Monday, January 5, 2009

Are Your Affairs in Order?

I have decided that this month my mother and I will get all her paperwork in order. She doesn't know this yet. I want it to be a surprise:) By paperwork I mean her Power of Attorney, Medical PoA, etc.

She is not going to like doing all of this. Especially the Will. My sister has estranged herself from us and this will be difficult for my mom. I have some software that will print out the forms we will need but I am not sure we can get through all of this in a weekend.

One of the misconceptions that people have is that they need an attorney to do all of this. All you really need is a Notary Public. You can go to the courthouse and use the Notary there for free. You will does not have to be put in probate until you die so as long as it is notarized, it is legal.

Since we have been taking care of my grandmother, I have learned a lot about all of this. I have also learned a lot about my family that I wish I didn't know. But that is a different saga all in itself.

My grandmother had what is known as a POD joint checking account with one of her children. This is a "Point of Death" account. Basically, all money in the account is given to the joint owner at your death. However, they have access to your money while you are alive because it is still a joint account. Not a good idea.

If you have to do something like this, it is a good idea to require 2 signatures for withdrawals. That way if the other person turns out to be a low life in disguise, your money will still be protected.

I know I have said this before but I really feel it is important. Invest in a good home safe to keep all your paperwork in order. Get one with a key lock not a combo. Keep a key with you at all times and leave the other one where it is accessible by someone you trust. Make sure it is fireproof. Sam's and Walmart carry these type and they are not too expensive. Make sure it is big enough to keep papers and any valuables you may want to put in there. If you can afford a safe deposit box, then go that route. Some banks will give you a deal on your box if you have an account with them so check with your local banks.Leave the extra key in an envelope addressed to whoever you desire where it can be found after you are gone.

My grandmother did not have any of this until she came to live with us and it has been one nightmare after another.

I guess the real question is: Do you want to suffer through a day or two of stress or cause relationship altering fighting between those you love?

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