Death and Being Organized

Michael Lodge –

Today I have been working on wills and probate.  Specifically my mothers.  And as I was working I found out that death is hard work.  You deal with the emotions part of it and then you have to deal with the estate or business part of it.  If you are prepared for death it makes it easier.  If you have everything ready for the time you die the family doesn’t have to work that hard.  So today I want to talk about wills, healthcare issues and the dignity of death through a declaration of a desire for a natural death.

I know that a lot of you are probably thinking that right now is not a good time to be thinking about death.  Especially during tax time – you know the death and taxes issue.  But I want to encourage all of you to really thing about it.  In my next podcast we will talk about the tax part of it, but right now we are going to focus on planning for death.

My mom passed away on January 1, 2017.  She born in December of 1928.

Now a lot of things were happening in 1928.  American aviator Amelia Earhart became the first women to fly across the Atlantic Ocean landing at Burry Port, Wales.  Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Flemming discovers penicillin while studying influenza.  1st US air-conditioned office building opens in San Antonio Texas.  And the President of the United States was Calvin Coolidge.

The number 1 song being played was by Jimmy Rodgers call “T for Texas”.  And the number 2 song was by Louie Armstrong called “West End Blues”.  Other hits playing were by Al Jolson – Sunny Boy and “My Mammy”.

Top selling car was the Ford Model A

1928 was a long time ago.  But throughout the years my mom planned and saved.  She made sure we were taken care of on a daily basis.  And when she knew she was getting to that age where it was close to death she sat down with me and we put her final will together the way she wanted it done.  She wanted to die with dignity so we went through that thought process also.

Preparing for death makes the work of death less.  If you have not planned and prepared, have all the documents ready to go it saves a lot of problems with various family members, everyone knows what to expect.  A family that plans together – stays together.

The will is a very vital document in planning for death.

You get to choose who will be the administrator of your will, with and through a power of attorney.  This person is responsible for making the decisions when your alive if incapacitated and after death.  The administrator is responsible for the payment of your debts and expenses, Payment of any death taxes, distribution of gifts of tangible personal property – or the division of monies, properties and assets, and special bequests to people you want to get something.  If you have any property that you want to leave people you provide a gift of residuary estate.  You also state who your personal representative is and any successor in case the first administrator can’t do the job.

So, this document known as the last will and testament, along with a power of attorney is vital so that when you pass away there is someone to take care of all of the issues of the estate and it stops probate issues and the state doesn’t get involved that greatly.

It also helps in the event you can’t manage your finances or care while you are still alive.  Someone will take care of your personal financial and healthcare affairs for you.

Besides having a will, it is vital to have a “Healthcare Power of Attorney” to appoint someone to take care of your healthcare issues.  Your grant your agent or administrator to follow how you want to be taken care of – you set your agents / administrator powers on what to do.  We call this your healthcare directive and you get to choose several different aspects.  Examples would be:

To Grant of Discretion to your agent, you tell him you do not want your life to be prolonged or life-sustaining treatments

You get to decide by issuing a directive on withholding or withdrawing treatment and at what state of health you are at what you want done.

You get to choose a maximum treatment plan, to have your life prolonged to the greatest extent possible.

If you are at a point you can’t feed yourself anymore you can make the decision on tube feeding, and there are a lot of options to choose from depending on your health state.

You should also have a declaration of a desire for a natural death where you give instructions on what you wishes are regarding artificial nutrition and hydration in your care.

As you can tell, there is a lot to think about in death.  But the better you plan for it the better.  And as a tax guy it makes it also better for us in going through your financial issues, tax returns and accounting for everything that takes place at the end.

I hope that you understand the importance of planning for death.  Not just the spiritual planning, but also the financial and healthcare planning.  If you have not thought about this I think it is time that you do.  Over the course of 2016 we had about 5 of our clients die, and it is hard to see your client one year and gone the next.  Many of these deaths they did not plan, no one knew what to do, and not only did the family suffer from the loss but they also suffered by not knowing where the loved one stood in taking care of the family when there was death.

Plan for everything. 

In my next podcast / blog we will talk about the death and taxes part.  We will go over the tax issues of death.  Everyone needs to understand this part of life.