If a loved one dies, beware the ‘renter’s death penalty’

Landlord can legally ask for remaining rent on lease

By: John Matarese

If someone you love who lived in an apartment dies, you might assume the landlord will just tear up the lease.

But many grieving families find that is often not the case.

Carrie Davis is mourning the loss of her beloved mother and battling her mom’s apartment complex at the same time.

Despite her mother’s passing, Davis said Northwest Woods in Springfield Township, Ohio, still wants the equivalent of six months rent.

“They said we needed to sign a buyout agreement,” Davis said. “That could leave us paying a total of six months rent in order to get out of that one-year lease.”

She can’t believe the family has to keep paying for an empty apartment.

“The grandkids are not going to get the gifts bequested to them this Christmas in my mom’s will because we have to pay an apartment complex,” she said.

Law is on landlord’s side in most states

Although this might seem unfair, most states have laws to protect the landlord, not the deceased person’s family, when this happens.

Although the survivors are not billed directly, the dying person’s estate is, and sometimes their estate must pay 10 or 11 months rent on an apartment that will not be used.

Family law attorney Pavan Parikh said this is often called the “renter’s death penalty” — a penalty for dying.

“The law is pretty clear on this that when someone passes away, the decedent’s estate is still responsible for the full term of the lease,” he explained.

A handful of states such as Pennsylvania and Colorado have recently outlawed this, but Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky have not.

Parikh said he believes more states should look at changing the law out of compassion for grieving families.

“It is a scenario where the law needs to do a better job of contemplating,” he said.

We contacted the complex owner, Nexus Property Management, but were told “we have no comment” by the woman who answered. She would not put us in touch with the complex’s attorney.

Although Northwest Woods and Nexus Property Management has done nothing wrong in this case and legally have every right to ask for the remaining rent, Carrie Davis would like to see tougher laws to protect the survivors of those who pass away.

“We should protect our residents, our elderly, our disabled, and even our COVID victims, from incurring thousands of dollars in debt just for dying,” she said.

Attorney Parikh, meantime, says taking an apartment complex to court could cost more than the rent.

He suggests negotiating with the landlord, so you don’t waste your money.

Complete Article HERE!

Resources for end-of-life planning, from wills to emergency health plans

By Sarina Trangle

The pandemic has prompted people of all ages to consider wills and emergency health plans.

At a minimum, lawyers recommend New Yorkers complete a health care proxy and consider a power of attorney, which, respectively, allow others to steer their treatment and finances, if necessary.

Here are definitions and resources to help with end-of-life planning:

Definitions and documents

When and why

Consider and codify your preferences when you’re healthy because documents cannot be finalized if there are questions about your ability to understand what you’re signing, said Maria Hunter, director of the public benefits unit at New York Legal Assistance Group, which provides free financial planning and legal assistance to low-income New Yorkers.

Be aware that if your wishes do not match the state’s framework, you will want to draft your own plans. Working with an attorney becomes more important when your preferences are “jumping the line,” according to Erika Verrill, attorney for the adult home unit at Nassau Suffolk Law Services, a nonprofit.

Health care-focused documents

Advanced directives guide care for people when doctors determine they cannot make their own decisions. Without advanced directives, state law lays out who may act as a surrogate and make decisions on your behalf in institutionalized settings. A court-appointed guardian would be the first person to assume that role. If that’s not feasible, the surrogate power shifts to a spouse, then an adult child, a parent, an adult sibling, and finally, a close friend.

A health care proxy empowers an agent to act on your behalf, when necessary, and may include specific preferences. A health care proxy can often be completed independently of a lawyer. The state Department of Health has forms available online at on.ny.gov/3je85hS, which must be signed by two witnesses.

Another option is a living will, which focuses on specific personal choices and may be used to advise an agent, caregivers or medical professionals.

Financial and administrative concerns

Estate planning refers to tools for managing financial, legal and administrative affairs.

A power of attorney document appoints an agent who can execute transactions and handle administrative affairs on your behalf. For instance, an agent could pay your bills if you were hospitalized.

A trust can be set up to ensure you meet financial eligibility requirements for certain government care programs and to protect loved ones, such as children, attorneys said.

