May 15, 2023 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for May 15, 2023

This Week’s Podcast -Why do You Need a HIPAA Authorization?

Listen in to learn how your HIPAA Authorization can connect with your living will or health care power of attorney for information to be shared. You will also learn about the medical information that can be released to an authorized person per HIPAA standards.


This Week’s Blog – Why do You Need a HIPAA Authorization?

Estate plan packages are something we advise all of our clients to think about, and it often starts with a discussion of a will, power of attorney, and if the person needs a trust. However, there’s one element that should never be overlooked: HIPAA authorization forms.

Why You Need a HIPAA Authorization

Estate plan packages are something we advise all of our clients to think about, and it often starts with a discussion of a will, power of attorney, and if the person needs a trust. However, there’s one element that should never be overlooked: HIPAA authorization forms.

As part of your retirement planning, you must think about the future and what will happen to you if there’s a medical emergency in your life.

What is a HIPAA Form and What Does It Stand For?

When you’re in a doctor’s or dentist’s office, it’s not uncommon to come across a HIPAA form. You’ll need to sign one of these forms, and it’s not always 100% clear as to what you’re signing. 

HIPAA is short for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and it transformed healthcare. A few things to know are:

  • The HIPAA law protects your information so that all medical issues are kept between you and the doctor
  • A HIPAA form allows for the release of the information to certain parties, such as a spouse or children 

Many people assume that if they’re in the hospital, the hospital will have to call and inform somebody. Unfortunately, this is not accurate and that is why we recommend filling out a HIPAA authorization form.

What is a HIPAA Authorization?

There are two different types of HIPAA authorization forms. The first is when you’re switching health insurance providers and need to release your medical information from one provider to the next.

However, we’re going to be discussing the second type of authorization.

The second type of authorization prevents your doctor from divulging information about your medical condition to someone else. You may incorrectly assume that if you’re in the hospital, you can talk to your doctor and your doctor will be able to release your medical information to specific loved ones.

You can connect your Estate Plan and your HIPAA forms. If you cannot communicate and someone needs to carry out your wishes as outlined in your estate plan, they’ll likely need medical information from your doctor. Asking someone to carry out your wishes will place a huge burden on them, and you don’t want them to be unable to obtain information on your current medical condition and prognosis.

Connecting your HIPAA forms to an estate plan can resolve this problem.

Example of Why HIPAA Forms Are Important

In the last year, we’ve had a few “reminders” of why filling out these forms is crucial in 2023.  We had one couple who was fine one day and then the next, the husband had a massive stroke. He could not communicate or make any facial movements.

The doctors stated that the person had the mental capacity to communicate their wishes, but they were unable to physically communicate.

The wife was left with the burden of communicating with the doctors about what she thought her husband’s wishes were. She had to guess what her husband’s wishes were because he didn’t have any of the appropriate documents in place that stated his desires.

A healthcare power of attorney allows you to list one or more people to make medical decisions. The person in our example has adult children, and the wife was extremely stressed out in this situation. 

A power of attorney, living will and HIPAA form that are all connected would have allowed the husband’s information to be shared with the wife and children. Her children could have taken on some of the burden of making decisions if all of these documents were connected.

I have another example of my own. I was talking to an estate planning attorney and had a son who was turning 18 at the time. My attorney reminded me that once my son reached adulthood, I would only receive limited information from doctors. 

If my son had been in a medical emergency, the hospital would not have been able to share certain medical information with me.

My attorney advised me to have my son sign a HIPAA form that authorizes my wife and I to speak with doctors and have them release information to us on his medical condition. We also have a daughter who will be turning 18 shortly and will need her to sign a HIPAA form as well.

Imagine being a parent and not having the ability to speak to the doctors about your child’s medical condition. It’s a scary prospect that also applies to your parents, spouse or anyone who would want you to know about their medical condition.

What Information is Shared When a HIPAA Authorization Form is Signed?

HIPAA forms authorize medical professionals to give your medical information to those listed on the form. The person listed on the form also has a right to request any information from the medical professional.

Is every piece of information shared?


Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other sensitive information are protected. Medical professionals must also act within the HIPAA standard of minimum necessary. These professionals only need to provide you with the bare minimum of information.

Medical professionals do not need to go through all of your medical history. Instead, they need to provide you with enough information to make a decision on the person’s health.

