Monday, September 16, 2013

Death Week The 7th Anniversary

This is the seventh anniversary of something I call DEATH WEEK. 
Several people had been nudging me to deal with issues like setting up a Will, making preparations for final arrangements and other issues like life insurance for some time.
So I decided I would set aside a week, yes a whole week , make all of the necessary appointments with lawyers, Hospice, funeral homes, National Cremation Society etc. to see how a Will and a living Will should be set up, how life insurance and annuities my work and what my final arrangement options were.
My situation was and is pretty simple, one daughter, wife, home, some cars, a boat some investments and a kind unique problem with a large parrot that will, without a doubt, outlive me and that nobody in my family wants.
I had been tempted to do the Will on line to save a few bucks, but the experiences of some friends and the passing of my father a few years back lead me to see the value of a good Will. So I decided  use a local Wills and Estate Attorney for the Will and the Living Will just to make sure everything was set up according to Florida law.
As you might imagine all of this was a bit depressing as I was setting up about a half dozen meetings. A few of my friends got wind of my project and thus DEATH WEEK was coined.
Once all the meetings and appointments were set up I would be less than honest if I said I wasn't a bit concerned by the thought of whole effort.
DEATH WEEK arrived and I began the week meeting with a really great attorney who took the time to explain to me the real serious details of  both a Will and a Living Will. He took a lot of information, asked a lot of questions, especially about the bird, and said he would have me a draft in about a week.
It is amazing what you can do with a Will. He also wanted to go over all of the life insurance, accidental death insurance, long term care insurance, annuities and investments,  beneficiaries and make sure everything lined up with what I wanted to happen in the will.
Next up was a exceptional visit to Hospice where they carefully explained their services and gave me some valuable information that ultimately lead me to acquire a long term care insurance policy to protect me and my family.
By now it was Wednesday. I spent Wednesday night in a bar alone having a few drinks and confronting my mortality.
The final meeting was with the National Cremation Society. After a couple of conversations with my daughter, we agreed that cremation made sense for our family. What I really dreaded the most, turned out to be one of the more emotionally rewarding moments in my life as I made all of the decisions regarding my final arrangements with a caring and knowledgeable representative of the National Cremation Society. Including a scattering of my ashes at sea, which had been a long term desire. I wrote one very reasonable check and all of those issues are resolved a paid for forever.
What's the point of this Post?
The average cost of funeral in 2013 was $8,500 and a cremation was $3,500 according to e-funeral. In the emotional moment of the loss of a loved one, those costs can and often do spiral out of control.
Long term care can literally bankrupt an estate, and just letting your estate go into probate can be a big problem. Check with an attorney.
If you don't make arrangements for your long term care, the distribution of your estate, and make sure your beneficiaries are correct, someone else will ultimately make all those decisions for you.
Interestingly, I thought this would be a onetime deal, but it turns out that in the last seven years due to life changes the Will and Living Will have been updated 3 times to reflect new needs.
If you haven't thought through what happens at the end, you should. Some attention now can save your loved ones an enormous amount of stress and a large amount of money.
The bird? After putting up with me for however many years it ends up being, she will spend her final days in one of the local botanical gardens making new friends.
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