The Importance of a Living Will

 

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Written by Monika Lovewell, Trust Manager, J.D., CTFA

 

A man and his wife were sitting in the living room and he said to her, “Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.” His wife got up, unplugged the TV, and threw out all of his beer…

All joking aside, a living will is an important tool in your estate planning toolbox. Adults have the right to name someone (an agent) to make medical care decisions for them when they are unable to do so for themselves because of incapacity. Most people recognize the terms “Living Will” or “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care” as names for documents which cover these types of decisions. However, they are not the same.

A Living Will refers to your end-of-life “plug-pulling” decision only, while the Health Care Power of Attorney covers all of your other medical care decisions. In many states, these are separate documents. Minnesota combines the two in one document called a “health care directive” which is governed by Minnesota Statutes Chapter 145c. The laws and forms for these types of documents are different in every state. Many states will honor another state’s forms, but it’s a good idea to fill out forms for every state in which you routinely spend significant time. For example, if you spend your winters in Florida, then you should complete forms for Minnesota and Florida, and make sure the forms are consistent by naming the same agent(s) and including the same medical care instructions.

In a health care directive, you (as principal) name your agent and specify your care instructions. This is different from a “Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment,” which is known as a “POLST.” The POLST is filled out by your health care provider based upon his or her understanding of what he or she thinks you want. A POLST tells other health care providers what you want for end-of-life treatment during an emergency.

Many people tell me that they have a “power of attorney,” but I find that often they are not sure what exactly it covers. A “regular” power of attorney (such as the commonly used “Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney”) only covers financial decisions and does NOT cover medical care. Conversely, your health care directive does NOT allow someone to pay your bills or manage your assets and property if you become incapacitated.

Other questions I get asked often are, “What’s the difference between a Living Will and a Will?” and “[A]re a Living Will and a Living Trust the same thing?” These are confusing terms. Generally speaking, a will refers to the document that says who will get your money and property after you pass away and it may also name a guardian to look after your minor children. It has nothing to do with your health care or end-of-life decisions. A “Living Trust” is also a set of instructions which says who gets your money and property after you die, but these instructions are carried out by your trustee instead of by a probate court under a will. The “living” part of “living trust” means that your trust is revocable. In other words, you can change the instructions –or completely undo the entire trust – during your lifetime.

There are many more differences between wills and trusts which are beyond the scope of this article. Be sure to ask your attorney to explain the differences between these important planning tools and whether either one fits your individual circumstances and estate planning goals. Our Trust Department is also a great resource for assistance and guidance with these types of issues. Please feel free to contact us. We would be happy to help you.

Congratulate New and Promoted Staff

New Staff

barryrickRichard Barry, President, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance
Rick comes to Merchants Bank Equipment Finance with extensive industry experience, including nearly 20 years of working in equipment finance with GE, TCF, and most recently, US Bank. Rick’s responsibilities for the last nine years with US Bank were as Vice President National Accounts Manager. He brings extensive leadership, sales management, and relationship building experience to our Merchants organization.

 

dawsontrinityTriny Dawson, Teller, Cottage Grove
Triny also currently works for the Hastings and South Washington School District. This is a new career path for Triny and she is looking forward to meeting Merchants customers and learning new things.

 

 

Jediehnjessicassica Diehn, Part-Time Teller, Spring Grove
Jessica previously worked at Midwest Outdoor Resorts as a Sales Representative and at Hidden Bluffs Resort as an Assistant Sales Manager. Jessica is excited to be working at Merchants and is looking forward to providing excellent customer service.

 

 

Alex Faust, Teller, Onalaskafaustalex
Alex is currently a junior at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse majoring in Political Science and Economics. He previously worked at the Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern as a Host/Busser.

 

 

goblirschaliciaAlicia Goblirsch, Teller, Apple Valley
Alicia is a senior at Apple Valley High school and is also attending Inver Hills Community College through the PSEO program. She is involved in choir and theater. Alicia also loves animals and has a dog and a guinea pig.

 

 

hallockkennedieKennedie Hallock, Teller, Red Wing
Kennedie attends Red Wing High School and is looking forward to getting to know her co-workers and customers.

 

 

 

hilkeshelbyShelby Hilke, Teller, Winona
Shelby previously worked at the Cardinal’s Nest as a Bartender and at Shopko as a Cashier. He is from Altura and has grown up on an 8th generation farm and is a car enthusiast. He graduated from Lewiston-Altura High School and is currently attending Winona State University majoring in Marketing.

