As the New Year begins, you’ve talked about losing weight, spending more time with the family, and maybe even learning a new language. There is one more resolution to add to the list, and this one’s attainable—organizing your important household papers.
This can seem like a daunting task. One of the biggest challenges is sorting out what’s important and what’s not. Documents like insurance policies, birth certificates, and wills are obviously essential. But what about old tax returns, bank statements, and credit card receipts?
Research has shown that taming the paper tiger by organizing your household papers is a key to personal happiness. It’s also easier than you might expect. So let’s get started.
Early in the Brady Bunch series, Bobby is struggling with being a stepchild. In a tender moment, his new mom says, “Listen, the only steps in this house are the ones that lead up to your bedroom.” With that well-placed sentiment, Carol handled one of the more serious problems the show grappled with—the challenges of being a “blended family.”
When Mike and Carol tied the knot, each of them had prior children. As any fan of the 1970s sitcom will remember, these stepsiblings would know antics and tribulations—from the bruised nose that played havoc with Marcia’s social life to the coveted attic bedroom that pitted her against her brother Greg.
Legal problems were never an issue for the Bradys. But as many gay and lesbian couples know too well, blended families often do face legal challenges. For example, what would have happened if Mike had died unexpectedly? Would Carol have had the legal right to care for Greg, Peter, and Bobby? If Mike and Carol both died without Wills, would all six children inherit from them equally?
Before they exchanged vows, Mike and Carol should have taken these questions to an estate-planning attorney. He or she would have suggested how they could protect themselves legally, no matter what lay ahead.
Bob Hope once quipped, “If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.” Surely he was on to something. The best sorts of people are admired not for their earnings but for their giving—whether of their time, their talent, or their treasure.
Many of us in the LGBT community give generously by supporting causes we believe in. We donate towards AIDS research, we lobby for equality, we volunteer at animal shelters, and we support the arts. This level of engagement is not unknown outside our community, but as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens, we often embrace important causes with a special kind of passion.
With a little advance planning, these charitable impulses can continue to help others after we are gone.
A financial Power of Attorney is an essential document in any estate plan. It enables you to appoint someone you trust to manage your finances and other legal matters in case you become unable to do so yourself. The person you name, called your attorney in fact, generally has broad powers to handle things like paying your bills, accessing your safe-deposit box, managing your investments, and even selling or mortgaging your house.
A “Durable” Power of Attorney remains in effect even if you become incompetent, which is when the document is most likely to be needed. Because it may be years before your Power of Attorney is used, you should review it every three to five years to make sure it remains current. Here are four reasons to consider having your Power of Attorney revised: