Bob answers questions about the probate process, how Estate Planning can better help to preserve and protect assests, Bob’s Guidebook Planning Process and What About Me. As well as making sure to be informed about voting for Washington State’s Judges.
You know you’re supposed to brush your teeth and you probably do it – right? You know you’re supposed to look both ways before crossing the street. And, oh yah, there’s the one about not stepping on cracks or something happens to your mother’s back. Nobody walks on the street anymore and there are no cracks, so I guess we’re ok on that one. But, what about the one that says we’re all supposed to have a durable general power of attorney?
If you are ever out of commission, especially for more than a couple of days, you need someone to step into your shoes and do important things for you. Someone has to consent to that surgery, pay your bills and feed the dog (or cat). Someone has to make decisions for you and the only way that they can legally do that is to use a durable power of attorney or go to court and become your guardian. What fun! A judge gets to wave a wand and bang down the gavel on a person who will wear your shoes, and I sure hope they fit.
Attorneys and even judges forget to have a power of attorney prepared, so you are in good company. Doctors, nurses, teachers, baristas, that nice sales clerk at Target, the not so nice cop who gave you that ticket, the person taking tolls on the Narrows Bridge, pilots, you get the idea. Very few of us seem to get around to it and then hardly anyone ever updates it.
Stand out in the crowd and get your durable general power of attorney prepared. But, choose your agent wisely (that’s the person who steps into your shoes). I guess I could tell you to check shoe sizes carefully and make sure your agent wears socks. The wrong agent will likely end up in either Mexico or South Tacoma, depending on your account balance.
A good book on estate planning (in general) is Plan Your Estate, by Denis Clifford. Do it. Do it now.
Bob interviews Washington Supreme Court Justice Gerry Alexander. They talk about Justice Gerry Alexander’s journey from Trial Attorney to becoming the longest standing Chief Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, his upcoming retirement, and some history of Washington State.
Bob talks about having an up to date, properly prepared Power of Attorney as well as some other key Estate Planning tips including using a corporate trustee, and having your What About Me? filled out for a caretaker.
“Your motorcycle days are over.” The words moved across the room in slow motion, cartoon-like, as if in a dialogue cloud. And then they sped up as they got to me and hit me right between the eyes. Her husband would never ride a motorcycle again. His motorcycle days were over.
We had just finished up a talk I had given on estate planning. We were talking about the What About Me worksheets that I like to bring up. I had passed out the worksheets and a discussion ensued about some of the little things that were important to everyone in the room. The topic of motorcycles had come up and Frank’s eyes lit up (Frank is not his real name). Frank is dealing with some significant health issues. His wife said, clearly without intending to be harsh, that Frank’s motorcycle days are over.
I don’t ride motorcycles, but I think Frank really enjoyed riding. It is a simple thing. I guess it is a little item in the grand scheme of things. But, in a flash, I felt the power of this simple thing and what the loss of it must mean. The words cut into me and opened up thoughts of little, simple things that make up my life. You know, real life. Not the big, dramatic things, but the simple stuff. Eating waffles with strawberries and whip cream, like the ones I had when I was a kid at the Seattle World’s Fair. Driving my car with the windows down. Going to a Mariner Game with my sons. Having coffee with my wife. Reading the newspaper.
Don’t take life for granted. You really never know when you might lose the ability to do and enjoy the little things.