to the health care records? Well it's very plain and simple. They don't want your family looking at those health care records, they don't want your agent to have access to those health care records because they don't want anybody questioning or reviewing anything that they did at the hospital or at the health care facility.
Generally speaking you want to make sure that the health care directive you have not only authorizes that person to act on your behalf, but also allows them access to the medical records. The form that you sign at the hospital invariably will not allow that to happen. Be very careful about the forms that you sign when you're in that kind of context. If you have a health care directive already that allows for those things you might say, "Oh no thank you very much, I already have a health care directive." Then make sure your agent brings it to the hospital. Thank you very much for watching this video. I hope you found it helpful.
If you need help with our estate plan, call our office at (661) 414-7100 for more information. If you already have an estate plan and you'd like it reviewed, please let us know.
Hi. My name is Robert Mansour. A little while ago my son turned 18 years old. Believe it or not, he's an adult. Technically speaking, legally speaking, he's an adult. I don't think he's an adult, but you know what I'm talking about.
What I had him do was I prepared a health care directive for him and a durable power of attorney. Because he is an adult, if anything happens to him, my wife and I do not have automatic access to his medical records. We do not have automatic access to his college records and his grades and all of the other things that we might need to help him with. What if we needed to handle some of his financial affairs or we needed to make health care decisions for him and he cannot? Because he is an adult, we can't act like his parents any more and just make decisions for him. We're not technically his parental guardians any more. He is an adult.
What I had him do was prepare a durable power of attorney, where he allows my wife and I, his mother and I, to have the authority to help him with financial matters. We also signed a health care directive so that we can have the authority to handle health care matters for him if he cannot. When you turn 18 years of age, it is very important to consider, at the very least, a durable power of attorney, an advance health care directive.
Those 2 things and you name the people that you love and trust, perhaps your parents, one or both of them or whatever you want to do. Remember because you're 18, you're technically an adult and people do not have the legal authority to do things on your behalf unless you give it to them. Once again, 18 years old, durable power of attorney, advance health care directive. If you have any questions about this, please visit my website at mansourlaw.com for much more information. Thank you very much.
An Advance Health Care Directive allows those you've named (your agents) to make health care decisions if you cannot make them. In most cases, people assume this only involves the proverbial "pull the plug" scenario.
In this brief video segment, attorney Robert Mansour explains that agents often have much more responsibility. They are much more than "plug pullers," so to speak. Agents are often "advocates" for their loved ones. For example, if hospital staff are not paying attention to your loved one, an agent can demand they provide the proper care. The agent can move the loved one from one facility to another. The agent can access and obtain all medical records, films, etc. The agent can consent to surgery, obtain second opinions, handle post-death matters, and more.
Remember, when choosing an agent, make sure that person can make decisions when dealing with difficult emotions. Also, choose an agent who will not only consult with other loved ones and health care professionals when making such decisions, but also choose agents who will follow your instructions. Finally, keep in mind there are rarely an perfect choices. However, don't let that keep you from implementing this important legal tool.
If you want to learn more about estate planning and the various tools used to protect you and your loved ones, call (661) 414-7100 for more information. Robert Mansour serves Santa Clarita and its communities of Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Castaic, Stevenson Ranch, and beyond.
Here is the transcript from the video:
Hello everyone. This is Robert Mansour. I'm an attorney in the Los Angeles area and we're going to spend a few minutes talking about five easy things you can do to protect your family today. This doesn't even require going to a lawyer. You can do these things on your own and we'll walk through five things that you can do to protect yourself and your family. If you want to learn more about my office you can go to my website which is right there on the screen, www.mansourlaw.com. My office is 661‑414‑7100. Let's begin.
If you have any assets that are in your name alone you want to make sure you get yourself a will. People say well what is a will? What is the legal significance of a will? A will is just basically a letter to the judge telling the judge where you want your assets to go after you pass away. So that's all it really is and also a will only goes into effect after you pass away. It's really of no legal significance and no legal use while you're still alive. You can name guardians for minor children as part of your will. If you want to get a free California will and you don't want to go to a lawyer and you don't want to get a more robust estate plan that might include a living trust etcetera, you can go to www.calbar.org. On the left-hand side search for the public forms and you will find a free California will available for you with instructions on how to fill it out and you can have it witnessed by two witnesses which is the requirement here currently in California and keep in mind though a will is not a panacea. A will is not going to solve all your problems and in fact a will is to some extent a limited document. But if you don't have one and you can get one for free, why not? Check it out at the California Bar Association. Let's go to Step 2.
