Bobby’s Blog

Important Info You Need to Know About How Divorce Can Impact Your Estate Plan

Most people never expect to get divorced. They love their spouse and anticipate spending the rest of their lives in marital bliss. Unfortunately, the data indicates this is not the norm. In fact, in the United States, nearly half of all married couples wind up getting divorced, according to the American Psychological Association.

This is why it is important to be prepared and have as much information at your disposal. Below is a general overview of how a divorce can impact your estate plan.

How Divorce Can Impact Your Will

When you get divorced, any items or funds that are directed to your ex-spouse will be automatically revoked, according to Virginia Code § 64.2-412(A). This statutory provision means your ex-spouse will lose the following rights, responsibilities, and benefits described in your Will:
·        General or special power of appointment;
·        Executor status
·        Guardian status
·        Any assets designated to go to the ex-spouse

Despite the automatic revocation, it makes more sense to take the time to update your Will to ensure there is no possibility your ex-spouse could make a legal argument in favor of receiving any assets from your Will.  Also, the period of time between separation and final divorce decree or settlement agreement could last from a few months to a few years. During this period, the disposition of your assets should be clear if something happens to you.

How Divorce Can Impact Your Trust

You need to take action if you get divorced and have a trust. Why? Because the Uniform Trust Code does not automatically revoke the beneficiary status of an ex-spouse upon divorce. Therefore, if you do nothing and your ex-spouse remains listed as the primary beneficiary of your trust, they will still receive those funds when you pass on.

How Divorce Can Affect an Advance Medical Directive

When your divorce is finalized, you may believe this automatically revokes all rights and responsibilities from your now-ex-spouse. This is not correct. In fact, under the Virginia Health Care Decisions Act, an advance medical directive is not automatically revoked as a result of a divorce. Therefore, you need to be proactive and expressly revoke the existing advance medical directive naming your ex-spouse as your health care agent.

How Divorce Can Affect Designations of Beneficiaries in Your Estate Plan

Fortunately, automatic revocation exists when it comes to beneficiary designations. According to Va. Code § 20-111.1(A), a revocable beneficiary designation providing for the payment of a death benefit to your ex-spouse is revoked.  This includes any life insurance policies, retirement accounts, or any other contracts providing for the payment of benefits to a spouse upon your passing.
However, if you are a federal employee, or your life insurance plan is governed by federal law, your ex-spouse will receive the life insurance proceeds, if they remain listed as the designated beneficiary.

Have Questions? Contact an Experienced Trust and Estate Planning Attorney in Ashburn

Divorce can significantly impact an array of provisions within your estate plan. As a result, if you are in the midst of a divorce, or just had your divorce finalized, take the time to sit down with an experienced Ashburn trust and estate planning attorney to take the necessary steps to update your estate plan.

Advances in Medical Technology Making Prospect of Living to 120 and Beyond a Possibility

In trust and estate planning, there is an emphasis on the end of life and what needs to be done after you’ve left this earth. This blog will be a breath of fresh air since we’re focusing on living longer and enjoying as many years on this earth as possible.

Advances in medical technology have made it possible to actually identify risk factors in the human body before they can inflict significant harm on your overall health. These risk factors are identified through “biomarkers” and “genome sequencing.”

Basics of Biomarkers

Biomarkers are biological data points that reveal the current physical state of affairs of a specific medical condition. The majority of biomarkers are discovered through blood tests for future risk, but they also might include other health data points like an individual’s calcium score and blood pressure.  Furthermore, new health biomarkers are being identified quite frequently, according to Fortune.com. This will give doctors more data points to examine and track particular medical conditions.

Here is an interesting video focused on personalized medicine, genomics, and biomarkers:

General Info on Genome Sequencing

Personal genome sequencing, using the identified biomarkers, can enable medical professionals to discover specific future health risk you may face so you can take action now and stop it in the early stages before it becomes a serious health risk.

Genomic mapping and analysis enables doctors to identify the specific processes that lead to the creation of a future disease state. Once a biomarker corresponding to that future disease is identified, a detailed protocol can be developed to track and manage it.

Bottom Line

With these incredible advances in biomarker identification and personal genome sequencing, you may be able to stop a disease before it starts which means we may wind up being able to live much longer and healthier lives.

How to Take Advantage of These Medical Advances

There are steps you can take right now to begin taking advantage of these medical advances For example, you can have your genome mapped by numerous health services companies.  You can also work with physician and care teams who have a deeper understanding of longevity care and are actively staying abreast of the latest developments in the field.

