Author Topic: End of Life documents  (Read 6413 times)

wifeytini623

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End of Life documents
« on: October 26, 2014, 09:28:17 PM »
Hello Mustachians!

What do you guys do for your end-of-life planning? I have children and am very nervous about not having legal guardianship established for them in the event that my husband and I die. I probably also need to fill out a power of attorney form, a last will and testament form, and a paper with all of my passwords and bank account info.

Am I missing anything? What did you guys do, and how did you legally finalize everything? Did you meet with an attorney, or can you just use LegalZoom or whatever?

Would so appreciate a shove in the right direction!!

TN_Steve

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2014, 09:39:50 PM »
Hopping into the time machine to some 10-20 years ago....  :-)

Do your have adequate term life so that you kids are well-protected in the event that you (and/or your spouse) get hit by a truck?

By "power of attorney," do you mean durable health care power of attorney?  Do you have a living will and have you discussed it with the person who has your health care power of attorney?  Have you sent copies of these documents (or shared them on google docs) to everyone (mom, dad, In laws, siblings) who might pop up at the hospital after the truck incident?   Does your primary care doc have them--or at least notice of them?

I'm a little skeptical of legalzoom and the like, but they probably work for this (unlike the commercial disputes  I am currently litigating).

Otherwise, if you have everything that you mentioned covered, you should be good.

:-)


mxt0133

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2014, 09:41:12 PM »
First you need a will to specify who should take care of your kids if you and your spouse pass.  Then you need an advance health care directive for you and your spouse to leave specific instruction on how you wanted to be taken care of medically if you become incapacitated.

If you have significant assets then a revocable living trust might be ideal for you if you want to dictate how your assets should be managed for your surviving minor children.

MsRichLife

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2014, 09:44:19 PM »
Here's what I've done recently:

- Wills for DH and I. We used a solicitor because our financial structure is a little complex and I wanted to make sure we didn't mess anything up. Covered the financial aspects as well as guardianship of our son if DH and I both pass.

- Power of Attorney for DH and I. As above. This covers financial, guardianship and medical matters.

- Personal register. This is a document I put together with details of all our important information, including where important documents are held. Also all of our savings and investment customer numbers. I didn't include passwords, because our trustee should be able to contact the institution to arrange access if required.

scrubbyfish

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2014, 09:57:36 PM »
My kid has disabilities and no other parent, so I was fierce in my planning for him. Because our (his) situation was a bit complex, I did hire a lawyer to put it all together. Health directive, health representative, and power of attorney for me; guardianship, disability trust, registered disability savings account, and trustee for him. Plus a chart of all the agencies, workers, and funding sources involved in his life. And life insurance. Without getting all morbid on him, I let my son input into who his guardians would be.

Getting everything short of the disability trust done cost me about $2800, but again, that was a fancy lawyer working on a fancy situation. I had grown weary of lawyers that knew less than me about how the various issues and agencies intersect; this one knew, and could create a plan that took all of it into consideration. I was happy to pay someone who knew more than me!

I love the peace of mind. I think you will feel SO MUCH BETTER when you have this done.

MrsPete

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2014, 08:14:16 AM »
When our kids were younger, we did an online will -- Legal Zoom?  I don't know, and I also don't know how it would've held up, if it had ever been used.  However, we're easy:  One marriage, kids belong to us biologically, no extraordinary circumstances. 

However, we did recently have "real wills" drawn up, and I feel good about having had it done.  We did it through our credit union, and the total price was $350 for everything.  The only negative about going through the credit union was that we had to operate on their schedule, and the lawyer only comes around to our hometown branch every 6-8 weeks; it wasn't a big deal, given that we're relatively young and healthy -- but it could matter to someone else in a bad situation.  That $350 was for six documents:

- Medical power of attorney (one for him, one for me)
- Power of attorney (one for him, one for me)
- Final will and testament (one for him, one for me)

The lawyer was great, and I feel quite secure about everything.  We don't ever have to do this again -- he's written it so that we each inherit 100% of everything from the other . . . and after us, it's all divided equally among our children.  If one child is gone, that child's children would inherit, and if our whole family is somehow wiped out, it will be split equally among our five nieces and nephews.  Only one thing would really necessitate re-doing the wills:  If one of us died, and the other remarried.  That would make the details fuzzy. 