Step 2, check the beneficiaries on your life insurance policies and tax deferred accounts. So remember I talked about a will. A will controls assets that are in your name alone. However there is a lot of things you might have like life insurance policies and tax deferred accounts like IRAs and 401Ks and 403Bs. Those things pass by way of a designated beneficiary. When you got those things you probably filled out a form called a beneficiary form. So it doesn't matter what your will says. Basically what matters is what that form says. So a lot of married couples for example will find that they have their spouse listed but when they review these beneficiary designations they find that they often forget to put somebody beyond the spouse. They don't put their children. They don't put their sisters or brothers or whoever they want the asset to go to. So in the event of a common accident, the husband and the wife pass away and now we're stuck because there are no other beneficiaries listed on the form. So not only do you want to check who your primary beneficiary is but you also want to check who your secondary beneficiaries are. Now, if you have minor children and in California that's people who are under the age of 18 are considered minors, you want to be very careful and you may not want to name them as the secondary or contingent beneficiaries. You may want to name a living trust as the beneficiary in the case of minor children. But if you want to learn more about that you can visit my website or give me a call. I'll be happy to explain that further. Also if you have beneficiaries that you might have a concern about how they would handle the money you may not want to name them directly. But at the very least check who you have and make sure that it's correct and make sure that you name individuals and don't put something like my estate shall be the beneficiary. That's inviting trouble right there.
Next is Step 3 here. We're going to get an advance health care directive. Get an advance health care directive. Now why is that important? An advance health care directive allows somebody to make health care decisions for you if you cannot. Not only that, they can be your advocate. They can advocate for you in the hospital setting or, you know, let's say for example the hospital staff is not paying attention to you or the nurses are not helping you or they're giving you the wrong medication or whatever the case may be, or you need to be relocated from one facility to another. Your agent under the healthcare directive can advocate for you and make those kinds of decisions. Also the health care agent can decide whether or not, you know, life support should be extended, whether or not, you know, a certain surgery that is being recommended should be done or not. People often think that their spouse is automatically entitled to do this. That is an incorrect assumption. One must be given the legal authority to act via an advance health care directive. Some states in the U.S. still call this thing a living will, but in California we call it an advance health care directive. You can get an entry level form from the California attorney general's office. Just look them up on the internet. Look up the California attorney general, type in the search box advance health care directive and you'll find a free form that is entry level but it's better than having nothing so go ahead and get that in place and empower whomever you want. Make sure you list a primary agent and also one or two secondary agents.
Next is Step 4. Examine how you hold title to your assets. Take a look at everything that you own and ask yourself how do I own that asset? Do you own it as a single individual? Do you own it jointly? Do you own it as joint tenancy, tenants in common? Do you own it in a living trust? Do you own it in your name alone? All of these things have legal ramifications. This is not just something to toy with. You really have to examine this and ask yourself is that really the way I want to hold title to my asset? So if you want to discuss that further you might find some good resources on my website or give me a call and I will explain to you the ramifications. One ramification that we could talk about is joint ownership. Joint ownership is when you own property jointly with other people and that's fine. There's nothing wrong with holding property jointly with other people but what happens is if one person passes away, the other person is now the owner of that property and if they add another person and then they pass away then that third person now owns the property. Basically this is one of the easiest ways for people to lose their assets in this country. Joint ownership is one of the leading causes of disinheritance, people losing their wealth to other people because they put others on title with them and the property and the asset mysteriously ends up in the wrong hands. So make sure you take a very close look at how you hold title to your assets.
Step No. 5, review your insurance policies. Now I don't sell insurance and I'm just telling you this because I have seen time and time again people getting burned because they did not have adequate insurance. Sometimes clients come to me and they say, well we don't have a lot of money and we're not sure if we should do an estate plan. We've got these little kids, etcetera. I say look, go get yourself a big life insurance policy. If you pass away a lot of money can be passed onto your children to help them with college, to help them with paying the mortgage, to help the kids with, I don't know, day care. You name it. They're going to need that money and so you want to make sure you have adequate life insurance. So talk to somebody who knows what they're talking about and get yourself some really good life insurance especially if your estate is going to need a lot of cash in order to deal with a catastrophic situation. Also you want to take a look at your auto insurance policies. Do you have enough insurance? A lot of people don't have enough insurance on their car insurance policies and they end up getting in horrific car accidents and there's not enough money there for the family. They generally rely on the responsible party, the person who caused the accident, but guess what? 25 percent of the time that person is either not going to have enough insurance or not have any insurance at all so you want to make sure that you have the adequate car insurance not only for liability but also for something called uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist. Make sure you check your life insurance policies and your auto insurance policies and your homeowners insurance because so many people have basically gone from great wealth to nothing because of a catastrophe and they didn't have the adequate insurance policies.
And that's been five easy things you can do to protect your family. My name again is Robert Mansour. Thank you for watching this short video. I hope you found it helpful and if you did please pass it along to others. Again these are five things that you can do on your own with a few phone calls, talk to a couple of professionals in your life, your insurance broker, if you have an attorney you want to talk to them to get more information that's fine. Or you can call my office and get more information as well. Thank you very much for watching.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that you should be older before you create an Advance Heath Care Directive. They think it's something "old people" do. The truth is you should consider creating one right after you turn 18 - no longer a minor in California.
