Moves to Make With Just 6 Months to Live

BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- It's a punch line to numerous jokes and a recurring trope of soap operas, sitcoms and movies: A doctor delivers a patient the bad news they have just six months to live.

We're not sure how often that takes place in real life, but it does provide a premise for thinking about the best ways to tie up loose ends.
Having a will and drafting an estate plan is just a starting point for the unlucky person facing a death sentence, but it's important to take that step for loved ones.

"This might sound bizarre, but someone who learns they have six months to live is actually lucky in a way," says Danielle Mayoras, an expert in legacy and estate issues. "When you think about it, most of the population leaves their house in the morning and they don't know what's going to happen to them. Hopefully everything will be OK, but they don't always know. So in some ways, knowing that you have six months gives you that allotted time to do everything you need to do -- not only for yourself, but your family as well -- that most people procrastinate and procrastinate and keep putting off."

As attorneys and authorities on celebrity and high-profile estate cases, she and husband Andy Mayoras wrote Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights and host the PBS television special, Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune. Danielle Mayoras points to Apple ( AAPL) founder and CEO Steve Jobs as a good example in his approach to a pending demise. Although he had a longer life than the dire diagnosis of pancreatic cancer usually provides, he was very much aware of the turning point in his disease that marked his final weeks on Earth.

Jobs, with a personal wealth approaching $7 billion (a combination of his stake in Apple and roughly $4.4 billion in Disney ( DIS) stock) took action shortly after a second leave of absence from Apple in early 2009. In March of that year, he and his wife transferred three real estate properties into two trusts.

Mayoras says that by the time Jobs was living day to day he could at least be sure that he provided for his family with funded trusts. What additional steps he took have yet to be revealed.

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