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A long time attorney formerly practicing in Indiana and Michigan, now working in the pro-bono legal arena for folks living on the Eastern Shore, residing in Rock Hall, Tim Abeska, gave us a very thorough overview of what forms and documents every one of us should have at the ready just in case illness or accident happens to us, a spouse or a family member.  We learned about designating a personal representative and alternates.  We heard about making sure your IRA has a designated set of beneficiaries.  Know where to store your legal papers, your records of ownership, your powers of attorney, your Maryland MOLST forms.  We also were enlightened to figure out proper ways to make sure your passwords are stored somewhere accessible.  Make sure your representatives know your broker’s and attorney’s names.  Put your paperwork where it can be utilized quickly.  Consider a fireproof storage box instead of a bank safe deposit box.  There are many ways for such records to get out of date over time.  You need to maintain them.

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It is pretty easy to see there are many ways to make a mess of such paperwork and details.  You need to become more organized to avoid making a mess for those who come in after there has been a problem or death.  You can also save some taxes and costs to do these things correctly.  Tim promised to get us a check off list and we’ll post it for CBG readers when we have it.

 

Below is a helpful checklist provided by our speaker:

 

End of Life Action Item Checklist

Everyone should have a Will, which puts you in control of what happens to your money and property. A Will can provide instructions for disposition of specific property such as family heirlooms, provide for funds to go to charitable organizations, and can be used as a tax planning tool, so that tax liabilities are minimized.

A Personal Financial Power of Attorney (POA) allows you to designate someone to act as your agent if you cannot act on your own behalf.

An Advance Medical Directive (AMD) allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make those decisions. The AMD also addresses whether you wish to be an organ donor and will express your wishes for funeral arrangements.

A Maryland Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) form, completed by your doctor, provides medical orders to emergency medical services and health care facilities. EMTs will look to see if this form is on your refrigerator, so they know if a “do not resuscitate” (DNR) order is in place.

Make sure you have up to date beneficiary designations for life insurance policies. Insurance proceeds are not governed by a Will and pass outside of probate.

Make sure that IRAs or investment accounts have named beneficiaries or “payable on death” (POD) instructions if you want those assets to pass outside of probate.

Bank accounts may also have POD instructions.

There are other things which should be done to ease the burden on your survivors:

  1. Have all important papers in a central file, fireproof box at home, or safe deposit box. Make sure your loved one know where the documents are located. The documents might include your Will, POA, AMD, insurance policies, investment account statements, tax returns, deeds, Social Security card, Passport, marriage and birth certificates, military discharge papers and records, motor vehicle titles, and Veteran’ Administration records. 2. Prepare a “call list” with the names and contact information for key people such as

your lawyer, accountant, financial advisors, and other key people. 3. Have an accessible list of passwords for use in canceling accounts, deleting social

media accounts, etc. 4. Make sure your survivors know how your bills are paid so that accounts are kept

current pending settlement of your estate.

This Checklist is not intended to provide specific legal advice. You should seek advice from an attorney of your choice who can evaluate your specific situation and provide the information you need to make informed decisions.

 

 

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