Author Topic: Planning for life's end  (Read 1367 times)

Richard Johnson

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Planning for life's end
« on: November 10, 2020, 11:49:30 AM »
Charles suggested this topic, and it would be interesting. No political references permitted. Here's his post:

Since some of us are approaching or experiencing our senior years, and since for some of us the end might be hastened due to the coronavirus, maybe there ought to be a thread on handling those ending of life matters. I won’t start it.
We used to have workshops in churches in New Jersey about things like wills and bequests and medical directives. We thought it was part of pastoral care.
As I said upstream, Beloved Spouse and I have established a trust - rather than a will, for a trust requires no probate - and made the other arrangements that will make things easier for those who survive us. If one survives the other, and should the survivor be in poor health, all major decisions have been made. If we both get trampled by a moose into eternity on the same day, there need be no questions, or argument about “what did mom and dad want.”

« Last Edit: November 10, 2020, 11:51:59 AM by Richard Johnson »
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

peterm

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2020, 11:56:58 AM »
When I was chaplain at a senior care facility part of my "job" was to help our residents and their families do just that, with the goal of having Advance care Planning documents on file for all our residents.  We never quite got there, but I have found that the planning for life's end, and the discussion that can take place to be a very sacred thing.  I have carried this work and mindset into my current parish where it recently gave rise to a parishioner who was ill and his family recognize what was happening, name their feelings and hopes around it and plan together for what was to come.  In this instance the end of life care and planning included doing the "religious portion of the grand daughter's wedding outside the hospital so that he could watch from his window
Rev. Peter Morlock- ELCA pastor serving two congregations in WIS

Richard Johnson

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2020, 12:03:26 PM »
We also have a trust, and have all our assets in the trust. We have powers of attorney for health care, and advance directives. We've designated one child to be the health care decision maker, the other to be the executor. One of my coronovirus activities has been to write a detailed summary of all our assets and sources of income, with appropriate account information, telephone numbers, etc., and send a copy to each of our children. A more expansive version for my wife, reminding her of how things would work should I die first (what percentage of my pension payment she'd get, etc.--in other words, how it would impact her income going forward), as well as more detailed financial info about accounts, assets, debts, etc., since I'm the one who normally handles all those things.

Now we're working on disposing of things so that our heirs won't have to do so. I've emptied probably two filing cabinets full of stuff, which barely scratches the surface. I'm trying to weed out my library, but not very successfully.

I've not yet tackled writing my funeral service, but I need to get on that.

When my father-in-law died unexpectedly and suddenly, it took me about three minutes to locate the binder in which he had put EVERYTHING one might need--list of people to notify, funeral instructions, information about cemetery plot, list of accounts and numbers, right down to the phone number of the local social security office. I was his executor, and he had made my job incredibly easy. My aspiration is to get something like that together. I'm working on it.

Oh, Charles, stay away from mooses.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Julio

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2020, 12:18:11 PM »
Attempting to post for the third time ... what is so controversial with the following..,

By avoiding probate, a living trust avoids publicizing one’s personal business.

Creation of the living trust is a rather extensive and tedious process ... requiring most if not all assets to be transferred from the individual’s name to the name of the trust.

Tragically this is a costly process ... allowing those with means to shield their personal lives while others with few means have their lives laid out for public through the probate process following their death.Full disclosure .. while I do not have a living trust, family members do.

Perhaps our legally educated forum member could comment and correct if any of the above is in error.

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2020, 12:30:06 PM »
Good discussion.  My parents have a living trust.  As I live about five minutes away from them, I am a co-trustee with them.  My brother lives in another time zone, so he does not have that same title.  But we are both equally involved in things.  My parents used LCMS Foundation to set up the living trust.  They have been wonderful to work with. 

In regards to pastoral ministry, I do encourage the congregants to make plans ahead of time.  Every so often, depending on the situation, I will remind people of the spiritual resources at their disposal to make planning a little more easy.  I have a handout to help with planning a funeral service: hymns, lessons, pall bearers.  If this is done ahead of time, it saves a lot of time/headache/heartache..."What did "Mom" want read?  She liked this hymn.  No, she didn't.  That was her confirmation verse.  No it wasn't, that's dad's." 

Only a few people have done this in the congregation to my knowledge.  I know I haven't done anything like this.  Every so often I will whisper to the acolyte that I want the particular hymn we are singing sung at my funeral.  We're up to over 70 or hymns.  If I don't write it down, my wife and pastoral colleagues will fill the service with Marty Haugen stuff I'm sure. 

