Financial Scams Targeting Seniors: How To Protect Yourself

It’s scary to think about. A time in life when people have the most assets under their care, is also the time that aging begins to take its toll on their bodies and their cognitive abilities. The legions of individuals actively preying on seniors to take advantage of them seems to be growing exponentially. What can you do?

Marketplace offers tips on how to best protect yourself and loved ones from scammers in its article “Concerned about financial scams? Here’s your guide.”

Stay in touch with family members, especially if they have lost loved ones to death or divorce. Isolation makes seniors vulnerable to scammers.

Try not to be judgmental and be empathetic, if someone reveals that they have been scammed. Seniors who have been scammed are embarrassed and fearful.

Talk about the scams that you have heard about with loved ones. They may not know about the scams, and this may give them better awareness when the call comes.

If anyone in the family calls with an urgent request for money—often about a grandchild who is in trouble overseas or a fee for a prize that needs to be claimed immediately—pause and tell them that you need time to consider it.

Don’t send or wire money to anyone you don’t know. Gift cards from retailers, Google Play, iTunes or Amazon gift cards are often used by scammers to set up fraudulent transactions.

Once one scammer has nailed down contact information for a victim, they are more likely to be contacted by other scammers. If a loved one is getting calls at all hours of the day, they may be on a list of scam prospects. Consider changing the number, even though that is a hassle. The same goes for email addresses.

You can prevent scams, by talking with people you trust about your financial goals. Talk with an estate planning attorney about creating an advance medical directive and medical power of attorney, then do the same for finances. A power of attorney for your finances allow someone who you know and trust to make financial decisions for you, if you become incapacitated, by illness or injury.

There are different powers of attorney:

General: A designated person can control parts of your financial life. When you return to normal functioning, the power of attorney ends.

Durable: This power of attorney remains in effect, if you become incapacitated.

Springing: This power of attorney is triggered by a life event, like the onset of dementia, an accident or disease, makes you mentally diminished or incapacitated. Certain states do not permit this type of power of attorney, so check with your estate planning attorney.

Reference: Marketplace (May 16, 2019) “Concerned about financial scams? Here’s your guide”

Suggested Key Terms: Elder Financial Abuse, Scams, Trust Abuse, Exploitation, Power of Attorney, General, Durable, Springing

Selling a Parent’s Home after They Pass

Family members who are overtaken with grief are often unable to move forward and make decisions. If a house was not being well maintained while the parent was ill or aging, it might fall into further disrepair. When siblings have emotional attachments to the family home, says the article “With proper planning, selling a parent’s house can be a relatively painless process,” from The Washington Post, things can get even more complicated.

The difficulty of selling a parent’s home after their passing, depends to a large degree on what kind of advance planning has taken place. Much also depends on the heir’s ability to ask for help and working with the right professionals in handling the sale of the home and managing the estate. The earlier the process begins, the better.

Parents can take steps while they are still living to ward off unnecessary complications. It may be a difficult conversation but having it will make the process easier and allow the family time to focus on their emotions, rather than the sale of property. Here are a few pointers:

Make sure your parents have a will. Many Americans do not. A survey from found that only 42% of American adults had a will and other estate planning documents.

Be prepared to spend some money. Before a home is sold, there may be costs associated with maintaining the property and fixing any overdue repairs. Save all receipts and estimates.

Secure the property immediately. That may mean having the locks changed as soon as possible. Once an heir (or someone who believes they are or should be an heir) moves in, getting them out adds another layer of complications.

Get real about the value of the property. Have a real estate agent run a competitive market analysis on the property and consider an appraisal from a licensed appraisal. Avoid any accusations of impropriety—don’t hire a friend or family member. This needs to be all business.

Designate a contact person, usually the executor, to keep the heirs updated on how the sale of the house is progressing.

The biggest roadblock to selling the family house is often the emotional attachment of the children. It’s hard to clean out a family home, with all of the mementos, large and small. The longer the process takes, the harder it is.

This is not the time for any major renovations. There may be some cosmetic repairs that will make the house more marketable, but substantial improvements won’t impact the sale price. Remove all family belongings and show the house either empty or with professional staging to show its possibilities. Clean carpets, paint, if needed and have the landscaping cleaned up.

