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EOL Planning/Wills

 
master gardener
Posts: 1876
Location: Upstate NY, Zone 5, 43 inch Avg. Rainfall
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Good Morning Permies,

Something that is talked about at hushed tables with worried faces is end of life planning. What is going to happen to your assets? Who is going to take care of your wishes? Do you have people in your family that you wish certain things to go to, or perhaps not to go to?

I didn't appreciate the work that goes into planning until my fiancé got into administering trusts as a lawyer and there are some things to get taken care of now that might help people in the future.

Do you have insurance or any other plans that allow you to name a beneficiary? Have you named a beneficiary? This is an INCREDIBLY important step to take and sometimes it goes undone. Sometimes the person you want to be beneficiary has changed but have you made the change? By doing this step, it streamlines where assets are going and avoids the court system (probate) all together.

Have you drawn up a will? A living will? A proxy?

A lot of this can be done individually but if there are nuances to your case I would definitely recommend meeting with a professional to make sure your wishes are met.

I am 'only' thirty, but I have made sure that at least my beneficiaries are updated at this time. As my assets accumulate (as we all hope) and build I will make the moves to get a basic will drafted up.

Anybody have any tips/tricks they have encountered? Have you administered an estate before?
 
Timothy Norton
master gardener
Posts: 1876
Location: Upstate NY, Zone 5, 43 inch Avg. Rainfall
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I should note that I have willingly been named executor of a future estate and have been given the run down of the person's wishes as well as paid them to how the estate is written to be administered. It is all very new to me but in my mind an important thing to have done. A person can't take with them all that they have accumulated when the time comes but we can respect what they want to happen with it after that time.
 
steward
Posts: 5612
Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland. Nearly 70 inches rain a year
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It's funny that despite knowing we will all follow the same route, so many people (myself included) haven't yet made a will. It's like thinking about it makes it more likely!
It's even more important for me In Scotland, since the law here determines what happens to intestate property, even between spouses.
 
steward
Posts: 6156
Location: southern Illinois, USA
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This is especially important for those with a homestead as well as relatives who disapprove of this lifestyle.  


To add to this, I am amazed at the number of people who do not have a will because they are very uncomfortable with the concept of death.
 
Posts: 8512
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial, clay/loam with few rocks 50" yearly rain
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We're hoping the information we have is correct and a handwritten/handsigned will is good.
We've quit claimed each of our sons a parcel of 'excess' land this past year and plan to add the oldest to our home deed...so hopefully things will go smooth when we're both gone.
Working on some lists of 'stuff' but that's really up to them what gets kept and what is thrown out.

Having been my mother's guardian and caretaker for ten years before her death I did her accounting and managed her affairs but still had her long time lawyer as executor even though I sorted and divied up her and dad's things for my siblings...he gave me free reign.

We have not made burial plans but that is likely cremation.

Glad you started this thread Timothy...it's got me thinking!


 
John F Dean
steward
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Location: southern Illinois, USA
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Hi Judith,

Each state has different laws.  An inexpensive option would be a phone call to a law school in your state.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 160
Location: Northern UK
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We recently made new wills as our old ones appointed guardians for our children who are long past the age of maturity.
At the same time we made "Lasting Powers of Attorney" for our finances. This means that under law in England and Wales (Scotland is different as it has its own legal system although LPAs can be made there too), if we are unable to manage our finances, our attorneys can look after our money for us. You can also make "Health and Welfare" LPAs but we didn't think that was as important. I have even written an order of service for my funeral although, as I won't be there, only my shell, I don't really mind what my family do. Our children know where I keep all my "important" papers. I am gradually simplifying my life and possessions in order to make it easier for those who are left behind to dispose of my belongings. I like the idea of "Swedish death cleaning".
My mother is elderly and I ask her from time to time what she wants us to do at her funeral but apart from telling us to spend as little as possible and save the money for the wake, she has no firm ideas.
My father died many years ago but he was reluctant to discuss making a will, (I think, as you said, Nancy, he thought thinking about it would make it more likely) or whether he wanted to be buried or cremated but was persuaded to do so which made some things easier at the time.
As yet, I have not had to deal with a deceased estate although my husband has which is one of the reasons I am trying to simplfy my affairs now although I hope I have many years ahead of me. (Even though I know I have fewer ahead than behind me.)
 