Jeremy
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D. Engebretson

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2020, 12:33:49 PM »
As the one who served first as my mother's power-of-attorney, and then as executor of her will (I'm an only child), I can appreciate the need to have affairs in good order as the end nears. My mother was a trained accountant and made matters much easier for me.  When the durable power-of -attorney for healthcare kicked in at the very end, I know her primary physician wanted me to 'no code' her.  At one point, when she slipped into a brief comatose state, I did. However, when I came back later and she was awake and alert, I asked her about maintaining that code. Now she was technically suffering some of the effects of dementia, and the power-of -attorney allowed me to make all decisions without consulting with her.  However, it was important to me that she be included as much and as long as possible.  I asked her about the coding, she wanted it lifted, I removed it. Some weeks later she died peacefully in her sleep. 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

mj4

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2020, 12:47:00 PM »
I think it was on the Forum here that I was introduced to Pr. Matt Whitman’s YouTube videos. For those that have enjoyed his videos in the past, you might find his videos on preparing for the end of life helpful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0XMTSDQ2ko

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ-M5j9enfs

…and here’s an off-topic bonus video with one of our own. Hopefully it won't derail the conversation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsEw7ECzGlc

Charles Austin

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2020, 12:48:27 PM »
Future planning Is easy, and gives comfort to all involved.
When we moved to Minnesota, we were advised to have our Will in the state where we resided.
So we canceled our previous Will and contacted a lawyer about a new will. It was the lawyer who advised us about the advantages of a trust. Her instructions were very clear, very understandable.
Setting it up was not complicated at all. She and her staff did the work. One day we and our daughter, who is the primary beneficiary, went into the office and signed the papers to create the trust. The lawyer provided us with letters for our bank, and the banks where we have our CDs. And a letter on how to roll over our CDs so that the assets were connected to the trust. All this cost about $1,200 and took relatively little time. The procedures we had to engage in were very simple.
It was also very easy, in another process, to sign an agreement with the Minnesota cremation society. We paid for all their services at today’s rates. We and our daughter have certifications that we have the agreements with them for their services. Presumably the cost of the services will go up over the years, but whatever costs there are in the year in which we shuffle off this mortal coil we have already paid them in full. I think the current costs for both of us was in the neighborhood of $3,500.
And our daughter has a letter from us suggesting how our assets, if any, might be handled after we are gone. This does not bind her in any way, and we trust her to make the final decision, but we do have a chance to list the organizations where we are contributing members so that contributions might be made to them from whatever we have left, but our first choice would be concerned for her and her family, things like paying off the mortgage, paying off student loans for the grandchildren.
And she knows that, presuming we live a decent number of remaining years, it is possible that there will not be very many assets left.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Article coming up in Lutheran Forum journal. Now would be a good time to subscribe.
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DeHall1

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2020, 12:58:29 PM »
Future planning Is easy, and gives comfort to all involved.
When we moved to Minnesota, we were advised to have our Will in the state where we resided.
So we canceled our previous Will and contacted a lawyer about a new will. It was the lawyer who advised us about the advantages of a trust. Her instructions were very clear, very understandable.
Setting it up was not complicated at all. She and her staff did the work. One day we and our daughter, who is the primary beneficiary, went into the office and signed the papers to create the trust. The lawyer provided us with letters for our bank, and the banks where we have our CDs. And a letter on how to roll over our CDs so that the assets were connected to the trust. All this cost about $1,200 and took relatively little time. The procedures we had to engage in were very simple.
It was also very easy, in another process, to sign an agreement with the Minnesota cremation society. We paid for all their services at today’s rates. We and our daughter have certifications that we have the agreements with them for their services. Presumably the cost of the services will go up over the years, but whatever costs there are in the year in which we shuffle off this mortal coil we have already paid them in full. I think the current costs for both of us was in the neighborhood of $3,500.
And our daughter has a letter from us suggesting how our assets, if any, might be handled after we are gone. This does not bind her in any way, and we trust her to make the final decision, but we do have a chance to list the organizations where we are contributing members so that contributions might be made to them from whatever we have left, but our first choice would be concerned for her and her family, things like paying off the mortgage, paying off student loans for the grandchildren.
And she knows that, presuming we live a decent number of remaining years, it is possible that there will not be very many assets left.

From what I recall (it's been several years) the only advantage a will has over a trust is that you can name a guardian for minors in a will...Now that our youngest is an adult, we'll probably switch to a trust as well.

GalRevRedux

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2020, 01:13:35 PM »
I wrote my obituary this year. I still need to make the notes on requests for the worship service.

During my husbands last few years with me, we arranged the funeral director services and prepaid for our arrangements. We also revised the powers of attorney and advanced directives, and selected and purchased cemetery plots. We will be near Larry’s beloved law school (from which 4 generations of Smiths have graduated).

To assist my own executors (brother and family) I have been completing as much of this book as I can:
https://smile.amazon.com/Important-Information-Belongings-Business-Affairs/dp/1441317996/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1JGLGTPJ9GPFZ&dchild=1&keywords=im+dead+now+what&qid=1605031539&sprefix=I’m+dead%2Caps%2C186&sr=8-3

All of these steps have provided some sense of reassurance and relief for me.

