Talking about finances at the end of life

When someone is facing a terminal illness, the last thing that they and their family want to think about is money. They want to focus on spending time together and making lasting memories. Getting financial affairs in order, however, is an important part of the end of life process, especially because having money matters taken care of makes it easier for grieving family members. This may require uncomfortable conversations with family members and loved ones, but they are conversations that nobody will regret.

Talk with the family

Conversations should happen earlier on in the process so the patients do not have to worry about money when their health is failing. It is important to be proactive and make sure that both the patients and family members are taken care of along the way. Budgeting will become important because everyone will want to do all that they can to help the family member that has fallen ill, whatever the cost.

To make this process as easy on everyone as possible, contact a professional, such an attorney who specializes in financial and estate planning, to help the patient and his or her family get their financial situation in order. This type of attorney can guide everyone through the process and create a plan that fits the patients' and family's goals.

Determine beneficiaries for life insurance and retirement plans

While focusing on a patient's end-of-life health care, life insurance and retirement plans are often forgotten, but they play a very important part in an estate plan. This is the time for policyholders to make sure that changes have been made to their beneficiaries on these plans, if this detail got overlooked after a divorce or the death of another family member. Check all of these plans to make sure the intended beneficiaries are listed.

Another thing people often forget about regarding life insurance plans is that in many states a minor cannot directly inherit assets, and a custodian will be appointed as guardian of the assets if one is not appointed in the instrument by the policyholder.

Double-check taxable income and tax deductions

When people face a terminal illness, their income will likely decrease substantially, but they may have new items that can be deducted from their taxes - particularly any medical expenses that insurance will not cover. There are certain things that people can do to decrease their own taxes and the taxes resulting from the passing on of their assets. An attorney can help with this sort of planning and minimize the tax burden.

Find information on the probate procedures in the state

Probate refers to the court process by which assets pass upon death. Every state has its own laws and procedures governing this process and an estate planning attorney can help everyone understand them.