Grandma’s yellow pie plate

Later life decisions include planning for transferring non-titled property (your personal belongings and treasures) as well as titled financial assets (home, vehicles and investments).

It is possible to use the summer family gatherings to ask your family for help with later life decisions. Michigan State University Extension encourages family members of all ages to be vested in helping the elders in your family protect and honor their legacy.

First, prioritize your current needs for each of the following documents:

  1. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  2. Power of Attorney for financial matters
  3. Michigan Statutory Will (simplest, but very basic)
  4. Living Trust (best, but complex to set up)
  5. A plan for distribution of non-titled possessions

To help you plan, keep in mind that one, two and three are quite easy! Do-it-yourself forms are available to fill in. You will need to finalize them with signatures of designated persons and witnesses. Ask your children or a relative to do the paperwork with you. Working together will help make these decisions clearer to everyone concerned. Get it done as soon as possible! Changes can be made later, if needed.

Step four is a bit more difficult! This is the safest tool to protect your assets. A trust is important to establish if your assets include more than a family home. An attorney will be needed to assure proper transfer all assets into the trust. This option is usually expensive. Fees will vary, so ask questions first then proceed. It is a valuable investment, and eXtension offers resources to help you navigate the process.

Step five is easy and fun! Family discussions are a great way to start the process of distributing personal treasures. Simplify household organization. Give away some things as special occasion or holiday gifts. Be sure to write the story of the item’s origin in the gift card. The story contributes to the value of your gift.

Who gets Grandma’s yellow pie plate?

In your family, it may not be a pie plate. What about your dinnerware collection? Those crystal wine goblets? Grandpa’s engraved pocket watch? You know what your family treasures. Holidays lend themselves to preserving traditions. Make it fun to communicate your wishes among family members. Before relatives arrive, set out items for “show and tell” or make a list of items you wish to pass on to loved ones.

The University of Minnesota Extension curriculum for Grandma’s yellow pie plate has helpful activities and questionnaires for stimulating conversations. Do not be afraid of disagreements. Before meeting with family members, consider ways to achieve compromise, when not everyone agrees. Together, make lists of who gets what. Then validate your decisions. In Michigan, it is necessary to put a statement in your will indicating that you have prepared a list for the distribution of your non-titled property.

It is up to you to take action now!

Think about how you wish to see items shared with your children, grandchildren, other relatives or close friends. What about donating items of local interest to your local heritage center/museum, the library, or other public facility, where your legacy items will continue to tell their story for many years?

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