Please have your affairs in order

foxxycat

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So very sorry for your loss. I am in the process of working on legality with my dad with his estate to prepare for when he goes..my sister never talks about her wishes,..I don't have a will and know I need to get my stuff put into a trust so it doesn't have to go through probate court. A trust is one simple way to avoid the courts and all that jazz. I will use legalzoom.

My dad will be buried in the local veterans Cemetery. And yes I have been trying to weed out my many items in the event something happens...it's very stressful to think about and yes this is a difficult subject to discuss.

I remember the nightmare of my dad's fathers passing-he threw out all bank statements/bills etc so my dad had to wait for everything to come into the mail in order to clear it up-now with email for statements=it's even harder to get this information-I have kept most of my accounts mail only for this very reason...if one passes away and no one has their email/password-just one more headache..

So very sorry for your loss Karen.
 

CatLover49

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Again im so very sorry for your loss
And may I add as other members have..I just recently did a preneed for my mom..and she has some life insurance..some money had accumulated at the nursing home...also...And I did a preneed for my mom...And while I was doing hers..it got me to thinking..And im going to start on my preneed asap also...And have my Affairs in order..Cause during the grieving time..No one should have to deal with those kinds of preparations...if it CAN be prevented...
 

betsygee

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I should mention that I do have a will, health care proxy and a power of attorney made up. I do have a stipulation in there that any pets I have at the time of my death go to my niece and she can not keep them she is to find them a good home. there is money to be set aside to go to wherever they end up. I believe my husband and I did our first wills in our late 30’s. We probably waited too long, but we don’t have kids and weren’t worried about where children would end up. Anyone with minor children really should get it legally on paper where you want your children to go in the event of your death.
Yes to making sure wishes for minor children are clear. I've been after my stepkids for years to get their wishes in writing so that if something happens to them, it won't be a legal nightmare deciding guardianship of their children. But as Winchester Winchester mentioned, they think they're too young to think about that kind of thing or that 'it will never happen to us.'

I have had all my legal paperwork done for years, including provisions for our cats. Having said that, it's time for a review. Things have changed since we set things up.

Please also make sure your loved ones know what to do and where the paperwork is. I handle the financial/legal affairs in our household. My spouse wouldn't know where to look for the life insurance policy and some other things like that. I'm in the process now of writing up a list of things to handle, where the paperwork is, and who to contact if something happens to me.

If you can, pay for your funeral or cremation in advance. I'm so grateful to my parents for having done that. When my dad died, my mom and I went to the funeral home to make arrangements. Having everything set up and paid for in advance made things so much easier, financially and emotionally, for the surviving family.
 

MoochNNoodles

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Another thing to settle is ownership of your properties. I don't know if it varies by state; but my Grandparents had their homes put in all their kids names early on. It made it much easier to sell when the time came and affected the taxes on it as well. I still have one living grandparent on each side; but my Grandfather went to an assisted living home after Gram passed. The MIL of a long time friend of my father's had severe dementia to the point the government made them put her in a home and they basically seized her assets to pay for it because they were in her name. It left the family in a tough spot because they all lived basically on the same large piece of land (she had been living in her son's home so someone was with her 24/7) on top of having the decision for her care taken out of their hands (she was prone to wander).
 

Kieka

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I am so sorry for your loss but thank you for the reminder.

To add my two cents and experiences.... due to previous experiences and good examples I was able to pester my parents until they sorted everything out. After seeing how hard those can be it took me saying "I can't deal with losing my parents and figuring this all out at the same time." To convince them that as much as facing their mortality sucks it's better then forcing me to figure it out in an already trying time. Any time they travel I get a reminder of where documents are just in case. My aunt and uncle have both set up everything up using the same estate planner my parents did.

My great grandmother probably had the best idea when it came to sorting out family items or st least the best I've seen. She had moved into a retirement community with the minimal items she wanted five years before her death so that no one in the family could argue over anything. She then designated certain heirlooms to specific people (some stayed with her at the home until her passing). Then told all the family they had to come on one specific day and each person could pick one thing they absolutely wanted to take with her deciding if arguing occurred (which was no one gets it because that was my great grandma). The next day was a family only estate sale where you had to buy whatever family heirloom or item from her home you wanted. The weekend following was the public estate sale and that was it. The home was offered on market with instructions that if a family member had and offer they got priority. No do over and no other options, she said if it was something that mattered the person would come or it didn't matter enough to them they wouldn't.

Everything was settled and clear before her passing. Even her finances were settled because she moved all her money to who she wanted to have it (saying she wanted to see them enjoy it some before her passing) only holding what she needed for her care those final years. But even that money she moved to family members who paid what needed to be paid or made medical decisions when her mind started to go. Essentially, at the time of her passing she had no assets or money in her name and there was no funeral. Granted, she had warning and the time to do everything.

