May 20, 2016

Parts of a Date

I saw this sign on the wall of a restaurant where Hubby and I had brunch last weekend.

There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered.


May 10, 2016

Who Will Get Your Stuff?

My mother inherited a lovely set of sterling silver flatware from her mother. One day we were discussing her huge accumulation of possessions passed down through several generations, and she told me about the silverware. It happened to be the same pattern as a set owned by her cousin, and Mom wanted me to make sure that her set would go to the cousin after her (Mom's) death.

I wasn't sure this was possible. As her executor, I would have a fiduciary duty to dispose of her property in accordance with the law and the provisions of her will. I couldn't just give valuable things to people, even if I thought that was what she wanted, especially since I couldn't be sure that Mom's heirs would all agree.

My suggestion was that she give the silverware to the cousin now. That way, Mom could guarantee that the item would go to the right person, and she would get the pleasure of handing the gift to someone who would greatly appreciate and enjoy it.

So, Mom had lunch with the cousin and surprised her with the silverware. Everyone was happy.

Unlike many people, my parents created an estate plan, which includes their wills. While it doesn't cover every detail (like the silverware), it is clear about how their assets will eventually be distributed.

Without a will, the law decides what will happen to a deceased person's property. Often this means that things are not handled the way we would prefer. Few of us will leave estates as large and complicated as Prince's, but even modest estates may end up subjected to family feuds, exorbitant probate costs, and tragic, unintended consequences.

In one sad case that made the news several years ago, a man died, no doubt assuming that everything would go to his widow. Instead, investigators tracked down some distant cousins who had been completely unknown to the man. Because of the way inheritance laws worked in that state, the cousins got a large portion of the estate, forcing the elderly widow to sell her home. The cousins, who had never heard of the man until they were located by the investigators, could have refused to take the money, but they were greedy and felt no remorse for impoverishing a woman who had expected to remain in her own home and keep whatever she and her husband had managed to save. Because the law allowed it, they considered themselves entitled.

Not only is it possible for your property to go to relatives you'd rather ignore, if an appropriate heir cannot be found, your property will go to the state. Very few people would make that choice.

No matter how young you are, if you have a spouse and/or children, you need a will to protect their interests. In many states, you may also want to create a trust, which can make it easier and less expensive for your trustee or executor to distribute your property according to your wishes. Make sure you work with a qualified attorney, especially if your situation is complicated or if you plan to do something unusual, such as disinheriting someone, since unusual provisions often trigger challenges.

People sometimes shy away from estate planning, because thinking about their own mortality is uncomfortable. It's actually a painless process, just a matter of making a few decisions and doing a little paperwork, much of which is standardized. My husband and I took care of this several years ago, leaving us with one less important thing to worry about.

May 6, 2016

Softer, Safer Wedding Rings

Metal wedding rings can be uncomfortable, and sometimes even dangerous.

Some people have allergies or sensitive skin that is irritated by the presence of metal. Using sports equipment or tools may squeeze the fingers together, creating a lot of pain when the metal ring is pushed into the flesh. A ring can be very painful and difficult to remove when it cuts into a swollen finger. Sometimes it is just irritating to feel a metal ring rubbing against the skin.

Worse yet, for people working with power tools, there are occasionally some real dangers in wearing rings. My father-in-law nearly lost his finger when his wedding ring caught on a piece of equipment. A number or people, including talk show host Jimmy Fallon, have experienced similar injuries.
An interesting alternative to traditional metal rings is the silicone ring.

These inexpensive rings are hypoallergenic, flexible, and durable. Most are designed to break away under pressure, so they are safe to wear during work and sports.

Silicone rings are available in many colors and styles, for both men and women. They are so affordable, you can buy an assortment in different colors to match different outfits and activities. I was surprised by all the choices, including some that have a metallic look, and others that include sparkly stones.

This is a wonderful solution for people who want to wear a wedding ring, but need to be concerned about safety.

May 2, 2016

Qualities of a Happy Marriage?

In one of the ESL classes I taught last week, the book included a section on friends and family. The students were learning some basic words and phrases related to friendship, family, and marriage. Part of the lesson included a group discussion about various kinds of relationships.

One of the questions they had to answer was, "What do you think is necessary for a happy marriage?"

These students were mostly in their late teens or early twenties, and none of them were married, so I wasn't sure what kind of experience or ideas they might bring to this question. I suggested that they think about the married people they had known throughout their lives. What qualities had they observed in happily married couples?

The top answer was respect. After that came communication, honesty, and love.

Smart kids.

April 25, 2016

Interviewed at Modern Married

One of my favorite blogs is Modern Married, the creation of Maggie Reyes, a life coach and writer whose slogan is, "Create a life you love with the love of your life."

Maggie's loving wisdom is evident in everything she writes, and her approach to happier, healthier relationships is truly inspiring.

So I was very excited and honored to be interviewed for Modern Married. Interviews make me nervous, but Maggie's gentle approach put me completely at ease.

If you haven't yet had the pleasure of visiting Modern Married, this is a great time to start.
Image courtesy of Nongkran_ch at