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Tips for estate planning for those with terminal illnesses

If you are facing a terminal diagnosis, you must take action regarding your estate and other legal and tax matters. Below are some suggestions to review with an Oklahoma estate planning attorney.

Prepare for when you are incapacitated

Your attorney can draw up a durable power of attorney for your designated representative to manage your finances that can take effect immediately. This allows you, while you still are mentally capable, to observe their fiscal management strategies. If you see any red flags, you can make appropriate changes.

Do an asset swap

Appreciated assets that have low income bases may be transferred in order to provide a step-up in income tax basis when you pass away. You can also transfer any depreciated assets elsewhere and thus avoid step-downs in income tax bases.

Be careful that any transfers won't subject your assets to claims for expenses for your end-of-life care, however.

Fund trusts to skip probate

Revocable trusts that are fully funded before your death can allow your beneficiaries to avoid a lengthy probate process. To do so, you must transfer the titles of all real estate, investments and bank accounts from your name into the trust.

Additionally, you and your attorney should review the beneficiary designations for any annuities, life insurance policies and retirement accounts. Make any changes now to assure a smooth transition later.

Make charitable gifts

If you have a few favorite charities, now is the time to act. Gifts to charities from living persons can allow for substantial savings on taxes later.

While it is never pleasant to contemplate one's mortality, taking these important steps now may give you a sense of relief as you ease into your final transition.

Source: Nasdaq, "6 Estate Planning Tips for Those Approaching Death," John M. Goralka, accessed May 25, 2017

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