Keep tax consequences in mind. Depending on where the property is, where the heirs live and how much money is being inherited, there can be estate, inheritance and income taxes.  It is usually best to sell an inherited property, as soon as the rights to it are received. When a property is inherited at death, the property value is “stepped up” to fair market value at the time of the owner’s death. That means that you can sell a property that was purchased in 1970 but not pay taxes on the value gained over those years.

Talk with an experienced estate planning attorney about what will happen when the home needs to be sold. It may be better for parents to create a revocable trust in advance, which will direct the sale, allow a child to continue living in the home for a certain period of time, or instruct the one child who loves the home so much to buy it from the trust. Trusts are typically easier to administer after parents pass away and can be very helpful in preventing family fights.

Reference: The Washington Post (May 16, 2019) “With proper planning, selling a parent’s house can be a relatively painless process”

Suggested Key Terms: Inherited Family Home, Will, Trust, Revocable Trust, Estate Planning Attorney

Little Known Issues When Health Savings Accounts Meet Social Security

For those who regularly contribute to a health savings account and plan to claim Social Security benefits long after their full retirement age, be warned, says CNBC in the article “Near retirement and have a health savings account? Beware of snags when claiming Social Security.” Once you’re on Medicare, no matter whether you just sign up for Part A hospital coverage or if you are paying premiums for other parts of the program, you are no longer entitled to contribute to a health savings account (HSA).

If you have put off filing claims for both Social Security and Medicare, there may be complications.

When Social Security benefits are delayed beyond Full Retirement Age (FRA), there’s generally a lump sum in retroactive benefits of as much as six months offered. Sounds like a great deal, right? However, if you are not yet on Medicare when that lump sum is accepted and you’re also contributing to an HSA, there are some costly issues that may occur.

By accepting the lump sum from Social Security, you also trigger Medicare Part A being effective retroactively. Therefore, any contributions made to an HSA during that time, are now subject to an excise tax of 6%, in addition to income taxes.

If that is something you have unwittingly done, or might do in the near future, the solution is to alert your employer (or the HR department) to remove any matching contributions made on your behalf. You’ll also need to do that by the tax return filing date for the year it happened in.

If you signed up for Social Security this year, remove those contributions by April 15 of next year.

With more and more people remaining in the workplace into their sixties and seventies, this is a situation that is more and more likely to occur.

As long as you have qualified health insurance through your employer, you can delay going on Medicare without facing a late-enrollment penalty. You may continue to contribute to your HSA, in combination with a high-deductible health plan.

What about that lump sum from Social Security? Rejecting it and the retroactive claiming date isn’t necessarily a bad idea. If you reject it, your base benefit will be 4% higher. Based on an 8% increase in benefits for each year claiming Social Security is delayed (up to age 70), the effective date that is six month later would mean a permanent 4% increase in monthly benefits. If you take the lump sum, your base benefit will be pinned to the early date of claim.

The lump sum may be tempting but consider whether or not you’d prefer to receive the higher monthly benefit, before jumping at the offer.

Reference: CNBC (May 16, 2019) “Near retirement and have a health savings account? Beware of snags when claiming Social Security”

Suggested Key Terms: Retirement, Health Savings Account, Social Security, Medicare

What If My Beneficiary Isn’t Ready to Handle an Inheritance?

A recent Kiplinger article asks: “Is Your Beneficiary Ready to Receive Money?” In fact, not everyone will be mentally or emotionally prepared for the money you wish to leave them. Here are some things to consider:

The Beneficiary’s Age. Children under 18 years old cannot sign legal contracts. Without some planning, the court will take custody of the funds on the child’s behalf. This could occur via custody accounts, protective orders or conservatorships. If this happens, there’s little control over how the money will be used. The conservatorship will usually end and the funds be paid to the child, when they become an adult. Giving significant financial resources to a young adult who’s not ready for the responsibility, often ends in disaster. Work with an estate planning attorney to find a solution to avoid this result.

The Beneficiary’s Lifestyle. There are many other circumstances for which you need to consider and plan. These include the following:

  • A beneficiary with a substance abuse or gambling problem;
  • A beneficiary and her inheritance winds up in an abusive relationship;
  • A beneficiary is sued;
  • A beneficiary is going through a divorce;
  • A beneficiary has a disability; and
  • A beneficiary who’s unable to manage assets.

