anyone interested in doing a challenge to get our legal/financial house in order?

Over in Journals, I brought up the idea that it might be interesting to have a challenge where we get our house in order legally and financially. And by financially, I don't mean pay off debt, retirement, etc. I mean wills, power of attorneys, etc. All the stuff we need to have in place if we are incapacitated or for when we die.  farfromtheusual mentioned the book / website Get your Sh*t Together so something along that line.  Or if you are Dave Ramsey follower, a legacy box/drawer.  Anyone interested?

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  • MXMOM,  I think it is a great idea.  My wife and I will have been married 54 years this November.  We have always had wills, trusts, powers of attorney, etc., but as the years went on, especially when we started having children, we knew of the importance for keeping records in case of our deaths. We have medical profiles for what is to be done when we die, etc.  But, these items were never as well organized as we would have wanted so, I started a search online and did indeed find the "Get It Together" program.  What a find that was!  Last April I ordered it and, while waiting for it to arrive, we contacted a lawyer specializing in probate matters.

    After everything was finalized with the lawyer, we started "getting it together."  It took some time to do so, but we finished it in early June and, I must say, anybody walking in off the street and sitting down and reading through the various sections would be able to figure out what to do with the information.  It covers letters to loved ones, phone numbers of necessary contacts, employment, pets and livestock, business interests, bank and brokerage accounts, insurance, funeral and memorial services, health care directives, etc., etc., etc.   We didn't have need for all the sections available, but I can say, we did "Get It Together" and we are so happy we did so.  If anybody is interested in this type of information, I would suggest, go for it.  If "Get It Together" doesn't do it for you, there are other programs available through a search online.  Of course, my wife and I are 78 years old, so it is rather imperative for us to do so, wouldn't you say?  Again, what a great idea to put forth for others to check out if they desire.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
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      JohnnyDiamond wow, you are an inspiration. Sadly, not everyone dies due to old age or lingering illness. There was recently a major Canadian resource person and content provider (mortgagejake) who was killed at age 44 when hit while cycling. I trust he had his sh*t together but you never know. Everyone thinks they have time. Or that people die in order of age. Sadly, that is not always true. And what would be worse than a sudden loss of a loved one than having to scramble to find any information.

      My stepmother died in her sleep at age 59. My father is 12 years older than her so everyone figured he would die first. Nope. And she handled EVERYTHING. The main bank account didn't even have my dad's name on it. Luckily there was a will and it was a simple "you get everything if I die and I get everything if you die" but it was a pain trying to find out where money was, where income was coming from, etc. I had to lend my dad money to get through the week after her death because her bank account was frozen and the will was in the safety deposit box. Note to everyone - don't put the will in the bank's safety deposit box. You can't get access to the safety deposit box without - wait for it - a copy of the will.

      I am very passionate about this subject. I also need to update things as my kids are now adults and our wills say that my mom will take care of them. And my medical POA also lists my mom who at 83 probably would not want that responsibility.

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  • Here is a link to checklists we can start with. 

     

    https://getyourshittogether.org/checklist/

     

    And here is a link to an article about the person who started that website. 

    https://www.redbookmag.com/love-sex/relationships/advice/a15276/death-planning-tips/

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    •  MXMOM Indeed, it does require passion to stay focused in order to fulfill a commitment. 
      Yes, life does have its uncertainties. Unforeseen occurrences befall us all.  It is best to be as prepared as possible for those uncertainties.  One for which I was not prepared was my mom’s death  from cancer when she was 37.  I was but a lad of 7 1/2 with 10 siblings, but we all managed to make something of ourselves.  So, there is always hope.  Never give up.  Thanks for those links.  I will check them out.  

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      • MXMOM
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      Here is a link to a more financial / legal only document from BDO.  

      http://www.bdo.ca/BDO/media/Misc-Documents/NTL-Wealth-14Dec18-EstateOrganizer.pdf

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      • MXMOM
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      My first task is to find a password manager.  In reading an article about your digital estate, I came across this spreadsheet to collect all your information.  This is excel but you can also import this into Google sheets  (the instructions link is in the article I linked above)

      https://cdn.thewirecutter.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Master-Information-Kit-Wirecutter-Template.xlsx

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      • PhysicsGal
      • Nerdy female homo sapien
      • physicsgal
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      MXMOM Oh yes, that reminds me of something I thought about.  I use Lastpass (I love it and recommend it!) but I'm not sure I would want to share all those passwords after I die.  A lot of my personal writing is in my penzu online diary and in my dropbox paper account.  But on the other hand, does it really matter once I'm no longer here if people read my diary?  So many morbid and personal things to consider.  Probably what is easiest to maintain is the best and sharing my Lastpass password is the easiest way to pass on control of my accounts, so I should probably just suck it up and realize it doesn't matter if my loved ones read my embarrassing diary writings after I die

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      • MXMOM
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      PhysicsGal we need a self destruct function. 

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    • PhysicsGal I use 1Password, and within that there are different vaults. We currently have a family account, and I'm working on sharing all of the passwords that should be shared between my partner and I. Everything personal can just stay in an unshared vault. I think this would also help with the sense of overwhelm my poor partner would experience if they had to wade through all of my passwords. 

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    • I'll add that this is really helpful even for my kids, who would like access to the Netflix password, but not my bank account password, which my partner needs.

