Two Alarm Fire

As many of you have already heard, there was a two alarm fire early on Sunday morning, September 21, 2014 at the Satellite Hotel, where Quick Law, LLC’s Colorado Springs office is located.  Consequently, we have vacated the Satellite Hotel.

Some client originals (not all were in the Satellite office at the time of the fire) smell of smoke but none were lost or destroyed.  The firefighters broke the locks and doors of each office during their fire mitigation efforts.  The double glass doors of the A110 suites will still be locked after hours; however, an additional level of protection client originals and confidential information previously had no longer exists at the Satellite Hotel.  There are extensive remediation and remodeling efforts currently taking place at the Satellite Hotel which significantly impacts Quick Law, LLC’s operations and creates hazards for Quick Law, LLC staff and clients.

Client appointments will be re-located outside of the Satellite Hotel.  For clients with existing appointments or upcoming signing meetings, a home visit or appointment at a coffee shop or library, etc. will be arranged at no additional charge.  Clients in northern Colorado or who are not inconvenienced by the trip are welcome to meet at Quick Law, LLC’s office space at 19th and Grant in downtown Denver.

Prospective clients will be charged a $75.00 fee (which can be paid over the phone with any credit card or the appointment may be confirmed once a check or cash is received).  The $75.00 fee for the initial consultation will credited in full to any services engaged at the initial consultation.  If no additional services are engaged, the $75.00 fee covers the cost of the consultation.  A prospective client receives a great deal of legal advice during an initial consultation.  If a prospective client is not home at the time of their appointment, the $75.00 fee covers the ‘no show.’  Also, those in the Denver metro area are subject to a trip charge for home visits because there is an office in their area.

Quick Law, LLC can be contacted at 719-210-4202 or mquicklaw@rocketmail.com

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Studies show electronic health records routinely fail to give doctors access to advance directives

We offer membership in the DocuBank advance directives registry to ensure our estate planning clients’ advance directives are always available at the hospital. New studies prove the importance of this access.

Two new studies show that emergency room (ER) doctors are almost never able to find their patients’ advance directives in Electronic Health Records (EHRs).  This is a significant issue for you and your loved ones because doctors are increasingly relying on electronic records.

As a refresher, advance directives are the documents that give you control over your medical care if you are unable to speak for yourself.  They let you choose who will make health care decisions for you and give guidance on the types of treatments you would or would not want.  Your doctors and your loved ones will be flying blind if they are unable to obtain these documents when you’re in the hospital.

Both studies were reported in the Journal of Palliative Medicine.  The first one looked at ER usage of advance directives, and found that 59% of patients had completed an advance directive, but the ER was only able to find it in the EHR 13% of the time.  In addition, the document was still missing 69% of the time when patients said they previously gave a copy to the hospital.

The second study surveyed ER doctors about their thoughts on advance directives and EHRs.  The results were also dismal.  Less than 1/3 of ER doctors felt “very confident” or “extremely confident” that they could locate the patients’ advance directive in the EHR—when there was one to be found.

So what does all of this mean for you?  Simply put, you cannot count on your doctors obtaining your advance directive from the hospital’s medical records, even if you provide it to them in advance.

That is a big deal, because those documents guide your doctors and your loved ones. A separate survey of ER doctors found that 93% are “less frustrated” when advance directives are “easily accessible.”  The vast majority of them said the documents let them “provide a better quality of patient care” and that family members are “more satisfied with the medical care.”

We want to ensure your doctors are not frustrated, your loved ones are satisfied, and that you receive the exact care that you want.  EHRs simply cannot provide those comforts for you, which is why a DocuBank membership is so valuable.

Simply give your DocuBank emergency card to hospital staff when they ask you for your advance directive.  They can print your directive immediately by visiting the DocuBank website or get them by fax by calling the 800-number printed on the card.  If you have a cell phone, you can even call DocuBank directly.  Just ask the hospital staff for their fax number and call the 800-number.

If you have questions about your advance directive or want to make changes, feel free to contact us.

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What happens to my photos stored online if something happens to me?

