Archive for the ‘Estate Planning’ Category

Kansas City Elder Law Attorneys Answer Frequently Asked Questions about Health Care Advance Directives

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

The goal of an elder law attorney is to help meet the needs of older persons. One such need is advance care planning. Advance care planning is a term that refers to setting in place goals and plans concerning an individual’s medical care and treatments. While many people do not start to think about advance care planning until they are near retirement age, the process can begin at any point in a person’s life. Advanced care planning usually starts with conversations between the individual and his or her family and doctors. Health care advance directives are one way individuals can make their healthcare wishes known. An advance directive is simply a document that provides instructions about a person’s health care wishes, or that appoints a specific person to make decisions on one’s behalf if or when the person is no longer able to do so. While advance directives are great tools that does not mean that they are well understood. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about health care advance directives:

Does an advance directive simply mean “do not treat”?

No! The purpose of an advance directive is to specify which treatments or steps that you want taken in addition to those that you want. For example, an elderly patient with an advanced stage illness may not want treatment but should be given palliative care. Palliative care is medical care that is focused on keeping the person comfortable and pain-free.

I am only ___ years old, am I too young to consider an advance directive?

No! While it is true that older adults utilize advance directives more than younger adults, every adult can benefit from having an advance directive. In fact, younger adults often have more at stake. For example, if a younger adult is involved in a serious accident, leaving him or her in a vegetative state, current medical technology could keep him or her “alive” for decades. Younger adults should consider an advance directive or at least appoint a proxy decision-maker.

Can I rest easy once I give a copy of my advance directive to my doctor?

No! In fact, the process has just begun. First, it is important to discuss your advance directive with your doctor to make sure that he or she supports and understands your wishes. Also be sure that you understand from your doctor your health options. Next, be aware that if you transfer doctors or healthcare facilities, your directive will likely not follow you. It is your job or that of your proxy to be sure that each facility and doctor is made aware of any advance directives. You will also want to review your directive if you experience any of the following: (1) death of a loved one; (2) divorce; (3) a new diagnosis or medical condition; (4) decline in medical condition; or (5) reach a new decade in age.

Part of responsible estate planning should always include a living will and an advanced directive. If you or your loved has not made his or her wishes official, consider making an appointment to discuss your options with an experienced Kansas City Elder Law Attorney. The Kansas City Elder Law Attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. have helped countless individuals create estate plans, advanced directives, and living wills. Our attorneys assist clients in both Kansas and Missouri. To find out how the attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. can help you, contact our office at (816) 472-4673 to schedule a consultation. At Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. we will take the time to make sure that you understand your options and that your wishes are met.

Kansas City Estate Planning Attorney Discusses Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Life can be quite unpredictable. One minute it seems everything can be going your way and the next minute you are left wondering if things could possibly become any worse. Just as it is important in day-to-day life to plan ahead, the same advice is true in the event of serious illness and/or death. Proper estate planning not only makes good financial sense, it can also provide peace of mind to your loved ones. However, too often people make errors when it comes to estate planning. The following are some of the most common mistakes Kansas City residents make when it comes to estate planning:

Adopt the thinking that estate planning is not for me. Probably the biggest mistake an individual can make is to not have a will and/or trust made because he or she thinks that it is not right for them. There are multiples reasons why people think this way, including:

  • Do not have enough money: Many people think that estate planning is solely for the wealthy. But you do not have to be Bill Gates to engage in estate planning! If you have family or loved ones that you want to protect in the event of your passing, then estate planning is for you.
  • Too young: Are you in your 30’s and think that you are too young to worry about estate planning? Think again. Unfortunately, illness or sudden tragic events do not plan and can happen regardless of your age—so that is why you need to be ready just in case disaster strikes. Do not put off estate planning just because you think you have not hit some magic age.
  • Spouse will take care of everything: Some individuals think they do not need a will because his or her spouse will take care of everything. However, if a person dies without a will, his or her estate will be divided per the intestacy laws of the state in which he or she resided, not how his or her spouse desires. There is also the possibility that a married couple will pass together, like for example in a car accident. In this type of event, a person will most likely not be “okay” with the court make the decision of who will become the guardian of the couple’s children. While this possibility is remote, one of the main purposes of estate planning is to be prepared in case of the unexpected.

