AdviceDIY

How to Not Die Broke: 3 Documents You Shouldn’t Live Without

Let’s face it: We’re all gonna die.  As we’ve seen in recent events, tragedy can unexpectedly strike at any moment. I hate it say it, but the majority of us haven’t thought past what we want to prepare for dinner or who we want to hook up with later, let alone prepare for our inevitable death. Only 20 to 30 percent of Americans report having an advance directive such as a living will, according to Associated Press.  Even when patients have an advance directive, physicians are often unaware of their patients’ preferences. One large-scale study found that only 25 percent of physicians knew that their patients had advance directives on file. I don’t know about you, but I want a say in how things go down and have an idea of the wishes of my near and dearest.

So, my fellow Broke-Ass readers out there, I dare ask: DO YOU have a Will & Testament? Do you qualify for needing a Living Trust? Do you have a Power of Attorney? Do you have Life Insurance? Do you have Elder Care Insurance?  Do you know the location of your loved ones wills, birth certificates, marriage and divorce certificates, social Security information, life-insurance policies, financial documents, and keys to safe deposit box or home safe of your loved ones?  Do you know what any of these things mean?

That’s why I tracked down Insurance expert with Connor, Alexander and Sullivan , Kevin Sullivan. Sullivan says “most people think insurance is an accessory rich people have, but that’s a fallacy.” He is a local San Franciscan who is also available via email kevin@consulinsurance.com for personal Consultations with anyone in California.

1. How to Create a Last Will & Testament

 

 

What are your wishes for when you die? What kind of funeral arrangements do you want? Do you want organ donation, or to be cremated, buried, or put into a burial pod and turned into a tree ( I want this last one!).  I used LegalZoom and paid a small fee as it asked me all the important questions: re: dependants, pets, assets, etc but there are free websites as well.

In order for it to be a legal document, you just have to sign it. Having a last will won’t do you much good if no one can find it. Make sure you keep yours in a secure place, generally at home in a safe or in a jointly-owned safe deposit box. It’s also a great idea to create a couple copies and give them to people you trust, such as your children, spouse, and estate planning attorney.

A Last Will is just part of an estate plan. A complete estate plan contains many of the following:

2) Should I get Life Insurance?

Short answer according to Sullivan is “ It’s a no brainer.  If a loved one is financially dependent on you, and you leave the planet, they’re going to hurt.  For less than a bar tab a month, you can protect them from that exodus.”  If you have a family or loved one(s)  and not a whole lot of savings, it is the best investment you can make! A life insurance policy is $50-$55 a month for a man for $1,000,000 and about $22-$25 for a woman for a $250,000 can buy you a 30 year policy. When I asked Kevin about why the policy cost different he said with a blank  face,” Due to nagganitus.”

“Nag-a-what?,” I asked perplexed.
“ Oh yea. It’s a serious condition where men die from being nagged from their wives…Actually, if you look at actuarial tables, women generally outlive men, and that is reflected in the insurance rates.”

“Not all policies are created equal,” says expert Insurance broker Kevin Sullivan of Connor, Alexander and Sullivan Insurance Services.  “Life policies have various forms, some accumulate a cash value, some return your money at the end of the term, and some pay extra due to the method of your death, like a spectacular Muni hit. By the way,  our lovely transportation system, Muni, hits about one person a week.

Some insurance policies even allow you to kill yourself after two years of paying for the policy – which I always think is quite odd… But if you are going to kill yourself, might as well make it profitable for your family… Not to be dark here, but I guess most suicides are not planned out or insurance companies wouldn’t allow that clause.

2b) Renters Insurance. Another way, not to die broke is to get Renters or Homeowners (but lets face it, if you’re’ on this website, renters insurance is most likely your situation. Whether you are a starting artist, Lyft Driver, or just part of the gig economy, your laptop, your bike,  or supplies may be your lifeline to keep afloat.  

Sullivan says,” Regardless if you run a business on your laptop, renters insurance is one of the best investments every struggling artist should have… The most expensive piece of equipment you may have is your $3k laptop. If you drop $20 a month of a renters policy, you can get a brand new laptop for $500 deductible.”

2c) Scammers.  “Damn Scammers,” sighs Sullivan. “Most people have no idea that they are being targeted for scams. Anyone has a credit card — even a low limit, is a possible target… hackers won’t use your info to steal thousands from your bank account.  They’ll swipe $7.43 every once in awhile, hoping you won’t notice.  Or, they get a low limit credit card in your name, max it out, and dump it.  Next time you try to expand your credit, your credit report has a defaulted credit card on it.  No loan for you.”

