Estate Stuff

Estate Stuff October 2020  

There were five children in our military family. A few days before each move, we were told by Major Dad, “When in doubt, throw it out.” My brother Billy would see something in my toss-it pile and it would migrate to his toy collection. If you have offered furniture, art, collectibles, and items of value to your heirs and they haven’t accepted them, that probably won’t change after you depart. Oddly though, sometimes these become flash points when the will is read.   Remember, they have their own household goods and usually don’t need more to care for. Keep clearing out as you go through life; they will appreciate it, A LOT.  

When you go to assisted living, contract a disease, or pass away, that is ABSOLUTELY the worst time for close family members and friends to make decisions. They are dealing with emotions, grief, loss, and other issues.   They may live far away and not have a clue about what YOU would do if you were there to make the choices. You can put preferred vendors in your will.   There are several people that can gather resources for you: your attorney, your CPA, and your Realtor will have lists of vendors from estate sale companies to painters, and from flooring people to movers. In your will, you can designate who you want to sell your home, close out your taxes, officiate your celebration of life, and you can select your final resting place.   Sit down and look around your home and imagine being gone while your 26-year-old granddaughter has to make these kind of decisions while grieving. Trust me, the more decisions you can make in advance, and WRITE them down, the burden will be less for her.  

Leave a list of passwords, account numbers, websites and people to contact for everything from bank accounts, to life insurance, to attorneys, and CPAs.

Even if you have no one to leave things to, the charity that will receive your beneficent gift will also be pleased at the simplicity you create with your directions. If there is no clear beneficiary, no will, or no trust, the state will seize your goods and use them for its purposes. If you love your state and have no one and no organization to leave your estate to, that is OK too. For most people, not so much.  

Timing is everything in life. Timing is also important when we have been incapacitated or reached the final complication. That can happen tomorrow, whether you are 23, 63 or 83. We do not know the day or the hour, but we can prepare for it regardless of our age.   It is never too early to prepare.  

Power of Attorney becomes void when the grantor dies. I did not know this. Even though I was the successor trustee for my friend’s trust, when I went to the bank the day after he passed, I learned that we had not registered my succession as trustee with the bank. I ended up having to personally float the money for his cremation and services for six weeks. So, know the limits which you have intentionally or unintentionally placed on your executor and trustee.  

I am not an attorney or a CPA so be sure to check with these professionals to assure my opinions are right for you. This article is short compared to the total needs. I have a longer piece which I can email to you if you’d like. Also, here is a good website: google “Everplans Estate Planning Worksheet.” Or just google: estate planning worksheet. There is no time like the present to start on this important task.      

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