Posts: 68
Location: Zone 9b, Coastal Southern Oregon, 700 ft elevation
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This is not legal advice, but it is wise to:
(1) Have a will, even a hand written one.
(2) Not depend on a lawyer to administer your
      funds while living or dead.

The sheer amount of lawyer discipline cases involving
administering client funds makes #2 a no brainer.

I am a lawyer. i know a lot of lawyers. They are all ok at being lawyers. But it is an unhappy profession, filled with depression, temptation, and substance abuse.  Leave money management to others, trained
and bonded in that role.

A very wise lawyer once told me that you can trust a
lawyer with your future, but not your cash.
 
author
Posts: 17
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What an important conversation to have! (and timely with the discussion of our book Growing FREE here in the forums this week) I'm happy to see Timothy the OP of this thread already thinking about beneficiaries for his accounts at age 30. That's definitely a step in the right direction. These days there are reputable websites that can help you create simple wills to save those you want to inherit your money, property, or other assets the headache of dealing with the probate process. Here's an articlewebpage from the National Council on Aging that lists their top 5 online options for creating a will and they range in cost from $40 to $299 dollars.

Living wills and medical directives can also be very helpful to those who love us and want to ensure that our wishes are honored. And can make it easier for them to get information from our doctors when we need them to be advocating within the medical system on our behalf.

This is a discussion we don't see often enough in our permaculture circles, whether that's wills, end of life matters, or the broader topic of retirement planning. We're often so focused on the physical work of planting out, developing, and maintaining our permaculture landscapes and infrastructure (buildings, equipment, tools, etc) that we don't give much thought as we're designing it all to the end game so to speak. Then we're left scrambling & struggling to figure out how we can design ourselves out of doing that physical work in ways that allow us to have the money, social capital, and planning in place to age with dignity and grace.

As a single female who would like to age in place in my house situated in an urban/suburban setting, I think a lot about how I can design my property (and my life) into a multi-generational setting so I can have the care & support onsite to do just that. I'm also putting a lot more emphasis on good physical, dental, and mental health as a key part of retirement planning.

I'd love to hear from others in the Permies forum about how permaculture is prompting you to reimagine retirement planning.
 
John F Dean
steward
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Location: southern Illinois, USA
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 Hi Laura,

You will find the thread The Aging Homesteader in the Homesteading forum has a number of related posts.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 8512
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial, clay/loam with few rocks 50" yearly rain
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We have our 'living will' forms but I was stumped when it came to definite wishes...as in permaculture it 'depends'...too many variables for me to have a set answer to 'no heroic measures' etc...

Has any one else felt that way?
 
Laura Oldanie
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You will find the thread The Aging Homesteader in the Homesteading forum has a number of related posts.



Thank you, John. I look forward to delving into that thread. Very happy to know it exists.
 
pollinator
Posts: 432
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If you have funds available, a lawyer who specializes in estate planning is definitely worth it, if only for the peace of mind that everything is legally spelled out. It can be expensive depending on what level of service you want. In 2015, my wife and I coughed up $1400 for an estate lawyer to do a "deluxe package".

It was almost like being on the witness stand in a courtroom -- we were interrogated closely and repeatedly about what we envisioned regarding assets, funeral preferences, disposal of remains, choice of executors, etc., plus how to handle little details that we'd never thought of.

The lawyer then translated all of that into ironclad notarized legalese and we walked away with a thick binder containing our individual wills, durable powers of attorney, living wills, do-not-resucitate conditions and a set of forms for alterations and amendments if we changed our minds about anything.
 