These experts can monitor developments with your particular biomarkers, with the goal of staying out in front of any illnesses, diseases or other negative health outcomes. They can also provide you with a range of options to address any issues that appear, often using more advanced and less invasive health care methods, according to Safe Harbor Asset Management.

As you can see, this is an incredible time to be alive and you may be able to enjoy this life for much longer than expected.

Understanding the Shocking Link Between Sleep Problems and Dementia

The Institute for Dementia Research & Prevention reports that approximately 1-in-10 men and 1-in-6 women will likely be diagnosed with symptoms of dementia after they reach the age of 55.  The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, more than 60 percent of dementia patients are subsequently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

What Exactly is Dementia?

Dementia is a fairly broad term that includes a number of pathophysiological conditions. For example, the most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Nevertheless, forms of dementia include Parkinson’s disease, Shy-Drager syndrome, Huntington’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The Connection Between Sleep Disorders and Dementia

The link between sleep issues and dementia share the same conundrum as the chicken and the egg – do people with dementia simply have sleep problems, or do sleep problems contribute to the development of dementia?  The definitive answer remains unknown, but is the subject of multiple studies.

Check out this NBC News report about the link between sleep problems and dementia:

How Chronic Insomnia Could be an Early Predictor of Dementia

A link was discovered between sleep deprivation and increased risk for Alzheimer’s in a recent medical study. Researchers notes that levels of amyloid-beta protein in the bloodstream increased during waking periods and declined during sleep. This is important because amyloid-beta protein can be found in the brain plaques that are prevalent in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Patients with dementia often suffer from sleep apnea for much of their life, including chronic snoring and sleep disturbances. Many experts believe sleep apnea is directly correlated to the development of severe dementia. For example, studies have shown that 90 percent of Alzheimer’s patients reported at least five respiratory events per hour of sleep.

Have Questions About Long-Term Care? Speak to an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

If you are taking care of an elderly loved one or are concerned about a loved one needing long-term care, consider reaching out to an experienced Ashburn estate planning attorney for advice. In addition, check out these helpful resources that go more in-depth on the link between dementia and sleep disorders:

Guide to Dementia and Sleep Disorders

Seniors’ Guide to Sleep and Aging

Skin in the Game – Should Doctors Comply with a “Do Not Resuscitate” Tattoo?

Many patients find it difficult to communicate their end-of-life wishes to family members and doctors at critical points of time, especially if you are confronted with a sudden or unexpected ailment. There are legal documents designed to help address this important issue. For example, your estate planning attorney can draft an advance directive that tells your doctor and loved ones what kind of medical care you desire if you are incapacitated or deemed unable to make such decisions. You can also draft a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order to be included with your advance directive. A DNR is a request not to have CPR administered if your heart stops or if you stop breathing. Your doctor should place the DNR order in your medical chart and doctors and hospitals in most states accept DNR orders.

But what if you tattoo “Do Not Resuscitate” on your body? Are doctors obligated to treat this marking as a medical directive? Well, a hospital in Florida encountered this very situation.

A man was admitted to the hospital, unconscious, with a history of serious health problems and a high blood alcohol level. He had no identification and no family accompanied him to the hospital. Oh yeah, he had “Do Not Resuscitate” tattooed on his chest.

Upon discovering the tattoo, doctors were inclined to ignore it. They reasoned that a DNR is such a serious matter, they did not want to throw caution to the wind. They were preparing to treat the patient when the hospital’s ethics consultant chimed in and recommended the doctors comply with the DNR tattoo. 

Check out this news report about the Do Not Resuscitate Tattoo

The ethics consultant suggested that it was most reasonable to infer that the tattoo expressed an authentic preference, that what might be seen as caution could also be seen as standing on ceremony, and that the law is sometimes not nimble enough to support patient-centered care and respect for patients’ best interests, according to CNN.com. Another development strengthened the consultant’s recommendation. The hospital’s social work department found a copy of the patient’s “out-of-hospital” do not resuscitate order. As a result, the tattooed request was respected.

Navigating DNR Laws

The laws and regulations concerning DNR orders can be quite complex and will vary from state to state.

