How Do I Know When to Invoke A POA?

A power of attorney is an authority given to another person to act on behalf of an individual usually called a principal. The agreement is made into a legal document guiding the relationship between the attorney and the principal. There are four types namely: general power of attorney; durable power of attorney; special or limited power of attorney; and springing durable power of attorney.

There are many situations in which given out this authority may be advisable and necessary, for example, this power might be given out about property management and financial affairs, it may be given when one needs to collect benefits or when one desires to sell a home. In these situations, authority can be given to another person to sign a contract on behalf of a principal. There are some decisions in which this power can be delegated to another such as making health care decision.

Before this authority can be given to another, the principal must make sure that he understands the information contained in the document and that it conforms to that state’s requirements. He must be able to evaluate the information in the document and must be mentally fit to do such. Also, the principal must be able to communicate his intents clearly and effectively. To obtain the power of attorney is easy if some precise steps are taken. One of such steps is checking the state’s requirements to make sure one is on the right track. One needs to fill relevant forms and makes sure that the document is clear enough for all signatories.

The preceding paragraph must deal with the legal capacities of the principal. This is the ability of a person to arrive at decisions that are legally valid. This ability will guarantee his fitness to enter into a binding contractual agreement with other people. It also consists of the ability to choose who he will give the authority to. Legal capacity will enable the principal to make his intents clear to avoid misrepresentation.

This power can be revoked when the principal decides to do so. However, the process of revocation must be made explicit to all parties involved. The most important step in this process is to be sure of state’s requirements so as not to contravene laid down rules and regulations governing such procedure. All institutions involved in this process of revocation must be duly informed for necessary actions. In case of legal capacity issues such as when the principal becomes incapacitated or when he can no longer make decisions for himself because of mental depreciation or disability the family members can approach the court for revocation of the power of attorney. Also, this power can be revoked when one is no longer satisfied with the services being rendered by the attorney. It can also be revoked when there is a case of exploitation and abuse on the part of the attorney. Revocation can also occur when the attorney misuse his power.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

How is My Debt Dealt with When I Pass Away?

We are all eventually going to pass away at some point in time.  While we would all love to avoid it for as long as possible, we should be prepared for it in more ways than one.  The first thing that you are going to want to do is create an estate plan and establish a will that lists who oversees your estate.  This is the person that you trust the most to follow your wishes after you pass away and is essential during the estate planning process.

When the time comes, your executor, the person you put in charge of your final wishes, will take care of your estate.  They will use any money that you had left to pay off your debts and if there is any debt left, they can also sell your property or other items to cover it all.  That is all completed before heirs receive the money that you left to them, so there is a chance that they may not receive anything, depending on how much debt you had.

If you do not have enough money to pay off all your debts, your spouse or co-signers on the loans are going to be responsible for paying that debt off.  This can include your mortgage and home equity loans, plus credit cards.  If your executor does not pay off your car loan, your vehicle can be repossessed.  Debt collectors are going to do all that they can to collect on your debts, but legally they are not supposed to lie or mislead a person into thinking that they are responsible for repaying that debt.

If you are currently in debt and want to ensure that your heirs receive some money from you when you die, you will want to purchase a term life insurance policy.  The money from those policies are protected from creditors but can be used by a spouse or another person who is responsible for paying off your debts once you pass away.  It is important to keep your beneficiaries up to date on your life insurance policies though, because if they are no longer living, the money will automatically go into your estate to be used to pay off your debts.

Oftentimes, creditors cannot take any money from your retirement accounts either, which means that the beneficiaries that you have on those will receive that money as well.  Depending on how old they are, they may be able to start withdrawing that money to live or they can keep it as a retirement plan to use when they get of retirement age.

The last thing that your family needs is to be hassled by creditors when you pass away, but if you take the proper precautions ahead of time by creating an estate plan, the entire process will be quite simple for everyone.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

The Importance of Long-Term Care Planning

Most people fail to plan for their long-term care.  More often than not the reason given for this is that people don’t start to think about growing old and what is going to happen to them simply because it is so far off.  What is important to them is the present: remaining healthy, independent, and not out living their income. Although they may not be worried about the future it is important for us as family member to help stress the importance for them to create a long-term care plan for the inevitable.

