Attorney Greg Gilbert was recently featured in an interview about planning for the future; from health care and medical treatment wishes, to your estate, and how you’d like your property disbursed.
Excerpts from this article by John Lundy, Health: Advance planning can improve the way you’re cared for later, Duluth News Tribune.
It’s an unassailable fact: We’re all going to die. Health care and legal professionals agree that resolving matters before a health crisis or deteriorating mental capabilities occur can save family members and loved ones untold grief.
“I see so many clients that come in that miss the boat on it, and it’s cost a lot of money, and it’s caused a lot of frustration,” said Greg Gilbert, a Duluth attorney whose specialties include estate planning. “It caused a lot of conflict.”
The form, which in the past might have been called a living will and also might be known as an advance directive, is simple enough so that a lawyer’s help isn’t necessarily required, Gilbert said.
It’s divided into two parts. The first allows you to designate an “agent” — and alternative agents — who will make health care decisions if you are unable to decide or speak for yourself….
Every state has a health care directive, but they vary from state to state, Gilbert said. In Minnesota, your form becomes a legal document if you have it witnessed or notarized. But the rules are different in other states.
You want it quickly available when you’re brought into the emergency room at 3 a.m., Gilbert said.
If you live in the Duluth area, you should bring your form to both hospital systems and ask to have it scanned in, Gilbert and Minogue said. Your doctor’s office should have a copy as well. If your church has a parish nurse, give a copy to him or her, Minogue said.
If you’re on the road a lot, keep a copy in your glove compartment, Gilbert suggested.
“Minnesota has a law that states how your property will be distributed, and for some people that’s not the way you want your property to go,” Gilbert said.
That has become more true as the structure of families has changed, he said. Couples who have children from previous marriages, people living together who aren’t married and people who want to give special gifts — “All these situations require some type of will,” he said.
For example, if each partner had children from a previous marriage and the woman dies first, all of their property might go to the man’s children, and the woman’s children would get nothing, he explained.
As with health care directives, wills have become more user-friendly, Gilbert said.
“The forms are fairly standard now,” he said. “We don’t spend a lot of time on forms. … So when I meet with a client, I have a good conversation with them. We talk about what’s important to them.”
“We try to keep the cost of wills down because what I’ve noticed is that there’s a price break for people,” he said. “How much am I willing to pay for that job? Am I willing to pay $1,000? I’m not willing to do that; I have other things to do with my money.”