Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Traveling without the kids? Make sure to name legal guardians for them - Parental Power of Attorney

If you are a parent of minor children and you are heading out of town without your little ones in tow, it is important to make sure the person staying behind with your children has the legal authority to make decisions for them while you are away.  

To do this, you should execute a Parental Power of Attorney, sometimes called a Power of Attorney for Minor Child or Delegation of Parental Powers, which is used to give a trusted and willing person (an “Agent”) power to act in the place of the parent or guardian.  This Power of Attorney must be signed by you, witnessed by a disinterested witness (i.e. someone who is not related to you by blood or marriage, or named as the Agent, and who is at least 18 years old), and notarized.

The Parental Power of Attorney should contain the full legal name and date of birth for each child, the full legal name and address of the Agent, a statement regarding the parental responsibilities being delegated (i.e. medical decision-making), and a statement regarding duration of the Power of Attorney.

The Parental Power of Attorney becomes effective when it is signed by you and the witness in front of the notary.  It is valid until the date stated in the document or for a maximum of 6 months, unless it is revoked by you at an earlier date. 

The Parental Power of Attorney does not need to be recorded or filed with the Court.  However, you should provide an original of the executed Power of Attorney to each person named as an Agent in the document.  The caregiver will be able to use the Parental Power of Attorney to act on your behalf to take care of and make decisions for your children while you are away.

*An article I wrote on this topic first appeared in the Arizona Republic on June 14, 2016. HERE is a link to the online version of the article.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

September 10th is Grandparents Day!

We recently had a great visit with my mom and dad. They flew in from Missouri with my niece to help celebrate my son's birthday. We are so blessed that they are willing to come to Arizona and brave the heat!

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.  This year Grandparents Day falls on September 10! We would like to take this opportunity to honor all of our valued clients who are grandparents and wish you the best on your special day.

"If I knew how much fun grandchildren would be, I would have had them first!"

As you know, one of the great joys in life is welcoming a grandchild into the family.  After all, you get to re-experience the wonder of holding a new baby--without having to change the diapers or go without sleep every night!  You can also enjoy watching your grandchildren grow up without continually reminding them to wash their hands, eat their vegetables or brush their teeth!  And let's be honest, there's a certain pleasure in the spectacle of your son or daughter going through exactly what you went through while raising them.  

All humor aside, as a loving grandparent you want the best for your grandchildren and look for ways to help and protect them any way you can.  As your estate planning counselor, we can help you accomplish these goals in many ways, such as generation skipping trusts, special needs trusts, gifting programs, college funding programs, etc.)  we can also protect the assets you want to leave to your grandchildren if, for example, your child gets divorced or remarried, or your grandchild is not mature enough to handle an inheritance on his or her own.  We can even show you ways to leave an inheritance to your grandchildren while benefiting financially in the meantime.  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New Life for an Old Blog

While I may have been absent from this blog for a while, I have not been absent from the world of law. After spending several years as a solo attorney, I decided I wanted to work in a firm environment again and decided to collaborate with a colleague of mine who had a very similar practice model. As I worked to grow our joint practice, I left this blog behind.

As we all know, some marriages don't work out, and as of earlier this year, I went back into solo practice. I have missed writing and sharing estate planning tidbits on this blog, and plan to start doing so again. I hope you find the information useful. I look forward to "seeing" you around!

Friday, March 2, 2012

You Truly Never Know What Might Happen...

"You just never know."

That phrase could not be ringing more true for the Wilcox family of Barnett, Missouri.  On Tuesday morning, Marty and Elisa Wilcox were leaving the hospital with their brand new baby boy, Gabriel, and their 3-year old son, Marty Junior.  The Wilcoxes were en route to grandmother, Angela Hartwig's house with Marty and Elisa wearing seat belts and both children properly secured in the appropriate child restraint seats.  In a horribly tragic turn of events, the Wilcox car was hit head on by a Toyota who crossed the center line. Marty and Elisa were pronounced dead on the scene and little Marty Junior was taken to a nearby hospital where he died a short time later. Miraculously, Baby Gabriel, only 40 hours old, was thrown from the vehicle but suffered only minor scratches and was released from the hospital that same day. At barely two days old, he is now an orphan and in his grandmother's care. This sad story unfortunately gets sadder as the driver of the Toyota was 19-year old Emily Frakes--Elisa's co-worker who had celebrated Gabriel's impending arrival at a baby shower not two weeks prior.

