June 2012

There are three essential documents you need to have in place under the broad topic of “estate planning.”  The purpose of these documents is to ensure your estate is distributed according to your wishes, not the probate court of your state.  The second issue is to make sure your critical health care decisions are also carried out your way, not someone else’s.

The documents are:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Revocable Trust

There are additional articles regarding these documents in the rChance Legal topic.  You are invited to read and share your thoughts.

First the bad news.  These are legal documents requiring the services of a legally astute person.  In my case I used an attorney.  You may choose the services of a paralegal, or you may even go on-line.  This will cost you money. How do you save money?  Ask around of your friends, accountant, or financial adviser.  Your bank or credit union may be associated with a legal firm.  Please share your ideas for the common good.  Just remember, it will cost you something.

Now the good news.  These documents put you in control, not an outsider.  You can be assured that your critical health care decisions will be carried out.  When the time comes, your estate will be distributed according to your wishes, and here is the best part, without probate court.

Let me give you some high-level information regarding the documents.  Details can be found by selecting the topic from the rChance Legal topic.

A Will simply instructs how the assets of your estate will be distributed.  If you do not have a Will at the time of your death, the state has laws on how your estate will be divided.  You have lived your entire life making financial decisions; make sure the final decision is yours too.

A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care assigns the duty of making health care decisions for you when you are incapacitated and unable to make and communicate a health care decision to someone you trust and understands your wishes.

A Revocable Trust transfers all your assets to the Trustees of the Revocable Trust.  Who are the Trustees?  It’s you, or you and your spouse, or you and your life partner.  The major purpose of using a revocable trust is to avoid probate at the time of your death.  If your assets are owned by the trustee of your revocable trust at your death and not owned by you in your name alone, probate is avoided.

So that’s the overview.  Check-out the details, and please share your thoughts and experiences. 

Remember, It’s rChance to Live and Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way!

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After one of those long work weeks, I did the usual Saturday chores, ending with the proverbial Saturday evening shower/shampoo and ready for a quiet evening of a movie on tv or reading a book -

However, this evening at 8 pm, got an emergency call, about a dear old friend, Jan, from early corporate career days, who had retired and moved to the country, up north in Wisconsin.  Jan, who was just fine in the  morning, had gone to help clean at the church, fell down, had an aneurysm in the brain and was on life support in St. Paul Regions Hospital.  I called another lady – Kay (the three of us were a team, who had worked together), and we rushed to the hospital, shocked and unnerved, to see Jan and say our goodbyes.  We had been the Three Musketeers for about 5 years, and were as close as sisters.  When I left the firm, the other two stayed together and worked in two more companies together, as they were both programmers.  We got together periodically and did not give up our friendships.

Jan looked perfectly normal and passed away within hours.  It was so hard to believe.  She was a wonderful person, always looking to help others, volunteered at the food shelf, helped at the church, and was always kind and generous to everyone.  Meanwhile, the economic slowdown was not going well up north, there was no work and they had torn down the modest cabin on their land and built a truly beautiful home, majestic and gorgeous.  Her husband had had a triple bypass about 10 yrs ago, and when they moved up north, they both sold mortgages, and we know what happened to that business, they tried to diversify, she did the mortgage business and he did other things, construction – anything that would bring in income. 

Kay and I had wondered how they would make it in the ‘country’ but seeing how that went for them was another reason I was afraid to jump into retirement and then be challenged by the national economic recession.  Her death was tragic, she was mourned by at least a thousand people in two services.  She was an expert quilter and a fussy housekeeper besides, never anything out of place, and their home was filled with guests on weekends, because everyone loved to be with them.

The lesson to be learned is that there are good reasons to do our own thing, time is a wasting!  I should say that to myself, one moment I think retire now, the next minute I hear a financial trouble story – or a foreclosure – apparently they are common in our area now.  One more reason, we need to keep on trying,  

Remember, It’s rChance to Live and Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way!

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

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