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    • PhysicsGal Speaking as someone facing this situation for a loved one imminently, and having listened to many many others who arrived there before me, there is way too much to do when you die for them to have time to go through your diary, and by the time they get the time, they're less likely to have the interest. Or at least you'll have been dead for longer so it'd be less relevant?

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      • MXMOM
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      Marisa I will check it out. Is there a referral program?

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
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      Marisa is there a way to pin a particular post to the top of a discussion?

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    • MXMOM I'm able to pin posts! Just list urls in a reply and I'll get them pinned. 

      Re: 1Password - I don't see a referral program. 🤔

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      • MXMOM
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      it seems that lastpass and 1Pass are the 2 front runners (evidenced by even the responses here). I found this article that offers a pretty comprehensive comparison of the 2.  I think I am going try the lastpass free option to see if that is enough for our needs.  I only need to share with hubby plus the emergency access. The paid option for lastpass is per user and 1Pass has a family plan which is for up to 5 people.  Maybe that would be a better option and I could extend to my kids as well.  One has a girlfriend so they could both be on the family plan. 2nd son doesn’t have a lot of logins that I care about - mainly banking and school loans - but as he matures, these will get more complicated.  Ok I think I just changed my own mind and will go with the 30 day free trial for 1Pass.  Arrgghh, why are there always two choices for everything - Mac/Windows, iOS/Android, Coke/Pepsi.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
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      link to the comparison article. 
      https://zapier.com/blog/lastpass-vs-1password/

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  • So the plan is to start getting all this stuff together next month, when I start having more time (and offers of help, and my parents aren't in town).

    The to do list for me currently is: 

    1. Will
    2. POA (health care proxy is done)
    3. Figure out Google password/reset Google password and put it somewhere others can access. That should give access to my password manager or ways to reset the passwords for accounts. (Yes, I know, Google is probably not the safest password manager. Possibly "get Lastpass or somesuch" should be on the list?)
    4. Organize papers, so someone can find accounts etc. if needed. 
    5. Check for lost money

    The to do list for my husband currently is:

    1. Will
    2. POA (healthcare proxy and DNR instructions are done)
    3. Locate and make sure I'm aware of/beneficiary of financial accounts (401k and possible other bank need this)
    4. Make a list of accounts and passwords, or make sure I have the passwords to the things that will allow me to reset account passwords (Google, phone, etc.)
    5. Get lost money back

    We have a follow up with the lawyer for mid-October, I think, for the wills and POA. I should probably look up the date. 

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    • Fuzzball Meows 

      Oh, I forgot - also on P's list is make cremation plans (talk to the two/three other funeral homes, decide who to use, and get that set up.)

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    • Fuzzball Meows I have signed up for my states Memorial Society, which gives its members group pricing at the time of passing. Consumer advocate Clark Howard talks about it a lot and recommends finding the memorial Society of the state in which you’d like to be buried/cremated. It’s very inexpensive to sign up (~$30-50) and you can see the price list of burial/cremation services at local providers. 
       

      Here’s a link to the article on Clark’s website for more information in case you’re interested. 
      https://clark.com/family-lifestyle/save-on-funeral-cremation-memorial-society/

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    • Yellow Pufferfish said:
      I have signed up for my states Memorial Society, which gives its members group pricing at the time of passing.

       Whoa - this is fascinating.🤔Thanks for sharing!

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    • Fuzzball Meows On to step 2? Maybe?

      The to do list for me currently is: 

      1. Will - meeting with lawyer Wednesday. Need to borrow P's computer to review the documents they sent for me, because my computer seems to arbitrarily save stuff to the cloud and I didn't want these documents there.
      2. POA (health care proxy is done) - same as above
      3. Figure out Google password/reset Google password and put it somewhere others can access. That should give access to my password manager or ways to reset the passwords for accounts. (Yes, I know, Google is probably not the safest password manager. Possibly "get Lastpass or somesuch" should be on the list?) For some reason, this is the easy one that I just can't bring myself to do. (Neither the changing the password to something I'll remember nor the getting a different password manager.)
      4. Organize papers, so someone can find accounts etc. if needed. Also not done, but this one isn't easy
      5. Check for lost money Still need to do this.

      The to do list for my husband currently is:

      1. Will - meeting w/ lawyer Wednesday. He reviewed the documents.
      2. POA (healthcare proxy and DNR instructions are done) Same as above. Had argument about the "being declared incompetent" portion of the POA, for reasons I don't understand...
      3. Locate and make sure I'm aware of/beneficiary of financial accounts (401k and possible other bank need this) Done 401k accounts, still need to track down if there is another bank account somewhere
      4. Make a list of accounts and passwords, or make sure I have the passwords to the things that will allow me to reset account passwords (Google, phone, etc.) Not done
      5. Get lost money back Requested, should have in a few months.
      6. Funeral planning No progress here
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  • So this is less of a resource the way Get Your Sh*t Together is, but I want to strongly recommend the book "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande. It's about how death happens in various settings, places, circumstances, and talks about things to think about. 

    There's an anecdote in the book about a hospice nurse (I think) whose father ends up in the hospital before some very dangerous surgery, and she left before asking him what an acceptable quality of life is for him. So she turned around and went back, and his answer surprised her. He was an academic/professor, but his response was "if I can still eat chocolate ice cream and watch sports, that's good enough." (Paraphrased quote.) That is a really really important conversation to have. P and I have had it; he has specific thoughts ("if I can still play this video game/watch videos I like"), and I have "I don't know - here are my thoughts for right now." 