When it comes to considering our inability to care for ourselves, natural human nature is to shut down thoughts that it will ever happen to us.  Although long-term care is not of a high concern to many because it isn’t happening, and, in our face, it is crucial that we take the necessary steps to plan ahead for events beyond our control.  No one can be sure that they will not fall victim of the effects of aging such as increased accidents, more illnesses, & a rise in hospital visits; all which could involve the need to have prepared a long-term care plan.  We plan for many risks such as fire, car accidents, theft, and more so why wouldn’t we plan and prepare written documentation of our long-term care plan, our power of attorney, and estate plans.

For aging individuals one of the most earth-shattering events that can take place is the need for long-term care.  Typically, the need for long-term care comes along with the removal of a person’s ability to care for themselves.  When needing long-term care, elderly people most often lose their independence, experience a loss of their health, and uses up financial assets.   The need for long term care is really the most overwhelming late in life event that can occur.  There is very little wonder why so many of us are reluctant to plan for this event.

It is important for individuals to start planning early for retirement as long-term care can be costly.  Not only should we be putting money towards retirement and savings for Medicare and other expenses, we need to start putting money towards long-term care insurance.  Planning for the risk and need for long-term care, is less expense than the results of having a financial need that you cannot fulfill leaving the burden to fall on your family.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

The Most Important Reasons for Estate Planning

No one wants to think about what is going to happen after they pass away while they are still living, however, there really is not any better time like the present. Most the important decision you need to make are designed to make things easier for your loved ones after you have passed away and you cannot make the necessary decisions. It is really imported to discuss estate planning.


The key to estate planning is that it has to be done while you still have the control of your faculties for an attorney to be able to prepare all of the proper paperwork. Your attorney should be able to go over everything that you need to be sure that you have gotten everything important.


10 Important reasons for doing estate planning


Peace of Mind – The biggest reason is to give everyone the peace of mind knowing things are all taken care of ahead of time.


Specify who is to receive which assets after your death – In order to prevent any fighting or hurt feelings it is very important that you assign assets to everyone that will be mentioned in the will. Once the document is enforced it can only be undone by the owner of the will.


Helps to avoid probate headaches – If there was no will or trust everything would go in the court system and that is what is referred to as probate court.


State who is to be the guardian of any minor children – When you have minor children you have to consider who you will want to take care of them in the event that you were to die.


Name the executor – The executor is the most important decision besides who will be taking care of the kids. The executor will be responsible for making sure that all of the parts of the trust is carried out.


Establish a Power of Attorney for financial decisions – The power of attorney for making financial decisions needs to be settled in order to be able to pay any bills for care if you become incapacitated.


Establish a Power of attorney for healthcare – Like power of attorney for financial reasons, you also need to do something about your medical conditions before you become incapacitated.


Execute a revocable trust – Avoid any problems with a will but setting up a revocable trust is far better received in my opinion.


Restrict minor children’s access to inheritance – To help protect your kids and keep them from spending any of the money they have been for their inheritance. The usual time frame is 25-30 years old.


Be sure to shield the inheritance from tax concerns, divorce issues and creditors – Having a trust in place will help to protect the assets from taxes, divorce a decree.


Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.







Estate Planning: Is It Important to Talk to Your Children About Your End of Life Plan?

Estate planning is a vital part of creating a plan of action for your untimely passing or inability to care for yourself.  Creating a will and/or a trust is not good enough when it comes to preparing for your future.  Instead, creating an estate plan allows you to plan for and organize your assets while appointing a person of your choosing to continue to organize and maintain your assets when you are no longer able to handle these things yourself or are not there to do so.

