Articles and audion on New York Wills and Trusts

E199 Solo Agers: Make These 7 New Year Resolutions for 2021


Happy New Year! Solo Ager experts Joy Loverde, Sara Geber, and Carol Marak were kind enough to share their thoughts with us on what Solo Agers should map out in the new year. Here are your seven new year resolutions from your favorite Solo Ager experts:

Joy Loverde, is the author of two books, The Complete Eldercare Planner and Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old. She is an expert in this area of solo agers and we are grateful that she shared her insight with our followers on our podcast Episode 192: How to Plan for Old Age and Being Childless with Joy Loverde podcast. She offers the following New Year’s Resolutions:

1. Learn More About Shared Housing

Learn More About Shared Housing

Shared housing can be summarized in two words: “Golden Girls.” Instead of going into a facility, this is a situation where people share housing. This can be a more intimate, cozy environment, compared to a institution setting. Last year reminded us how important social interaction is, and a lot of people have learned that they want to be in the company of others. She believes that shared housing will increase in popularity and will take off this year, as a result of 2020. This may or may not work for everyone, but it is certainly something for a Solo Ager look into. Joy recommends researching and exploring this option to see if it is something to consider.

2. Be More Aware of the Full Responsibility of Pet Ownership

Be More Aware of the Full Responsibility of Pet Ownership

Another result of 2020 is increased pet ownership. Many people sought companionship from pets when isolated from the real world. Solo Agers need to know the extent of what it takes to care for a furry family member. If they haven’t done so already, now is a good time to research the financial and physical aspects of pet ownership. In particular, what will happen to your pet if you are unable to care for them? Joy recommends exploring a pet trust. While Anthony isn’t a fan of pet trusts, he explains that they are a vehicle to care for the pet financially. Instead of giving funds outright to a person to care for a pet, it’s put into a trust. Anthony suggests that instead of a pet trust, you find someone that will care for your pet properly if given an outright lump sum.

Sara Geber, PhD. is the author of Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers. She is also a retirement transition coach and a professional speaker on retirement and aging. Sara shared essential retirement planning tips with Anthony recently on his podcast. You can listen to them here (part 1) and here (part 2). Sara She suggests these New Year’s Resolutions for Solo Agers:

3. Review and update your planning documents

3. Review and update your planning documents

Sara suggests that Solo Agers take the time to review their estate planning documents. In particular, she suggests reviewing your Power of Attorney and Advance Directive, especially if you have not done so in five or more years. While this isn’t the easiest and most uplifting resolution, it is very important. Anthony suggests that you review these documents every 4 years, which coordinates with the Olympics. To him, it is an easier way to remember. This is like going to the dentist – you may not love it, but you have to do it.

4. Have “the conversation” with your family and/or other loved ones

 

Again, while not a fun topic of conversation, it’s important. You don’t have to make a whole to-do about telling them, but it’s a good time to start talking, even if it’s informally. If you don’t share your end of life wishes and emergency contacts, then no one might know. It doesn’t necessarily have to be family. It may be your Super or Doorman that may learn of your passing before others. They see you daily and may know if something is wrong. You will want them to know who to call.

Have “the conversation” with your family and/or other loved ones

While not easy to talk about, if you share your burial and inheritance wishes beforehand, it may make it easier on those who will help with your funeral planning and finances.

Carol Marak is a solo aging advisor and advocate. She is the founder of the Elder Orphan Facebook Group, which launched in 2016 has almost 10,000 members. She also has a very successful YouTube channel called Solo and Smart and her book Solo and Smart, is slated for publication in 2021. We were thrilled to have spoken with her in podcast Episode 194: Tips from Founder of The Elder Orphans Support Group.

5. Shift uncertainty to predictable outcomes

Carol says that you should work to shift uncertainty into predictable outcomes. Generally, uncertainty can be stressful, so she suggests you fix it. If you’re feeling stressed about your health – fix it. Talk to your primary care physician about things you can do to change your daily habits and feel better.

