The wife of a seventy-plus-year-old relative told me he refused to even discuss a will. She thought it was because he didn’t like to think about dying. Well, hello! You’ve over 70, man, and in poor shape. If anyone should be thinking about dying, it’s you.
All jokes aside, many people don’t want to talk or even think about this topic. In my experience, this is especially true of elderly and people with crippling ailments. With the elderly, it seems that they think, when they die, their “loved ones” will figure it out among themselves. Or, that doing a will and having an exit strategy where their affairs are in order, will jinx them into heaven sooner. And with those with crippling ailments, I wonder if they fear signing over rights or giving someone privy to their personal stuff.
To the elderly, those with crippling ailments and the young with the elderly mindset, death is one certainty for you. For the first group, you have to realize that you’re closer to “going up yonder” than most people. Even if all you have is a house and/or money in a bank, you leave the people you claim to love with legal problems and headaches if you haven’t taken care of business. Not to mention the potential fights between Ginny and Oscar over the cherry 1969 Mustang. Your will needn’t be elaborate, simply unambiguous.
Why, also, would you want to leave the care of yourself and your assets to chance? What good are any of your asset accounts if they end up on your state’s Unclaimed Funds list because no one can get access to your accounts? Especially when completing a power of attorney (medical and financial) is easier than ever. Do you want your children to have their childhood home or not?
Suze Orman has proved herself as a trustworthy financial adviser. She says that the four most important documents you should prepare for your future (especially your demise) are a:
She also offers a self-contained, nearly indestructible kit with these and other “life” forms. Everything in one place for you to grab in case of emergency, or to make it easy for relatives who may take over your care or handle your death.
A Wall Street Journal article last year also made a good point. The article began with: It isn’t enough simply to sign…end-of-life instructions. You also have to make your heirs aware of them and leave the documents where they can find them. Why do all that prep then drop the ball? At least tell a couple of people now where to look once you’re dead or incapacitated. That includes safety deposit boxes, home safes and inside your mattress or favorite recliner.
I heard a sad recount of a dear uncle who passed away. His close relatives knew he had socked away some money, but had no clue where. They broke down his favorite recliner, for disposal, when they cleaned out his house. Inside was remnants of paper currency that the rats had feasted on. I’m pretty sure that the Mint only replaces bills if you have at least half of it.
If you have a loved one who’s elder or has elder mindset, or an ailment that might render them incapacitated or dead sooner than later, then please give them the information to make an informed decision about unnecessarily burdening those left to mourn or care for them.
Then give them a chunk of the cake you baked (OK, picked up) to soften the message.
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