The 4 must-have estate planning documents

Jan 10, 2021

Are you ready to make sure your loved ones are taken care of? As tough as it may seem, there are some simple steps that need to be followed in order to lessen the hassle during difficult times. That is why estate planning is so important! In this episode we take a look at the four must have documents to plan your estate. Tune in to find some peace of mind knowing that those closest to you are taken care of when it matters most.


Tosha Heavican: What are the four must have estate planning documents that you need? In this episode, we will cover wills, powers of attorney and distribution of personal property.

Announcer: This is the Lady Lawyer League podcast. Omaha’s Leading Lady Lawyers Empowering Women to Be Legal Savvy. Hosted by Susan Reff and Tracy Hightower-Henne of Hightower Reff Law.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Welcome back to the Lady Lawyer League podcast. Tosha Heavican is here with me again. I’m so lucky.

Tosha Heavican: Very lucky. I’m happy to be here.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: We’re going to learn all about estate planning documents you can’t live without.

Tosha Heavican: Yeah, pun intended.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Pun intended. All right. So we talked a little bit about estate planning and probate on our last episode. So if you miss that, make sure you go and check it out. But these documents that you can’t live without, well, you can live without them. You shouldn’t die without them.

Tosha Heavican: That’s a good better way to say it. And it really kind of goes hand in hand with what we talked about in our last podcast. You know, you do the planning so that when something does happen, we already we’re not we’re not surprised by what’s going on.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So these are the documents that really make up the estate plan that we’re going to talk about.

Tosha Heavican: Yes.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yes. So will.

Tosha Heavican: Yes, that’s probably the most common one that people think of. The fancier long term is the last will and testament.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Oh, yes. Kind of an in scroll letters.

Tosha Heavican: Yes. Kind of antiquated, although ours now the way we do ours, it’s very modern.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I always get confused when I just say will like in a document if you’re typing out something like Jodi had a will on at the time of her death. And I’m like, what? Whose will? Because you capitalize will when it’s all by itself. So. Oh, so if we just use last will and testament, it’s very clear that we’re not talking about a person named Will.

Tosha Heavican: Yes.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah, correct. Okay.

Tosha Heavican: So Wills so a will is a document that you sign and it’s going to control the stuff that you own at the time that you die. And that’s only going to be stuff that is in your name with and it isn’t already benefiting someone else. So like, for example, a life insurance policy that has beneficiaries on it that’s not going to be controlled by your will because it’s going to go to the beneficiaries that are already on that policy. But if you own your house and there’s no beneficiaries on it and no joint owners, then the house would be controlled by your will. So whatever you put in the will for who gets it, that’s who gets it.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Can you just have pretty generalized statements in your will, like, I don’t want anything to go to and I better not say someone specific, like, I don’t want anything to go to Joe Schmo. I mean, I didn’t want to say like, I don’t want anything to go to my brother because then if he listens, he’s like, What the hell? So I don’t want anything to go to Joe Schmo and that could be your will. And then someone has to like interpret it and figure it out.

Tosha Heavican: You could write that. I don’t know that I would recommend it.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Maybe on legal zoom. You write that?

Tosha Heavican: Yes, that’s legal.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Assume sentence or you can say like, I want everything to go to Jane Doe.

Tosha Heavican: Yes. So typically when you’re having someone draft your will or if you’re doing it on your own, you don’t you don’t put in the will. My three bracelets go to this person and my painting of a dog and a prairie goes to this person, you know, like your random stuff. It’s more like your estate is like this big pot of stuff and like.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: A melting pot kind.

Tosha Heavican: Of. Yeah. And so you’re kind of talking about the majority of what’s in this pot is going to be your money, right? So even if you own a house, we’re really talking about the equity in the house, right? How much is it worth? So then if you’re saying so, let’s do easy math stuff.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Because yeah, math is hard.

Tosha Heavican: So let’s say we have a house that’s worth 300,000 and we have 300,000 in cash and we have three children. Okay, So.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: 600,000. So they should get 200,000.

Tosha Heavican: If you’re splitting it.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Equally. I almost needed a calculator. Right. Okay.

Tosha Heavican: So if you’re splitting it equally, you would say in the will, you would say, I give divide and bequeath the rest residue in remainder of my estate to my three children and equal shares. And then the personal representative or executor, whoever you appointed would collect all of the assets and that person would say, okay, we have 600,000 in assets and the will says everything goes equally. So each kid is going to get 200,000.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Board game like this. I feel like because as as you were saying this, I was picturing Monopoly and I was like, No, that’s not it. And then I was sort of picturing like life, because at the end you retire and sort of, But is there any board game that’s like this where someone dies and then there’s a personal representative?

