What is an Estate and How Do You Protect It?

By Roz Jones

An estate typically refers to your personal property which may include but isn’t limited to: your real estate, business assets, investments, bank accounts, and personal property such as art, antiques, and jewelry. These are important assets that you worked to acquire and are part of your legacy for your family. 

Every estate is unique because people are different. Your estate will look nothing like your neighbor’s because you have different assets. Regardless, it is important to protect your estate and make certain it is safe in the event of your death. 

Protecting your estate isn’t hard, it just takes some time and effort. Once you’ve secured your assets you can rest easier knowing you are protected in the event you are incapable of managing your assets or you die. Additionally, being organized and taking the time to legally protect your assets makes it easier for your estate to be managed during probate. 

Here are some ways to protect your estate:

Get an appraisal- Assets have value but the value must be validated and proven. Appraisals are a great way to make sure your assets are valued at their maximum potential. Real estate, antiques, and other personal property can be assigned a value by an appraiser. You can include the appraisals with your will or trust information.  

Provide proof of ownership- A clean record of ownership is important. Being able to prove you are the legal owner of an asset can reduce disputes and streamline your estate. Provide bills of sale, pink slips, deeds, and other proofs of ownership with your will and trust information.   

Get a will or living trust- The ultimate way to protect your estate is through a living trust or a will. This document will include a legal record of your assets in your estate and directives for disbursement and distribution in the event of your death. 

You’ve worked hard to create a life filled with the things you love and have invested in. It’s important to protect your estate and make sure it isn’t lost to taxes or worse after you die. Take the time to organize your estate and legally protect it for your beneficiaries. An attorney will have even more ideas on how to protect your estate and can help you organize and strengthen it to serve you while you are alive and after you are gone. 

Important Questions to Ask Before You Get Sick or Hurt

By Roz Jones

If you’re a fan of any sort of prime-time television, you’ve probably seen a drama based in a hospital. Each day people are flown or driven into emergency rooms with life-threatening issues that leave them unconscious and sometimes near death. Doctors and their support staff are making a lot of life-saving decisions with very little information. Life-saving because that’s what doctors do. Save lives no matter what it takes. 

That’s noble and thank goodness they have the skill sets to do what most people can’t – save and prolong life – thanks to their wisdom and modern technology. Watching your favorite television drama, the fictional characters draw you in with the chaos and extreme measures that surround saving lives. 

Well, many of the storylines that make up your favorite show are based, in part, on some reality. A writer sometime somewhere knew someone or read about a situation that is similar to the story being played out on the television screen. Accidents and illnesses occur every day in hospitals everywhere. People find themselves in extreme situations needing their lives saved by people they can’t communicate with. 

What would happen if you or someone you loved were injured and couldn’t communicate? Mostly, every measure to save or prolong life would be taken. This may or may not include measures that violate religious standards or might be so extreme it would freak you out. What’s more, if you are unable to speak, your family may be put in a position to make decisions for you and not every family is equipped to handle the responsibility. 

There are some important questions you should ask yourself before you get sick or hurt. It can help providers serve you better and make things easier for your family. Check these out:

Question: Who do you want to make healthcare decisions on your behalf? 

Question: Do you understand the types of treatments used to keep people alive? 

Question: What does quality of life mean to you?

Thinking about these questions can help you make important decisions about your health and your health care. There are things you can do to make sure your wishes are known in case you are in an accident or have a chronic or terminal illness.

  • Get an advance directive
  • Designate a medical decision-maker
  • Share your beliefs and intentions

These important steps will make all the difference if or when you need services from emergency or hospital staff. Take the time to decide what your stand is on your medical care and do something to protect yourself and your family.  

Get Comfortable Talking About Uncomfortable Things

By Roz Jones

There are things you generally don’t talk about in polite company- politics and religion top the list. Being considerate about tricky topics is a good thing. Avoiding uncomfortable things helps people feel at ease but sometimes you have to get comfortable talking about uncomfortable things. 

Talking about death, dying, and making plans might feel morbid but it is a necessary part of living. Being able to share your thoughts about things like: 

  • What sort of care you consent to in the event of an accident or injury
  • If you want to be revived or kept on life support
  • Where you want to live in the event you can’t live at home
  • Who should make medical or other decisions on your behalf if you are unable
  • Your thoughts on funeral planning and burial options
  • And more 

One of the reasons it’s so hard to talk about uncomfortable things is the feeling there is little control. The truth is, if you do not have plans in place, you’ll have very little control but if you do have plans in place, much of your care and aftercare is well within your control. All the more reason to have tough talks!  

Here are some tips for getting comfortable talking about uncomfortable things

Tip #1. Do your homework- The more you know about a subject, the less uncomfortable it is. There’s nothing you can’t learn about any subject connected to the legal, financial, and medical aspects of end-of-life care. Educate yourself and you will be well equipped to have intelligent and easier talks about the subjects. 

Tip #2. Prepare your audience- If you are going to have an uncomfortable discussion, prepare your family or friends beforehand. Don’t blindside someone with a tough talk they may not be emotionally ready for. Instead, give them time to get ready and be mentally prepared to absorb what you need to share. 

Tip #3. Practice- The more often you talk about uncomfortable things, the easier it will be. Start with professionals like clergy, medical staff, or attorneys before chatting with family or friends. Practicing your conversation will help you find the best words to use as well as become more comfortable speaking them. 

Some conversations are going to be tough no matter what. Being able to speak about uncomfortable things more comfortably helps those who depend on you feel safer and more prepared to help when the time comes. Get comfortable by doing your homework, prepping your audience, and practicing your conversation beforehand.