Getting My Ducks in Order

“I just want to get my ducks in order” seems to be a comment we often times hear from our clients. And, that’s a good thing. But what does it really mean? Let me tell you a story.

My mother was unbelievably organized. She did it with such ease and grace, I never felt like it was a burden to the family or that she would freak out when things got out of order. She had files for everything and her checkbook register was nice enough to frame. Her spices were alphabetized, as well as were her Jello and pudding boxes. Her closets were things of beauty.

When my mother was diagnosed with a terminal condition, she organized a book with everything that I needed to know, where to go and who to talk to. As an only child, the enormity of the tasks before me was daunting and it all fell on me. Having all of the information in one place helped me immensely not only during her illness and disability but after her death.

Additionally, my mother had done legal documents with an attorney that spent the time counseling her on what she needed now but also for the future given the fact that she was single and had only one child. She put the plan in place (not just a book of legal papers) so that I could take over in the event of her disability, as well as, a smooth transition at her death.

After my mother passed away, I contacted an attorney and because everything was titled in her “living trust”, I did not have to go through the probate process. A few months after her passing, I was confident that I had everything under control and handled.

Then, the bomb dropped. Several years prior, my mother had been offered a position in Arizona. We bought some land and had plans to build a house and move there. Subsequently she was offered a better position locally and she elected to stay here near to family and friends. There had been several conversations about whether she would keep the land in Arizona and build a winter house or sell it. From everything I remember, she decided to sell it and had done so.

About 6 months after her death, I received a tax bill in the mail from Arizona. Surely this was a mistake! I consulted the book. There was no mention of Arizona! After calling Arizona and lots of investigation, I found this was no mistake. Mom had never sold the property and now I had to open a probate in the state of Arizona in order for it to be transferred to me.

This is a fine example of a woman who was beyond organized and yet there was that one “duck” that was not “in order” which cost me time, money and stress after her death. She never considered having a professional look at everything to make sure all of her ducks were in order. Although she had done a fine job of getting her legal, financial and care organized, it would have been well worth her time to consult a professional to review her “stuff” to make sure it was ALL in order.

In August, our Senior Empowerment Series seminar is entitled, “Getting Your Ducks in Order”. We will discuss some of the things you need to think about when organizing your “ducks” and how you can give your kids the gift of having things in order when they need to step up to help either when you are disabled or after your death.

Upcoming GolderCare Senior Empowerment Series in depth discussions:

  • July 19 Help for the Aging Veteran at the Radisson on River Drive, Moline

  • August 9 Getting Your Ducks in Order at the Radisson on River Drive, Moline

Both discussions start at 10:00 AM and are free and open to the public. .