Dealing with the death of a loved one. Part 3-estate planning-what you need to do BEFORE you die.


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Since the financial side of dying can be a pretty long subject I will break it up into separate pre and post death parts. I will detail what my mom did as far as financial and estate planning before she died.

My mom had already had a will and financial power of attorney (POA) for years before she started suffering health problems due to her lung cancer. My parents updated their wills back in 2013 when my father was going through chemo for his pancreatic cancer. They named each other as their beneficiary and POA and me as beneficiary and POA when they are both gone or incapacitated. My father died in 2014 so everything just transferred to my mom due to her being the surviving spouse-relatively easy. My mom moved out here in 2015 to be closer to me since I am the only child my parents had. I used this POA to take care of my mom's finances from January until her death June 16.

Back in April my mom asked me to find an estate planning lawyer who would come to the house (she was unable to leave the house by this point) and create a new will,trust,living will,and financial and medical POAs for her before it was too late. I found one close by who would come over and told him the situation. He called my mom so she could tell him what she wanted privately. This is very important-when you discuss estate planning with a lawyer it is best if no one who stands to benefit from the estate is present. This lets you make your choices free of any possible coercion and gives less ammo for someone to attack the will-"Her son was in the discussion and told mom to disinherit me". My mom named me as her sole beneficiary in her will and named me as her agent on her new financial and medical POAs. She also had a living will/advance directive drawn up where she laid it all out that she did not want to be kept alive if her prognosis was bad or she was in a coma and that she wants to die at home. She also had a trust created which held her house and named me as co-trustee. When the documents were ready the attorney came over and had mom sign her will,trust,living will,and POAs. I had to sign the trust document since I was named as co-trustee. He brought his wife over to sign as the witness on the living will and POAs-it is recommended that anyone who will benefit from the estate not sign as a witness-which is needed to activate-medical POAs and living wills for obvious reasons.

One important note-whoever you decide to be your POA agent MUST BE TRUSTWORTHY BEYOND REPROACH! This cannot be overstated! You are giving this person complete and total access and decision making authority over all your finances and property (this is called a durable POA-you can also have POAs for limited issues). If you have to hang around hospitals and rehab facilities and talk to nurses and social workers like I have been doing since last October you will hear the horror stories of what happens when someone names a scumbag as their POA agent. YOU CANNOT IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM AFFORD TO CHOOSE THE WRONG PERSON FOR THIS!

My mom's assets were her house (bought outright-no mortgage), 2 checking accounts, and 2 IRA accounts. She had named me as sole beneficiary on the IRAs. I will stop here as this will lead into the next part-estate and probate AFTER death.
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