Tosha Heavican: No, I think you’re I think you’re on to something.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I know. Like, I feel like I have this thing. It’s not really a thing of mine, but I think that the things that we do as children become our real adult jobs, right? Like all the little kids that play with Tonka trucks or the road grader trucks, you know, maybe they’re road grading or the ones that like to play in the kitchen. They like to. Make. And I like to play office literally.

Tosha Heavican: Did you like to argue as a kid, too?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah.

Tosha Heavican: Yeah.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But like the board. Yeah. There’s not a board game for, like, inheritance tax.

Tosha Heavican: I just feel.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Anyone play it. We would play it.

Tosha Heavican: Oh, that’s a little depressing. I don’t know. I just feel like I really liked the game of life, and I think that’s why now I feel like I’m pretty good at life. Because I.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Because. Yes. Because you played the game of life.

Tosha Heavican: Yes. Right.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Hmm. So I think maybe life is the closest. Probably because you cash out at the end. Yeah, but you’re not dead. There needs to be, like, a life version, too, where it’s like after life, and then you’re cashing out and you’re. There’s a personal representative in your car.

Tosha Heavican: Yeah, We can make a board game called Inheritance.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah, I think we should copyright it. We should, like, board game people or millionaires, Right?

Tosha Heavican: Just declare that how they like.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah, I’m declaring it right now. If anyone takes the idea, it’s already copyrighted.

Tosha Heavican: It’s like Michael Scott in the office. I declare bankruptcy, and then the accountant guy is like, You can’t.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Just watch the office. Oh, my God, I know.

Tosha Heavican: And then the accountant guy comes in and he’s like, Michael, you can’t just declare it. And he’s like, But I stood on my desk and I declared it. I declare bankruptcy. And he’s like, That’s not how it works.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I feel like, yeah, board game. All right, All right. So we have 600,000 personal representative collects it. We’re on a board game.

Tosha Heavican: But to your question, though, about can I say Joe Schmo doesn’t get anything right? So under drafting sort of rules and laws and how the cases have worked out in terms of how the law has interpreted wills, you have to specifically disinherit somebody if you want to do that. So let’s say we have we have Joe, Jimmy and Susie as our three kids. If mom is saying.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And Joe is Joe.

Tosha Heavican: Schmo. Yeah. And mom is saying Joe sucked as a kid, we don’t want to give him anything. Her will would say, I have three children. I intend to benefit, but I already forgot. The other two.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Is Maisy and.

Tosha Heavican: Jimmy.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Paul okay.

Tosha Heavican: I specifically intend to disinherit Joe. Like you need to have to declare it.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yes.

Tosha Heavican: Yes. In writing. Not just out in words. Okay. So you would specifically indicate that in your will and then your will would treat them as having predeceased.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: You see, in this board game of life, you would be the kids trying to keep your mom happy. And then she’s over here on like a secret card saying, I am disinherited, Joe And then as you’re going along in the game of life, Joe needs to be nice to his mom, and then she’ll take that away.

Tosha Heavican: That’s right.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah. Because people change their wills a lot.

Tosha Heavican: Oh, yeah. I have this great story about this lady. She would call me every six months or so and she’d say, I need to make a change. And I’d say, Och. And I remember this one time she calls me and she says, Tasha, I want to take and I want to take Patty out of my will. And I was like, Och, I can do that for you. Well, do I have to tell her? And I said, No.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: You don’t have to tell her. You need to call her first. Let me know that you’ve told her and then call me back.

Tosha Heavican: I’m like, No, you don’t have to tell her. I’m not going to tell her. And she says, Och, well, I want you to write in there that Patty is out of my will and she knows why.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And you did, right?

Tosha Heavican: Yep. I said Och so yeah.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Then she’s made it clear. Yeah. Patty ain’t getting shit.

Tosha Heavican: Yep. The only person that you cannot disinherit is your spouse. Because even if I put in my will, my husband’s lazy and all he does is drink beer and watch football and therefore he gets $0.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: You should have divorced him.

