Tag Archives: will

You Can’t Take It With You! – A Halloween Candy Story.


After a night of trick or treating, our son consumes nearly all of his Halloween candy before we make it home.  If it were left up to him, he would eat the entire bucket that night. 

In contrast, one of our daughters will first organize her candy into chocolate, gummy, hard candy, etc.  She will then eat just a few pieces of her candy that night and limit herself to one piece of candy per day to make it last as long as possible. 

She certainly shows a great deal of self-control.

But at what cost? 

Inevitably, as the winter holidays approach, I will throw out a large amount of her old, now stale, Halloween candy to make room for the candy canes, peppermint kisses, and chocolate treats.  She ends up missing out on a good portion of her Halloween candy. 

Now, I am not advocating eating an entire bucket of candy in one day.  But perhaps living life to its fullest and enjoying what we have while it’s still good isn’t the worst approach. 

And given that this is now an annual occurrence, perhaps it makes sense for her to make a plan for that excess Halloween candy and give some away while it’s still fresh.

I met with a potential client at his home who was in the end stages of a terminal illness.  He was living at home with his sisters providing 24-hour care.  His mental capacity was slipping.  He had good days and not so good days.  He wanted me to draft a will that gave his estate to his sisters and their brother and to disinherit his children as they had been estranged for decades.   When I came back to his home to review his will, he was having one of his not so good days and was angry with his sisters because he didn’t want to eat his lunch and they were being pretty persistent that he needed to eat.  He decided that he was going to take his money, his boat, and his truck with him and not leave anything to his family.  I explained that he couldn’t take it with him when he passed.  He insisted he would find a way.

Needless to say, we did not execute a will that day. 

He passed a little while later without ever executing a will.  His estranged children will inherit everything.

None of us know when we are going to die.  But we do know that you can’t take it with you.  While we are here, we can live life to its fullest.  Maybe eat a few extra pieces of Halloween candy.  And if we are lucky enough have something left when we die, we can have a plan in place long before we lose the capacity to do so to make sure the transfer of wealth goes smoothly and according to our wishes.

Our own Halloween Candy – Rebecca Mason Law Resources:

https://rebeccamasonlaw.com/2019/03/10/estate-planning-gift-loved-ones/

If friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow?

Cliff Jumping

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”

Henry David Thoreau

A little earlier this summer, we took our kids to Door County for the weekend with a group of friends.  The pilgrimage to Door County seems to be a standard for many families.  And this is for good reason!  It is beautiful, restful, and there is some kind of magic that seems to always happen there that rejuvenates you and allows you to reconnect with your loved ones.

During this year’s trip, we took our kids — 7, 8, and 10 — cliff jumping at the Sand Dunes State Park.  So we literally got in the car and drove about an hour to tell our children to jump off a cliff.  It was my first time and theirs.  If you’ve never been, please know: that last step right before your first jump is utterly terrifying.  But the plunge into the water is exhilarating. 

In my law practice, I help people plan for their death and ensure their assets are properly distributed to their loved ones after they pass.  We walk a difficult walk alongside many.  We get to know our clients and their families as they struggle through some pretty tough times.

Given my day job, it’s probably not surprising that as I stood at the top of the cliff before taking my first plunge, I paused to reflect and was comforted knowing my family would be OK because my affairs were in order.  You know, if I did not survive when I defied my mother’s advice and actually followed my friends and jumped off that cliff. 

Holding the hands of my daughters, we counted to 3.  And then we jumped, continuing to hold hands as we leapt off sturdy ground and launched ourselves through the humid summer air into the frigid Lake Michigan waters.  As I resurfaced to the sounds of their shrieks of laughter and pure joy, I absolutely found “my eternity in [that] moment.” We have all had those moments.  And may we have many, many more.

Most people put off estate planning because we don’t want to think about or talk about our death.  It does no good to live in fear of the inevitable.  I was reminded of this quite clearly as I prepared to jump of that cliff.  In knowing your affairs are in order truly gives you peace.  I am not ready to die.  I do not want to die any time soon.  Yet, we can’t control when that will happen.  (Although my mom would say, choosing not to jump off that cliff makes it less likely to happen that day.)