Shift uncertainty to predictable outcomes

She suggests that you build a team of support. Not knowing who will help you when you need it can be stressful. A family can be built with friends and Carol calls these your “family of choice.” It does not necessarily need to be relatives. Find your team – your friends, your doorman, etc.

6. Never buy into the idea that you are powerless

Never buy into the idea that you are powerless

Carol suggests that you list two goals you want to accomplish. They do not have to be big goals. Simply pick two things that you have thought about doing and do them. She suggests that to do this, you should find the people who can help you learn the skills or strategies to achieve them.

Anthony, a Solo Ager expert as well shares his resolutions for Solo Agers:

7. Read more books, less “news”

Anthony recommends that you read more books and watch less news. Books help to educate and sharpen your mind. Authors of books typically spend substantially more time researching and writing the book then say a blog post or news article that was written on the whim. He feels that books immerse you, contrary to news articles which tend to enflame you.

Reading keeps you sharp and talking about books makes you a better conversationalist than talking about news. Set a goal to read one or two books a year. Anthony suggests that you never put pressure on yourself to finish a book. If you start it and don’t like it, put it down. You can go back to it or you can simply never pick it up again. If you go into a book with that pressure, it’s much harder to get started reading. Knowing you can stop when you want gives you some mental freedom to try more and more books.

Read more books, less “news”

Let’s face it – book clubs sound more fun and social than news clubs! Another bonus – you don’t have to purchase books. You can borrow them from a library or even your friends.

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E197 How to Disinherit a Child


In this case, “Robin,” a solo ager, is looking to update her estate plan. She is divorced and has two biological daughters. One is living abroad and one not on good terms with her mother. One lives too far away to be a part of the estate plan and the other has been neglectful and the relationship is strained. For these reasons, she does not want to give her inheritance either daughter.

How to Disinherit Someone in a Will

How to Disinherit Someone in a Will

In theory, you can simply just omit them. However, some people prefer to have a simple explanation as to why a particular person will not inherit, such as “I have already given generously over their lifetime” or “my daughter has not treated me well so I am choosing to leave her out.” You don’t need to over justify, but you are simply explaining to those reading your will after you passed why you left someone out.

What is an In Terrorem Clause?

During probate, anyone who would have received an inheritance in the absence of a will has a right to object by default. In Robin’s case, in the absence of a will, her estate would be divided equally between her two biological daughters, leaving them both with the right to object. This could lead to litigation and lots of problems.

What is an In Terrorem Clause

An In Terrorem clause is designed so that if a rightful heir objects to the will, then they receive nothing. However, in this particular case, the daughters already get nothing. So, is there really anything to lose by objecting? Honestly, not really.

This clause is typically stronger if, instead of omitting a person, the person you would like to leave out instead receives less of a percentage of the estate. In Robin’s case, let’s say that she decides to leave 75% of her estate to her overseas daughter and 25% to her estranged daughter. This way, if the estranged daughter objects, she gets nothing. The risk of loss is greater than if she was simply omitted in the first place.

If you plan to go this route, there is an argument that you need to leave them an amount large enough to dissuade from objecting. It can be small, but not too small ($10 for example, isn’t enough to dissuade them). Depending on the size of the estate, this amount could be $1,000, $10,000, or even $100,000.

However, in Robin’s situation, she doesn’t want to leave anything to the estranged daughter and leaving her $10,000 is contrary to what she wants. It’s not going to feel great to leave her money as a type of advanced extortion.

Setting up a Trust for Grandchildren

In Robin’s case, we came up with an elegant solution to disinheriting a child, which is to set up a trust for her grandchildren. Robin’s goal isn’t to disinherit the family, she just isn’t happy with the daughter. Therefore, she is going to skip her daughters and give to her grandchildren. Not only does it keep her estate in the family, but it will also create less conflict within the family.

Setting up a Trust for Grandchildren

Additionally, the daughters are less likely to object, since the estate will go to their kids. Robin is happy with this solution, as it will keep the peace and keep the money in the family.

