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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 2, 2005 / 26 Tammuz, 5765

You need to preserve life plan documents

By Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: Six years ago, my husband and I went to a lawyer to prepare our wills, powers of attorney and health directives. After we had signed everything, he gave us a copy of each document. My husband asked what would happen if we needed the originals. Our lawyer told us he would put the original copies in his safe deposit box, and that if anything happened to us, we could call to get them. I remember him saying "I ain't going anywhere."

Recently, my husband had a serious stroke and was hospitalized, and I could not access some of his bank accounts and his IRA with the copy of the power of attorney that I thought was valid. So I called the lawyer, only to learn that he was no longer with the firm, had taken his files with him, and had moved to another state four years earlier. The firm had no record that we were ever there, or of our wills or powers of attorney. Frantic, I asked my son to search to try to find this man. Long story short, the lawyer had died two years before, and when I contacted his widow, she had no idea where his files were. My husband is incapable of signing another power of attorney or will, and I live alone. I am 74, and am having my son write this for me. Is there any way I can find out what happened to our documents? What do other people do in situations like this?

A: Under these circumstances, we doubt that you'll be able to find your originals. This could place undue burdens on you and your family. Because the legal ramifications of not having original documents may vary by state, you will probably have to apply for conservatorship over your husband's assets with your local probate or surrogate court to gain access to funds in your husband's name.

By so doing, you will become your husband's fiduciary and may well have to get court approval to take funds in his name and use them for your benefit. And you will have to make accountings. That's why the power of attorney should be recorded with the public records department of your county of residence, even if the signatory is not incapacitated. Otherwise, the original may "disappear," even if you have it, and the result would be the same.

In most states, you should be able to use a copy of your husband's health directive without incident, but his will may be a different story. That's because the laws about submitting a copy of a will to probate after a death vary by state. That said, since you never had the original and you know that your husband did not sign another will, you still may be able to probate his will — again, depending on the laws of your state. If not, your husband's probate asset will pass under your state's statute, which may leave you owning your home with your children.

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Here are some tips about document management and storage:

  • YOUR WILL: (1) Generally speaking, do not leave your original will with your lawyer unless you are given a receipt and you trust that the firm will be there. As you have discovered, lawyers may change firms or move and, in the process, your documents may be lost. That's why it's best to take your original will with you. (2) Place your original will in your own safe deposit box or in another safe place, and tell the person you choose as a personal representative or trustee where you are keeping the original. You may wish to send a copy of your will to those whom you have chosen as fiduciaries. (3) You may want to sign duplicate original wills — that is, two originals at the same time in the lawyer's office. You may leave one duplicate original in the lawyer's safe and take the other with you. Or give one to your personal representative and keep the other safe. Check the law of your state about duplicate original wills before you act. 4) Because life changes (death of a fiduciary, divorce, death of a beneficiary, change in your economic circumstances, etc.) require changes in your documents, you should review your will every time there is a change or at least every five years.

  • HEALTH-CARE DOCUMENTS (living will, durable health-care power of attorney, medical directive, etc.): (1) Keep the original in a conspicuous place in your home — not in your safe deposit box because these documents need to be readily accessible. (2) Discuss your wishes with your family and health-care providers. If you have chosen a health-care agent, make sure to discuss your wishes in detail. (3) Send photocopies of your health-care documents to your doctors, relatives and close friends so they will know your wishes.

  • YOUR DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY: This is one of the most important documents elderly Americans can sign. Generally, it will keep you out of expensive conservatorship proceedings, and should allow you to handle financial matters so long as it is properly drafted. The original should be recorded so there is a public record of the document, and if there are changes or a revocation, these also should be recorded.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JAN L. WARNER received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from the University of South Carolina and earned a Master of Legal Letters (L.L.M.) in Taxation from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a frequent lecturer at legal education and public information programs throughout the United States. His articles have been published in national and state legal publications. Jan Collins began co-authoring Flying SoloŽ in 1989. She has more than 27 years of experience as a journalist, writer, and editor. To comment or ask a question, please click here.

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