The lawyer did recommend that we make alterations (eventually) when we reach life-changing events.  That might mean naming grandchildren in the will (once they exist, which isn't likely to be anytime soon) or when one of us is widowed.  If we don't do this, it won't really matter -- it'll just be "less neat". 

He brought up things that we hadn't considered:  If we were to die soon, when would we want the kids to inherit?  He talked to us about how to go about holding back a portion of the inheritance until they finished college, turned 30, or whatever.  We didn't take his advice on that topic, but he made us think it through, which was a good exercise for us.  We also hadn't considered the need for powers of attorney. 

In addition to this will, which simply states, "Everything goes to __ and __", we're doing three things: 

1.  We're in the process of putting together a personal letter to our children, which tells them Names /Contact info /Account numbers for our financial information.  That is, the company with whom we have life insurance and how they should go about filing.  The banks with whom we have accounts, etc.  We are going to update this letter every year on our anniversary. 

2.  We've gone to the banks and have made our children official beneficiaries (I should not that my youngest is only months away from being a legal adult -- I wouldn't do this if she were still three).  This means that -- one day -- they can walk into the bank with a death certificate and clear out our bank accounts without waiting for the legal system.  This will give them "right now money" with which to bury us, pay off final medical bills, etc. -- without reaching into their own pockets. 

3.  We've talked about burial plans -- conversation isn't finished -- and we've kind of agreed that we'll finalize these plans when we retire.  We are going to leave instruction for our kids in the above-mentioned letter and will tell them to use the money in our emergency fund at ____ bank for that purpose. 


VirginiaBob

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2014, 09:19:29 AM »
I have term life insurance, my employer pays a limited survirorship pension and a limited life insurance (that I didn't have to pay into), plus SS survivor benefit.  Plus my stache.  What I do need to do though is put together a folder with instructions to my wife on how to access all this stuff.  For example, the life insurance only pays out if she knows how to pursue it, the pension only pays out if she applies for it.  She self-admits that she is finanically illiterate on this stuff.  I need to put together a document that says:

1.  Step 1 - do this.
2.  Step 2 - do that.
3.  etc.

In real common language.

An alternate would be to have a friend of mine help her through all of this if something happened.  Just have a POC that she can call that will take care of this stuff.  Not interested in going the laywer route thought.

dungoofed

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2014, 10:11:05 AM »
This is currently doing the rounds:

http://deathswitch.com/

Not sure if there is a place for it in your estate planning.

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2014, 11:12:15 AM »
We used Quicken/NOLO Willmaker to draw ours up and had everything notarized and witnessed at a UPS Store. It definitely seems to be one of the cheapest options out there.

It's easy to use, and if you're circumstances are fairly straightforward, I don't see how a lawyer will add much to the process.

That said, when we update things in a few years, we'll probably use a lawyer as our lives and finances have become a bit more complex.

Dee18

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2014, 11:12:31 AM »
State law controls wills, trusts, and guardianships.  In some states parents can select in advance who will be their child's guardians.  In other states, the court is free to disregard the parents' preference.  I was surprised to learn that in my state a parent's preference would not control the outcome.  On the advice of my attorney, I created a "paper trail" of emails, etc., establishing why I wanted a particular person (not my sister) to be the guardian in the event of my death.  Seems like yesterday, but the baby that inspired that legal consultation will be 18 next month!

MrsPete

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2014, 11:25:47 AM »
I need to put together a document that says:

1.  Step 1 - do this.
2.  Step 2 - do that.
3.  etc.

In real common language.
Exactly what we're doing for our adult children.  They're perfectly capable of filing for our insurance benefits, etc. -- but I don't want them to have to search and figure out what money they have coming to them.  I'm including account numbers, passwords and contact information. 

cynthia1848

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2014, 11:48:25 AM »
I am a lawyer and do this for myself and for others.  We have:

- wills
- revocable trusts
- power of attorney
- health care proxy
- life insurance trusts.

