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Estate and Financial Planning

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

by Erin McAllister, Paralegal

When your health starts to decline, you start to lose control and certainty. Having a comprehensive estate plan in place can give you back some control and alleviate the uncertainty. Over 120 million Americans are living with a chronic illness, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, COPD, Parkinson’s Disease, or Multiple Sclerosis. Living with one of these diseases can mean facing years of uncertainty and disability. An estate plan can help you plan for your estate and financial matters, and alleviate the worry caused by your chronic illness.

If you do not have an estate or financial plan, you are not alone. According to the NAEPC Education Foundation statistics, many Americans do not have a proper estate or financial plan. It is estimated that 120,000,000 Americans do not have up-to-date estate plans to protect themselves and their families in the event of sickness, accidents, or untimely death. A survey from 2010 by Lawyers.com found that 35% of Americans now report having a will and only 21% have a trust arranged. A more recent survey by EZLaw found that only 44% of Americans report that they currently have any estate planning documents.

Estate and financial planning might be new and unfamiliar to you and might sound overwhelming. However, with a little education and a step-by-step approach, it will no longer be unfamiliar or overwhelming. The following list are some things you can do to prepare for your future:

1. Organize your emergency information and information about your advisors.

2. Designate a person to handle your financial and legal issues by creating a power of attorney.

3. Designate a person to make health care decisions and access medical records by creating a health care directive.

4. Communicate your health care wishes with your designated person for health care decisions.

5. Protect your minor children by obtaining a will that allows you to name your children’s guardians.

6. Create a personalized revocable trust to manage your assets during your disability or illness.

7. Ensure that your insurance coverage is in order.

8. File your beneficiary designations and confirm title to your accounts.

9. Give back so you can demonstrate important values to heirs, help others, and inspire others.

10. Communicate your estate and financial plan to your advisors, family, and friends.

11. Check the beneficiaries on life insurance policies and retirement plans.

12. Review, revisit, and revise your plan so it can continue to protect you.

When undergoing treatment for an illness, many times there are medical expenses that are not covered by insurance. Items such as home health assistance, wound care supplies, over the counter products, and travel for treatment are a few to consider. These may result in a sizeable deduction on the tax return.

There are some chronic illnesses that leave the patient physically here, but not mentally here. An estate plan in which the patient has had the opportunity to make their wishes known will go a long way to alleviate some of the tensions and frustrations that come with chronic illnesses such as dementia, Alzheimers, etc. Additionally, if you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness or if you are advanced in age, it is also a good idea to request that at the time you sign any estate planning documents, your attorney film your responses to various questions related to prove your competency at that time.

In the event the chronic illness becomes terminal, who wants to worry about financial issues? It is an unfortunate fact that money issues are a significant concern at the end of life, and it is wise to make plans and discuss those plans with the significant people in your life so you can focus on what really matters, your loved ones.

This information is made available by Spaulding Law for educational purposes only and not to provide legal advice. By using this website, you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Spaulding Law, unless you have entered into a separate representation agreement. This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

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• Take the Pleasant Grove exit 275 from I-15
• Turn North onto Pleasant Grove Blvd
• Turn left onto W. Grove Pkwy
• Quickly turn left into the Synergy/Spaulding Law parking lot.