Step 5 of my journey

I’m writing this July 1, 2016

Need to manage real estate and personal financial assets and create trust fund for our adult children

I’m working on a plan to manage our real estate and personal financial assets and create a trust fund for our adult children. When the CPA sent the latest financial statement, I was proud of how frugal I’ve been over the past few years. I’ve had to tap into the principal of our accounts very little.

I did step up the level of home health care services through Visiting Angels Shoreview office from once to twice a week starting this month—just for the little things. I never worry about using the walk-in shower, but sometimes I feel like taking a bubble bath, and I like the safety of knowing there’s someone there if I have a day when I’m struggling to get out of the tub. It’s also nice to have someone to chat with after baking cookies and then sharing stories over tea!

However, I’ve had an epiphany of sorts in recent weeks—while most people make New Year’s resolutions, I’m making mine now—July 1, when days are longest and I’m filled with energy. I know it’s called estate planning, but I’d rather think of it as “early gifting” for now, and treasure the thought of knowing I’m around to see the enjoyment our extended family will get out of it. Especially having a couple places to vacation.

I’ve been reading about the difference between irrevocable and revocable “inter vivos” trusts work, and how long living trust funds need to be in place and how to do single-time transfers to the kids and grandkids. I want them to be able to enjoy the Minnesota cabin, the Arizona condo, and even maybe that silly time share we bought into decades ago. 

I’ve also been reading up on living trusts, life estates, property transfers, finding realtors in other states, how to do 1031 exchanges, and to how to interview a prospective estate planning attorney

It’s all due to technology! Side story…Last Christmas, the four kids got me a beautiful new computer—an Apple Mac, that literally takes up half the desktop. The color and all the things it can do is amazing! Then for Mother’s Day, they bought me an iPad and an iPhone X

And then on Father’s Day, (since they say I have both roles now), they were all so sweet as to hire Mac Guys+ to integrate all the technology. One man came to the house three different times, and taught me all sorts of tips and tricks. He works with seniors a lot, so they also bought his services for a whole year. 

All I have to do is call, text, or email him, and he helps me out with my technology questions. One of the best things is that they can help me remotely. The guy “tethers” his computer to mine, so I can see what he’s doing in real time. It’s scary, but still fascinating to me.

By now, you should know one of the most common terms in my vocabulary is “overwhelmed”. I may be detail-oriented, but this can be too much at times. Mike and Cathy have taken the lead in helping me out, and we have an attorney coming to the house tomorrow to consult with us on options for the next 3-5 years, assuming I stay healthy enough to keep living in our forever home.

Cathy has been here for days. She’s using this organizing system that she found on a site called Mindful Decluttering & Organizing and they have free downloads to keep track of donated items and to keep us on track! She’s been helping me clear out the attic and purge treasures of years gone by. And while they see it as me getting rid of junk, I can’t begin to tell you how delighted the grandkids are with all the old toys and such that I’m passing along. 

I’ve even started coding and labeling things that I’m not ready to part with yet. Now I’m getting a feeling, however, as to who wants what artwork the good china, and more. I’m surprised though, as how little interest each of the kids has in their old drawings, report cards, awards, and even baby shoes. Here I’d kept just about everything, thinking they were sentimental.

We’ve also started going through all the volumes of family photos, and determining which ones to have copied onto archival paper and how to create matching photo albums for each of the four kids. I can hardly believe the thousands of film negativeswe still have! Given that they’ve been in a fireproof box in a cool, dark space, they’re nearly flawless! Just one more way you’ve left your legacy behind, my dear George. So many family holiday and vacation pics, along with the grandkids when they were little!


I’m writing this July 2, 1016


My, how life can change in 24 hours! We had torrential rainblow through here last night. I think I will call Mike and have him reschedule the appointment with the lawyer. Last night was just too much for me—I was up half the night between the flashes of heat lightening, and the thunderous crashes that followed. And then, there was the damage…


By 2 AM, I’d turned on the news long enough to see that Raccoon Creek was overflowing, and that even with the bridge being lifted, it was looking likely that the road would wash out as the water crested over the embankment. Just an hour later, water was rolling down Grand Avenue as the street drains couldn’t keep up.


I made a cup of tea, and settled into your old blue La-Z-Boyrocker recliner and drifted off to sleep. A short while later, I was awakened by a huge crashing sound, and wearily tried to separate my dream from reality. I decided it was yet just another thunderbolt, and made my way off to bed.

