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Law Office of Rick Todd Blog

Monday, August 21, 2017

Howard County Estate Planning for Dummies

What documents go into an estate plan? Every attorney “sells” a will, a power of attorney and an advance directive to their client. But what else do they sell? Most probably leave it at that. I go a step further and add a HIPAA waiver and a final disposition.

Learning More about Howard County Estate Planning

A HIPAA waiver allows your loved ones to gain access to your medical files should you fall serious ill. They can then take your files to another doctor if necessary. Hospitals, like financial institutions, tend to be reluctant to give out the private data of one of their customers, so a document that purports to represent the wishes of someone will help gain access.

The final disposition is usually found in an individual’s will but I’ve removed it and put it outside. Why? Most wills are read after someone died and deceased person’s family doesn’t want to read that they should have buried instead of cremated, especially if there were already pre-need (pre-paid) arrangements made. By keeping it outside the will, there’s a better chance it will be found in time.

How much do I charge for these additional items? They’re part of the whole package, so I don’t charge extra.

Are there any other documents that are included within this piece of Howard County Estate Planning? Some lawyers include a “letter of intent” and “beneficiary designations”. A letter of intent lets a beneficiary know that they are getting something in the will. I do not recommend these because they raise expectations. Beneficiary designations are determinations of who will inherit an account (bank account, insurance policy, retirement account etc.). These are discussed with all my clients, but clients must do this work themselves. Financial institutions will not allow an attorney to change beneficiaries on another person’s account without a great deal of trouble.


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The Law Offices of Rick Todd is located in Columbia, MD and Chevy Chase, MD (Friendship Heights) serve clients throughout Clarksville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Fulton, Rockville, Bethesda, Potomac, Laurel, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Washington D.C.



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