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Senior Resources » Elder Law » New Year: Review Your Legal Documents

New Year: Review Your Legal Documents

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Stephanie Haslam is an elder law and estate planning attorney with Compassionate Legal Care. January is a time for new starts, and it’s a good time to review your estate planning documents to make sure they’re all in order. If you don’t have them, then to learn about the types of documents that could become important, such as power of attorney, to have someone who can help you make decisions if you’re not able to do that by yourself. If you’ve made a will or trust, is it up to date? Are your assets properly titled in the trust? Are your healthcare directives up to date, based on the current condition of your health? It’s time to take stock of these items.

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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

And Welcome back to answers for elders radio everyone. I am here with our wonderful Stephanie Haslam, who is an elder law and a state planning attorney in the Greater Seattle King County, but elsewhere area. Stephanie, welcome back to answers for elders radio. Thank you for then. It’s really a delight to be back. You know, first of all I want to say thank you for being our instructor in our wonderful seminars that you’re doing now throughout pierce and King County and all on legal foundations, which is really something that I think we’re all focusing on this month and certainly you’re such a big part of that. And January is kind of a big part of you know, how do we get started? It’s a new year, so tell us a little bit, Stephanie, about first of all, you know what you cover on a general basis in our in our seminar. But most importantly is you know what’s important to take a look at in the month of January? Well, I would say January is a time for new starts and it’s a really good time to look at your at your estate planning documents to make sure they’re all in order and that make that may mean. You mean, I even had a state planning documents, and so that would be a good time to educate yourself about the documents and are helpful right important things. That power of the attorney to us. Make sure that someone’s there to assist you with making decisions if you can’t meet decisions for yourself. Making sure, if you know, if you have done a will or if you’ve done a trusted all up to date? Are Your assets properly titled in the trust? Are Your healthcare at directs all up to date, you know, based on how your current health condition is right. So this kind of take stock again well. And you know, one thing that we always have to remind everyone there’s only one constant in this world and that is changed. We have ever changing lives and just because of what we a decision that we made five years ago or three years ago, it may not be relevant today. So, you know, one of the things what is kind of your your standard rule of thumbs? How often should these documents be re you know, reviewed, or generally three to five years as a good time frame, but also if there’s any significant change in circumstance. So okay, for example, if you have a new family members or if you have people named in your documents that aren’t able to serve any longer, or maybe a adult child moves away. You know, you know, you may have a pride, you know a child is designated as a primary attorney, but maybe they moved to a new city or something like that, out where they can’t be as accessible to you. That can be the case. or it may be that someone is assisting you now and maybe it’s just not a good match. Sometimes that can happen as well and you know it just made the person may not be a good match for the job. So that may be a good time to kind of reevaluate your documents, right. And so what kind of documents should one have when you’re saying those documents, Oh, got right. So basically, everyone’s heard of a will and everyone’s heart of the powers of attorney and they’re very essential documents, necessary in our current, current life because how complicated things are. Banks are very concerned about getting information inappropriately to other parties. Healthcare providers are very concerned about giving health information not to the wrong parties. So they really need to see documentation of the authority to communicate with your agent that you name. So the powers of Attorney your essential. I mean anyone over the age of eighteen should have a power of attorney so that in the event of emergency, they’ve already said who they trust to speak for them and that person should know how to kind of how to manage their affairs for them, you know, if they’ve had a good conversation, write you. So yeah, so for the point. Sorry, Stephanie. So, just Steve, this is a part of the just from the point of our audience. What is contained in a power of attorney? What what does a document like that basically say? Well, I mean you had experienced into with you with your mom and powers of attorney, and so you’ve, as you probably were under the authority of the power of attorney for healthcare. So you made decisions for your mom for her health care. I imagine you probably made decisions regarding where she would live, hmm, or assisted her with those decisions. And then were you. You are also named under for financial power of attorney, which I, and you, I imagine, were imagining managing her financial affairs. Managing the band to bank accounts, right, making sure her her pension payments are coming in right, the insurance get paid, you know, the healthcare supplemental gets paid, the the assisted living gets paid, all those things that have to happen, you know, making sure that the social security check got deposited into the bank, those different types of things. So those that is really acting as an agent. And and certainly you know what I learned, which yesterday in your in your seminar that we did in bonding lake, Bunny Lake. Yeah, you, you had a slide that blew me away a that’s in correctly if I’m wrong, but this is just my memory. Is that true that sixty four percent of people, I don’t know remember what age, have not done their estate planning? Yeah, Forbes magazine had published a some kind of figures