Well, by 6:30, it was still dark and dreary out, so I knew we were in for more rain. The dog began barking as the newspaper was dropped off, as usual, so I put on my slippers, popped one of your favorite Thomas' English Muffinsin the toaster, and started a pot of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. I don’t think that carried it in stores when you were alive.


I looked out the back door and up toward the hill. Lo and behold, I was in for quite an awakening! The old oaks in back lost some small branches here and there—no surprise. Anyway shuffled (yes shuffled, to the front door since my hip hasn’t healed too well) to the front door.


But when I went to get the paper at the front door, look what I found! One of the front oak trees had crashed onto the porch roof, and another huge limb fell towards the back on the side by the dining room, cracking the curved glass by the built-in buffet.


I didn’t dare walk out the front for fear of the live wires! Instead, I made my way down the back steps, around the house, and up the driveway to take photos. You’d be impressed at how far cell phone cameras have come in the past few years! I took these on my new iPhone X.


 This is the largest branch—along with three live wires, so the electric company is on their way.

This is the largest branch—along with three live wires, so the electric company is on their way.

       Kind of a wonky angle, but it’s still raining. The branch is longer than the front of the house!

      Kind of a wonky angle, but it’s still raining. The branch is longer than the front of the house!

 You can’t see it, but part of the branch is hung up in another oak tree.

You can’t see it, but part of the branch is hung up in another oak tree.

 They tell me this will make great fire wood for next winter. Make lemons out of lemonade, right?

They tell me this will make great fire wood for next winter. Make lemons out of lemonade, right?

I’m not sure whether I’m sadder about the tree, or knowing that the rippled frosted glass is forever gone. I know I will likely need to replace it with a regular window, or wait months for something custom, given that it was original to the house. The tears began to flow. Maybe it’s just another sign that we need to make plans to get everything in tip-top shape and see whether to sell the house to Cathy as part of her share of the estate, or to get it ready to put on the MLS-Multiple Listing Service

Regardless, the team at Parallel Realty, along with their contractors, will do all the repair work, and will market our forever home when the time is right. I just called them, and they recommended I call Minnesota Landscapes because they can remove some of the old juniper bushes and add a pop of color to the little front flower garden before fall.

I’m writing this August 17, 2016

Summer will soon come to a close. Between the kids and me, we’ve selected an estate attorney. We’ve also decluttered the garage, totally cleaned out the attic, labeled treasures and more. We added a few more elements to the kitchen (like pull out shelves in the lower cabinets), and a second railing for me to use when going to the basement and back up. 

Overwhelmed again and I don’t know quite what to do.  Now I’m facing the reality that my financial affairs in order to protect all of the assets that you’ve created for us. The attorney is collaborating with the CPA and pulling all of our financials together. They’re working with Brett at Parallel Realty and his out-of-state connections to get everything in order. 

We’re going to replace the 22 year old furnace next week. I did online research on CNET on the best smart home devices like thermostats for temperature control. In the end, Duane, the man who usually does my monthly home maintenance through Parallel, recommended the Ecobee4 with built in Alexa voice service, and it’s actually one of the more affordable and user-friendly of all the systems. *sighs* Another technology wonder! Goodness, I just realized you wouldn’t even know who (or what) about Amazon Echo and it's voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant, Alexa. It integrates almost everything from music to lights and the thermostat, just by me talking to it. I can hardly wait to learn!

Well, off to BINGO with the neighbor for now. I’m supposed to hear from the estate planner, the CPA, and the attorney before the week is over, but we shall see. I just keep trying to document things, in hopes that other seniors/widows/widowers may learn from my journey one day. Next up is finishing the plans for distributing things in the trust.

Oh, you know how I change topics! There will be 17 of us at the cabin the week leading up to Labor Day. Fishing has been phenomenal on the lake this year as the DNR did a lot of restocking last year, so I’m sure we’ll fire up the pontoon and end up with a jumbo fish fry! They have special regulations on walleye around Mille Lacs, however, so we may have to fish for a variety of species this year. They’re having a catch-and-release summer season due to spawning, and an overnight ban on fishing for walleye—your favorite! 

You may not believe it, but it really isn’t the same without you my love…

AuthorBrett Foss