Got yer ducks in a row??? **updated #5

(getting ducks in a row… a little like herding cats, no? – promoted by pfiore8)

I’m writing today as, I guess, a kind of Public Service Announcement…. bringing up a touchy subject many may have not considered, or have put on the back burner until a later date, believing there is plenty of time.

Well that’s crap! You need to take action now!

I’m talking about death/ dying and getting your shit together so as not to leave a mess behind for your loved ones.

If you are reaching your mouse towards the ‘X’ thinking O Gods & Ancestors, this is Just. So. Morbid.

STOP!!!

YOU are exactly the one I’m writing this for!

A couple years  Several years  Nearly a decade ago the veil of youthful belief in my own immortality on this earth was ripped from my eyes…. as we lost his mother & mine within 6 weeks of each other… followed quickly by his Gramma, his Dad, a favorite Uncle, the only Aunt who ever understood me, a favorite cousin & a close friend…. all of these people gone from my life in less than a year and a half. And then we had to do probate for four of these people.

It woke me up to say the least. Caused me to get my ducks in a row.

My recent experience made me realize others may need to line up their ducks…

What I’d like each and every one of you to do…rightfuckingnow… is get out a piece of paper & put at the top ‘In Case of Emergency Please Contact’ under that put the name of someone you trust implicitly~ your spouse/partner; your sibling; your bestfriendforever; your child… and list ALL their contact info. Just below that put the name of another person you trust implicitly & their contact info… because the first person might just be beside you in the hospital 🙁

Now turn this paper over & write out your medical info. Put down your blood type. (If you don’t know your blood type, call your doctor. If s/he doesn’t know, go give some blood to Red Cross… they will type your blood for you & let you know what it is.) Put down any medicinal allergies you may have, any conditions that EMT staff should be aware of.

This information may save your life.

Go to your local office supply store & get a laminate kit. Laminate this & put it in your wallet next to your drivers license or ID card.

GO! Rightfuckingnow!!!

Okay, greeaaaat! Don’t you feel better?

I do, knowing you won’t be alone in an emergency….

Okay! The next thing you need is power-of-attorneys. As far as I know there are two types of these. (If anyone knows different, please give correct info in the comments)

Durable power-of-attorney = your permission for someone else to handle your financial/legal matters for you, when you can’t-for whatever reason…. in essence they can sign your name in your checkbook for you.

Medical power-of-attorney = your permission for someone else to make medical decisions for you if/when you are not able to.

**update #3 w/info from frosti

it would be really great if people expressed to the loved ones whether they wanted everything done, everything tried at least until it is known what the prognosis might be, or whether they want nothing done in case of cardiac or respiratory arrest or severe illness that is incapacitating so that they cannot speak for themselves.

the whole purpose behind medical power-of-attorney is to have someone speak for you, make your medical descisions for you when you can’t to do this you have to let them know what it is you want Have this discussion with your loved ones soon. You are welcome to use me and my recent situation as a starting point… just please, talk!

Both of these will require some thought on your part. Make sure whoever you pick knows your wishes in both cases. These DO NOT have to be the same person.

I have mrD as both my poa’s with my girl as first back-up, my boy as second back-up. The attorney who drew up my papers thought I was going overboard with back-ups, but I’d rather be safe. I’m not sure you have to have an attorney draw these papers up, it was just convenient for me to do so.

Okay! Now you need to make a Last Will. I know you can do this yourself, without a lawyer,  but it should be notorized

**update #1 w/info from davidseth(my bolds)**

Wills are not easy because there are requirements that have to be met to make them valid and those requirements vary from state to state.  If you don’t meet the requirements, your will is not valid. period. And then your stuff and your children will be distributed according to how your state statutes say they should be distributed (this is called fucked up administration).  So I recommend (1) hiring a lawyer for a simple will to be sure that it won’t be invalid (this should not be expensive), or (2) finding a friend’s will that was drawn recently by a lawyer and using it as a model (especially the parts for signature and affidavits of witnesses at the end), or (3) getting a form on line from your state bar association with instructions on how it is to be executed.  I do NOT recommend making one up, notarizing it, and thinking it’ll work. Chances are it won’t.

This comment should not be considered personal legal advice.  It’s not.  It’s just information you might find helpful and should not be relied upon in lieu of consulting with a lawyer.

