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What is a Living Will & Who Can Legally Draft a Living Will?

Aging…Dying…Death…

These are realities nobody likes to think about, and hardly come up in conversation during a holiday dinner.  The famous singer Prince proves that money isn’t always the reason for not having a Living Will or Healthcare Directive.  Although, Prince had plenty of money he passed away without having a will drafted regarding his multi-million dollar estate.  This leaves his family with years of headaches in Probate Court and high-priced attorney fees.

Living Will

Each state has specific laws and guidelines regarding what a Living Will or Healthcare Directive must include.  A Living Will is important and its contents are perhaps the hardest end-of-life decisions one must make.  Take advantage of still being healthy and decide now what types of care you want.  Do not wait until you are unable to make those decisions later. It is one of the only direct ways to tell medical providers your wishes, especially if you become unable to speak for yourself.

Having healthcare instructions drafted by a legal professional is highly recommended. You do not need a lawyer to assist you, but you may want to consult with one.  A paralegal can draft certain estate law documents, including a Living Will.  Keep in mind hiring a paralegal may save you money, but they cannot provide legal advice.  Be careful of using online “fill-in the blank” forms.  Most of those websites are not monitored by estate lawyers, and can even be monitored outside of the United States.  An experienced estate law paralegal should include the following:

  • Health Care Representative or Power of Attorney (POA)
  • Medical Treatment
  • Conservator
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Option
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Organ Donation
  • Religious Option

A Living Will must state what medical treatment you want if you are terminally ill or in a coma.  Terminally ill means your ‘medical problem can’t be cured or reversed’, and without treatment, your doctor expects you to die.  A permanent coma means ‘at least two doctors say you are unconscious and are not expected to wake up’.

Living Wills allow you to decide the following:

  • CPR if you stop breathing,
  • Food or water through a tube,
  • A ventilator to breath, or
  • Other treatment per orders of a doctor to keep you alive.

You will always receive pain medication and comfort care (unless you state otherwise).

Do Not Resuscitate Orders (DNR)

A DNR is an order written by your doctor—in consultation with you or your family—about withholding certain medical treatment.  This would include not doing CPR or providing oxygen in the event you stop breathing.

Health Care Representatives

Your Health Care Representative (Power of Attorney) is the person you choose to make healthcare decisions for you when you cannot speak for yourself.  Choose someone you trust: someone who knows your wishes and is willing to follow them.  That person should also be able to communicate your wishes about your care and your expected outcome to your doctors.  Name a second person who can be your representative in case the first person isn’t available.

If you signed a Living Will, your representative will make sure your end-of-life decisions are followed.  If you did not sign a living will and you cannot express your desires to your physician, then your representative will make end-of-life decisions for you.

Conservators

A conservator is someone who will make sure you are properly cared for if a judge finds you to be unable to care for yourself.  A conservator can only be appointed by the Probate Court, but you can name the person you would suggest to be your conservator, such as your POA.

Organ Donation

You can decide if you want to donate any of your organs.

Preparing Healthcare Instructions

To make your healthcare instructions legal, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old,
  • Be able to understand the impact of your health care decisions, and
  • Sign and date your medical instructions in front of two witnesses.

*The Power of Attorney cannot be a witness.

Give copies of your signed healthcare instructions to:

  • Family and
  • POA or healthcare representative,
  • Hospital
  • Doctor offices you see regularly (primary physician/surgeon)

Can I Change My Living Will Instructions?

Yes, you may change any part of your healthcare instructions when you deem it necessary.  To change your Living Will in most states you have to verbally state, physically show, or write down your wishes on what needs to be changed.  However, if you want to change your healthcare representative or organ donation status that must be in writing and signed in front of two witnesses.  

“VAP Services is a full service executive paralegal network, providing legal document preparation including Estate Law and Power of Attorney.”

VAP.Services.LLC@gmail.com

Phone :  1-540-819-8774

What Are the Advantages of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy has many advantages for those in debt.  In this article, I will debunk many myths the media uses to exploit those who file.  When Americans in debt are provided the choice of filing Chapter 7 (discharge/erase most debt) or Chapter 13 (3-5 year repayment plan), many debtors end up filing Chapter 7.  However, a debtor must qualify by meeting an income limitation, and have limited assets.  Not everyone will lose property such as their motor vehicle, which is a big misconception.  This will depend on the equity of the vehicle, loan balance (if any), and the value of other assets.  There is a certain amount of assets the law allows an individual to keep.  

