Posts Tagged ‘estate planning’
I recently joined two organizing-industry committees that study organizing trends, and I’ve detected a clutter tsunami coming our way.
- Aging, first-tier Baby Boomers will continue to downsize now that the housing crisis is over and they are seeking outlets for their excess clutter.
- Second-tier Baby Boomers, hit hard by economic swings, will cash-in their home equity, shed excess, and become more mobile.
- Gen Xers, concerned about job security, will want to continue their dominance as home-based business owners in their basements, attics, and rooms left available as their kids go off to college.
- Gen Y, could well be sandwiched between their Boomer parents and children with all three generations living together in precious space that has no room for clutter.
- And if you think Gen Z wants to inherit the stuff from other generations, think again. They’re totally into small living quarters, with techy, multi-purpose furnishings unlike their parents or grandparents.
We’ll all need to employ a great number of de-acquisition methods to stop from being carried away in the flood of clutter. That means, not just charitable donations, recycling, and consignment but also using specialty sales sites like moveloot.com for furniture; decluttr.com for games, DVDs, and CDs; thredup.com for clothing; and usell.com for electronics. CraigsList and Freecycle are unbelievably effective in eliminating stuff. Just observe a few common sense safety measures (here and here) before you take advantage of them.
Check out our “Get Rid Of Your Stuff” flashcards to help organize and declutter.
Hey, you don’t need to be great at all these methods. Go to www.napo.net to find a professional organizer who can help you. In Georgia, that would be FileHeads at 404-231-6172, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital Estate Planning
It’s a new year. A fresh start. Let’s get your affairs in order. If, God forbid, you suddenly died or became incapacitated, you not only need a Will, a designated Executor and Power of Attorney, and a Living Will, but also a Digital Estate Plan. A Digital Estate Plan:
- Provides for the safe transference of passwords, user codes and other log-in information to your Executor or other authorized representative.
- Creates a “paper trail” for online or web-based accounts which often have no statements or paper trail.
- Accounts for digital assets that might be overlooked by your estate.
- Records your wishes regarding social media and protects you from unauthorized access by identity thieves and other digital mischief-makers.
- Centralizes all your digital information in one place.
It’s impossible to put a price on that kind of peace of mind. Let me sit by your side and create your confidential Digital Estate Plan with you for just $250.00*. On average, it takes about 3 hours to create a Digital Estate Plan if you do a bit of easy preparation before the session (we’ll send you a simple preparation checklist prior to the session.) You can schedule two 1½-hour sessions or one 3-hour session, whatever is convenient for you. Simply shoot me an email to Judith@fileheads.net with ‘DEP’ in the subject line and we’ll nail down a time.
And here’s another benefit. Doing a Digital Estate Plan for yourself positions you to provide Digital Estate Plan services to your clients by becoming a certified Digital Estate Plan Consultant. Contact me at Judith@fileheads.net or 404-226-1381 for more information.
Here is a free Digital Estate Plan checklist to get your new year started right!
*Some Digital Estate Plans are incredibly complex. Some people don’t prepare at all in advance of their session. These factors can result in a higher fee. But you’ll always be informed beforehand if we cannot honor the $250.00 quote.
Getting Kids Organized
Got kids or grandkids that need help with their nascent organizing skills? Start them young! I want to congratulate my colleagues and friends, Diane Quintana and Jonda Beattie, on the publication of their children’s books, Suzie’s Messy Room and Benji’s Messy Room, both available at Amazon.com
What if you suddenly died or became incapacitated? Would your Executor, Power of Attorney, heirs, or family know about the existence of your “invisible” online and web-based accounts, the ones with no statements or paper trail? How about the critical information inside your email accounts or the content on your website or social media accounts? Does anybody know your log in information to these accounts? While your family is planning your funeral and grieving your loss, criminals could be hijacking your Facebook account. Do you know how to protect your “information afterlife”?
Order Creating Your Digital Estate Plan, an easy-to-understand guide to
- Provide for the safe transference of digital information to your family and authorized representatives.