My DH has $2.5 M in insurance and I have $1.5 M in insurance (term life) - I will prob increase the amount I get next time since I will be 'healthier' (not pregnant) during the application.

wifeytini623

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2014, 03:25:07 PM »
My kid has disabilities and no other parent, so I was fierce in my planning for him. Because our (his) situation was a bit complex, I did hire a lawyer to put it all together. Health directive, health representative, and power of attorney for me; guardianship, disability trust, registered disability savings account, and trustee for him. Plus a chart of all the agencies, workers, and funding sources involved in his life. And life insurance. Without getting all morbid on him, I let my son input into who his guardians would be.

Getting everything short of the disability trust done cost me about $2800, but again, that was a fancy lawyer working on a fancy situation. I had grown weary of lawyers that knew less than me about how the various issues and agencies intersect; this one knew, and could create a plan that took all of it into consideration. I was happy to pay someone who knew more than me!

I love the peace of mind. I think you will feel SO MUCH BETTER when you have this done.

Wow, this is great, and so informative. Thank you. Can you tell me more about the special needs trust and disability savings? My son is disabled as well.

scrubbyfish

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2014, 05:56:01 PM »
Can you tell me more about the special needs trust and disability savings? My son is disabled as well.

Absolutely!

My info is specific to Canada (or even British Columbia, Canada), not sure how it will translate to your region, but...

Canada recently created a Registered Disability Savings Plan, which is a little bit like a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (similar to the US's 401(k)), but for people who have disabilities. I contribute to one for my son, and the government of Canada (thank you!) makes even bigger contributions. My son can't touch the RDSP for 10 years after the last gov't contribution, but then has it in his adulthood for anything he might need, including rent, etc. An additional blessing of this is that, at least in BC and under current laws, amounts drawn from this account will not reduce any monthly disability benefit he might be in receipt of, as it otherwise would.

I don't know if there are equivalents to this in other countries, but what is for sure "transferable information" is the critical step of talking to disability agencies and finding out what is available in one's region, then accessing that. And, of course, addressing that in the will or associated documents. For example, I included a memo to his guardian to continue optimizing contributions to the RDSP, as it is so extremely valuable. If I fail to note that, how will the person taking over his care realize the option and value of this provision that I painstakingly set up for my son? So, end-of-life preparations would ideally include this type of asset, if applicable, as well as notes to those taking over care about continuing to optimize it.

The disability trust I imagine is available almost everywhere. It's simply a legal provision to hold/guard/monitor/disburse funds for someone else. In the case of both my son and I, I can put money into a very specific type and wording of Trust and, while our income is crap, receive support while retaining the asset. The catch is that a third party dictates where I or we can spend the money. But if a person's disability might result in lost/wasted money -such as with a severe impairment of executive functioning, impulsivity, etc- this is not a catch but a help. Like with the RDSP, under British Columbia's current laws, amounts drawn from the Trust for very specific uses will not reduce any monthly disability benefit he might be in receipt of. (See why I needed a fancier lawyer?)

It's critically important to have additional preparations for kids with special needs, as it can be harder after their parents' deaths to locate an excellent new home for them, and also for the new guardians to suddenly be able to pay out for all the disability-related costs. I would say lots of extra life insurance (term) as well as the other items mentioned. I made sure my son's guardian would have enough to quit her job if my son needs to return to homeschooling, and also to hire tutors, hire lots of respite time, etc, over and above the costs of his food, room, etc. I literally closed my eyes and imagined their life together, priced what I anticipated their needs to be, and got insurance in that amount.

Did any of that help at all?

Malaysia41

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2015, 05:05:17 PM »
I'm looking into setting up a revocable living trust.  One - to avoid probate mainly on the real estate holdings, and two - to control the dispersement of $ to kids (21, 18 and 9). 

