For the third time in a week, Bossy and her brother have gotten together in order to handle some extended family business. Basically this entails lots of manila envelopes stuffed with papers rife with lawyer speak.
Insurance policies, divorce agreements, wills—family issues like these are not high on the list of reasons to get together and polish off a box of Ritz crackers, but Bossy is determined to get all of her paperwork in order as part of the process of discovering and embracing her debt.
And here’s what Bossy has to say about things like insurance policies, divorce agreements, and wills: ew. But she also wants you to know: you need to look over these things once in a while to make sure they reflect your current decisions, and are up to date with premiums, and are behaving as anticipated.
Bossy has never been very responsible about these kind of adult issues, but lately she’s been studying this paperwork while channeling Johnnie Cochran—and know this: just because something was prepared by a lawyer doesn’t mean it’s not full of holes, and just because you assumed you would hear from the insurance company if there was an issue with your policy doesn’t mean you will—be proactive and make a commitment to revisit these things on a yearly schedule.
And lastly, get in touch with your own parents if they’re still around, and hold a family meeting regarding their intentions as they move past middle age. Life is short and when you are too shy or afraid to discuss some of these important issues, end-of-life decisions often fall to the least worthy candidate.
Bossy says: get out there today, make some calls, and get nosing around!
teri saysOctober 23, 2008 at 8:43 am
I’m praying really hard that it’s not Bossy getting the divorce. That would be beyond our bearing.
Blackbeards Wyfe saysOctober 23, 2008 at 8:50 am
Definitely Definitely find out what your parents, relatives, significant others you will be responsible for want BEFORE you are in crisis mode. MAKE THEM WRITE IT DOWN. Even better, have them appoint a Medical Power of Attorney so they have someone who knows exactly what they want calling the shots. Make sure that the person who is appointed has a backbone and will not back down from protecting the wishes of whoever is sick and needing care.
Most doctors offices and hospitals can tell you what you need to do to appoint someone with this responsibility.
If you put it off, by the time you need it, it will be a nightmare……
Sickened in-law saysOctober 23, 2008 at 8:52 am
Sickened in-law saysOctober 23, 2008 at 8:56 am
I am watching one of two children strip the parent (my sister-in-law) of all cash, annuities, CD’s, anything of value. It is making me sick. And the parent will sign anything and has no idea what is going on. The child is a somewhat sociopath and I am afraid to say anything. (Hence the fake name & test)
JK saysOctober 23, 2008 at 9:16 am
Okay. You are correct. Will do. (But who is making Bossy’s calls? You know, the phone-thingy & all.)
Little Miss Sunshine State saysOctober 23, 2008 at 9:17 am
Mom has all her ducks in a row. I am co-trustee,co-executor, co-Health Care Proxy. I feel for only children who have to have all this responsibility by themselves.
I don’t even have any ducks to get in a row.
MommyTime saysOctober 23, 2008 at 10:23 am
This is excellent advice I am sorely in need of taking. We *shudder* have no will yet. Horrifying. We have two very young children. Our families all know whom we want to have custody should anything awful happen, and I do trust them. But heaven help me, WE MUST MAKE A WILL NOW. This gives me panic attacks, which lead to avoidance, which is a bad bad thing. Thanks for the reminder.
Also, here’s my very first daily poverty post: How to Make Credit Cards Work For You. Whee!
Grandma J saysOctober 23, 2008 at 10:30 am
Great! Now Bossy is reminding all my kids to call me and bug me about when I’m gonna die.
My answer remains the same….when I’m broke, not one day sooner!
Now I’m off to plan my nexty cruise. :))
corrie saysOctober 23, 2008 at 10:51 am
I work as a paralegal in estate & trust administration…
Good advise people to know what assets are held by parents, where to get their records and to know for yourself that your insurance policies have updated beneficiary designations etc.
Don’t be afraid of all that paper or legalese… if you are the owner, find the toll free number to call and ask questions! If your parents need help, you call, get through the automated ‘phone tree’ and get a person. Have your parent get on an extension and do the talking, with a list of questions if necessary.
After all that, have a cup of coffee/tea/soup and have a snack!
Buf saysOctober 23, 2008 at 10:56 am
MommyTime just a bit of unsolicited advice that may help you get past your avoidance. If you don’t have a will outlining child custody in the event of the parents untimely death the court will decide who gets custody. Even if family members know who you want to get custody and tell the court, there is no guarantee that the court would agree that those people should get them. In general, absent a specific will giving custody to someone, the courts would have to look at the best interest of the children and their interpretation of that may not be the same as what you want.
