HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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In the midst of the grief and stress of losing a spouse, it is hard to think about making any big decisions and planning for the future. However, it is very important for the surviving spouse to take action for their own protection and peace of mind.


Administration of the deceased spouse’s probate estate.

In many cases, a probate is not necessary when the first spouse passes. Any assets owned jointly or with beneficiary designations should not need court administration. If a probate is necessary, hopefully all of the deceased spouse’s estate documents were in order prior to their passing. The probate process is different in every state, depending on whether or not the deceased had a will, and the length of time it takes to complete the process varies. In many cases, the surviving spouse is listed in the will as the Personal Representative/Executor of the estate. Even if they are not listed in the will or there is no will, the responsibility still generally falls on the surviving spouse who usually has the most knowledge of the assets. An experienced probate attorney can greatly assist in the process and help relieve the stresses of navigating the court system.


Durable Financial/Legal Power of Attorney.

In this document, an individual (the “principal”) appoints another person (the “agent”) to act with the principal’s authority to perform acts

ESTATE PLANNING AFTER THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE

specified in the document. This document remains valid through the principal’s incapacity and is an important tool to have in place in the event of disability or any incapacity, which may be completely unexpected. The surviving spouse needs to appoint a trusted person as their agent. This is often an adult child, a sibling or even a close friend. Keep in mind the agent will have access to these powers immediately after the document is executed.


Medical Power of Attorney.

Also known as a health care an individual is unable to make health care decisions for themselves. The health care agent does not have any power to make decisions unless the principal’s decision-making ability is incapacitated. Copies of this document are often given to the primary care physician and are put on file with local hospitals.


HIPAA Releases.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) delineates the restrictions on releasing an individual’s personal medical information to others. It is important that both the Financial and the Medicaid Power of Attorney documents include a HIPAA release so the agents have access to all necessary information.

Wills and Trusts.

The surviving spouse should review their own will and trust with an attorney to make sure the plan is still the right fit. It is likely the deceased spouse is named in the documents as the executor, a beneficiary or both.


Beneficiary Designations.

The surviving spouse needs to review all beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, safety deposit boxes and bank accounts to be sure the deceased spouse is no longer named on them.


Every family dynamic is different. Their goals and their needs are different. Consult an experienced attorney to guide your family through the planning options after the death of a spouse or any close family member.

120 N. Mill St., Ste. 201 Lexington, KY 40507

Call Today: 859-281-0048 www.bgelderlaw.com

Amy E. Dougherty

PARTNER

Carolyn L. Kenton

MANAGING PARTNER

Mary Ellis Patton

SR. ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY

Katherine E. Finnell

ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY