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We are comprehensive estate planning attorneys. When we work with our clients to prepare their estate planning documents, some of the goals are to minimize estate taxes and to eliminate family squabbles. It is also important to us, as your estate planning attorneys, that your estate plan works, from a practical standpoint. This means many things, but, one simple practical step is making sure that someone knows you have completed your estate plan and that they should contact us, to assist with probate and trust administration.
I am always asked how to do this, how to make sure that someone knows. One of our approaches started almost 20 years ago, when I decided that each client should keep a card in their wallet, that stated who is suppose to make medical decisions for them and where to find their estate planning documents. In other words, all of my clients carry my card with them, and on the back of the card is the following statement, followed by their signature:
TO MY FAMILY AND MEDICAL PROVIDERS:
I, CLIENT, have appointed my ___________, ____________, whose telephone number is _____________, as my medical agent to make medical decisions for me. Copies of my Advanced Medical Directive, Power of Attorney, HIPAA Release form, Revocable Trust (The Client Revocable Trust, dated _______) and Will are on file in my attorney’s office (on front).
We laminate the card, and ask that clients carry these cards in their wallets. Clients have called over the years to get replacement wallet cards, when their wallet card has been damaged or lost or misplaced.
Just last week, we received a phone call from someone in New York City, who just found the wallet of a client of ours, noticed the wallet card, with my name and number, and called us to make sure the wallet found its way back to its owner. There was no other indication in the wallet of a way to locate the client. Not only do our estate plans help to make sure that our client’s assets are given to the right people at the right time in the right way, but they work even when our clients are living, to help to locate their lost wallets!