On the HIPAA authorization, there is no need for a notary or witness. You only need to have the person’s signature and the name of the people they are authorizing information to be released to in the event they’re in the hospital.

The form requires:

  • Signature 
  • Date
  • How you want the form to be used
  • Names of who you want to access your information
  • Form timeframe (length of authorization)
  • Ability to revoke authorization

On the HIPAA form, you just state your medical wishes and who will receive information on your behalf. These forms authorize the individual to receive just the minimum info necessary to make a medical decision if you are unable to make it yourself.

If you name someone who you decide you no longer want on the form, you can revoke the authorization, too.

We truly believe everyone needs a HIPPA form. 

Anyone who wants to sign HIPAA forms can contact us and we’ll walk you through the process.  We do not charge for this. You can also consult with your estate planning attorney to have them fill out these forms with you.

Do You Need a Trust in Retirement?

Estate planning is something we talk about a lot. For many clients, estate plans can be very complicated because it’s an extra step in their retirement planning process. However, we believe that this plan is so important that we talk to each and every client that we have about it – even prospective clients.

We teamed up with Andres Mazabel at Trust & Will to streamline the process for everyone, and it has worked out well for so many of our clients.

Andres was a special guest on our most recent podcast to answer a question many of you may have: do you need a trust in retirement?

Why Trust & Will was Founded

Trust & Will, Andres’ company, was founded five years ago because more than 60% of families do not have an estate plan. Traditionally, financial advisors that wanted to help their clients with estate planning had to use an attorney for this process.

Now, Trust & Will offers estate planning documents in all 50 states, making the process:

  • Easier
  • More accessible
  • More affordable

While Trust & Will doesn’t replace an attorney, they make the process easier for people to set up their estate plans from the comfort of their own homes. You can even update your plan through the platform and consult with some of the attorneys on the Trust & Will team.

If you have 30 minutes to an hour, you can have your estate plan in place, which is something our clients love. By removing the friction and procrastination in estate planning, we find more of our clients have these important documents in place to protect everything they worked for in life.

Documents Everyone Needs in Retirement

One survey found that the biggest gaps people have when working with a financial advisor are:

  1. Wealth transfer advice
  2. Estate planning advice

Unfortunately, there’s a big gap in consumer knowledge of probate, wills and what happens when they’re no longer around.

With all of this in mind, we believe everyone should have a:

In addition, some of you reading this may also need a trust.

Trust vs Will in Estate Planning

Basic will documents outline, on paper and in legal documents, your assets and how you want them to be divided up upon your death. Then in the middle of this is something called “probate.” 

Probate, or the court process of a judge settling the estate, allows the judge to make the decision of what happens to your assets if you don’t have a will. Let’s look at an example of this:

  • You die without a will
  • You have no contact with your children
  • You wish for your assets to be transferred to your fiancée

In the above scenario, your estate would be settled in probate. The judge, who has no knowledge of your family dynamics, will split the assets in accordance with the law, and a large portion will go to the children you haven’t heard from in years.

Of course, your parents and siblings may also receive some portion of your estate.

A trust helps your estate avoid probate.

Depending on the state you live in and the assets you have, you may or may not need a trust. In California, if you have taxable accounts above $184,500 (this figure can and does change), these assets will go through probate.

Without an estate plan, a person who exceeds these amounts would have their assets go into probate and then keep the family in probate for 12 months or more.

You don’t want to keep these assets from your family for a year or more.

A trust can be set up to allow you to direct your assets the way you want and at the time that you want. Additionally, the details of the trust are private, but probate is a public matter that anyone can see.

For example, with a trust, you can:

  • Give your kids all of the funds at once
  • Give your kids a percentage of a fund at certain age or life milestones
  • Set money aside for charity

What You Should Know About Creating a Trust

A trust, in its most simple form, is a legal agreement, in which some ways, creates a legal entity. A revocable living trust is the most common form of a trust, and while you’re alive, you can manage the trust, update beneficiaries and have a successor trustee in place.

When the trustee is no longer around, the successor trustee will step in and then be in charge of executing your wishes for the trust. You have a lot of options on who you can choose as your successor trustee, such as:

  • Family member
  • Spouse
  • Someone you trust

You also have the option of hiring a corporate trustee who you pay to execute the plan that you have for your trust. 

