Obituaries are important – should you write your own?


In Loving Memory

Fredrick Dean Howard

October 10, 1957 – May 12, 2017

What do I do with this tremendous sense of loss?  Last week, I learned through a Facebook message from a “non-friend” that Fred, a good friend and former significant other, was killed in a terrible motorcycle accident on May 12th not far from my home. The local paper reported the accident but did not name the rider and no follow-up story was done. The “non-friend” sent me the message on May 18th but it didn’t show up in my Facebook Messenger folder until June 8th.  I am grateful to her for trying to contact me and we have since spoken.

Read moreObituaries are important – should you write your own?

Funeral costs can “take a bite out of your estate”

funeral costs

Seven ways to cut the cost of a funeral

by Bob Niedt for

July 5, 2016

“In addition to the emotional toll, dying can take a heavy financial toll on the living. The median cost of a funeral runs about $8,500, according to the latest figures from the National Funeral Directors Association, including embalming, viewing, a hearse, a metal casket, a vault and some other related services. The price tag, 29.3% higher than it was a decade earlier, could come as a shock to grieving heirs and take a bite out of your estate.

There are two important points to keep in mind about the $8,500 figure. First, it doesn’t take into account some common cemetery expenses such as a burial site, marker, paid obituary and flowers. Second, it’s the median, or middle, price; some funerals can cost upward of $25,000.

Prepaying for your own funeral is one way to spare your survivors the hassle and expense, but generally speaking Kiplinger recommends thinking twice about prepayment because there are better ways to set aside cash for a funeral. A smarter approach might be to focus on reducing funeral costs. Here are seven ways to save.”  Read more

Ever heard of a real estate beneficiary deed?

I didn’t know real estate beneficiary deeds existed until recently.  In the August 13-14, 2016 Loveland Reporter-Herald I read a question and answer article about someone whose parents died.  The reader wanted to know how to transfer his parents’ real estate property into his name.  A follow-up to that piece stated a simple way to accomplish this task is to set up a beneficiary deed.  I looked into it.

Below you will find information from The American Bar Association so you can also understand the simple process of transferring real estate upon death.  However, not all states currently use the transfer-on-death deed.  It became law in Colorado in 2004.deed

Transfer-on-Death Deeds

By Susan N. Gary

September 2007

“A transfer-on-death (TOD) deed, or beneficiary deed, allows an owner of real property to execute a deed that names a beneficiary who will obtain title to the property at the owner’s death without going through probate. This article examines the advantages and disadvantages of using TOD deeds and details how these deeds work. It provides several typical estate planning scenarios that highlight when the use of a TOD deed may be appropriate and when a different method should be used to transfer real property.

The execution of a TOD deed has no tax consequences.

Pros and cons of TOD deeds. A TOD deed solves many of the drawbacks associated with the other mechanisms available for transferring real property at death. Making a TOD deed an option will help property owners in a variety of circumstances. In contrast with using joint tenancy or a legal remainder interest, a TOD deed creates no present interest in the named beneficiary. This provides several benefits: The owner does not make a completed gift for gift tax purposes; if the owner changes his mind about the beneficiary, the owner can change the designation at any time before death; and because the beneficiary has no interest in the property until the owner dies, the beneficiary’s creditors cannot reach the property. In contrast with the transfer of property under a revocable trust or a will, the transfer of property through a TOD deed is much less expensive. In some states the cost of probate is substantial, and in any state a probate proceeding will cost more than the fees associated with a TOD deed.”

Read the entire at:

Susan N. Gary is a professor of law at the University of Oregon School of Law.  She is an Academic Fellow and Regent of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the preeminent U.S. organization for estate planning lawyers and academics.

Estate planning–do it today!

I read the following Denver Post article about estate planning last December and it got me thinking about my end of life plans.  I didn’t have any written plans and decided that leaving that task to my only child was not fair to her.  So I took action and followed the beginning steps laid out in the article.  I have to admit, it was even kind of fun picking out the music I would like played at my funeral. I hope this article helps you begin making some of these same important decisions.  A will isn’t enough.

imagesPlanning for Retirement?  Take a break, for survivors’ sake

by Wendi Strom

December 27, 2015

“Many of us face the likelihood of eventually becoming the survivor of someone that we love. With that, it may mean inheriting the task of settling the affairs of their estate. Not an easy task, even when everything is thoughtfully organized.

The truth is, in our death-denying society, hours and hours may be spent on planning for that big phase we call ‘retirement.’ Retirement, though it may be more pleasant to think about, is not guaranteed. Death, as we all know, is.

Having worked with many widows and other survivors, I’ve come to realize that while planning, saving and investing for education and retirement may seem like the most important of our financial tasks, its tending to the fact that our survivors may one day be living a life without us that can ultimately become that task which is most important. Our best and final gift.

So what kind of steps can you take to help your survivors?”

Read more at:

Wendi Strom, Certified Financial Planner, LOTUS Financial Partners, Denver, CO and president-elect, Financial Planning Association of Colorado.

Are you prepared for financial independence?

Getting ready for the inevitable financial independence day

By Wendi Strom

July 31, 2016

“Earlier this month, our great nation celebrated its 240th year of independence. On this beautiful day, we most certainly had an Independence Day worthy of celebrating.

But looking around at those celebrations lead me to the realization that not every independence day is cause for joy images (52)and celebration. In fact, two of the synonyms of independence are most telling of this: separation and self-sufficiency. What if we add financial to the mix? Financial independence, financial self-sufficiency, financial separation.

After being part of a financial partnership, through marriage for example, becoming financially independent, especially unexpectedly through death or illness, is typically anything but a celebration. It can be crippling, potentially both financially and emotionally. Because of this, regardless of your age, it’s important to take steps like these outlined below, to put you and your loved ones on a track of financial preparedness for the day that something happens to you or your financial partner.

Working with many couples and widows over the years, here’s a list that I’ve compiled and use with my own clients to help them protect each other….”

Read the entire article at:

Wendi Strom, Certified Financial Planner, LOTUS Financial Partners, Denver, CO and president-elect of the Financial Planning Association of Colorado.

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