rockclimbing

Photo: Kardinia International College Students at Crazy Horse

Conversations to have while outfitting a college dorm room (or 3 important topics that could prove to be as important as paying tuition).

By Phil Shigo, Co-Founder GYST

I remember the day and the place where my parents dropped me off for my freshman year of college like it was yesterday.  The heat of the late afternoon sun.  Climbing five flights of stairs in Hedrick Hall to get the contents I’d packed into my parent’s station wagon up to my new 185 sq. ft. two person dorm room.  The fun of seeing my own possessions in a small shared space that would be sorta mine for the next 9 months, the awkward goodbye with my mother and the conversations we had that final Saturday evening before she and my father, began the 6 hour return drive to their home in Northern California.

Having survived 4 years of college (5 if you count the year I spent studying abroad), living  in a fraternity, mountain biking, learning to rock climb and now being a parent of 2 teenagers myself, I can appreciate the importance of all the things my parents were trying to do in those last few hours together before the start of college.

My parents were like most parents.  Hardworking people who tried to set good examples for their kids, offered guidance through high school, paid tuition and spent the last hours with me that final Saturday before the start of my Freshman year helping outfit my dorm room (and cleared their conscious of what could be their worst nightmare).

“Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves.” – Ernest Dimnet 

Still a teenager in their eyes, they offered me their wisdom and figured they had done all they could do.  What they didn’t realize is that I was 18, a legal adult in the eyes of the law. (In most states, children become legal adults at age 18). No longer a legal minor.  My parents didn’t realize they wouldn’t have a right to basic information about my health or medical needs, or that they would be excluded from making important medical decisions on my behalf if I was injured while attending college on their dime.

And no matter how uniformed I was, they wouldn’t be able to make financial decisions for me either.  Since parents of children who become legal adults, cannot have access to their son or daughters personal bank accounts unless they co-sign on the account.  (And thank goodness for me my parents couldn’t monitor that high interest rate credit card I’d been issued months into my freshman year – how else would I have purchased my bike).

Here are 3 simple medical-related estate planning documents parents of legal adults can have to stay involved with their son or daughters medical and financial life once once they drive the car away:

1. Living Will (or Advance Care Directive)

Children who are legal adults can appoint their parent as their health care decision maker by filling out a document called an Advance Care Directive (sometimes called Medical Power of Attorney). That way, legally adult children who become debilitated due to an accident or illness and can’t make their own health care decision, can have their parents make one on their behalf.  Learn about creating a living will.

Children attending college out-of-state, should have these documents drawn up by an attorney in the state where the college is located.  Many states combine a Medical Power of Attorney and a living will into a single document called an “Advance Health Care Directive.  Find documents for your state or get the advice of a professional estate planning attorney in the local area where your child is going to college.

2. HIPAA Release

HIPAA is the acronym for the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It basically helps maintain the privacy of an individual’s medical information.  As such, it is virtually impossible for parents to obtain any information about your college student’s medical diagnosis or prognosis unless your name is on his or her HIPAA Release form. Adult Children may want to add their parents to the form, too. Find a HIPPA release form  and review it with your doctor or find an estate planning attorney who can help.

3. Durable Power of Attorney

For parents who want stay involved in their Adult Child’s financial life once he or she leaves for college, it’s advisable to prepare a Durable Power of Attorney and designate which parent, will be their financial agent.  Parents designated as their adult child’s agent may be able to access their account should the need arise or their Adult Children becomes incapacitated (not to mention it will also be easier for parents to monitor their child’s smart phone, credit or debit card purchases. Learn more about how to share and store digital details.

There are 1,095 days before the start of my eldest teenager’s first day of college but, then who’s counting.

The GYST of it: August is National Make-a-Will Month

The GYST of it: August is National Make-a-Will Month

Happy August! This month is National Make-a-Will month so we’ve outlined how you can get your will done in 5 easy steps. Also, check out our review of online living wills and get them done together.

August’s Feature Article: 5 Steps to Get Your Will Done This Month!

GYST’s guide explains where to start, assigns you one task each week, and breaks it all down into easy, doable steps.

Step 1: Review Your Options

2Whether you have a very simple ‘estate’ and the most basic online template covers all you’d need, or, a more complicated situation because of divorce, out of state property, or international citizenship that requires a few more details – you are in luck. Getting your Estate Plan done is easier than ever – and we’ll show you how.

First things first: Do you know the difference between a Will, Living Will (also called an ACD), and Power of Attorney (POA) document? They are three different things, and most people benefit from having one of each.

