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Archive for October, 2009


Friday, October 30th, 2009 by

In this newsletter, we will begin a series on the 6 common mistakes parents make when naming guardians for their children.  Naming guardians for minor children is the first step in the estate planning process for most parents.  Without proper counseling concerning all of the issues involved, mistakes can be made. 


            The first common mistake is that you very likely only named long-term care guardians and did not make any arrangements for the immediate term care of your children if you were in an accident.  This means your children could be taken out of your home and into the arms of strangers until the authorities could figure out what to do.


            What about the short term?  For example, your children are with a baby sitter while you have gone out together for the evening.  In the unlikely event that you are in a bad car accident, the police are going to come to your house.  You left your cell phone number and your neighbor’s phone number with the baby sitter.  What do you think would happen?


            Without legal documents naming short-term guardians BY LAW your children can be taken into the custody of the Department of Children and Families child protective services and placed in foster care until the children’s named legal guardian is available.  In many cases, this legal guardian (say, a sibling or parent of the parent) lives out of state and needs a few days to arrive on the scene.  Naming a local temporary guardian can avoid having the children placed in foster care for those few days.


            For short-term guardians we recommend that you consider people who live within a 20 minute drive of your home.  People your children know, love and trust that can be there right away.  You should provide them with Legal Documents they need.  The baby sitter should be instructed on whom to call in the event of an emergency. 


            To ensure that a child’s important information is known in a medical emergency, Cramer Law Center registers its clients in a service that provides instant electronic access to a child’s emergency information and documents, including documents which name local, temporary guardians.  This program is designed to provide access to the information a non-parent caregiver might need in case the child in their care faces an emergency situation.


            So make sure you name local, temporary guardians for your minor children and that the legal documents naming those guardians are readily accessible in the event of an emergency.  We can help.

Categories : Newsletter
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Thursday, October 29th, 2009 by

We interrupt our series on the 6 commons mistakes parents make when naming guardians for their children to bring you this Halloween-themed newsletter.


It’s 8 pm and the pain in your chest is still there.  You finally admit to your loved one that maybe it’s time to go to the hospital.  You can see their worry as they grab the car keys and hurry you out the door to the emergency room…

Let’s face it, going to the hospital can be a little frightening.  But there are ways to prepare yourself and your loved ones.  A little bit of preparation can make the experience better for everyone: you, your family, and the hospital staff.

  1. Make sure that your healthcare power of attorney is up-to-date.  This document names the person (or persons) you would like to make medical decisions for you if you can’t do so.  Review this document periodically to make sure your choice(s) is still valid.
  2. Review your Living Will.  This document states your desires regarding treatments you would (or would not) want to receive in the hospital if you cannot make these decisions yourself.  Your living will is an important resource for your healthcare power of attorney should he/she need to make decisions about your care.
  3. Make your decision about organ donation and document it.  If you would like to donate your organs at the time of your passing, make that decision now and put it in writing.  One organ donor can save up to 8 lives and the need far exceeds the supply.
  4. Talk to your loved ones about your healthcare choices:  who you’ve named as your healthcare power of attorney, what your medical wishes are, and whether you want to be an organ donor.  The more they know in advance, the easier it will be for them if they ever have to step in. 
  5. Carry your DocuBank wallet card.  Our firm provides this card to our clients because we know that immediate access to your emergency information and healthcare directives is important.  Make sure that your card is next to your driver’s license in your wallet at all times.
  6. Update the emergency information you store with DocuBank.  This includes your allergies and medical conditions that display on your Emergency Card and can help with your emergency treatment.  Also update your doctor’s and emergency contacts’ names and phone numbers. 


At the hospital, the ER staff asks you many questions.  One of them is whether you have a living will or other healthcare directive (they may call it an “advance directive”).  You or your loved one presents your DocuBank card.  Hospital staff can make immediate note of the allergies and medical conditions on your card.  They then use the card to obtain your directives, adding them to your chart immediately.  There is no fuss about where your living will is or who should go back home to get it.  Your card takes the stress off you and your family when the focus should be on your health, not your healthcare directives.  The doctor comes in and you start to relax a little… 

If you have questions about your healthcare directives or your DocuBank membership, please call us at 904-448-9978.  We’ll be glad to help.  Happy Halloween!

Categories : Newsletter
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Astor’s Son Found Guilty

Thursday, October 8th, 2009 by

We previously have commented on the estate planning of Mrs. Astor, which led to her son facing several criminal charges. (See our posts of 8/4/09 and 8/6/09.) He now has been found guilty of most of those charges. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/09/nyregion/09astor.html?_r=1&hp

Categories : Guardianship, Wills
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HOT TOPIC: Restricting Inheritance on Condition of Marrying Within A Certain Religion

Thursday, October 1st, 2009 by

The question in In re: Estate of Max Feinberg (Supreme Court of Illinois, Docket Number 106982, September 24, 2009) concerned the validity of a trust provision which the Court termed a “beneficiary restriction clause”.  Max Feinberg died in 1986.  Prior to his death, he executed a Will and created a Trust.  The pertinent provisions of the Trust were that some of his assets were to be held in trust for the benefit of his grandchildren; however, any of the grandchildren who married outside the Jewish faith or whose non-Jewish spouse did not convert to Judaism within one year of marriage, would be “deemed deceased for all purposes of this instrument as of the date of such marriage”.  In other words, if the grandchildren did not marry within their faith, they would not be entitled to a share of the money left in trust by their grandfather, Max. 


            Last year, the Illinois Appellate Court had found the Trust provision to be unenforceable because they ruled it was contrary to the public policy of the State of Illinois.  (383 Ill. App. 3rd 992).  The appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court created national interest and several Jewish organizations filed amicus briefs.  The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Appellate Court, but did not directly answer the broad public policy question.  Because Max’s wife, Erla, had survived him and was given a limited power of appointment to direct assets after her death, her actions superseded those of her husband.  She decided, however, to leave certain assets to each of then living grandchildren of Max who were not “deemed deceased” under the beneficiary restriction clause of Max’s Trust.  Essentially, she was following Max’s wishes.  Because of this intervening act, the Court found that no grandchild had a vested interest in the Trust assets and because the distribution plan adopted by Erla had no prospective application, the Court held that the beneficiary restriction clause did not violate public policy under those limited facts.  So, to sum up, a restriction in a Trust that requires marriage within a faith is not “automatically” or “per se” a violation of public policy, but it might be depending upon the facts.  What do you think public policy should be?

Categories : Estate Planning
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