Most of us have heard the old adage; “the two certainties in life are death and taxes“. As a result of this statement, National Healthcare Decisions Day comes every year on April 16th, the day after taxes. The goal is to attempt to bring these two matters together.
Jane Markley tells her clients; “Most of us dutifully complete our taxes every year. So why not also make time to review your end of life plans and advance directives as well?” Truth be told, completing your plans for death requires much less time and effort than completing your taxes. Furthermore, completing your death matters only needs to be done once, whereas taxes must be completed each and every year.
It’s NEVER Too Soon
For those of you who haven’t had “the end of life conversation”, and/or documented your healthcare wishes and other final plans and preferences, please remember this all-important statement: It’s only too soon…until it is too late.”
When it comes to death and taxes, it is very easy to find reasons to procrastinate and postpone these matters. However, please let us help you preplan and “give the gift of love” to your family and friends.
Don’t wait for the crisis. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t leave your loves ones in a difficult situation. Don’t wait until it’s to late to learn how to prepay funeral expenses. Let us help you make this difficult situation a little easier. Let us help you have “the conversation” now, plan and prepare in advance today!
Your First Step is EASY
A great way to start is to click here and access our free Family Record Guide. You won’t regret it, your loved ones will thank you, and you will leave a legacy of love!
I know what you are thinking. “Why would anyone participate in something like this? I like to enjoy my dinner and this doesn’t sound like fun.” Talking about death over dinner might not be the usual way you get people over to your house for a meal, but it couldn’t be more crucial.
Too many people are dying in a way they wouldn’t choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain. Having “the conversation” about end of life care wishes with family, friends, and even total strangers is an important step you can take to ensure that those wishes are understood and respected.
Death Cafes and Dinner Parties
These types of activities, also known as Tea Parties, Death Cafes, etc., have taken off worldwide. And why is that? It is because they work. They allow people to discuss death and related issues and be open to a variety of opinions and issues in a non-judgmental and safe environment. A colleague of mine, Laurel Lewis, has been hosting these dinner parties for several years with growing interest and attendance such that there is usually a waiting list. You can learn more about her and what she does at http://laurelllewis.com.
You can also see a sample of one of her dinners on You Tube at http://youtu.be/N2SOlsDTXK8 (Deepak Chopra @ a death and dying dinner party!). This dinner is rare as it includes a well known physician but that is certainly not necessary.
The Death Cafe which started in Europe is now in the States and lets you know what is happening so check it out at http://www.deathcafe.com . Another site provides a tutorial on how to set up such a get together. You can check it out here at http://www.deathoverdinner.org. An alternative approach used by Paula Schneider of Nevada is to host “Open Forums on End of Life Issues.” Whatever terms you need to use to get people there, listening, and engaging is what is important.
Why Not Take the First Step?
These dinners and teas are meant specifically for any person who is going to die. Does that describe you? So, you need not wait till Thanksgiving this year to have the conversation with family and friends. You can start now either hosting your own party or getting on line and seeing what meeting is in your area that you can attend to have the experience.
Yes, as I always remind you, it is time to have ‘the conversation’ because you never know when the crisis will occur. Your discussions will help you feel more comfortable about documenting your wishes allowing you to give ‘the gift’ to your friends and loved ones. Unless you are certain of your immortality, now is the time to get started!
The sad truth is that the financial planning industry largely overlooks the fact that creating an End of Life Plan needs to be a part of a sound comprehensive financial plan. To prove my point, as a Financial Advisor for nearly 25 years, I have never been trained or educated on how to help my clients prepare their end of life plans and preferences. Furthermore, I have also never been trained or educated on how to help my clients deal with the funeral planning process after a loved one has passed.
See For Yourself Why This Makes Sense:
The Missing Piece of the Financial Planning Puzzle
The reality is that a client should logically turn to their Financial Advisor for anything that has to do with not only their money, but also the best interests of their family. This involves a detailed review and analysis of things like insurance, investments, estate planning details (How to Choose a Last Will or Living Trust), minimizing or eliminating taxes, college planning, mortgages, and so on.
The key point here is that as Financial Advisors, arguably the most important role we play is helping protect families against unexpected events that can cause major financial or emotional challenges…and possibly irreparable damages or losses.
Most Financial Advisors typically protect their clients by implementing traditional financial products and strategies such as life insurance or creating a Last Will or Living Trust with Estate Attorneys. They also recommend and promote important insurance policies which are designed to protect against specific losses, such as disability insurance, long-term care insurance, annuities, car and home insurance, and many other options. These recommendations can vary, since of course, each family’s situation is usually unique and different.
To be honest, I considered myself to be extremely well-versed in how to protect my clients, as well as my own family, against unexpected events. However, everything changed on Thanksgiving Day of 2008 when I lost a close loved one and had to go through this experience personally.
Very Few Families Know “What to Do Next”
Losing a close loved one is, by far, one the most difficult experiences anyone can face in their lifetime. I remember feeling so disappointed as we went through this experience…thinking that since I was a Financial Advisor, I should know better. However, the enormity of the situation really hit me when I realized that I was never trained or educated on how to plan and prepare my clients for this particular situation. I am almost ashamed to admit, I was totally unprepared.
I can remember looking at my family, and without saying a single word, you could tell we were are searching for the same answers to “what happens next”? Sadly, these are the questions that most families are forced to deal with every day when they lose a loved one, such as:
1. What do we do now?
2. Who can we turn to for credible help and advice?
3. How do we get started?
What Could I Have Done Differently?