Heather saysOctober 23, 2008 at 11:06 am
Family can sometimes SUCK. Trust me, I know. But health concerns and legal matters are important. Know what you have to know, and if you don’t want to talk to your family after that by all means, don’t.
On a completely different subject – is my newest installment for the poverty Party! Check out FRUGALICIOUS and learn how to make product manufacturer’s keep you happy with coupons, gift certificates and freebies!
Serendipitous Girl saysOctober 23, 2008 at 11:46 am
Princess Pity and the Honorable Judge McJudgey have called SSG to order. New debt post now out over here:
Mrs. G. saysOctober 23, 2008 at 12:33 pm
I am so proud of BOSSY for lifting up the rocks and looking at all the stuff that makes her squeamish.
We had a family meeting about all of these details last Thanksgiving. May I suggest to all of your other readers NOT to have this discussion on a holiday, when a few cocktails have been consumed. The honesty can get just a little too…honesty.
I have a poverty party post up at:
Lisa saysOctober 23, 2008 at 12:58 pm
Good Job Bossy! When my Dad died 7 years ago, I thought he had his affairs in order, but much to our discovery, he did not. He had a Will, but in a lot of cases that is not enough. We needed details like where he kept his safety deposit key and what he wanted in the way of funeral arrangements. After having to go through all of that, I decided I didn’t want my kids to have to stress at a time when they should celebrating my life. I have a trust with instructions on every detail (I also have given my kids the option to do something that makes them comfortable instead if they would like). I have given copies to both of my executors and my kids know where my will is kept in our house. Now I don’t need to think about it at all. I do though at the first of the year revisit my list of people who need to be notified when I get on the bus to heaven. I also have labeled the family heirlooms around the house with little labels so my family knows what belongings have family history. Now I just live……….
Chris saysOctober 23, 2008 at 1:24 pm
Excellent advice! My parents have always made me read their wills and trust documents every time they’ve amended them. BORING (and I’m a lawyer) but necessary. Commenter Lisa above has also given really good advice- esp re all of the little details that you may not think of as being important but really are. In fact, Lisa may just be the most organized person re this stuff that I have ever seen. Wow.
gina saysOctober 23, 2008 at 1:52 pm
the latest and greatest:
LeahBear saysOctober 23, 2008 at 2:23 pm
OOoooh, Bossy, I didn’t know wills and insurance were coming to the party! Yikes, and Ew. I’ll give it my best shot. In the meantime, here is my much less ambitious weekly post: http://wherearethebears.blogspot.com/2008/10/fare-thee-well-sweet-starbucks.html
Elaine saysOctober 23, 2008 at 3:43 pm
How timely. I actually had this discussion with my mom the other day, prompted by, well, not much really. Yeah, wills and insurance are very imporant. Especially when you have property and dependents. Another thing to think about is your emergency contact information. Mom started listing my brother; she didn’t her 80 year old parents to get any heart attack inducing calls from hospitals or anything.
Beth saysOctober 23, 2008 at 5:26 pm
I am soooo lucky that both of my parents send me their updated everything whenever there is an update, to stash in a folder for When the Time Comes.
MommyTime, I highly recommend a living trust. It’s very simple and prevents all kinds of shenanigans. Everything can go to your spouse first, after which your child(ren), with an exector named, and you can add custody arrangements. You can even add (cocidils? whatever: extra items) like “no way in hell does my brother get anything” (in legalese, of course).
David saysOctober 24, 2008 at 12:09 am
My dad is super-organized and has given me a copy of his and mom’s wills, the info for the safe deposit box where all the documents are stored, and keeps his money very well tended. My only concern is if he goes first, I will have to be super-vigilant with my mom, because she isn’t nearly as well-versed and gets confused by financial matters fairly easily. She’s not dumb, just not savvy.
Auds at Barking Mad! saysOctober 24, 2008 at 12:19 am
I hope I’m posting this in the correct place.
Here’s my first post. There’s a bit of a rant in there, and some emotional stuff, but money, or the lack of it, can get pretty emotional at times!
Adrian saysOctober 26, 2008 at 11:36 pm
I’m not really ready to join the Poverty Party as I’m pretty satisfied with our progress with our debt issues, but money is a subject I touch on pretty often on my blog and I have a number of posts that might be helpful and I would be delighted to share them with your partiers. In fact, I just posted one of them today:
Here’s a post that I hope will scare you into running to a lawyer to set up your estate. Voice of bitter experience here – http://adrianscrazylife.blogspot.com/2008/08/where-theres-will.html
Here are some ideas for producing extra income. Several of them.
I’ve got more, but I’ll have to dig around a bit. Enjoy!