Read GYST’s Estate Planning Article on Wills and Living Wills

Step 2: Find the Best Option for You

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Our team at GYST reviewed three different online legal services in the Spring of 2016: Rocket Lawyer, LegalZoom and Willing. Each offer self-serve options with basic forms and functionality and generated a PDF for you to download when done and all three options took less than an hour to complete. The main differences are pricing models (flat fee or subscription), ability to save and update your forms, and additional costs for add-ons and upgrades. This month we’ve partnered with Rocket Lawyer for Make-a-Will Month

Read our Review of Online Legal Services 

Step 3: Get Your Questions Answered

11If you have any questions at all, if you are unsure about any of the legal template options or you have questions about any part of the process – please ask!

Ask a peer: There is a Q&A forum with more than 8 million searchable questions and answers allows people to ask their own legal question and receive answer from attorneys.

Talk to an expert: If a quick conversation with an expert would help, Avvo Advisor provides concrete legal advice though a 15-minute phone call with a highly-reviewed lawyer for just $39. Read more about legal help from our partner, Avvo.

Look online: You may find more answers in our Estate Planning FAQ.

Step 4: Draft Your Documents

5Use an online service or find a reputable estate planning attorney, in any case carefully draft, review, and double-check your documents are accurate and you don’t have any questions or concerns.

 

Step 5: Finalize, Share & Store them Safely

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Your last step is to finalize your documents.

To execute a will in any state in the United States, you must:

 

  1. Sign the document while you have capacity to know what you’re doing. This has been referred to, “being of sound mind.”
  2. Have two people witness your signing of the will, and they sign it, too.
  3. In most states getting your documents notarized is not required, but highly encouraged.

Finally, make sure they they are shared with a few trusted people (the one’s named in your documents, especially the Executor) and can be located if (or when) they are needed. How?

In many cases, old-school record keeping on paper can work just fine. An ‘In Case of Emergency’ folder in the metal file cabinet, spiral-bound notebook on top of the fridge, even a 3-ring binder with copies of important documents (like your will) and a phone list you can give to one or two people you trust.

Or, for many people, storing information online is easier, more convenient and feels more secure. There are many options that range from free, password protected locations in the cloud – to more secure or super-encrypted security for a monthly fee.

BONUS STEP: 

StephanieG_LivingWIll

Once you’re done, send us a picture and we’ll make you (like Stephanie) our next Success Story!

Good Luck!

Estate Planning FAQ

Estate Planning FAQ

The 6 Most Common Questions about Wills, Living Will and Power of Attorney

1. “Do I really need an estate plan?”

Yes.

2. “What happens if I don’t have a will?”

Dying without a will (or having one that no one can find) is a super bad idea. In legal terms, it’s known as “dying intestate.” If this happens, your assets go into probate, where your state has laws that dictate who gets what. Typically, if you’re legally married, it all goes to your spouse. But not always and, frankly, sometimes things can get pretty weird. After all, if you don’t really see eye-to-eye on everything with your state in life, don’t expect the situation to be any different in death. Besides, probate can take years, and your estate may have to pay attorney fees and other things, which are best avoided.

3. “Where do I start?”

Typically people start with the will, because if you think about it, that’s the only document that’s guaranteed to get some use.

4. “Is it important to get help with my estate plan?”

We think so. You need a process, like GYST’s, that can ensure you avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Not doing one at all. (Congrats, you’re already here!)
  2. Not completing the process.
  3. Doing one incorrectly, which can result in the will not being legally binding.
  4. Leaving stuff out. People often forget about pets, businesses, or how to split assets among children.
  5. How and when assets and money are given. Some financial planners recommend spacing out payments instead of lump sums.
  6. Not updating your will when you have kids, remarry, acquire new assets, or make other life changes.

5. “Do I need a trust?”

Whether or not you need or should have one really depends on which state you live in and your individual situation. Trusts are often set up and included in a will because they help you avoid probate and get your assets more quickly into the hands of those you want to have them. Read more about trusts and revokable living trusts.

6. “Should I consult an attorney?”

While you are not required to have an attorney to draft a will, there are circumstances where doing it yourself may lead to problems. If any of the following circumstances are true about you, the America Bar Association advises consulting one:

  1. You, your spouse, or children have international citizenship.
  2. You own or have an interest in property in another state.
  3. Your assets exceed a certain amount (a few million usually, but changes each year).
  4. You or your spouse are getting re-married and could have complications with trusts, property ownership, or guardianship for your minor children.

