Planning Ahead - Estate Concerns

Dear Linda,

My father was recently diagnosed with a serious progressive illness. After the initial shock, my siblings and I feel this is a good time to make sure his finances are in order, particularly with regards to estate planning. What do you recommend?

Dear Reader,

Have your father meet with an estate planning attorney licensed in his state. This type of lawyer specializes in making sure a client's wishes, with regards to one's finances, are met in the event of a disability or death. The attorney will prepare some, or all, of the following:

- Living Will - This names someone to act on his behalf if he can no longer make his own medical decisions. - Durable Power of Attorney Financial - This names someone to manage his finances if he can no longer do it on his own due to a disability. - Will - This document outlines how he wants to distribute his assets upon his death. - Living Trust - This is a separate legal entity that can ensure assets do not pass through probate.

Other things you can do:

- Help your father inventory his assets and debts to make sure they are titled properly. - Have him generate the beneficiary designations on all life insurance and retirement accounts to confirm the named beneficiary is accurate.