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COL Robert M. Dickinson, USA (Ret)

Estate Planning 101
I have written about estate planning before, but mostly that was some time ago. Somebody recently suggested that I talk about it again, since there are a number of people who have joined the chapter since I last talked about the subject, and other members may have missed or forgotten what I said. So here goes.
First, every adult should have an estate plan, whether you are 20, 100, or somewhere in between, and whether you are very wealthy or well off or just barely making it through life. For most of us, such a plan does not have to be complicated. A relatively few people need a complex, carefully constructed plan, probably with the help of professionals such a financial advisor, tax accountant, and attorney.
Second, here are the documents you must have: (1) Last will and testament. If you do not have any special provisions, such as disinheriting a child, or an unequal distribution among beneficiaries, you can probably prepare and execute the document yourself. There are software packages out there that can make the job easy, and that can let you prepare other documents as well. I have been using a package called Family Lawyer for years. (2) Next is a general power of attorney. This ends at death, but is still an important part of the estate plan package, since it enables the person you designate to make sure your affairs are in order before you pass away. If you don’t have a trusted spouse to designate, then you must be sure the person you choose is fully dependent and trustworthy, because you are giving that person a great deal of power and responsibility. My Family Lawyer software program allows the user to prepare this document, as do other similar programs. (3) Then there is the Health Care Surrogate document, sometimes called the Medical Power of Attorney. This gives the person you designate, and one or two alternates, the authority to make health care decisions for you in case you are unable to make them yourself. This power is also included in most estate planning software programs. (4) The last of the basic estate planning documents is a Living Will. Most hospitals will ask you if you have a Living Will at time of admission or before undergoing a major surgical procedure. Unlike the first three documents above, this one – in my opinion – is optional. It basically says that you do not want to be kept alive by extraordinary measures. Companion optional documents allow you to declare the donation of some or all (useable) organs in your body after your death.
Additional parts of a sophisticated estate plan, including helping various charitable organizations, such as Revocable Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable Lead Trusts, Gift Annuities, Donor-advised Trusts, Magnified Gift Transfers, ET alias, will have to wait for future columns.                                                                      - Bob

Estate Planning 101 (cont.)
Many of you may want to help out one or more charitable organizations by making donations of money to them. Often, a good way to accomplish this is through your estate plan. Following is a brief discussion of the simpler ways to include one or more charities in your estate plan.
First, you can simply declare one or more charities as beneficiaries of your will. That means that when you pass away, the charity or charities will get whatever you specify. You can indicate a specific dollar amount or a percentage. Some donors don’t want their charity beneficiary to get a large amount of money in one lump sum, fearing that the charity might spend the money foolishly or might not continue to raise money on their own. If this is the case, then the donor should work with a professional (attorney or financial advisor)) to develop the best means to accomplish this. The donor can also state that his or her bequest is to be used by the charity for some specific purpose, such as new equipment, a special training program, etc.
My favorite technique, which isn’t used as much as I believe it should be, is called “Magnified Gift Transfer”. With this method, the donor transfers ownership of a cash value life insurance policy to the charity, and also designates the charity as beneficiary. This could be an existing policy that the donor has had for some time, or it could be a brand new policy. So the charity is the owner and beneficiary of the policy and the donor is the insured. After this structure is set up, the donor gives the charity an amount of money equal to the premium owed, and then the charity pays the premium. Thus the initial gift of the policy to the charity is a charitable deduction, and the money donated to the charity to pay the premiums is also a deduction. When the donor dies, the charity gets the face amount of the policy. Also, if the policy is properly funded, the charity can access some of the cash value of the policy prior to death. This magnified gift transfer is especially suited to a donor who is already making, or who wants to start making, regular donations to a charity.
Two other popular techniques are Charitable Remainder Trusts and Charitable Lead Trusts. With a Charitable Remainder Trust, the donor invests an amount of money (whatever he she wants to allocate for this) into a fixed (CRAT) or variable (CRUT) annuity. The fixed or variable annuity income is paid out monthly or annually to the donor. At death, whatever remains in the annuity’s principal goes to the charity. The reverse is essentially the case with the Charitable Lead Trust. A Gift Annuity and a Donor-Advised Trust are basically variants of the Charitable Remainder Trust.
Estate Planning 101 (Continued-Part 3)
This month I’m going to talk about what is probably the most important part of Estate Planning, at least for people like us, and which is mostly overlooked by the great majority of us.  I’m talking about leaving instructions for your survivor(s) regarding all the myriad things they need to know about and/or take action on in the event of your passing. This is especially important because your survivor(s) may not be in the best frame of mind or in good physical condition after you’re gone (I assume you’ll be greatly missed).
Everybody, but at least each partner in a marriage or in a relationship should provide his or her set of instructions. These instructions should be clear, complete, and accurate. I recommend they be written, preferably typed out.) If you have a computer (and know how to use it), you ought to record your instructions and data in Microsoft Word and/or Excel or their equivalents. That way you can keep them up to date as necessary. Getting all this stuff written down for the first time is time consuming and arduous, but once you have created the initial set of instructions, these updating it on your PC should be fairly simple. Your spouse or significant other should know where you store your instructions. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to have your spouse or significant other help you prepare and update your instructions from the beginning – and vice versa, of course.
What kinds of information/instructions am I talking about? Well, there’s some differences from person to person, but also a lot of commonality; Social security, with phone number and Social Security number. DFAS (Defense Finance Accounting Service), with address, phone number, and website; Other pension plans you may have. Life insurance account numbers and phone numbers. Special life insurance plans you may have, perhaps from an employer. Health insurance, such as Medicare, Tricare-for-life, old corporate plans you may have (for example I have group life insurance, dental insurance, and long term care insurance from three former employers). Credit cards – card number, expiration date, security code, and telephone number. Organizations you belong to – name of organization and phone number and/or email address, website, US Mail. But wait, there’s more!!!! (Probably lots more, depending on your specific situation.
If you would like some more detailed written guidance, I’ve found 3 workbooks in catalogs that I get regularly: “What My Family Should Know” ($9.98); “When I’m Gone – Practical Notes for Those You Leave Behind” ($19.95); “I’m Dead, Now What?” ($14.98). You may also find the rare advisor, accountant, or attorney willing and able to help you, probably for a fee of course. I did it a lot when I was a practicing financial advisor and never charged extra for it!
If you haven’t done anything about this key area of estate planning, you at least ought to make a crack at getting started. If you have any general questions, don’t hesitate to give me a call. Have a great summer.