Tosha Heavican: Right? But let’s say I didn’t do that. He can say, Well, that’s all well and good, but I’m going to elect against that will and I can get half. So as a spouse, you’re always entitled to half of somebody’s estate.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So on that note of your client who disinherited Patty, how often should you refresh your will?

Tosha Heavican: I usually send out a letter to clients every two years just saying, Hey, make sure you review your stuff and it still looks the way that you want it to look. And the people you’ve put in the jobs that.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: You have any Patty’s right in your life, right? Did you win any money, inheritance, Powerball.

Tosha Heavican: That kind.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Of stuff. I really thought I was going to win that $2 Billion. I did. I mean, the $40 that I bought, the tickets, I was like, certainly one of them, right, is the $2 billion winner.

Tosha Heavican: I don’t even think I’ve ever won more than like $2 playing any sort of.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I won $100 one time. And I think that was two numbers plus the Powerball. And my husband and I were eating at IHOP. We never eat at IHOP. And then I was like, Let’s look at these Powerball. And I was like, whoa, actually, maybe it was three numbers in a Powerball. And I was like, Do you think they’re going to give us $100, like at the gas station down the street? And I’m like, oh, let’s go ask. And we go in there and like, here’s your hundred bucks.

Tosha Heavican: Nice.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So. Yeah. 100 bucks, is it? That’s the highest.

Tosha Heavican: I did win. I think I made, like 200 bucks one time playing blackjack at a casino, but that’s like, the most I’ve ever won.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: The only 200. Yeah. Oh, yeah. We need to go play again.

Tosha Heavican: But I feel like you got to be willing to lose a lot. To win a lot. And I’m a weenie when it comes to stuff like that. I’m like, Yeah, or I could just buy some new jeans and then I’d have them still.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: All right. The other two kind of go together. Ah, the power of attorney. So you have a durable power of attorney for health care and you have a financial power of attorney.

Tosha Heavican: Yes. So typically two documents, they do some of the same things in terms of as a general rule, basically, you’re picking somebody to make decisions for you if you can’t for yourself. So I.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So you’re still alive, correct? Yeah.

Tosha Heavican: Powers of attorney only work so long as the person is alive. So I do a power of attorney and I appoint you as my agent. So then that means you can under.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I always think of, like, someone with sunglasses on. Yes, like the black jacket. And they’re like, walking around like my agent.

Tosha Heavican: For some reason, I always think of Inspector Gadget.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Oh, yeah? As the agent? Yeah. Was he an agent?

Tosha Heavican: Private investigator, I think, Wasn’t he?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah.

Tosha Heavican: Yeah. So not he.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Was an inspector.

Tosha Heavican: Yes. Go. Go. Gadget arm.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I know. Now, with the Apple Watch, I’m always like, Oh Inspector Gadget, because that’s totally what it was.

Tosha Heavican: That was so for the health care power of attorney by statute, it’s always springing. And so what that means is that you maintain the right to make your own health care decisions as the person who signed the document, so long as you’re competent so the doctor feels like you’re understanding what’s going on, you’re able to make your own decisions. But if at any point the doctor says, Och, Tasha doesn’t know what’s going on, she doesn’t understand. And so under her health care power of attorney Tracy is her person. So then you at that point would step in and decide whatever questions they were asking.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And at the point that the doctor says, Tasha no longer knows what’s going on, Tasha better have had a medical power of attorney already in place because now she doesn’t know what’s going on and can’t put one in place. Right. And that’s, I think, the problem that we always see in our office. Yes. And then what has to happen.

Tosha Heavican: If you don’t have a power of attorney, your only option is to go to court and get a guardianship, which is a court proceeding. Costs a lot more money, a lot.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Way more headache.

Tosha Heavican: Yes.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Reports you have to file.

Tosha Heavican: Right. And there’s so many times where people will call and they’ll say, my grandma, my mom, whoever, you know, she doesn’t understand what’s going on now. So we need to get her a power of attorney. And it’s just like you said at that point, it’s too late. We can’t she can’t sign anything. It’s not going to be enforceable.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right? So, yeah, she doesn’t know what’s going on. Who’s she going to sign, right?

Tosha Heavican: Yeah, right. So Joe Schmo.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Joe Schmo, Patty, not Patty. Right.

Tosha Heavican: Patty’s out and so kind of by the same token, you have this financial power of attorney so that person can make decisions for things like your bank accounts, your money that you have invested. If you need to change that, if you need to liquidate it, sell your house, all those kinds of things.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And this is what we talked about in the last episode where it’s an alternative to naming someone on your bank account with you having a financial power of attorney avoids all the problems of that, right?

