Preparing To Pass
Besides the obvious more well-known features of dying like hospitals, assisted living, in-home care, and hospice, I want to mention the areas of this inevitable event that many of us ignore or just plain put off until it is too late. These endeavors will make your passing sooooo much easier for others to manage and in fact are the only ‘polite’ and acceptable ways to go in my own humble opinion.
Being in this line of work as many years as I have we have witnessed lack of scruples, fighting, bickering, lawsuits, arguments over money and objects, and general bad behavior shown by all sides in cases where no living trust document has been created or managed up to par. Leaving all to chance when one passes seems so senseless and almost lazy unless one is just too sick to manage.
When a person dies with no will or trust in place they leave the end result of their lives and fruits of their labor throughout their many years on earth left up to those who might otherwise spend their time grieving, healing, and getting on with their lives after the death of that person who they care for.
I, for one, would never wish that upon anyone at all let alone my young teenage daughter Sophie. The idea that along with losing her mother, she be forced to decide what happens to real estate, bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, life insurance, cars, savings, and collections would be unthinkable. Instead, we manage these matters in advance for our loved ones and even if we have no heirs we think about those left behind to deal with our death just as we would clean up after ourselves in life: put down a toilet seat, wipe off a counter we ate at, or clean up feces after our pets so that we do not inconvenience even one extra person by our presence or footsteps. Be kind and thoughtful in death as you would in life, that is my thought anyway.
And so we create a living or revocable trust– some form of legal relevance to our wealth or lack of it. We call on an attorney, mine is Tosh Yamamoto but I am certain that with any field, there are hundreds or even thousands of Probate or trust attorneys one could call to man this task. At any rate, the entire event will take one less than an hour or two to create and then the attorney will do the rest. They will assure your real estate and bank accounts are included, your cars, savings, and anything you care to hand down or dispose of in your own way upon your death is dealt with the way you wish it to be. Too many times entire estates are taken over by the State of California when left to probate, in testate, with no heirs, and without direction. Besides the safety of your children and pets, if you spend your life having control over your hard earned dollars, why on earth would you leave the after-death funds up to chance? Seems silly to me, maybe even senseless. Even if you have no family you must have some preference of charities, friends, neighbors, even political reforms, or school Alma-maters you may wish to benefit by your passing.
Make a list of all you have to lose or that you feel is worthy of your time spent acquiring those things. Take that list along with any legal titles and bank account information to your attorney once you have made an appointment. This may be the best money you can spend. Also keep in mind you will need to have a health care directive (do you want to be kept on life support if you are badly injured and are brain-dead or worse?) choose an executor if you like or they can appoint one when needed, decide how you will dispose of your body just like you would any other unneeded baggage as if you choose to be cremated the time to tell folks is not once you are dead. I personally don’t care for the thought of an empty shell of myself being paraded around people after I die, for any reason. I chose in advance to have myself cremated as I would rather be recycled into the soil and continue the circle of life than to be rotting in a box, but that is simply my ‘farm girl’ take on bodies, decomposition and death.
This is the place we used for our trust and instead of The Neptune Society or another place that may charge upwards of $5,000 for straight cremation, this place only charged us $650 per person.
Some folks follow certain religions that prevent them from cremation or insist upon keeping the body whole after they die for visiting and burial purposes.. Those people rarely give up body parts to science but in our family most of us would like anyone who needs them to be able to make use of whatever we have that they can harvest. This way it makes some good of our deaths. It’s amazing how many of my friends have had corpse parts from rotators-cuff to retina transplants put into their body at the gift of a dead person who thought well ahead to be generous and kind. This also should be noted in your trust. In general you are the one that has the final say about what happens with all your personal attributes when you pass; from car and house to eye or bone tissue…think ahead and be charitable with things you will no longer be needing. If you don’t speak up now…it is hard to know what your preferences were once you are dead…which I am pretty sure we will all be at one time or another.
Even the needs of your pets and animals will need to be met post-death. Vet expenses are not cheap nor is boarding of horses, care, food and medicine of dogs, cats, lizards, snakes, birds, fish…. this should all be addressed in your trust. Some birds and turtles outlive many generations of humans and therefore should not be left to chance of who shall care for them when you die or worse yet, end up being euthanized due to your laziness or disinterest in end of life tasks.
As time goes on I will add more thoughts to this subject but felt it necessary to begin this blog today so that it may help some of you get motivated to prepare for the inevitable exit that we all face. This is not something to fear or be worried about, rather a sure thing to prepare for.
Thanks for the read