Putting Your Affairs In Order
Having seen and experienced the worst of tragedies in human life, the worst thing you can do is leave your loved ones without a Last Will and Testament including written instructions in the event of a medical necessity, and the compilation of personal documents: insurance, veteran records, DD214 separation records, deeds, titles, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, old divorce records, phone listings of resource people such as your lawyers, psychiatrists, family doctors, more lawyers and good friends and a minister or two.
We all know we are invincible. We are all going to live out our lives to a hundred and pass on in peaceful oblivion to the Rainbow Bridge. Surely goodness and mercy will prevail.
A sober mind will easily understand the logical, everyday risk of accidents, injuries and financial insecurities, all leading to other grim conclusions of becoming a tent dweller.
Other tragedies lurking around the corner you may not be aware of is that you as the adult child of your elderly parents are responsible financially (in this state of Virginia and about 23 other states) for their support and well being.
Let us assume your parents become senile and require residential care-which they will once the mind starts going. As soon as they are admitted, a social worker will appear and start taking down information-seemingly innocuous, but in reality accessing their wealth to pay their way. Once their insurance is exhausted, their real and personal property sold off, your mothers engagement ring stripped (They now allow the wedding band to be kept), you BECOME THE FINANCIAL GOOD FAIRY. There goes your son and daughter’s education, your plans for retirement since old people live an average of 13 years longer in residential care than home care. Skip those vacations, and forget that new car.
So you elect for home care. That is rough. I’ve done it. I could not make it. It requires nurse assistance, even part time. Medicare runs out. You need medical care yourself, more expense. More doctors. You daughter gets a job at the Hamburger Palace and your son wrecks his car. He is home bound too.
At one time the state would take in and care for the needy. This, over the years has become passé and at best your Mom and Dad are dumped in Adult Foster Care. It does get worse.
I was faced with this problem scenario some years back, but have been a lawyer of sorts courtesy of the US Navy and the GI Bill I looked into the crystal ball, and sat down and talked with my Mom; Dad had already passed on.
Mom deeded the property to me and kept a remainder estate for her life with the caveat that she occupy the home except for vacations and hospital stays, and if the property was constructively abandoned by her the caveat would expire leaving me in a separate instrument as her caretaker, and disposing of the property with a limited power of attorney in her interests. Essentially I set up a trust for her and she lived out her years till age 89 with good care. When she had to be moved to residential care, I sold the house and applied the proceeds to her trust.
Today, to do this will require consultation with your family attorney as the rules keep changing-the last I heard of it had to be done 7 years prior to becoming disabled. This is to avoid fraud. However such an arrangement may not meet with everyone’s approval, but if your parents live in the State of Virginia (and the other 23, or so states) you need in the average situation to be prepared.
Other waiting pitfalls is that your spouse dies, and on the rebound you, being lonely-remarry. When you remarry one half of what you have belongs to the new spouse, unless you have an air-clad pre-nuptial agreement, but let’s say you just have a stroke and die. Who gets your property? Your new spouse of course, and that spouse’s children have an interest too if your new spouse goes too. Where does that leave your children?
Since there are so many second and third marriages, maybe fourths and fifths, what if you two blissful newlyweds have your own set of children and each of you have children from other marriages?
When you remarry you also assume the financial obligations of the new spouse’s phone bills, taxes, credit card debt, and other related debt. Did you check on this first?
You both need to see a competent Family lawyer and discuss your plans, and how you want severance from others debts, and who gets what if one of you passes on, and do you inherit old Granny who needs care?
As you see romance does fly out the window in this modern money grubbing society. If you have your Prenuptial agreement, your quit claims from related parties, deeds agreed and changed, Term Life Insurance Policy records for both of you and in some cases coverages on the children since they are driving cars now. Health Insurance records from your physicians and Doctors in case you have to go to court or petition something related to your past health such as proof you did not have that broken back bone prior to the idiot running into you on the interstate.
Did you have military service? You need to have a complete copy of everything in your record before you are discharged. You may need it for filing claims with the Veterans Administration as proof of claim. You especially need your DD214 form- record of separation.
Surprise! Your 16-year-old stepson on your second wife’s side just crashed into a school bus. Do you have insurance coverage?
Alas you are getting old. It is your turn to get on the bus for the Rainbow Bridge. Have you neatly compiled all your old records and your Last Will and Testament indicating who get what and when? Probably not. Although you can handwrite a holographic legal will it is best to see a Family Lawyer and discuss what your wishes are and what is his advice. Think on it and then have it typed up, notarized and this with all your pertinent papers filed in a locked fire proof box, and entrust this box to some one you know is responsible-usually the named executor of your estate.
If you do not leave a will, the survivors have to petition the court for an administrator, and that becomes tacky if you have any money left. Again, who takes care of the children?
Now go peaceably. Take your pets with you too since no one else wants them. Arrange this with your Vet and your current wife-executor.
When the Rainbow Express bus brings you to the bus stop, your worldly estate is now being picked over. The first person to get paid is the Undertaker, but the misunderstanding is that your wishes can be ignored about a Veterans relatively low cost funeral- your manic third wife in cahoots with the (current) last wife cons her into a big funeral and leaves the last window with a Ten Thousand dollar and UP funeral debt for spite.
It is the current legally married spouse that inherits the (body) of the estate and can direct what they want You have to get this settled first and at best in writing although the writing part is just hyperbole-not having any legal bearing but the ex-spouses do not know that.
The medical profession has their hand out next. Your “medical directive” to them as part of your important papers will dictate what services they can and can not perform-get a copy at your physicians office, the local hospital check in window, or on line. This can save your estate tens of thousands. My father-in-law was about to get another $3,000 injection for chemotherapy while he was dead.
Next of course is the tax office…you never save with these people.
Your insurance agent may be on sudden vacation but file your death claims insurances as soon as possible. Your undertaker will provide many copies of the death certificate necessary for claims. Take the money and put it in the bank in your name-not the estate’s name. You can nominate who gets the money if you die-just like an insurance contract. No matter what all the wives say and the clamor of the other children, an insurance policy naming a beneficiary is a CONTRACT and best directly paid to a person-not the estate since it is then divided up.
As for me, one good marriage is enough. Diane gets the golden goose, and when she is on a later bus, I suspect Christina will get the remainder. If she does not want the old farm, well I have other names listed. I have already separated my personal property and that is settled but I am not telling who-what-or when, as I might change my mind, or someone on my list goes to the Rainbow Bridge before me-so I have alternates in personal and real property disbursement. This saves a lot of headaches since it is like passing on with no heirs then the county slips in, inventories your treasures and auctions them off. I have a few items I want to go specifically and I can add as may pages, as I want to my Last Will and Testament.
Copyright: 2011, Back2theLand.com, Mark Steel. All rights reserved.