In the process of estate planning it is necessary to inform the people affected by your estate plan of your desires.  It is important to discuss your desires with your children about the details of your wishes so that they are aware of what to expect.  If your children are under the age of eighteen there should be a detailed discussion about guardianship.  Appointing a guardian requires consent from the willing party as well.  These people need to be conscious of your choices regarding their inheritance, financial expenses, funeral expenses, power of attorney, and more.

Discussing Your Estate Plan with Your Children

A discussion with your children about estate planning with your children helps to ensure that they are not surprised by the final plan.  Sharing your plan of action becomes especially important if you are planning on treating the beneficiaries differently.  Not only will this allow you to smooth out rising controversies, it will also help to give you their perspective on your decisions. A prime example occurs a lot during second marriages.  When you are giving something substantial to your spouse, who is not the mother of your children, from an inheritance that they assume is theirs this will help to give them a head start to wrap their thinking around it.

When and How to Talk with Your Children

It is crucial to find an appropriate time to make your estate plan known to your children and other necessary family members.  Make sure when you are discussing this matter that everyone involved in accounted for during this meeting.    Appropriate timing usually doesn’t exit on family holidays, weddings, or birthday celebrations.  What you will want to do is to schedule a meeting where you can all be gathered together to discuss your end of life plan specifically.  Sometimes, when an estate plan is complicated, it is best to meet with your estate planning attorney so that they can help you explain any areas of concern or technicalities to your loved ones.  When you are scheduling this meeting give participants an idea of what you are meeting about so that they have time to think about what to expect.

What to Talk About with Your Family

It is of the utmost importance for you to organize the points you want to discuss when talking to your family about the estate plan.  Be sure to talk with your attorney to discuss in depth your estate plan.  Understand the ins and outs before your meeting.  Gather the information about your assets, liabilities, debts, insurance plans, bonds, investment securities, business plans (if applicable), and important contacts phone numbers.

Give them the opportunity to give their feedback to your plan; listen to their suggestions on making your estate plan better, if needed.  This is also the perfect time to start discussing the need for your children to create their own estate plans to secure any future grandchildren’s futures as well.  Death is inevitable, and it is better to be prepared in case of an untimely passing.

Estate planning is a necessary and advisable step in your life’s journey. You should consider planning for your end of life before your meet any calamity and are robbed of this opportunity. It will not only safeguard your family and your assets but will be a help to smoothen the life and misery of your loved ones when you will not be around to take care of them.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

Creating a Long-Term Plan In Case Of Dementia

Dementia is not a single disease, but a collective term used to describe various symptoms of cognitive decline that occur as part of aging. A person with dementia will present various symptoms that someone else or even themselves may notice. Early symptoms, which are as a result of memory loss include

  • Forgetfulness especially with language
  • Disorientation
  • Mood and personality changes
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Misplacing things
  • Problems with abstract thinking such as dealing with money

There are several types of dementia, which can range from mild cognitive impairment to severe dementia and because there is known known cure, early management of some demetia disorders, such as Alzheimer, is focused on providing care including ensuring the safety and comfort of the patient. Creating a dementia care plan is extremely important, and an elder care lawyer ensures that future long-term care, asset planning and management, retirement, social security, and many other needs of seniors are fulfilled.

An elder law firm handles a wide range of legal and sensitive matters that affect the elderly and their loved ones. Elder law planning also handles a variety of challenging issues that include:

  • Help with drafting wills and estate planning
  • Probate proceedings
  • Long-term health care planning
  • Housing opportunities
  • Durable financial powers of attorney
  • Help with the appointment of legal guardianship
  • Locating long-term care facilities

Our parents have taken care of us are entire lives.  It is only appropriate that we strive to do the same for them as to make their golden years as comfortable as possible. Elder law firms have attorneys that specialize in sensitive areas of law that affect the physical and emotional needs of older adults living.