All of these issues can be addressed, with the aid of an estate planning attorney. A testamentary trust can be created to make certain that minors (and adults who just may not be ready) don’t get money too soon, while also making sure they have funds available to help with school, health care and life expenses.

Who Will Manage the Trust? Every trust must have a trustee. Find a person who is willing to do the work. You can also engage a professional trust company for larger trusts. The trustee will distribute funds, only in the ways you’ve instructed. Conditions can include getting an education, or using the money for a home or for substance abuse rehab.

Estate Plan Review. Review your estate plan after major life events or every few years. Talk to a qualified estate planning attorney to make the process easier and to be certain that your money goes to the right people at the right time.

Reference: Kiplinger (April 1, 2019) “Is Your Beneficiary Ready to Receive Money?”

Suggested Key Terms: Estate Planning Lawyer, Wills, Trusts, Trustee, Probate Court, Inheritance, Financial Planning

Forgot to Update Your Beneficiary Designations? Your Ex Will be Delighted

Your will does not control who inherits all your assets when you die. This is something that many people do not know. Instead, many of your assets will pass by beneficiary designations, says Kiplinger in the article “Beneficiary Designations: 5 Critical Mistakes to Avoid.”

The beneficiary designation is the form that you fill out, when opening many different types of financial accounts. You select a primary beneficiary and, in most cases, a contingency beneficiary, who will inherit the asset when you die.

Typical accounts with beneficiary designations are retirement accounts, including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs, SEPs, life insurance, annuities and investment accounts. Many financial institutions allow beneficiaries to be named on non-retirement accounts, which are most commonly set up as Transfer on Death (TOD) or Pay on Death (POD) accounts.

It’s easy to name a beneficiary and be confident that your loved one will receive the asset, without having to wait for probate or estate administration to be completed. However, there are some problems that occur and mistakes get expensive.

Here are mistakes you don’t want to make:

Failing to name a beneficiary. It’s hard to say whether people just forget to fill out the forms or they don’t know that they have the option to name a beneficiary. However, either way, not naming a beneficiary becomes a problem for your survivors. Each company will have its own rules about what happens to the assets when you die. Life insurance proceeds are typically paid to your probate estate, if there is no named beneficiary. Your family will need to go to court and probate your estate.

When it comes to retirement benefits, your spouse will most likely receive the assets. However, if you are not married, the retirement account will be paid to your probate estate. Not only does that mean your family will need to go to court to probate your estate, but taxes will be levied on the asset. When an estate is the beneficiary of a retirement account, all the assets must be paid out of the account within five years from the date of death. This acceleration of what would otherwise be a deferred income tax, must be paid much sooner.

Neglecting special family considerations. There may be members of your family who are not well-equipped to receive or manage an inheritance. A family member with special needs who receives an inheritance, is likely to lose government benefits. Therefore, your planning needs to include a SNT — Special Needs Trust. Minors may not legally claim an inheritance, so a court-appointed person will claim and manage their money until they turn 18. This is known as a conservatorship. Conservatorships are costly to set up. They must also make an annual accounting to the court. Conservators may need to file a bond with the court, which is usually bought from an insurance company. This is another expensive cost.

If you follow this course of action, at age 18 your heir may have access to a large sum of money. That may not be a good idea, regardless of how responsible they might be. A better way to prepare for this situation is to have a trust created.  The trustee would be in charge of the money for a period of time that is determined by the personality and situation of your heirs.

Using an incorrect beneficiary name. This happens quite frequently. There may be several people in a family with the same name. However, one is Senior and another is Junior. The person might also change their name through marriage, divorce, etc. Not only can using the wrong name cause delays, but it could lead to litigation, especially if both people believe they were the intended recipient.

Failing to update beneficiaries. Just as your will must change when life changes occur, so must your beneficiaries. It’s that simple, unless you really wanted to give your ex a windfall.

Failing to review beneficiaries with your estate planning attorney. Beneficiary designations are part of your overall estate plan and financial plan. For instance, if you are leaving a large insurance policy to one family member, it may impact how the rest of your assets are distributed.

Take the time to review your beneficiary designations, just as you review your estate plan. You have the power to determine how your assets are distributed, so don’t leave that to someone else.

Reference: Kiplinger (April 5, 2019) “Beneficiary Designations: 5 Critical Mistakes to Avoid”

Suggested Key Terms: Beneficiary Designations, Estate Planning, Assets, POD, Pay on Death, TOD, Transfer on Death, Special Needs, Trusts

Does Your Estate Plan Need a Physical?