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      • PhysicsGal
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      Fuzzball Meows said:
      I strongly recommend "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande. 

       Thanks!  Aapparently there are a bunch of copies of the normal print version of the book in the library but the large print copies have a long wait list.  Thank goodness my eyes still work!  It's apparently a popular book with the >40's crowd.  I'm so advanced for my age :P

      Well, I went to NOLO and got Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2022 - Plus [Download], plus a book on prenups for preparing for our marriage.    Thanks for inspiring me to do this YNAB buddies!!!!  It will be a relief to know that things are taken care of and it will be easier to re-do the documents that need to be re-done once we get married if I've already done it once.  The one I'm dreading is really the decisions about what to do under different circumstances (health care advanced directive), but that's also the most important because I don't want anyone else to have to make those decisions for me without any guidance.

      I'm curious what people think about being engaged and deciding how things get passed for now, until we get married.  Right now my beneficiary on my retirement accounts is my sister and I told her to split the money between my 4 nieces, to give them a nice start at life.  Although I should probably tell her that they shouldn't be allowed access until they have proven they can use responsibly.  I knew many who got inheritances in college that they blew very quickly on BS and probably regret that now. 

      But I'm not sure how they would deal with  my house if I died now, since I don't have a will.  I was planning to pass it onto my other sister for now, the youngest who doesn't own a home yet, to help her get into the market.  But then I would transfer that to my husband after we get married, and change him to be the beneficiary on my accounts as well.  Does that seem fair?  Is that what most people do, wait till marriage to set their fiance up as their beneficiary?

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    • PhysicsGal For me, I think it would depend how soon I'm getting married. If it's only a few months, I wouldn't want to have to redo the paperwork again so soon, so I would just put the fiance. If getting married is a longer term, eventually thing, I'd do the siblings for now and then change to the husband once he's a husband.  I have no idea what most people do.

      Other things to think about: are you and your fiance living together? Will it cause problems for him for housing if you leave someone else the house? Are your finances joined, and what will the effect of a sudden loss of your part of the expenses mean for him? Do you want to make sure he is taken care of?  I know the default leaving things is to family, but just because that's the default doesn't mean that's what you have to do. 

       

      Re: the book, I read it in my early 30's 😄  I actually bought a(n electronic) copy after I read about half of it, because it's definitely one I think I want to go back and reference. (The electronic version means I can increase the font size if needed 🤣)

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      • Yes I can
      • yesican2020
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      Fuzzball Meows great book.  One of the nurses who was visiting my Mum and us when she was bed ridden recommended this to me.   I was really taken with Gawande's idea that modern medicine and pharmaceuticals prevent death so our bodies slowly fall apart, as opposed to dying quickly and smoothly.  

      PS. Have to remember these nurses with such gratitude, they worked with a NFP organisation called Silver Chain and really saw their role as taking care of my Dad and I (her carers) instead of just Mum.  

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  • Fuzzball Meows said:
    if I can still eat chocolate ice cream and watch sports, that's good enough."

     That is exactly what my stepdad would say. He’s 94 and recently not doing well but as long as he can watch the Toronto Blue Jays and eat chocolate ice cream every day at 3 pm he is happy.

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    • MXMOM That's one of the things that made that anecdote stuck so hard in my head - it's a thing I can imagine someone in my family saying. 

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  • Ok everyone that wants to start this challenge, here is the first task. It is actually already done by Fuzzball Meows .

    Get a notebook and make a list of everything you need to do. And when you are done the list, go through it again and add what you missed.  Don’t feel you need to make plans to do these things or set deadlines yet.  Just get a list on paper so its out of your head.  I recommend using a notebook rather than electronic method because we are going to make this into the project workbook.  

    Feel free to post your list here. Or just post something you think is overlooked by others.  And feel free to “steal or borrow” from other people.

    Let’s set a deadline of 2 weeks to do this. That will give anyone time to jump in. Check in date with next steps is October 13.

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      • MXMOM
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      I have also checked out the e-book What Matters Most from the library. I was surprised there was no wait list. 

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  • MXMOM THANKS for the inspiration! I need to dig into these resources more and figure out what we need to do. We don't have a whole lot, but we both have life insurance policies, and the house is in his name, so we need to make sure that we've got things written down. We do have a few things that are going to need specific instructions should one or both of us die, and I want to be sure that things are really clear.


    I overheard a conversation one day while waiting in line for the teller at the bank (pre-pandemic, clearly!) and a son was trying to get access to his mother's accounts since she passed away. Apparently he wasn't listed as a beneficiary on ALL her accounts, just some of them... and that meant that whatever was in the additional accounts would go through the state process FIRST before it might go to him... despite having a will stating that everything was to go to him.  Apparently the state of Maryland is goofy when it comes to that stuff, so making sure that you have EVERYTHING covered thoroughly is SO important.

    My grandmother was a stickler for data and tracking things, and so she had EVERYTHING taken care of as much as possible, save for her actual date of death filled in on forms. Seriously. Her obituary was written about 20 years before she passed, she kept having to edit it to add great grandchildren to the list! We were very blessed that it was so easy with her (and there really wasn't any money to go to anyone at that point, anyway, she literally took care of all of that before she passed away!). I've heard so many other nightmares, and I certainly don't want to have that happen to us.

