Advance Healthcare Directives

2014’s You’re Not You stars Hilary Swank as a 35-year-old classical pianist who is stricken with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease). This multiple-hanky-needed drama is naturally sad, although fairly realistic and extremely well-acted. ALS is a disease that travels in only one direction: downhill. There is no cure, not even much palliative care that can be offered. So, yes, in one respect, the movie is about watching Hilary Swank’s character die.

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Guardianship Court

Revocable Living Trusts are planned with the intention of keeping the family out of court. If this intent fails, courts have alarming powers to interfere with your plan. The recent case of Rene v. Sykes-Kennedy illustrates this point.

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Are Professional Guardians Cockroaches?

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz around the need to fix the rules governing “professional guardians” (i.e., persons who have been appointed guardian over three or more legally incapacitated individuals) in order to protect Florida’s elderly from predatory practices. (See here, herehere, and here.) While the Florida legislature is taking steps to address the issue, you can mitigate your risk of becoming a victim by implementing anticipatory provisions in your estate planning documents.

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Father and Daughter

Adding to the unusual cases profiled in our Adoption Series (see here, herehere, and here), a Florida court recently decided whether an adopted daughter’s attempt to invalidate her own adoption, so that she could inherit her biological father’s estate as his lineal heir, had any legal merit.

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Digital Assets

*UPDATE: We've learned Senate Bill 102 died on calendar on May 1. As this is a very important piece of legislation, which insulates your fiduciaries from privacy law violations amongst other benefits, we encourage you to contact your senator or state representative and ask that they vote for this Bill next session.

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National Healthcare Decisions Day

If you were in an accident today or became suddenly sick and couldn’t speak for yourself, would your family know your healthcare wishes? Would they know for certain what you would want the hospital and doctors to do? And would they be able to make decisions for you—or even talk to your healthcare providers on your behalf?

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Facebook Legacy Contact

Up until recently, your loved ones and even the executor (or “Personal Representative”) of your estate would be denied access to your Facebook account after your death. To address the issues this created, Facebook has changed its policy and now allows its users to designate a “Legacy Contact.”

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iPods for dementia

Alive Inside is another captivating movie about a subject that regularly touches our practice as estate planners: dementia. This documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music and Memory, as he chronicles the reactions of memory-loss patients being reintroduced to their favorite music through the use of iPods.

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Art Gallery

This fascinating documentary details the struggle for control of Dr. Albert C. Barnes’ private collection of modern and post-impressionist art, valued at 40-50 billion dollars. Even if you haven’t heard of Dr. Barnes or his phenomenal art collection, this film is a must-see.

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ID-10052309

In December 2014, Congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (“ABLE”) Act, which provides for a new type of tax-free savings account for persons who are born with a disability or become disabled at a young age (25 or younger).  This is an exciting new tool because it will allow special needs individuals to possess – and possibly control, depending on the individual’s capacity – more money than under the prior law.

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