Life Insurance

Removing Obstacles to a Peaceful Death

Elder Law Journal:  We all will die, but the American health care system often impedes a peaceful death. Instead of a quiet death at home surrounded by loved ones, many of us suffer through overutilization of sometimes-toxic therapeutic interventions long past the time when those interventions do more good than harm. This article proposes revisions to health professional training and payment policy to eliminate as much as possible physical and existential suffering while progressing through the terminal phase of illness.”

By |2018-02-27T09:21:08-08:00March 2nd, 2018|

Article on Rational Patient Apathy

Wills, Trusts, & Estate Prof Blog:  “Patients with serious or life-threatening illness are frequently asked to make complex, high stakes medical decisions. The impact of anxiety, low health literacy, asymmetric information and inadequate communication between patients and health care providers, family pressures, rational apathy by health care providers, cognitive biases of both patients and health care providers, as well as other factors, make it quite difficult for patients in these circumstances to process and comprehend the strategic uncertainty and resultant risks and benefits of, and alternatives to, whatever therapeutic or life-prolonging treatment physicians are offering.”

By |2018-02-19T08:42:36-08:00February 20th, 2018|

I Got A Divorce. What Should I Do With My Estate Plan?

Question:  I was recently divorced, but my estate plan names my former spouse in a few places.  What should I do?

Answer:  Revise your estate plan!  You should always think about updating your estate plan when a major life event happens.  Divorce or legal separation from your spouse is one of these events.  There are probably a number of places in your current estate plan that name your former spouse.  These are the areas that you should consider updating:

  • Incapacity planning.  Who did you name as your agent under your healthcare power of attorney or financial power of attorney?  If you were to become incapacitated, your current estate plan probably says that your spouse should make all of your healthcare decisions and should have the ability to access your finances and make financial decisions.  Since you probably do not want your former spouse to make these decisions for you, consider changing your healthcare agent and financial agent to someone like a trusted friend or family member.
  • Inheritance planning.  Your current estate plan probably states that if something were to happen to you, all of your assets should go to your former spouse.  After a divorce, you probably don’t want your former spouse to inherit everything.  As such, you should change the primary beneficiary of your will or trust.
  • Life insurance.  Your current life insurance policy might name your former spouse as the beneficiary of that policy.  Talk to your life insurance company about updating the beneficiary designations on the policy.  Another life insurance issue could arise if your divorce settlement requires you to maintain life insurance for your children. If so, you should consider creating an irrevocable life insurance trust which will ensure that the life insurance benefits are properly transferred after the divorce, and protect the benefits from future events and estate tax issues.
  • IRA and other accounts.  When you set up your IRA, you had to designate one or more persons to be the beneficiaries of that account should something happen to you.  If you set up the account while you were married, you might have listed your former spouse as the beneficiary.  Contact your IRA company to update the beneficiary designations on your account.  Also, if you set up your bank accounts with a “pay on death” designation, be sure to update these designations as well.
By |2016-12-13T20:33:28-08:00July 9th, 2012|

Estate Planning Mistakes New Parents Don’t Want To Make

Lawyers.com:  “It’s official: Jacob and Sophia are America’s most popular baby names. Once you’ve settled on a name for your new bundle of joy, it’s not too early to make legal preparations as your child enters the world.

Jacob has been the No. 1 boy’s name for 13 years, according to the Social Security Administration, which released the list of top baby names for 2011. Sophia knocked Isabella to No. 2 after a two-year stint at the top of the list for girls.

If you have a young child in your home, it’s already time to start thinking about estate-planning issues to protect your newborn. Following are the five most common estate-planning mistakes that parents make after having a baby.”

By |2016-12-13T20:33:29-08:00May 24th, 2012|

Don’t Forget The Beneficiary of Your Life Insurance Policy

LD News:  “A frequently overlooked aspect of estate planning is giving full consideration to beneficiary designations on life-insurance policies you possess.

It is important to keep in mind that if you prepare a will, the will does not usually control the distribution of your life-insurance proceeds. Therefore, when you are making or revising your will, equal attention should be given to your life-insurance beneficiary designations.

Frequently, an individual will change his will but entirely overlook his life-insurance beneficiary designations. This problem is made worse by the fact that life-insurance proceeds occasionally have a greater value than the estate assets that are being distributed by the person’s will.”

By |2017-10-07T11:14:46-07:00April 9th, 2012|

Need to Know: Life Insurance 101

Wall St. Journal:  “Life insurance is one of those financial products that can give people the heebie-jeebies. It can sound confusing and complicated, and it involves thinking about a very scary proposition: death.  But life insurance really isn’t as frightening or complex as it seems. It’s actually a fantastically useful and flexible estate-planning tool that can provide income-tax-free security for your loved ones. It can also provide liquidity to pay estate taxes, especially if your estate largely consists of assets such as real estate or a closely held business that you may be reluctant to sell to raise cash. (If the policy is owned by an irrevocable trust, the insurance payout can avoid estate taxes too.)  Here’s a rundown of some of the basics of life insurance:”

By |2011-10-22T09:45:47-07:00October 22nd, 2011|
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