In Virginia, DNR orders are governed by § 54.1-2987.1(B), and states that a valid DNR order “may be issued by a physician for his patient with whom he has a bona fide physician/patient relationship as defined in the guidelines of the Board of Medicine, and only with the consent of the patient or, if the patient is a minor or is otherwise incapable of making an informed decision regarding consent for such an order, upon the request of and with the consent of the person authorized to consent on the patient’s behalf.” Although a DNR may be issued by a physician, historically an Advance Medical Directive has been the legal document that only licensed attorneys could counsel and draft for individuals.  This year, Virginia passed a law that would permit certified health professionals to counsel individuals on directives as well.  In Maryland, you should complete a Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) form. Keep in mind, under Maryland Statutes § 5-6081, a health care provider must sign the MOLST form to make it valid.

Speak to an Experienced Advance Medical Directive Lawyer Today

If you have questions about your Advance Medical Directive, or need this legal document drafted as part of a comprehensive estate plan, now the time to reach out to InSight Law to schedule a meeting. Sitting down with Bobby Feisee or one of the other seasoned lawyers at InSight Law to discuss your situation will be a productive and pleasant experience. The experienced attorneys at InSight Law can design a plan that perfectly matches your goals and needs, protects your assets and family, and provides you with peace of mind. Contact our office today by calling 703-654-6019 or filling out a quick contact form on our web site.

 

Skin in the Game – Should Doctors Comply with a “Do Not Resuscitate” Tattoo?

Many patients find it difficult to communicate their end-of-life wishes to family members and doctors at critical points of time, especially if you are confronted with a sudden or unexpected ailment. There are legal documents designed to help address this important issue. For example, your estate planning attorney can draft an advance directive that tells your doctor and loved ones what kind of medical care you desire if you are incapacitated or deemed unable to make such decisions. You can also draft a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order to be included with your advance directive. A DNR is a request not to have CPR administered if your heart stops or if you stop breathing. Your doctor should place the DNR order in your medical chart and doctors and hospitals in most states accept DNR orders.

But what if you tattoo “Do Not Resuscitate” on your body? Are doctors obligated to treat this marking as a medical directive? Well, a hospital in Florida encountered this very situation.

A man was admitted to the hospital, unconscious, with a history of serious health problems and a high blood alcohol level. He had no identification and no family accompanied him to the hospital. Oh yeah, he had “Do Not Resuscitate” tattooed on his chest.

Upon discovering the tattoo, doctors were inclined to ignore it. They reasoned that a DNR is such a serious matter, they did not want to throw caution to the wind. They were preparing to treat the patient when the hospital’s ethics consultant chimed in and recommended the doctors comply with the DNR tattoo. 

Check out this news report about the Do Not Resuscitate Tattoo

The ethics consultant suggested that it was most reasonable to infer that the tattoo expressed an authentic preference, that what might be seen as caution could also be seen as standing on ceremony, and that the law is sometimes not nimble enough to support patient-centered care and respect for patients’ best interests, according to CNN.com. Another development strengthened the consultant’s recommendation. The hospital’s social work department found a copy of the patient’s “out-of-hospital” do not resuscitate order. As a result, the tattooed request was respected.

Navigating DNR Laws

The laws and regulations concerning DNR orders can be quite complex and will vary from state to state.

In Virginia, DNR orders are governed by § 54.1-2987.1(B), and states that a valid DNR order “may be issued by a physician for his patient with whom he has a bona fide physician/patient relationship as defined in the guidelines of the Board of Medicine, and only with the consent of the patient or, if the patient is a minor or is otherwise incapable of making an informed decision regarding consent for such an order, upon the request of and with the consent of the person authorized to consent on the patient’s behalf.” Although a DNR may be issued by a physician, historically an Advance Medical Directive has been the legal document that only licensed attorneys could counsel and draft for individuals.  This year, Virginia passed a law that would permit certified health professionals to counsel individuals on directives as well.  In Maryland, you should complete a Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) form. Keep in mind, under Maryland Statutes § 5-6081, a health care provider must sign the MOLST form to make it valid.

Speak to an Experienced Advance Medical Directive Lawyer Today

If you have questions about your Advance Medical Directive, or need this legal document drafted as part of a comprehensive estate plan, now the time to reach out to InSight Law to schedule a meeting. Sitting down with Bobby Feisee or one of the other seasoned lawyers at InSight Law to discuss your situation will be a productive and pleasant experience. The experienced attorneys at InSight Law can design a plan that perfectly matches your goals and needs, protects your assets and family, and provides you with peace of mind. Contact our office today by calling 703-654-6019 or filling out a quick contact form on our web site.