A Legal Form Bucket List



It’s fun to make a bucket list of all the exciting things you want to accomplish before you die. Personally, I want to travel overseas.

You also need to have a legal bucket list of documents that must be signed now — before life’s inevitable curveballs come your way.


What You Need

Everyone should have the following Core Four documents in place before a health crisis happens: a Last Will and Testament, Financial Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will Declaration. Let’s review each of those documents.

A will is a written document formally signed in which you describe how your assets should be distributed at death and who will be in charge of your estate. Your will directs what happens with your probate assets, which are assets in your sole name alone. A will simplifies the probate process and gives authority to the executor to handle legal issues. Without a will, the probate process is more complicated and costly.

Most people want to avoid probate. Solely owned assets have to be probated because there is no beneficiary connected to the asset. For example, if your assets listed as joint and survivorship, Payable on Death or Transfer on Death are in a Trust Agreement or name a beneficiary, your assets won’t have to go through probate and will go the people named to receive them. If assets are titled correctly to avoid probate, then you don’t have to use a will, but it’s still a good idea to have a will just in case of a snag.

The Financial Durable Power of Attorney is vital because it names the person who will oversee your financial matters if you become mentally or physically unable to take care of them yourself. Many people think that spouses don’t need to have these for each other because they are married, but that is not true.

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The Executor Question: Are You Willing to Take it On? Should You?

Call it Executor Duties 101: A Guide to Estate Settlement. Or call it a major inconvenience. If you've never been an executor, you probably know someone who has, and you've likely heard their complaints. Carrying out the terms of someone’s will comes with a lot of responsibilities. While you will most likely work with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning and probate, keeping track of your obligations can feel overwhelming. ...
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Protect Yourself and the Organizations You Serve



Volunteers are the backbone of many organizations, especially nonprofits. Without their tireless work, many organizations would be unable to provide valuable services.

Nonprofits are involved with many activities that may expose the organization, the officers and the volunteers to potential liability. We might not have as many volunteers if they faced liability for their acts. Fortunately, federal and state governments have laws in place to help.

Protections for You

In 1997, Congress passed the Volunteer Protection Act (VPA) to provide protection from lawsuits that might be filed against individual volunteers for nonprofit organizations for activities they do on behalf of the organization.

Ohio has a similar law that also protects volunteers so they can be confident that their good work doesn’t expose them to legal liability.

The federal and state volunteer protection laws provide that an unpaid volunteer of a nonprofit organization or a government entity acting within the scope of their responsibility are not liable for ordinary, accidental negligence.

The law doesn’t cover willful or criminal misconduct, gross or reckless negligence, or a conscious or flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed. It doesn’t cover injuries caused by operating a motor vehicle. It also does not cover volunteers for businesses or the organization using the volunteer.

However, if you volunteer for AARP or for a political campaign, as long as you use common sense and perform lawful acts within the scope of your work, you can’t be sued for your actions.

Agency Protection

What about the organizations? How are they protected? Under the VPA, organizations can be sued for wrongful acts of their volunteers. Luckily, most larger nonprofits have insurance to cover this, and the insurance will pay. Unfortunately, some smaller nonprofits or organizations might not be able to afford insurance. One horrible mistake could put them out of business.

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College Kids and Grandchildren: Don’t Forget These Documents


College Kids and Grandchildren

As your child heads off to college (or as you watch your grandchild head off ) you feel a sense of relief and, of course, sadness as your baby moves to the next stage of life.


You’ve purchased the dorm room supplies — a small refrigerator, dorm-size sheets, new towels, decorations — and you are prepared to drive, fly or otherwise get them to their campus on time. Can you sit back and put up your feet on a job well done? Maybe not; there might just be one last task you need to check off your to-do list.


College Student Paperwork


As your child or grandchild gets older, you have less control over their life. This also becomes legally true when they turn 18. Once that happens, you do not automatically have the right to speak to their doctors, for example. Your child’s finances (even if you are supporting them) are private as well. So, you need them to sign three critical documents: a Health Care Power of Attorney with a HIPAA Release, a Durable Power of Attorney, and a Last Will and Testament.

