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Tough Stuff to Know & Do!

Unfortunately, life doesn't come with a manual. When I became a parent for the first time, there were a bunch of events and situations that I never found in books. The same goes with life and even when we get older. Hopefully, this blog piece can be a helpful resource to provide direction in things that you or your loved one should put in place. These resources can be tough to talk about, but they are VERY important. It is better to be proactive!

Someone had posted on social media an important list of things that they didn't know they should have in place with their loved one and they created a very informative post. This blog is based on that social media post and my personal experiences as a Caregiver.

Here is the post from Social Media in blue and my comments in red:

We’re all dying, not one of us can escape it. Not one. Let’s talk about it…

I learned a lot losing mom and dad, both suddenly and unexpectedly. I learned more about the documents below than I ever wanted to know. Feeling like a “grown-up” this weekend having completed all of them for myself. Tim has also completed them.

Several friends and family have asked what I’ve done for myself after going through the process of burying both parents, having to empty and sell their home. Well, the documents below are just a start. They’re also not near as expensive to have completed as one would think.

Important things I’ve learned and would encourage all of my friends to do ASAP:

- Make sure all bank accounts have direct beneficiaries. The beneficiary need only go to the bank with your death certificate and an ID of their own.

- TOD = Transfer On Death deed if you own a home. Completing this document and filing it with your county saves your heirs THOUSANDS. This document allows you to transfer ownership of your home to your designee. All they need to do is take their ID and your death certificate to the county building and the deed is signed over. Doing this will avoid the home having to go through probate. I've known some people to transfer their home to one of their children fairly early in life so that if they ever had to go into a facility and went on State Insurance (Medicaid), the state couldn't get the money from the sale of the property. However, there is a time frame for this. It is important to do your research and learn as much as you can.

- Living Will: Allows one to put in writing exactly what you want done in the event you cannot speak for yourself when it comes to healthcare decisions. Often times hospital and/or a doctor's office will ask if someone has a living will. If you say "no" they don't typically ask if you would like to fill one out. They will usually have the paperwork.

- Durable Power of Attorney: Allows one to designate a person to make legal decisions if one is no longer competent to do so. This is exactly what this means. If a loved one is unable to make decisions or if they no longer want to make decisions because of failing health, if Durable Power of Attorney is in place, the power of attorney (POA) can then assist with financial and legal decisions. To sign checks for bills, it is important to have this paperwork in the hands of the financial institution.

- Power of Attorney for Healthcare: This document allows one to designate someone to make healthcare decisions for their person. The individual who is assigned as Power of Attorney for Healthcare has access to vital and protected health related information. Doctors and healthcare workers can then talk to the Medical POA freely. It also means that this POA may need to make difficult decisions for their loved one.

- Last Will and Testament: Designates to whom personal belongings will go to. There are a couple of options. Some families don't get along. A Last Will and Testament can be contested and over turned in some cases. However, if families get along and everything is fairly cut and dried, a Last Will and Testament might be the best option. However, you can still run the risk of inheritance tax. A Trust might be a better option in the long run. It is diffidently something to explore and learn more about.

- Funeral Planning Declaration: allows one to say exactly one’s wishes as far as disposition of the body and the services. With funeral planning there is this option. Many funeral homes also allow for pre-planning and per-paying for your funeral. This takes a lot of stress off of a family and takes a lot of the "guess work" during an already emotional time. Funeral homes can also direct you to managers of cemeteries so that plots can be purchased. Some people want to pick out their own headstone and design what they want on it. Having this task done is helpful so that it is one big expense that families don't have to deal with later on.

- If the above documents are done, at least in MI and Indiana, you can AVOID probate. If all the above is not done, you have to open an estate account at the bank. All money that doesn’t have direct beneficiaries goes into this account. You have to have an attorney to open the estate account. The attorney also has to publicize your passing in the paper etc., to allow anyone to make a claim on your property. - It’s a complete PAIN.

- Make a list of all banks and account numbers, all investment institutions with account numbers, lists of credit cards, utility accounts, etc. Leave clear instructions as to how and when these things are paid. Make sure heirs knows where life insurance policies are located.

- Make 100% sure SOMEONE knows your Apple ID, bank ID account logins and passwords!!!! (Mom had a little binder with all of this! )

- Make sure you have titles for all vehicles, campers, etc!

- MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!! - Talk with those closest to you and make all your wishes KNOWN. Talk to those whom you’ve designated, as well as those close to you whom you did not designate. - Do this to explain why your decisions were made and to avoid any lingering questions or hurt feelings.

We were fortunate that dad had almost everything in order. A huge blessing to us was that he had pre planned and prepaid his funeral just a couple of days after mom died. Sadly, he had planned on doing a TOD deed for the house the Monday after he died. Had he been able to complete that, it would have saved thousands in attorney fees and we could have avoided having to probate the estate.

Hope this helps! Hope this lights a spark to encourage all my friends and family to take care of these things to make it easier for those we’ll leave behind!

*** I am NOT an attorney. The above is all simply lessons that I’ve learned on my own. Of course only you can make decisions for yourself! My hope is that the above list at least helps you start an important conversation with your loved ones and an attorney that can help you complete all the necessary steps. ***

If you or your loved one has a life insurance policy, you might check on when the cut-off age is. I had a Client who outlived their life insurance policy. Luckily, the family caught it before my Client hit the cut-off age. The Client was able to get money back from the canceled policy. That is a helpful tip that most families don't think about.

My hope is that my readers find this as helpful and informative as I did. Every state is different! Costs for funerals continue to go up. I was absolutely shocked at the cost of putting an obituary in our largest newspaper here in Iowa. Also, in Iowa, it is important to know that some of the legal paperwork is not very user friendly. Much of the forms and paperwork you fill out will need the added assistance of a lawyer and filed with the state. Also, it is handy to incorporate an Accountant for help with keeping track of the financials within the estate.


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