The markets hit another all-time high last week before tapering slightly on fears of covid slowing growth. Home sales hit a 14-year high last year, with prices reaching record levels in many areas. The European Central Bank has warned of a double-dip recession overseas, while our K-shaped recovery continues.
While deaths from Covid have declined recently, the impact of the virus has caused many of us to think about our mortality. We’ve seen a surge of people getting their estate plans completed. I usually encourage everyone to have the basic end-of-life documents in place: a will, power of attorney, and medical directive.
There’s more to end of life planning than that, though. If the beer truck strikes, does your family know what you want to happen? Do they know if you want life-saving measures, or would you prefer to pass at home? What kind of funeral do you want? Do you want to be buried or cremated?
Beyond that, do they know where all of your financial records are? With so much coming in electronically, will they be able to locate all of your accounts? If you’re receiving a pension, do they know how to contact that provider and notify them of your passing?
Add to all of that your digital estate. It used to be a record or CD collection, or a library of books. Now it’s an iTunes account, Kindle library and a DropBox full of pictures. And what happens to your social media accounts?
It’s not fun to have these conversations. But since we’re still pretty much stuck at home, this is a good time to organize your records. We provide our clients with a service called Everplans, an electronic storage for everything your family will need to know. You can purchase that, or a similar service, yourself. You can also get a notebook and start listing everything out: what prescriptions you take, any pertinent medical concerns, who your doctors are, then all your financials, how to access your on-line accounts, plus where your will and other legal documents are stored.
I believe the basics should be shared with the next generation: Mom & Dad are comfortable, we will or will not need help or to come live with you, here’s where our documents are stored and how we are splitting things up – in percentages, not dollars. A great place to store all these things is a fire safe at home. Just make sure someone knows the combination!
And more importantly, talk about your end-of-life wishes. Many of us want to die at home, with family and loved ones, and not hooked up to machines in a hospital. But that’s the default. I just finished a great book, “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande, and would highly recommend it for anyone who is looking at long-term care, a terminal illness, or aging in general, for themselves or a loved one.
Your action to take this week is to automate your monthly bill payments. This will help you avoid late fees. You can also pay credit cards with each pay check, to further lower interest charges. Some cards accrue interest on the daily balance, so paying weekly or bimonthly will further reduce those interest charges.
We are offering a deep dive into what happened in 2020 and what we expect in 2021 tomorrow night. Our signature event, Women, Wine & Wisdom, becomes a co-ed economic update for the month of January. You can register for that event, and find much more on our website at covingtonalsina.com, or visit our Facebook page to learn more.
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