Confronting Mortality's Details

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(Wednesday, August 12, 2020, 7:30 p.m.) The Covid pandemic is causing families unimaginable suffering, worry, and grief. It is forcing many individuals to confront mortality, to consider, in very real terms, perhaps for the first time, what will happen when their life comes to an end. Here, in less than 300 words, are key facts about documents that govern what happens to you at the end of your life.

A health care proxy and living will name someone to make medical decisions if you’re unable to express your wishes and contain instructions about end-of-life care. This is understandably top-of-mind for a lot of people now.  

A durable power of attorney (POA) permits someone else to manage financial and other matters while you’re alive.  The POA empowers someone you appoint to pay bills, write checks, or sell and purchase assets on your behalf should you become incapacitated.

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Your last will and testament provides the details which take effect at your death for distributing your property. It should be reviewed annually so that the trustee, executor, and guardians of minor children you have appointed still conform to your current wishes. It’s best to speak with whomever you’re appointing about your wishes so that they’re aware of your intentions.

A revocable trust can also provide for the disposition of your property after you die while avoiding the probate court process. Because courts across the country were shuttered for a time, they must now deal with a surge in filings due to the pandemic. In times like these, it’s advantageous to have a revocable trust to avoid probate court delays. Setting up a revocable trust requires changing the titling of bank and brokerage accounts, real estate, and other assets, and may require signing documents with a witness or notary present, which is now  complicated due to social distancing. Fortunately, remote signings can be properly executed via online meeting such as Zoom.

Finally, and most importantly, you will want to be certain that the beneficiary designations on both your retirement plans and your life insurance policies are up to date, as circumstances  change over time. As a financial advisor, creating  legal documents is beyond the scope of our work, but we can refer you to experienced professionals who can create  these documents so they can be properly integrated into a comprehensive financial planning strategy. 

Nothing contained herein is to be considered a solicitation or research material. It is subject to change without notice. It does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific person.

This article was written by a professional financial journalist for Forbes Financial Planning, Inc and is not intended as legal or investment advice.

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