 

 

longhauserkaitlinKaitlin Longhauser, Teller, Caledonia
Kaitlin currently works at Kwik Trip and is looking forward to getting to know and work with everyone at Merchants.

 

 

 

 

sawallkristinKristin Sawall, Teller, St. Charles
Kristin previously worked at Associated Bank as a Teller and Meridian Hair Design Studio as a Hair Stylist. She is originally from Pulaski, WI, outside of Green Bay. Kristin enjoys hiking and going for bike rides. She has a mini Australian Shepherd that keeps her occupied and motivated to keep moving. In the fall, Kristin and her husband like to go out hunting and enjoy the outdoors.

 

simonbarbBarb Simon, Teller, Cannon Falls
Barb previously worked at Community Resource Bank as a Senior Teller/Personal Banker. She plays softball for the Cannon Falls Boomers. Barb is also involved with a knitting group with her church and serves on several Chamber committees and the Farmers Market committee.

 

 

warnkenshelbyShelby Warnken, Teller, Winona-Goodview
Shelby is currently attending Minnesota State College Southeast majoring in Accounting. She enjoys reading, spending time with friends and family and taking her dog for walks. Shelby also works at the Wingdam Saloon and previously worked at Thrive Wellness Center and the Green Mill.

 

 

winansstephanieStephanie Winans, Teller, Onalaska
Stephanie previously worked at the YMCA in Manitowoc, WI as a Camp Counselor. She is a junior at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse majoring in Psychology. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys traveling and staying active around campus. She just returned from studying abroad in Greece.

Promotions and Transfers

AraujoEddieEddie Araujo, Customer Service Representative and Back-Up Teller, Rosemount
Eddie has been with Merchants since 2016. He was previously a Teller in Lakeville.

 

 

faklermeghanMeghan Fakler, Customer Service Representative, Winona-Downtown
Meghan has been with Merchants since 2016. She was previously a Teller and Customer Service Representative at our Goodview location in Winona.

 

 

TealeArrieArrie Teale, Teller and Customer Service Representative, Winona-Goodview
Arrie has been with Merchants since 2015. She was previously a Part-Time Teller at our Downtown location in Winona.

Top Fraud Alerts and Updates

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Review our most recent fraud alerts and updates to help keep your personal information secure. Want to be automatically updated about recent scams and fraud? Sign up for our Alerts emails here: http://bit.ly/1G1dF0n

Stolen Mail in Red Wing
Customers in Red Wing, Hampton and the surrounding areas have reported an increase in stolen mail, including people who use their mailbox for outgoing mail.

We’d like to remind all customers to be cautious when sending or receiving personal information, bank account information or checks through the mail. To protect yourself or your business, consider following these recommendations from the Federal Trade Commission:

  • Take outgoing mail to post office collection boxes or the post office.
  • Promptly remove mail that arrives in your mailbox. If you won’t be home for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail.
  • When you order new checks, don’t have them mailed to your home, unless you have a secure mailbox with a lock.

“Can You Hear Me?” Scam
The Better Business Bureau is warning individuals to be cautious when answering your phone. If someone asks “can you hear me?,” just hang up. By answering “yes” your voice may be recorded and used to authorize a purchase you didn’t make.

Lottery Scams
Some of our customers have also recently fallen victim to lottery scams. If you or someone you know is asked to send money to someone else in order to receive a monetary prize, that’s a red flag. Be skeptical of any offers…if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Phone Calls Regarding Bad Credit
We have also had customers report receiving phone calls from an agency claiming to help customer fix bad credit history in order to obtain personal and bank account information. Please be cautious of any communication (phone call, email or website pop-up page) asking you to provide personal information. If you don’t know who is calling, ask the caller to provide more information, do your research and end the call if you are not comfortable.

Merchants Bank will never ask for your personal information unless you have previously initiated a conversation with us about your accounts or an application.

Chip Card Security
After issuing new MasterCard EMV Chip Debit Cards at the end of 2016, Merchants has seen a decrease in fraudulent debit card transactions. Our new chip debit cards provide enhanced security when paying in-store by generating a one-time use code that can only be read by a register enabled to read chip cards. The code is created from the small chip on the front of your card and is hard to counterfeit, which prevents fraud.

If you do not have a Merchants Bank Debit Card, you can request one by contacting our Electronic Banking department. Debit cards are free with all Personal and Business Checking and Savings Accounts.

Next Steps If You’ve Experienced Fraud
If you think your bank account information has been compromised or you are a victim of identity theft, contact your local Merchants Bank and ask to speak to a Customer Service Representative.