The best goal to set after completing your tax filing, is to make or review your estate plan, says The Pathway in the timely article “Giving your estate plans a check-up.” After all, there this is probably the time of year when you have the most current and complete look at your financial status. The next step is to give yourself the peace of mind, that comes from having a plan that cares for your family and any charities that are important to you.

If you are among those Americans who actually has an estate plan in place, consider this: when was the last time you reviewed or updated the plan? A person’s estate plan is a living document that needs attention on a regular basis, once it is done. Life changes, tax laws change and estate plans need to reflect those changes.

Here are some key reasons to update your estate plan:

People in your life. The relationships you have with the people named in your will, or in your trusts, or as your trustees, may have changed. There may have been happy changes, like birth and marriage, or sad changes, like divorce and death. You might not be close with your colleagues at work because of a job transfer, or your college friends have moved far away and would not be able to serve as your agents. Life changes, and so does your estate plan.

Assets undergo changes as well. If your estate has changed for better or worse since the last time your estate plan was executed, there may be provisions that no longer make sense. If life has been good to you, you may decide to expand an initial donation to a charity that would welcome your generous gift. If you’ve added life insurance coverage, you may want to change how other assets are distributed.

Locations change. Have you moved? If you have changed your state of residence, you must have your estate plan reviewed with an attorney as quickly as possible. Estate law is governed by each state, and what worked well in New Jersey, may not work in Arizona.

Changes in tax laws. After the latest large federal tax law, estate tax exemptions changed dramatically. Plans that you made prior to the tax change may no longer be necessary or may fail to accomplish your goals. There may be advantages that you are missing.

The passage of time. If it’s been more than three years since you’ve reviewed your estate plan and will, it’s time to do so. Locate your original will, review it with an attorney and see if any changes are needed. In a perfect world, you would do this every year after completing your taxes.

People who reach age 70½ years, are required by law to start taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from their IRAs, 401(k)s, SEPs or other qualified plans. As you review your estate plans and retirement accounts, this is a good time to also review your beneficiary designations.

The estate plan is your opportunity to protect your family and your assets. Don’t leave it to chance or neglect it. An estate plan should be reviewed and given a regular checkup, just like a person.

Reference: The Pathway (April 1, 2019) “Giving your estate plans a check-up”

Suggested Key Terms: Estate Plan, Individual Retirement Account, IRA, 401(k), Beneficiary Designations, Tax Exemptions, Will, Required Minimum Distributions

What are Some Common Mistakes in Titling Real Property?

Title to real property must be transferred, when the asset is sold and must be cleared (free of liens or encumbrances) for the transfer to occur. Unlike other real property assets, real estate ownership can take several forms. Each of these forms has implications on how ownership can be transferred and can affect how they can be financed, improved or used as collateral.

Investopedia’s article, “5 Common Methods of Holding Titles on Real Property,” looks at the ways in which to hold title to real estate property.

Joint Tenancy. This is when two or more people hold title to real estate jointly, with equal rights to enjoy the property during their lives. When one dies, their rights of ownership pass to the surviving tenant(s). The parties in the ownership need not be married or related, but any financing or use of the property for financial gain must be approved by all parties and cannot be transferred by will after one passes. Another disadvantage is that a creditor with a legal judgment to collect a debt from one of the owners, can also petition the court to divide the property and force a sale in order to collect on the judgment.

Tenancy In Common. In this situation, two or more persons hold title to real estate jointly with equal rights to enjoy the property during their lives. However, unlike joint tenancy, tenants in common hold title individually for their respective part of the property and can dispose of or encumber as they chose. Ownership can be willed to other parties, and in the event of death, ownership will transfer to that owner’s heirs undivided. An owner can use the wealth created by their portion of the property, as collateral for financial transactions, and creditors can place liens only against one owner’s specific portion of the property. Any liens must be cleared for a total transfer of ownership to take place.

Tenants by Entirety. This can only be used, when the owners are legally married. This is ownership in real estate under the assumption that the couple is one person for legal purposes. The title transfers to the other in entirety, if one of the couple dies. The advantage is that no legal action is required at the death of a spouse. There’s no need for a will, and probate or other legal action isn’t necessary. Conveyance of the property must be done in total, and the property can’t be subdivided. In the case of divorce, the property converts to a tenancy in common, and one owner can transfer ownership of their respective part of the property to whomever they want.