Tilt your thinking (toward what is meaningful now)

Working for a certain Redmond based software company in the early 90’s after college, I got used to the the idea of collaborating with colleagues by way of sending attachments in email.  As efficient as email and attachments were however, there were often the occassional issues of what was then called “version control” that made life challenging.  Sometimes it was the version of the application (e.g., “Hey Phil, I’m running an older version of Excel – save it and send it in .xls.”).  Other times is was the issue of not having the most up to date copy of the file (e.g., “No, Phil not ‘Q2_QuarterlyReport.xls’ – the comments I wanted you to see are in the last version of the email I sent titled: ‘Q2_QuarterlyReport_kjcomments.xls’.”

Today more meaningful solutions exist for us to share and collaborate on documents using our mobile phones and desktop machines once again.  Applications like Slack, Google Docs (even Office 365) offer us newer, better and more meaningful ways of getting things done.

Similarly, gift giving has also gone through a transition.  Research shows that giving experiences make us happier than things do. And there’s a growing body of research that shows a huge factor to our happiness is stress management.

Summer is the season of celebration.  And our team at GYST thought it would be fun to help people give a gift that matters long after the baby shower, wedding, or retirement celebration.  And while the response the past few days has been tremendous (thank you) we know the price point can be kind of expensive. 

“Love your gift idea and I’m sure it’s hard to make the economics better, but unfortunately to me it just seems like a seriously expensive gift to give. Wish there could be a cheaper option as I love the idea so much.  ;o)

For that reason we’re encouraging readers to use tools like Tilt that make it easy for contributors to help you spread the word and eliminate excuses.

Enjoy summer and stick with the urge to buy something more meaningful, more enduring a chic diaper bags by Prada on-demand services from Amazon Prime and Netflix, your family and friends deserve it.

 

The GYST of it: Gifts That Stick

The GYST of it: Gifts That Stick

Gifts that Matter. Research shows that giving experiences make us happier than things do. There’s more research that shows a huge factor to our happiness is stress management. So why not give someone the gift of getting their shit together?  

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In a recent segment aired on NPR, relevant in the midst of wedding season, science correspondent Shankar Vedantam reports on a study involving the psychology of giving wedding gifts.He comments on the “conflicting forces” guests are presented with, stating “ we want the gifts we give to please the people getting married, but we also want the gift to reflect well on us.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 1.35.58 PMMorgan Ward, a marketing professor at the Southern Methodist University created the study after reflecting on her own experience putting together her wedding registry. After commenting on her effort to put together a list of gifts, she says “… but the people who didn’t want to purchase from the registry were the people closest to me.”

 

The idea of giving experiences rather than things isn’t a new concept. “One of the enemies of happiness is adaption” explains psychologist Dr. Thomas Gilovich. That new crockpot or bar tool set may seem exciting at first, but just like any other object in your home, they soon begin to fade into the background.

gyst_images_tinafey_13Experiences, like a trip to the stunning Machu Picchu in Peru, tickets to a weekend-long music festival or contributing to college tuition are things that stick with you. These are the things that make the memories you spontaneously remember while doing the laundry that make you smile, cringe, or laugh while providing that little reminder of what really matters.

StephanieG_LivingWIll
Stephanie’s success story

Gifts that help us to manage stress might also be those that bring the greatest joy. According to Livestrong, three out of the top ten causes of stress are finances, health, and the death of a loved one. A survey in 2011 conducted by psychologist and self-help author Robert Epstein, reports that around 25% of our happiness depends on how well we manage stress.

According to his survey, the best way we can manage stress is through planning. In Epstein’s words, “ fighting stress before it even starts, planning things rather than letting them happen.”

This proves making a plan for the days, years, and decade to come support your overall happiness itself, it’s a quick and easy strategy that helps you allow more happiness for yourself and your loved ones.


The Gift of GYST

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 10.45.28 AMGYST has created a prepaid estate plan so you and your family are covered for years to come. All necessary documents are drafted and finalized by an attorney who works with you from start to finish.

So next time you’re faced with the question of what to get a friend or family for a wedding, baby shower, or just because, give them the best gift you’ve likely never thought of, The Gift of GYST.

Whether you’re gifting to an individual, a couple, or your family, the package comes with your own personalized note and helpful nudges and reminders to get it done.


Gifts That Give Back

Society B – An online store that sells beautiful, fair trade goods and give 10% of their profit to a different featured charity every month.

One Hope Wine – OHW provides a wide array of affordable gift boxes that each contribute to a variety of different causes from funding therapy for a child with autism, to helping a shelter animal find a forever home. It’s ethical. It’s wine. It’s the perfect match.