    I think one of my struggles is that I'm afraid I have nothing to actually give to anyone should I die, but I do have a life insurance policy, so I expect that there is likely more there than I realize.

    Oh, and speaking of not fun things... my neighbor's wife passed away from cancer, and he went to the DMV to get the title for her car transferred over into his name, and it ended up being a BIG hassle to do so. They had quite a bit of time to prepare (she was ill for about 9 months, quite a few of which she was still very able to do things) so they could have very easily done that paperwork prior to her death, but for whatever reason didn't. Just another vote to make sure you have things really well organized and both partner's names (or another loved one) on paperwork if that applies.

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  • I figured I'd start a new reply to help keep things a wee bit organized (maybe?)... I do have a question - how is debt handled when you pass away? I do have credit card debt at the moment, so I assume that it will get paid off out of any life insurance policy or money that comes in after I were to die, correct?

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    • farfromtheusual Your "estate" pays for it, unless the creditor decides to waive it. So anything in your bank accounts or investments or whatnot. There might be some loophole for trusts; neither P nor I have enough assets to be looking into making trusts, so I don't know details there. I also don't know if your life insurance money can be used to pay off the debts, since those go to a beneficiary and not your estate...

      (P's mom still had a car loan when she passed, and they reclaimed the car and waived something or other so the estate/family didn't have to pay anything additional. It was a weird interaction.)

      I am not a lawyer, so I might have the above wrong.

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    • Fuzzball Meows Got it, thanks for the clarification, I appreciate it!

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  • farfromtheusual said:
    my neighbor's wife passed away from cancer, and he went to the DMV to get the title for her car transferred over into his name, and it ended up being a BIG hassle to do so. They had quite a bit of time to prepare (she was ill for about 9 months, quite a few of which she was still very able to do things) so they could have very easily done that paperwork prior to her death, but for whatever reason didn't.

     We've known P is going to die of his cancer for nearly five years now. We still haven't gotten wills, or even tracked down all his bank accounts or 401k, etc.  Facing mortality is scary/hard/difficult. And with cancer, a lot of people keep hoping for a miracle cure, or more time, or something, so put off all the paperwork.

    When we moved to the current place, we did put all the utilities in my name, and we kept the car in my name instead of having it joint, to avoid things like that. Getting the phone switched over was a surprisingly big hassle, and despite them claiming they were keeping our billing cycle the same, I ended up having to pay two months within two weeks because they weren't the same.

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    • Fuzzball Meows *hugs* It's hard no matter how you dice it. I guess I'm thinking forward even more to the possibility of putting things in both names rather than just one name in order to avoid it all together. But I guess if you get divorced that creates a different mess!

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    • farfromtheusual A lot of things wouldn't allow us to put it in both names. The phone, for instance - we asked. They said they can only have one "responsible party." The internet, also, could only be in one name. The other person can be listed on the account as someone who can access and make changes, etc., but the account is in only one name. I can't remember if we asked the other utilities or not. 

      Re: the car, the one we were replacing was in my name only, and to transfer the tags it had to stay that way. I've also heard stories of how hard it can be to change a title in two names to a title in only one name, or try to sell a car with a title with two names when one of those names is deceased, because they're not there to sign the thing.

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    • Fuzzball Meows I think it's complicated no matter what you do 😔

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  • Fuzzball Meows said:
    Facing mortality is scary/hard/difficult. And with cancer, a lot of people keep hoping for a miracle cure, or more time, or something, so put off all the paperwork.

     It seems like people feel they are giving up or "jinxing" things by doing the paperwork. I haven't gone through this but I can relate to that. I am a big believer into putting things into the universe. To be honest, I think having this conversation early on while everyone is still young and healthy is easier because it all seems to far away and theoretical. Probably much harder when you can see the finish line. This should serve as a lesson to others.   

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  • Fuzzball Meows said:
    I also don't know if your life insurance money can be used to pay off the debts, since those go to a beneficiary and not your estate...

     farfromtheusual I also am not a lawyer. And I am Canadian. So no guarantees this is correct. 

    Naming a beneficiary on life insurance, investment accounts, etc. means the money goes directly to the person "outside probate". That also means there will be no probate tax. We don't have "death tax" or "gift tax" in Canada so can't speak for other countries. It even varies between provinces. For example, in Ontario there are probate taxes (0% for first $50K and then $15 for every $1000 above that). This is why you should not leave insurance etc. to "your estate" . In Ontario if your estate is $240K, the tax is $2,850. Ouch. And your house IS included in the value of the estate if there is not joint ownership that automatically become assets of the other owner(s). This is why many widowed seniors put their kids names on title (which can lead to a myriad of issues). Right now real estate values are CRAZY. So if my house is worth $800K (which is not unreasonable in the Greater Toronto Area right now) and there is no mortgage (mortgage would be deducted from value of house but most senior have no mortgage), the probate fees (assuming no other assets) would be $14,250.  And this must be paid by the estate so if the house is the only asset, the house needs to be sold or someone needs to put in some money if the beneficiaries want to keep the house.  There are some older rules that let the house pass outside probate. Here is a link to an article about Ontario probate and homes if someone is interested.