Therefore, do not hesitate to contact an elder law attorney if you need help with issues like guardianship, long-term care options, financial planning, assisted living, and much more.   It is crucial to find an attorney that specializes in situations surrounding elder law when looking at creating a long-term plan for your care if you should be come debilitated.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

The Importance of Hiring an Attorney When Creating an Estate Plan

When creating an estate plan, it is better to hire a professional than attempt to DIY. Although many people think they can write their own wills, the truth is, they’ll most likely leave our vital information, this voiding that which would have been useful when they’re gone. Enlisting the help of estate planning lawyers ensures that everything you leave regarding your estate when your gone will be handed in a professional manner. An estate planning lawyer knows what needs to be added in an estate plan and although you might YouTube how to do it on your own, this doesn’t mean you should or that it will stand up if contested. Here are some reasons why estate planning lawyers are better options for you will:

Estate Planning Is Complex

Even though you might Google how to do it on your own, the truth is that creating an estate plan is more complicated than you think. You need the right words, sentences and more, but in order for it to hold up solid in court it needs to follow certain laws, regulations, and guidelines. The law is always changing. You might miss some very important aspects that need to be included if you don’t know what they are. Estate planning lawyers are always kept up to date in regard to federal, state and local laws.

More Goes into Creating an Estate Plan Than Just a Will

An estate plan isn’t just a will. A will is just one document that goes into an estate plan and you might not know what the other documents that are needed are. In reality, there are a variety of different estate planning documents you’ll need to ensure your estate is handled properly after you’re gone.

Save Time

Writing an estate plan can really take a lot of time to make sure everything is correct and covered. Instead of doing it yourself, let that responsibility fall on a professional who knows what they’re doing and can do it faster than you ever could!

Third-Party Perspective

Estate planning will be objective when it comes your estate planning needs when a lawyer is allowed to assist. Thus, allowing you better insight and advice that will only benefit the estate in the end.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

What Happens If You Pass Away Without A Plan in Place?

No one likes to consider their mortality which often leads to the issue of individuals passing away without putting into place an estate plan, will, trust, or other legal documentation to distribute their assets.  Many times, people assume that they are too young to need an estate plan in place, that their assets are not worth the creation of a plan, or that getting this documentation in place is expensive.  These assumptions are in fact not true.  Obviously, the best time to document a plan to follow upon your death is far before the need to use it arises.  These plans encompass far more than just distributing your assets and tax avoidance.

Estate plans are put in place not only to be your voice upon your passing but also so that if you become incapacitated and are no longer able to make decisions for yourself that you can appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf.  If you have not appointed an individual to make choices on your behalf, then the state will step in.  If this occurs, your desires are left unknown and the state will step in to take over the process which is known as intestacy.

Intestacy rules vary from state to state.  In general, however, the distribution of assets by intestacy requires a probate proceeding.  Most families hope to avoid probate when a family member passes as it is costly, time consuming, and open to the public.  It is also frowned upon as there is no way for the state to know what your desires would have been so your assets are distributed as they see fit.

If you do not have proper documentation in place and become incapacitated a judge will decide for you who will be in charge of you and your assets.  This process is known as guardianship and conservatorship.  It can be quite an expensive for your family even if there isn’t a disagreement on your care or asset distribution.  It can often cost more than what would have been paid to have in place a proper estate plan.

In order to avoid this situation, it is crucial to take the appropriate steps which can include an all-inclusive estate plan with a living trust and power of attorney in place.  This ensures that if you become disabled or pass away the division of your assets along with your desired wished-for care are known by your family and easily executed without burdening your family.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

5 Essential Estate Planning Tips

Many individuals think that estate planning is only for the elderly; something to consider only after you have hit the golden years of retirement.  However, the truth of the matter is that an estate plan is something that should be in place no matter what stage of life you are in. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your 20s, 30s or even 60s; you should plan out your estate just in case an emergency happens. There are more things to estate planning than just a will such as trusts, health care directives, and power of attorney. These legal documents will ensure that your wishes are known at the end of your life through your passing. Here are some very basic tips on estate planning:

  1. Living Wills

Life is uncertain, so if you aren’t capable of making decisions for yourself, a living will is a must. It’s a legal document that sets forth what you want in the event that you are in a coma or vegetative state. It will detail instructions and decisions for yourself when you are still alive. For reasons of legitimacy it is important to have an attorney assist in drawing up a living will for you.  This will help to ensure that your desires are followed.


