Keeping Records – Preserving Vital Information for Future Generations

Services like are becoming very popular. Now more than ever people want to know where they came from and who their family members were. Archiving information is a great way to help future generations know about their relatives and therefore, more about themselves. 

Your life experiences from birth until death are filled with important milestones and anecdotal stories that are of interest to your family. Your children, grandchildren, and generations to come have an interest in what your life is like and what challenges and triumphs you had. Why not take the time to preserve these memories? 

There are a lot of ways to keep records for your family. Here are a few ideas you may want to consider:

Keep a binder with important records: You can organize a binder filled with copies or original documents that may come in handy for your heirs. Some ideas may include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Marriage licenses
  • Passports
  • Medical records
  • Military records 

Generally anything that can help your family clearly trace back lineage or vital statistics will be valuable for future generations. 

Keep diaries or journals: You may have been keeping a diary or journaling for a while. Consider collecting them and keeping them in one space so they can be easily found. Your stories, thoughts, and insights might be educational, entertaining, and help your family understand you like never before. 

Organize photos and videos: Your family photos and home video will surely be a treasure for those who love you and those who will hear about you in the future. Make sure your photos are labeled with the names of the people in the images and the dates and locations whenever possible. 

Keep a collection of keepsakes: If you enjoy writing, painting, or have any examples of your work, it will be a treasure for those who love you. Keep a selection of your work for your family to appreciate. 

Write a book or story: Writing an autobiography is an excellent way to share your life’s story and your thoughts about it. What a wonderful way to explain how you lived your life and the adventures you encountered along the way. Stories about your childhood, education, love life, children, and grandchildren will be invaluable for your family someday. Keeping family records not only makes common sense, it will warm the hearts of your family when they want to remember you. Archiving your family documents can help people with their own medical history and help generations to come feel connected to the past. The effort is well worth the joy this task will bring.

Housing Options When You Can’t Live at Home

Everyone wants to live out their days in their own home. It’s painful to think about being placed in an assisted living or dying in a hospital. The thought of leaving behind the comforts of home and losing independence is overwhelming. Sometimes staying at home simply isn’t an option. 

The biggest reason for needing outside care is safety. 

As we age, we may lose mental capacity or simply become frail and unable to manage our independence. We become at risk for falling or other injuries, which makes it too risky to be a home. Sometimes a medical event requires therapies to bounce back and regain mobility or other skills. Isolation is also a concern. Being alone too much can affect social skills and mental health. Being in an environment with peers and activities can prolong and enrich life. 

If you or someone you love is showing the signs that they can no longer live at home, it might be time to consider options. Here are some common options for housing when you can’t live at home. 

Retirement communities- Some retirement communities are single-family homes in a condensed geographic area. Others are apartments or combined housing units with centralized services. These communities are geared towards an active lifestyle but rely on members being relatively independent. If you have been living in a large home with high-maintenance it might be a next step to downsize to a retirement community. 

Assisted living communities- An assisted living community offers more services than a retirement community. This may include providing meals in a central location as well as housekeeping and other services. Assisted living communities may assist in shopping, doctors’ appointments, or social activities off site. Generally, members of an assisted living community are ambulatory and able to make informed decisions about their care. They are able to come and go from the community of their own free will. 

Skilled nursing facilities- A skilled nursing facility is staffed by nurses and other staff members to assist residents with daily living activities. They are generally dependent on staff for assistance in multiple areas of self care including, but not limited to, medication management, access to health care and help with bathing, dressing, and accessing activities. Residents tend to live in community with one another inside one general space such as a room, shared room, or small studio-type apartment. 

Dementia care facilities- These facilities are designed with safety and compassion in mind. These types of facilities have a larger staff to resident ratio and most residents rely on staff for assistance with every area of life. From toileting to accessing food and medication, a dementia care facility is helpful for residents who need full care outside of their home. 

If the time comes that you can no longer be at home, there are multiple options to support you or someone you love. Research the types of communities in your area and make sure your finances and plans are geared towards funding the option that best suits your needs.  