Sole Ownership. This is ownership by an individual or entity legally capable of holding title. The main advantage to holding title as a sole owner, is the ease with which transactions can be accomplished, since no other party needs to authorize the transaction. The disadvantage is the potential for legal issues regarding the transfer of ownership, if the sole owner dies or become incapacitated. Unless there’s a will, the transfer of ownership upon death can be an issue.

Community Property. This form of ownership is by husband and wife during their marriage for property they intend to own together. Under community property, either spouse has the right to dispose of one half of the property or will it to another party. Anyone who’s lived with another person as a common-law spouse and doesn’t specifically change title to the property as sole ownership (which is legally transacted with approval by the significant other) takes the risk of having to share ownership of the property, in the absence of a legal marriage.

Community Property With the Right of Survivorship. This is a way for married couples to hold title to property. However, it is only available in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin. It lets one spouse’s interest in community-property assets pass probate-free to the surviving spouse, in the event of death.

Entities other than individuals can hold title to real estate in its entirety. Ownership in real estate can be done as a corporation. The legal entity is a company owned by shareholders but regarded under the law as having an existence separate from those shareholders. Real estate can also be owned as a partnership, which is an association of two or more people to carry on business for profit as co-owners. Real estate also can be owned by a trust. These legal entities own the properties and are managed by a trustee on behalf of the beneficiaries. There are many benefits, such as managerial influence, financial and legal liability and tax considerations.

Reference: Investopedia (April 10, 2018) “5 Common Methods of Holding Titles on Real Property”

Suggested Key Terms: Wills, Trusts, Trustee, Asset Protection, Probate Court, Inheritance, Tax Planning, Financial Planning, Community Property, Tenancy by the Entirety, Tenancy in Common, Joint Tenancy, Partnership

When Should You Start Claiming Social Security Benefits?

Social Security has helped generations of Americans. The intent of the program was to provide workers with income to supplement their retirement pensions. Through the years, reports The Crozet Gazette, the program has changed and now provides benefits to disabled workers, spouses and children of beneficiaries. The article, “When Should I Start Taking My Social Security Checks?” says that more than 62 million people receive benefits, making it one of the most used social benefit programs.

Over the years of working and paying taxes into the system, a working person receives a monthly benefit for life, with a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) being the only adjustment. Forty “work credits” are needed to be eligible for the program, which is about 10 years of work for most people. Benefits vary, depending upon the earnings of the individual and the number of years they paid into the system. The maximum benefit in 2019 would be $3,770 per month, although most payments range from $800 to $2,400, according to the Social Security Administration.

To receive the full amount, the worker must wait until FRA (Full Retirement Age) to collect benefits. Depending upon the year of birth, FRA can be age 65, 66 or 65. However, workers can take benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. If benefits are taken early, the monthly amount is lower, and that can not change. The later benefits are claimed, the higher the monthly benefit will be.

The question to which there is no single answer, is when to start collecting benefits.

The first issue is if the person needs income and there are no other sources. Many people begin collecting Social Security early, because of unwanted early retirement. They are let go from their jobs and have a hard time finding another position. Another consideration is health. If someone has a chronic illness or a serious illness and they don’t expect to live a long time, it makes sense to take the money earlier.

What most people are looking for when they ask about the timing of benefits is a “break even” age. However, that is an inexact science. Unexpected events happen, so while the numbers may work at one point in time, life circumstances may happen, which makes those numbers useless.

Keep in mind that Social Security benefits may be taxable. Therefore, if you are still working, it makes sense to delay taking benefits.

There are varying opinions on what the future of Social Security will look like. In fact, 2018 was the first year since the 1980s when the program paid out more in benefits, than it received in tax revenue. Congress can authorize funding to address demographic shifts that will impact the trust assets. Social Security was designed as a supplement for worker pensions and not to be the sole income source, so retirement planning should include but not depend upon Social Security.

Reference: The Crozet Gazette (April 5, 2019) “When Should I Start Taking My Social Security Checks?”

Suggested Key Terms: Social Security, Retirement, Taxes, Full Retirement Age, Benefits, Pensions

How Can I Freeze My Child’s Credit?

