Estate Planning Attorneys
Little Rock Incapacity Planning Attorneys
Serving Clients in All Surrounding Arkansas Counties
I see it as Niblock & Associate’s Christian mission to help good folks achieve peace of mind and show their love for family by practicing “Preventative Law” through planning by avoiding the terrible consequences of no planning, out of date planning, or bad planning. Our mission is accomplished by taking time to understand their family dynamics, their concerns, and goals and design a comprehensive plan to suit their family’s specific needs, then using legal planning tools to express their wishes and provide Legal Authority to a trusted person to act on their behalf without emotionally and financially expensive court litigation, avoiding or minimizing family conflict, so they, and their family can focus on living their best Christian life.
What is INCAPACITY PLANNING in Arkansas?
Incapacity is the inability to take care of your affairs, mentally or physically, regardless of whether caused by accident, injury, stroke, heart attack, illness, or advanced age. Incapacity Planning is taking steps to plan in case of such an event to give you peace of mind.
We Arkansans spend lots of time and effort managing our finances. Many folks worry about how complications from accident, illness, or medical emergency will affect their income—whether temporarily unable to work, or suddenly without a job—there is another complication from accident, illness or medical emergency that can destroy your finances. Lack of, or out of date, “Incapacity Planning.”
The corona virus showed us how thousands of Arkansans were unable to fulfill normal financial responsibilities because they were too ill, stuck abroad and unable to travel home, or lacked resources because their work closed, and isolated at home.
While healthy, we Arkansans should plan to ensure a trusted person will be able to take care of our financial responsibilities by developing a planning tool to protect your finances and family should you fall ill or suffer any events that might leave you incapacitated.
Why should I plan for Incapacity – Disability in Arkansas?
My mom always said: “Boy! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!” This is so true when protecting you, your family, and any minor children you have. Think about all the problems your family or friends must deal with if you cannot make decisions, whether it be your finances, medical care, nursing home care, end-of-life treatment, who will decide on the disposition of your remains after death, or who will raise your minor children the way you would.
Think of all the problems your family must resolve if you cannot make decisions. Consider who would be best able to deal with those problems in your absence; the legal problems if conflict over who should make your decisions arises between your family, or how decisions should be made; whether anyone has the legal authority to act for you without having to go through an expensive, time consuming, and emotionally gut-wrenching lawsuit. A lawsuit to have you found incompetent and a Judge appointing a guardian over you, your finances and children could take a year or more if family disputes arise.
No one is automatically granted legal authority to act on your behalf to handle your important responsibilities just because you suddenly suffered a tragic event leaving you incompetent. However, with the proper planning in place, you can ease your family’s burden by giving them the legal authority and direction to make your decisions, tend to your affairs, and care for your minor children without the necessity of costly, family destroying litigation.
There are many tools at your disposal to create your thoughtful Incapacity Plan:
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Healthcare Directive (commonly known as a Living Will)
- HIPPA Release
- Minor Child Protection Plan
We love practicing Preventative Law here at Niblock & Associates, if you want to follow my mom’s advice, contact us now to invest that ridiculously small “ounce of prevention” to avoid having to pay a “pound of cure” in money and family drama.
What happens if I do not have a FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY in Arkansas?
If you have a medical emergency, illness, or advanced age, and are unable to make or communicate their financial decisions, and do not have an updated Financial Power of Attorney in place, only a Court can appoint someone to act on your behalf. Someone must file a lawsuit and prove you are incompetent to be your court appointed and supervised guardian. This can be expensive, emotional, and cause extreme family drama.
Why a lawsuit must be filed if you do not have a Financial Power of Attorney in Arkansas?
Again, no one is automatically granted legal authority to act for you in the event something tragic happens to you, including your financial affairs. As an adult in Arkansas, you must legally appoint them through a wonderful tool called a Financial Power of Attorney. Without it, you and your loved ones could lose valuable time, money, privacy, control, and create family conflict because you did not plan by taking the legal steps necessary to declare who would have legal authority to act for you and what specific powers and limitations they have.
Why you should not rely on Joint Ownership in Arkansas.
Joint ownership of property does not protect you from incapacity, even if with your spouse, child, or family member. Here are three (3) reasons why:
- Limited Power. While a joint account holder may be able to access your bank account to pay bills or access brokerage accounts to manage investments, a joint owner of real estate will not be able to mortgage or sell the property without your consent.
- Property Seizure. If your joint owner is sued, or files Bankruptcy, your property could be seized to pay their debt.
- Disqualification of Government Benefits. Your loved one could be disqualified from receiving government benefits if their name is on a joint bank account or property title.
