What We Leave Behind

I’m feeling a little bit shell shocked so forgive the frank post.

Senior Checks and Balances means a lot of different things to many different people.  Relief for an overwhelming situation, assistance in maintaining independence, financial security or simply freedom to enjoy retirement.  Working with one particular client has been especially rewarding – a 50 year old woman whose chronic illnesses had overcome her ability to manage household, three dependent children, a husband who works away during the week and an invalid mother.   We’d been working on Medicare/Medicaid re-enrollments, bill consolidation and building a working household budget.

This morning her husband called.  She past away suddenly a two days ago.

All I can do now, is give her husband and children the relief of managing all that is outstanding.   Their grief shouldn’t be compounded by the stress of the mounds of mail and paperwork on the dining room table.  I’ll spend a couple of days each week for the next month shepherding their accounts through adjudication and getting them onto solid ground.

She left behind no will, no power of attorney (healthcare or durable), no instructions, no living will….. no estate plan of any kind.  Now, I can launch into all of the terrible scenarios that can result from not having any of these simple documents – like debates over life sustaining measures or ending up in probate court.  They are all terrible and lead to stress and heart ache for your loved ones amidst their grief.

Instead, I implore you to take a couple of hours and get your house in order.  A couple of hours.

  1. Employ an estate planner (I know some outstanding and upstanding professionals!) or just log on to legalzoom – just get the proverbial pen to paper.  Costs are lower than you think and can save you from losing upwards of 70% of your estate to legal fees and estate taxes.  Yes, 70%!  Also, the average length of time an estate will stay in probate is anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.
  2. We live in a digital age that is full of paperless statements and usernames/passwords.  Utilize a username/password tool such as LastPass or Keeper.  These tools allow for a designated person to have access after an emergency or unexpected death.  They will also assist with a digital will.
  3.  The day to day stuff.  The comcast bill, the landscaper……..  every vendor you pay on a regular basis needs to be notated.  Googledocs or OneDrive is your simplest way to give life to your household budget.
  4. The three wise (wo)men – your insurance agent (health &/or life), your lawyer and your accountant/CFA.  If you employ any of these professionals, your estate will work in conjunction with them in an event of a crisis or passing.  Have their info in the hands of your loved ones all the time.

Share the whereabouts or existence with this information with your whomever you decide is your “person”.  No personal or account information needs to be shared – just who to contact and how to proceed.  Laugh if you like, but every year I get an email from my mother entitled “Dead” – it contains an update on who to call, where a specific item may be or directive for her final wishes.  Morbid or not, it gives her a greater sense of security if anything should happen and I know that I will be able to follow all of her final wishes to a T – financial and personal.

Contact me to discuss any question or detail.

 

 

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