Category: Estate Planning 101 & Overview

Raking leaves (and finding ways to rebalance our lives)

Raking leaves (and finding ways to rebalance our lives)

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.



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.

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.

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.


GYST Shares Jim’s Story

Jim Peschel

Adjustments in Jim’s personal life necessitated that he make changes to the beneficiaries that were previously part of his estate plan. And while the whole notion of starting-up the process felt overwhelming, Jim kept on reading the emails from GYST encouraging him along.

Getting it together 

Jim spread the word about GYST to many friends and colleagues he knew but, was surprised to learn how many of those he spoke to had overlooked their own estate planning needs.

“I spread the news about this every chance I got like it was gospel but, as great and important a program as GYST is I was blown away at how few people actually had done anything.”

The impact

One night Jim just had enough.  He knew the templates and information was available on GYST to get it all done in one sitting.  Jim simply needed to invest the time reading the Guides so he could feel confident making informed choices about his own end-of-life wishes.

His advice? 

“One night is all it takes to get it done. Set a date, hold yourself accountable to getting it done and let the content roll you through the process. ”

Closing section

Tell us your story. Email us! We’d love to hear from you.

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