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Being Mortal: Your Health Matters

By Leslee B. Cochrane, MD

This year Good Friday was just a few days before tax day, serving as a fateful reminder of the two things in life which no one can avoid—death and taxes. Although I am not an accountant, I am told that if you need more time to prepare your taxes, you can fill out a form and request a six month extension. Unfortunately, in my line of work as a doctor, we don’t have any forms we can file to request an extension when death approaches. The best advice I can offer is to take some time now to prepare yourself and your family because unlike taxes, we don’t know when death will occur.

If you don’t like talking about death, you are not alone as it seems most doctors are not comfortable talking about death either. In his bestselling book “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” Dr. Atul Gawande tackles one of the most difficult challenges of his profession—what to do when there is no cure. The book serves as the basis of a moving PBS Frontline documentary that follows the lives of several patients through their end-of-life journey. Although each story is unique, they all have one thing in common—the families each needed to make very difficult end-of-life decisions. If you are interested in seeing “Being Mortal,” Hospice of the Valleys will provide free screenings throughout the year, including a screening on Sunday, May 21at Calvary Chapel Murrieta, and Thursday, May 25 at the Mary Phillips Senior Center in Temecula.

Although there is nothing I can do or say as a physician that will make it easy to make these difficult end-of-life decisions, I have discovered a very helpful planning tool called Five Wishes that is easy to use and can be completed in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Five Wishes is the first living will that addresses your personal, emotional and spiritual needs, as well as your medical wishes. Hospice of the Valleys will be hosting free, public workshops on completing the Five Wishes living will throughout the year.

To find out more about the “Being Mortal” documentary or Five Wishes, please visit our website.

eBrochure Request Form

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Hospice of the Valleys a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Hospice of the Valleys, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 25240 Hancock Ave. Suite 120, Murrieta, CA 92562, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Hospice of the Valleys or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Hospice of the Valleys as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Hospice of the Valleys as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Hospice of the Valleys where you agree to make a gift to Hospice of the Valleys and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

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