Wills specify what will be done with your possessions after your death. Wills may be able to ensure that certain expenses are covered before your assets are used to pay debt, Hunter said. Absent a will, state law includes a formula for divvying up possessions after death. Default rules are outlined at HERE. For example, if you die with no spouse and no children, your parents inherit everything.

Complete Article HERE!

What happens to a bank account when someone dies?

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The old saying goes “you can’t take it with you,” but that leaves the question: What happens to the bank accounts that you leave behind? While the departed aren’t concerned, their heirs are affected by how the deceased set up their bank accounts.

What happens if the sole owner of an account dies?

If someone is the sole owner of a bank account, what happens next depends on a few factors.

Many banks allow their customers to name a beneficiary or set the account as Payable on Death (POD) or Transferable on Death (TOD) to another person. If the account holder established someone as a beneficiary or POD, the bank will release the funds to the named person once it learns of the account holder’s death. After that, the financial institution typically closes the account.

If the owner of the account didn’t name a beneficiary or a POD, the process can get more complicated. The executor, or person who administers a person’s estate when he or she dies, will become responsible for using the money to repay creditors and dividing the remaining funds according to the deceased’s will.

What happens to joint accounts when someone dies?

Most joint bank accounts include automatic rights of survivorship. In short, if one of the signers on the account passes away, the remaining signer (or signers) on the account retain ownership of the money in the account. That means that the surviving account owner can continue using the account, and the money in it, without any interruptions.

It’s worth noting that the death of an account holder can impact the insurance on an account. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will continue to insure an account as if the decedent is alive for six months after his or her death. Once that time passes, the FDIC coverage stops. Joint accounts can receive up to $500,000 in protection; however, that amount will revert to the $250,000 in protection applicable to individual accounts if one of the joint account holders dies.

Still, if you’re a signer on a joint account, it’s worth checking with your bank to make sure that the account has automatic rights of survivorship. Some banks will freeze joint accounts if one of the signers dies, which could be a problem if you rely on the account for regular spending.

What happens to a bank account when someone dies without a will?

If someone dies without a will, the money in his or her bank account will still pass to the named beneficiary or POD for the account. If someone dies without a will and without naming a beneficiary or POD, things get more complicated.

In general, the executor of the state is responsible for handling any assets the deceased owned, including money in bank accounts. If there is no will to name an executor, the state will appoint one based on local law. The executor has to use the funds in the account to pay any of the estate’s creditors and then distributes the money according to local inheritance laws.

In most states, most or all of the money will go to the deceased’s spouse and children.

How do banks discover someone died?

Banks can discover the death of an account holder in a few ways.

Family member

One of the most common ways for a bank to discover that an account holder has died is for the family to inform the bank.

If a loved one has passed away, inform the deceased’s bank by bringing a copy of his or her death certificate, Social Security number, and any other documents provided by the court, such as letters testamentary (a court document giving someone legal power to act on behalf of a deceased person’s estate) provided to the executor.

Informing the bank lets it begin the process of distributing the deceased’s funds and closing the account.

Social Security

Often, funeral directors will take on the task of informing Social Security of a person’s death on behalf of the family. This saves the family the effort of telling Social Security about their loved one’s passing and makes sure that the heirs don’t have to deal with returning Social Security checks that shouldn’t have been issued.

If Social Security sent a payment for a month after the deceased’s death, the payment must be returned. Social Security will contact the bank that received the payment to ask for the return of funds. If the bank didn’t already know about the account holder’s death, receiving that request will inform it that the account holder died.

How to avoid complications

The last thing that people want to think about while grieving the loss of a loved one is money. There are some proactive steps that you can take to help your loved ones avoid complications if you die.

“Always have a will drawn up by an estate attorney and set up beneficiary designations or TOD, but the easiest way to deal with bank accounts is to simply have an authorized signer on the account so they don’t have to wait,” says accountant Eric Nisall, who has recent experience with handling the accounts of a deceased loved one advises. “They can just go in and take the money or wait and remove the decedent at a later time.”

If you have power of attorney for a loved one who is in poor health, you can add a joint account holder or a TOD to their accounts in preparation for the future.

Another important thing to do is to make sure that your family knows about all of your financial accounts. With the rise of online banking, it’s much easier for accounts to get lost in the shuffle.