The debtor receives a “fresh start”. 

The long-term goal of filing for bankruptcy is to give the debtor a new, fresh start.  The phone will stop ringing once the petition is filed, and the creditors receive notice.  Debtors can breath and finally relax while going through this life changing process.  Though the debt isn’t eliminated until the actual discharge date, creditors cannot harass or attempt to collect any debt once the petition is filed.  Keep in mind there are several debts not dischargeable under bankruptcy law, including: some student loans, child support, alimony, and some taxes.

The debtor keeps future income.

Property a debtor receives or will receive after filing for Chapter 7 is not included in the bankruptcy petition or estate.  Although, property from a divorce, civil settlement, or inherited property a debtor acquires within 180 days after filing for Chapter 7 (not after discharge) will become part of the bankruptcy estate.  The rules and regulations are a bit different when filing Chapter 13.

No maximum debt amounts.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy laws and rules do not impose a limit on the amount of debt a filer may have.  However, when filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, a debtor is ineligible and the court will request you to file under Chapter 7 if secured or unsecured debt exceeds debt limits.

No repayment plan under Chapter 7.

Once the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition is filed you’re not required to pay creditors any money you owe them.  The debtor is no longer responsible for repaying the debts after it’s discharged in Chapter 7.  However, under Chapter 13 a repayment plan will be designed in a way to assist the debtor in repaying the debt within 3-5 years.  The bankruptcy preparer will map out a payment plan and submit to the court for approval by the trustee.  Once the repayment plan is paid in full, the Bankruptcy Court will issue a discharge of the bankruptcy. 

The discharge of debts occurs quickly.

In a typical Chapter 7 case, the discharge of debt occurs within 60 – 90 days after the Creditors Meeting.  In a Chapter 13 case it’s normally discharged within the same time frame, but after the repayment plan has been completed.

The Disadvantages of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Plunging into Bankruptcy - Financial Speedometer

Only individual debtors are eligible to file Chapter 13, not businesses.

Chapter 13 cannot be utilized if you’re a business owner, regardless of how small the business is.  However, if you have incurred personal liability for business debts, you can file as an individual only.  Companies looking to file bankruptcy should contact an attorney regarding a Chapter 11 petition.

The debtor must repay all creditors under Chapter 13.

A debtor who files Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is required to repay creditors using a 3-5 year repayment plan.  Furthermore, the debtor must have sufficient income to pay creditors every month in addition to their future monthly bills.  The payment plan consolidates the debt so the payments are manageable.  The debtor must repay priority debts (such as taxes) and secured creditors in full, and repay unsecured creditors (credit card debt) in an amount equal to what those creditors would have received if the trustee had sold the debtor’s nonexempt property in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Before Filing for Bankruptcy,

Allow VAP Bankruptcy Preparer Experts To Review Your Case For Free

 1-540-819-8774

vap.services.llc@gmail.com

Bankruptcy Preparers cannot provide legal advice and this article is not to be considered legal advice.  Always contact an attorney when looking for specific legal advice on any issue.

Can a Paralegal Prepare Bankruptcy Petitions?

VAP Services, LLC

Bankruptcy paralegals may prepare bankruptcy petitions without being under an attorneys supervision.  The debtor must know in advance which bankruptcy chapter they wish to file.  Furthermore, under no circumstances may the paralegal provide legal advice to the debtor.  Paralegals may also work for a bankruptcy attorney in a law firm or from a home office as a freelance Bankruptcy Petition Preparer.

What is a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer?1Chapter7-13

Federal law stipulates how a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (paralegal) can assist the public with preparing bankruptcy petitions under 11 U.S.C. § 110.  Each state has bankruptcy laws in which must be researched prior to preparing any bankruptcy filing.  Bankruptcy Petition Preparers may not represent a debtor in court, nor provide the public with any legal advice.  Bankruptcy paralegals cannot answer questions such as: Should I file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?  Will all my debt be discharged if I file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?  If I file Chapter 13…

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