Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanks for the Memories

Bob Hope used “Thanks for the Memories” as his theme song. But as you spend time with family and friends on Thanksgiving, consider providing your loved ones a gift that they will thank you for long after you are gone. Develop a plan for the eventuality of your death so that you do not leave a mess for those who mean the most to you.

Let me suggest you make a list of what you will want to put together. If you haven’t already done something like this, it will take some time, but your family will love you for it. This article, and the two previous articles for the Ripon Record, is an abbreviated version of recent articles I wrote for my denomination’s magazine and web site, Light & Life Magazine .

The following is a guideline taken from my book, “The Sandwich Generation: Adult Children Caring for Aging Parents.” This information is important for any adult. Take time to work this out by personalizing it.

·       Personal Notes

·       Important Records

o   Marriage Records

o   Birth/Citizenship Papers

o   Education

o   Military Service

o   Veterans Organization(s)

o   Estate Plan

o   Wills/Trusts

o   Power-of-Attorney

·       Finances

o   Bank Accounts

o   Safe Deposit Box

o   Outstanding Loans and Debts

o   Accounts Receivable

o   Credit Cards

o   Tax Information

o   Investments

o   Retirement Plans

·       Insurance

o   Life Insurance

o   Medical Insurance

o   Other Insurance

·       Property and Valuables

o   Real Estate Owned

o   Vehicles

o   Personal Property and Valuables

o   Private Information

·       Funeral Arrangements

o   Funeral Cost Information

o   Inform Your Pastor

o   Plan the Service

o   Burial Plot (Purchased?)

o   Military Veteran

§  DD214 (Discharge papers)

§  Contact the VA (Veteran’s Administration)

§  Entitled to Military Honors

o   Additional Considerations

·       Contact in Emergencies

·       Survivor’s Guide

o   What to Expect

o   What to do First

o   Things to be done by the Family

·       Trustee/Executor

o   Designate the person through legal means

o   Spell out your specific wishes

I have been checking with a very good friend who deals in trusts and annuities. He reminded me that we all need to have 1) trusts, so our possessions may pass probate-free and possibly tax-free to the next generation (a will guarantees a pricey and dragged-out probate), 2) insurance for survivors (at the very least, a burial policy), 3) retirement accounts, property titles, advance directives for medical decisions, and a well-organized system of all relevant papers, documents, policies, and important people to contact when life-changing events happen, 4) a fireproof home safe, not a bank box. A bank box can be closed off to the important people in your life at the worst possible time. Anyone who is to be your trustee, executor, etc. needs to know from you in person and in writing that they are your choice to serve in these roles well in advance of your incapacitation or death. More importantly, they must be willing to function in this role.

In today’s ever increasing high cost of living, and even higher cost of adequate medical care, a sound plan and investment into a medical insurance policy is no longer a luxury – it’s essential! Some today would even say it is a right. Life savings quickly disappear in today’s hospitals loaded with the latest high-tech equipment and experts in all areas of medical practice. In fact, financial ruin for the individual and the extended family is not uncommon. Many today are calling on our government to implement socialized medicine in order to make prevention and treatment both affordable and available for all our citizens. The development of the Affordable Care Act by the current administration is an attempt by Congress to gain control over an out of control problem.

I highly recommend doing some research of your own so you are familiar with what is available. I would also take the time to sit down with your loved ones, particularly elderly parents or grandparents, and chart a course of action which will remove excessive fear and anxiety. It also gives an opportunity for the individual to state their wishes, allowing the rest of the family to come to grips with those wishes. This prevents the overly emotional responses that tend to occur in the midst of a crisis which always seems to bring about the possibility of conflict in the family – sometimes going unresolved for years.

Taking a proactive approach in the eventual care of your elderly parents is a wonderful gift to your family. They’ll thank you for it!

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