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An article published in the Grand Forks Herald talks about the importance
of having a Will, a Living Will, a list of belongings that make up one's estate
and the possibility of including messages to loved ones that they can receive once
you have passed away. It is a source of great relief to put these things in place,
and will ease the burden on loved ones once you are gone. The Funeral, Will, Living
Will and Messages services at USLegalWills.com is a one stop shop for sorting out
these affairs. You could start now and have everything in place before you go to
Little Things Cause Big
Problems After Death
November 27, 2004
Grand Forks Herald
Death and taxes.
We can't avoid them. And though we talk about taxes, death is a subject most
of us avoid. We know it's out there and coming this way. Yet, we don't discuss it.
At least not very often.
That's why I recently accepted an invitation from a local funeral home to listen
to people in the know talk about wills, veterans benefits, nursing home costs and
funeral arrangements. A chaplain at Altru Health Services once told me that you
should face up to your final arrangements and share your wishes with your family.
Then you will be relieved, and you will make things easier for them when the time
It's called peace of mind.
Making final plans is the sensible thing for people to do - no matter what their
age. In the case of people over the hill like me, it's even more urgent. I fully
realize that if life was a football game, I would be playing in the fourth quarter.
I also am comforted to know that if I am forgotten in old age, I am always loved
and wanted by people who sell nursing home insurance and cemetery lots.
If you know the score, you can finish off the game of life without throwing your
survivors into turmoil. And you should act while you are able. I learned that at
the seminar at Gregory J. Norman Funeral Chapel. First and foremost, everybody should
have a will. In addition, it is wise to make a list of your belongings and who you
want to have them when you are gone. This list needn't be in the will. It needs
only to be dated and signed, according to Ken Norman, an attorney from Moorhead,
who grew up in East Grand Forks. He said it isn't the large things that cause problems
after a death, it's the little things. "Make a list. Please do it," he urged.
In North Dakota, it is well to have a living will with advance directives telling
how you want to be treated if you become terminally ill. You also can name someone
close to you to act as your power of attorney in case you cannot make decisions.
In Minnesota, there's a combined health-care directive, and the document makes arrangements
for communicating when you can't. These forms are available at various places, including
the chaplaincy department at Altru Health Services.
It's important for families to know if a veteran has a discharge document and
where it is, according to Tom Saddler, Grand Forks County Veterans Service officer.
This, Saddler said, is the key to benefits from Veterans Administration and Social
Security. He suggests the discharge document be kept with medical and financial
records. There are burial flags available from the VA. There also are veterans'
cemeteries in every state. And since veterans' organizations frequently take part
in burial services, it is well to contact the VA at the time of death. However,
survivors have two years to apply for benefits.
Since a nursing home may be in the picture before death, it is wise to know regulations
of Medicaid. Ed Christ, supervisor of economical assistance for Grand Forks County
Social Services, said assessments can be made ahead of time to help people make
their plans. While it is not permissible to transfer assets in order to be eligible
for Medicaid, he said the law now allows the spouse at home to keep $92,762 and
to be able to stay in the home. Spousal impoverishment regulations allow the person
in the nursing home to keep $3,000 in a burial account and $3,000 in assets.
Before all is said and done, you can leave your personal wishes for your funeral
and burial along with your important documents. You can leave a few well-chosen
words or a lengthy dissertation that will be a gift to your survivors in their darkest
hour. The message I got was, "Just do it."
(Note that you can create your Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will online at
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