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Finding out that you have a terminal illness can bring a whirlwind of emotions and stress and can raise the sense of urgency about getting your affairs in order. To make your estate plan as effective as possible, consider the following:
- Beneficiary designations. Review your beneficiaries on 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement accounts, life insurance policies, pensions, and annuities to ensure they reflect your thoughts about how those assets should pass. Beneficiary designations supersede instructions in a Will or Trust, so it’s important to verify they are doing what you want.
- Property ownership. Look at the ownership of real estate, bank accounts, investment accounts, vehicles, and other assets. If you own property with someone else as “joint tenants with rights of survivorship”, that asset will pass to the other named joint owner(s) when you die. If an asset is owned in your name individually, it will pass according to your Will, or according to state law, unless you have named beneficiaries.
- Will or Trust. If you don’t have a Will and/or a Trust that reflects your current wishes, talk to an estate planning attorney about creating documents designed to ensure those wishes will be honored when you die. These documents allow you to nominate someone to handle estate administration tasks after your death, to have guardianship for minor children, and to manage assets left for your loved ones, distributing them according to your wishes.
- Advance directives. If you don’t have a health care directive or financial power of attorney in place, now is the time to talk to an estate planning attorney about creating those documents. If you reach a point in your illness where you can no longer handle your own affairs or speak for yourself for medical decisions, these documents can be invaluable in allowing a trusted family member or friend to help you.
You may also want to talk to your tax professional, financial advisor and attorney about estate tax strategies, if your estate could be subject to taxation.
We can build an effective and strong estate plan for you and your family to fit your unique needs. Our services alleviate wealth concerns and help you to enjoy life and focus on what really matters, your family. Contact us today to get started!