Not to be morbid, but here is your reminder: You are going to die. Some of us sooner than later; some quickly; some young and some old. But it is going to happen, guaranteed.
Have you and your loved ones truly got everything in order? Well, let’s hope you are not part of the 49 percent of people who don’t have a current (or any) will and don’t have advance directives in writing.
If you love your family, give them the best gift of all – an organized plan that they are privy to if something happens to you.
Regardless of marital status, net worth, age, gender, city or country, we make decisions daily to protect ourselves, our partner, our children. We decide on the best grocery choices, home needs, work issues, vehicle needs, recreational plans. But what if you’re suddenly not here? Beyond the grieving, do your loved ones know your wishes about how to go forward and where the documents explaining your choices are? Not to be morbid, but death is part of life for each of us.
I was recently chatting with a small group of people: a young woman who had just finished college, a middle-aged family man and a grandparent. Their responses were similar in that they were part of the 49 percent of the population who didn’t seem to realize it isn’t just about whether or not you have assets.
“I have no assets,” “I don’t own a home” or “My kids are gone” were among the responses they gave about why they didn’t have a will.
Statements like those are all too common. Anyone who has dealt with the death of a loved one knows the frustrations of trying to find important documents detailing what kind of hospital care you want or who will speak for you.
What do you want to happen to that asset we each have: our body and its well-being? What about the care of your children? Is there a step-family in the picture now? If you were to experience unexpected surgery or a coma, who will the hospital recognize to look out for your medical interests legally? More importantly, who is to legally look out for what you want? The doctor or nursing staff don’t know your medical issues, your wishes or who should be contacted or when.
And in a worst-case scenario, in the event of your death, what about those documents discussing any preferences you might not have discussed with those close to you.
Those documents should include an updated list of beneficiaries for all your checking, retirement, stock and insurance accounts.
Any will you have should have been updated within at least the last five years or since you moved from another state.
And do you have at least the minimal advance directive documents ready?
Getting and understanding what resources are available to help you prepare this information is an essential place to start.
For local residents, the Pine River Library in Bayfield will be offering help for local people interested in making sure their documents are up to date.
The library will host an estate planning series that is sponsored by the Colorado State University Extension on March 9, 16 and 23. The sessions begin at 6 p.m. Reservations are required by calling 884-2222, ext. 510.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6461. Wendy Rice is the family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.