    So the answer is that no, life insurance money left to a person (not the estate) will not be taken to pay debts of the deceased. 

    See how complicated this one little question can be.  That is why we are all going to get our affairs in order. 

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    • MXMOM Thank you for the explanation, it is helpful!

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  • I need to do this!  I would be interested.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
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      PhysicsGal OK, we are just getting started.  

      here is the first task. It is actually already done by Fuzzball Meows .

      Get a notebook and make a list of everything you need to do. And when you are done the list, go through it again and add what you missed.  Don’t feel you need to make plans to do these things or set deadlines yet.  Just get a list on paper so its out of your head.  I recommend using a notebook rather than electronic method because we are going to make this into the project workbook.  

      Feel free to post your list here. Or just post something you think is overlooked by others.  And feel free to “steal or borrow” from other people.

      Let’s set a deadline of 2 weeks to do this. That will give anyone time to jump in. Check in date with next steps is October 13.

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      • PhysicsGal
      • Nerdy female homo sapien
      • physicsgal
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      MXMOM Thanks!!!!!

      I keep telling myself I'll do this stuff when my situation is more stable, but I need to do it now.  I'm engaged, no date for the wedding yet.  I'm 41.  

      Here's one of the things that's been holding me back from dealing with the issue of preparing myself legally and financially for incapacity or death.  I don't know what to answer for all the medical questions, what treatments would I want if I get incapacitated in various ways.  I just don't know.  But I don't want to leave it up to others to shoulder the burden of deciding, so I really need to decide for them and write it down.  Does anyone have a reading recommendation for how to make those decisions, what questions to ask myself?  It's all so overwhelming.

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      • MXMOM
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      PhysicsGal https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/83hpahb?r=m1hpaz8

       

      And from everything that I am reading - something is better than nothing.  I know people have great lives in wheelchairs and come back from brain injuries, but I know that if in my situation the prognosis was such that I couldn't walk, or talk, or feed myself etc. than pull the plug, let me go. Of course, that may change in the future but for now it is the right decision for me. So you have to decide on what quality of life you think you would NOT be willing to settle for and at least get that message out there, preferably in writing. 

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    • PhysicsGal I strongly recommend "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande.  It isn't a workbook-type thing, it doesn't say "go have this conversation." But it presents a lot of situations and talks about the decisions that led to those situations being as they are. And brings up a lot of points to have conversations about.

      It is very overwhelming. My current answer to things is if there's a choice, I want the path that leaves me (possibly) able to take care of P, and if taking care of P is not an option, then no heroic efforts. I had to have (somewhat) emergency surgery a few years ago, and while things going badly was not likely, I made sure everyone was clear that being able to take care of P was the most important thing for me.

      My dad's answer is that he wants to be comfortable. My mom says she wants whatever my dad thinks, or doesn't care, which is not at all helpful.

      The honest answer is no one can predict what decisions you'll need to make. P has a fairly predictable cancer, and we've still been blindsided by decisions we weren't expecting. I suspect there will be more along the way. Communicating what you value in life is a good starting point for others to be making decisions on your behalf.

      Two other things to think about:

      1) There are other options in life than "healthy" or "dead" (although lots of times neither those two end points nor the middle are really "options." In most cases, who you are doesn't change when you are not healthy, but what you can do does. And people are usually a lot more able to deal with restrictions than they thought they'd be when healthy.

      2) Let the person who is going to have to make decisions for you *know*. It is entirely possible to list them on Health Care/Medical Proxy or POA forms and not tell them, which is unfair to them when they're suddenly blindsided by the need to make those decisions.

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  • Just had a thought. I have been thinking about what if one or the other of us dies.  But what if we both die together? I need to put all this together in a way that my kids can figure this out. Or pick an executor who knows this stuff to handle for them. 

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    • MXMOM Good question.  I suggested above about the "Get It Together" system.  Please, believe me, this is a game-changer.  All four of our children know we have everything outlined for them to make it easier to get through the legal and financial aspects of death.  Our youngest daughter will be the executor of the estate because she lives the closest and we see her practically every day.  We have had plans for cremation for both of us outlined since 2013 for which everything has been paid.  All she has to do is contact the funeral home upon our demise and they will take it from there to handle all of the arrangements.  Also, she is beneficiary of all our accounts and life insurance policies so, if we both die together, she will have access to them without interruption.  She knows to contact the lawyer for assistance if need be.  We feel extremely confident that, upon our demise, arrangements will go as smoothly as possible in a trying time for those left to handle it.  Also, we have letters to each of the children and to each other about our thoughts and love for each. 

      As I stated earlier in this post, if "Get It Together" doesn't work for you, then there are other programs out there that might fit the bill.  Find one that works for you and then focus on finalizing the project.  You may be amazed at how quickly you accomplish the task.

      I might add that we also have the Vial of L.I.F.E. information in the freezer with notification to the EMTs in case either of us is unconscious upon their arrival.

      All of what we have done has been to make it easier for our children and grandchildren to get on with their lives with the least interruption.  Live must go on!  Live does go on!

      Like 4
    • MXMOM I think if P and I both die together, my sister and his friends can fight amongst themselves over how to handle it. I adore his friends, but don't want to leave them my stuff over my sister/family getting it, and he doesn't know my sister well enough to want to leave her stuff, but I'm not sure how to explain which things are his and which are mine, although most of it is not commingled in my head.

