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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Empty-Nest Chronicles: Transition of Accountability

It recently dawned on me that I am not the only one transitioning in this empty-nest syndrome experience. My children are also part of the shift, and they become more involved the older they get. 

The corporation I work for is currently going through a transition. The company was sold from one private equity firm to another. The new owners decided to make the human resource department paperless. As a result, all employees have to fill out I-9 forms again, select their W-2 withholding, bring in their social security and one form of picture identification, re-enroll into medical benefits, select 401K options, life insurance and select their beneficiaries. This is when I realized that it was important to get my children up to speed on the ‘what ifs.’ 


Actually, it was my son who turned to me one day and said, “What will I do if something happens to you?” I explained that I have a life insurance policy and he and his sister will be fine. 
“Yeah, but it’s not enough to take care of us for the rest of our lives.” 
“Well, of course not. But it’s enough to get you through college and give you a kick start to life,” I explained. 

The next day I hunkered down and re-elected everything under my new company. After I was done, I gave my daughter, who is the oldest, a crash course of how the life insurance policy works, who are the beneficiaries, and where to find everything, as well as the user names and passwords. “Why are you telling me this? Are you sick?” she asked. “No. I just want you to know what to do and where to find everything,” I replied. “Plus, your brother is worried that he won’t be able to support himself if something was to happen to me.”

With that said, I have transitioned the accountability of my life to my oldest child. It’s an emotional pill to swallow for her but I figured it’s best to keep her informed of what to expect, what to do, who to call and where to find all of the information just in case something does happen. 

Currently, I do not have a significant other who can vouch for my well being if I ended up unresponsive in a hospital. My family members all live in different cities, states and countries. So transferring the responsibility over to my offspring is the next logical approach.  

THE WILL

“What are you going to do now, draw up a Will?” my daughter asked. “Hmm, thanks for reminding me,” I said. And this prompted her to abruptly leave the room. Granted, I’m not abundantly wealthy … yet. However, it’s still important that I get this Will written, signed and notarized so that the courts doesn't have to deal with allocating my estate to my children, who are actually 50/50 beneficiaries. 

Did you know that a majority of Americans die without a Will? According to a 2014 survey by RocketLawyer.com, 83 percent of single Americans with children do not have a Will. The survey also found that 51 percent of married Americans with children do not have a Will. 

Experts suggest not preparing your Will on your own. Why, because you risk the chance of not settling it properly. For example, depending on what state you’re living in, you shouldn't have your beneficiaries sign as a witnesses. Doing so may nullify that witness and the Will, or it may avert that witness from receiving any benefits from the Will.

USA.gov has a few rules to remember when drafting a Will:

  • In most states, you must be at least 18 years of age
  • A Will must be written in sound judgment and mental capacity to be valid.
  • The document must clearly state that it is your Will.
  • An executor of your Will, who ensures your estate is distributed according to your wishes, must be named.
  • It is not necessary to notarize or record your Will but these can safeguard against any claims that your Will is invalid. To be valid, you must sign a will in the presence of at least two witnesses.

SOCIAL MEDIA WILL

USA.gov also suggests drafting out a Social Media Will. This is logical advice given that plenty of us have a social media presence somewhere out there. I mean what will happen to this blog I put my blood, sweat and tears into if my life is short-lived? USA.gov suggests that social media hounds “create a statement of how you would like your online identity to be handled.”

Here are a few additional tips to consider when drafting your Social Media Will:

  • Review the privacy policies and the terms and conditions of each website where you have a presence.
  • State how you would like your profiles to be handled. You may want to completely cancel your profile or keep it up for friends and family to visit. Some sites allow users to create a memorial profile where other users can still see your profile but can’t post anything new.
  • Give the social media executor a document that lists all the websites where you have a profile, along with your usernames and passwords.
  • Stipulate in your Will that the online executor should have a copy of your death certificate. The online executor may need this as proof in order for websites to take any actions on your behalf.
  • Check to see if the social media platforms have account management features to let you proactively manage what happens to your accounts after you die. For example, Google's Inactive Account Manager allows you to manage how you want your online content to be saved or deleted. This feature also lets you give permission for your family or close friends to access the content you saved on Google websites after you die.


There’s even a social media Excel template that you can download here

For more information on creating your Will visit: http://www.usa.gov/topics/money/personal-finance/wills.shtml

Wow, I just learned something. Did you? 

It turns out that there’s more to having an empty nest than just a nest without children. 

Have you transitioned the accountability to your children? Share your comments below or shoot me an email to TCsViews@gmail.com or tweet me your stories at @tcsviews.

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