“I think a common mistake is not knowing about all of the accounts,” says Nicole Rosen, a registered agent. “When my mom passed away, there was one account that didn’t have a POD. I couldn’t access this single bank account and it laid dormant. The bank charged enough fees to drain and overdraw the account.”

So, a good strategy is to consolidate your accounts as much as possible, leaving fewer accounts for your heirs to track down.

If you’re trying to find accounts left behind by a loved one, try checking your state’s unclaimed money database. Banks have to surrender unused accounts to the state after a period of time set by local law. The state then lists that unclaimed money for the original owners to find before escheating it for public use. You might be able to use these databases to find money that you or your loved one forgot about.

Bottom line

No one likes to contemplate their mortality but making basic preparations with your finances can save your loved ones from financial stress while grieving your loss. Make sure to use beneficiary and POD designations whenever possible and have a will drawn up by an attorney to outline your final wishes.

Complete Article HERE!

5 Considerations For Managing an Inheritance

Integrating new money into a financial plan while navigating the loss of a loved one is often a complicated process.

by Sam Swenson, CFA, CPA

The period leading up to and shortly after losing a close relative is often one of the most emotionally demanding times we, as humans, experience. The crippling grief of loss, coupled with the toll of anticipatory grief, can make it difficult to think clearly and function effectively. When an inheritance is involved, it is especially important to be a responsible steward of the money you’ve received and do your best to integrate new funds into your broader financial plan. Below, you’ll find four considerations for managing inherited money.

1. Pause to organize your thoughts and future actions

Aside from attending immediate events such as a funeral or memorial service, it’s important and necessary to take time to grieve and reflect on the loss of your loved one. It’s also important to avoid the urge to make any sudden, large changes to your life if you’ve inherited a windfall. Once a bit of time has passed, you should have a candid discussion with other heirs to determine the full list of responsibilities at hand and who will manage each one. The pre-appointed executor, or court-appointed administrator, should spearhead this process.

2. Create a plan (and don’t forget to act)

While this can be done as a team, take a full and complete inventory of the assets in your loved one’s estate — both probate (assets without a named beneficiary) and non-probate (assets with a named beneficiary). Remember to discontinue any of your loved one’s subscription services and recurring household expenses (i.e., cable and electric) when the executor has deemed it appropriate to do so. Once you’ve paid final expenses, created an action plan, and assigned responsibilities, it’s time to act on distributing assets to heirs.

3. Integrate to avoid mental accounting

It might seem convenient to keep your inheritance separate from your existing portfolio, but new money should be integrated into your own financial plan as if it were earned income. According to a variety of behavioral finance studies, we tend to view inherited money as eligible to be spent on discretionary items — we consider this money to be “found money.” We also tend to mentally view inheritances as “separate” from previously earned money. The truth is, although it was not earned at a job or side gig, this money is very much yours and should be integrated into your existing financial plan — if you have one! If you don’t yet have a written financial plan, it’s best to meet with a fee-only financial planner who charges by the hour or on a fixed-fee basis.

4. Ensure your financial priorities are met

Consider your inheritance an important opportunity to change the trajectory of your net worth. Use it to pay off or reduce long-standing debts, such as credit cards or student loans. Work on building an emergency fund — at least six months’ worth of living expenses — that will cushion you from unforeseen circumstances, including a pandemic-era-like job loss. Ensure that Roth (or Backdoor Roth for those who exceed income limits for Roth) contributions are made for this year and last year, if you’re still within the previous year’s tax filing deadline. Investing in a taxable brokerage account is a great idea if any money remains after priorities have been addressed. Bigger goals, like paying off an entire mortgage, can be deferred if you’re young and have locked in a favorable interest rate.

5. Be creative

It may be the case that you’ve inherited non-financial assets, like a car, artwork, or antiques. Strive to be open and honest with fellow heirs — if you can truly use one of the items, say so. Separately, if you aren’t ready to part with some of the items, offer them to extended family or friends. It can be comforting to know that otherwise unused belongings are put to good use by people you know. Alternatively, inherited artwork or antiques can often be repurposed or sold, and if you can afford to insure and maintain an additional vehicle — and you want one — inheriting one is a fortunate outcome. Try to avoid storing inherited items unless there is a plan to remove them within a specified timeframe, as storage charges can add up quickly over long periods of time.