Fail to review and/or update will and trusts regularly: If you make a will in your late 30s, it is important that you do not think that you are set for life, so to speak. As your life continues, things will change and you will want your will and/or trusts to reflect these changes.

Not meeting with an estate planning attorney. It is true that many basic estate planning tools can be found online. However, it is always best to speak with an estate planning attorney who can make sure that all of your unique needs are addressed and that your will or other estate planning is done without error.

If you want your family or loved ones to be properly taken care in the event you become seriously ill or pass away, then you need to speak with a Kansas City Estate Planning Attorney. A seasoned Estate Planning Attorney can help you avoid making common mistake planning mistakes. The experienced Kansas City Estate Planning Attorneys at the Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. have helped countless clients, in both Kansas and Missouri create estate plans that meet their individual needs. To schedule a consultation, please contact our office today at (816) 472-4673. Too often people delay estate planning for a multitude of reasons. Do not delay—talk with an estate planning attorney today!

Why Selecting an Experienced Kansas City Elder Care Lawyer is Important

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Most of us have heard the saying that “variety is the spice of life”. However, when it comes to professionals, this saying does not necessarily apply. For example, most individual attorneys do not practice in a vast array of legal areas. Why? The best explanation probably can be summed up with another well-known figure of speech “Jack of all trades, master of none.” For example, most doctors do not have more than one specialty, like cardiology and orthopedics, because the areas themselves are just too vast and complex. The same is true of attorneys. Different areas of law can be quite different and require a significant amount of time and experience to become a seasoned practitioner. One area of law this is quite complex is that of elder law. As such, a person searching for an elder law attorney, must take extra care to make sure he or she limits their search to only those attorneys with significant experience handling elder law cases. When searching for an elder law attorney, you will want to keep the following in mind:

  • The area of elder law involves more than wills & trusts: Some attorneys will say that they practice ‘elder law’, but only have experience with wills and trusts. While a skilled elder law attorney may handle wills and trusts, these areas make up only a small portion of an elder law attorney’s skill set. The area of elder law encompasses much more than what happens to your physical possessions upon your death.
  • Elder law is comprised of various smaller areas of law: Giving legal advice to older adults about long-term health planning, is just a portion of what a seasoned elder law attorney can do. An experienced elder law attorney will also have vast knowledge in many of numerous areas that make up elder law. These areas can include: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, veteran’s benefits, special needs trusts, powers of attorney, nursing home rights/care issues, elder abuse, retirement benefits and mental health law, just to name a few.
  • Elder law certification is important: When you see that an attorney is a “certified elder law attorney” (CELA), do not gloss over the word “certified”. The right to refer to one’s self as a CELA is an important and valued designation. Not just any attorney can refer to him or herself as being a CELA. CELA attorneys are recognized by the National Elder Law Foundation and must attest to the following:
    • Been in practice for a minimum of 5 years and have spent at least 50% of their last 3 years of their practice on elder law cases;
    • Show substantial involvement in the area elder of law, as demonstrated by handling a certain minimum number of elder law cases across a variety of the areas that make-up elder law;
    • Undergo a peer review;
    • Be in good standing with their legal community; and
    • Pass a rigorous written examination.

An Elder Law Attorney can help you or your loved one address a variety of concerns, from answering your legal questions about Medicare coverage for nursing home care to assisting you with allegations of elder abuse. If you or a loved one you are caring for is in need of the services of a Kansas City Elder Care Lawyer, you can turn to Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. Attorney William Hubbard has been certified as an elder law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, a specialty authorized by the American Bar Association. The law firm of Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. has substantial experience helping clients with elder law issues. To speak with one of our experienced elder law attorneys, please contact our office at (816) 472-4673 to schedule a consultation.

Proper Estate Planning May Save Your Loved Ones from the Hassles of Missouri Probate Court

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Life is full of hassles. Some can be avoided, while others are just a necessary evil of life. Probate is often viewed as one such evil, since the entire process can be long, pricey, and more than a little confusing. For those not familiar, probate is the legal process that transfers the real estate and personal property of the deceased, otherwise known as the “probate estate”, to the deceased’s family members and other chosen individuals or “heirs”. While probate is common, is not one of life’s certainties. There are ways that an individual can set up his or her estate, so as to avoid the hassles of probate for his or her loved ones. The following are some of the most commonly used tools to avoid probate in Missouri:

Joint Ownership with the right of survivorship: Property that is held in joint ownership with the designation of “right of survivorship” will naturally avoid probate. When one owner to the joint property dies, the other owner simply becomes the sole owner. The two forms of joint ownership in Missouri are “joint tenancy” and “tenants by the entirety”. The latter being only available to married couples.