Another bonus is that trusts come with huge benefits: trusts protect the assets. For example, if the grandchildren get married and divorced, the trust is protected. A trust is essentially a gift in addition to the monetary gift.

Free copy of “The Solo Ager Estate Plan”

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E193 What Happens When Your Partner Dies and You’re Not Married

E193 What Happens When Your Partner Dies and You’re Not Married?

It’s not uncommon for couples to forgo marriage. Instead, they choose to live their lives together as
partners and significant others. But what does that mean for the other person when their partner dies?

In this particular situation, “Ed” wants to leave his estate to his long-time girlfriend, but he doesn’t want to
make one lump sum payment. Ed wants to leave her a set amount per month when he dies. We will use
Ed’s situation to explain how an inheritance works with non-married partners.

Should a Girlfriend Get Inheritance?

Should a Girlfriend Get Inheritance?

Should a Girlfriend Get Inheritance?

Depending on the situation – absolutely, but the courts see it differently. Although many couples live as if
they are married, there is nothing official to legally bind them. So, while the other partner may want them
to inherit their estate, the laws dictate otherwise.

If there is no estate plan in place and the decedent died without a Will, then the reality is that the partner
will receive nothing. Unfortunately, the laws do not include a non-married partner when distributing an
estate without a will.

In the absence of a Will, the decedent’s next of kin would inherit the estate. By default, this would be the
kids, grandkids, extended family, and so on, but not the partners. This may be completely contradictory to
the decedent’s wishes, as the case with Ed.

While Ed intends for his girlfriend to inherit his estate, he will also need to evaluate and ask himself “are
my heirs ok with this?”

What is the Best Way to Leave an Inheritance?

In this situation, as Ed wants to leave his estate to his girlfriend and does not want to leave a lump sum, a
Trust is recommended. A Trust acts as a wrapper for your assets; protecting them after you die. The trust
distributes your estate as you wish, and in this case, it’s to be distributed over time in monthly increments
to his girlfriend.

What is the Best Way to Leave an Inheritance?

A Trust is actually a gift in and of itself. It is asset protection that your partner can’t buy for themselves.
Not only does a Trust protect your assets, but it eliminates risk factors such future divorce, bankruptcy,
creditors, and IRS. For example, if Ed’s girlfriend gets remarried, then divorced, the Trust protects the
assets from being distributed to the ex-husband.

How to Control How Heirs Spend Your Money

A Trust can limit how the money is spent. After all, it’s your estate and legacy. By articulating your wishes
in a Trust, you control how the money is used, who it is used for, and when it can be used.

With a Trust, you have the ability to use your money to afford your heirs a good life by limiting the
recipient’s spending to health, home, education, etc. This is actually quite broad, as many expenditures fit
into this category, such as a new home and college.

How to Control How Heirs Spend Your Money

Another bonus – limiting spending with a Trust helps to control free-spenders, gamblers, and addicts.

How Do Trust Funds Pay Out?

A trust can set a specific dollar amounts or a percentage to be distributed. In Ed’s situation, he has
decided to allocate $1,000 per month to his girlfriend. While this is great for the current financial climate, it
does not consider inflation. In 10 to 15 years, $1,000 could feel like $500 or less. Therefore, some opt to
give a percentage. Then, as the Trust grows and normal inflation occurs, they will grow together.

How Do Trust Funds Pay Out?

A trust can be paid monthly, quarterly, or annually. The drawback to annually, is that it feels like a lump
sum. Generally, payouts are done monthly. People often as us, “how do you get the money – do you
have to call someone every month to receive it?” The short answer is “no.”

It is very easy to setup direct deposit or automatic checks. The administrator of the trust typically sets this
up in the beginning and the recipient receives their payments automatically, without asking.

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E187 3 Best Free DIY Will Software

E187 3 Best Free DIY Will Software


Many people who ask me to be their executor commonly make their will using do-it-yourself methods. DIY estate planning can be tricky, so here are some tips on how to maximize the chances your DIY estate plan will actually work.

