Friday, May 04, 2007

Taking Care of Business

I'm an only child.

That statement has defined me all my life. It's meant being the center of attention, the object of way too much hovering, being accused of being spoiled whether I was or not, and the one to deal with everything as my parents aged, became ill, and finally died.

I never liked being an only child. I don't think my parents planned it that way, as they had already put in for adoption, before they had me as a "late in life" baby. But like it or not, that's just the way it was.

My parents were wise, in that they saw that things would be tough on me when they got older. After retirement, they pulled up their roots from the home they had lived in since before I was born, and they moved within a block of me in a little rural town that was sooooooo different from the big cities of Birmingham or Chicago that they had always lived in. They made out Wills, leaving everything to me, and making me the executor of their estate. They added me to all their bank accounts, and such, so I could deal with their bills when they could no longer take care of it themselves. They added me to their safety deposit box owners list. And when it became clear that the time was right, they gave me Power of Attorney over all their affairs.

In short, they trusted me, and entrusted me with taking care of them, just as they had always taken care of me. And I did.

Now it's my turn to do the same with our children. We went to the lawyers yesterday, and we started the process of getting our Wills updated to reflect the status of our grown children. Our Wills were so out of date that we still had a guardian listed for them, and an executor who has long since died, plus our lawyer discovered that our Wills had not been notarized, and really needed to be done again, anyway. We made out Power of Attorney's on each other, and named our executor, plus an alternate. We filled out a Living Will and a Health Care Proxy for each of us. We discussed our financial situation with the lawyer, so our children would know what funds to look for when we passed. Just as my parents planned ahead, and made everything as easy on me as they possibly could, my DH and I have tried to make things as easy on our DD's as we can.

It made me very nervous to discuss all this stuff and talk about our financial affairs, but it made me feel good, too. We took care of business.

Doing all this wasn't free, that's for sure, but we've dealt with one set of parent's estate where little of this was done in advance, and I can tell you from personal experience that this is money well spent.

I challenge you to take a serious look at what you have done to make things easier on your children.


jan said...

Good advice. This is so easy to put off and so important to take care of.

Sharon Lynne said...

Thanks for the reminder. I've been after my husband to get a living trust going. We've been putting it off!

Just for interest: Both my mom and my dad were "only" children!

Dirty Butter said...

I hope you both are encouraged to follow through with your good intentions, Jan and Sharon!

Norma said...

We've done that too. It's a good feeling to have things in place.

I think you might enjoy my Monday Memories today.

The GateKeeper said...

oh, I hate this stuff. But I know I need to get this done. I still have my 203b (I think that's what the 401K is called at non-prof orgs) at Focus on the Family. I meant to put my kids' names on it. I shall do that tomorrow. Thanks for the reminder.

Dirty Butter said...

Good for you, Norma! And thanks for the link to your Monday Memories posts. I read back through several, and enjoyed them all.

Dirty Butter said...

I'm holding you to it, Gatekeeper. As bad a procrastinator as I am, I understand how things like this can get put off. But they're important!