“Pay-on-death” bank accounts: In Missouri, an owner of a bank account or certificate of deposit (cd) can designate a “pay-on-death” beneficiary. This designation does not give the beneficiary any rights to the account, nor does it guarantee the beneficiary any funds. Rather, when the owner dies, the beneficiary can request a turnover of the money in the account, if any, directly from the bank without have to go through probate.

“Transfer-on-death” designations: “Transfer-on-death” (tod) designations are used in Missouri for several purposes. One of the most common uses is to transfer real estate. This “beneficiary deed” allows the owner of the property to record a deed now, but the transfer will not take place until the owner dies. Missouri also allows the owner of a vehicle to register his or her vehicle with a tod designation. Owners of bonds and other securities can also use a tod form to avoid probate.

Living trusts: In Missouri, assets held in a living trust are not subject to probate proceedings. In a living trust the owner places his or her property in a trust and designates him or herself as the trustee of the trust. The owner must also designate a “successor /trustee” who will take over the trust when the trustee/owner dies.

Please be aware, that the laws regarding probate and other estate planning issues are state specific. This means that what may work to avoid probate in one state may not in another state. Therefore, before making any decisions, it is best to sit down with an experienced probate attorney who can explain the options afforded in the state where you reside. Even if you are unable to completely avoid probate, your estate may be eligible for Missouri’s “small estate” probate procedures, which are much more simplistic.

Coping with the loss of a loved one can be difficult to endure. Having to deal with the probate process at the same time, can make a difficult situation trying. However, you may be able to save your family the hassle of probate with proper estate planning. A Kansas City Probate Attorney can review your estate with you and determine ways to avoid probate. The experienced Kansas City Probate Attorneys at the Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. have helped countless clients, in both Kansas and Missouri with estate planning. Our compassionate team of attorneys are skilled at helping clients avoid the tangles of probate. Please contact our office today at (816) 472-4673 to schedule a consultation.

Get a Game Plan To Protect The Future Of You Family

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

The process of probate can be quite confusing for individuals left in grief already at the loss of a loved one. Properly planning for the future can easily be attained through probate. Most individuals in the hustle and bustle of today’s society do not understand probate and the laws. Preplanning for the possibility of an unplanned death of yourself or loss of a loved one can ease the tension and responsibilities of those left behind. Locating an attorney that you trust to oversee “your life” can be quite a task. Your estate can be administered in different ways. Legal counsel will guide you through the process eliminating some of the preplanning burden or the burden left to others.

Probate is the process where the court acknowledges someone has deceased and either has or does not have a will. An Executor of the estate is established and recognized by the courts. The executor now has control of the powers to oversee and establish the future of the properties of the deceased person. The executor pays out debts negotiates any payment plans changes names on deeds and titles of property and divvy out any belongings. The entire process can be cumbersome to individuals already in an emotional state.

With the assistance of educated competent legal counsel, get a game plan. Let others in your family know what your wishes are. Have them legal put on paper as well as discuss them with others. Plan a will, set a designate power of attorney as well as a guardian for any minor children that could possibly be left behind. Doing so will lessen the expenses and burden of your family and friends. A properly planned and prepared game plan will protect the life you worked hard to create. Do not hesitate to get legal assistance now. No one ever believe something untimely will happen to them, but there is no substitute for being prepared before it is too late to let your wished and desires be known legal.

Let the attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P provide quality, effective legal representation. Client service is important to us. We take the time to listen to our clients. We pay attention, and we follow through to make sure that our clients are not left in the dark. We enjoy the opportunity to help people find solutions to their legal problems and helping protect your loved ones in the future.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment by calling (816)472-HOPE(4673) or toll free at (877)535-1163.Some of our clients find it difficult to make the trip to our law firm. We make house calls and other special arrangements to make sure every client has access to high quality, professional legal service. From our offices in Kansas City, we help clients from throughout the region, including St. Joseph, Independence, Lees Summit, Columbia, Warrensburg, Overland Park, Olathe, Atchison, Lawrence, Topeka, and many more Kansas and Missouri communities.