If you have an estate under $5 million, most people don’t need a corporate trustee. However, if your estate is worth more than this amount, it may be worthwhile to use a corporate trustee to manage the trust when you’re gone.

Trusts and estate plans can be modified and adjusted while you’re alive because your plans will change over time.

Example Situation of a Trust in Action

Visualizing the benefit of a trust in retirement is easier with an example. Let’s say that a person has:

  • An IRA with beneficiaries in place
  • A house or vacation home

Logistically, with the houses, they would go through probate if you didn’t have a will in place – if the asset was in your name only. Perhaps the asset was purchased before you were married, so it’s not part of your marital property either.

If you pass away suddenly, the real estate will go through probate because no one else is on the deed.

A trust would “own” the real estate, which transfers the deed of the property to the trust, and in a good number of states, you can do a deed transfer, too. Deed transfers allow you to pass the property to someone else without a trust.

However, a trust ensures that the property is transferred before your death so that you can leave it to someone else via your trust’s plan.

You may also have taxable accounts that would undergo a very similar process, such as:

  • Bank accounts
  • CDs
  • Investment accounts (not under an IRA or Roth IRA)

Proper titling of these accounts (such as having named beneficiaries) can help you protect these assets.

A trust allows you to either transfer the asset to the trust or leave the trust as the beneficiary if you wish. Retirement accounts are often not included in a trust. Instead, these accounts often have a beneficiary listed who takes over an account.

Trusts can also help you with business succession, allowing you to pass your business to someone else or have it liquidated.

Do You Need a Trust?

You may or may not need a trust, but you always want to avoid probate. If you have cash assets that can have beneficiaries added to them, the account avoids probate. However, if you have real estate, a business or other assets that do go through probate, a trust may be in your best interest.

We find that a trust is in your best interest in certain states and not others.

Texas is a state that offers fast and efficient probate, so you likely don’t need a trust if you live in Texas. With that said, we recommend that you take the time to talk to your financial advisor or estate planning attorney to determine if a trust is in your best interest.

Our clients have access to Trust & Will as part of our service, but you can also visit to set up your own trust and will online.

If you have any questions about your trust, will or financial future, contact us and we’ll help you in any way that we can.

March 13, 2023 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for March 13, 2023

This Week’s Podcast – Do You Need a Trust in Retirement?

In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Radon and Murs discuss the importance of having a trust as part of your retirement plan with Andres Mazabel. Trust & Will provides an “easy and secure” way to create estate plans and settle estates online, with the ability to customize legal documents.


This Week’s Blog – Do You Need a Trust in Retirement?

Estate planning is something we talk about a lot. For many clients, estate plans can be very complicated because it’s an extra step in their retirement planning process. However, we believe that this plan is so important that we talk to each and every client that we have about it – even prospective clients.

May 31, 2022 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for May 31, 2022 

This Weeks Podcast -6 Considerations for Your Estate Plan

When it comes to estate planning, some things are essential and required at all times to simplify the process for your family when you’re no longer here.

Learn the purpose of having the durable and healthcare power of attorneys to make things simpler for your family in case you become incapacitated.


This Weeks Blog –6 Considerations for Your Estate Plan

Have you thought about your estate plan? If not, it’s a crucial element of retirement planning because it dictates how you’ll save and plan for the future. And even if you already have an estate plan in place, it can and will adapt and change over time.

6 Considerations for Your Estate Plan

Have you thought about your estate plan? If not, it’s a crucial element of retirement planning because it dictates how you’ll save and plan for the future. And even if you already have an estate plan in place, it can and will adapt and change over time.

In our most recent podcast, we walk you through six things to consider for your estate plan.

If you’re thinking, “I don’t need an estate plan,” you do. In fact, creating an estate plan is something that we recommend for all of our clients because they’ve worked hard during their lives and should have a say as to what happens to their estate when they pass on.

The six things that we recommend you consider for your estate plan are:

6 Considerations for Your Estate Plan

1. Will

Everyone needs a will, but why? A personal story I remember from school is that the #1 thing to do is to have a will. They drilled it into our heads that everyone needs a will. Why?

  • Wills dictate who gets what in an estate.
  • Wills dictate how assets get into someone else’s name.

