PB Law Blog... Trusts and Stuff

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Tough Stuff: Talking with Your Loved One About End-of-Life Arrangements


Create an Estate Plan 

Your loved one might already have an estate plan in place, but if it’s been some time since it was revisited or revised, encourage them to take a look to see if anything needs to be added or changed. Their will should designate who gets what when they pass away, as well as who will be in charge of their estate (bills, taxes, estate distribution, etc.) It is important to note that any beneficiaries named on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and the like automatically trump anyone designated in the will. This means that if an ex-spouse is listed as the beneficiary, everything goes to them. A will lays the framework, but you need to make sure the same person or persons are listed everywhere.


While you are planning your estate, consider how it will be handled. If you’d like to spare your loved ones from having to go through probate court, take steps to prevent it, such as establishing a living trust, making accounts payable on death, or jointly owning property. There are plenty of horror stories out there about probate, but it isn’t the worst thing in the world. It can, however, be time-consuming and costly, so if you can avoid it, do so.


Decide Who Will Take the Reigns 

It is hard to think that one day your loved one might not be able to communicate, but should this happen, you need to know what to do. Let your loved one know that respecting their wishes regarding end-of-life medical care is very important to you, and creating a living will ensures that you are able to do so. The living will states whether your loved one wants CPR/resuscitation, ventilation, tube feeding, comfort care, and/or organ/tissue donation. They can also designate if they would like their body to be donated to science. Along with a living will, encourage your loved one to name a power of attorney (POA) to make decisions on their behalf regarding medical and financial decisions. This is a good thing to consider if your loved one is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s as well since they are still able to agree and sign.


Funeral Arrangements

It might feel uncomfortable to talk about funeral arrangements with someone who is still living, but if you don’t pin it down now, you’ll be left wondering what they would have wanted. Funeral pre-planning isn’t uncommon. In fact, it is encouraged so that the loved ones left behind can mourn and grieve without being asked to make important decisions. This checklist from Everplans will walk you through the process and addresses important questions.


Expenses and Insurance 

In addition to planning the funeral, you need to consider how you will pay for it. There are plenty of options. For example, did you know you can sell your life insurance policy to free up cash for funeral expenses? This is a good option to consider if you don’t have a spouse or children that rely on the claim should you pass away. You can also use a settlement to supplement retirement income. You might also consider setting up a payable-on-death bank savings account, which can be accessed by a designated beneficiary after you pass away. You can even pre-pay the funeral home, including open and closing costs should burial be the route you choose.


Talking with your loved one about end-of-life arrangements isn’t your idea of a good time, but it’s extremely important. Encourage them to create/revise their estate plan, designate who will take charge, and pre-plan their funeral. It will be tough, but it will be a huge weight lifted off everyone’s shoulders.


-by Beverly Nelson,


© 2018, Phillips Ballenger, PLLC

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