Thursday, August 16, 2007

Help Me Rest In Peace

I promise I won't get in the habit of lecturing but this one's close to my heart.

It’s really important to get your affairs in order while you’re alive and kicking, sane and sanguine. My father was so drowsy and disorientated in the later stages of his cancer that he could barely stay awake and my close friend Pauly who’s brain tumour turned off all powers of communication could not be understood. Now another friend, who’s partner has passed whilst on holiday in South America, is trying to get his affairs in order. This is often made impossible by lack of communication or organisation. These three events have left a legacy comprising a mish mash of papers, total confusion, hurried bank withdrawals, surprise discoveries of companies and assets. It’s a heartbreaking shamozzle blundering through and trying to sort their affairs all whilst in a state of heightened emotion and stress.

After three family deaths and as the Executor of 2 wills, I now know what I’m doing . . . I don’t want my family to go through this. So, I have my affairs in order and feel comfort in the fact that should I be hit by a bus crossing that bloody zebra crossing outside work (for that is surely the way I will go, splattered all over some four wheel drive windscreen and decorating their bull bar with my innards), I want to know that my beneficiaries, don’t have to go to such extraordinary, upsetting lengths to settle my affairs.

Get a Will . . I am surrounded by clients who think they’re not ‘worth’ anything. Then you ask if they own their own home and what assets they might have . . .they’re worth about $800,000! Now that’s why you need to make a will. Otherwise most will go in tax and it’s upto the public trustee as to how much goes to your beneficiaries. Plus it’s out of contention for months while probate goes through. Even if you’re a youngling with a bit in the bank GET A WILL (now confess . . .who doesn’t have one!)

Add a Power of Enduring Guardianship/Power of Attorney – this enables your nominee to act in your place if you are incapacitated or to make decisions about your medical care. Rules are different in different states and countries so you need a solicitor to do this. You want someone you trust to turn off your life support, not some doctor who needs the bed for another patient.

Note down all your assets and liabilities including location of statements, share transfers, holdings, bank accounts, pin numbers . . . when you die, your assets are generally frozen. You can only access funds to pay for funerals/wakes. Obviously keep this in a very private place, telling only someone you trust with your life.

Centrally file all your necessary papers and let someone you trust know where they are - These might include:
  • Bank Statements
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Loan documents
  • Insurance Policies
  • Mortgage
  • Title Deeds/Birth Certificates/Citizenship Papers/Passports
  • Wills/POA/Testamentary Trust docs
  • Car Registration, Cheque books and tax return statements

Allocate any special treasures. My Grandmother had a darling bracelet that all the girls in the family wore as a wedding bracelet. It’s now in the possession of HippyBro who is childless and already married . . . what the? My mother’s gold charm bracelet which also had a few charms I’d bought on my travels was given to my sister in law! For fucks sake I bet she doesn’t even know where it is. My mother in a moment of madness or without consulting anyone, divvied up said possessions. I scored two wedding rings and her engagement ring which didn’t have any sentimental value to me . . .and buckleys of fitting my rather square Celtic mitts. if only she’d asked, I would have loved the “Love Knot” bracelet and the Swiss Chalet charm. Similary, I have made it clear to my mother-in-law that I do not want the chiming clock promised to my first born!

Make your wishes clear. Talk about cremation, burial, being scattered or plonked in a plot. Leave a list of people you would like to be notified of your departure. Although bad news travels fast, they’ll know soon enough. Me, I’m for the oven and recycling on the rose bed!

Now I’m serious folks. . . I see it ALL the time. Get your affairs in order and make life easy for those you leave behind . . . you’ll be feeling no pain but they’ll be shovelling shit from here to eternity!

And after I'm scattered, you can use it as a cookie jar . . .


Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

hmm, yes, of course you don't work in financial services do you...? I did too... and boy, do I know the importance of this stuff.
Baino's right folks... get it done!

Baino said...

Yeh I do work in financial services but having been through it quite a bit with family as well as clients it's really hit home. Recent news has made me post it. Sad but true.

Grannymar said...

Excellent post!

Remember to review your Will every ten years as circumstances can change.

I will link to this today Baino.

Nancy said...

Hello Baino,

Although we don't have a lot of money,we do have a couple of things like our house and some bonds that has gone up in value.

Our lawyer suggested a revokable trust and that is what we did.

One thing I would like to mention is this. Try to select an attorney much younger than yourself to draw up your will or trust, because your want your lawyer to still be living when you die and your kids need him/her to sort it all out for them.

Good topic, Baino

K8 the Gr8 said...

Here's why I really don't want to do this stuff:

Me and TAT aren't married yet. When we named our kids, we turned TAT's surname into an Irish version of itself. This is complicated, as there are different spellings for girls and boys. (Her='Ni', Him='O')
This means that everyone in our family has different surnames, but they all sound VERY similar. (We as a family like to complicate things wherever possible!)

So, organising this stuff is really tough until we actually DO marry. Risky, I know, but hey.

Also... so morbid! (I'm very very immature for my age. I'm still floating along on the breeze...)

wordnerd said...

This is really good advice! I am always hearing horror stories about families dealing with the death of a loved one and running into so many problems with the estate. Good idea!

Daz said...

Did I not tell you I'd be immortal by freezing myself??

Thus this doesn't apply to me in any way.

Baino said...

Wow this one hit a nerve eh! I rarely post serious stuff. Thanks Grannymar. Welcome Nancy,sounds like you're sorted.

K8 you of all people should. Wills are for singles! You can nominate Wouldye as your beneficiary if you want. (I think its just a 'ploy' to get TAT to pop the question!)

Wordnerd - absolutely - you need to have someone to leave all those royalties to!

Daz: I know you're up for Cryonics but you don't want someone to turn off the freezer while you're on ice do you? Surely you want to leave your XBox to me . . .it'll be obsolete b the time you thaw!

ClareBear said...

Mum, I want your bed when you're gone. Thanks

Baino said...

Aww ClareBear . . .is that all? Of course but you'll have to kick the dog off it first.

You don't want my $500 surround sound entertainment unit? My dying Dell? My Sun and Moon earrings? My 14 year old Honda? My broken Bamix? My dressage saddle? My comfie hoodie?