- Account for digital assets that might be overlooked by your estate.
- Protect your information afterlife from unauthorized access by identity thieves and other digital mischief-makers.
Creating Your Digital Estate Plan is only $9.99 and is essential for
- Prudent baby boomers who understand the Digital Age poses challenges for planning their estate
- Adult children of senior citizens who desire to be well-informed about comprehensive estate planning
- Members of the financial and legal community responsible for the estate planning of others
- Digital natives and millennials with assets, accounts, and information stored on the web
- Professional Organizers who want to extend value-added benefits to their clients
Available as a PDF, Creating Your Digital Estate Plan is the best $9.99 you’ll ever spend. Loaded with critical cutting-edge information, it also includes a link to a simple, customizable Digital Estate Plan form so you can make your own, personalized Digital Estate Plan. Order your copy of Creating Your Digital Estate Plan today!
My client Maxine died suddenly. She and I were in the midst of an organizing project. We were sorting through hundreds of documents in a filing cabinet. “So many of them are obsolete and many are in digital form now,” Maxine observed. “It’s time for purge.” Too big a project to finish in just one organizing session, we set up a second session for the next week. “She had a massive coronary,” Maxine’s sister Elena told me when I called to confirm our session. I was stunned. “Let me know if there is anything I can do,” I told Elena.
Two months later the family was still settling Maxine’s estate and I got a call from Elena who Maxine appointed as her Executor. “I thought I sent a death certificate to all her banks but I just found out there’s this web account at Voya. For the past two months, money has been transferring out of that account to pay Maxine’s cell phone bill and her cable bill. It’s like a ghost account. No statements, no emails…it’s not a lot of money, but I’m having a heck of a time turning off the payments!” Elena exclaimed.
Maxine’s death got me thinking about what I could do to help my clients better prepare for ‘information afterlife’. Information afterlife is the phrase I use to describe information and transactions that seem to live on after we die. And then there is all that login information to access accounts and assets that we have to leave behind for our family to settle our estates.
Let me give you an example.
Professor Elizabeth Mathews was my college professor back in the 1970s in the newly emerging field of environmental science. I always admired Professor Mathew’s organization skills as well as her enthusiasm for saving the planet. Assignments were made well in advance. Our papers were graded quickly. We always knew when the exams were. When I visited Professor Mathew at the hospital after she had a stroke, I was not surprised to learn she had a power-of-attorney in place, her brother Joe. “I’m happy to take care of things while Elizabeth is incapacitated,” Joe told me over a hospital cafeteria cup of coffee. “Thing is, I can’t find her paperwork. There are no bills in the mailbox and no statements in the house.” Elizabeth had gone green. As a devout environmentalist, that was no surprise to me. “Well that’s fine for the trees,” Joe said, “but she’s getting emails reminding her to make her car payment. I click on the link to their website but I don’t know her password so I can’t get in. I spent half a day just trying to find their phone number.” Poor Joe. Not only is he worried about Elizabeth’s health, but now he’s concerned about her finances.
The terms of service agreements regarding who can access bank accounts, cell phone companies, and all other businesses are very well-intentioned. They are designed to protect their customers against fraud and identity theft and to protect their privacy rights. But the digital age cries out for reform so that the family of a deceased, executors, attorneys, powers of attorney, and others involved in the disposition of estates can do their job. Reform is slow is coming but it is coming via the courts and state legislatures. Meanwhile, you can take action on your own behalf with a
(DEP). A Digital Estate Plan identifies ‘invisible’, digital assets that may be part of your estate such as web-only accounts. It also provides login information to appropriate authorized individuals to access your digital assets and accounts.
To get you started, click here for a free checklist for developing a Digital Estate Plan and then take it a step further. Get your own copy of the Create Your Digital Estate Plan ebook! Please be advised that I am not an accountant, attorney, estate planner, or a financial professional of any kind. I am a professional organizer and legally unqualified to advise you about the particulars of your estate. Please consult with your accountant, lawyer, estate planner, or other professionals involved in the disposition of your estate about developing your Digital Estate Plan.
