December 2014 WLG Newsletter

Dear Friends,

We are introducing our first quarterly e-newsletter.  Our hope is that you find these newsletters informative as well as a way to get to know a little bit more about our team.  As many of you know our team has grown in the past few years after Rick Webb’s retirement.  Ward Legal Group now consists of: Sharon Ward (office manager); David Ward (attorney); Nathan Chaffee (associate attorney) and Sarah Frankel (associate attorney).  Nate joined us in 2012 and Sarah joined us in 2014.  If you have not already met our newest members, stay tuned to hear about our upcoming workshops and events.

Who Makes Medical Decisions for Me When I am Incapacitated?

Planning for incapacity is important.  If you are incapacitated and cannot make medical decisions for yourself, the person(s) named in your Health Care Advance Directives assumes the role of your health care agent.  Once you regain capacity, then you return to making your own healthcare decisions.  If you do not have Advance Directives in place, then the court may become involved to appoint someone who can make medical decisions on your behalf. 

Health care documents that we consider important for incapacity planning include: Health Care Advance Directives, which may include a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will, and an Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information.

As described above, a Health Care Power of Attorney authorizes an agent named by you to make medical decisions on your behalf when you lack the capacity to make those decisions for yourself.  It is important to choose an agent you know and trust and who understands your wishes.  A Living Will is a document that expresses your wishes regarding end of life decisions, such as the use of life-sustaining treatment.  An Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information (or informally called a HIPAA release) is a document in which you can list individuals to whom your health care providers can release or disclose your medical information.  It is important for your medical provider to have a copy of these documents.

What Are Review Meetings and Why Are They Important?

We view estate planning as a process not a one-time event.  Your estate plan should continue to meet your needs as time passes, and that is why we recommend that your estate plan have a periodic legal review every one to three years.  Review meetings are a great way to re-visit your estate plan to not only make sure that your Who Gets What and Who’s in Charge provisions remain the way you want them, but also to have a lawyer review your plan with you and raise any changes in the law that might affect your plan.  If you would like to schedule a review meeting with us or have any questions about this process, please give us a call at (603) 352-7310. Our fee for a review meeting is $275 in most cases.

Ward Legal Group PC is an estate planning and elder law firm serving all of New Hampshire and Vermont, including Keene and the nearby areas of Peterborough, Walpole, Brattleboro, Wilmington and Bellows Falls.

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