How do you Protect Yourself, Your Property and Family from Incapacity in Arkansas?
Only a comprehensive incapacity plan will protect you, your assets, and your family, from a court-supervised guardianship and the misdeeds of your joint owners. Do not rely on joint ownership as your plan, it is simply too risky and unreliable.
Can a Financial Power of Attorney become outdated in Arkansas?
YES. A Financial Power of Attorney can become “obsolete” in as short as one year, maybe not because it is “legally obsolete” but practically, because many institutions do not want to rely on stale, outdated documents. Depending on your circumstances, a stale, obsolete power of attorney may not be able to help you and your family with insurance contracts, retirement plans, banking and investment accounts, online personal accounts such as email, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, and elder care or special needs planning.
Is it time for an Ounce of Prevention?
If it has been more than a year or two since you have signed your power of attorney, it might be time for a fresh one. Contact Niblock & Associates, the experienced, caring, and friendly legal team, that practices Preventative Law! We can help make sure you and your family are fully protected by helping you determine:
- Who would be the best choice for this responsibility,
- How much authority you should give your financial agent, and
- When to make your power of attorney become effective
- Whether “springing” meaning upon a specific event; or
Regardless of your priorities, we can customize a Financial Power of Attorney that is right for your situation and goals. Do not wait until it is too late! The time is NOW, to consider your specific needs while you are of sound mind and body. Of course, our caring and compassionate legal team would be honored to help guide you through every step of the Incapacity Planning way, so contact Niblock & Associates today!
What is a Medical Power of Attorney in Arkansas?
Life can be extremely stressful, subject to sudden accidents or sickness, but that does not mean you are helpless. Which reminds me of what my mom always said! “Boy! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!” which is why we at Niblock & Associates love helping people through practicing “Preventative Law” by helping them take charge of your life and head off terrible legal problems. To combat the uncertainty of life and health you can choose your medical agent and get your health care directives set up. Remember, no one is automatically granted legal authority to act for you if you become incapacitated, including your medical decisions.
A Medical Power of Attorney in Arkansas is like a Financial Power of Attorney except it relates to your medical care and treatment and appoints a medical agent to act on your behalf. A medical agent is a person you authorize to make decisions about your medical care if you are too sick to make them yourself or are unable to communicate your wishes. As we all know, life is fragile, and we there is no guarantee of good health or life tomorrow.
We all know folks who have suffered a sudden illness, stroke, heart attack, cancer or an accident that rendered them unable to make decisions for themselves. We should always plan for the worst and hope for the best. Part of that planning is making sure someone can make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.
- Their location in relation to you;
- Their willingness and ability to serve;
- Whether you are confident they will honor your wishes despite their own feelings; and
- Their emotional and mental maturity.
Contact Niblock & Associates today to help you by offering advice and guidance through the confusion of choosing your medical agent, determining if another individual should be appointed as back up, and using other planning instruments such as Financial Powers of Attorneys, Health Care Directives (commonly referred to as a “Living Will”), HIPPA Releases, Last Will & Testaments, or Trusts.
An Arkansas Advance Healthcare Directive is commonly referred to as a Living Will and supplements your Health Care Power of Attorney by allowing you to provide directions about your end-of-life care. It is a gift of love to your family of lifting the burden of guessing what you want your end-of-life care to be. This instrument of love chooses a responsible person (called an “Agent”) and gives them direction to ensure your end-of-life wishes are honored, becoming effective only when you are in a permanent state of incapacitation with no probable chance of recovery, unless you direct otherwise. This allows you a more compassionate, comfortable, and natural death. You can further show your love of family by removing the major after death decisions that every grieving family must deal with, such as whether to make anatomical gifts, whether buried, interned in a mausoleum, or cremated and if you have made preplans for your funeral.
Things you should consider for an Advance Healthcare Directive “Living Will” in Arkansas:
- Qualifications of your Agent.
- Whether you need a secondary Agent.
- Minimal quality of life you want before the measures start.
- Specific types of care you do or do not want.
- Directives regarding end-of-life care, such as:
- Life Support
- Feeding Tub
- Do Not Resuscitate
- Directives regarding after death, such as:
- Anatomical gifts of your body
- Burial, Interned in Mausoleum or Cremation
- Funeral pre-planning or arraignments
- Legal technicalities required to be valid and enforceable.
- The unique signing or witnessing requirements to be valid and enforceable.
