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Courtesy of, this article below explains how some Americans who are still eagerly awaiting their coronavirus stimulus payments may be in for an unwelcome surprise:  Receiving less money than they had expected!

This is pulled from the site - Scammers may use #COVID19 as an opportunity to commit Medicare fraud. In some cases, they might tell you they'll send a Coronavirus test, masks, or other items in exchange for your #Medicare Number or personal information. Don’t fall for it; it’s a scam.

Congratulations are in order! Managing Attorney Robert W. Haley has been named to the list of America's Most Honored Lawyers for 2020! In addition, Mr. Haley is among the top 5% of all those who were awarded.

Each year The American Registry catalogs the accolades of attorneys around the country. These ratings and awards are given by trusted professional organizations, peers, judiciary, media and clients.

I was in with some clients this afternoon and the date sunk in...June 1st 24 years ago I took over the long time law firm of Philpott & McGhee! I moved back home and opened my practice in 1995 but on this day in 1996, Dale McGhee retired from the private practice of law while remaining the County Attorney for Henry County. Thanks Dale for setting me up and thanks Betty Wright for hanging around to take care of me all those years!!

I’ve been blessed much more than I ever deserved!!!

It’s not unusual for a person to pass away and leave behind some unpaid debt. For heirs, typically the surviving spouse or children — the question often is what, exactly, happens to those obligations. The quick answer is it depends on both the type of debt and the laws of the state. 

Creditors generally try to collect what’s owed to them by going after the decedent’s estate during a process called Probate, or Estate Administration. There are instances, however, where the surviving spouse, or another heir, may be legally responsible! 

Click the link below to read the full article, or contact us to schedule a one-on-one consultation if you were named executor in someone's will, or if you qualified as administrator on the estate (if no will was in place at that person's passing.) We are here to help!

Don’t toss that junk mail in the recycling bin just yet — it might contain your stimulus check in the form of a prepaid debit card! For those who haven't received their COVID-19 stimulus payment yet, be aware!

Ventilators are used for people with respiratory failure. A signature consequence of severe COVID-19, these machines pump oxygen into a patient’s body while he or she lies in bed, typically sedated, with a breathing tube snaked down the windpipe (known as “intubation”).

For some seniors, this is their greatest fear: being hooked to a machine, helpless, with the end of life looming. For others, there is hope that the machine might pull them back from the brink, giving them another shot at life.

To read the full article, click the link below:

It is a common myth: "Estate planning is only for elders and the rich." This is simply not true! Those with minor children also need to prepare and plan for the future, especially during the uncertain times we live in!

It is understandable... In the excitement and exhaustion of staying on the move and caring for young children, estate planning is probably not at the top of your to-do list.  When raising children, there is so much to do every second, and they grow up so fast, after all!

The simple truth here is all families, especially those with young children, should really have a basic estate plan in place. If something unfortunate were to happen, your family will be grateful that you set aside the time to put a plan together.

Here are 8 things to keep in mind as you create an estate plan for your young and growing family:

(1.) Choose Guardians for Your Children

Certainly one of the biggest decisions you will make: As a parent of a young child or children, the number one reason why you need an estate plan — specifically a will — is to name who will take care of your child or children if both you and the other parent pass away. If you don’t, the court will appoint a guardian. This person is usually a family member (or other capable friend), but which person? Instead of leaving it to the courts to decide among family members, make this decision yourself, and express your written wishes for this decision in the Will. Also, if you are a single parent, it is even more important to have these decisions made as soon as possible and documented in a will!

Many parents disagree about who they would like to raise their child. Maybe one parent thinks a grandparent would be perfect and the other parent predicts that your children would control that household. Or you might think of a perfect person, but he or she isn’t really ready yet for the responsibility. It’s better to figure all of that out now than to leave such an important decision up to a stranger!

Once you narrow down the choices, make sure to ask the potential guardian if he or she would be willing to take on the role. You want this person to be a willing and informed participant!

(2.) Make Your Wishes Known with a Last Will & Testament and a Living Will

A Last Will & Testament does more than appoint guardians for minor or dependent children. A will also outlines exactly how you’d like to distribute your property. If you don’t put a will in place, your estate may be distributed, in a way that is not to your liking! 

In some states, property is split equally between a spouse and the children. If you have two children, your spouse would only receive one-third of the estate. He or she might need more than that to take care of everything.  In this case, the portions left to the children would be difficult to access until they reached the age of majority (or the age at which they are considered an adult).

Another basic estate planning document everyone needs is a Living Will. This document lets you state your wishes for your end-of-life medical care if you should become incapacitated. This would make your wishes known in regards to situations where your condition may be terminal and death is expected within a short amount of time, or you are in a vegative state due to coma. It is best to put these wishes in writing rather than leaving the responsibility of such a decision to a grieving loved one.

(3.) Consider Who Will Manage Your Children’s Finances

When naming a guardian for your children, you’ll also want to consider who will manage the money and property for the children until they have reached the age of majority. This person can be the same person as the guardian, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, if your sister is wonderful with your kids, but stinks at money management, that’s okay! You can appoint her as the guardian and appoint someone else as the trustee of your children’s money. If you don’t appoint a financial trustee, the courts will appoint a person on your behalf.

