Planning With A Terminal Illness


A recent article in the National Elder Law Foundation newsletter discussed a handout the author provides to clients who have a terminal illness. The purpose is to help clients prepare for their eventual death - particularly those who recently learned they are suffering from a terminal illness. The recommendations include:


  1. Execute a DNR. Once executed, make sure it is readily accessible.

  2. Coordinate with Hospice. It is important to identify who will be contacted and when.

  3. Plan your funeral. A pre-need funeral contract is advisable along with nominating a funeral representative. Also, be sure to discuss your obituary and who should be notified of your death.

  4. Plan for pets or dependents. Make sure arrangements are made for care and placement.

  5. Plan your estate. Durable and health care powers of attorney should be executed as well as a will or trust to distribute assets after death.

  6. Identify assets. Review the title of each asset and beneficiary designations to make sure they are consistent with any will or trust.

  7. Identify income. Sources of income must be known to make sure proper notice of death is provided and any survivor benefits are claimed.

  8. Identify insurance. Life, home, auto or health insurance should be disclosed and any premiums timely paid.

  9. Locate tax returns. Prior tax returns can help make sure assets aren't being overlooked. Also, they can be helpful for the filing of the final tax returns.

  10. Health care coverage. Make sure the health care insurer is known and whether any dependent coverage may be impacted by death.

  11. Utilities or other bills. Water, telephone, gas, electric, property taxes, etc., must be timely paid and eventually cancelled after death.

  12. Mail forwarding. It should be determined whether this will be needed and when.

Losing a loved one is never easy. With Hospice, you may have some time to take some practical steps that can make the process less overwhelming. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor, be sure to consult with an experienced elder law attorney.


This blog post is written by Brett A. Howell, Certified Elder Law Attorney. The blog is written as a service of The Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm, P.L.L.C. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For a consultation to address specific questions, please call (810) 953-3846.

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