As you have probably noticed, everything we do in the world of business and finance seems to require more and more paperwork. New consumer information laws require disclosure forms; there are forms to comply with the Patriot Act and the Privacy Act; we have forms to protect you from not getting the right information and forms to protect those who give you the information. All in all, everything requires a document or form of some sort.
If you are a client of The Musuneggi Financial Group, you’ve heard us talk about the need to have an updated will, beneficiary forms, powers of attorney, living will and family letter. Although having these documents was always important, in today’s world they are critical. Over the years, our firm has too often been party to situations where not having these documents cost our clients time and money; put strains on their businesses; and complicated relationships with spouses and family members.
And with so many changes in federal, state and local laws, even if you do have these documents, you need to be sure they are not outdated.
We encourage you to meet with your attorney to be sure your documents are up-to-date. If you do not have the proper documents, we encourage you to get them as soon as possible. If you don’t know an attorney, we will be glad to introduce you to one who is a specialist in the areas of estate and business planning. Once you update your documents, be sure to contact us so we can help coordinate your beneficiaries with your updated wills.
The way your assets are titled is also extremely important in case of a life-changing situation, including divorce or death. Be sure all of your investments, savings and bank accounts are titled correctly.
If you have accounts titled in your name only, you need to have a Power of Attorney who can act on these accounts if/when you are unable to do so. The solution may not be to add someone else’s name to the account. This could cause a gifting issue or other serious problems. Many married couples believe that because all of their accounts are held jointly, they do not need a Power of Attorney. But IRA’s are owned individually, and if you are disabled your spouse cannot automatically act on your behalf for these accounts.
And if you are the person who normally handles an account for another, such as a parent or even a spouse, there may be times that you need to act on their behalf when they are not here to sign or give consent. A Power of Attorney can help to resolve this issue. Note, too, that in accordance with privacy laws, our firm is not permitted to give a child, sibling, or even a spouse information on another individual’s account without written permission.
Therefore, we are now requiring all of our clients to provide us with a copy of their Power of Attorney. Please fax (412-341-0725) or mail this to our office, or bring it to your next appointment. If you do not have one, contact your attorney. We also have a Release of Information form that you can complete; this gives us written permission to reach out to your support person if needed, but it is not a replacement for properly executed POA documents. To request a Release of Information form, please call our offices.
Also know that if you have a child over the age of 18 in Pennsylvania, you are no longer the default person for handling your child’s affairs. In many cases you will need to provide a Power of Attorney to show that you can act on your child’s behalf.
As your financial consultants, we feel it is part of our responsibility to help you survive any unexpected life situations that happen, and to help you prepare for those who may survive you. This is one way we hope to accomplish this goal.