Our Methodology

We created identical estate plans using 3 popular free DIY will sites. Here is the fictional persona we used:

  • John Doe is a solo ager. That is, he’s unmarried with no children
  • Unless your will is super-simple, you should work with a lawyer. So John’s plan is very basic: he’d like to give his estate in equal thirds to two friends and one charity
  • John would like to nominate me as his professional executor
  • John will hire a lawyer to supervise his signing, as we recommend. Therefore, we did not review each site’s signing instructions

We generated John’s will on the 3 free sites. Then, my trusted colleague Maureen Pritchard, Esq. and I reviewed the results.

FreeWill.com

free will logo

Our top pick for DIY will software is FreeWill.com. The site is well-designed, and pleasant to navigate, and John’s will had zero errors.

The only caveat is the constant requests for donations. The site was funded by various charities, and they’re not shy about asking to be named in your will. We were interrupted several times with prompts asking if John would like to add charitable beneficiaries to his will.

But if you’re thick-skinned and can ignore the pushy requests, or if you plan to give to charity anyway, this is a great choice.

Pros

  • Very professional product. The will did not have any typos or substantive errors
  • Well-designed site. A very pleasant user experience
  • Includes health care documents, too

Cons

  • Barrage of requests for charitable donations
  • Your will includes signatures lines and initials on each page. These are not legally necessary, and feel like overkill

DoYourOwnWill.com

DoYourOwnWill.com logo

DoYourOwnWill.com is truly a 100% free option for making a DIY will. You don’t even have to give you email address (unless you want to save your will). This means that you’re not even paying with your personal data.

But, just as in most of life, you get what you pay for. It may be completely free, but it has a few problems.

Pros

  • 100% Free. Not even an email required
  • Most private option
  • Easy-to-follow user-interface
  • Includes health care documents, too

Cons

  • Several typos in John’s will. Despite the typos, the will was substantively fine
  • John’s burial instruction is written into his will. In real life, this doesn’t make much sense, since in many cases no one even looks at the will until after the funeral,.

RocketLawyer.com

RocketLawyer.com logo

RocketLawyer is the most well-known brand on this list but be prepared to be up-sold from their free option to one of their more profitable packages.

It doesn’t feel like they spent a lot of effort on this free version. The user-experience is very clunky, and John’s will has substantive errors. Maybe the plan is to nudge free users to a better, paid version?

 

Pros

  • RocketLawyer is big name in legal DIY
  • You may already have a RocketLawyer account and feel comfortable with their platform

Cons

  • You must create an account, and it feels like you’ll get up-sold a lot
  • John’s will had a substantive error (the will treated the charity as an individual. Not necessarily fatal, but can cause headaches later during the probate process)
  • We couldn’t find healthcare documents as part of the free package

There are many DIY estate planning sites out there. We hope that our review and recommendations will help you pick the one that’s right for you. To learn more about the process of planning your estate, complete the info below to receive a FREE copy of my best-sellingbook.

FREE Copy of The Solo Ager Estate Plan

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E186 Who Will Bury Me If I Have No Family_

E186 Who Will Bury Me If I Have No Family?


This is an important question for Solo Agers, or for anyone without family nearby.

Friends, Neighbors, Community

Pros

Your close friends, neighbors, etc. probably know your wishes best. And they also most want to honor you, have a nice remembrance.

Cons

It’s a big ask, even for close friends. Tending to final remains, and organizing a funeral service is a big and emotional job. Your friends may prefer to attend your funeral, not run it.

Distant Family

Pros

Blood is thicker than water, right? You may feel than any relative, even estranged, is most appropriate.

Cons

Just like with close friends, it’s a big ask. And distant relatives won’t know much about you or your final wishes.

funeral flowers

Hired Professional

Pros

Want something done as you like? What better way then to hire someone? With friends and family, it’s either an honor or an obligation. Hire a pro, and it’s their job. A professional with a reputation to protect will reliably carry out your final wishes.