Tosha Heavican: Yeah. What’s kind of interesting, or I don’t know if tricky is the right word, but a power of attorney for finances. You can have two different kinds. So you can have a general one that’s like as soon as I sign it, it appoints you to do things for me regardless of my capacity. So I could be perfectly fine, but I could be in China somewhere and my tax return needs signed.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: You got in Europe.

Tosha Heavican: I know I’m in Paris and I’m in Iceland, right?

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yes, Iceland.

Tosha Heavican: Go Iceland. And my my tax attorney signed. And for whatever reason, I can’t do it. If you have my power of attorney, you could sign it for me. Right. And that’s just that’s a general durable power of attorney. It has nothing to do with my capacity. It’s just I’ve given you that power as opposed to a springing one, which is like the health care one. So we sign it now. But you only have authority once. A doctor has said Tasha doesn’t understand what’s going on. You know, she’s going to give all of her money to the guy in Jamaica that’s emailing her 17 times a day. Right. So right, That kind of thing.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: The Jamaican prince.

Tosha Heavican: Yes.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So who should someone consider to be their power of attorney?

Tosha Heavican: I would say the most common that you see for married people is that you would choose your spouse first. I’m kind of a I would.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Think.

Tosha Heavican: Well, you would think I’m kind of a belt and suspenders kind of person, so. We want to keep those pants on so we have a first person and then we’ll name a secondary and maybe even a third.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Do you need a belt and suspenders to keep pants on? That’s my.

Tosha Heavican: Point.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: It’s safer if you have. Oh, like in case the suspenders.

Tosha Heavican: Break, the belt breaks. So I say belt and suspenders so that we make sure if for whatever reason, that first person can’t serve, yeah, we have somebody to step in. Because otherwise, if we have a power of attorney, but we only have one person on it and they can’t serve and.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: They’re dead.

Tosha Heavican: Then we’re still.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Incompetent. Yeah, right.

Tosha Heavican: So usually you’ll see a spouse, depending on how old the person is after that, like people that are urine, eyes, age. I see where they’ll appoint a parent to be the second person after their spouse. I see a lot of siblings. In a few cases, if people have really close friends who are in the medical field, I see that a lot too. If you’re an older person, usually adult children. And then the question becomes, if you have four kids, like who do you pick? You know, typically with the health care power of attorney, you only want one person at a time because if you’ve got two kids and they don’t agree, then we’re still in court arguing about what path is the best. So you really want to try to narrow it down and pick one person so.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: It’s someone that you trust. And maybe on the medical power of attorney side, someone that maybe kind of understood your thoughts about medical care, right? Like, well, she would have never wanted to remain in a coma for the rest of her life. So do something different.

Tosha Heavican: Right. Right. Or I mean, even like I’m trying to think of some random ideas like, let’s say that you had were ill and then you developed like an infection in your leg and then you went into a coma. And the question was, should we amputate? Right. I mean, that’s kind of a random example, but it’s things like that, right? Or a lot of times I give the example, let’s say that you went in for some type of a routine surgery and you’re under anesthesia, so you’re not competent to answer questions. And while they’re in there, they find something else. And rather than waking you up and getting permission to perform this extra procedure, they could ask your power of attorney and say, Hey, we found this other thing. Should we go ahead and do it? Here’s the risks, here’s the benefits, right? That type of thing.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah. So someone that you trust for sure.

Tosha Heavican: Yes, definitely.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And then the fourth document of an estate planning document that you can’t live without is a memorandum of disposition of tangible personal property. That is a mouthful.

Tosha Heavican: It is. It’s basically like it’s your your stuff, your the stuff you can hold. Right. Like this cup.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: The 3000 couch.

Tosha Heavican: Yes. So like, let’s say that this was like the most magnificent cup ever.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: That it is. It’s a high tower. It is.

Tosha Heavican: It is. I’ve told you about my mother in law who’s, like, obsessed with our cups, and she has all of them. Well, her favorite one is the black one. That’s like the Globe.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And this is our fifth generation. Is it Mug?

