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Are Your Affairs in Order?

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Natasha Richardson's ski accident has reminded us of the precariousness of life -- you can be perfectly healthy one minute, and in a hospital bed the next. Many moms in the office began thinking ... if tragedy struck, would we be ready? An attorney lays down the law.

natasha richardson

Attorney Robin Sax says every mother should have four things: a living trust, a pour over will, a power of attorney (financial), and an advance directive for health care.

1. Living Trust: This says where your assets go when you die and who manages them. You should try to transfer your assets to the trust when you establish it, so that if you lose capacity, those assets can be managed by the successor trustee (typically the husband) without the need for a conservatorship. You want to avoid conservatorships -- they are court-supervised, public and expensive processes where the court oversees how your assets are handled for you. All your assets are listed in court documents, what money is spent on is listed -- things to be avoided.

2. Pour-Over Will: Through probate, transfers assets to your Living Trust when you die. Probate is also something to be avoided -- to do so, make sure the assets are transferred into the name of the Living Trust when it is created.

3. Power of Attorney (Financial): This gives someone (typically the husband) the power to manage assets for you. If done as a "springing" power (i.e., one that "springs" into existence when you lose capacity), you can keep control until something like what happened to Natasha happens -- then the power allows the husband to handle assets. It's a good idea to allow the husband to transfer assets to the Living Trust -- this allows a conservatorship to be avoided in the event the assets weren't transferred when the Living Trust was established.

4. Advance Directive for Health Care: This allows someone (typically the husband) to make medical decisions for you if you can't make them yourself. This also will help your family avoid the Terry Schaivo disaster about end-of-life decisions because those are set forth in this document.

Do you have your affairs in order?

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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Natalie March 18, 2009, 5:50 PM

How are these kids going to cope with loosing their mom? March 18, 2009, 10:56 PM

I think this would be a time to have a puff and think about things..

RMX March 19, 2009, 3:02 AM

I lost my mom recently and “gasp” my older,now single dad was left to pay a load of debt.Thankgod the old man has the love to carry on with four kids.In only six months he payed off ALL the debts.(He is a teacher and no we didn’t help him,he payed it off all by himself).
My mom had her breast exams every year but because of the pink hype,it never occured to us to have her heart checked out.The loss has taught me two things;having a dad is now my greatest gift I could ever imagine and that women do in fact die of heart related problems.It should be noted that my mom had expectations to live well into her 80’s but she only made it to 57.She was no soccer,super,glamour mom mind you but more akin to a hen with her four babies and a rooster of a husband.

RMX II March 19, 2009, 3:10 AM

Natalie,don’t be selfish.I (27) lost my mom (57) and I cope.In fact I held her as she died,I granted the the doctor the permission to declare her dead.Just because their mom died means their world will end.Death is a part of the thing called life.As a mom you should be the more mature one in understanding that our moms want us to carry on after their deaths.Remember no mom wants to bury their child not the other way around.

Rifvymxt June 25, 2009, 12:29 AM

l1SY4n comment4 ,

Immobilier Bretagne March 7, 2011, 3:46 AM

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