      (We don't have offspring. I'm not sure if that complicates or simplifies things...)

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      • Yes I can
      • yesican2020
      • 2 wk ago
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       Fuzzball Meows MXMOM I've been following this discussion with interest.   My tip is to just make sure your wills make it clear who your executor is in the case of your partner being deceased.  And keep this up to date.   This could mean that yours is your sister and his could be his sister, and their role is to sort of whose property is whose.  

      This is a true story for you to use  MXMOM   My elderly father died seven months after my mother and given his extreme grief and health issues he'd avoided doing anything about finalising her will.  Their wills also hadn't been updated for maybe 30 years, so had their friend as the executor in case of death, instead of one of their now grown up children.   Their friend was also now in his early 80s and suffering from some heart problems.  He would have been able to execute the will if we couldn't, but it was a bit complex and he was also a bit embarassed I think in terms of the grown up children, we needed to make me the executor.  

      This was all sort outable but a bit complicated.  I was incredibly grateful for a probate lawyer who I hired in Perth, as opposed to Melbourne where I live (probate law in Australia is state based).    This was absolutely worth the money which I paid - later to be paid back from the estate - and sped up the process a bit.   

      Firstly, I needed to be appointed executor of my dad's estate, which required signed documentation from the family friend and my brother.  I'm not sure what would have happened here if they'd disagreed, but this would have made it more time consuming.  Fortunately my brother was happy for me to be the executor and we agreed re: the sale of the house and other assets (which of course, isn't always the case). 

      Then there was a bit of fiddling around to get my Mum's estate rolled up into my dad's estate before we could start probate for my Dad's estate. I'm not quite sure how this worked, but it meant we only needed formal signoff by the courts on my Dad's estate, not to do probate for my Mum and then for my dad - delaying the process.   The courts took a month or so for various reasons. 

      And as I was interstate, anything document I needed to sign needed to be sent to me, for me to sign it while being witnessed by a lawyer friend here and then send it back via registered post. 

      Me being executor made the sale of the house and sorting out of bank accounts and some outstanding health insurance much easier, even though some things couldn't be finalised until we had probate.  I also flew back to Perth on two occasions - one when we put the house on the market and the second when the sale was finalised - in part just to save legal documents being sent interstate for witnessing.  

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    • MXMOM I think this is why they have the secondary beneficiary listed, and I think that's important, too, because of course I spend the most amount of time with my BF... so yes, it does need to be set up with two sorts of scenarios depending on what happens.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 2 wk ago
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      farfromtheusual beneficiary is different from executor. The beneficiary get all the "loot" while the executor gets all the work. They could be the same person and often are for spouses.  There are also people who do the executor role for money. They don't need to be a lawyer and you can set up a fee structure in your will.  My stepmother did all her mom's friends estates and got a couple of thousand dollars for each. 

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    • MXMOM Got it!

      Like
  • One thing that seems to be of great concern to YNABers is the ability to be debt-free.  So, in trying to arrange one's finality on this earth, as much as it is possible to do so, become debt-free.  That will certainly make it easier on any survivors.

    Next, when making plans for one's demise, Avoid Probate.  You don't want a judge assigning a stranger to decide who gets what and how much that court-appointed assignee will get paid for services.  That will only contribute an additional burden upon your loved ones.

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      • Yes I can
      • yesican2020
      • 2 wk ago
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      JohnnyDiamond in Australia, I think probate is also the term used for a formal signoff by the court that its okay to distribute the assets as the executor requests.  But totally agree, you want to make it clear so that the executor implements your wishes, not a court. 

      I gather this can also be required if the beneficiaries disagree. 

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    • Yes I can Sorry.  I should have been more specific with my statement.  When I hear "avoid probate," I think  "revokable living trust."  Even if you have very little, a trust is still best.  There have been instances where survivors have spent thousands of dollars on lawyers' fees for a $1000 car or some other sentimental item that they wanted.  Money and sentiMENTAL items may cause some people to go mental.  

      We want our children to "avoid probate," therefore, we have arranged our affairs in a manner so that they will have immediate access to assets, without having those assets frozen while they hire lawyers and wait on the judicial system to oversee the settling of the assets.  Less confusion, less frustration, less worry!

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    • JohnnyDiamond There are a number of ways to "avoid probate" - one really should speak to a lawyer about how to do so in their own jurisdiction(s). The lawyer P and I talked to indicated that since we have very few assets, as long as we have a good will, there shouldn't be a need for probate. On our list to do is to make sure all the financial accounts have beneficiaries, so that they don't have to wait on the probate process to be used (in case I misunderstood or he's wrong). 

      Like 1
  • Things I have learned from the bad experiences of others

    - fair does not mean equal. Just dividing everything equally among beneficiaries may not be the fairest solution,

    - don’t forget about how the taxman will affect your will and plan accordingly. 

    - don’t make tax planning the main priority in your will setup. 

    - after you die, any conflicts between family will intensify. 

    - don’t make people co-executors. It makes the process ore complicated (see fair is not equal above)

    - discuss the will with the beneficiaries before you die. Surprises are never good. 

    - if you are married, make sure your spouse and your parents are clear on what you want and who gets to decide. If you are not married but common-law or engaged, this is even more important.

    - if you have kids, you must have a will. You don’t want the government in charge of your kids lives. 

