Friday, June 26, 2015

All the world

Returning to my high school reunion, got me thinking about a bunch of stuff that is important to all of us as we start on this new journey on the final stages of our life. Shakespeare said in his powerful poem The Seven Ages of Man, from the play “As You Like It”
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide,
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything

My fellow Boomers, are of course in the Last scene of all, in second childhood and we need to plan for the end when we are sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. One way to do this is to have an estate plan. When preparing a plan, always talk to a trusted advisor, or a legal expert, this step is too important to be done by yourself.

Estate planning is another word for putting one’s personal affairs in order. People do estate planning all along life’s journey, but especially when reaching the doorstep of retirement.
That is a time in life when thoughts naturally turn to leaving a legacy after one’s death.

The estate plan includes wills, powers of attorney, health care proxies, and other documents relating to end-of-life decisions. The objective is to spell out how people want to be cared for in their last days and also how they want their assets and other possessions distributed once they die. If they do not have an estate plan, the government will make decisions for them, but the outcome may not be what they or their loved ones would want.

Wills and Trusts
A good place to start is to draft a will. Dying without a will can lead to assets being distributed in unintended ways. As noted earlier, the government will step in and make decisions on behalf of the deceased in case the executor predeceases or is not available for some other reason. This may lead to family disputes, excessive legal costs, and delays in disposing of the estate.
Bookstores and Internet outlets offer do-it-yourself will kits. However, to ensure that the deceased’s wishes will be implemented as desired, it makes sense to have an attorney draw up a proper will that is witnessed and signed in a legal manner.

Part of the will-making process involves designating an executor of the estate and a backup for the executor. Many people appoint a trusted family member. This may work out if the appointed individual is capable of handling administrative/paperwork matters effectively and if the family functions well. If a qualified family member is not available, however, appointing an independent third party such as an attorney may be the best alternative.

In many instances, a will adequately covers the disposition of assets after death. But some retirees may need one or more trusts as well.

A trust is a legal document that names a person or entity—a trustee—who then manages and controls what happens to the assets. To set up a trust, it is best to consult with an experienced trust attorney who is up-to-date on the latest laws.

The basic difference between a will and a trust is that a will simply hands assets over to beneficiaries while a trust can be much more specific about managing and paying out the assets.

Trusts may also be used to:
• Establish care arrangements for minor grandchildren for whom the grandparents are legally responsible.

A living trust is a trust that a person sets up and funds while still alive.
A testamentary trust is a trust that a person—the testator—establishes in his or her will; the funding occurs at the time of the testator’s death.
• Provide oversight on spending by an adult child who has problems handling money.
• Specify bequests when the heirs may be from previous marriages.
The downside of using trusts is the time and expense involved and the need, in many instances, to hire a professional trustee. In addition, some people “overuse” trusts in the sense that they try to use the trust to “micro-manage from the grave.”

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