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Building a medical emergency “grab ‘n go” book
By Mary M. Benzinger, Esquire, Senior Attorney
Pentagon Army and Air Force Legal Assistance Office

[This short article, I believe, you will find extremely useful not only for EMTs but also to take to any medical exam appointment or procedure.  We carry the same information (2 copies) plus additional informational copies of passports, credit cards, etc. with our carry-on and keep it in our room safe when we travel.  The author suggests scanning it to your IPhone or your computer as well.  This works as long as you have internet connectivity and practice strong internet and document password protection.  This concept is very similar to all the Charlotte County and Punta Gorda, law enforcement, Fire& EMS organizations RED DOT program as well as Fawcett Memorial Hospital.
The RED DOT Program consists of filing out a form with attachments if you have a long list of medications, physicians, surgeries, & issues.  One copy goes to the County 911 system and one copy goes in the supplied magnetic holder that is placed on your refrigerator.  A Red Dot sticker is then placed above your front door knob / handle. Red Dot is available from CCSO & Punta Gorda Police.  I highly recommend the RED DOT program.
MAJ Jon Shaffer, USA (Ret), 1st VP, CHC MOAA (FL31), 7 April 2016 ]

My elderly mom came to live with me. One day she got sick, and I had to call 911. They arrived quickly, and started hitting me with questions about her medical history, allergies, surgeries, medication types, frequencies and doses. I knew very little of this information off the top of my head. My mom was ok but there had to be a better a way to deal with emergency information. Then I got smart.
I made my mom a Medical Emergency “Grab ‘n Go” Book. The next time she felt bad, I handed the EMTs her “book.” They had all the information they needed in one place and I could focus on my mother’s well-being. A one-inch notebook is all you need. Here are some suggested contents:
• Copy of your advanced medical directive
• Power of Attorney/(in loco parentis for kids)
• A list of medications (frequencies and doses)
• Copies front and back of insurance cards
• Copy front and back of driver’s license or other picture ID card
• List of allergies
• List of doctors and pharmacies (with addresses, phones and fax numbers)
• List of emergency contacts
• Dates of important medical events/procedures/surgeries
• Extra blank pages for you to take notes, etc.
It’s great for kids, too. Babysitters and grandparents will appreciate having this information at the ready. Take it with you to routine doctor’s appointments and take notes during the visit! Consider scanning it and sending it to your phone or email so you can have access to it away from home.
WARNING: As with all personal information of this nature, you should use extreme caution in whom you allow access and take steps to strongly password protect any electronic files containing personally identifiable information.
Army Echoes, February-May 2016