    - if you have some wealth and have adult children, consider giving them money while you are alive rather than waiting until you die (and if you are in the US make sure you consider gift taxes when doing so). 

    - if you have pets remember that to the law they are considered property and not the valued members of your family that you believe them to be. Make sure you know who will love them as much as you do and put them in your will as the beneficiaries ( farfromtheusual that includes horses). 

    - get life insurance on your kids. For you. Because if they die, I can tell you that you will not want to be in the situation that you have to work. Get at least 1 years income worth of income as the insurance amount. 

    - you are more likely to survive something like cancer than to die from it. So make sure you have critical illness insurance to cover your income. Life insurance is only paid when you die. What if you are permanently injured or have an illness that keeps you from working? 

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    • MXMOM Fantastic.  All good points to consider and get into alignment with one's wishes.  For item #4, here is my thought:  Money and sentiMENTAL items may cause some people to go mental.  

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    • MXMOM Thank you for this list! That's helpful things to note! And yes, the horse will have his own trust fund, I need to speak with my BF's cousin (and also check with my accountant to see what she has to say about it) to see if she can set it up for me.

      So many things to look at!

      Like
  • Just came across this.  Jesse chats with Chanel Reynolds, author of What Matters Most and founder of the Get Your Shit Together website, dedicated to helping people navigate the confusing, difficult, and emotional aspects of end-of-life planning.

    https://open.spotify.com/episode/7x2jW0V83JnlwKUbsutFvo?si=e3hEuQmLQ0OJWbmJwjU5bQ&dl_branch=1

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  • Just jumping in to say that the laws and procedures vary across different countries so any specific advice should acknowledge where you live.,

    I would like to avoid any further discussion on the “why” of getting your affairs in order as each persons motivation will differ - save taxes, avoid probate, avoid confusion, etc.

    For purposes of this challenge we can agree it’s the adult thing to do. 

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  • farfromtheusual said:
    the horse will have his own trust fund

     a trust fund baby!!! LOL

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    • MXMOM 🤣 Yeah, kinda.... Although he's 19 now, so his life is already on the shorter side at this point. And the 2 people who are to make decisions regarding his well being have been told repeatedly by me what the instructions are, so they at least know that even if it isn't written down yet.

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  • MXMOM said:
    you are more likely to survive something like cancer than to die from it.

    Or to have to deal with it as a chronic illness for many years.

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  • sooo curious question because I'm still working on wrapping my head around all of this....

    If the beneficiaries get life insurance policies and such things like that, where does the money to cover any debt come from? Cash that would have been in the accounts at the time?

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    • farfromtheusual Yes. If there isn't enough cash to settle debts, the debtors can claim any money from sale of assets.

      I've no idea what happens if there isn't enough anywhere in the estate to pay it off - that *really* needs a lawyer.  (I think trust money is not part of the estate. I find that very confusing.)

      I think P's brother mentioned covering a lot of the costs out of his own money then being refunded by the estate. But I don't know if that was because it was easier or because he had to. 

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    • Fuzzball Meows thanks.... it's all so messy!!!

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  • So glad to see this challenge getting people going on these things. It struck me that it shows how hard this stuff is. If I can’t even decide what I want, how would someone else be able to do it. Obviously a detached party wouldn’t have all the personal connections to consider. This shows even more why this is so important. Imagine your loved one having to deal with these questions without any direction? Very unfair to them. 

    The most important takeaway for me so far has been that something is better than nothing. So perfection is not the goal. I recall speaking with my friend about this. She has a fairly complex family situation (remarriages, kids, etc.) and she got caught up in trying to figure out every possible scenario. She went too deep. You can’t predict everything but don’t worry about the least likely cases. For example, what is the likelihood that your ENTIRE extended family will be in a catastrophic accident together? We don’t own a private family jet so in our case, very unlikely. But my husband and I commute together every day (or at least we did pre-Covid) so there is a high possibility that we could be in a car accident together where we either both die, both have critical injuries, or some combination of both. So in that case, having a plan for that is important. 

    As for what to leave to whom - my mom has lots of jewellery and asked me what I would like when she dies. She has one ring that I really like - its unique and I was on the trip when it was purchased for her. So special to me. I told her that is the only thing I want. Well she gave it me me for my 50th birthday. It was just sitting in a box so she decided I should enjoy it now. I wear it everyday. So if you can, give people stuff now. Including money. I read a book years ago called Die Broke about passing on any inheritance while you are alive rather than wait until you die. Of course there are complications with that as well but it is an interesting concept. 

    Like 1
    • MXMOM 

      "Perfect is the enemy of good," or something like that. More important than leaving specific instructions, I think, is telling people what you value. While they probably won't do things the way you would have, "it's important that my kids have a college fund" or "I want to die comfortably," or "I'd rather fight to live no matter what" are things people can use to make decisions. 

      Like 2
    • MXMOM My grandparents had a similar philosophy - they sold their house when they were still very active and moved into a retirement community in an apartment, then a smaller apartment, then a first floor apartment, then my grandfather needed assisted care, and then my grandmother eventually needed assisted care, too. They chose to enjoy their life and not leave anyone any debt or headaches. No one got anything else, but we certainly had total peace of mind.

      And yes, Fuzzball Meows we usually say that perfection is the enemy of progress!