Copyright 2016 Judith Kolberg
The word resolve comes from the Latin verb solvere which means to loosen or to dissolve. In modern terms, we’ve stretched this definition to mean taking on a big or tough project and little by little “dissolving” it. Resolve also has a second meaning: to make clear and unambiguous, to bring to conclusion. Here the emphasis is on focusing in on the exact outcome you want. Taking both meanings together, you can craft some pretty potent resolutions.
Let’s say you want to get organized. Focus in on exactly what you mean by get organized. Maybe it’s to dig out of a complex, disorganized physical mess. Maybe you want to develop regular, long-term habits and routines that keep you on top of things. Or perhaps your resolution is to become a better time manager. Focus first; then dissolve it, break it down: Square foot by square foot, habit by habit and daily plan by daily plan.
Realize that many resolutions require behavioral changes over time. Such changes always work best when you get some help. Find a supportive, non-judgmental family member or friend to help you with your resolve, or consider hiring a professional organizer or an organizing coach at www.napo.net.
Resolving to Get Rid of Your Stuff
High on the list of New Year’s resolutions is getting rid of excess stuff. For many disorganized people, this is not as easy as it sounds. Some people lack information about the many options available for getting rid of stuff. Others just can’t seem to get the logistics to line up including finding the time, applying the effort, or preparing stuff to go. Most, I think, get stuck on the decision-making process itself.
I developed a set of Get Rid of Your Stuff flashcards. Because they are colorful, graphic and tactile (as well as informative) the flashcards give disorganized folks a simple tool for making what I call “de-acquisition” decisions. “The flashcards helped me learn all the different ways to get rid of stuff,” my client said. “Donations, eBay, CraigsList, consignments, yard sales, giving things away for free to family or strangers – the list goes on and on.”
Professional organizers use them out in the field to help sort stuff, improve decision making, discuss de-acquisition options, and plan the logistics. But the flashcards are designed for anybody who wants to reduce clutter. They make excellent gifts and can be ordered at www.squallpress.net.
Resolving to Plan Your Digital Estate
Recently, I addressed the American Association of Daily Money Managers (AADMM). My AADMM colleagues report that estate planning is high up on their clients’ resolution lists. I’m not a money manager, accountant, tax or financial professional of any kind, so it’s not my role to give you specific advice about your estate. But I would like to tell you a story by way of introducing you to digital estate planning.
My client Maxine died suddenly. I was helping organize her digital and tangible documents. Maxine’s executor notified the banks and other financial institutions of her death. But there were passwords and user codes and security questions to answer to access Maxine’s accounts that took weeks of hard work to untangle. And just when the family thought the estate was well on its way being settled, digital assets emerged. There was a web-only checking account Maxine had in the cloud with no paper trail and a PayPal account without any hardcopy statements.
We all have tangible and digital assets and information. I read about a guy who owned a “digital sword” he purchased for $17,000 to play high-stakes, international video games and legally it was considered an estate asset. I’d like to suggest in 2015, that you:
- Create a password-protected document (like an Excel spreadsheet) of your login information so your executor and family can settle your account with less fuss and muss. In addition to your online accounts, consider “invisible” (web-only) accounts like Emigrant Direct and Voya and other places money might stowed, like PayPal accounts.
- Next, inventory your digital assets and list how to gain access to them. Include the aforementioned accounts plus Bitcoins, royalties you may have coming in from the sale of eBooks on Kindle and Nook, seller’s accounts you might have with eBay, digital swords – you’d be surprised how many assets you have when you sit down and think about it. Even your domain name might have value to your estate. Find out at sedo.com.
- Consider the Excel spreadsheet or other document you create a part of your final documents. Lock it down with a password, disclosed only to your executor, of at least 15 mixed characters and numbers. Keep a hardcopy with your Will. Download it to a flash drive and hand it to your executor. Keep a copy for yourself on a flash drive and consider not having a copy on your hard drive at all. Some folks also like to store a copy in the cloud at www.legacylocker or www.finaldeparture.com.