Estate Planning When You’re Elderly or Sick
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Estate Planning When You’re Elderly or Sick

It is now time to take solid steps in establishing an estate plan. It’s also a wise to think about what might happen prior to your passing, should you become unable to manage your own affairs or would simply welcome some assistance from a trusted relative or friend.

  1. Create Your Will

If you are without a simple will, acquire one. They’re not hard to devise, and a lot of individuals feel comfortable doing it on their own, using software or online resources. Each provide a straightforward interview format and lots of simple terminology assistance along the way. If you have a complex family circumstance or unusual assets, get a hold of an estate planning lawyer for guidance.


When you have minor children, appoint a personal guardian for them in the will. When both you and the other parent are unavailable, a local court is going to adhere to your wishes and appoint this individual (absent good reasoning not to) as guardian, to bring up the children. It’s seldom easy to appoint a guardian.


Your will dictate who receives what following your passing. You are able to make it straightforward—”everything to my children, to equally share “—or leave particular items to particular beneficiaries. You are not required to leave anything to relatives when you don’t wish to, but when you’re married, remember that a disinherited spouse could potentially declare some of your assets.

  1. Create Durable Powers of Attorney and a Living Will

Even though it’s never enjoyable, take a minute to contemplate about the possibility that at some time, you could become debilitated and unable to manage day-to-day financial affairs or make decisions concerning healthcare. When you don’t do anything to get ready for this possibility, a judge might have to designate an individual to do these things on your behalf. No body wants a court’s involvement in such personal issues, but someone is required to have legal authorization to act for you.

To avoid an invasive court proceeding, grant an individual you trust the legal authority to act on your behalf. This is done by devising documents referred to as durable powers of attorney, one for financial issues and one concerning healthcare. The individual you choose is referred to your agent or attorney-in-fact. If you want, you could even declare that the documents are not going to have any consequence unless and until you become debilitated. Following it being signed and notarized, it is legally valid, and your mind can be content.

The paperwork you need include:

  • medical directive (living will)
  • durable POA for health care
  • durable POA for finances

Your medical directive gives directions to your health care providers about your desires for end-of-life care, in as much specifics as you want. You could simply state that you want everything necessary done for pain relief (comfort care) but don’t want to receive outstanding measures like CPR in specific circumstances. When you have a medical condition, you could go into more associated detail.

You utilize a durable power of attorney for healthcare to give an individual you trust the authority to carry out the wishes declared in your medical directive, and to make other medical decisions if required.

A durable power of attorney for finances gives an individual control over your assets. This can be a huge benefit to relatives—your spouse may require access to your checking account for paying the mortgage, for instance. Devoid of a DPOA for finances, your family is going to have to request the court to designate a conservator or guardian to manage your money, and present to court supervision.

  1. Verify Your Beneficiary Designations

You’ve most likely already designated beneficiaries to inherit specific property from you. For instance, when you signed up for a retirement plan at your job or purchased a life insurance policy, you were probably given a form on which to designate a beneficiary. Now is the perfect time to revisit those forms. An amazing amount of people at no time bother to update it, even when death or divorce of the initial beneficiary means they need to name another person.

When you have named payable-on-death (POD) beneficiaries for financial institution accounts, savings bonds, or vehicles, review those designations also. When you with to change the beneficiary, you just simply get new beneficiary paperwork from your employer or the account custodian, complete it, then submit it.

As long as you’re at it, consider turning your other financial institution and brokerage accounts into POD accounts. It’s easy, free, and is going to eliminate the requirement for those assets to go through probate following your passing.

  1. Consider a Living Trust

Probate court proceedings are a costly, drawn-out inconvenience for survivors that just want to swiftly transfer property to the individuals that inherit it. To spare your relatives the inconvenience, think about devising a revocable living trust. This document allows everything go straight to the individuals that inherit it following your passing, devoid of the requirement for probate.

Like a will, you can revoke or modify a living trust at any moment up until your passing, provided that you’re mentally capable. But following your passing, or should become debilitated, the individual you selected to be your “successor trustee” takes power of trust property, without court oversight. The duty of the successor trustee is likewise to that of a executor of a will; in fact, typically the same individual is named to do both duties.

It takes a somewhat more work for creating a living trust than it does for creating a will. And when probate is somewhat easy and less costly in your state, you might decide you don’t need to stress. But these trusts have worked very well for a lot of families—and saved them a ton of money.

  1. Look into State and Federal Estate Tax Exemption Amounts

Most Americans don’t need to be concerned that their families are going end up with a large state or federal estate tax bill. But it’s worth examining the present tax laws, just to be sure. When you discover that it’s probable that your estate is going to owe state or federal estate tax, get guidance from a tax lawyer about your alternatives. You might want to research special types of trusts or begin a gift-giving plan to decrease the amount your estate is going to owe.

Federal estate tax. An individual that passed in 2020 could possibly leave $10.45 million devoid of owing estate tax; married couples are able to exempt two times that amount. (The exemption amount increases every year to conform for inflation.) Therefore, it is calculated that around 99.8% of all estates are NOT going to be owing federal tax.

State estate tax. A lot of states dictate a separate state estate tax, and in a lot of them the exempted amount is less than the federal amount. State tax rates are a lot lower than the federal rate, nevertheless.


  1. Mary Randolph, J. D. (2020, August 11). Estate planning when you’re elderly or ill. Retrieved November 16, 2021, from

Arizona Family Law

There’s nothing better than the peace of mind you will have knowing you’ve protected your family at a time when they need it most. Let us help. Schedule a consultation or contact Ogborne Law, PLC of Arizona today.

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