Losing a close relative is difficult enough, but the need to prudently manage any inheritance will nonetheless loom large. In a perfect world, every family would have updated estate planning documents in place, with every family member agreeing as to the contents of said documents. This is rarely how it works out in practice, and it’s important to take a deep breath, take your time, and do your best to be realistic, practical, and a bit creative in absorbing inherited assets into your own life.

Complete Article HERE!

7 Items Your Estate Plan May Have Left Out

If your goal is to look out for your loved ones, consider tackling these estate-planning additional jobs.

By

Estate planning is the easiest financial-planning to-do to put off. It’s certainly not fun to ponder your own mortality, and yet that’s the very nature of estate planning. Lawyers are often involved, so it can be hard to get it done on the cheap. And while most financial-planning jobs provide at least some payoff during your lifetime, estate planning isn’t as much for you as it is for your loved ones.

Given all of those reasons, it’s no wonder that so many individuals put off creating or updating on an estate plan. But anecdotally, at least, the pandemic seems to be lighting a fire under some people to get serious about creating or updating their estate plans once and for all. It could be that they’ve been spurred on by the health crisis, which has already claimed too many lives, or they may finally have a bit of free time. A single friend had been lobbing questions at me about executorships and charitable bequests for several years now, but she recently texted me that she’s finally doing an estate plan. Another friend and her husband are updating their documents to reflect what has changed in their lives since they last prepared them. Among other adjustments, they’ve granted powers of attorney and executorship to their now-adult children rather than their siblings, who are aging.

Making sure you have the key estate planning documents in place is important; that means a will, an advance directive (or living will), powers of attorney for healthcare and financial matters, and guardianships for minor children, first and foremost. Trusts may also make sense in certain situations. But there are other add-ons that you can think about in the context of your estate plan, especially if your goal is to make life as easy for your loved ones as possible and to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. In contrast with a traditional estate plan, you can craft at least some of these documents on your own, without the aid of an attorney.

In my parents’ later years, I was intimately involved and eventually in charge of their finances, managing their investments, paying their bills from their bank account, and so on. When they eventually passed away, I didn’t have to hunt around for key documents or climb a learning curve about their finances.

But many of us don’t have or want that kind of backup in place, which is why I think it can be helpful to create a financial overview and master directory for your loved ones. (These documents can also come in handy if you’re the main financial decision-maker in your household and your spouse doesn’t pay too much attention.) A financial overview and master directory (the latter of which I’ve detailed below) go hand in hand.

A financial overview lays out the basics of your finances in a straightforward narrative. I think it can be especially helpful if your loved ones aren’t especially conversant in financial matters, or if they’re “words” people rather than numbers-oriented. (One way to think of it is that the financial overview is a Word document, whereas the master directory is Excel.)

I recently created such a financial overview for our household and included the following headings:

  • Our estate plan (in very broad outlines: where to find the documents and who the key agents are–POAs and executors).
  • Our key financial assets (no dollar amounts or account numbers; just where we hold the accounts and who owns them).
  • Our insurance coverage (property/casualty, health, life).
  • Our house (property ID number, whether there’s a mortgage).
  • Cars (VIN numbers, whether there are car payments).
  • Regular household bills that we pay.

2. A Master Directory
Think of a master directory as a detailed version of your financial overview. Whereas the financial overview is a Microsoft Word document, this is the Excel version. For example, your financial overview might say, “We each have 401(k)s through our employers: Emily’s is with Charles Schwab and Jake’s is with Fidelity.” But the master directory would include the actual account numbers for those accounts, the URLs, and the names of any individuals you deal with at those institutions. Because the master directory includes sensitive information, it’s crucial to encrypt it or, if it’s a physical document, to keep it under lock and key.

3. A Plan for Your Personal Property
Most wills will state that any tangible personal property, like furniture, should be sold and the proceeds added to your estate. But if you have sentimental or valuable items that you’d like to earmark for specific individuals, such as jewelry, artwork, or special home items, you can also create a memorandum of tangible personal property that specifies who you would like to inherit those items. For your own sanity, don’t go overboard in earmarking every little thing for specific individuals; focus on those items you treasure that will also have meaning for the recipients. I found that creating such a memorandum–and matching my favorite possessions to the loved ones in my life who I thought would appreciate them the most–to be one of the most enjoyable and cathartic aspects of the whole planning process. In addition, because the memorandum isn’t technically part of your will, you can update it as you obtain or shed possessions (or loved ones!). Such a memorandum is legally binding in most states, as long as it’s mentioned in your will. But even if the memorandum isn’t legally binding, it’s probably still worth doing and assuming that your loved ones will honor it.