Protecting Guardianship of Your Children in the Event of Your Death

No one wants to think about dying while their children are under the age of eighteen. The thought of not being there to care for them seems unfathomable. Better still, the thought of both parents being unavailable seems incomprehensible. 

Most parents are young and starting out their married lives. They feel invincible and focused on starting their career, building up their assets, and creating a home for their families. They may have thought about life insurance, but not about custody needs. 

If you die and your children are under age, someone will have to make the decision about where they will live. This can cause a lot of chaos and commotion between family members who may have a wide range of ideas about who will step in on your behalf. Additionally, the state or county you live in will have a say about the final decisions. 

Protecting your kids isn’t just about naming who you want to succeed you as guardian, it is also the legal track that allows for a guardian to make legal decisions about your child’s medical and educational needs. Without a formal decision, this can take a long time to finalize. 

Part of parenting is naming a legal guardian to care for your children in the event of your death or incapacity. Here are some tips to consider when making your choice: 

Tip: Who is the child familiar with? Children at any age do better transitioning to live with someone they already know and have a positive relationship with. This means your cousin across America may not be the best guardian if they don’t have a relationship with your child. 

Tip: Who is willing to step in? Be sure to ask someone if they are willing to step in as guardian for your child. Not everyone is able to make the adjustments necessary to expand their family and that’s ok. 

Tip: Evaluate your decision over time. Things change and so do your kids. If you named your parents when your children were very small, they may not be the ideal candidates if your kids are now tweens or teens. Evaluate your nominations from time to time and be sure they are still a good fit. 

Tip: Make sure you have provisions. You may want to consider naming your children successor beneficiaries on your insurance policies after your spouse in case you both perish. This will help insure there are proceeds that can be used for their well-being. Additionally, your children should be eligible for federal income through your social security benefits if you paid into the program. Make sure anyone you nominate knows to check into that funding stream as well.  

Protect your children by naming a guardian for legal and physical custody if you pass away. It will make all the difference in how they manage the loss of their parent.   

Beneficiaries – Who, What, and How to Protect the Proceeds of an Insurance Policy

By Roz Jones

The purpose of an insurance policy is to protect against loss. In the case of life insurance or other health-related policies, there is a beneficiary other than yourself who will receive proceeds from your policy. 

For most policies, you will determine who the beneficiary(s) are and what percentage they receive if there is more than one. Some policies, such as those protecting business interests, may require partners or other stakeholders to be named as beneficiary. 

Did you know? Millions of dollars go unclaimed annually due to the fact beneficiaries are unaware they are named recipients of policies? 

When you choose to protect your assets and your family, naming a beneficiary entitles them to tax-free dollars to offset costs and provide income during their time of grief, loss, and transition. That’s a noble and important thing, but there are important steps that need to be put into place to insure they receive their proceeds. 

Step #1. Name a beneficiary and a successor beneficiary. Times change and naming a beneficiary should change with the times. If you name a beneficiary and you outlive them, you must make sure to change the beneficiary or have a named successor in place. Sometimes an adult will be named in lieu of a minor to protect and manage proceeds until a minor comes of age. Your insurance agent can help you decide who to name and your estate-planning attorney can make sure all the documentation is in place. 

Step #2. Keep policies with your will and trust. It won’t help anyone if they don’t know where to find your policy information. Keep your policy and the contact information for the company, your agent, and your attorney together so your family members can take action in the event of your death. 

Step #3. Tell your beneficiaries they are named. Perhaps you don’t want to alert people to the fact there are specific people named as beneficiary of your policy. It can be highly personal and might cause some waves; however, your beneficiary should be made aware that they are named so they know to take action and proceeds are claimed. At the very minimum, be certain your attorney or the executor of your estate is aware of who the beneficiaries are and where to find them. 

Step #4. Keep up to date records. Things change. Names and contact info may change over time. Be sure to keep your records up to date. Consider reviewing your policies and beneficiary contacts annually and note any changes so there is no interruption should you pass away. 

Being named a beneficiary is an honor and a wonderful gesture on your part. Preserving your plan to benefit others and provide after your death is easier when you follow these simple steps.