“While last-minute estate planning poses challenges, some steps can be implemented to tackle crucial considerations.”
Many families discover their loved ones haven’t done any estate planning, only when moving a parent into hospice. Whether or not any last-minute estate planning can be done depends upon the loved one’s condition, explains the article “The Challenge of Last Minute Estate Planning” from HomeCare.
If they cannot speak for themselves and do not have a Power of Attorney prepared, last-minute planning is no longer an option. If they can speak for themselves, there may be time to complete a few tasks to make things easier for surviving family members. The family should immediately seek guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney. Here are the steps to be implemented.
Create or update the will. If there is no will, have one created as soon as possible. If one exists, it needs to be reviewed and updated. Use this opportunity to communicate their wishes with family members and others to prevent misunderstandings.
Designate beneficiaries. Ensure that all accounts (bank, retirement, life insurance policies, trusts) have updated designated beneficiaries.
Consider a Revocable Living Trust. If time permits, a revocable trust could be considered for certain assets to take them out of the probate estate and provide flexibility in managing the estate.
Power of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy. They’ll need to designate someone they trust to make financial and healthcare decisions on their behalf.
Guardianship for minor children. If the person entering hospice has minor children, they can designate a guardian in their will to ensure the children’s care and well-being. Someone who is terminally ill at a young age usually has thought about who they want to care for their children. However, this needs to be put into the will.
Emergency document kit. It’s a good idea to prepare a document kit including important information, including a list of assets, passwords, insurance policies and contact information for the estate planning attorney, CPA and financial advisor. Keep these documents in a secure and accessible location.
Digital assets. Create a list of assets, including user logins, passwords and the nature of the digital asset. Include instructions for managing or transferring digital assets, including social media, email and online accounts. There are ways to create legacy contacts for social media, so the accounts can be memorialized or shut down in the future.
Discuss and finalize important decisions. Wishes about end-of-life care are more important than ever. Do they want to be kept alive by artificial means, or is pain management their primary concern? If possible, have these discussions in a supportive and loving manner. A hospice counselor or death doula may be helpful.
Ideally, estate planning should be done long before hospice becomes necessary to ensure that the estate is handled correctly, and a person’s wishes are followed. When last-minute estate planning is needed, it’s critical to collaborate with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Reference: HomeCare (Jan. 16, 2024) “The Challenge of Last Minute Estate Planning”