My family doesn't do funerals as a general thing. Probably because they are expensive but also I think we just haven't in five generations so it's odd to consider having one. My parents want to be cremated and my brother has a travel list of where to take the ashes for scattering across the country. But no funeral, just cremate and maybe get together for dinner around that time. Shoot, half my family doesn't even know my uncle passed three years ago.... which is admittedly weird.
 

EmersonandEvie

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I am so sorry about the sudden loss of your brother. I hope you and your nieces are doing well, all things considered.

This is very important. B's father passed away semi-unexpectedly last month and it was a whirlwind of what to do. His wife had NO IDEA of the cost of a funeral and they hadn't even discussed what he wanted done! I couldn't believe it. You'd think a terminal cancer diagnosis would spur you to at least talk about how you wanted your body handled, etc.

Poor B and his mom (who is...interesting...a very classic case of learned helplessness) had to do everything from scratch. He also did not have a will, so I fear that his other children from a previous marriage my take B's mom to court since there wasn't anything specifying that everything go to her. It was a mess.

Once we got back home and settled, I immediately called both of my parents and learned where their wills were and what their wishes were. I never want to be in that same situation again. My heart goes out to your nieces and your family during this difficult time. <3
 

Willowy

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PLEASE, as you get older,you have the time to sort through and get rid of all that excess stuff you have accumulated over the years.
Swediah Death Cleaning. It's a thing: 10 Things to Know About Swedish Death Cleaning

My grandma died 3 years ago and my mom and her siblings have only just now gotten the house sold and everything settled. And my grandma tried. . .she had people tag things they wanted and got rid of some clutter. But not enough. The garage alone took months to clear out.

And, yeah, funerals are expensive. Even a basic cremation with a "free" service (usually you make a donation to the minister so it's not really free) at your own church costs at least $3000. Fortunately, my grandma was a veteran so she got a free cremation and was interred at a National Cemetery for free. But it still cost a bit. I don't know the full details since my aunt handled that part but I know it wasn't cheap. That changed in 2019---now they only provide $300 toward expenses---so I'll have to see if my parents have something planned.

I don't have my affairs in order, everything is a mess. I really should get on that soon.
 

ArchyCat

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There is a nonprofit group you can join. The Neptune Society. There is a one time fee. Then, when you die, your executor (or friend or relative), calls the society. They pick up your body, then return your ashes in two business days. A good friend and her father used them. Results were satisfactory. And not expensive.
 

neely

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Karen, my heartfelt sympathies go out to you on the loss of your brother. :hugs: And my sincere condolences to your nieces on the passing of their father.

Although we have a will/trust we really need to update it. Thank you for the reminder. I'm not sure if it was mentioned but there are two types of POA, i.e. one for health and one for finances.
 

DreamerRose

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I am so sorry your brother left you before his time. I know you are a wonderful help to his daughters.

I've been dragging my heels about a will or trust because I don't know a good lawyer to do it for me. I used to work for a lawyer, and I know there are many who just do the barest minimum.

In the meantime, I wrote a memo to my sons, putting one copy with my important papers, and left one on the computer. I've told them both about this, so they know where to look. I update it from time to time, and it includes practical information about my town and the services here. Neither of them live here, so they need to know what day trash pickup is, where Goodwill is, where the city hazardous waste drop-off is located, etc. My ex husband died about five years ago, and we had a terrible time figuring out what to do when in a strange locale. We rented a large dumpster to clear the house out of junk, and then hired a nice company to auction the rest of furniture and so on. My sons asked me about where I wanted to be buried at that time, and I told them I didn't want to be buried with my ex, but cremation and burial of the ashes in my church's remembrance garden was probably the best way to go.

I included important passwords in the memo and explained where some things, like the leaves for the table, are located, and which items are family heirlooms and their history.

I am going to change my bank accounts to a joint account with one of my sons. This is invaluable as he will not have to wait on anything to get access to my money. A power of attorney is useless after you die. It only applies while you are living, but if you are faced with cognitive degeneration, would be useful to your next of kin. A power of attorney is not the same thing as executor of a will.

I am slowly decluttering. I finally realized that so many things mean nothing to my sons, so I'm giving stuff away. That's my mantra now, to keep items going out the door instead of coming in.
 

Jcatbird

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I am sorry you are going through this. I went through it with Mom. She had a will at one time but no one could find it. Everything fell to me to sort and decide on as well as settling costs. I took her three dogs. It’s always complicated with emotions and having everything else already settled helps a lot. Probate can take a long time so prearranged details are important. I have a will in place but updating is important too as everything changes over time. Thank you for finding the strength and time to remind the rest of us.
 

Jemima Lucca

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First off, I’m not posting this looking for sympathy.