It is enormously difficult to take the next step.  I keep putting it off.  On one hand I'd like to just throw money at hiring someone and having them ask a bunch of questions and make it happen.  But on the other, it seems pretty straight forward I should just get down to it.  Mainly though, I'm not 100% sure how I want to handle the logistics with the kids.  Esp guardianship of our 9 y.o. should both of us die suddenly. With the uncertainty, it's easy to delay.

Assets to transfer to living trust:

1. Apartment building LLC shares   
2. Main house that is rented out right now.
3. Lending Club account
4. Savings Account 
5. Stock accounts.

Then, I need to double check the titling in our 401ks, 529s and IRAs. I think the beneficiary should be the living trust on death and then provision for pay-outs.

I think the real appeal for going to an expert is that we can get down to the essentials quickly and I'll avoid spending hours and hours contemplating death and what will happen with my son.  I honestly have no idea who I'd want to raise him.  It terrifies me.  My parents are too old, my siblings would love him but it'd be a burden on them and their situations are not ideal for him either.  I have friends who might be good - but when I consider the burden on them and the potential experience of my kid - ugh.  I just need to resolve to stay alive for another 10 years.

What I do know is that children aren't chattel.  Ultimately my wishes may be ignored by the courts anyway.  But, by getting our wishes in writing we at least increase the chances that DS will end up where we want him.  We just need to figure out where we want him.  Also, I'm not fully decided on how to provision payouts to all the kids. 

I need to figure out who I'd want administering this trust if'n we die in the next decade.  IDK.  Gosh I hate thinking about this stuff.  But there's no time like the present to get this stuff started.   

mxt0133

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2015, 07:05:28 PM »
Then, I need to double check the titling in our 401ks, 529s and IRAs. I think the beneficiary should be the living trust on death and then provision for pay-outs.

If you set your retirement account beneficiary to a trust then you have to disburse the funds based on the oldest beneficiary in the trust.  So the youngest person in the trust will not realize as much income tax deferral because they have to use the RMD based on the age of the oldest individual in the trust.

However if you do set your minor children as beneficiaries then when they turn 18 it is legally theirs.  You cannot dictate that they must spend it on education or get the funds in installments until they are 26 or later.  Those are the trade offs between how you set the beneficiary of your retirement accounts.

Reyes01

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2015, 10:52:23 AM »
We each have a health care directive, health representative,  power of attorney, and a will. As our marriage is not recognized in all states (and countries), we carry a copy of the first 3 documents whenever we travel.

Capsu78

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2015, 01:00:35 PM »
We lived without and I have a step daughter so we were pretty exposed in hindsight.  When we did have then drawn up, it felt great.  Last year we refreshed everything, updated the kids married names and most importantly refreshed all of our beneficiaries.  Found a lot of existing hic cups that would have stood in the was of an orderly "end of life" if both of us were to depart together.  We think last years revisions should stick to the end.

The second "most importantly" is the wording in the medical directives- With all the advances in medical techniques, even medical directives from as recently as 3 years ago might not be what you and your spouse really want. 

Capsu78

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2015, 01:06:50 PM »
Oh and BTW, someone is going to make money offering Social Media End of Life services that go in and remove all your digital fingerprints like linked in accounts, FB, email accounts, your photos.  I have an old business partner who passed away a year ago who Linked in still wants me to be friends with.  I'm to lazy to figure out the business model, but if someone on MMM wants to use this idea, just stuff a big check under my door!

scrubbyfish

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Re: End of Life documents
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2015, 06:33:09 PM »
^ Related to this, I have a document with my will stuff that asks my local people to contact far away friends, social media forums, etc, to say when I'm dead.

One of my closest friends lives across the world, he has no connections to anyone else in my family so they might well not think to contact him, and it would be very important to him and I that he get the scoop as early as possible. There are others with whom I have a similarly important but geographically distant, or removed from my family, relationship. I totally have to update that document to include this forum, though, for example.