Contact Niblock & Associates today so we can help you show your love of family by allowing them to focus on saying goodbye and grieving the loss of your presence, instead of agonizing, or even fighting over what they think or feel your end-of-life-care should be. We can help by guiding you through your considerations, offering our experienced, caring, and friendly advice to help you make the best decisions possible for you and your family. Then by creating a legally binding instrument customized to your specific situation, declaring who your responsible person (Agent) will be, as well as a backup person, how they are to make decisions, and list out specific things you direct them to do and not do.
What is a HIPPA Release in Arkansas?
“HIPPA” stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, a federal law creating standards to protect patient’s health information from being disclosed without their consent or knowledge. In the realm of Incapacity Planning a HIPPA Release in Arkansas allows you to give permission to designated individuals to talk with your health care providers and obtain information, documents, records, and advice from them regarding your medical care and treatment.
Remember, no one is automatically granted Legal Authority to act on your behalf to handle your important decisions or responsibilities including access to your medical providers or records; however, with a HIPPA Release, you can give your loved ones and other trusted individuals permission to see to your medical needs. Otherwise, they could be denied access.
A designated individual can be any person you believe should have access to your medical providers and are typically your Financial or Medical Power of Attorney, your Advanced Healthcare Directive Agent, the Personal Representative named in your Last Will & Testament, the Trustee of your Trust, as well as any family member or friend you want to be able to talk to your health care providers.
A HIPPA Release in Arkansas becomes effective immediately upon you signing it. You do not need a doctor or court declare you incapacitated, for your designated individuals to use the HIPPA Release. Additionally, it can continue to be effective after your death for a period time if you wish and you can revoke it if you want. Moreover, you can limit the purposes of why a particular designated individual would be authorized to asking the questions or obtaining information or records and you can limit the type of information or records the designated person can have access to. Finally, a HIPPA Release grants the person or persons you designate the legal authority to file a lawsuit to enforce this Release, should a medical provider refuse them access.
Contact Niblock & Associates today so we can help you have the peace of mind of knowing your trusted loved ones are able to advocate for you with your care givers when you are having a medical problem, and show your love of family by allowing them to focus on you in a medical emergency or state of incapacity instead of the legal problems of trying to gain access to your private medical information, or talk with and seek advice from your doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers. We can help you decide who your designated individuals should be and express your wishes by drafting a legally binding, customized written instrument of love directing your medical providers to talk to and provide information to your designated individuals that will advocate for you.
Should You Appoint Guardians of Minor Children in Arkansas?
You never know when disaster can strike causing you to be unable to care for yourself, your children, or make life decisions. Sudden disaster might come from a stroke, heart attack, auto accident, or plane crash. The unknowns of life compound when you have precious minor children that depend on you. Remember, no one is automatically granted legal authority to act on your behalf to manage your important responsibilities including caring for your minor children.
If you have minor children, you need to plan for the possibility of your incapacity or passing before they become adults and able to fully care for themselves. For planning purposes, you should appoint trusted people to care for, protect and raise your children as you would. These trusted people in the law are called “Guardians,” or as we like to call them, Guardian Angles. There are two (2) distinct types of Guardian Angles you should consider in your comprehensive planning:
A Temporary Guardian Angel - Someone who has the legal authority to make decisions for your child for the brief time from you becoming incapacitated or passing to the point the Long Term Guardian can take your minor child into their longterm or permanent custody. The considerations for a Temporary Guardian Angel are:
- Familiarity and good relationship with you and your children.
- Proximity to your home.
- Willingness to serve in an immediate emergency.
A Long-term Guardian Angel – Someone who has the legal authority to make decisions for your child and has legal custody of them if you die or are otherwise unable to care for your child. A few of the things to consider for a Temporary Guardian Angel are:
- Whether they have the desire and willingness, to raise your children.
- Whether they are physically, mentally, and emotionally able to raise your children.
- Whether they match your religious, moral, financial, and child rearing ideals.
Another important consideration in planning for you minor children’s Guardian Angel is whether you have family or friends you do NOT want to raise your children. If so, you must make planning measures to exclude them from contesting your Guardian Angel decision. We do have methods to protect and guard your Guardian Angel decision. A few of the many considerations in excluding someone from being Guardian Angel, are:
- Their past behavior suggesting they would not be a good fit.
- Their current living situations and financial situations suggesting they are not a good fit.
- Whether they hold views inconsistent to yours or that should not be passed to your children.
Contact Niblock & Associates today to help your minor children avoid the unimaginable emotional upheaval caused by your incapacity or death. We can help guide you through the process of identifying the best person to be your children’s short-term or long-term Guardian Angles. We can draft the necessary instruments placing legal authority in those you consider Guardian Angles worthy of caring for and protecting your precious gifts from God, your minor children, and excluding those you believe should not raise your children yet may object to your choice.