But you can make sure everything is in order so that you can be confident in taking (calculated & safe) opportunities to “live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, [and] find your eternity in each moment.” 

National Healthcare Decisions Day

April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day. NHDD is an effort to encourage people to sign a Health Care Power of Attorney and engage in conversations about end-of-life care.

Advance care planning involves making future healthcare decisions that include much more than deciding what care you would or would not want.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, www.nhpco.org

What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

A Health Care Power of Attorney is a document that allows you to direct the care you want to receive at or near the end stages of a terminal illness. You also appoint an agent to make decisions about your health care if you become incapacitated. The Health Care Power of Attorney provides written instructions to your agent addressing potential medical situations. 

Your Health Care Power of Attorney is one of the most important parts of your estate plan. In Wisconsin, if you do not have this document, nobody has legal authority to make decisions on your behalf (unless you obtain a court-ordered guardianship).  Not even your spouse.  And if you have children over 18, you have no authority to help your child if they are incapacitated without an advanced directive.

Too many people die in a manner they would not choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain.

National Healthcare Decisions Day – theconversationproject.org

Why is it so important to appoint an agent?  Medical advances make it possible to prolong your life despite a serious illness, or injury. Simply remaining alive may not be your only goal.  Many of us desire to have a quality life. Few want to simply exist hooked up to a bunch of machines. Your right to have medical treatment withdrawn or withheld is constitutionally protected. The right remains valid even if you become incapacitated

You also have the right to receive medical treatment even in cases that your doctors have deemed further treatment to be beyond hospital ethics standards or applicable laws. But you need an agent to advocate for you.

Leaving your care to local laws and Hospital Ethics guidelines?

As you can imagine, end of life medical care can – and often does – raise ethical and legal issues about your rights, the family’s rights, the medical profession’s role, and the state’s role. Part of this process is having a conversation about your end of life desires.

92% of people say that talking with their loved ones about end of life care is important, but only 32% of people actually have had the conversation.

National Healthcare Decisions Day organizers – nhdd.org

It is critically important that you talk with your loved ones. Especially a person you choose as your agent. Discuss your desires should you lack the capability to make decisions for yourself.  This is a personal decision. Your loved ones will want guidance to carry out your wishes to the best of their abilities. A surprising number of families, disagree over what an ill relative would prefer.  A Health Care Power of Attorney will help to make your wishes clear.  It will give your agent peace of mind.

National Healthcare Decisions Day Resources:

End-of-Life Planning: Free Guide Starts the Conversation

Wisconsin is participating in the annual initiative, and with Gov. Tony Evers’ proclamation, the State Bar of Wisconsin offers members and the public free access to its new end-of-life planning tool.


Bring a shovel: One community’s NHDD story and lessons learned for the future

Wisconsin Community NHDD Blog Post by:
Ellen Koski, MPH, CPH. Director, Fox Valley Advance Care Planning


The Conversation Project

National Healthcare Decisions Day Partner organization


With Dementia, More is Needed than a Boilerplate Advance Directive

Katy Butler, a New York Times author & end-of-life speaker. Post is adapted from her book, “The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life”.  More info on Katy here. 


NHPCO Blog: National Healthcare Decisions Day

Inspire, educate and empower the public about the importance of advance care planning.


Estate Planning: a Gift for your loved ones

National Healthcare Decisions Day related content Blog Post by: Rebecca Mason

Why everyone needs an estate plan.

Some people think they don’t need an estate plan because they do not have millions in their estate.  This is far from the truth.  There are many other reasons to make a plan.  If you have minor children, you will want to name the person or persons who will serve as their guardian(s) if something happens to you.  Does your child have special needs?  You can plan so that they can inherit without losing government health insurance and other benefits.  Are you part of a blended family?  Without the proper estate planning, you may be surprised how Wisconsin state law divides your assets.  Do you own a small business?  You can avoid having to probate your business assets with the proper tools. 

Estate planning is also more than creating a trust or a will. 

