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Terminally Ill

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For IRS tax purposes, a person is considered terminally ill if they have a condition that will lead to death in 24 months or less. Several kinds of financial implications and complications attach to those who are terminally ill. For instance, a terminally ill person may choose to make a viatical settlement of a life insurance policy to obtain cash for medical expense and other needs. Or if the insurance policy has a provision for it, a terminally ill person might choose to collect living death benefits. Medical expenses incurred within a year of a terminally ill person's death can then be claimed either as a deduction from estate taxes or as a deduction from the terminally ill person's final income tax return. Management of a terminally ill person's investments and estate in general may require special attention from whoever has been given power of attorney. Because capital losses from sale of stock cannot be claimed after a person dies, a terminally ill person with significant taxable income is better off selling a losing stock position to realize the loss. A pre-death withdrawal from a terminally ill person's IRA or other qualified retirement plan might be advisable to recognize the income on their tax return so the resulting income taxes can be deducted from estate taxes. Finally, monetary gifts or gifts of measurable monetary value given by the terminally ill individual may be viewed as distributions of the estate, rather than gifts, and be included in the estate tax calculation.

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