Tosha Heavican: Yeah, Well, she has. And it’s at her house and she drinks her coffee out of it every morning. That’s cup. And she whenever we all go and stay there, she’s like nobody better be using my cup or taking it. She’s very particular about it. But so it’s like the stuff that holds a lot of sentimental value. So I had a case one time where it was two sisters that weren’t getting along and there was an attorney on the other side and we worked well together, but they were. And the mom who had passed away had a lot of stuff in the house, lots of stuff. So we were arguing over things like empty hat boxes and all that kind of stuff. And so when you have a person who has a lot of things that have sentimental value, if you can write it down and so then your will has a section in it that says, okay, my personal property, which is your stuff, the stuff you can actually hold on to, I’m going to distribute that based on a memorandum. And so that will be incorporated into my will and then that allows the client to fill it out at a later date so they don’t have to do it in my office. And the nice thing is, is if they change their mind, they don’t have to come back to talk to me. They can just rip it up and do a new one. So like I use like I had a family member who had a fair amount of jewelry that she had. And I said, Well, use these memorandum sheets, take those little Polaroid camera things. Right. Take a picture so that you know what necklace they’re talking about, put it on the sheet and put who it goes to, and then you date it and sign it. And then that way, let’s say ten years down the road, maybe that that family member, well, now she’s got a bunch of granddaughters, so maybe she wants to change it and give the granddaughter something instead or whatever.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: You can move the picture around, right.

Tosha Heavican: Yeah. And so it’s just it’s a way to because frankly, that’s I mean, money is money changes people, right? But. Also, the stuff with sentimental value is people get really hung up on that kind of stuff and if you can have a plan ahead of time. I had a lady one time. This was kind of interesting. She had me write her will for her tangible personal property where at the beginning each child would have a a dice and they would have to like, roll the dice. And whoever had the highest number got to go first.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: This is a board game, right?

Tosha Heavican: Yeah, I know. Yeah. And so whoever had the highest number got to go first. And like, there you have to pick somebody something for one of the people in their family. And then the next family got to go. And then it kind of went in a circle.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: The mom was still alive.

Tosha Heavican: No, this would be after she’s gone.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So she explained this process in her will. Wow. I like it.

Tosha Heavican: Because she had a lot of, like, artwork and like, fancy vases and stuff like.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: That. I think she should have been like, after my death, you all have to play life. Yeah. And if you get however many kids you get in your car, those are the amount of items you can pick from the list.

Tosha Heavican: I had another client one time who owned a like a restaurant. It was a small town, like a restaurant place, and it was had a lot of like stuff on the walls and just like knickknack things. And she had me put in. She says, Well, when I pass away, I want everybody to come to my restaurant and everybody drink and eat, and then everybody takes something with them from the restaurant.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Go, Is she still alive?

Tosha Heavican: I think she’s still alive. Oh, her kids didn’t really like that idea, but she didn’t much care.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So she’ll be dead, right? Yeah.

Tosha Heavican: So, yeah, it’s her thing. And it’s her. It’s her.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So what happens with the tangible personal property as far as value goes with inheritance tax?

Tosha Heavican: So I would say for the most part. So the county attorney is the one who is kind of like represents the state, which is who gets the money, right. So or the county. So for stuff like, you know, the clothes in the closet and like the forks and spoons and the door, like they don’t care about that kind of stuff. It’s more like the expensive stuff. So like if you think about a vehicle, if you have expensive artwork or expensive jewelry, that kind of stuff is what the county attorney really cares about. They don’t care about like the lamp from Target that was 2999, like they don’t care about that kind of stuff.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But but the there could be some valuable stuff that that flies under the radar.

Tosha Heavican: There could be. So don’t I don’t want to know if there was.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: By the books. I am belt and suspenders. All right so the for estate planning documents that you can’t live without or the will the durable power of attorney for health care, the financial power of attorney and the memorandum of disposition of tangible personal property, those are the four those are the four important ones for like a basic estate plan.

Tosha Heavican: Yes. And that’s you know, we I am a firm believer that estate planning is for everyone. And this type of plan, a basic estate plan, is functional for any person and really will get them very far in terms of getting an estate plan together that will provide some clarity for their family.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: All right. Are you ready for the weird and wild questions from Google?

Tosha Heavican: Yes, yes, yes. What are.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: All right. What is the strangest request that you’ve ever had for an estate plan? Okay, this reminds me of the ashes. Like talk about ashes.

Tosha Heavican: Yes. So we had a case one time where a person so a person died and their spouse. So they actually were going through a divorce at the time, but they didn’t actually get divorced before the spouse died.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So they were still married at the time of the death.