In a will, you outline how your heirs will receive your assets and who gets what. If you don’t have a will, the courts will decide who gets what assets and how they receive them. Without a will, your assets may go to someone you don’t want.

Additionally, in 30 minutes or so, we can have most questions answered that populate your will and make your death much easier on your estate. Without a will, you’ll leave a mess for your estate and family that you leave behind.

2. Healthcare Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is someone who has the power over decisions. A healthcare POA can make decisions on your behalf while you’re alive. The individual steps in to make decisions for you if you’re unable to make them yourself.

For example, if you’re in a coma, this person could dictate your healthcare.

When you create a healthcare power of attorney, you can outline:

  • What care you would like
  • What care you reject
  • How someone can make decisions on your behalf

No one wants to be left with a decision that can impact their loved one’s life. When creating this document, you outline the care you would like and not like. Perhaps you don’t want to be on life support.

If you put in this document that you don’t want to be on life support, you’re saving someone else a lot of heartache because you’ve made the decision yourself.

It’s crucial to remember that a healthcare POA only allows the person to decide if you cannot make the choice for yourself. A stroke or brain damage are just two times when the person given power of attorney can step in and make decisions for you.

Everyone, even if you’re just turning 18, should have a healthcare POA because you just never know what the future holds.

3. Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney involves decisions outside of healthcare, such as:

  • Accessing retirement accounts
  • Writing checks for you
  • Controlling your finances and assets

The individual is acting in your interest, and you can outline how this individual may act. Perhaps you don’t want them to have the power to take money out of a retirement account.

If you have an IRA, you need to have a durable power of attorney in place. Why? An IRA is an individually held account. Your spouse has no right to access these accounts, even if you have a stroke and cannot access them yourself.

Instead, many IRAs will require you to have a durable power of attorney with them so that they can allow your spouse to access these funds.

4. HIPAA Form

HIPPA forms are for medical purposes, and they augment the healthcare power of attorney. The form allows access to your medical records. If you have a spouse or a child who needs access to your medical information, a HIPPA form is crucial.

Once your child turns 18, the hospital will not share your child’s medical information with you.

Filling out a HIPAA form allows someone access to your medical records so that they can know the status of your condition and how to make the best decisions on your behalf.

5. IRA/401(k) Beneficiaries

Your IRA and 401(k) have beneficiary forms that you ought to review annually. These beneficiaries are who will receive your assets upon your demise. Often, a person assumes that their will dictates who receives the assets.

However, there are more costs involved with a will than if you just added a beneficiary to your accounts.

Also, you can add:

  • Primary beneficiaries
  • Primary contingent beneficiaries
  • Secondary contingent beneficiaries

In this case, the funds go to the primary beneficiaries if they’re alive, then the contingent beneficiaries and then the secondary contingent beneficiaries if the other beneficiaries are no longer alive.

You can also add a charity or other entity as a beneficiary.

We recommend filling out a person’s full information, Social Security number and so forth. You can also leave money to a person, and if they’re no longer living, it will go to their heirs instead. Adding beneficiaries makes transferring these accounts much easier when you pass on.

6. Transfer on Death Brokerage and Bank Accounts

First, there are two types of accounts. Joint accounts are the easiest because if you have a joint account with someone and you die, the account becomes 100% their account. However, what happens if:

  • Both of you die at the same time?
  • You don’t have a person to have a joint account with?

A transfer on death or beneficiary is the easiest way to transfer these assets from your account to your heirs. Otherwise, the assets will be divided by the courts, which can take time and money in many cases.

Filling out a transfer on death makes it super simple for the person inheriting the account because they only need to fill out a form and supply your death certificate to receive the funds.

Yes, you can create your estate plan and add in a trust, but a trust is not an essential item of every estate plan. However, these six items above are the six that we believe are essential to an estate plan and must be included in every plan.

If you would like to learn more about estate plans, schedule a call with us today.

Don’t need help with an estate plan and want to begin securing your retirement? Sign up for our four-step course on securing your retirement.

How To Create an Estate Plan Without the Stress

Retirement planning is what we do on a daily basis, but there’s one thing we come across frequently that astounds us: people with millions of dollars in assets don’t have an estate plan. If you’re in this group or simply don’t have an estate plan in place, it’s time to start thinking about one.