You can now freeze your child’s credit files for free, and it isn’t that hard to do, says The New York Times’s article, “You Should Freeze Your Child’s Credit. It’s Not Hard. Here’s How.”

Because of a new federal law, free credit freezes are available to everyone. When you have a credit freeze with the major bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—most companies can’t access your credit record, unless they’re already conducting business with you.

As a result, a criminal can’t get a credit card in your name because the card company won’t open the account, unless it can review your credit first.

Thieves can find a way to use your kids’ credit files for their own illegal purposes, and because most people don’t watch their children’s credit, thieves have more time to do their work. In addition, children usually don’t have black marks in their credit files yet—an attractive feature for the bad guys.

Many grown-ups aren’t keen about the hassle of having to temporarily thaw their credit files whenever they want to buy a car or take advantage of a sign-up bonus for a new card, however, this isn’t a problem for children. Therefore, their freezes are less problematic.

Look at each credit bureaus’ instructions on its website. The law typically requires companies to collect proof that you are who you say you are and that your child is really your child. This usually entails mailing them copies of some combination of your child’s birth certificate and Social Security card, and your driver’s license and Social Security card.

In a few weeks, you’ll get a letter confirming that the companies have frozen the files. There isn’t an electronic upload available for your documents, but you can fax them in.

Equifax and TransUnion request that you use an address on the envelope that includes the word “freeze” in it: “Equifax Security Freeze” and “TransUnion Protected Consumer Freeze.” However, they’ll still process your request, if you leave “freeze” out of the address.

Reference: The New York Times (December 28, 2018) “You Should Freeze Your Child’s Credit. It’s Not Hard. Here’s How”

Suggested Key Terms: Credit Freeze, Asset Protection, Financial Planning, Financial Abuse

Protect Yourself – Not Just Your Heirs – With Your Estate Plan

Experts urge people to develop estate plans to make sure you get to choose who will inherit from you and how much, and to select additional options that are available through legal documents, like trust agreements. It can be easy to procrastinate about putting the time and effort into going through this process, if you do not see a direct benefit to yourself. However, having an estate plan can also have a dramatic effect on your life. You can protect yourself – not just your heirs – with your estate plan.

Living the Dream

You can have your elder law attorney draft documents that can make it possible for you to live your dream life, without a care in the world. Let’s say that you want to sail around the world for a few years or serve a tour of duty in the 50+ section of the Peace Corps. You cannot unplug 100 percent from the everyday world. Someone will have to pay your unavoidable bills, file your taxes and manage your money, when you are away and out of reach.

If you know someone whom you can trust without reservation, your lawyer can draft a financial power of attorney for the person you designate (your agent) to handle as many or as few business matters as you specify. You can revoke the power of attorney whenever you want, as long as you have the legal capacity to do so.

In other words, if the law would allow you to draft a valid power of attorney now, you have the legal capacity to revoke one. If you have become incompetent, for example, from an illness or injury, you cannot change the power of attorney, until or unless you regain competency.

Planning for the Worst

Your power of attorney will automatically expire, if you become incapacitated, unless you make sure that the document is a “durable” power of attorney. Being durable means that, at the time that you signed the paper, you intended for the document to continue in effect, if you could not manage matters for yourself.

If you do not have a durable power of attorney and one day you have a stroke or a catastrophic car crash, by way of example, the courts will decide who will make your financial decisions for you. Your family will have to file a request with the court (and pay the court costs to do so), wait for a hearing date, and get a ruling from a judge – a person who has never met you or your family. By the way, the judge will be required to appoint an independent attorney to represent you against your family, to protect your interests. If you prefer to have control over this decision rather than a total stranger, get a durable power of attorney.

Trusts are for the Living

Many people think of setting up a trust as a way to pass their assets to their loved ones privately and quickly, without having to go through the probate courts. While that is one of the purposes for trusts, you can also set up a living trust to stipulate how you want your assets, investments and other financial matters handled, if you become incapacitated.

You can even lay out how you want your business run, if you own a company. You can name someone to serve as your guardian and name a conservator who will manage your finances. You can also let a total stranger make these decisions.

Be sure to talk with an elder law attorney in your area, because this article is about the general law.  Your state’s rules might vary from the general law.


American Bar Association. Power of Attorney. (Accessed April 4, 2019)

Suggested Key Terms: protect yourself while alive with an estate plan, how an estate plan helps you while you are alive

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