The terms of service, which are the lengthy fine print most people accept without reading, are geared to protect individual privacy.  Federal law from the 1990’s dictates that privacy is the prime concern.  Thus, many of those terms state that one’s account will be frozen and often also deleted once the company is informed of the death.

That can be an issue since many run their lives online nowadays.  Online banking, storing photos online and running active social media lives are the norm for most of us.  Many people do not have hard copies of the treasured memories their photos captured in recent years.

A study found that the average estimated value of these digital assets is $55,000.00 per person.  While that was a subjective valuation, it shows there is significant value in those digital photos, social media pages, e-mail and the like.

But there is some good news on this front.  Colorado recently adopted a law that allows people to authorize their Financial Power of Attorney agent and Personal Representative under their Will to access digital assets.  That way, a trusted person can still obtain family photos, pay bills from online accounts and so forth if one becomes incapacitated and/or upon their passing.

This is a good time to add digital assets to your estate plan.  This is also a good opportunity to double check your plan and see if there are any other changes you wish to make.  Where there is a Will, there is a way!

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Be careful to keep an eye on your home!

We have many cases where a senior ends up in a nursing home, perhaps after a hospital stay.  In one such case recently, it was discovered that a stranger and scam artist who calls himself “Paul” emptied the home, put a lock box on the door and had prospective renters coming to view the property even though this “Paul” does not own the home!  He told the neighbors and police that the previous owner had died and that he purchased the home at a tax lien sale even though neither of those statements is true.  A police report was filed for the serious charges of theft and burglary against an elderly person.

In times like this when there is a strong real estate market, even large companies can begin playing fast and loose.  Smaller scam artists like this become prevalent as well.

Since an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, we strongly encourage you to keep tabs on your loved one’s home when they are hospitalized and/or enter a nursing facility.  Be sure that trustworthy neighbors know that the owner is alive and still owns the property.  They should be familiar with who will legitimately clean out and/or sell the property.

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What is Medicare ACP?

ACP stands for Advance Care Planning, which is a matter of having conversations about your health care wishes, organ donation preferences, medical agent and advance directives with your physician.  Some offices may also permit these conversations with a nurse practitioner or physician assistant.

ACP conversations are important because studies have found that talking about choices for medical care, regardless of the specific care choices you make, increases patient and family satisfaction with their care.  Having an accessible advance directive is a benefit to physicians, patients, and their families.  This planning also has been shown to reduce the emotional burden and stress on caregivers.

Medicare now pays physicians in half-hour increments to have conversations with you about your medical wishes.  There is no co-pay when these discussions occur during your Medicare Annual Wellness Visit.  There may be a co-pay at other times, depending on your Medicare plan.

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How much of my estate plan can I deduct on my taxes?

Estate planning includes having an attorney prepare such items as a Will, Trust, Powers of Attorney and/or Living Will.  A great aspect of having an attorney prepare your estate plan, beyond the assurance that it is done correctly, is that you can deduct a portion of it on your taxes.  Generally, the IRS allows you to deduct between 20% and 40% of the legal fee for your estate planning.

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Does my Attorney Love the Frustrations, Inefficiencies and Unfairness of the Law?

No. Just because attorneys work in a system that is not perfect does not mean they love those imperfections. Many attorneys went into the law to help curb those issues. Unlike other professions, the rules governing attorneys allow them to advocate for reasonable changes to the existing law.

Other professions, such as medical professionals, are held to the standard of what others in their field normally do, often times regardless of what is actually best for the patient. Attorneys also strictly govern themselves by holding rural and new attorneys to the same standards as big city and experienced attorneys, which is not the case when it comes to the standard of practice for physicians.

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Did my Attorney Write the Law?

That is unlikely. While a number of legislators are attorneys they often are not practicing attorneys. Many times those who had practiced law did little of it before becoming politicians.

A small portion of practicing attorneys are involved in creating laws; however, the laws that are adopted often are quite different from what they recommended because competing interests won out. Most practicing attorneys do not have the time, patience or interest in getting involved in making the laws – a process that has been compared to making sausage. The end result may be all right but it might be stomach-turning to see how it is made.

Your attorney probably did not write the law and may not agree with it any more than you do. But both of you have to abide by it.

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