For example, you may have heard about the Equifax hack where 143 Million people’s info was stolen. Make sure you freeze your credit with all three credit reporting agencies:  Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. They may charge a $10 fee here and there, but they may  but this is serious and every one should protect their credit. “Hackers can borrow money against your name, and leave you to debt. That’s just one way you can get screwed from this hack.”  

2d) Disability Insurance:  If you have any dependants, like a child, if you are disabled and unable to work, you become dependant on others. Even if you don’t have a 9-5, you can invest monthly and get Disability Insurance.

Sullivan says “The truth is that you are three and a half times more likely to be injured and need disability coverage than you are to die and need life insurance. At no age is the risk of death greater than the risk of becoming disabled. Think of disability as insurance against becoming a burden on your family.  You don’t buy disability, or life insurance, for yourself.  You buy it for those who depend on you.”

3) How to complete an Advance directive

Back to death:  It’s also key, along with your Life Insurance, your Will and Testament, your renters insurance/ disability insurance,  that you have an Advance Directive, which specifies wanted and unwanted procedures in case of a health emergency.  You can appoint a health-care proxy to make medical decisions if you become incapacitated. Have a do-not-resuscitate order drawn up if the person desires that tells health-care professionals not to perform CPR if the person’s heart or breathing stops and restarting would not result in a meaningful life. Make sure you give copies of the documents to your doctor and a few family members or friends. Take the documents to the hospital if you are admitted.

Directions if a loved One Dies
Life doesn’t come with a handbook, but if you find yourself with this sudden predicament of dealing with the death of a loved one, here is a checklist of what you need to know:

  1. Get a legal pronouncement of their death. If no doctor is present, you’ll need to contact someone to do this:
  • If they died at home under hospice care, call the hospice nurse, who can declare the death and help facilitate the transport of the body.
  • If they died  at home without hospice care, call 911, and have in hand a do-not-resuscitate document if it exists. Without one, paramedics will generally start emergency procedures and, except where permitted to pronounce death, take the person to an emergency room for a doctor to make the declaration.
  1. Arrange for transportation of their body. If no autopsy is needed, the body can be picked up by a mortuary (by law, a mortuary must provide price info over the phone) or crematorium.
  2. Notify their doctor or the county coroner.
  3. Notify close family and friends. (Ask some to contact others.)
  4. Handle care of dependents
  5. Call their life insurance policy
  6. Arrange for funeral for cremation. Ask a friend or family member to go with you to the mortuary. Prepare an obituary.Within a few days after death

Up to 10 days after death

  1. Obtain death certificates (usually from the funeral home). Get multiple copies; you’ll need them for financial institutions, government agencies, and insurers.
  2. Take the will to the appropriate county or city office to have it accepted for probate.
  3. Contact:
  • A trust and estates attorney, to learn how to transfer assets and assist with probate issues.
  • Police, to have them periodically check the deceased’s house if vacant.
  • Accountant or tax preparer, to find out whether an estate-tax return or final income-tax return should be filed.
  • The person’s investment adviser, for information on holdings.
  • Bank info
  • Life insurance agent, to get claim forms.
  • Social Security (800-772-1213; socialsecurity.gov) and other agencies from which the deceased received benefits, such as Veterans Affairs (800-827-1000; va.gov), to stop payments and ask about applicable survivor benefits.  Agency providing pension services, to stop monthly check and get claim forms.
  • Utility companies, to change or stop service, and postal service, to stop or forward mail.

Til Death Do Us Part

You know what they say: “Can’t escape death or taxes” — Well, maybe taxes… but you aren’t getting off this floating rock alive, I can tell you that. It can be very intense and heavy to think about, but it’s an inevitable mountain to face, so you might as well be savvy about it. You may not have been rich in life, but you can leave your loved ones well taken care of… and let me tell you, peace of mind is priceless.

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Alexandra Liss - Couchsurfer Extraordinaire

Alexandra Liss - Couchsurfer Extraordinaire

Alexandra Liss is a San Francisco native, Entrepreneur Whisperer, Sharing Economy Evangelist. Just Vagenius. Co-author of www.ItsaShareableLife.com, & Videographer for hire www.BrandbarSF.com, Director of www.OneCouchataTime.com.