No one wants to think about their demise, but it’s one of the certainties of life.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Andres Mazabel from Trust & Will* to discuss how to create an estate plan without stress. However, before we go into the process of estate planning, we must answer one fundamental question.

Why Do People Avoid Creating an Estate Plan?

We see many people, smart and wealthy people, who don’t have an estate plan. Even if you’re not a millionaire, an estate plan is a very beneficial tool to have in place. The main reason that people seem to overlook this tool is that they’re not educated on the importance of these plans.

In fact, most individuals don’t fully understand:

  • What an estate plan offers
  • What goes behind an estate plan
  • The options they have available
  • How to create an estate plan

Sure, we see many people just put off their plan until a later date because “they don’t have time,” but most people don’t have an estate plan because they don’t understand it and they’re expensive.

People don’t want to spend $2,000 to $5,000 (sometimes less, sometimes more) to create an estate plan.

Also, people don’t want to talk about death. Ironically, the pandemic has started to change this perspective because people are realizing that an estate plan helps ensure that a person’s family is taken care of upon their demise.

Probate can cost thousands of dollars and months of time if you pass without having these documents in place. 

Documents Everyone Should Have as Part of an Estate Plan

Estate plans aren’t just for the wealthy. In fact, even if you have minimal assets, you should still have an estate plan in place. A few of the many documents that should be part of your plan are:

  • Will-based plan. A will-based plan is the most basic form of an estate plan because it outlines the beneficiaries of your assets and the executor of your estate. You can also assign a legal guardian in your will who will be responsible for your child’s wellbeing.
    • Power of Attorney. If you’re incapacitated, a Power of Attorney will allow a person to make a decision on your behalf. 
    • Living Will or Healthcare Directive. Estate planning isn’t just about death. If you’re unable to make your own medical decisions, a living will can outline which medical intervention and procedures you want to take place. HIPPA authorization can also be created to allow a loved one to know about your health condition.
  • Trust-based. Many people will create a trust-based estate plan, especially if they have more assets. The plan allows you to dictate what happens to your estate and when. For example, you can distribute money to your child when they graduate college or reach a certain age.

Trying to secure your retirement is a good thing, but you need an estate plan to dictate what happens when you’re no longer here. You worked hard for all your assets, and an estate plan empowers you to leave these assets to others.

It’s crucial to understand that an estate plan evolves as your circumstances change. Your estate plan today will likely not be the same 10 years from now. Therefore, when you draft an estate plan, it’s crucial to update the plan throughout your lifetime.

Perhaps you don’t want your dear aunt Sally to become your child’s guardian anymore.

You can change that in your plan.

State Specific Estate Plan Updates

Every state has its own specific language that helps outline estate planning requirements. While the language doesn’t change much from one state to the next, you’ll want to have a local attorney overlook the plan for you if you do relocate.

Federal and state-specific changes may be made, and something as simple as a change of Power of Attorney form needs to be addressed.

For example, New York changed its Power of Attorney forms last year, so filling out the new form was a necessity for anyone who had an estate plan in place already.

Even if you haven’t moved states, you should have someone look over the plan every five years to ensure that it meets current requirements. Plus, your wishes may change, and a quick review can help you keep your wishes up to date.

How Long Does It Take to Create an Estate Plan?

Time is a major factor when creating an estate plan. Often, if you have all your documents and wishes available, you can complete the plan within a single visit to a lawyer. However, if you use a platform like Trust & Will, you can complete the estate plan in 30 to 45 minutes.

Trust & Will is the TurboTax of estate planning and allows you to create:

  • Trusts
  • Wills
  • More

And the platform has all the crucial documents that go into an estate plan mentioned previously in this article. Lawyers and additional help are provided through the platform if you need more assistance.

We use Trust & Will for our clients who are working on their retirement plans but don’t have an estate plan in place just yet. 

Of course, you can also go through your own lawyer to have your documents drafted.

The most crucial thing is that you sit down and really draft up your estate plan. Spending 45 minutes or less today can help save your estate months of hardship if your estate goes into probate because you didn’t have these documents in place.

If you haven’t already, we hope that you’re thinking about creating an estate plan today.

If you want to listen to other experts, we have professionals on our podcast every Monday.

Click here to listen to our podcast.