As I look back, I remember how comforting and gratifying it was to see our family come together and accomplish so many things in such a short period of time. At the same time, I also remember feeling frustrated because we lacked the knowledge on how to deal with many of these challenges, and we also had not idea where to turn to for the help and answers we needed.
After experiencing all of the emotional ups and downs, the funeral planning challenges, planning all of the memorial service details, and even working out things like; how to write a funeral eulogy, choosing funeral flowers versus donations, and choosing among the many cremation urns, I can honestly tell you that planning a funeral is overwhelming.
May I Offer Some Valuable Advice?
So after all of this, here is what I think so many people need to hear. Consider these facts:
1. There is nothing more difficult than the loss of a loved one
2. Planning a funeral and memorial service is an overwhelming process
3. The large majority of families are uneducated on the many details involved in this process
4. Very few families are left with any end of life plans – telling them “what to do next”
The truth is it really doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, we are talking about death and dying. No, it is not fun, and not something we like to even think about. However, the harsh reality is that some daywe will all die. So when you break it down to these simple facts, you are left with two choices:
1. Do nothing – and let your family add insult to injury 2. Plan in advance – and minimize or eliminate some of the burden you will leave behind
What is the Key Message Here?
Again, I fully understand that nobody likes to talk about death, dying, or end of life planning. However, we have to face and accept the fact that not are we going to die some day, but it could happen much sooner than anyone ever expected.
So my sincere hope is that I can encourage anyone who is reading this…every son, daughter, spouse, grandchild, or loved one…to have this discussion with your family. And since nobody knows what the future might bring, have this talk sooner versus later.
There is no such thing as preparing your End of Life Plan too soon. On the contrary, the worst thing you can do is take the attitude of “I don’t need to do this now, that won’t happen to me, or, I can do this later“. As the old adage goes;
“By Failing to Plan…You are Planning to Fail.”
You Can’t Go Wrong:
By creating an end of life plan in advance, here are a few of the meaningful benefits you will experience from this selfless act of love:
1. Peace of mind – You will sleep better at night knowing that you have completed this all-important plan, and that your family and loved ones will be forever grateful. This is the true definition of a win-win situation.
2. You control how you will be remembered – Knowing this will be a time of great loss for your loved ones, you will be remembered for showing how much you cared by sacrificing the time to do something very special, and easing the burden when it is needed the most.
After going through something like this helps you realize that every day is truly a gift. I guess that is exactly why they call it “the present“. So please, take advantage of “the present” you are given today and build a plan that allows your loved ones to celebrate your life, and focus on how grateful they are today…and will be after you are gone…for all of the great memories they were able to share with you.
Get Started Today – Your First Easy Step:
I would like to personally congratulate you, in advance, for taking the first step towards creating a smart End of Life plan for you, your family, and all of your loved ones!
The first step to getting started is clicking on this link below to access our:
Organizing a deceased parents’ house or put it up for sale is not an easy task because, as you struggle through the various stages of grief, you are filled with reminders of their life. Going through a home is like walking through a photo album. Each room and item has the potential of holding a precious memory. Some people tend to be more pack-rats while others had lived with their home being more spartan. Some people are very generous with those that they allowed in their living space while others tend to be on the paranoid side. When you are going through the house there might be a few extra places you might check to see if there are any hidden memorabilia or heirlooms.
The filing cabinet: Some people are super organized. If your family members were organized type of people, check the filing cabinet first. People have told us they have a red file in the front of the cabinet that is labeled “Love Drawer” or “Family Record Guide” on it. Inside is a list of where all the important papers are to be found, where hidden treasures in the house are stashed away and a copy of their will. Simply pull the file and follow the instructions they have left. The filing cabinets are almost always the last place people may search, as they seem overwhelming. I’ve also heard people say they didn’t check the file cabinets because they felt since the person was deceased, what was in there “didn’t matter anymore.”
Bathroom/Kitchen Sinks: Check under the kitchen/bathroom sinks. Sometimes there is an extra ledge up underneath there were people can hide valuables like important papers or jewelry. It wouldn’t do to sell the house with the family jewels still located inside!
Closets: Check all the bags in the closets no matter how big or small. People like to hide things in plain view and sometimes items such as gold, jewelry, stocks, etc. can be hidden in the closet.
Money Belts: Check to see if any of the belts in the closet are money belts. You might find some extra cash you would have otherwise sent to goodwill with the belts. In addition, check the pockets of suit coats, and inside all women’s purses. Look in the sock drawer for money rolled up in socks, or stuffed between underwear. I know someone that found a thousand dollars cash in a sock drawer.
Freezer: Before you throw out frozen food wrapped in tinfoil, make sure you unwrap it and verify that it is food. People have been known to wrap up stacks of cash and place them in the freezer. The same is true for cereal boxes. Plastic toys may not be the only surprise in a box of cereal!
Cans: Check to make sure the shaving cream can and other items of that type don’t have screened-off bottoms. These could be little safes that match common household products to deter theft. What you think is shaving cream could really be filled with an heirloom item.
Books: Ditto for books. Expensive looking books in reality could be little boxes that hide valuables. Before you pack up boxes of old books, magazines and newspapers, shake out all the pages. Money and stock certificates have been known to drift to the floor when this is done!
Backyard: If you are sorting items from a very private family it might be worth your time to rent a metal detector and do a once — over in the backyard. Some families still believe the coffee can out back is the best place to keep investments safe.
Mattress: Don’t overlook the obvious — what is under the mattress, or the bed.
Knowing your parents and the type of people they were will help determine what they may have done to keep family treasures safe. Never assume anything, especially if your loved ones were suffering from a memory loss in their final stages of life. Remember to smile and think of it as a treasure hunt instead of a burden. You never know what you will find!