A comprehensive estate plan includes power of attorney documents that set forth your wishes for your medical care and financial interests if you become incapacitated and names an agent who will ensure your wishes are followed.  These documents are some of the most important parts of your estate plan.  In Wisconsin, no person – not even your spouse – has the legal right to be involved in your medical decisions or even know about your medical needs if you are incapacitated.  You can give someone those rights by naming as your agent in your health care power of attorney. 

It is the same for your adult children.  Once your child turns 18, you need to be named as their agent in order to be involved in their care.  Similarly, no person has the legal right to assist with your financial matters. The documents you need to include in your estate plan will depend on your particular goals and assets.  Along with minimizing taxes and fees, effective estate planning can provide guidance, peace of mind, and lessen burdens for your loved ones.

Links:

Estate Planning @Rebecca Mason Law

Tax Season is a great time to create an Estate Plan Blog

10 Questions to Ask Your Loved Ones

We know the importance of planning for major events in our lives and sharing those plans with our family members and loved ones.

When dealing with finances, sometimes we hesitate. Discussing financial issues with family members often waits until a crisis occurs. Unfortunatley, it may be too late.

Money can be a sensitive subject with family members, it’s often at the center of many decisions in later life. Decisions such as housing, health, and long-term care. For older adults, talking with their children about future financial arrangements is critical, even if the children are reluctant to do so.

Now is the time to talk with your family members. Help them learn what information is needed. Provide information they can use to assist you through any challenging times as you age.

Here are 10 Questions to ask your loved ones or questions you can answer to help you start talking with family members:

Questions:

1. Do you have a will? Where is it? Do family members have access?

2. Do you have an advanced directive, such as a living will? Or health care durable power of attorney? Where is it?

3. Who has your power of attorney? Is it the executor of your estate? How can he/she be contacted?

4. Have you selected a funeral home? Planned or paid for a burial site?

5. What is the location of essential personal papers?

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Dissolution of marriage
  • Social Security
  • Military service records

6. Where do you keep life, health, property, and long-term care insurance policies?

7. Where is your checkbook? What bank do you use?

8. Do you have a safe deposit box? Where is it, and where is the key? Do you have a list of contents? Do family members have access?

9. Have you made a list of investments (savings accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks and bonds, etc.)?

10. What are the names and contact information of the financial advisers/institutions that have the investments?

Resources:

A Frequent Question from our Clients

A frequent question from our clients (likely because our community is located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan) is whether you can have your ashes scattered over the lake. The answer? You can! subject to some restrictions.

That said, there are many meaningful ways for your loved ones to honor you. And at the same time provide some closure. Even many we have never heard of. This article explores some of the more unconventional options.

23 Remarkable Things to Do With Ashes to Honor Your Loved One

Wind Chime Urn

Another idea not included in this article is a wind chime: https://www.mainelyurns.com/amazing-grace-memorial-wind-chi…

Question? What has your family done? Comment below to share your families ideas that others may benefit from!

The attorneys at Rebecca Mason Law specialize in Estate Planning. In-addition we ensure your rights are respected even if you can’t yourself.

Thank you. SE Wisconsin

Today marks the first day of the seventh year for Rebecca Mason Law. We want to take this milestone opportunity to say thank you. Our team is honored to provide top-quality legal representation for southeastern Wisconsin and all of our clients.

My team works through some pretty tough times side by side with clients. We draft detailed estate plans, administer probates for your loved ones, work with families who have recently lost a loved one, and help you take care of your family members through guardianship’s.

Our office right here in Racine, WI has some of the most amazing clients in the world. It is our clients, who make this the best job ever. For that, we simply want to say Thank you!

I Met with a client today and we discussed the impending death of her mom. I was reminded of how fleeting life can be. And how amazing it is that I have the opportunity to walk this difficult walk with my clients. Thank you for sharing your stories about your loved ones. Thank you for sharing your tears. And being OK with being vulnerable. Thank you for sharing a little bit of yourselves with me. Because of you, this is the best job ever.

Rebecca Mason 8/25/2017