I’m sure there are places online that can help you find out what the laws are in your area. I think you should have three copies of your Will (all notorized & sealed in envelopes) One copy should go to your executor, one copy in your bank lock-box (or at home in your fire-proof box), & the last in your filing cabinet next your tax returns….

The term Last Will seems ludicrous to me because you can make a new will daily if you want…. any time your circumstances change you need to look over your Will again, make sure it reflects your wishes.

One very important part of making a Will is to assign an executor…. this is the person who will follow out your last instructions. I urge you to talk to everwho you want to be your executor~ DO NOT spring this on them…. it’s a helluva burden, one I never would’ve picked up had I been given a choice.

The more stuff you have amassed the more important it is that you have a Will. This is your last instructions of where you want your stuff to go when you’ve left this blue planet & stepped into the next reality. I implore you to NOT add in items like….to Mary I leave $.02 for all the pisspoor advice she’s given me….. & DO think about all your bits & bobs that are important to you, and who you want to take possession of them when you’re gone.

But even if you only prize your grandaddys pocketwatch & have no other belongings, it’s important you make out a will. If you don’t, you die intestate (I think this is the correct terminology) & many times your stuff will revert to the State you live in. I believe each State has different laws regarding this. In SC half of everything I own would go to mrD, the other half to my children. O! You think, that’s not so bad…. weeell, what if my children demand a cash settlement? mrD would have to sell the house & car, & then may not be able to afford to buy another…..

And speaking of children…. if you have underage children at home you need to add a paragraph in your Will about who you want to become their guardians if anything should happen to you AND your partner. I’m sure NO ONE wants their children to become Wards of the State. Take planty of time deciding this one…Be sure to discuss this thoroughly with your partner AND your chosen guardian…. this is IMHO the ultimate in giving~ both on your part & your chosen guardians part.

Through four probates in six counties & two states I’ve found the people at the County Probate Offices to be very very helpful. Please do not hesitate to call them and ask them all the questions you have. They are there to help you, and they will!

One thing we found (in SC) is that ANY bank account that has two names on it automatically goes to the survivor. And this can be anyone you desire… not just a spouse/partner. This ultimately means it doesn’t count towards your estates value & is not taxed…. in essence by putting someone elses name on an account you gift them with whatever is in that account when you die.  

Another consideration is that the bank will shut down your accounts when you die….denying access to ALL until your estate goes thru probate…. unless another person is listed on the accounts. eventually your executor will have access to these funds…. will those you leave behind be able to pay the bills, etc until that point in time??

I urge and implore you all to get in touch with your local Probate Office & find out the laws in your County & State.

Okay!

The last thing that I’d like you to do is to go and get a blank journal & list all your accounts…. not only your bank accounts, but your debt accounts also…. & any life insurance policies you may have….& CD’s, IRA’s, etc, etc… ~in short all your assets and debts (in totals) & their account numbers. Update this yearly…  tax time is a perfect opportunity.

**update #2 w/info from serendipity…

If one person in the household handles the finances, and it’s not you-make it your business to find out:

1. exactly what bills you have, how they are paid (electronically, by check, other).

2. Where all your bank accounts-checking, savings, investments (IRA’s, CD’s, etc.) are, if there are automatic deposits, and where the account information is located-papers, and/or computer access codes/ pin #’s.

3. If you own real estate in addition to your primary residence, or out of state real estate/ time shares-ask your lawyer at the time of doing your will how that would be handled.  

Account #’s, and PIN #’s:  If there are accounts or employee (or retiree) information   that you have that are accessed by Account #’s / PIN #’s, make sure that your significant other (or whoever would need such information) will have access to these #’s in the event of your death.  AND that You would have access in the event of your significant other’s death.  

Make sure that your significant other knows the location of your will, safe deposit box (and key) and has information re: contacting the lawyer.  

May I humbly suggest the above info go into that little journal I mentioned….

**update #5 from serendipity

I learned that the beneficiaries listed on accounts like your IRA’s will receive those benefits according to the beneficiary designation(s)you list on that account, rather than what is in your will:  

Naming names is important so that your assets go to the right people upon your death. It’s not enough, though, to put people in your will. For certain assets, such as pensions, you need to designate beneficiaries.

…While many of us ensure that other important documents such as wills are updated on a frequent basis, we tend to neglect our retirement-account beneficiary designations. Your retirement accounts are not part of your estate and generally not governed by the provisions of your will, so it is important to keep these retirement documents updated…

And let your executor/partner know where this journal is. This will make his/her job Soooo much easier.