The Health Care Power of Attorney allows you, after your child is 18, to make medical decisions if the child cannot do so.


When your child is younger than 18, you can make all medical decisions for them. That changes after they turn 18 and you lose that right. If they’re in an accident and are unable to make medical decisions for themselves, a Health Care Power of Attorney signed in advance would allow you to be their health care agent.


The HIPAA release form also is important. Many parents are probably still paying medical bills for their college-age students and helping them make medical decisions.

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Friendship Days: Take Time to be Kind

As we celebrate our freedom living in the U.S.A. in July, remember that the world generally seems too filled with hate, fighting and mistrust. We all need to stop and reverse this trend, and one way is to join in on the International Day of Friendship. ...
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Retirement Jobs


Want to Have Fun in Retirement?

Keep Working (Just a Bit)


By Laurie G. Steiner

You finally retired from your job.

For some, that is a welcome relief — the end of a career they are happy to put behind them. For others forced to retire when they didn’t want to, depression and frustration may set in. For still others, retirement might mean financial ruin because of health care costs.

If you have energy to burn, want to try something new, or need a job to make ends meet, finding your passion is the key to enjoying work after retirement. Working at a job that you’re passionate about can be invigorating, meaningful and engaging while keeping your mind and body sharp. Research shows that people who work well into their 70s, 80s and even 90s live longer than those who don’t work.

What You Know

Ageism can be a barrier to finding a new job. Focus on your accomplishments and achievements, not necessarily your skills. Highlight decision-making and supervising abilities. Who can benefit from your talents and experiences? If you need help, start online with or the Encore Career Network at

Ideas for post-retirement employment:

  • Write (especially if you were an English teacher). This could include writing training manuals for a company or copy for product marketing. Consider contract or freelance opportunities.
  • Teach or consult. Share your knowledge from your work years with students or others in your field.
  • Count. If you have a flair for numbers, become a bookkeeper or tax preparer. You could be a lifesaver for someone who can’t balance their checkbook.
  • Sell. Retail jobs offer some of the most reliable jobs for retirees. Meet new people and stay connected to your community. Some, such as Starbucks, offer health benefits.
  • Make. Crafters and artists can make and sell at local craft shows or online on
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Joint and Survivorship Accounts

Pros, Cons and Everything In Between

The Scoop on Joint and Survivorship Accounts





The Goal for Most People? Avoid Probate.

One method:

Joint and Survivorship accounts

Got it. How does that work?

Two people set it up

When one dies, the other owns it

Good for spouses


So what can go wrong?

Multiple owners—who gets what?

Parents leave to one child, not others

Creditors of one owner can attach the account

Divorce of one owner



What is better for non-spouses?

Payable on Death to Child

Transfer on Death to Child

Transfer on Death to Child or by Naming the Child the Beneficiary

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Financial Planning


It Pays to Coordinate

Financial Planning


Steve had a big decision to make.

His daughter was getting married, and he wanted to give her the wedding of her dreams. To do it, he dipped into his IRA. Although the wedding was everything he and his daughter had hoped, it pushed him up into a new tax bracket, costing him thousands of dollars in additional taxes. This caused his Medicare premiums to skyrocket by more than 40 percent for the following year as well.

Steve had the resources he needed to give his daughter the wedding she wanted, but because of a lack of coordination and understanding, he paid thousands in unnecessary taxes. His mistake was focusing on only a single aspect of a major decision.

Consider a Financial Quarterback

Steve’s situation explains why it’s important that all your advisers are connected and understand the big picture. When you make a major decision like Steve did, there will be outcomes you might not have considered.

So how do you make financial decisions that have been reviewed from every angle? Try a holistic approach to your financial health that includes professionals who will help with all of your tax, insurance, legal and financial planning needs.

New advisers should be open to working with existing advisers whom you know and trust as well. It’s important for each adviser to be aware of what another is doing. Using a network of connected advisers helps people decide which decision is right for their situation.

Coordination gives clients a peace of mind that saves time and money, and lets them focus on more important things — such as wedding plans. Your goal should be to find an adviser that will make sure every financial decision is examined through the lens of all the available options so nothing is missed.

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