“A bad medical diagnosis can make a person realize that he suddenly has far less time to get his affairs in order. What’s the best way to leave assets to your heirs? Should you pay off your mortgage?”
Receiving a terrifying medical diagnosis of a fatal illness, can leave you and your loved ones stunned and afraid. Once the initial shock has subsided and you have put the emotional and medical resources in place, it will be necessary to address the legal aspects, according to a recent article from CNBC titled “When end-of-life planning is suddenly a lot closer than you thought.”
Start by assembling all your financial information in one place. An old-school, loose-leaf binder may be easier for your family, depending on their comfort level with technology. If your family is accustomed to online portals where information is stored, consider the emotional state of shock they will be in. Make it as easy and accessible as possible for you and them.
The information should include your Social Security benefits and pension information. There may be survivor benefits that your family will need to know about.
Include the prior year’s tax returns and a note, as to where your other tax returns can be found.
If you don’t have a will, power of attorney, healthcare directive or any estate planning legal documents in place, it is now the time to make an appointment with an estate planning attorney.
Another task will be to designate beneficiaries for any financial accounts and insurance policies. Depending on your brokerage house, you may be able to attach a transfer-on-death instruction to your non-retirement accounts.
You can do the same thing with real estate in 27 states. An estate planning attorney will know if this is applicable to your state.
Next, make a list of your liabilities. It should include your mortgage, car loans and credit card debt.
Create a contact list for your family that includes your estate planning attorney, CPA, financial advisor and insurance agent.
Should you pay off your mortgage? This might not always be the best move. Consider the funds available, your tax bracket and the current mortgage. Do you want a family member to be able to live in the house? Your estate planning attorney will be able to run through different scenarios and strategies.
Write a legacy letter. This is not a legal document but a letter that will express your intentions for your will and your wishes for personal property. If it’s not too hard, it is also a place where you can share your wishes for your funeral arrangements.
Reference: CNBC (July 18, 2018) “When end-of-life planning is suddenly a lot closer than you thought.”
Get Help from a Wisconsin Probate and Estate Planning Attorney
Gathering information and being proactive with your estate plan can help alleviate a small portion of the stress on your and your loved ones should you receive a terrifying medical diagnosis. Less time spent getting your affairs in order means more time spent with those you love.
The estate planning lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.
To attend a free estate planning workshop or to receive our client planner to assess your estate planning mindset, contact our office by calling (608) 268-5751 or use our online contact form.