Author: GYST Team
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:
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.
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.
And the timeless, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
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!
Jessica Ostrow, GYST Co-founder & CEO
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.
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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 Travelers, with a list of great apps for every kind of trip.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The GYST Team
And then try again the next day…
GYST Co-Founder Phil Shigo shares his personal story about this own parents and the importance of having difficult conversations about end-of-life.
I remember vividly the telephone conversation with the Emergency Doctor at the hospital, “I’m sorry about your mother,” he said, “but there’s nothing else we can do.” Days later I learned from the coroner that my mother’s death was the result of an intracranial aneurysm. I remember the pit in my stomach thinking about the ongoing care needed for my father, a 69-year-old paraplegic who was paralyzed after falling-off of a ladder some 14 years earlier. And I remember writing down his comments and questions to me in my notepad days afterward. “It isn’t supposed to happen like this,” he said.
He was right. Speaking with the spinal care doctors at Stanford Medical Center following my father’s debilitating accident in late 2001, my siblings and I had begun slowly accepting the probability that a paraplegic like my father would predecease my mother, a retired grade school teacher who stayed active her entire life and had glowing reports from her physical exams.
We were wrong. The universe had other plans. My siblings and I never anticipated the scenario of my father outliving my mother. We never saw all the behind-the-scenes stuff my mother did to support my father. We never appreciated how difficult it would be to find the manila folder in their house that contained the important financial information or how challenging it would be to access their estate planning information. We never realized they lacked adequate insurance.
“39% of U.S. Adults provide care for a parent, sibling or relative and 70% are working professionals between in the age of 30-55 with children of our own.”
– Pew Research Center
I am grateful for having a mother as long as I did. I am humbled by all I now know that she did for my father. And I am convinced that by having conversations about important things we can all expect better outcomes for our families even if we can’t control the actual plan for our lives.
Ellen Goodman is Co-Founder and Director of a non-for-profit called The Conversation Project, has an entire site devoted to helping you with techniques to get your thoughts together for what you, a friend or a family member want for end-of-life care. Take 5 minutes away from looking at status updates and photos on Facebook or Instagram, and download her free Starter Kit, I believe it’s something you’ll like and want to share.
My folks are old school. They had their Advanced Directives created by an estate planning attorney who released copies to me as their executor after my mother’s death. However, there are many other online options available to help you create an Advanced Directive (Living Will). Willing.com is offers users a free service that is legally valid in 50 states and takes minutes to create. Other services like LegalZoom offer fixed pricing options for a few hundred dollars. Whether you choose an online service or want the help of a qualified professional, this document is explains your wishes should you not be able to speak for yourself.
Everyone’s situation varies when it comes to finances. Services like Learnvest (a wholly owned subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual Life) offer a great resource to help you identify what insurance and estate planning information and provides you with a financial plan, check it out.
Living with my father in the days after my mother passed, I assumed the responsibility for many of the things my mother used to do. Paying bills and walking down the road to collect the mail were some of those things. There stuck in a pile of utility bills, donation requests from charities and a couple mail-order catalogs was a direct mail addressed to my mother from MetLife, I smiled. Then I sighed and looked up into the clouds, “you never got it did you!?!?”
“Seven of 10 working-age women, or an estimated 64 million women, have no health insurance coverage or inadequate coverage, medical bill or debt problems, or problems accessing needed health care because of cost.”
– The CommonWealth Fund
My mother did many amazing things. She was a woman, who in addition to her caregiving responsibilities for my father, attended church regularly and gave what little money and time she had to help others she said, “Were less fortunate.” She never did think to get life insurance. Take an hour to compare prices and policies to see what makes sense for your family.
Mid-Twentieth Century Engineers at Zephyr American were responsible for some pretty important office innovations, but “export” and “share” features were never a part of Rolodex product roadmap. My mother stored more than most on notched cards and rotating spindles. My siblings and I use Google Drive to store and share my father’s Activities of Daily Living, Contacts, Prescription Information, Power of Attorney, Health Directives, etc. Go digital and start organizing your digital details.
Everyone’s situation with his or her aging parents is different and challenging in its own way, but these are the things I wish I’d thought about in advance.
Having a spouse working in Healthcare, things like Living Wills, Durable Power of Attorney and Long-Term Insurance were always there on Dustin’s “To-Do’s” list. But, thinking of the time it would take to shop for insurance policies, getting documents notarized and dealing with digital accounts and passwords – it was easy to put off.
“Getting documents notarized, shopping for insurance all felt like one hot mess.”
When Dustin and his wife gave birth to their son, he started to read the guides that were part of the GYST Checklist and soon realized most of the work had already been done for him.
“GYST hits the nail on the head. Just going through the checklist helped me to realize anyone can do it. Now, I feel more confident as an adult knowing that I’ve got my shit together.”
“Just go through the checklist, having all the heavy-lifting is done for you. Anyone can work through it including the miscellaneous stuff like solutions for passwords and other digital details.”
“In all, it took me about three weeks to get my shit together but, compared to the years I’d been agonizing about getting this stuff done, it’s a ridiculously short amount of time – my only of advice would be to send people donuts.”
Tell us your story. Email us! We’d love to hear from you.
Next: Go to the GYST Checklist.