It’s difficult to plan for the end of your life. Most people like to think about retirement as a time of fun experiences, new adventures and more time for friends and family. No one wants to think, much less plan for, declining health, extended care and eventually passing away.
Despite being unpleasant, the end of life is a reality for all of us. And it comes with its own set of issues and challenges. Thinking through these problems ahead of time can make the end of your life as easy as possible for you and your loved ones.
When planning for the end of your life, ask yourself these three questions to see if you are ready:
Have you prepared for incapacitation?
Incapacitation is one of the most difficult things to deal with at the end of one’s life. It refers to the inability to make or communicate your own decisions. This becomes particularly stressful when you or your loved ones are trying to make the best health care choices for you. Incapacitation is typically caused by things like Alzheimer’s, dementia or even strokes.
With some planning, however, you can protect yourself and your legacy in the event you or a loved one becomes incapacitated. For instance, you can use power-of-attorney documents to designate a decision-maker on your behalf. You can also create a living will, which can provide guidance to doctors and health care providers in the event of your incapacitation.
Have you minimized probate?
Probate is the legal process that courts use to settle an estate. Typically, probate settles any outstanding debts you have, files your final tax returns, liquidates assets and identifies your heirs, along with other things. It is possible for the probate process to delay the distribution of your assets, even if you have a will. It can also create administrative expenses and legal fees that drain your estate’s resources.
There are steps you can take, however, that can eliminate the impact of probate. Certain asset classes such as life insurance, annuities, IRAs and other accounts with beneficiary designations usually avoid probate. It’s also possible to add an heir as a co-owner on a specific asset to avoid probate. Doing this directly transfers the asset to the intended individual.
Have you checked your beneficiaries?
Some assets, like life insurance policies, annuities or other qualified asset classes, have named beneficiaries. Some people inadvertently leave inappropriate persons, such as ex-spouses, on an account as a beneficiary. It could be wise to check your beneficiaries.
If you leave off someone like a child or current spouse, it’s unlikely they will get their share of the asset. Listed beneficiaries usually are final, and they are rarely overturned in court. If a beneficiary is inadvertently left off an asset or a policy, they may not have any recourse to correct the situation.
Do you need to address your estate and end-of-life plan? Contact us at Gallagher Financial Group. We can help you evaluate your objectives and needs, and then develop a strategy. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
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