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Often elderly people have difficulty describing what they want to occur at the end of their life. Th e subject is an uncomfortable one. It can stir up fearsome images and feelings of grief. Nonetheless, one of the most important things we can do for those we love who are advancing in years or are terminally ill is to initiate conversations with them to help them clarify their wishes and make formal decisions for the management of their personal care and their financial affairs. Remember to be gentle, respectful and helpful, rather than pushy, when initiating these conversations. After talking matters over with your loved one and giving him or her a chance to reflect, ensure that your loved one’s decisions regarding the management of his or her end-of-life care and financial affairs is set down on paper, in signed legal documents.
These documents will protect your loved one and your family and will ensure that his or her personal choices are honored by doctors, hospitals, family members and the courts. They will prevent lawsuits, and heartache and tragedy, the byproducts of conflict at the end of life and following death.
Have the crucial legal conversations now. Do the paperwork, and then you, your loved one and your family members can go back to….read more
Your loved one may also wish to consider creating a fifth document: a revocable living trust. Like a will, this document provides for the transfer of an individual’s assets after death (at which point it becomes irrevocable), but it also designates a person (trustee) or persons to manage the individual’s assets while he or she is still alive. A trustee does not necessarily become a beneficiary of the trust, and the creator of the trust can name himself or herself as sole trustee to retain full control of all assets. This trust is called “revocable” because the creator can alter, amend or revoke it altogether whenever he or she wants, as long as he or she is still alive and mentally competent.
Living trusts are becoming more popular. One advantage is the state and federal tax benefits a trust confers. Another is that by their nature, trusts do not go through probate, which is a definite advantage when an estate is complex. And since trusts do not go through probate, they do not become part of the public record and thus provide privacy. (Probate records are available to the public.) However, a trust should not be considered a substitute for a will! Even when there’s a trust in place, your loved one still needs a will. You, your family members and your loved one should also consider a fifth document, one that is relatively new and that benefits family members more than it does the loved one. When family members…..read more