Posts: 35
Location: Daytona Beach FL
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What a great thread!

This is a topic I've given a lot of thought to, as a single person with no children. A couple years back I had an attorney (who is also a neighbor!) draw up a living will, Last Will & Testament, and power of attorney documents for me. It only cost about US$500 which I felt was a very worthwhile investment.

My lifestyle is very different from that of my siblings. I dropped out of the middle class many years ago, and my income has been at or well below the poverty level for some years now. I don't believe in keeping a lot of money around; I don't invest in Wall Street or other funds etc.

I am a huge believer in the eight forms of capital. The idea that there are so many different kinds of capital other than money, and that they are in many ways much more stable. Examples include buildings, tools, and social capital.

Because my financial path has been very different from that of my siblings, who have regular jobs and 401(k)s and that kind of thing, I felt it was particularly important to try to make sure they don't get stuck with some kind of financial burden should I die before them. The fact that I live geographically distant from the rest of my family makes this even more important; I don't want them to have to mess with a lot of administrative stuff from several hundred miles away.

Most of my wealth is in the form of my house, which is mortgage-free. I also have a fractional ownership in a permaculture farm/learning center in another part of the state, and I keep a bit of money in the bank for home repairs and such.

Mainly I try to keep my money flowing in the local economy. Which is beneficial to me and to the local economy, but my siblings are not going to see financial benefit from that.

One thing I haven't done yet, but plan to do, is write up a letter about my philosophy of finances and life. So that if I die suddenly, they might not agree with my unconventional money choices but they will at least know that I gave respectful thought and loving care to how I spent and used my portion of the inheritance that we got from our parents.

 
John F Dean
steward
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Last year I had my Will, POAs, etc. redone after 20 years.  I had done all of the needed homework.   As to the attorney, I gave it lots of thought.  I had a legal issue in the early 90s and a local attorney represented the opposing side.  It became very clear to all that the opposing side, who initiated the case action, had invented their claims and substantial evidence existed to prove it.  The claim was dropped. This attorney seemed embarrassed that he took the case. I had no problems with him …it is how the game is played.  Anyway, I went to him to draw up my new Will, etc.   I was never billed.
 
Posts: 47
Location: Southern Manitoba...bald(ish) prairie, zone 2b/3
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One thing to keep in mind is that the rules vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so it is important to ensure you get local advice or deal with an outfit that is set up to cover wherever you are.  Some insurance policies get you access to estate planning tools, so you may already have something to help you.  If you have any sort of complexity (large estate, property in multiple jurisdictions, blended families as examples), it really is a good idea to get professional advice.

If you're working with a financial professional, it's a good idea to have an annual review - that way there's a (mostly) impartial third party who ought to help guide you through the questions that need to be asked and you've got someone to nag you to get things in order.

It is an uncomfortable subject (like insurance) as it forces us to face our own mortality.  However, one way to look at it is to ask how you'd like to leave things for your family - tidy and organized which will allow them to grieve, or something more like a mess which will drag things out, and potentially alienate loved ones from each other.

Just under the wire, November is Financial Literacy month in Canada, so it's a good time to have these discussions.  If I recall correctly, fewer than half of adult Canadians have a will in place.

 
Posts: 105
Location: Southern Ontario, 6b
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This is a good reminder that we need to get back to our lawyer about adding a codicil to our wills.

My immediate family went a few years ago and made sure that we all had up to date wills and set up who has medical authority if needed but realized after we didn't put in anything if we all go together or in a short time frame.
We've talked about it and know how we want things for now, so need to get them added on!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1541
Location: Zone 6b
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This is something I need to deal with.  Our situation is complicated by the fact that I'm guardian and caregiver to my youngest daughter, who is severely mentally handicapped and has serious medical issues.  Our home is mortgage-free, but that's our primary asset (it's just the two of us -- her father and I have been divorced for about twenty years).  My middle daughter will take over the guardianship of her sister if I predecease my youngest daughter, but we need to put that in writing.  
 
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