What frustrates executors of estates the most? That they can’t find the documents and information essential to wrapping up the affairs of someone who has passed away, financial planning executive Karen Drancik told Homeland residents and family members recently.
“We love our family, and we don’t want our passing or incapacity to become any more traumatic to our family members by leaving a mess behind,” said Drancik during a recent presentation entitled “Family Love Letter: A Gift of Time, Love and Clarity.
Drancik, vice president and senior consultant of Neuberger Berman Advisor Institute, walked attendees through a detailed planning guide called “Family Love Letter.”
Everyone starts generating documents from the day we’re born, Drancik said. Families must share that information before death or incapacitation to help survivors “navigate the paper trail.”
“We love our family, and we don’t want our passing or incapacity to become any more traumatic to our family members by leaving a mess behind,” she said.
As she reviewed the 38-page workbook’s five sections, Drancik shared tips – many drawn from her own professional and family experience – on estate planning:
- At a “bare minimum,” have a will. Without one, the state of Pennsylvania decides where property will go, “and you might not like how they divvy it up,” said Drancik.
- Update life insurance beneficiaries as circumstances change.
- To thwart identify theft, hospitals might require identifying documents such as a birth certificate before providing a copy of the death certificate.
- Be specific about distributing personal property and sentimental items, such as jewelry, artwork, and antiques. “You might think your children are perfect angels, but when you’re gone, the gloves are coming off,” Drancik said. Sometimes, the simple act of explaining why a particular family member gets a treasured heirloom can smooth ruffled feathers.
- Write down all usernames and passwords for accounts, computers, phones, and other electronic devices. Keep the list in a locked, secure place.
- Take time for the “ethical will” – a description of the times in which you lived and the values you lived by, “to pass on to future generations.”
Kathy Hill, of Hershey, attended the presentation with her mom, Homeland resident Flora Jespersen. Her parents moved to Homeland from their home about a year ago, and the presentation helped her quest to “learn everything about what I can do to help my parents because we’re going places we haven’t gone before.”
“There’s no primer on this,” Hill said. “Every little bit helps.”
Resident Isabel Smith, the former Homeland Administrator who helped pull Homeland out financial straits in the 1970s, appreciated the information. “We should have had this all our lives,” she told Drancik.
All attendees received a free copy of the “Family Love Letter” workbook. Drancik’s appearance was sponsored by Joy Dougherty, CFRE, and Neuberger Berman. Attorney Vicky Ann Trimmer, of Daley Zucker Meilton & Miner, LLC, helped answer Pennsylvania-specific legal questions.
Jan Gray Beers attended with her parents, new Homeland residents Bob and Marion Gray. The passing of a loved one “i