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Three Legal Things to Do After a Scary Health Diagnosis

A scary health diagnosis can be emotionally and logistically challenging. For instance, how do you take care of your family if you are physically incapacitated? In addition to working closely with your medical providers, consider these three legal tips:

  1. Check with your attorney to make sure your estate plan is up to date.

Are you among the 58 percent of American adults without a will or trust? If so, begin planning. If you do have an estate plan, review it. Maybe one of your heirs was married or died. Maybe you would like to add or remove beneficiaries from your will. Perhaps your personal representative is no longer capable of handling your estate. Make sure you have designated alternates for your personal representative, legal guardian, and trustee.

You should also review your estate’s assets. If you live in one of the states that allow for the inclusion of a personal property memorandum, you may be able to revise the distribution of personal property by simply revising your memorandum. If not, you should revise your will to reflect any changes.

Georgia does not require an executor to honor an outside memorandum; therefore, the inclusion of a personal property memorandum is merely a request for the executor to honor the distribution. Georgia residents still have the option to use an outside memorandum; but in order to create enforceable distributions, these should be specifically included in your will.

If you maintain a separate record of account information and essential documents, update them as well.

  1. Consider passing control to your successor trustee/agent so you can focus on your health.

If you have incorporated a revocable living trust (also known as a living trust or inter vivos trust) as part of your estate plan, consider relying on your successor trustee if you become overwhelmed by managing your health and day-to-day responsibilities.  By granting your successor trustee the authority to manage the assets in your trust, you alleviate significant stress and save time. Remember, you trusted this person enough to manage your assets in your absence; you should be able to trust them to manage your assets while you are alive. Keep in mind you can always take back control in the future if you want.

If you do not have a revocable living trust and other financial matters are consuming your time, consider appointing an agent under a financial power of attorney to assist with managing your finances.

  1. Make sure your current assets are properly coordinated with your estate plan and/or funded trust.

Evaluate your assets to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Consult us to make sure you are avoiding the common mistake of assets not being properly titled. In order for a trust to be funded, the assets must be titled in the name of the trust. Also, review any beneficiary designations to ensure they match your overall estate plan. Assets with a beneficiary designation will make the distribution according to who is listed on the beneficiary designation form and not according to your estate plan. Make sure these forms do not undermine or undo the work of your estate plan.

Managing your health should be your top priority. Lean on those you trust; and if you need any assistance with ensuring your affairs are in order, please give us a call or visit our website

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