**update #1 according to pf♥~

The RiaD/fatdave Law::: make sure there are people in your 3D life that know about the close bonds you’ve made online AND to notify us should a crisis or emergency happen. if you’re sick or need community support… we need to know.

maybe add your online communities/identities/passwords in your journal…

be sure and let your real world loved ones know you are a vital part of an online community(s) & that your online friends will be worried sick if you just disappear….. I’m sure they’ll understand, as my girl did, & WILL take the time to post a message for you…. (&btw~ my girl had more instructions…just in case. I would never leave y’all hanging….)

**update #4 ~ FUNERALS…from the comments

For the partner/significant other of the unexpectedly, suddenly seriously ill or deceased. If the “ducks” haven’t been “put in a row” before the unexpected happens, the SO has to deal with the emotional blow of the unexpected happening to their loved one, PLUS the added overwhelming burden of the extremely stressful health, financial, and legal decisions that will have to be made, if they don’t have a clue how to handle those issues.

Pre-planning & a clear, easily accessed “instruction sheet” is a priceless gift that we can leave to our loved ones, (and give to ourselves, if we’re the ones “left behind”) who will have enough emotional turmoil to deal with. ~serendipity

i would add…we might should all consider planning our own funerals!

one of the hardest things during all of this, for me, was planning the funerals…

it really really sucked big ones 🙁

to have to find funeral directors and churches and preachers and hymns and obituaries written(did you know the newspapers charge to print an obit???)and gravespace and flowers and all the other things that go along with the strange funerary rituals….

even if you don’t actually plan out and pre-pay for your funeral….talk to your loved ones about what you’d like include things like cremation vs. traditional caskets… perpetual care cemetaries… hymns/songs… whether you have a strong aversion to certain flowers(something i got lots of conflicting info & was given much heat about!) in short~ tell your loved ones what you’d like! ~RiaD

You’re right about funeral planning–most of us have a vague plan, and leave the details to our survivors, who end up making choices when they are grieving & aren’t thinking too clearly.

After our experience with our friend dying suddenly last summer, my hubby–a veteran–and I went to the new VA national cemetary that is close to our home. We found out that he & I both can be buried there for no charge (other than our funeral expenses). We’ve told the kids that’s what we want & have included information in our “ducks in a row” “Instructions folder”.

Burial benefits available include a gravesite in any of our 125 national cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.

Burial benefits available for spouses and dependents buried in a national cemetery include burial with the veteran, perpetual care, and the spouse or dependents name and date of birth and death will be inscribed on the veteran’s headstone, at no cost to the family. Eligible spouses and dependents may be buried, even if they predecease the veteran.

For more information on eligibility, VA national cemeteries, benefits that might be available toward burial in a private cemetery, etc, here’s a link: Department of Veterans Affairs, Burial & Memorial Homepage IMHO, worth checking into if one is a veteran or spouse of a veteran. ~serendipity

**update #5

A further note about the VA national cemeteries–here’s a list of the 125 national VA Cemeteries with a link to each one with description of that facility. Also, here’s a list of State Veterans Cemeteries. I’m not sure what the eligibilities or costs might be for the State Veterans Cemeteries, but there are contact numbers included on the link. ~serendipity

Is the Pony/Pie/Hide rating system too cutsie?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

81 comments

Skip to comment form

    • RiaD on April 8, 2008 at 7:37 pm
      Author

    I’m going back to bed for a bit….

    I’m extraordinarily tired today 🙁

    g’nite ♥~

  1. and i’m hotlisting this. and i think we should plan to run it every now and again.

    could you update this with one minor thing???? later, when you’re up from your nap or tomorrow, as you feel up to it…

    The RiaD/fatdave Law::: make sure there are people in your 3D life that know about the close bonds you’ve made online AND to notify us should a crisis or emergency happen. if you’re sick or need community support… we need to know.

    reword as you see fit. and thanks.

    GET REST RIA. do NOT overdo. underdo. do you hear me?????? rest. rest. your body needs food and rest.

  2. I’ve needed!  Thank you for posting it and I fully agree with

    everything that pf said above.  The RiaD/fatdave Law is

    an important reminder to all here… don’t ever want to go

    through what we did a few weeks ago 🙁

    • Robyn on April 8, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    I have little beyond debts to leave anyone else.  I suppose I need to change the beneficiary from my daughter to my partner on whatever paperwork needs to have that information.  I’m not sure what that paperwork might be, since inheriting can be problematic when one is GLBT.