4. A Plan for Your Pets
If you’re an animal lover, you know that pets aren’t possessions; they’re part of the family. Thus, more and more estate plans include provisions for pets. There are a few ways to incorporate pets into an estate plan, and they’re a gradation. The gold standard, albeit one that entails costs to set up, is a pet trust. Through such a trust, you detail which pets are covered, who you’d like to care for them and how, and leave an amount of money to cover the pet’s ongoing care. Alternatively, you can use a will to specify a caretaker for your pet and leave additional assets to that person to care for the pet; the downside of this arrangement is that the person who inherits those assets isn’t legally bound to use the money for the pet’s care. At a minimum, develop at least a verbally communicated plan for caretaking for your pet if you’re unable to do so–either on a short- or long-term basis.

5. A Digital Estate Plan
Even people who think they’ve ticked off all of the usual boxes on their estate-planning to-do lists may have overlooked an increasingly important component of the process: ensuring the proper management and orderly transfer of their digital assets after they die or become disabled. Just as traditional estate planning relates to the management and transfer of financial accounts and hard assets, digital estate-planning encompasses your digital possessions, including the tangible digital devices (computers and smartphones), stored data (either on your devices or in the cloud), and online accounts such as Facebook and LinkedIn. The laws around digital assets are changing quickly, and different providers have different policies/level of access. But a key first step is taking an inventory of all of your digital accounts and storing it in a secure but accessible location. You can include it as a separate sheet on your master directory, discussed above. Discuss the existence of this document with your executor, and if you have valuable digital assets (cryptocurrency, for example) you’ll want to be sure to discuss them with your attorney and incorporate them into your formal estate plan.

6. A Plan for the End of Life
If you have an advance directive, you know that it articulates your attitudes toward life-extending care. But these documents are typically boilerplate; they don’t go into great detail on these matters. If you’d like to add additional background for your spouse, children, or other loved ones who might be making healthcare decisions on your behalf, check out “The Conversation Project.” It offers a starter kit to help you clarify your thinking and discuss these matters with your loved ones.

It’s also worthwhile to spell out your wishes and any plans you’ve made for funerals, memorials, and the disposition of your body, either verbally, in writing, or both. Maybe your wishes are simply to have your loved ones say goodbye in whatever way gives them the most peace at that time; in that case, tell them that or write that down.

7. An Ethical Will
Last but not least, consider writing or recording an ethical will that spells out your beliefs and values. In contrast with a conventional will, which lays out how you’d like your financial and physical property to be distributed, an ethical will is a way to “hand down” your belief system to your loved ones. The tradition of ethical wills began in the Jewish community, but it has gained more interest across cultures over the past decade. This is a heavy assignment, so don’t too much pressure on yourself to be profound or to write an ethical will all at once. Instead, consider starting your ethical will by jotting down your beliefs as they occur to you. To help remove some of the pressure, balance light bits of wisdom (“always keep a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator so that you can celebrate happy events big and small”) with the deeper life lessons that you’ve learned.

Complete Article HERE!

A will doesn’t cover all your bases when it comes to end-of-life decisions.

Here’s what else you need

By Sarah O’Brien

  • A will is just one of several legal documents that help your loved ones know your end-of-life wishes.
  • If a person passes away without a will, a court may decide who gets their assets and who would care for any surviving children.
  • However, some assets pass outside of the will, including retirement accounts and life insurance.

As the coronavirus continues sweeping through U.S. communities and the death toll keeps rising, you might be considering your own mortality.

Regardless of the pandemic, experts say it’s important to plan for when you’re not here — that is, give thought to what would happen to your bank accounts, your home and your belongings, as well as, perhaps, your dependents.

That planning should start with a will. And apparently people know they need to take action, based on Google trends showing a jump in searches for information about creating one. 

“In every jurisdiction, if there isn’t a valid will, assets will pass on to your heirs by law, who may or may not be who you would have provided for in a will,” said Samantha Weyrauch Davis, an estate planning attorney and director with the law firm Hall Estill in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “It also lets you name a guardian for children.”

