We are an educational consulting company focusing on Legacy Planning!

Your kids still don’t want your stuff! Some ideas for you!

July 10, 2018

They still don’t want your stuff. Last week’s article addressed the topic of personal property or your stuff, and the top 10 things kids don’t want to inherit from their parents or relatives. Fine china is at the top of the list with sterling silver flatware and crystal glasses running a close 2nd. The audience recommended donating to an organization, having a garage sale, opening an account for selling online, or my favorite, giving to the person you want to have it knowing it is now theirs to do as they please. I recently did this with my diamond wedding rings even though I would still occasionally wear them. For me, it was so much fun telling my niece the humorous story of my wedding day on Friday, June 13th. I reassured her the rings were hers and she could decide their fate. One woman with quite the collection of figurines is donating them as bingo prizes for her church. Another woman displays some of her photos each year at the family reunion and asks family members to choose a favorite. This creates the perfect opportunity to relive memories while decreasing the number of photos she has in her possession. Antique furniture was another topic of great concern. Conversation ensued about having the antiques appraised for selling or donating. Someone asked if the Antique Roadshow would be making an appearance in central Illinois anytime soon. The topic of books generated a lively discussion because this was the preferred method of education for many audience members, myself included. When I moved back to Illinois 11 years ago, my personal belongings included over 500 books. Since then, I’ve donated over 300 to libraries or others, but I’m sure my college finance books will forever be a permanent fixture on my bookcases. The type of book also was a big discussion topic especially if it was a gift for a graduation or special occasion, a signed copy by the author, or great-grandmother’s bible. I emphasized the importance of the owner determining the best course of action since it is their stuff to decide if something should be sold, given away, or even discarded. These are just some of the ideas we have to offer so you can begin your downsizing process in case your kids or other relatives don’t want your stuff. Where to start? How to begin such an overwhelming task? To help you get started, download our 'Personal Property Chapter'. After all, do you really want to burden your loved ones with all your stuff?

Tagged As: aging preparing
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There can be humor involved when talking about death, dying and funerals!

June 26, 2018
Death, dying and funerals are a big part of Legacy Planning. Our mission at Strategic Hourglass Solutions is to educate others on the importance of starting conversations about not only dying, but also moving, downsizing and disability. Moving can mean different things to different people. Maybe it’s a move to a warmer climate after retiring, or a single-story home to accommodate a now required walker or wheelchair. A move could also involve downsizing because with the kids grown and living many miles away, one no longer needs the large house and all the ‘stuff’. At some point all of us will literally run out of time, so having your funeral arrangements documented is just one of the many ways to preserve your legacy. A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I had this very conversation and I told her about how my book, Lifetime Legacy Planner, is a great tool for documenting your wishes so they are carried out with love and respect. She then shared the humorous story about her grandmother’s funeral. The passing of her grandmother was not a total surprise due to her age and health. The service, with its shining casket, lovely flowers and eloquent funeral eulogy, was beautiful. It wasn’t until weeks later with the reading of her grandmother’s will did the family discover she had wanted to be cremated. After a quick calculation of the unnecessary funeral expenses due to the casket and the preparation of the body, my friend laughingly commented: “Who knew? Obviously, no one!” If someone had the conversation with her grandmother about death, dying and funerals beforehand, they would have known. Documenting your wishes is one way of preserving your legacy. Do you know where you’d want to live if you could no longer stay in your home? Do you have pictures or antiques or jewelry you’d want given to a certain relative or friend or organization? Do you want to be buried or cremated or your body donated to science? Have you ever talked with your family or loved ones about death, dying and funerals? So many questions to consider, but starting those conversations is one of the most loving and generous things you can do for your family and friends. What are you waiting for?
Tagged As: Funeral
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Identity Theft Epidemic

June 12, 2018
Identity theft has become a nationwide epidemic. According to AARP, 15 million people were victimized by identity theft in 2016, alone. I’m reluctantly becoming an expert in identity theft. In my previous corporate careers, I was responsible for the safekeeping of other’s personal information, especially social security numbers. I was always meticulous and shredded any documentation containing personal information. Personally, I created my own ‘organize and shred’ process to coincide with filing my taxes. Imagine my surprise this year when I discovered I am a victim of identity theft again. Just once, I wish I would be surprised by a $1 million winning lottery ticket, or a 40% return on my investment portfolio, or an exemption for never having to file future tax returns. But ‘No’ --- my surprise, for the third time, was discovering someone stole my social security number. This wasn’t something I easily uncovered, but after you’ve been a victim of identity theft twice before, you realize how important it is to review all your important paperwork. For me, tax season is the most effective time. At one of my recent speaking engagements, a participant mentioned the topic of identity theft. I shared with this group of older adults that one of the first things to do is file a police report. There are only a few organizations such as your employer, your banks and lenders, and the IRS that have a legal right to your social security number, so caution is advised when others ask for it. Along with filing a police report, it is recommended you notify the three credit reporting bureaus and place a security freeze on your credit file. As for me, I’ve filed my taxes and professionally shredded my obsolete documents. Thus, I’m diligently working to get my name off the lease for that Chicago apartment I didn’t know I rented. Is the location of your personal information documented and available should you or a loved one need to contact the credit bureaus, file a police report or notify your bank in the event of identity theft? Could you easily find the contact information for your bank, accountants, advisors, or any other professionals that would need to be notified?
Tagged As: loss
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How much is the cost of retirement?

May 22, 2018

According to a study released in 2017 by Merrill Lynch, the average cost of retirement is more than $700,000. When I mentioned this number at one of my recent speaking engagements, I had one gentleman announce to the group that if this is true, he would be homeless and living in a cardboard box on the streets. After that statement I didn’t have the heart to mention to the group that Fidelity Investments estimates health care and medical expenses alone will total $275,000 for the average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2017. I did some additional research and found a survey which said 55% of Americans have put away less than $10,000 for retirement. What? Is that true? I couldn’t help but think what the cost of retirement will be in 20 or 30 years when my nieces and nephews are approaching the age to retire. Are you prepared financially, emotionally, and spiritually for the cost of retirement? Do your family and friends know where to locate your investment, financial, medical and healthcare documents should you become unable to do so?

Tagged As: retirement
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Am I really this old already? That just can’t be right!

May 1, 2018

As we gathered last fall to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday, we had relatives flying in from all over the country. My mother was blessed with four sons and six daughters, and she came from a large family too, so it was a weekend of catching up with aunts, uncles and cousins we hadn’t seen in years. As I entertained some of the older cousins that weekend and our conversation drifted to the fact that most of us kids are now in our 60s, one cousin made a statement which resulted in laughter at first, but then the reality set in of what she had just said. Her comment was “I thought growing old would take longer!” It was quite humbling to realize we all were closer to the age of 70, than 50. Because several of us had lost siblings at much younger ages, we were thankful to be celebrating my mother’s 90th and proceeded to share stories and laughter of those much younger days when we thought we’d live forever. We also talked about how and where we’d want to ‘grow old’. Have you let others know your wishes? Do your loved ones know how you want your personal property distributed, where your insurance policies are located, what to do about your funeral services, who to contact in case of your death or any of your other personal information?

Tagged As: aging