    My writings can go to whoever desires to attempt to disseminate them better than I have been able to do.

    My life work I bequeath to whoever it is who wishes to pick up the banner.

    Robyn

  3. Your diary comes at a time when I have just returned from surgery at the Mayo Clinic.  As part of the pre-op they asked me if I had a Living Will.  I was embarrassed to admit that I didn’t.  They provided both the form I needed and a Notary Public to make it valid.  I went into surgery feeling much better about the course of events should there be a serious problem.  Thank goddess there wasn’t.

    But that only qualifies me for a “Partly” answer to your question.  I still don’t have a current will nor a Power Of Attorney on file.  Thank you very much for keeping my feet to the fire.  As soon as I can walk twenty steps without gasping I will fix the problem.  I hope everyone on this blog reads your diary and thinks carefully about it.

    Hugs to you.

  4. the day I left my house only to be hit 5 minutes later head on by a wild man driving on a side street at 80 miles per hour taught me we really do not know what is ahead of us.

    I have not only created what you have smartly suggested -but also have a living will that spells out exactly what my wishes are in the event of.

    I also have a will.`

  5. Currently learning the infinite, there are no exits, matrix of deception and outright scams involved in “elder care”/ “elder fincances” and nursing home expenses.

    Bottom line.

    “They” suck your blood all the way down to $2000.

    The “law” serves not to protect or provide realistic alternatives to nursing home care put instead to shovel a lifetime’s worth of assets into the hands of our Satanic “government” or it’s secondary benefactor big pharma.

    “Your” money, rights, medical record privacy, surviving beneficiaries are all subject to a shitstorm of Machiavellian evil of galactic proportions and on co-ordinated multiple fronts of legal, tax and medical “professionals” and the health insurance company.

    In short you have a better chance moving assets to off the grid status five years before anticipated health problems.

    To top it off AARP spends money on advertizing about how I could “save” money on my auto insurance.  You have no idea how much that pissed me off.

    What RiaD says is good advice, as it is the most basic of basic things to do and actually no one can get hurt.

    I am just pointing out that the evils of government know no bounds, even death is a for profit industry.

  6. Powers of attorney and living wills are easy and you can find them to download.  Google is your friend.

    Wills are not easy because there are requirements that have to be met to make them valid and those requirements vary from state to state.  If you don’t meet the requirements, your will is not valid. period.  And then your stuff and your children will be distributed according to how your state statutes say they should be distributed (this is called fucked up administration).  So I recommend (1) hiring a lawyer for a simple will to be sure that it won’t be invalid (this should not be expensive), or (2) finding a friend’s will that was drawn recently by a lawyer and using it as a model (especially the parts for signature and affidavits of witnesses at the end), or (3) getting a form on line from your state bar association with instructions on how it is to be executed.  I do NOT recommend making one up, notarizing it, and thinking it’ll work. Chances are it won’t.

    Disclaimer about this Caveat: I am a lawyer. This comment should not be considered personal legal advice.  It’s not.  It’s just information you might find helpful and should not be relied upon in lieu of consulting with a lawyer.  Sheesh.

  7. since 2004 – well, three, if you count the stuff my father-in-law dumped on us years ago and that we inherited.

    Do your heirs a favor: divest yourself of things now.  If you haven’t used it in two years, get rid of it.  Give it to the people you want to have it, give it to Goodwill, whatever.  Disposing of material objects that meant a good deal to someone else, but don’t mean much to you,  is very hard, especially when you’re grieving.  

  8. Your Essay and the comments have some good advice.  Thanks for bringing this up, at a time when you’re still recovering.  BTW-hope you feel better soon.

    Last summer, a friend died suddenly at age 60.  He lived in another state, and he & his wife (my best friend) had no family in that state.  We went to help my friend sort things out, and learned some lessons from her awful experience:  

    If one person in the household handles the finances, and it’s not you-make it your business to find out:

    1. exactly what bills you have, how they are paid (electronically, by check, other).

    2. Where all your bank accounts-checking, savings, investments (IRA’s, CD’s, etc.) are, if there are automatic deposits, and where the account information is located-papers, and/or computer access codes/ pin #’s.

    3. If you own real estate in addition to your primary residence, or out of state real estate/ time shares-ask your lawyer at the time of doing your will how that would be handled.  

