by Chanel Reynolds
Uncertainty can be a no-fun, scary place to be – especially when it comes to access to medical care. It’s Open Enrollment season, so as the December 15th deadline approaches and many of you plan trips or family get-togethers for the holidays, we decided to focus on the medical options and what-ifs to pay attention to right now.
1) What matters? Most of us don’t have the time to research every plan or comb through each chart to compare them – So, I got honest about what scares the pants off me (being a single parent with a sick kid) and focused on making sure I’ve got the basics and my vulnerable spots (access to expert doctors if something happens and getting seen asap) taken care of.
To-do: Figure out what you really need – There are a lot resources out there, I found this New York Times article super helpful and the ‘3 Things’ overview on the HealthCare.gov breaks it down very clearly.
2) How covered are you? As a widowed single-parent I have to be honest that the only thing that scares me more than dying before my son is an adult is getting so sick I can’t take care of him and not dying for a long, terribly awful, painful, financially-ruinous time.
To-do: Check if you’re covered where you’d want to go – Personally, If I get breast cancer (my current #1 fear), I want to be seen by a black-belt boob-whisperer who has done nothing else but look at breasts all day, every day, for the last 20 years. So, I checked with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to see if my current plan is covered there.
3) How hard/easy is it? Most parents understand the feeling where you have a 7-minute buffer to do all-the-things-you-have-to, and when your kid is sick everything flies apart into pieces. Even if nothing is wrong, it still sucks to have to schedule an appointment 3 weeks (or months) in advance.
To-do: Find out how/where you can get seen – Ask if your regular doctor or pediatrician offers weekend or evening appointments. Mine did, and I had no idea.
Here are two new things worth checking out:
4) Become familiar with the current system. This month, many of us will reconnect with our extended families. If you are one of the 44 million adults who spends several hours each week caring for an aging parent, you should learn about Medicare Advantage. The center for Medicare has great information about these plans that range from Health Maintenance Organizations, Preferred Provider Organizations, Private and Fee-for-Service Plans that may be appropriate for you or a member of your family.
5) Learn how things are likely to change. With the new Secretary for Health and Human Services stepping in, read the new bill for yourself to see how it may affect you and your family. For example, under Mr. Price’s bill, there would be a limit of $8,000 on the amount of tax-free coverage you would receive an individual employee and $20,000 for family coverage.
6) Be an advocate for your colleagues. Read up on tips for 2017 Open Enrollment. If you’re a working adult who is part of a mid-size company or larger enterprise, engage your HR specialist and learn about possible changes to your employer sponsored healthcare program. And heck, if you have concerns, that you and your colleagues raise while talking around the water cooler, write a letter to your congressman.
Uncertainty and times of big change don’t always bring out the best in us, but they do show us where our weak and vulnerable spots are. This last week showed all of us that we need to get our lives together in ways we never realized and I felt compelled to share my weak spot with you today.
For me, weekends are a time to reconnect with family, enjoy outings with friends, and find ways to rebalance. But, this past weekend I couldn’t do it. The rebalancing part I mean.
Raking-up the last brown leaves of the season from the shrubs in our front yard on Sunday, I tried to make sense of last Tuesday wondering what big thinkers like Nate Silver must be doing to help us all understand why Trump had a better chance.
Silly really. To think I could rebalance my life by reading articles about voter turnout any more than predictions about the outcome of next year’s NBA finals.
I put down my rake, sat and called my siblings. “How are you feeling about the results of this election?” I said. We had a brief laugh over all at we don’t control in our lives. And I listened to them share their hopes and concerns about the future direction of our country. Then we returned to the latest developments concerning the plan to help our widowed father age in place with the dignity he deserves (and finding ways to accommodate the odd choices he’s making that we struggle to understand as his kin).
For me, talking with my siblings and others this weekend about the strategies they are using to find order in their own lives helped me to start the week energized to rebalance things about my own life.
And the dozens of articles I read this weekend helped me see how people from all over the country are using sites like GYST to inspire and act on the big, important conversations. Planning and completing documents that take the fear and worry out of end of life planning is something each of us must do, if you cast a ballot or not, whether you have days or decades before you need them.
Tuesday night changed us all. We now know how little experts understand about what’s exactly on all voter’s minds in this country and how complicated a science polling is to understand, let alone accurately predict. But, perhaps more importantly in the days following last Tuesday’s election, my conversations with family and friends this weekend about the struggles in their own busy lives, helped me to see that in a way we still have much in common.
We know it can be hard to turn good intentions into action around end of life. The ongoing struggle we all face is a universal truth and it’s important to act.
Our team has big aspirations for GYST in 2017, I am committed to experiment with strategies that help our users find uniquely meaningful ways to tackle their end of life plans.
Please take two (2) minutes to answer a few questions that help us know how we can help you.
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.
“Life insurance is crucial for parents to ensure your children are taken care of financially if you died prematurely.” – Natasha Cornelius
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.
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.
GYST’s guide explains where to start, assigns you one task each week, and breaks it all down into easy, doable steps.
Whether 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.
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
If 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.
Use 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.
Your last step is to finalize your documents.
To execute a will in any state in the United States, you must:
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.
Once you’re done, send us a picture and we’ll make you (like Stephanie) our next Success Story!
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.
Typically people start with the will, because if you think about it, that’s the only document that’s guaranteed to get some use.
We think so. You need a process, like GYST’s, that can ensure you avoid these common mistakes:
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.
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:
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.
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.”
Morgan 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.
Experiences, 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.
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.
GYST 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.
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.