Legacy

What will you leave behind? That was the focus of a discussion led by my good friend Jack Woloshun. We were there to talk about the many crossroads in life and the people with whom we share the journey. Have you thought about what you would like to leave behind? What will remain once your flesh and bones no longer walk this earth? How will you be remembered? To demonstrate what’s possible, Jack pulled out a book his daughter assembled for his 60th birthday. She had contacted the many family and friends from Jack’s life and invited them to express their sentiments. The words were anything but shallow, very unlike canned drugstore greeting cards. Rather they were lengthy letters of affection, memories and hope for the future. Jack only read 3 or 4 letters from the book, but what he shared demonstrated what it means to leave a legacy. Jack has spent his life giving to others; he has chosen to be a giver instead of a taker. The letters reflect a lifetime of memories, influence and impact. I think that is what it’s all about. Legacy is something you may or may not have thought of; I think the answer is likely dependent on your age and to what extent you consider your life in the grand scheme of humankind. Legacy is not about leaving a hospital or street with your name stamped on. It’s not about things you did that elevated your ego. It’s not about how many toys you collected. It’s not even about how much money you left to charities or your kids. Legacy is fundamentally about who you are. Your legacy is a replica of how you live your life every day. What would happen if people were asked...

DEATH And Taxes

They say they’re the only two things you can count on. We don’t like to talk about either; but they are inevitable. Few of us voluntarily sit down and think about what will happen when we die. It’s just not a comfortable scenario to consider. And yet death is the one certainty we have; preparing our ‘estate’ (no matter how small or big) is the right thing to do. Taking care of all your stuff can be a real pain for others if you haven’t expressed your wishes. I like what Dave Ramsey says, “To die without a will is just plain rude!” Do it for the people who care about you. You don’t have to hire an expensive attorney; you can download a form from Internet sites like legalzoom.com. But making a will is only one thing that should be on your list. At the time of this posting, you can get a will from U.S. Legal Forms for only $15. In preparing for the (someday) inevitable, you might consider the following questions: How will I leave my earthly affairs? Would my loved ones be scrambling to find out know how to handle my physical remains? Would they know how to deal with my bills? Less dramatic than death might be a critical illness or robbery. If I fell ill, would those around me know my doctor and insurance company? If my home was broken into, would I know what items were taken? These are unsettling questions to consider when things are going well. But if we don’t, we end up dumping a huge responsibility and hassle on our loved ones at the time when they are dealing with grief. When my dad suddenly passed away, we were so thankful that he had created a system so we could locate his critical information. So the question then is, What information do I need to gather or create so my loved ones have peace of mind on how to manage my affairs? How old do I need to be to start this process? The answer is NOW no matter what your age; if you start now, it will be easier as your life becomes more complex. (For a little encouragement not to procrastinate, see the article on getting A Round Tuit.) If you have ANY assets, you should at least write up a simple will and sign it in front of a notary public and a couple of witnesses. But there is other information you should collect. Here’s a starting list. It may seem daunting at first but if you get started now with just one item, you will eventually collect everything you need. Emergency contact info Last Will and Testament Durable Power of Attorney Living Will (dictating the kinds of heroic measures you would or would not like to be take for you) Health Care Power of Attorney Primary Doctor and other health care professionals Health/life insurance Donation of body/organs after death Immediate Action Steps after death Funeral/Burial plans/Obituary information Other notifications (work, school, clubs etc.) Investments and banking info Credit cards and outstanding loans Real Estate holdings and mortgages Life insurance/pensions Income tax info Passport/driver’s license and other certificates Family contact information Passwords (see Dr. Deb’s blog of Sept, 14, 2013) Inventory of valuables Contents of Safe box or location of critical information If the list seems overwhelming, just think of how confusing it would be for your family or friends to track down this information without you. If you are married, think about the peace of mind you would have knowing that if something would happen to your spouse, you would know what to do and where to find critical information. I would suggest beginning with things you already have such as credit card and bank information and collect it all in one place. The program I’m using to collect my passwords also has a place...