If you pass away with no will — called dying intestate — a state court decides who gets your assets and, if you have children, who will care for them.

This means that if you have an unmarried partner or a favorite charity but no will, your assets may not end up with them. Typically, the courts will pass on assets to your closest blood relatives, even if that wouldn’t have been your first choice.

However, a will is just one piece of an “estate plan.” An estate just refers to what you own — your financial accounts, possessions and any real estate. Putting a plan in place for those assets helps ensure that upon your death, your wishes are carried out and that family squabbles don’t evolve into destroyed relationships.

In other words, it’s partly about making things easier for your loved ones during an already-difficult time.

Here’s what else you should consider if you want to prepare.

What a will can and can’t do

A will is a document that lets you relay who gets what when you pass away. You can get as specific as you want (you leave a certain family heirloom to a particular person) or keep it more general (you want your surviving spouse to get everything).

However, there are some assets that pass outside of the will, including retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts, as well as life insurance policies.

This means the person named as a beneficiary on those accounts will generally receive the money no matter what your will says. (Be aware that 401[k] plans require your current spouse to be the beneficiary unless they legally agree otherwise).

Those [online] forms or software may not be compliant with your local law, so look at the fine print.

Samantha Weyrauch Davis
Director with Hall Estill

Regular bank accounts, too, can have beneficiaries listed on a payable-on-death form, also known as a POD, which your bank can supply.

If no beneficiary is listed on those non-will items or the beneficiary has already passed away, the assets automatically go into probate. That’s the process by which all of your debt is paid off and then the remaining assets are distributed to heirs. The process can last several months to a year or more, depending on state laws and what’s involved in handling your estate.

If you own a home, be sure to find out how it should be titled to ensure it ends up with the person (or people) you want it to, because the laws can vary from state to state. Moreover, there can be other considerations when it comes to how a house is titled, including protection from potential creditors or for tax reasons later when the home is sold.

Another big decision

As part of the will-making process, you’ll need to pick an executor of your will (sometimes called a personal representative).

This can be a big job, experts say. Things such as liquidating accounts, ensuring your assets go to the proper beneficiaries, paying any debts not discharged (i.e., taxes owed to the IRS), and even selling your home could be among the duties undertaken by the executor.

In other words, just because you’ve known your best friend since elementary school doesn’t mean handling the challenge of being an executor is up their alley.

Where to get a will

To prepare a will, you can turn to an estate planning attorney in your local area — to ensure familiarity with state laws — or use an online option. However, be aware that not all of the web-based alternatives will necessarily reflect the specifics of your state’s law.

“There’s risk in doing it that way,” Davis said. “Those forms or software may not be compliant with your local law, so look at the fine print.”

If an online option ends up being appropriate for your situation, you may be able to find a form to download for free. Software will-making options can run about $60 or more, depending on what else is included. To set up an estate plan with an attorney could run several hundred dollars to more than $1,000, depending on the complexity of your situation.

Also, you’ll need to have a witness and/or notary sign it and make the document official, depending on the state where you live. The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel’s website offers a guide to laws and accommodations in every state if in-person meetings are not permitted due to the pandemic.

Other documents

Typically, estate planning also includes preparing a few other legal documents. This includes an advance health-care directive, also known as a living will.

This document outlines your wishes if you become incapacitated due to illness or injury.

Say you are on life support. Instead of a loved one making the agonizing decision whether to end all life-saving measures, your wishes would be specified in a legal record.

It’s also worth assigning powers of attorney. If you become incapacitated, the people to whom you grant powers of attorney will handle your medical and financial affairs if you cannot.

Often, the person who is given this responsibility when it comes to your health care is different from whom you would name to handle your financial affairs.

As with choosing an executor, make sure whoever you hand the financial reins to is trustworthy and smart.

“I tell my clients it’s really important to carefully consider the individuals you name,” Davis said. “You want to make sure they have the ability, skill set, time and desire to make such decisions and do these sorts of things.”

Make a list of critical documents

While it can be hard to imagine your own death, picture your family having to search through drawers for your original will, documents regarding your bank accounts and other assets, and maybe even your Social Security number.

