Estate Planning Law Report: December 2015
Lawmakers Propose To Pay Medicare Beneficiaries $75 For Creating Electronic Advance Directives

An advance directive is a document that deals with a person’s future health care decisions.  The term used in Arizona law is health care directive.  The health care directives provided for under Arizona law include health care power of attorney, mental health power of attorney, living will, and prehospital medical care directive.

NB Hannah

Nathan B. Hannah, attorney

I have written about all of these health care directives in past Reports.  If you want to read more about them, just type the name of the directive in the search box on the newsletter archive.

United States Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, along with five co-sponsors, has proposed legislation that would pay Medicare beneficiaries an incentive of $75 per person for registering an electronic advance directive.  According to the statement released by Senator Coons’ office, the electronic advance directive that would qualify for the $75 incentive “would include any electronically stored statement that outlines the kind of treatment and care a beneficiary wants or does not want under certain conditions, and can include identification of a health care proxy.” “Health care proxy” is another name for a health care power of attorney.

How you would go about creating an electronic advance directive that would actually get you the $75 incentive payment,  however, is not clear.  All the statement from the Senator’s office says is that electronic advance directives “would be created through and maintained by outside organizations certified by CMS [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services].”  So it’s not clear whether or not a new Arizona living will, health care power of attorney, or other directive would qualify.  It is clear, however, according to the statement, that to get the incentive, your directive would have to be registered with CMS.

As you may recall, I have told you in past Updates that Arizona has a health care directive registry.  It’s maintained by the Arizona Secretary of State.  It makes sense to me that the existing Arizona health care directive registry would qualify for the proposed Medicare incentive, but that will be up to CMS.

The proposed legislation is the Medicare Choices Empowerment and Protection Act.  You can read more about it, including a news release issued by Senator Coons’ office on November 18, on his web site.  The apparent philosophy behind this proposed legislation is that any effort to promote the use of health care directives is beneficial.  I don’t disagree, although I’m not sure that cash payments from the government is a cost-effective way to promote them.


U.S. Savings Bonds Are Still Around; Here’s How To Deal With Them In Your Estate Plan

Although I have been under the impression that their popularity has declined, I still get questions about U. S. savings bonds.  The government stopped issuing paper savings bonds at the end of 2011, but they are still available for purchase in electronic format through the U. S. Treasury’s TreasuryDirect program.

The question I get most frequently is, of course, how to transfer savings bonds that were issued in the name of a person who is now deceased.  First, I’ll tell you how to avoid this problem: register your bonds with two owners, or one owner with a beneficiary, or with your trust as the owner.

According to the published information from the Treasury, registering a savings bond with two owners automatically means that the owners are joint with right of survivorship.  This is different from certain other assets, particularly real estate, where the joint ownership must be specifically described as having a right of survivorship in order for the surviving owner to automatically succeed to the interest of the deceased owner.

Registering a savings bond in the name of a single owner with a beneficiary, on the other hand, works essentially the same way as a “POD” (pay on death) account.  If the owner dies, the asset automatically becomes the property of the named beneficiary.

If a savings bond is registered to a deceased individual owner without a co-owner or a beneficiary, the bond can still be redeemed, but it’s more complicated.  The process depends on whether or not a personal representative has been (or will be) appointed for the estate of the deceased individual owner.  There are links to the necessary forms and instructions on the web site of TreasuryDirect (click on “Forms for Savings Bonds”).

If you are what the Treasury’s rules call a voluntary representative of a nonadministered estate, and you qualify under their rules as a person who is entitled to redeem the savings bond, you should be able to do it by following their instructions and submitting their forms and the other required documents.

If you are what the Treasury’s rules call a representative of an administered estate, that is, you have been appointed as the personal representative of the estate of the deceased bondholder, then you submit a different set of forms and other required documents to the Treasury.

If you plan ahead, however, you can avoid all that by registering your savings bonds in the name of your living trust, or in your name with a beneficiary.  If you have old bonds, you may want to check and see if they’re still paying interest.


Steven Wright

Nathan B. Hannah is a Shareholder in the Tucson office, and practices in the areas of estate planning and administration, real estate, and commercial transactions.  He is also a noted blogger, and you can find more of his articles on his private blog,

Contact Attorney Hannah:  or  520/ 322-5000


This communication is designed to bring legal developments of interest to the attention of our clients and others. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific legal advice in a particular matter. For further information on any of the subjects discussed, or for legal advice in connection with any particular matter, please contact us.