Dear Clients and Friends,
New Social Security Scams
Scams directed at senior citizens are nothing new but recently there have been some scams directed at those of us who receive a social security check.
The firsts scam involves a caller who will claim that you are entitled to a cost-of-living adjustment on your social security check. Then you will be asked to confirm your vital information such as your social security number in order to be eligible for the increase along with other information. The caller then contacts the Social Security Administration to redirect your check from your bank to their bank.
The next scam is to send a recorded message that there is a problem with overpayment of your benefits and a phone number is supplied. When that number is called, there is another message that a warrant for your arrest is pending and you must make a repayment in the form of gift cards or pre-paid debit cards.
You can protect yourself by never giving out any vital information on the phone. Scammers can also make your caller ID look like the call is from the government. The Social Security Administration and the IRS never contact you by phone. It is always by mail.
Four Components of a Good Estate Plan
A Will – a document that will direct where your assets go when you pass on. It also names the person to be your “Personal Representative” to distribute your assets. If you have minor children, your Will will name guardians for them also.
Remember, your Will only directs the distribution of your property that passes through probate. Many assets pass outside of probate because they are jointly owned, have a beneficiary or are titled in the name of a Trust.
Trusts – there are many reasons for a Trust. Sometimes it is to avoid probate, provide for minor children or grandchildren, qualify for Medicaid, protect the inheritance of a Trust beneficiary on SSI or Medicaid, and more.
Power of Attorney – these documents are designed to get you the help you need if you should become incompetent in the future. There are two major types: healthcare and financial.
The Healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPOA) is designed t provide someone with the authority to make healthcare decisions for you. That person is called a Patient Advocate. The Patient Advocate only has authority if your doctor and a second doctor sign a document that you are unable to participate in medical decisions. The document also includes direction to your Patient Advocate on how to make decisions about your care under varying circumstances, including (or not) a do not resuscitate order on the withholding of certain medical care including ventilator, feeding tubes, etc. This is sometimes called a “Medical Directive” or a “Living Will.”
The Durable Power of Attorney for financial matters (DPOA) gives the named agent the authority to act in your place for financial and legal decisions.
Without these two documents, your incapacity will force your family to go to court and request a guardian and conservator for you.
Beneficiary Designations – many assets, such as IRA, 401k’s, life insurance and annuities, require you to name a beneficiary when you create the asset. These beneficiaries will receive the asset outside of probate, outside of your will and outside of your trust (unless you name the trust as beneficiary.)
You should have all these documents for a complete estate plan. Your documents should be reviewed whenever there has been a birth, death, marriage, or divorce in your family. They should also be reviewed every 3-5 years to see if there have been any changes in the law that would require your making changes. I provide all my clients with a free review of their documents. New clients also get a free review. You can set up that free review by calling Melissa at (248) 912-6840.
Here is a list of my seminars for the remainder of the year. Please come and bring a friend. As always, they are free but please call to register so we know how to set up the room and print the handouts. The addresses and phone numbers, as well as times, for each location are on our website: www.gfalawfirm.com, or on the handouts you’ve received if you have attended some of my seminars this year.
November 14 New Laws Affecting your Estate Plan Plymouth
November 21 New Laws Affecting your Estate Plan Westland
December 17 New Laws Affecting your Estate Plan Northville
Very truly yours,