An Estate Planning Blog for Middle Tennesseans


Estate Planning for Nurses, Physicians, and Healthcare Professionals

Posted by Jim Foster | Mar 17, 2021

Nurse in scrubs resting on couch.

Caring for Yourself With the Right Estate Planning Prescription

To all front-line and “essential” workers:  Thank you for all of your hard work—day in and day out (and often evenings, nights, and weekends).  You tirelessly give of yourself to care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.  Whether you are caring for them in a hospital, therapy room, or patient's home, you are there to protect and help the patient gain a better tomorrow.

You care so well for others, but what about you?  Have you prepared for your own care?  Working together, we can craft the best possible estate planning prescription that will protect you today, tomorrow, and well into the future.

Tools for Protecting Your (and Your Family's!) Future

Revocable Living Trust

An revocable living trust is an excellent way to manage and protect your money and property.  Contrary to what some may think, people from a wide range of income levels can benefit from a trust.  The two major players involved in a trust are the trustee and the beneficiary.  During your lifetime, as long as you are able and choose to do so, you can act as the trustee and can control all money and property in the trust.  However, when you are managing the money and property, you are now doing so as the trustee and not as the individual owner.  In addition to serving as the initial trustee, you are also the beneficiary.  This means that although you have transferred your money and property into the trust, you are still the one receiving the benefits of that money and property.

In the event you are unable to act (i.e., you become incapacitated) or pass away, the individual you have named as your successor trustee will step in and manage the money and property according to the instructions you have included in the written trust agreement.  Even if you are still alive when the successor takes over, it will be the successor trustee's responsibility to manage and use the money and property for your benefit.  Then, upon your passing, the successor trustee is required to hold or distribute the money and property in the trust according to the instructions in the trust instrument.  This transition of trusteeship between you and your successor trustee happens without court involvement, which preserves your privacy, as opposed to  submitting a Last Will and Testament for probate.

(For more on Revocable Living Trusts read The ABCs of RLTs.)

Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney allows the trusted person you choose (your “attorney-in-fact”) to handle your financial matters on your behalf.  The attorney-in-fact, can handle a wide variety of transactions from signing checks to opening a bank account to filing your taxes, depending upon the authority you grant that individual in the power of attorney.  This can be a helpful tool if you are incapacitated, bedridden, or just unavailable to engage in the necessary transaction.  The beauty of this document is that you can customize it so that you will have the assistance you need, when you need it, based on your individual situation and wishes.

Health Care Power of Attorney

As you are probably well aware, a health care power of attorney allows you to name a trusted individual as your agent to communicate your medical wishes in the event you are unable to do so.  It is important that you choose someone you trust because you will not be able to oversee your agent's decisions.  It is equally important that you convey your wishes to this individual clearly.  This can be accomplished through the use of a living will or advance health care directive.

HIPAA Authorization

Additionally, you can execute a HIPAA authorization in the event you would like other trusted individuals to have access to your medical information (i.e., to get a status update on your condition or obtain test results for you) but do not want them to have the ability to make decisions.  In a stressful situation, the dissemination of reliable information straight from the healthcare provider can be a way to ease tensions and allow everyone to process what is going on with a level head.

We understand that you are busy and your time is valuable.  To better assist our clients, we are available to meet by telephone or video conference.  Your estate planning should not have to wait until you have a day off.  Contact us today so we can get started caring for you right away.

Read More

Estate Planning Basics & Benefits
Wills v. Trusts:  How do I know what I need?
The Probate Process:  A Key Element in Deciding Between a Will and Trust
Trust-Based Estate Plans


Posted by Jim Foster

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