    Account #’s, and PIN #’s:  If there are accounts or employee (or retiree) information   that you have that are accessed by Account #’s / PIN #’s, make sure that your significant other (or whoever would need such information) will have access to these #’s in the event of your death.  AND that You would have access in the event of your significant other’s death.  

    Make sure that your significant other knows the location of your will, safe deposit box (and key) and has information re: contacting the lawyer.  

    (My friend’s husband had been doing work around the house and everything was moved out of place, including the will and the lock boxes.  We eventually found it, but in the meantime, it caused a lot of unnecessary worry & she couldn’t remember the lawyer’s name, didn’t know the account #’s, Pin #’s-he had handled all of that…Plus, his checkbook record was unique-no one could figure it out.)  

    After we returned from helping our friend, we called a lawyer and updated our wills.  She explained the difference between a will and a trust, and explained which would be best for us.  

    Yes, it’s not the most fun thing to “get your ducks in a row” but it can be a blessing to those who have to cope with a loved ones sudden illness or death.  

    Blessings to you RiaD.  

    • frosti on April 9, 2008 at 4:10 am

    but it would be really great if people expressed to the loved ones whether they wanted everything done, everything tried at least until it is known what the prognosis might be, or whether they want nothing done in case of cardiac or respiratory arrest or severe illness that is incapacitating so that they cannot speak for themselves.

    If patient wish is an unknown, I usually advise a short term of aggressive medical procedures, and if nothing gets better, then back off.

    • Alma on April 9, 2008 at 4:25 am

    I’ll probably go the “Trust” route.

  9. But I’m glad I did.

    I voted wrong. I voted no without reading all the choices.

    Your advice is great, and the updates are too. I like the idea of leaving instructions about notifying blogs. We are friends.

  10. My state doesn’t recognize a “living will”, according to my lawyer.  It does recognize an Advance Directive and Power of Attorney for Healthcare.  We completed our advanced directives & halthcare power of attorney papers at the time of completing our wills.  

  11. Sorry Ria–I keep butting in & don’t mean to be disrespectful, I just keep remembering things that I didn’t know till last year, & want to try to inform others:

    I learned that the beneficiaries listed on accounts like your IRA’s will receive those benefits according to the beneficiary designation(s)you list on that account, rather than what is in your will:  

    “Naming names is important so that your assets go to the right people upon your death. It’s not enough, though, to put people in your will. For certain assets, such as pensions, you need to designate beneficiaries.”

    “…While many of us ensure that other important documents such as wills are updated on a frequent basis, we tend to neglect our retirement-account beneficiary designations. Your retirement accounts are not part of your estate and generally not governed by the provisions of your will, so it is important to keep these retirement documents updated…”

  12. Elder planning now centers around what is called the five year look back period.  At their weakest and most vulnerable period in their lives older Americans are asked to prove they didn’t give their son John more than fifty dollars on any one significant holiday occasion if they want Medicare to pay for any nursing home care.

    Essentially if Mom and Dad help Johnny out with a $45,000 down payment for a condo to get Johnny’s ass out of the basement AND four years later need nursing home care Johnny gets to cough up one year’s worth of nursing home care.  Simple enough, right?

    Another interesting aspect is which parent goes into the nursing home first.  The terms are “indigent spouse” and “suriving spouse”.  Now with some thought and planning the “surviving” spouse can keep some of the family estate and assets to reduce the annoyance of seniors eating dog food reports on the “news”.  I remember something like $103,000 plus the house.  The lawyer was actually reading between the lines and surmising that in the future government would “take the house”.

    The crux of the entire deal really separates the assets of what was once a single family unit into parent/offspring.

    The needed funds to build the David Koresh survivalist compound deep in the woods and stock it with food are “locked up” only to be picked up later by government and their benficiaries, big pharma.  Emotionally it is going to be tough “bugging out” and leaving parents behind, but like I said, it is a dystopian future.

    Lastly, to prove shit for brains is not merely “incompetent” the question becomes what would be better to “stimulate” the economy.  A $600 dollar “don’t do the Ed and Elaine Brown thing” or freeing up the funds of parents of baby boomers to feed the newest industry,

    Survivalism.

    • frosti on April 10, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    ready made to fill out from the local hospital.  One chooses options regarding life support, tube feeding, antibiotics, etc.  One can also name who the decider is for your health care.

Comments have been disabled.