Every year we use our year-end newsletter for a brief moment of reflection on the passing year with an eye towards the future however, as we are all aware, this year has been unlike any other year.
First and foremost, we want to pause and say thank you to our friends, colleagues, and clients. We are thankful you are part of JGB.
This year has been challenging for all of us, some more so than others, but we hope that 2021 brings a brighter year. That being said, the end of the year is an opportune time to revisit your estate plans and ensure everything is in order especially with the challenges posed by the coronavirus.
Operations During the Pandemic
To begin, we must address the elephant in the room: the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Due to the essential nature of the services we provide and the statutory requirement that certain documents be witnesses and signed in person, JGB continues to remain open. In accordance with CDC guidance and the Governor’s orders, we have instituted a variety of measures to protect our clients and staff. These procedures include, but are not limited to, the mandatory use of masks; expansion of telephone and Zoom appointments; maintaining appropriate social distancing; frequent handwashing; and sanitization of conference rooms after each use. We have set up a “clean-room” for signings in Williamsburg; as well as providing clients with the option for “parking-lot” signings at both our Williamsburg and Richmond locations.
Face to face meetings are still available on a case by case basis.
We continue to monitor the ongoing situation and will adjust procedures based on the guidance of government agencies and public health officials as appropriate.
Health Care Planning
If the pandemic has shown us nothing else, it has demonstrated the requirement for an up to date suite of health care planning documents. These documents, sometimes referred to collectively as an Advance Medical Directive, consist of three individual documents: a Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA); a HIPAA Release; and a Living Will.
First, the HCPOA allows you as Principal to establish an Agent. This Agent will make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make your wishes known. Second, the HIPPA Release waives your protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This document enables selected individuals to receive information about your medical condition and treatment. Without a waiver there can be no exchange of information. Third, the Living Will allows you to determine your course of care if you should find yourself in a permanent vegetative state, with a terminal illness, or an incurable condition.
These documents must be evaluated considering the coronavirus and related changes. As an example, the person selected as Agent must be ready, willing, and able to perform their duties in a timely manner should they be required to do so. Whereas, prior to coronavirus, a sibling a few states over might have be an acceptable person to name as your Agent, in light of ever-changing travel restrictions, you may benefit from selecting an Agent that lives closer to home. The same holds true for your Living Will. The decisions and restrictions you originally put in place may not be appropriate now given the dynamic nature of coronavirus therapy protocols.
Unfortunately, if you are at the point you need to rely on your Advance Medical Directive to manage your care, you are almost certainly in no condition to modify the documents. It is critically important that you review your Advance Medical Directive now to ensure your medical wishes are fully carried out should the worst happen.
TrustGuard™ enrollment for 2021 is now open. TrustGuard™ is a proprietary JGB, process-driven program, designed for our clients who are serious about protecting their investment in their Trust-based Estate Plan with an annual review.
A subscription to TrustGuard™ includes an annual review of your estate plan and funding for the enrollment year, along with any required changes to your plan, as well as access to our exclusive TrustGuard™ quarterly newsletter. Enrollment invitations were sent out for all our enrolled TrustGuard™ clients, as well as our clients who executed their documents in 2020.
Enrollment for the 2021 TrustGuard™ period ends on February 28, 2021. JGB clients who do not re-enroll during the enrollment period will not have another opportunity to become members of TrustGuard™.
Participation in TrustGuard™ is entirely voluntary. The TrustGuard™ enrollment subscription is billed at an annual flat rate. Clients who pay their enrollment in full prior to February 1, 2021 will receive a $100 discount off of the price of full enrollment. If you are interested in becoming a TrustGuard™ client, please contact our office for a TrustGuard™ Enrollment Form.
DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know JGB offers a “College Plan” for the adult children of our existing clients? Despite the name, the College Plan is appropriate for any young adult 18 years or older without regard to whether they are attending college. The JGB College Plan consists of a Durable General Power of Attorney (GDPOA); an Advanced Medical Directive (Health Care Power of Attorney, HIPAA Release, and Living Will); and a FERPA Release.
Much like the HCPOA, the GDPOA empowers an Agent to act financially on your behalf. Practically, this means that Mom and Dad can still pay the bills for their adult children. The Advance Medical Directive is discussed in detail above. What is important to note is that although your children may still be on your health insurance, once they turn 18 years of age, they are adults in the eyes of the law and without an Advance Medical Directive, you will be unable to gain health related information or make health care decisions without the adult child’s explicit permission. Finally, the FERPA Release waives protections under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, enabling selected individuals to gain access to educational information and records. The FERPA Release allows a parent, or any other named individual, to access protected educational information on behalf of the student.
If you would like to discuss the College Plan, or any other estate planning needs further, please call 757.220.9800 and speak to your JGB attorney.
Finally, if you know anyone that requires legal assistance with the creation, maintenance or administration of an estate plan, please share our information with them. We would be delighted to assist