When you become an adult, you are no longer a minor and therefore have the right to give instructions about your own health care. In fact, others (even parents) are not allowed to make decisions for you without such a legal document because they don't technically have the legal right to do so any longer. You may not always have the ability to make decisions about your own health care. If that becomes the case, a duly executed Advance Health Care Directive gives someone else the legal right to make health care decisions for you. It doesn’t matter how old you are; perhaps today you will become a victim of an accident that will put you in a coma. Who do you want to be making the decisions that will affect you for the rest of your life? With an Advance Health Care Directive, you would have the power to decide who makes crucial life or death decisions for you. Also, it's not simply about "pulling the plug" but more about designating a legal advocate. Notice, you don't have to be "old" to create one. Life doesn't discriminate when it comes to tragedy.
A Health Care Directive essentially allows you to give specific instructions about your health care and allows you to appoint a person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. It allows this person, in the event you are unable to do so, to access your medical records (if it's done right) and gives them the power to make decisions about treatments, surgeries, services, or other decisions having to do with your health. You can appoint others if the first person you designated is not willing or available. The Health Care Directive is the ultimate tool to taking charge of your life and managing yourself. It legally records your health wishes to be enacted if you cannot act for yourself.
Now what happens if you don’t have an Advance Health Care Directive? Consider the well-known story of Terri Schiavo, a woman from Florida who didn’t have an Advance Health Care Directive. She collapsed at home, and the lack of oxygen she suffered from caused her to enter a vegetative state. Because there was no legal document/directive as to what her health wishes were, her husband and her parents fought for years about whether to keep her alive in her state or remove her life support. People generally think the spouse is in charge, but that is not the case. This event took its toll on all those involved, both emotionally and financially. An Advance Healthcare Directive would have solved this problem.
So whoever you are, young or old, 18 or 81, having an Advance Healthcare Directive is very important tool to have in your toolbox in case something occurs.
Every good estate plan includes an Advance Health Care Directive that allows others to make health care decisions for you. If you aren't ready to create an estate plan (living trust, will, etc), you can at least get the basic form from the California Attorney General's office by clicking on the following link. Everyone 18 and older should consider one. If you're ready to get serious about your legal affairs, give me a call. In the meantime, consider this:http://alturl.com/nzs6j
In California, you can create something called an "Advance Health Care Directive." It outlines your health care wishes and nominates an agent who shall act on your behalf. While that is all well and good, it is important to outline your wishes carefully and completely.
Recently, two siblings came to my office, fighting about their father's health care. Son wanted Dad to be placed in a facility. Daughter wanted Dad to stay home. Trouble is Dad had an entry-level Advance Health Care Directive that is silent on the issue of home care. Just another example of "having" a document that doesn't "mean" much because it doesn't "say" much.
Make sure your Advance Health Care Directly actually says what you want it to say. An experienced Estate Planning attorney can guide you through the process of creating a solid document. There are many things to consider beyond "pulling the plug."
Robert Mansour is a Santa Clarita Estate Planning Attorney who can help you with your Advance Health Care Directive. Make sure your directive also complies with the HIPAA Laws, thereby allowing your named agents to have access to your medical records.
Santa Clarita Estate Planning Attorney Robert Mansour Discusses Advance Health Care Directives. Remember, in California, we no longer have a "Living Will" - Our legal document that allows your chosen agents to make health care decisions on your behalf is called an "Advance Health Care Directive" - some states still call it a living will. To add to the confusion, some people still confuse a "Living Will" with a "Living Trust." They are entirely separate documents that address entirely different things.
An agent named in your Advance Health Care Directives not only is involved in "pull the plug" decisions, but also has the power to hire/fire doctors, handle home health care assistants, obtain medical records, advocate for you, go to court on your behalf, handle post death wishes, sign a DNR order, and much more. The more specific your document is, the better. Keep in mind, if there is a dispute in your family as to what should be done, the person named as your agent has the legal authority to act consistent with your wishes. The more specific you are in your document, the better it is for your agent. They don't have to wonder what you want! Also, if your wishes are spelled out, then it will be tougher for family to challenge the decisions of your agent. After all, they are simply following your instructions.
On 5-28-10, actor Gary Coleman died after being removed from life support. The person in charge of making the decision to remove life support was Shannon Price. Most people thought they were married. In fact, she was his ex-wife (who is now claiming to inherit from him). Question: Do you have an Advance Health Care Directive? If so, who's in charge of making these important decisions? Food for thought.
Robert Mansour is a Santa Clarita Wills and Trusts Attorney who can help you with your Advance Health Care Directive.