Donna
A pastor of the North American Lutheran Church.

Charles Austin

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2020, 01:26:21 PM »
. Looks like a good resource, Gail.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Article coming up in Lutheran Forum journal. Now would be a good time to subscribe.
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Weedon

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2020, 01:38:26 PM »
My life’s end has been in my mind for some time, particularly as I approached the age at which my father died of cancer. I’ve now lived longer than my dad ever did, and much longer than one of my brother’s. I lost another brother a few years ago. I’ve found that the prayers in Lutheran Prayer Companion are a great solace, and ever mindful of the end. Particularly each Saturday when we pray:

O my God, this last day of the week reminds me that my life has an end, and I will have to leave it. Therefore, when the day and hour of my death shall come, grant that I may be done with all the sorrows of this life, fall peacefully asleep trusting in the bloody merit of Jesus and, leaving this valley of tears, enter into Your eternal joy and heavenly rest. O Jesus, bloody Lamb of God, in my final distress appear to me as You appeared on the cross when You generously poured out Your blood and died. Uphold me with Your willing Spirit. Heal me with Your wounds. Wash me with the sweat of Your death in my final hour, and when it pleases You take me in true faith from this world to Your elect. O most worthy Savior, on the Last Day be my advocate in God’s strict judgment, and save me in that day because of Your wounds, that I may be found written in the Book of Salvation. Neither will I doubt that You will do so, since You have already judged the enemy and made propitiation for my trespasses. O God the Holy Spirit, do not forsake me, but abide with me constantly until the final moment of my life, and keep Your powerful comfort close at hand to oppose all the tribulations of the evil one. Be my strength in greatest weakness, that my last meal in this world may be the Holy Supper, my last thought to imagine Jesus crucified and dying, my last word may be to call out with my mouth, “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.” (P. 32)

There is something about praying that each Saturday morning that I find comforting. Although getting other things in order is very important (in fact, my wife and I have even gone through our house more than once with the question: will the kids want to deal with this or that, and gotten rid of much), and estate planning is wise and prudent, yet the ultimate preparation is one of repentance and faith, of prayer and living from Christ’s forgiveness, clothed in His righteousness.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2020, 01:43:47 PM by Weedon »

Richard Johnson

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2020, 03:51:31 PM »
  We're up to over 70 or hymns.  If I don't write it down, my wife and pastoral colleagues will fill the service with Marty Haugen stuff I'm sure. 

Jeremy

LOL! Yeah, we figure my service will have to include at thirty-minute hymn sing right in the middle of it.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

John_Hannah

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2020, 03:57:57 PM »
  We're up to over 70 or hymns.  If I don't write it down, my wife and pastoral colleagues will fill the service with Marty Haugen stuff I'm sure. 

Jeremy

LOL! Yeah, we figure my service will have to include at thirty-minute hymn sing right in the middle of it.

I have included hymn suggestions for the Wake and the Distribution. I arranged them seasonally so its a long list but won't be used in its entirety. Once more, if the congregation is small only one will be needed.   ;D

Peace, JOHN 
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Richard Johnson

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Re: Planning for life's end
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2020, 04:08:41 PM »
(in fact, my wife and I have even gone through our house more than once with the question: will the kids want to deal with this or that, and gotten rid of much)

I have to admit (read: confess) that when we ask that question, my answer tends to be "Why not? We had to deal all this stuff from our parents. It's what you do."  ;)

Seriously, though, another thing my in-laws did which I thought was great. The last several years of their lives they said, over and over, "Anything you want--stuff on the walls, pieces of furniture, whatever--tape a card with your name on the back." It greatly facilitated sorting things out after they died, and the five siblings and some grandchildren got things they really treasured.

I've seen the question of "who will be executor" cause problems in families. In my own family, I was the oldest, the only son, and the one who lived closest, so it pretty easily devolved on me. In my wife's family, one day I was driving somewhere with my father-in-law and he was puzzling about who he should name as executor; he went through the list and noted all the reasons why each child wasn't a good choice (most of the reasons valid, some not). I sort of gingerly said, "You know, Dad, it doesn't really have to be one of your biological children. It just needs to be somebody you trust to carry out your wishes." As a result of that conversation, he named me his executor. That could have been problematic, but all five siblings actually breathed an almost audible collective sigh of relief. I kept them closely informed of every detail, encouraged them to ask questions, occasionally asked for their input. About four years after their mother died, I got some small check for something related to estate--less than $20, I think--and duly reported it, offering to send them a check for their $3.95 if they wished (but making clear I would subtract postage and handling  ;) ). They all got a good laugh out of that.

I know I am more fortunate than many, but in neither case where I was executor did anybody every raise a single issue or concern, and in both cases the siblings were grateful I had taken on the task. But it was certainly made easier by the fact that both sets of parents had done good advance planning.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS