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Since the letter of instruction is not a legal document, it does not need to be notarized or signed in the presence of witnesses or with any other special formality. It is also different than the “Separate Writing” that lawyers sometimes recommend accompany a Will or Revocable Living Trust. The letter should give the contact information for the people to be notified in the event of a family emergency, and should also tell the location of all important papers . It does NOT replace a will or trust, a Health Care Power of Attorney or Living Will, or a Durable Financial Power of Attorney. The person who handles the family financial affairs should write one for the person who will have to take over in case of death or incapacity.
The letter of instruction should be readily available and in a place where a family member or other friend can find it in the event of emergency. If you choose to provide a copy to the person who would most likely take over if something happened, you need to remember to send them updates when you change the letter. On the other hand, the letter of instruction offers practical guidance usually not contained in any legal document. Mostly, however, it is important that someone be able to find the Letter in the event of an emergency. It’s a good way to let to those trusted to take care of your affairs know what you would want them to know.
It could even spell out personal preference in how various matters are to be handled, including funeral arrangements. It is normally used when the principal is a seriously ill patient, to allow the agent to make medical or financial decisions on behalf of the principal. The principal's signature must be witnessed by two people, who must sign the document in the presence of the principal.
Different kinds of trusts exist and some offer no protection against long-term care expenses at all. The witnesses must either sign in each other's presence, or have their signatures notarized. The principal may appoint either one or two agents, but if he appoints two, their decisions must be unanimous. With some careful planning and a little luck, however, you might be able to use an irrevocable trust to avoid depleting your estate by paying for a nursing home.
The agent may not make a gift out of the principal's assets unless this authority is clearly stated in the power-of-attorney form.
He must keep a written record of all decisions made, and the principal may demand a copy of this record whenever he is mentally competent.

You can take your property back if you decide you don’t want the trust to own it after all. The principal or a third party may challenge the agent's actions in court, subject to a five-year statute of limitations for bringing an action. Therefore, the law treats your trust’s assets as your property -- you never actually relinquish ownership.
This means they’re available to you to pay for nursing home care and you must deplete them in order to qualify for Medicaid, the government insurance program that pays for long-term care.
If he is a physician, he must cooperate with the principal's removal to another health care facility if the principal's family or guardian so desires, and he must cooperate in the transfer of medical records. This involves naming someone else to act as trustee, and you can’t get change your mind and take your property back after you move it into the trust’s ownership. Your ownership of your property is severed so a nursing home can’t expect you to use these assets to pay for your care -- they’re not yours any longer. If he does so orally, he must do so in the presence of two witnesses, and he must destroy his copy of the power-of-attorney form.
When you make the transfer of property, you effectively deplete your estate of disposable assets. Death of the principal does not automatically revoke the power of attorney until the agent learns of the principal's death. This doesn’t have to leave you bereft -- the trust can provide you with income produced from the assets it holds. Exactly how much of it you must divest yourself of depends on where you live -- asset and income limits are set by state, not federal, law. Property limits can range from $2,000 in some states to $10,000 or more, but not all your property counts toward this total. For example, your home typically doesn’t count so it may not be necessary to move this into an irrevocable trust. Nothing stated or implied in this article should be construed to be legal, tax, or professional advice.
Assets that contribute to the limit usually include things like cash in bank accounts, as well as stocks, bonds and other similar investments. Demand Media is not a law firm and this article should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client or legal advisor relationship.
If you have more than one automobile, the first one doesn’t count, but each additional vehicle does. LegalZoom is not a law firm and can only provide self-help services at your specific direction.

You cannot qualify for Medicaid for five years after you transfer your property into the trust. If you transfer assets then need long-term care four years and 11 months later, you’re within this look-back period -- and you may not be looking at just a month of ineligibility until you reach five years.
How to Obtain Power of Attorney in New Jersey Definitions of Durable and Non-Durable Power of Attorney We Recommend Can a Power of Attorney Be Revoked by a Mentally Incompetent Principal?
How long you’re ineligible depends on the value of the property you placed in trust and the average monthly cost of nursing home care in your state. Michigan Durable Power of Attorney Durable Power of Attorney in Massachusetts Can I Dispute Power of Attorney of the Deceased? If the average monthly cost is $5,000, the government divides the value of your transferred property by this number. What Is the Test for Diminished Capacity That Is Used For a Power of Attorney to Take Over?
If you moved $100,000 in assets, this comes out to 20, so you’d be ineligible for Medicaid for 20 months -- almost two years. Definition of Limited Power of Attorney Does a Durable Power of Attorney Grant the Right to Deny Visitors to a Patient?
It's a good idea to consult with a lawyer to explore all your options before you take such a permanent step. How to Use a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney How to Fill Out a Power of Attorney Power of Attorney Legal Forms for Alabama Connect with us: Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Google Plus About Us Contact Us Careers Press Affiliate Sitemap Articles Reviews LegalZoom Local Education Center Video Center Legal Articles Incorporation vs. Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product.
LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. How to Will Your Home to a Relative So They Don't Pay Inheritance Tax What Is the Average Cost to Prepare a Living Trust?

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