You might also want to consider establishing a trust to manage your children’s inheritance more effectively. This can reduce costs when settling an estate, and it’s easier to specify exactly how you’d like your assets distributed for your children.

(4.) Choose An Executor or Trustee for Your Estate

You’ll also want to specify who will perform the mechanics of winding down your estate. This person, also called an executor or trustee, will help distribute the property according to your will, close down bank accounts, pay down debts, sell property if needed and so on. Once again, if you don’t appoint this person, the courts will decide for you.

(5.) Name the Right Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs take precedence over what’s listed in a will. So if you’d like your assets to go to your spouse or to your children, you’ll want to make sure you name the right beneficiaries!

Know that you shouldn’t list your minor children directly as contingent beneficiaries as they can’t own property directly until the age of majority. You’ll want to the name the trust that will hold the assets for them until they’re older.

(6.) Appoint Someone to Make Financial and Health Decisions If You Were Unable To

Estate planning isn’t just thinking about what to do when someone passes away. It’s also important to have documents in place that help loved ones know what to do if you become unable to make your decisions yourself. A Durable Power of Attorney for money matters and Health Care Power of Attorney for medical and health-related matters, appoints a person to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. These duties include doing simple things like paying your bills, as well as making sure your wishes are carried out according to your Living Will in an end-of-life situation, if necessary.

(7.) Get Life Insurance

We get it: Buying insurance is not a fun purchase by any stretch of the imagination, but it is necessary, and a good move for the future. One crucial part of protecting your family after you have passed away is to make sure that they will have enough money to pay the bills after you’re gone. If you have dependent children, you need life insurance. Term life insurance is often very inexpensive for young parents. You’ll want enough to cover any debts and funeral costs. Also consider how much money is needed for a transition period, living expenses, and future large costs like college. 

(8.) Review And Update Your Estate Plan Over Time

Just as your family changes over time, so should your estate plan. Your state's laws might change or, you might even move out of state, expand your family, get divorced, get married, or a guardian or executor might pass away. Have your documents reviewed periodically by an attorney who specializes in Estate Planning, like a Certified Elder Law Attorney to make sure they still reflect your wishes, and will work for your current situation.

We can help! Contact us to schedule a consultation.

The truth is that everyone should have an estate plan in place! Do you have questions on Estate Planning, but haven't had a chance yet to catch Mr. Haley during one of his live webinars or seminars?

The following is a short excerpt posted on our Facebook Page(@estateandelderlawcenter) ( (6 minutes and 46 seconds long) on the subject of Last Will & Testaments pulled from Certified Elder Law Attorney Robert Haley recent live Zoom webinar hosted through New College Institute in case you missed it, on 'The Basics of Estate Planning.' (This clip is part 1 of 5.)

For those who have questions of when stimulus direct deposit payments will go into their accounts, or when paper checks will mail out to them, this article is worth reading. It discusses rough time-frames and also some methods to track them online:

We often receive a lot of phone calls like this example: In this scenario, a loved one has recently passed, and family start trying to remove items from the house of the deceased without permission. Is this against the law? The short answer here to this question is that no one should remove items from a home of a person who has died until the executor or administrator of the estate gives approval.

When someone dies with a will, an executor is appointed to administer the estate. The executor has the duty and powers to settle the decedent's estate according to the dictates of the will. Part of the executor's duties include getting an appraisal of the decedent's personal property, which includes such things as a home's furnishings, vehicles, bank holdings, stocks, and other belongings. The executor also must account for the decedent's interest in real property, which includes things like land, commercial buildings, and homes.

Accordingly, an executor can't stand by while a decedent's personal property walks out the door as if it were suddenly up for grabs on a first-come, first-served basis. If, for instance, a big-screen television were specifically willed to someone, the executor has a duty to make sure that the person named in the Will gets that TV.

If, however, the television weren't left to a particular person, it should be included in the general inventory of the estate. The executor can then decide whether to sell the television in order to convert it to cash for distribution according to the will or distribute it to a beneficiary in lieu of cash. Preserving the property in the estate becomes crucial so that the executor can distribute the decedent's property as dictated by the will. In some cases, executors will secure a home so that the belongings inside can be preserved for inventory, appraisal and distribution.

As a matter of practicality, most wills aren't specific enough to account by name every single television, book, chair, diamond ring, pistol, rifle,or collectible and tea cup as bequests, but that doesn't mean that a friend or relative of the decedent can simply cart off belongings as if they were free! 

Every situation could be different, but it's certainly possible that someone taking property could be charged with burglary or theft. Ownership doesn't go into limbo when someone dies - the property would belong to the estate of the decedent until it is distributed. So, if someone takes property that wasn't willed to them or distributed by the executor, it's possible that he or she has committed a crime.

The bottom line here is that people have to understand the process, exercise a little patience along with common sense. In most cases, the executor is part of the family and families usually can work together to divide property in a way that's acceptable to everyone involved. However, bringing the trailer over to grandma's and just hauling out that antique dresser you've always wanted, or walking out with some of grandpa's guns from his collection definitely isn't the way to go about it!