Tag Archives: guardianship

Have you thought about an at-home funeral?

Until the end of the 19th century, when someone died, it was the norm to keep the body at home where the family would take care of the deceased loved one until his or her burial.  But as the funeral home industry grew, the number of at-home funerals declined and didn’t regain popularity until about ten years ago.

A story from WBUR, Boston’s NPR station, discusses the recent interest in this type of funeral and cites several examples of families who have chosen to have a more natural, custom ceremony conducted in their own home.

Some people with whom I spoke said they would like this type of treatment when they died but they didn’t think it was legal.  In fact, in all but nine states, it is definitely legal.  Massachusetts even offers clear instructions for home funerals on its website, including what you need for a death certificate, guidance on burials and preparing the body.

If this type of funeral is of interest to you, there are many sources for information.  One is the National Home Funeral Alliance, which has about 300 members around the country.  Another source is our website, www.diesmart.com.

 

2/3 of all the people who ever lived to 65 are alive today!

Ken Dychtwald, Founder and CEO of AgeWave | JWT IntelligenceThis statistic comes from a presentation given by Ken Dychtwald, PhD, of Age Wave at the American Society on Aging 2013 conference that was held this spring.

This statistic is a part of what has caused the longevity revolution.  What he meant is that because people are living much longer than they used to, the definition of “old age” is changing.  People used to die before retiring so there was no need to worry much about what they would do.  But, now, people must figure out what they should do with their “longevity bonus” and how to spend all of this extra time that they now have on earth.

You might think that people are just tacking their bonus onto the end of their life and spending it in retirement.  However, it seems that they are redistributing it throughout their life.  They are going back to school in their 40′s and then starting a new career, retiring from that new career and then changing fields again.  This is unlike the past when people worked their whole life at one career and often retired after working at just one or two companies.

Retirement used to be considered an ending.  Now many people consider it a new beginning.  It’s a time that’s looked forward to with anticipation by most people.  In fact, 91% of people expect to be happy in retirement.   However, that expectation only lasts about a year.  After that, people begin to think about what they actually want to do with the rest of their life and whether they want a new post retirement career.  They also start to have growing concerns about health problems and insufficient savings.  And in their late 70′s and early 80′s they come to terms with who they are and what will come.

Finally, Dr. Dychtwald said that, unlike in the past, retirement is a time to build relationships, keep learning, re-career, live with purpose and leave a legacy.

The entire presentation can be seen here and is well worth watching.

For more information about retirement and end of life planning, go to www.diesmart.com.

DNR order – should your pet have one?

Half Moon Bay 11-29-10 011

Do you know what a DNR (do not resuscitate) order is?  It is a medical document that alerts doctors and other medical and rescue personnel about whether you want them to do anything they can to revive you if your heart stops.

I have been in the local hospital a few times for various medical procedures and am used to the questions that the staff asks before admitting you.  And I have a DNR (do not resuscitate) document that I  keep on file there.  If my heart stops and reviving me will negatively impact my quality of life, I want my loved ones to let me go.

Information for and against human DNRs is readily available on the web and in books; anyone you ask will have an opinion.

However, for pets it’s a different story.  Last week I had to take my dog, Suzi, to the veterinary hospital for a minor medical procedure and was given several forms to sign.  One of them caught me totally off guard.  I was asked to sign either a DNR or an “administer CPR” form for her.    I had never thought about a DNR in relation to my dog and didn’t know what to do.  I had no idea about how easily a dog’s heart stops beating during surgery and how quickly it’s quality of life will be impacted after that stoppage.

The vet told me that asking for a pet DNR is becoming common practice for many animal hospitals but would give me no recommendation on which form to sign.

When I got home, I got on the web and tried to research a pet DNR to see what the recommended practice is.  I could find very little helpful information.  I called friends with pets and they had no idea what to do either.

Luckily, the procedure went smoothly and Suzi was fine.  But what if there is a next time?  What should I do then?

We at Die Smart would love to hear from you with your opinions on this subject.  To write a comment or to find out more about end of life planning, including human DNRs, go to www.diesmart.com.

DOMA – It’s defeat causes more tax headaches

Reuters article - DOMA and taxes 7-23-13

If you live in a state that recognizes gay marriage, you are entitled to federal tax breaks that other married couples get.  However, if you have business income from a state that doesn’t recognize same sex marriage, you’ve got a problem.

This week, Reuters published an article about a married California couple, Jeremy and Randy.   They don’t know how to report the business income Randy gets from Florida – a state that doesn’t recognize gay marriage.

The chief of the IRS, Danny Werfel, was quoted as saying that the IRS hopes to publish rules that will address issues like this one as soon as possible.  But there are more than 200 tax code references to marriage that have to be evaluated before this can happen.

Do you think the couple should get tax breaks based on income earned in a state that doesn’t recognize gay marriage?  Let us know what you think.

For information about other financial matters like estate planning, go to our website, diesmart.com.

6 estate planning lessons we can learn from James Gandolfini

James GandolfinoEverybody thinks celebrities have teams of lawyers that help them protect their assets and ensure that their affairs are in perfect order.  This is not always true.  In fact, many people don’t know the lessons that are included in this About.com blog by Julie Garber.  And they are lessons that, if not learned, can cost your family time, money and public exposure after you die.

James Gandolfini, who died in June, is used as an example of these 6 estate planning  lessons.  It’s important that you read about these lessons and be sure that you have protected your estate.  If you don’t, your loved ones may be caught up in a public probate process that will cost them a great deal of time and money.

For more about probate, what it is and how you can avoid it, go to www.diesmart.com.