a couple of years ago and approximately sixty four percent of the population do what Forbes called the ostrich method of planning for their estates, which means bearing your head in the sound and hoping for the death right. So clearly, you know things could go exactly how you don’t want them if you’ve not specified how you do want them. So we are talking to Stephanie Haslam, who is an elder law in a state planning attorney in Northgate area. But, Stephanie, tell us a little bit about where you cover, what area? Oh, I know I’d well, I’ve had clients in in love and worth. I have had clients out in the peninsula, the Olympic Peninsula, so I go pretty far afield and, depending on what the need is, pretty much the greatest future sound area and I end having me at background in the home health occupational therapy I do also make home visits to my homebound clients and that basically appreciate that rather than having the flog to my office. Well, that is very, very important. And most certainly having the heart that you do for seniors. I’ve always talked about you as being an advocate for seniors. You know from your time as being an occupational therapist and having that foundation of understanding and and I think you know really understanding that. That’s you know where your heart is. I think is so valuable for us to you know, to talk about because it’s not every day that you meet an attorney that has that type of a mission. You know, they might be in certain types of expertise, but you’ve really been focused on seniors you’re pretty much your entire career. Is that correct? Stuff me actually is. Yeah, I have an affinity with the scene as having been raised close to my grandparents from a very young age, and so I’ve always worked with seniors and then have enjoyed it and I really think you very much for the kind confluence. But I want to say our our elder law bar then elder law attorneys in our community are an exceptional group of attorneys and they’re very dedicated to the will being in our community. So it’s not just me, it’s just all. I know that what your mission is to it’s just a really great group of people to work with, you know, and that’s the thing I think you know. We can say I’m kind of using a broad brush here, but certainly the elder of law are just elder care professionals in this Puget Sound area. Ninety nine percent of them that I have met, which I’ve had the privilege of meeting, are all that way. They all have such a heart for this work and we’re very lucky to have the community that we do in the greater Puget Sound we do, and I do I think a common common scene is is that they’ve may have experienced troubles on their own kind of maneuver through the system, like what your story is, and so that they really get what it’s like for people. That compassion for them right right. So, Stephanie, let’s getting getting back to our topic and talking a little bit about the foundational documents. So power attorney is one, and then you breached briefly. We touched on you know. That is obviously a part. What is another type of document that a senior should definitely have in place? Well, I’m often times that come but a document. It either comes inside or along with a healthcare power of attorney is the advanced directive and the the advance while the power of attorney is basically getting permission for someone to make decisions for you, and advance directive is getting instruction for how you would like to be cared for, you know, at the end of life and if you’re in a situation where you cannot speak for yourself and the questions about you know, what kind of would you want support continue your life? Would you want to just be kept comfortable? And those documents are important to keep updated as well. You know there may be a change in the health condition and you maybe it’s an improvement or maybe there’s this a new diagnosis and you may want to have to look at what you’ve said and your prior advanced directive well, and that’s that is a big responsibility to have an advanced directive. I know for me, that was the last decision I had to make for my mom was the fact that, you know, we could keep her alive during you know, this is situation a. We can keep her alive for a sustained period of time but her quality of life will not be good, you know I mean, or we can initiate what’s called comfort care. And I remember standing there. I it was such a such a poignant memory, memory in my life, of standing in the hospital, talking to two doctors and a nurse, standing next to my husband and having to make that decision. And I chose the comfort care route just because I knew in my heart my mom wouldn’t want to live like that. But that is a big responsibility and I think one of the things that you know, families need to really take a look at is who do you want to, you know, be there to make that decision? It is a very powerful time and you know, you never think that you’re going to be placed in that. But that’s also a big responsibility if you become the advanced directive for your loved one is to have those conversations with your parent to make sure that they are you know that they know absolutely and if it, communication is the key and it sounds like you and your mom had really great communication about what was comfortable for her and what she would want and and while it may have been difficult for you, probably having it in writing may have made the difference as far as knowing that was her choice. Right. So, Stephanie, how do we reach you? Well, you’re welcome to give our office to call. Our office number is two thousand and six five, two five, six nine, one nine, and we are also we also have a website, passionatelegal carecom, and you’re welcome to email us through that and though in a compassion legal care.com. And then also you’re going to be teaching our workshops next week. So you’re excited. Yes, so you will be in shoreline and in gig harbor next week. So I know that we have a wonderful calendar in and promotional spots that are talking about those dates, but we look forward to meeting our listeners at those and, Stephanie, thank you so much for being on the program


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Originally published January 20, 2018

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