People don’t like to talk about wills or wishes for funeral arrangements, but I implore you all to please have your affairs in order. My brother died unexpectedly two days ago at age 60. His daughters still have not found a will. I honestly don’t think he had ever done one. They do not know if he had a valid life insurance policy. His banking info is not all in one place in his house. These girls are having a hard enough time dealing with their unexpected loss and now they are trying to figure out how to pay for a $10,000 funeral, and they don’t even know if they will ever be able to. Between the rest of the family we are getting things paid until they figure out what is going on.

He had told enough of us little bits and pieces of what he’d want at his funeral that the girls have been able to put something together that they feel he’d be happy with. That has come from going to funerals and wakes with him and him making offhand comments like “At my funeral....”. He never sat down and told anyone what he’d actually like.

Please set up a health care proxy and power of attorney.

Right now a difficult time is being made much more difficult. Please don’t do this to your loved one.
Thank you so much for this invaluable advice. You’ve got me thinking because we have a will for my husband because he has cancer and were forced to consider his future. I have a significant life insurance policy through my work and it never occurred to me to get paperwork together and for me to do a will! I’d hate to have my kids have to figure it all out. I might add passwords to important information also...
 

Sarah93003

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Sincerest thoughts for you and your family Karen. Losing a sibling so young is difficult to say the least. I worked in an Estate Planning law firm for 10 years and will echo what some have said. The best option is to have a Trust as well as using beneficiary designations on insurannce policies, bank accounts, etc. Pay on Death (POD) clauses are very easy to transfer assets to the beneficiary. A revocable trust keeps your estate out of the courts and allows the Trustee (you in the beginning and then your successor) to follow the instructions of the Trust to fulfill your wishes. In this instance you would also have a Pour Ove Will to cover any assests that are outside of the will. If you don't want to have a Trust at least have a Will so that the court can follow your wishes and issue orders accordingly. Healthcare Directives, proxies, etc. allow someone you designate to "step into your shoes" and act on your behalf according to your instructions/choices. A Power of Attorney allows someone you designate to "step into your shoes" and act on your behalf in business matters. Regardless if you have a Trust or Will be sure to provide for your furry family. Monies can be set aside and adminstered on their behalf. Many employers now offer legal insurance plans. I highly recommend signing up for one after verifying that they cover estate planning, wills, and trusts. These are annual so you really only need it one year to accomplish all of that. Death is rarely planned and the vast majority of us will not have time to get our affairs in order when our time approaches so it is vital to do it way ahead of time and rest easy. Once you have it, look at it every couple of years to make sure it is as you wish.
 

misty8723

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I am so sorry for you, your nieces and rest of the family. :alright:

Yes, this is an important reminder.

If I may add something: in addition to Wills, Funeral Arrangements, financial documents. Please have a Health Care Proxy In place. Also, a durable Power of Attorney.

These things are very important. Have a discussion with your Proxy on your wishes—-where important documents are kept.

I am very fortunate. I have a close friend who “hounded” me into creating all these things.

Now , I am glad I did. All except funeral arrangements. I can rest easy. I have discussed my wishes with my POA/HC Proxy.
Also make arrangement for any pets you might have. A few years ago we updated our wills and created a pet trust for our cats (whichever cats we might have at the time of our passing). We also made arrangements with the rescue we adopted from (who would take them back anyway) to be able to come and get them from our house if need be (they have a key).
Wow, it costs $10,000 for a funeral?! :eek2: What happens if you're like me and don't have it? Sorry about your brother. :(
It doesn't have to, it depends on what you want. I would not be happy if anyone spent that much on a funeral for me.
 

Sarah93003

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I see a typo in my post above. It is called a "Pour Over Will". In California, the purpose is to cover things that exist outside of your trust that you may not have had time or forethought to put into your trust. It allows your Executor to file a Heggstad Petition which is like a mini probate where the Judge will issue an order allowing your Executor to disperse the property. I don't know if other states have such an instrument.

Speaking from experience not having your affairs in order wreaks havoc on your family. My step Dad died two years ago and had nothing in the form of a Will or Trust even when I offered to draft them for free. He was 79 and didn't see any urgency since people in his line lived into their 90's. He was wrong.

It brings out the worst in people. One of my sisters became someone we didn't know existed with the level of greed and willingness to fight. Thankfully my Dad had some accounts that were able to move by beneficiary designation and my youngest brother was the sole beneficiary in that situation. Clearly it was what my Dad wanted. I helped my brother to take care of the accounts before my sister tried to fight him in court. That is when I really saw the benefit of POD benefits with bank accounts, beneficiary designation, etc. Everything else in his estate had to go through Probate Court. Even though three of us were step-kids he had raised since we were 5, 4, and 3 years of age, the Michigan court only considered blood relatives. He was our Dad. Instead, a child that he had out of wedlock, never raised, and didn't meet until the child was an adult ended up as an equal beneficiary in the eyes of the court. My Dad would roll over in his grave knowing how it ended up. His mistake however.
 
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