Tosha Heavican: Exactly. So you’re not if you’re not actually divorced, there’s no decree then you’re still a spouse for purposes of probate or the probate code. So the mother of the deceased spouse was throwing a fit that she should get the ashes. And the surviving spouse is saying I should get the ashes. And there’s actually I hadn’t had an occasion to look this up before, but there’s actually a statute on.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: It because this happened before probably in 1905.

Tosha Heavican: Right. That specifically lays out the order of who gets the ashes.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: And by consanguinity.

Tosha Heavican: Well, it actually it was the spouse first. But interestingly, the legislature, when they wrote that statute, they carved out an exception. If there is a divorce decree on file at the time that one of the spouses dies, it skips over.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: The divorce decree.

Tosha Heavican: Yeah, there’s not a decree. Oh, well, there’s. If there’s a divorce case open.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: A divorce case open. So they didn’t actually they hadn’t had the decree yet.

Tosha Heavican: Right. So they didn’t actually get divorced, but there was a divorce on file. Then the Ashes statute says we’re going to skip over the spouse and it goes to the kids.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah. So and they had children in this situation, right? So it still.

Tosha Heavican: Wasn’t the.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Mother. Yeah, but.

Tosha Heavican: But yeah, but interestingly and that statute, it also talks about how you can put in your will, which I’ve done this for some clients, you know, like how specifically you can name a custodian basically of your ashes. So you can say like, I want this person to get my ashes. So yeah, and of course, the funeral home is like, please stop calling us. Like, we just just tell us who to give it to. Like.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: They were like, we’re not letting go of the ashes until we have a court order, right?

Tosha Heavican: Yeah, right.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: All right. Next. Can you leave money or tangible personal property to pets? So. So pets outnumber humans in my house now. So this is interesting.

Tosha Heavican: Yes. And the short answer is yes. So I have set up trusts for pets before. And basically what it looks like is you’re leaving a set amount of money to basically a custodian of the animals, and then that money is to pay the custodian and then also to pay for the things that the animals need, like vet bills and food and all that kind of stuff. There’s a there’s an interesting story about a billionaire. She was a tobacco heiress, I think, and she gave she left like $12 million to her dog named Trouble. And she disinherited a couple of her grandkids. And of course, they were ticked off, right, because they were thinking they got it made and now they don’t get nothing. So they sued and they did a will contest. Yes. To see if they could invalidate the will, saying, well, clearly grandma was nuts. She had no capacity because she gave $12 million to a dog and they ended up settling out of court. The the dog ended up getting 6 million and the grandkids got some money, but they had to pay all the legal fees.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Wow.

Tosha Heavican: I can’t imagine how much that bill was. I’m sure it was high, but I’ve never done a $12 million or a $6 million pet trust.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But but yes, you can do it.

Tosha Heavican: Yes, you can.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Sweet. Can people request to be buried with personal property?

Tosha Heavican: I don’t I don’t see why not. I’ve I don’t know that I’ve ever had that request in a will, but I don’t think barring some sort of like environmental problems. Right. Epa type stuff, I don’t see that that would be a problem.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah, it sounds fine to me. What is the most eccentric post mortem requests you’ve had? And I think when I think about the donating your body to science after death.

Tosha Heavican: Yes.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I remember because I dabbled in some estate planning in the beginning and someone asked I wanted, can I put this in the will donate body to science? And there’s like a separate form you have to fill out for whatever facility is going to do it. But I was like, That’s so cool.

Tosha Heavican: It’s super interesting. I, I have had a couple of clients who have wanted to do that, and so we fill out the paperwork. There’s a lot of requirements. So like, you have to be a certain weight. You have to be.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: They won’t just take any body.

Tosha Heavican: No, no, you have to be like, I feel like you have to kind of be like in superb shape a little bit.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But they don’t want us fatties. No. You know what? So the body exhibits. Have you ever seen those?

Tosha Heavican: Oh, yes.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Those are like, my favorite. Yeah. And any time I’m anywhere that has one of them or the traveling ones, I think Las Vegas is set. It stays there. Those are so fascinating. I’m like, What about all these people donate to their body to science? Yeah, but, you know, it’s fascinating because a lot of those people, like, had some sort of disease or something like that that they can show. Yes. So all these bougie places are picky, huh?

Tosha Heavican: Yeah. No, you can’t. You can’t just give your. They’ll send it back.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: No, we don’t want this.