The best way to avoid forcing them to deal with that task on top of mourning is to leave an organized list of information that the will’s executor will need to settle your estate, experts say. Be sure this includes passwords so your online accounts can be accessed.

Consider a trust

If you want your kids to receive money but don’t want to give a young adult — or one prone to poor money management — unfettered access to a sudden windfall, you can consider creating a trust to be the beneficiary of a particular asset.

A trust holds assets on behalf of your beneficiary or beneficiaries, and is a legal entity dictated by the documents creating it. If you go that route, the assets go into the trust instead of directly to your heirs. They can only receive money according to how (or when) you’ve stipulated in the trust documents.

The average cost to set up a trust using an attorney ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 for an individual and $1,200 to $1,500 for a couple, according to LegalZoom.com. Doing it yourself with online software could run several hundreds of dollars or more.

Complete Article HERE!

Planning For The End Of A Life

Talking about death makes many of us uncomfortable, so we don’t plan for it. NPR’s Life Kit offers tips for starting an advanced directive to prepare for a good death.

By Kavitha Cardoza 

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Thinking about death makes most people uncomfortable, which means many of us end up not planning. But Betsy Simmons Hannibal, a legal editor, says it’s like wearing a seatbelt.

BETSY SIMMONS HANNIBAL: We all wear our seatbelts even though we don’t expect to get in an accident on the way to the store. It’s just, like, something that we know is possible.

MARTIN: So buckle up. NPR’s Life Kit looked into preparing for the end, and reporter Kavitha Cardoza is going to walk us through a simple document called an advance directive.

KAVITHA CARDOZA, BYLINE: You don’t need to have a medical background or a lawyer to fill out an advance directive. You don’t even need a lot of time. And I promise it’s not too morbid. You can easily find an advance directive form online. There are different versions, but basically, it has two sections. The first is the most important – the medical power of attorney. Choose a person who can legally make health care decisions for you if you can’t.

PALLAVI KUMAR: Think about the person in your life who understands you, your goals, your values, your priorities and then is able to set aside their own wishes for you and to be a voice for you.

CARDOZA: That’s Dr. Pallavi Kumar, a medical oncologist and palliative care physician at the University of Pennsylvania. She says your medical proxy should be someone you trust who can handle stress because your loved ones will disagree on what to do, and it can be emotional. So you want to name someone who will carry out your wishes. Kumar says research shows when a caregiver sees a loved one die in the hospital under circumstances they believe that person never would have wanted, they’re in emotional pain for a long time.

KUMAR: And at six months and a year after death, these bereaved caregivers are still suffering from pretty severe depression and anxiety. There’s even some data to show that the survival for those caregivers is shortened.

CARDOZA: So think of an advance directive as a gift you’re giving your loved ones. The second section of the advanced directive document is called a living will. This part walks you through the general approach of how you want to die and what kind of care you want. Do you want to be resuscitated? Are you OK being hooked up to a ventilator? How do you feel about a feeding tube? Dr. Jessica Zitter is an ICU and palliative care physician in California. She says there’s no right or wrong decision. It’s personal.

JESSICA ZITTER: Someone once told me her father was – she says, he’s an old, crusty Italian man, and he said if someone else has to wipe my behind, I do not want to live. But there’s many, many others of us – if I was quadriplegic and still have an intellectual and emotional relationship with people, I don’t think I’d want to die.

CARDOZA: Even among patients who are very, very sick with cancer, less than half have had conversations about how they want to die. So it’s critical to share your wishes with your medical proxy and your loved ones as well as your doctor. Share a copy of the form with them.

Dr. Pallavi Kumar says the end of life is about more than just the medical aspect. When she knows a person’s priorities, that helps inform her treatment plan. For some patients, it might mean spending time at home with family. For others, it means trying every treatment possible for as long as possible.

KUMAR: They would say, if you’re telling me that a chemotherapy could give me another month, I want that month because that’s another month I have with my 6-year-old.

CARDOZA: While no one can predict when they’ll die, an advance directive can help you plan for how. It’s not a guarantee but a safety net for having what Doctor Zitter thinks of as a good death.

ZITTER: In order to figure out what a good death is, you have to figure out what a good life is and what living well means to you. That’s the only way to know how to die well because actually, they’re kind of reflections of each other.

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