Lisa Westerman's Blog
The last thing your family needs is to have no idea where to find your important papers and last wishes when confronted with a sudden illness or death. No one wants to talk about these things but taking the time to organize your paperwork can give your loved ones true peace of mind when dealing with your estate. Here are the top essential documents to keep handy and why you should do it now.
Living revocable trust: This document allows you to retain control of your assets while you are still living but enables a trustee that you appoint to transfer your assets to your trust beneficiaries without going through probate. If you don’t have one, your estate must go through probate. Anything that is not correctly added to the trust will still have to go through the probate process, so make sure you keep it up to date, and that ownership and titles of all assets (homes, vehicles, accounts) are transferred out of your name and into the name of the trust.
A living will: Also called an advanced directive, a living will is a statement of your end-of-life medical treatment desires if you become terminally ill, incapacitated, or cannot speak for yourself. Without one, state law determines who has the legal right to make these decisions for you. Typically, it is in the order of closest relationship, but if, for example, the children are next in order but cannot, as siblings, agree, your situation could end up being decided by a court. A living will protects your family from having to make these decisions.
Healthcare POA: A power of attorney (POA) is a document allowing someone else that you trust to have the final say about your medical care when you are incapacitated. It works alongside the living will to carry out your wishes.
Financial POA: Your financial accounts can only be handled by someone else if you’ve given them permission to do so. The legal document is a financial power of attorney. Many financial institutions have their own POA forms that you can complete and send in to them. Without a financial POA, no one can pay your bills or even buy your groceries from your accounts, meaning that you might leave loved ones with debts you intended to pay. It is important to note, however, that a financial POA is only in force while you remain alive. At your death, your will, trust, and designated beneficiary documents take over.
List of Financial Accounts: Often, your family does not know what accounts you have. Create a list of your accounts that includes the institution (with address and telephone number), account number, beneficiaries, and any automatic withdrawals that come from the account (including payee and amount. Also, keep a list of all insurance accounts, retirement accounts, and annuity accounts with the same information. It is essential to list the beneficiaries clearly and if possible, their social security numbers and relationship to you, so that there is no question if you meant Suzy your niece or Suzy your great-granddaughter.
Marriage License: A copy of your marriage license (especially if you’ve been married more than once, is essential so that there is no question about transfer of ownership to a surviving spouse. Without it, your spouse will have to order one from the county or country where you married, which could take several days to more than a month. Until then, your spouse may not be able to claim rights and benefits.
Divorce Decree: In the same way, copies of divorce decrees protect your current spouse from any claims by a prior spouse.
Tax Return (most recent)
Letter of Intent: Your executor needs clear instructions about the management and distribution of your estate. Along with the legal form, a list of significant items you want to be designated to specific persons should be attached.
Funeral Arrangements: Clearly identify the type of memorial service you prefer. Also, define if you prefer burial or cremation, and any specifics about where and how you want your remains taken care of, including if you own a burial plot or niche. While this document is not legal, it gives your families the assurance that they are following your wishes.
Will: Usually, this is including with your living trust, but if you have assets outside the trust, your will specifies how your executor should distribute your assets after your death.
Plan for Business Succession: If you own a business, it is vital that you have a business succession plan in place. This plan outlines who will be in control of your business if you become incapacitated, and when you die. Without it, your business operations and your employees could suffer. It should be separate from your personal trust, with its own appointed trustee that has knowledge about how your business operates that can keep it running.
If you don’t have some of these items in place and need a referral to legal representation, reach out to your local bar association for a list of qualified estate attorneys near you.
16 Lancelot Dr, Paxton, MA 01612
16 Lancelot Dr, Paxton, MA 01612
A home listing often introduces a homebuyer to a residence. It may include home photos, a brief home description and details about various home features and amenities. As such, an effective home listing is a must-have, particularly for a home seller who wants to stir up plenty of interest in a residence.
Ultimately, there are several best practices to consider when you create a home listing, and these include:
1. Provide Accurate Information
Learn about your home, and you can provide accurate information about your residence in your home listing.
If you're unsure about your home's condition, it often pays to complete a home appraisal. That way, a property appraiser can evaluate your residence both inside and out, identify any problem areas and offer a property valuation.
Furthermore, if you recently completed assorted home improvements, you should include information about these upgrades in your home listing.
Whether it's new windows that you installed throughout your residence or an updated home air conditioning system, including details about various home upgrades in your home listing could help your residence stand out to potential buyers.
2. Include High-Quality Photos
You don't need to be a professional photographer to capture high-quality photos of your house. In fact, many smartphones and tablets feature first-rate cameras, and you can use these mobile devices to take photos of your house's interior or exterior.
As you photograph your home, remember the homebuyer's perspective. For instance, a homebuyer likely wants to see photos of a clean, pristine kitchen and other awe-inspiring images of your house. If you clean and declutter your house before a photo shoot, you can increase the likelihood that your home photos will capture homebuyers' attention.
On the other hand, if you want professional assistance, you can always reach out to a real estate photographer as well. A real estate photographer can offer home photo recommendations and suggestions and help you capture photos that show off the true size and beauty of your residence.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent knows what it takes to craft an effective home listing. Therefore, if you collaborate with a real estate agent, you should have no trouble creating a home listing that hits the mark with homebuyers.
Typically, a real estate agent will meet with you, learn about your home selling goals and plan accordingly. He or she then will use the information that you provide to develop an engaging home listing.
With a real estate agent at your side, you can seamlessly navigate the home selling journey too.
For instance, a real estate agent will host open houses and set up home showings to promote your residence to homebuyers. Plus, he or she will keep you up to date about any home offers and provide expert advice at each stage of the home selling journey.
Creating an effective home listing may seem difficult. Fortunately, if you use the aforementioned best practices, you can craft a home listing that can help you generate substantial interest in your residence.
Smart lighting comes in intriguing varieties, adding a touch of luxury and personality to homes where they are found. It is fascinating to note that smart lighting has a broad range of applications and so is open to your spark of creativity.
While the technology serves one major purpose, illuminating homes, it can other applications as well to change certain conventional ways of doing things. This article will look at a few of these creative applications.
Give your home its own mind
Have you ever wanted a nice welcome into your home immediately that you open the door? With smart lighting options, you can customize the light fixtures to turn on when you get home and literally 'welcome you.’
Flaunt your favorite art collection
If you are a lover of the aesthetics of paintings, drawings or sculpture, you can focus your bulbs on your favorite art pieces and present them clearly whenever you have visitors or just for your own viewing.
Give the children's room a different look
Smart lighting can do a lot of good in your kids' room. Combining the color-changing and relaxing features of smart light fixtures can never go wrong in a zone where the energy level is always high.
Increase your home security with smart lighting
Most break-ins occur when homeowners are away. Smart lighting can serve as a deterrent to intruders. A good scheduling feature will convince an intruder that someone's home and deter them from seeing the house as an easy target.
Take your home parties to the top
Are you planning on throwing a party? Housewarming or, maybe, a small get-together?Smart lighting definitely has a role to play here. With a variety of colorful LED bulbs, you can set up a dance floor in no time. Also, some areas can take on other forms of illumination depending on how you want your needs met.
Smart lights can suit your mood
At some point, it becomes boring to have just one type and color of lighting looking down on you when you feel energetic and even when you're not. Smart lighting allows you to customize light fixtures and have them complement your mood at any time.
Whether to flaunt your art pieces or to bring life to a party, smart lighting is exciting and filled with plenty of potential. Let your creativity on some freedom and order some smart lights today.