Seniors: Working on Your Bucket List? First, Finish Your Estate Plan

Discussing a Document

“Many seniors may be more focused on their bucket lists, than worrying about having their financial affairs in order.”

Seniors should be having some heart-to-heart discussions with their spouses and loved ones about their wishes concerning their assets and their final days, according to Intermountain Catholic in “Retirees Have Several Financial Issues to Consider.” After a loved one dies, family members are often left dealing with the expenses of their medical care and funeral. To be left to deal with these issues while grieving adds another layer of heartbreak. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Many people put off making a will or trust.  This means that their property won’t be distributed as they would want. If you don’t already have a will or trust, contact an estate-planning attorney and get started right away. Without a will, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of your state.

Ask your estate planning attorney if a “pour-over trust” is appropriate for your situation.  It puts the property that you own at the time of death into an already-prepared trust, so your trusted heir can succeed you as a trustee and then divide the estate, according to your wishes.

Don’t put your 401(k) or IRA savings accounts into trusts. The IRS will see that as a 100% withdrawal and you’ll be charged the taxes on it for the year the withdrawal was made. That one mistake could, and has, decimated lifetimes of savings.

You’ll want to grant a trusted family member or friend the power of attorney and medical power of attorney, so your affairs can be handled, if you should become unable to do so. If you do not want “heroic measures”—CPR and other medical procedures done to bring someone back to life, if they are unresponsive—then you’ll want a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form. That form will need to be with you and you should tell others about it, so they can instruct medical personnel accordingly. Otherwise, EMTs and doctors are required by law to take whatever measures they deem necessary to keep you alive.

If you haven’t already applied for Social Security, you may wish to go to your local Social Security office to discuss what benefits are available to you and how to collect them.

Most seniors qualify for Medicare, but there are many different plans. It is also likely that you’ll need supplemental plans to cover costs, including prescriptions.

Your best bet: sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you create an estate plan that is best for you and your family.  You should also have conversations with your family members about tough topics, so when the time comes for them to act on your behalf, they’ll be ready.

Reference: Intermountain Catholic “Retirees Have Several Financial Issues to Consider”

Get Help from a Wisconsin Probate and Estate Planning Attorney

As you’re enjoying your golden years, make sure your loved ones have clear, concise directions to follow should you become incapacitated or pass away. A comprehensive estate plan will make sure your wishes concerning your hard-earned assets are known.

The estate planning lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.

To attend a free estate planning workshop or to receive our client planner to assess your estate planning mindset, contact our office by calling (608) 344-5491 or use our online contact form.

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