Tosha Heavican: Return to.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Sender Barry.

Tosha Heavican: It interestingly the last one that I did, I think like the spouse had to agree or something too. I can’t remember what program that one was that she wanted to do, but her husband had to sign it. Also, I’ve also had a couple of clients who have wanted green burials, So where they turn you into a tree? Oh, yeah, Yeah. So I’ve had that. And then I did have one guy.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Be turned into a dog in a spoiled household.

Tosha Heavican: That’s your own dog.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah, that’s what. But I guess that’s. Well, if you’re going to be turning into a tree, that is. Reincarnation, right?

Tosha Heavican: That’s true. That’s true. I think he was joking mostly to get a rise out of his wife. But I had a guy one time asking me if he could put in his will that he could be shot out of a cannon.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: His body. Oh, my.

Tosha Heavican: Gosh. She said, I’m your executor and I’m not doing that.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Wow. All right. So that’s a good eccentric post mortem request. Does the reading of a will happen at all as it does in the movies?

Tosha Heavican: Not really.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: So the answer is no, it does not.

Tosha Heavican: I mean, I’ve.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Had nothing that happens in the movies, legally wise ever happens in real life.

Tosha Heavican: I can tell you that I have had. So I’m in my 11th year of practice and I have had one. Well, reading that I feel like was similar to what you see in the movies. Oh, and we had we did it because there was five children and there were differing percentages as of Dad’s estate that went to the kids and the executor who wasn’t the highest number, that he didn’t receive the most. I think if I remember correctly, I think that the person who died, the dad, he was very thoughtful about who needed the most help in terms of where they each were at in life. And but of course, I was still a little nervous about it because you never know how people are going to react. And and there were some significant differences in the percentages. Right. And so I talked to the executor and I said, well, let’s just set a meeting. Everybody can come and I will just read the will. So we did that. And thankfully and appropriately, one of the kids who received the lower percentage number, he thanked me for reading it and he said, and nobody’s going to have anything to say about it because that’s what dad wanted. And that was the end of the conversation. And I was like, Thank you. So it ended up being fine. But that was really the only time that I would say I had something similar to what.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: But it wasn’t as dramatic as it is.

Tosha Heavican: No. And there was no, like, video or like letters for a year or nothing.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right.

Tosha Heavican: What does that movie I don’t know with. He’s beautiful.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Though. Is it a Nicholas Sparks movie? No, it’s what it sounds like.

Tosha Heavican: Is it Meg Ryan that’s in that.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: I don’t know. And Tom Hanks. I don’t know what. All right. Well, you’re going to have to get back to us on that. All right. So thank you for telling us about the four estate planning documents that you can’t live without. Yes. Because I think it is really important that you don’t need an estate to have an estate plan. So get on it.

Tosha Heavican: Exactly. Call us.

Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah.

Tosha Heavican: There’s all kinds of tools out there for all kinds of plans. So thank you for joining us on today’s podcast. If you need help with any of the documents that we’ve talked about today or other estate planning tools, check out the show notes for our contact information.

Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Lady Lawyer League podcast. Be sure to like and subscribe anywhere you get your podcasts. We’ll see you next week.

related content

Divorce: when abuse is present

What happens during a divorce when abuse is present? How do you safeguard yourself and those you love during those tough times? Divorce can be an incredibly difficult experience, and it gets even more complicated when abuse is involved. With the help of Susan and Tracy in this episode, you’ll learn how to safeguard yourself or your loved ones during these tough times. Knowing the signs of various forms of abuse could prove vital for protecting both yourself and those around you from further harm.

read more

Probate & Estate: What You Need to Know

Ever wonder what happens to your stuff after you die? Well, it turns out that the court has a say. Enter Tosha Heavican: Death Esquire – she’s here to give us an inside look at Probate and Estate Law. In this episode, we’ll be discussing all things related to probating an estate. From understanding how the process works to figuring out who gets what when all is said and done. So listen up – Tosha is about to drop some knowledge! Let’s get started!

read more

What you need to do when your divorce is final

What happens after a divorce? What are the different judgments and how do they impact you? In this episode Susan and Tracy cover all of those post decree tasks you need to know when your divorce is final. Once the divorce is final, there are a few things you need to think about. You’ll want to make sure that all the necessary judgments have been issued and that you understand them. Property division, alimony (if applicable), child support/custody—these are all important pieces for your post-divorce life.

read more