In a Facebook post last year “Processes to go through with your parents before they die,” Daniel Schmachtenberger, founder of the Critical Path Institute, outlined seven simple exercises to use with your parents that can offer significant healing and completion for their life and yours.
While Daniel shared these processes in the context of the impending death of a parent, the reality is that your parents are heading toward death, even if there is no official diagnosis. Sheesh man. That said (I never want to type that out again) starting these processes when mortality isn’t immediately on the table is even better. Phew, let's look at that option.
1. Help them make a timeline of their life
Create a timeline of all the big events in their life, starting with birth and their earliest memories up to the present. This is a great way to get to know them even better while you still can. Recalling their life through these stories can help them harvest the...
Lots of people consider their pets to be members of their family; I know we do! Indeed, pets can become our closest companions. As such, it’s only natural you’d want to make sure your furry friend is provided for in your estate plan, so when you die or if you become incapacitated, your beloved companion won’t end up in an animal shelter or worse.
However, unlike your human family members, pets are considered your personal property under the law, so you can’t just name them as a beneficiary in your will or trust. If you do name your pet as a beneficiary in your plan, whatever money you tried to leave to it would go to your residuary beneficiary (the individual who gets everything not specifically left to your other named beneficiaries), who would have no obligation to care for your pet.
Wills aren’t a good option
Since you can’t name your pet as a beneficiary, your first alternative might be to leave your pet and money for its care in your will to...
If you are fortunate enough to have a family vacation home, you know the emotional value it holds for every member of your family. Many cherished family memories are rooted in a special place, which makes it important for current and future generations to preserve it properly.
A trust is often a good choice when the current owners – parents or grandparents – are concerned that joint ownership could lead to disagreements or that maintenance costs may prove too great for the next generation to manage.
Instead of dividing ownership, you can establish a trust to hold title of the property and fund an endowment to handle maintenance expenses. Minnesota is famous (in the legal world) for its cabin trusts! In addition, to avoid paying custodial fees to the trust, you can set up a limited liability company to hold the endowment within the trust.
Once the LLC is registered in the state where the vacation property is located and the trust is created,...
While some of those TV commercials for free credit-score report companies are pretty funny, having errors on your credit report is no laughing matter. Indeed, your credit score is one of the main factors determining your access to loans, credit cards, housing, and sometimes even jobs.
From late payments that were actually made on time, and paid debts that are still listed in collections, to fake accounts opened in your name by identity thieves, there are all kinds of errors that can end up in your report. What’s more, even if the mistakes were made by the banks, lenders, and/or credit bureaus, they have no obligation to fix them—unless you report them.
Given this, it’s vital to monitor your credit score regularly and take immediate action to have any errors corrected. Here, we'll discuss a few of the most common mistakes found in credit reports and how to fix them.
Finding and fixing errors
The first step to ensure your credit report stays error-free is to obtain a...
Last week, I shared the first part of my series on the importance of estate planning for those without children. If you haven’t read it yet, you can do so here. Here in part two, we discuss the other risks involved for those who forego estate planning.
Someone will have power over your health care
Estate planning isn’t just about passing on your assets when you die. In fact, some of the most critical parts of planning have nothing to do with your money at all, but are aimed at protecting you while you’re still very much alive.
Advance planning allows you to name the person you want to make healthcare decisions for you if you’re incapacitated and unable to make decisions yourself.
For example, if you’re temporarily unconscious following a car accident or an illness like COVID, and unable to give doctors permission to perform a potentially risky medical treatment, it’s not always clear who’ll be asked to make that decision for you.
It’s a common misconception to think that if you don’t have children, you don’t need to worry about estate planning. But the fact is, it can be even MORE important to do estate planning if you have no children.
Some of the common thoughts behind this mistaken belief may take one of these forms:
“If I die, everything will pass to my spouse anyway, so why bother?”
“I’m single with little wealth, so who cares who gets my few meager assets?”
“Estate planning is an expensive hassle and it doesn’t even benefit me because I’ll be dead, so I’m better off letting a judge handle things.”
This kind of thinking ignores several basic facts about both estate planning and life in general. Regardless of your marital status, if you don’t have children, you face potential estate-planning complications which those with children do not. And this is true whether you’re wealthy or have very limited assets.
If you have minor children and have not yet selected a guardian, you are not unlike many parents who put off this critically important task while waiting for the perfect solution to present itself.
Or perhaps you and your spouse/partner cannot agree on who would be the ideal guardian for your kids...
Here is your solution: Done is better than perfect. Especially here.
If you do nothing, the decision about who would raise your children (if something were to happen to you) would be left up to a judge to decide. A judge who doesn’t know you, doesn’t know what’s important to you, and doesn’t know your children, will make all the decisions about who cares for the people who are most important to you in the world.
I know that’s not what you want.
And, truth is… there may never be a perfect solution for you, but there is definitely a solution that is better than your children being raised by someone you didn’t choose.
The Legal Planning You Need to Do for Your High School Graduate
If you’re the parent of a high school graduate this year, congratulations! You’ve put in a lot of time and effort toward their earning that diploma, and whatever their next step in life will be, you likely want to protect them just as much as you did while they were still in high school.
But before you pack that kid off to college or just an apartment across town, you need to know that when they leave, they will be taking some of the legal rights you had before they turned 18 with them.
Once a child turns 18, they are no longer considered a child in the eyes of the law. And you no longer have the legal right to access their health care, school, or banking records without their permission. Here are some steps you should take before your child leaves the nest that will help ensure your peace of mind and their safety:
Create an advance healthcare directive. Once your child is...
In our last newsletter, we shared the first part of our article on how to discuss estate planning with aging or sick loved ones.
If you didn’t read it yet, you can do so here.
Here’s the bottom line: learn to ask the right questions and then listen deeply. This may be a difficult topic for your loved one to discuss, so make sure you are bringing your curiosity, not answers, and then staying open to truly hear what your loved one wants.
Ask your loved one what role they would like you to take, rather than assuming. And reassure your loved one that you have no expectations, but that you will be involved as much or as little as he or she desires.
If you need support on the right questions to ask, check out the Conversation Project. Their Conversation Starter Kit, available for free on their website, has a series of questions that you can use to begin the conversation about end of life care with your loved one.
Be able to answer questions. If your loved one...
Someone you love is aging. Or maybe, facing a potentially terminal illness. And you know it’s time for them to think about end of life planning because the end of their life will impact you.
So how do you broach this delicate topic when it feels so uncomfortable to acknowledge?
The first step is to acknowledge that it can be a difficult or uncomfortable conversation. Give yourself time to consider how you want to bring it up with your loved one.
Ideally, considering end of life matters would be something we regularly spoke about and got comfortable with before the end of life was near, but that’s not generally the case in our culture.
You can change that going forward, and I’ll share an article next week with guidance for how to make end of life discussions a regular part of your family conversations. If you have been reading my articles all year, you will see that I make it a practice to speak plainly and openly about it.
But, if you...
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