Cons

A professional may not have the same warmth as a friend or family. But remember, someone like a professional executor is just organizing burial and the funeral. Your friends are still in attendance, and free to focus on remembering you.

The Public Option: Pauper’s Funeral

Pros

Well, it’s free. Yes, the state has a burial option of last resort for anyone with no family or no money.

Cons

It’s in the name: this is a pauper’s funeral. Typically for the homeless, your burial will be carried out by New York’s incarcerated.

E183 Did Her Estate Plan Work?

E183 Did Her Estate Plan Work? A Solo Ager Example


Let’s take a look at a real world example of whether a Solo Ager’s estate plan worked towards the end of her life.

Ms.H’s Plan: DIY Will + Professional Executor

Background

Ms. H is a solo ager (unmarried, no kids, over 60 years old) who’s been estranged from her closest relatives (siblings and nieces and nephews) for decades.

She made a do-it-yourself will leaving everything to charity. Thankfully, she hired a lawyer to supervise her will signing.

Ms. H named me her professional executor in her will, and over the past 10 years her wishes have remained largely the same.

Recently

Sadly, age has caught up with Ms. H, and she was recently hospitalized for lack of self-care. Her doctors agree they cannot discharge her to live alone anymore, so we’re making arrangements for Ms. H to move into assisted living.

take care of yourself

She’s understandably anxious about all this, and even contacted her long-estranged niece and asked her to visit.

What Went Right with Her Plan?

Ms. H avoided a few problems by naming me her professional executor.

First, she won’t have to deal with any “court-appointed strangers,” such as a guardian. Instead, she can turn to me, someone she’s chosen and has a relationship with.

Second, she felt comfortable reaching out to estranged family, without fear they’d try to sneak into her inheritance. Since Ms. H already has a will and an attorney-executor standing by, her niece has focused solely on reconnecting with Ms. H emotional, not financially.

And lastly, Ms. H’s doctors, hospitals, and social worker have all been grateful to have me as a main point of contact for her care.

What Went Wrong with Her Plan?

Her plan does have a couple of weaknesses.

Since an executor steps in after death, I don’t have authority to help Ms. H now. For example, I can’t help make financial arrangements for her to access a better assisted living. She much choose among the options thru Medicare.

Also, if unscrupulous and aggressive family comes out of the woodwork, I have fewer tools to fend them off. We’d have to battle in court, which could waste Ms. H’s time and money, and cause her stress.

Why a Trust Could Have Been Better

If Ms. H had made me trustee, I’d be better to avoid any court-appointed strangers for her. And more ability to upgrade her care, and deter unwanted family, without having to go to court.

Living trust and estate planning form on a desk.

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E179 3 Steps to Make Sure Your DIY Will Works

E179 3 Steps to Make Sure Your DIY Will Works


Since we keep seeing folks who are going the DIY will route, a few more tips on how to make sure that software or will form actually works

Today we’ll discuss:

  1. Use local software/forms
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Hire a lawyer to supervise the signing

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E178 Solo Agers and Hospice Care

E178 Solo Agers and Hospice Care


Talking Solo Agers and Hospice Care with Helen Bauer and Jerry Fenter from the Heart of Hospice podcast.

Helen shares her personal experience helping during a Solo Ager friend’s final weeks. And Jerry shares some Solo Ager statistics and what he learned from Solo Ager Facebook groups.

Links: http://www.theheartofhospice.com/

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E177 Yes, I Can Be Your Executor Outside New York State

E177 Yes, I Can Be Your Executor Outside New York State


I keep getting calls, asking me to be executor outside New York. I’m flattered, and honored, and yes AVAILABLE for that role.

  1. Locality becoming less important
  2. In-state agent requirement
  3. Reciprocal nonresident executor law

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E176 How a Trust Keeps it in the Family

E176 How a Trust Keeps it in the Family


We’ll share the story of how one of my trusts played out, and how it’s accomplished the goal of keeping it in the family

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