All of us here at Kristel K. Patton, P.C. are heartbroken by this story.  But we feel compelled to remind our readers that anything can happen to anyone at absolutely anytime--even 40 hours after the joyous arrival of a brand new baby.  We encourage everyone to take some time this year to think about planning for your future.  Especially if you have young or dependent children, it is imperative to ensure that the lives of your family and loved ones continue on as uninterrupted as possible should the unfortunate occur.  It is unclear whether the Wilcoxes had their affairs in order. But if they didn't, it would be up to Grandma Angela to deal with probating their estate and possibly even fighting a custody battle over Baby Gabriel all while trying to grieve the horrific loss of her dear loved ones. Estate planning is not always the easiest topic to discuss and think about, but it is so important to take care of because you truly never know what might happen.

*This post adapted from "Infant sole survivor of crash that kills parents, brother" found here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Yellow Dot Program for Medical-Alerts

With approximately 32 million drivers in the United States being age 65 or older, a new craze called the Yellow Dot program is gaining nationwide recognition.  The Yellow Dot began in Connecticut in 2002, and it's premise is quite simple.  Drivers affix a yellow dot sticker to the rear windshield of their vehicle, and this would alert emergency rescue workers that the driver has vital information such as a list of medical conditions and prescriptions, a photograph, or emergency contact information stored in their glove compartment.

Alabama's Yellow Dot program has recently generated a lot of interest.  Lora Weaver, program coordinator for the Northeast Alabama Traffic Safety Office, says that she has sent out over 150 information packets to interested people seeking to start programs in their own state or county. Proposals to keep costs down such as not requiring registration are highly favored, also.

This is a great program for all drivers, not just those over age 65. The more information that is available to emergency responders, the better they can care for accident victims of any age and notify the victims' families.

If you would like to see a Yellow Dot program implemented in your city or state, contact your local highway safety governing board for more information.

*Story adapted from "Drivers hot for medical-alert Yellow Dot kits" article found here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

We're in the Ahwatukee Foothills News!

On June 30, 2011 the Ahwatukee Foothills News ran a story featuring Kristel K. Patton P.C. and discussed the importance of estate planning.  We had a great time meeting with the reporter, and are thrilled that this information is reaching more and more people. Check it out HERE and share it with your friends!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July is National Recreation and Parks Month!

Did you know that 75 percent of Americans live within two miles of a public park or recreation facility, and that more than 75 percent of us visit them each year?  In recognition of the importance of parks and recreation facilities in our lives, and to foster the well-being of our environment and communities, the National Recreation and Park Association designated the month of July as Recreation and Parks Month in 1985.

As an estate planning law firm, we tend to focus on the financial security of our clients and their families.  Of course, we are also concerned with their physical and emotional well-being.  This is why we wholeheartedly support National Recreation and Parks Month and hope that it will serve as a reminder for our readers to take advantage of our nation's valuable resources.

Here are just a few of the benefits afforded by taking advantage of what America's parks and recreation facilities have to offer:

  • Improved physical and mental health.  Recreation and active living can help increase life expectancy by as much as two years and make for a more balanced, happier life
  • The development of specialized skills, a positive self-image and creativity in children and grandchildren
  • Increased ability to concentrate and learn
  • The opportunity to build stronger family relationships by spending quality time together, which in turn helps creating a lasting legacy for your family
  • And, perhaps most of all, the opportunity to get out and enjoy time spent with family and friends in a beautiful setting
If you would like to learn more about the parks and activities near you, visit NRPA.org.  Then, take advantage of the next nice day, gather your family and friends together, and head out to the nearest park for a little recreating!