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  • Ok, still wrapping my head around some things....

    so if I have credit card debt, then it's going to come out of whatever cash I have, or cash from the sale of anything I own (not much at the moment...).

    If I want to create a trust fund for my animals, can I have that set up to come out of a life insurance policy or something? Cause at the moment I have so little cash it won't do anyone any good (and the credit card debt will eat up anything that is there, and they may even come after the beneficiaries, who knows)

    Like
  • farfromtheusual said:
    If I want to create a trust fund for my animals, can I have that set up to come out of a life insurance policy or something?
    I think so. I believe you would need to set up a trust (no idea how to do that. You need to do more research on that). Then make the trust the beneficiary.
    However, another option may be something we have in Canada for people that have disabled children. In short, to access health benefits for free (dental wheelchairs etc. not basic doctor visit etc.) a person cannot have a pile of money. But if you are the parent of a disabled child, you want to leave a pile of money to cover their care. So there is something called a Henson trust. Essentially, you leave the money to someone (for example - me) and then we have a separate agreement (the Henson trust agreement) that stipulates that I am only to use that money for the care of the child. But there is nothing preventing me from doing otherwise. So you have to really trust the person. Usually the person is a sibling because they will likely survive.
    So, you could probably get an insurance policy and have a person you will be leaving the ownership of the horse be a beneficiary. When you die, they get ownership of the horse (which goes through your estate) and they get the insurance payout which they have agreed to use to pay for the horse expenses.
    Note - all of the above info is gleaned from the interweb and anecdotal information. I am not (nor do I want to be) a lawyer or any other estate planning professional.
    Like 1
    • MXMOM Thanks for the info! I'll have to dive further into this.

      Like
  • OK, tomorrow is our self proclaimed checkpoint deadline.  So get your list together.  Remember, progress not perfection. You do not have to actually do any of the things on your list by tomorrow. Just get the list done. 

    Like 1
    • MXMOM So I haven't done anything yet, though we sort of have a list of accounts on index cards that we started a while back.... Life has been, well, life and other things have gotten in the way. Still want to keep working on it though!

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 7 days ago
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      farfromtheusual progress not perfection but I am going to kick your behind a bit. Just grab a piece of paper, your phone, whatever and write down the top 5 things you need to get done. 

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  • MXMOM said:
    here is the first task.
    Get a notebook and make a list of everything you need to do. And when you are done the list, go through it again and add what you missed.  Don’t feel you need to make plans to do these things or set deadlines yet.  Just get a list on paper so its out of your head.  I recommend using a notebook rather than electronic method because we are going to make this into the project workbook.  
    Check in date with next steps is October 13.

     Here is my list. It’s actually 2 lists in 1. Top down are lists I need to make for reference. The bottom is going from the bottom up and it’s the actual tasks I need to do. They are “big” chunks right now that I will break down as I do them.
    The hardest one is “pull the plug” which is having the conversations with hubby (and kids) about what we each actually want/don’t want. No one wants to talk. Obviously the hubby conversation should happen soon. He’s so freaked out about this stuff.  

    work information list is actually already done. My work has a document you can print out and it has all the numbers to call - insurance, benefits, EAP, etc. Plus a place to put my managers name and contact info. I have that in the “legacy” file which I moved to the first spot in the filing cabinet. 
    There are Really not a lot of things on my list. Oops just added list of bank accounts. That will probably be combined with passwords to a certain degree but I need to make a list with account numbers. 
     

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      • PhysicsGal
      • Nerdy female homo sapien
      • physicsgal
      • 7 days ago
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      MXMOM I'm curious what you are doing for the "prescriptions" category?  Ie, should I do something about my prescriptions that I haven't thought of yet?

      I got my list ready.  I already bought some software from Nolo so I can set up my legal documents, so my next step is to actually use the software and start getting those legal documents ready one step at a time.  I'm hoping to get started on that this weekend. 

      Thanks for sharing your list, there are some good ideas on there.  I'm going to pick up that book from the library on my way home from work today.

      Thanks for inspiring me to actually finally deal with reality!

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 7 days ago
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      PhysicsGal prescriptions is to put together a list of my prescriptions (I use one pharmacy so I am sure can get them to do a printout). In case of an accident. They always ask what prescriptions you take and I take my fair share. Especially one that is an immune suppressant. And for hubby I just found out he’s on a blood thinner. That one is always important too. 

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 6 days ago
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      for Step 2 I am going with the prescription list. Calling the pharmacy now. 

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 2 days ago
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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 4 hrs ago
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      - Info about James item

      I have entrusted son #2 with the information about what to do in the event something happens to me and they have to get in touch with the Lions Foundation about James. Although he is not the best "remember-er" I was so expressive and dramatic when discussing as well as actually showing him where the information is, that I don't think he will forget.

      I also asked him if he knows anyone who died. He said he has some friends who had a sibling die and there was a grade 11 student in his school that died on vacation which allowed me to confirm that people don't die in some "oldest first" order.  Next I will be having "end of life wishes" conversations with him. I have already done that with son#1.  I was concerned that when the kids turned 18 I wouldn't be allowed to make medical decisions for them without a medical POA. Turns out that in Ontario Canada we have automatic Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) so that is good to know.  Where it gets iffy is the "spouse or partner".  At least in the case of son #1. He and his girlfriend have been living together for over a year.  Hmmm, more fun conversations to have. 

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