MAMA HOPE – Their Human Centered Development model brings together social entrepreneurs, NGOs and many other organizations to ensure communities have access to the holistic, 360° solutions they need to support sustainable growth.

We.org – WE empower people to change the world. WE make this change through our work at home, abroad and through our social enterprise.


This blog post is by writer, journalist and filmmaker, Lyric Weiss, for GYST.com.

How would you like to be remembered?

The Greatest Of All Time has died. But what he leaves behind is a lifetime of inspiration and, not surprisingly, the Greatest descriptions of how he’d like to be remembered:

From a 1972 interview with David Frost what he’d like people to think about him when he’s gone – this “recipe for life” was his answer.

 

And another tweeted by J.K. Rowling. The last line would make anyone crack a smile.

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And the timeless, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

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Thank you.

 

4 GYST Tips for Summer

4 GYST Tips for Summer

 

It was four years ago that my dad, at age 76 set off on a group bicycle trip across Canada. He had planned, trained and packed for it months in advance. What none of us prepared for, was for him to be three quarters of the way through the trip, and get hit by a pickup truck. After many surgeries, months of rehabilitation and years of recovery my dad celebrated his 80th birthday with us this year. He is an amazing, tough, intelligent, generous, man, husband, father and grandpa.  We are all incredibly grateful that he pulled through it all, a little worse for the wear, but he is now 80! Our family learned some valuable lessons along the way, which is what drew me into Co-founding GYST with Chanel and Phil.

I wanted to personally introduce our third installment of ‘The GYST of It’ and highly encourage all of you GYST’ers to take some time to follow these 4 GYST Tips for Summer. They will make your summer adventures more organized, and also to prepare and protect your families no matter what happens.

Come on, you’ve got this!

Cheers,
Jessica Ostrow, GYST Co-founder & CEO


#1 Leave the kids behind with peace of mind

A vacation is a top trigger that motivates parents to get their will and estate planning done.

Headed out of town without your children? First, congratulations. Second, don’t wait until the last minute to realize, “Oh sh*t, we never finished our will!”

Almost every attorney we know has received a call from anxious parents going on vacation (or from the airport!) realizing their will or living will isn’t done.

Learn how you can do it anywhere online, it takes under 30 minutes to complete a basic one. Then get it notarized, and make sure you share it with the right people.

With your estate plans in place, you can head off on your vacation stress free. Well, maybe those TSA lines will be a little stressful…


#2 Don’t forget insurance!

Do you have life insurance? Our friends at PolicyGenius make it easy to get quotes from all the top providers. Yes, this is a plug for PolicyGenius, but we think they do a great job providing you with the information you need to choose wisely. If you have questions, read our guide covering all things insurance.

“People spend a lot of their hard-earned money on insurance, so understanding and obtaining it
should be easy, right?”
Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO of PolicyGenius

 

Not sure if you need travel insurance? Check out this review of the best travel insurance for 2016, what to look for, why you might want it and some of the best options to fit your travel needs from Simple Dollar.

“Whether you’re dealing with an unexpected illness, a death in the family, or a lost suitcase, all of these scenarios have the potential to cancel or ruin your travels.”

Saundra Latham, writer for The Simple Dollar


#3 Pull together your family digital details

Getting all of your account information and passwords assembled in one place can seem overwhelming, but any task will feel easier if you can break it down into simple steps. We have created The GYST Digital Details downloadable checklist, with a sample of accounts and details to track.


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GYST TIP: Pick 5 accounts each week to track down. By the end of summer, you’ll have listed over 60 accounts! Imagine if you get your family involved in organizing these for your parents.

 


#4 The GYST team’s favorite travel apps

We asked each GYST team member to share their favorite travel app with you:

Wunderlist keeps all my must-reads and to-do lists with me wherever I go.” – Chanel, Co-founder

“When traveling, I like to use Glympse to share my location so family and friends can see exactly when I’ll arrive and know if I’m having car trouble or stuck in traffic.” – Chip, Lead Engineer

Google Maps has an awesome offline mode that saved my family from being lost in the Alps.” – Jessica, CEO and Co-founder

“At home or away I need to know if the Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons is still as badass as ever, so I always keep HBO Now loaded on my phone before a family trip.” – Phil, Co-founder


GYST TIP: We all recommend Rick Steves’s, Best Smartphone Apps for Travelerswith a list of great apps for every kind of trip.

 


We’d love to hear from you!

Have a great tip you want to share with other GYST’ers? Have something you’d like us to research and feature on GYST.com or the next The GYST of It newsletter? Please email us at hello@gyst.com.

Happy Travels!
The GYST Team