  1. Draw Up a Will or Trust

Besides a living will, you should also create a will, trust or both.  These are documents that sets out your wishes after you die for your family and loved ones. This details everything from personal items to financial assets and what you’d like to do with them.  An estate planning attorney should be hired to help minimize tax liabilities to your heirs upon your passing.  A will is a complex document that spells out in detail what your desires are.  It should be updated throughout the year as major life changes occur that need to be taken into account.


  1. Appoint a Power of Attorney (POA)

If anything happens to you, it’s important to have someone you trust make decisions for you they will be the power of attorney over your estate. This person will distribute your assets as you have stated within your estate plan.  A medical power of attorney is an individual that you have appointed to make decisions regarding your medical care.   You can have one person for both positions or split the duties between two people that you know will make sure your wishes are met.


  1. Designate Guardians

If you have kids under 18 years old, then you’ll have to figure out who will take care of them when you no longer can. If your spouse or partner is still alive, guardianship will automatically go to them.  Before you make the decision, you should ask whoever you are thinking about making a guardian to see how they feel about such a responsibility. If they do not want this responsibility it is in your children’s best interest to make alternative arrangements.

The best advice that you can be given regrading your estate is to meet with an attorney that will serve as a personal representative of your legal desires.  Creating an estate plan is simple with the right guidance and with regular maintenance will stay current to ensure your loved ones are not burdened by probate upon your passing.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.


Five Common Mistakes Made In Estate Planning

As a society we tend to put discussions on topics we deem uncomfortable on the back burner often times until its too late.  This is often that case when people become unable to take care of themselves sooner than imagined or die unexpectedly. The topic of death or not being able to take care of oneself are awkward and often make the people involved anxious however, these discussions are necessary.

Estate planning is important for all adults; which includes any person eighteen and over.  Individuals need to legally render control over their assets and medical decisions to beneficiaries that will be in charge of handling the decision making that comes after death.  This person, or individuals, will be in charge of wrapping up your lives details including money in your bank account, selling your home, paying off your debts, distributing assets, and closing out accounts.  This can all be done through an estate plan that is created in conjunction with an attorney.  An estate planning lawyer will help you avoid the common mistakes that are often found in estate planning.

Not Planning at All

Not having an estate plan in place is one of the biggest mistakes that most individuals will make.  Failing to have in place legal documents that lay out the plan you have in mind for life after your death, for whatever reason, is a huge mistake.  Fact is, death is inevitable and unpredictable.  This is not a pleasant thought however we can make our passing easier on loved ones by setting a plan in place to ensure that the distribution of your assets is hassle free.


This is the scenario whereby an individual keep saying that he is soon doing an estate plan but keeps on moving the time in which they should do it back further and further. No one knows when eventualities will occur. When you least expect something to happen is when it most often.  It is therefore important to set a time frame to create your estate plan and be disciplined enough to stick to it.

Not Updating the Estate Plan

It could be that when one was doing estate planning, the family was still small. With time, children are born, issues like divorce and deaths occur and other family matters. When an individual fails to update the plan, this may result into complications in future and especially after the death of the owner. It is crucial with every major change that your estate plan is updated.  Once a year an estate plan review should be scheduled with your attorney to go over any and all changes over the course of the year or expected changes.

Not Finding the Best Legal Advice

Not everyone understands the law provisions for estate planning. Lots of individuals think that they can just write down what they want to happen and that the law will automatically respect your wishes.  However, this is not how probate works.  In order to be sure that the events playout after your death as you desire you need a competent attorney, specializing in estate planning, to offer legal advice and to assist you in creating a viable plan of action.

Not Finding the Right Beneficiaries

Some people give the names of their kids as their beneficiaries, but this may not work out well in future. Others think that their spouses are the best beneficiaries. It is of great importance that one keenly takes time to understand the right beneficiaries during estate planning, who will take care of his properties while he is gone and that will be in a position after your passing to do so.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.