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December 11, 2012


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I am so sorry for your loss.

Thank you so much for sharing this. My husband and I were just talking about #3 and how to find a balance between saving for later and spending now. Sometimes I get so excited by the early retirement numbers. But then I think how much we enjoy some of the experiences we can use our money on today.

And thank you also for the estate plan reminder. I feel as though we just did ours but it was over 3 years ago now.

Thank you for sharing your story. I am very sorry for your loss. I will take your advice to heart.

Hi JL,

Thanks for sharing your story and I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your husband.

I took away some valuable pointers from your posting, so thanks again.


Thank you for sharing. I would like to join the other commenters and tell you that we are sorry for your loss.

One takeaway that I got - look at long term care insurance, especially when you have either a family history of either a longer than average life expectancy or some type of debilitating illness. You don't want to outlive your assets. LTC is one those things that you hope you never use but will be glad it's there once you need it.

So sorry to hear about your loss. I often think what if I never make it to retirement. Right now we are aggressively paying of my girlfriend's student loans but after those are gone and we get more comfortable with our situation I hope to enjoy our money a little bit more than we currently do. Thanks for reminding us that life is short and that we rrarely die at the end of our life but instead right in the middle of it.

JL, I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story and insights. It is a good reminder that even if you have a financial/trust plan in place, it is important to review it frequently and ensure it fits your current situation. I especially appreciate your advice point #3 about enjoying life and splurging a little on experiences together while you can -- definitely taking that one to heart.

I am also very sorry for your loss.
I am writing this from the hospital room where my wife of 56 years has been since November 1st. I am here day and night and just go home occasionally to pick up the mail (especially our NETFLIX DVDs). I can't imagine my life without her and try not to think about it. Fortunately she is recovering well from surgery for an intestinal blockage and last night we had the first experience that her system is coming back to normal and that she will no doubt be going home in a few days. She is no longer hooked up to anything and started a liquid diet yesterday after having no food at all since her arrival.

These types of experiences overwhelm any thoughts about money and finance so my advice to younger people is to enjoy your life fully, realize your dreams while you are young, active, and healthy, enjoy your friends and family, and not worry about the inevitable that will happen eventually to all of us.

Thanks for sharing your story. I guess life is still a challenge even when you're in a good financial position. Sorry for your loss. Long term care is such a big burden and I don't have a good plan for that right now.

JL, it isn't stated in your profile, but did your husband have children from a previous marriage? I'm curious about the separate assets and his family as the beneficiaries. I don't pretend to be an expert in estates, but is there a reason you are being tasked with being the fiduciary? To me, it sounds like a lot of unnecessary work, especially if there is someone else who could take over managing it.

JL, sorry for your loss.

Limey, sorry to hear your wife has been ill, but glad to hear she's getting better.

Thanks Jim!
I just talked to the surgeon and she's going home tomorrow. The best news in the world for both of us.


Thanks for writing your article. We all need to remember that life is a journey not a destination. We need to live it while we are on the journey. So sorry for your loss.

@Old Limey,

My wife had the same surgery a few years ago. She was in the hospital for a week. Presumably it is more challenging when you are in your 70s than in your 30s. 40 days must seem like an eternity, but it is great to hear she is recovering.

Old Limey --

We will add your wife to our prayer list and trust that she will return home quickly and in great health.

Thank you for sharing your story, I’m sure it wasn’t easy for you but I think it contains great lessons and is a great gift to share with all of the other readers.

>I’m making up the difference for now. That’s not included in the $40k expenses mentioned above; so >the shortfall is coming from my savings. It also takes a significant amount of my time, so I cannot yet >travel.
>I can access for necessities, but not much else.
>.. it creates immense complexity and tax implications which could have been avoided.

It sounds like you may not be withdrawing as much as you could from this trust. I realize that it is a hassle but I would be sure to take out anything that legally constitutes a necessity - food, clothing, etc. Consulting with a Lawyer to clarify exactly what you can and can’t take from the trust and consult with a CPA for tax implications.

If you withdraw as much as you can from the trust then you can maximize how much of your pension and SS are available to pay for whatever the trust will not allow- such as the medical care for your mother or even some travel expenses.
In your situation I would do some travel now. Caring for your mother must be very exhausting; she could live another ten years and is could get worse as time goes on. Who knows what your health will be like in the future? Take your own advice and plan to enjoy your life now more than you have been. Hire a nurse to help out your mother for a week or two and travel to somewhere you and your husband always wanted to go.

-Rick Francis

I made a typo on when my wife entered the hospital, it was November the 30th. not November 1st. so the stay will be about 13 days maximum.

JL I am also sorry for your loss. With time hopefully your pain will lessen.

Regarding your Mom's expenses. She could be eligible for Medicaid. We went thru this experience when my Mom had her 1st stroke. After expending $300,000 she finally became eligible.
She stayed at the same facility and received the same care as private pay patients.

First, Sorry for your loss as well.
And Good luck to Limey.

I loved this post, and Limey's comments. Rings true that "youth is wasted on the young"

I find it ironic that young people with lots of time want more money and older people with lots of money want more time.

If you want to REALLY be well off, and REALLY be rich, all you have to do is be one of the very very few who realize this paradox, and then actually do something about it.

Nothing is guaranteed. Saving earnestly for the future is just as risky as spending for the present. But only one is guaranteed.

I am one of the most blessed on here. Because I learned this at a very young age. I am diligent about a secure future, but I place more emphasis on the present, because it goes by so fast.

Hi, this is JL.

Thanks to everyone for they condolences. As you can probably tell that's not why I wrote up my profile, but it is still nice to have the good wishes. And, I loved reading all of your carefully chosen words of wisdom.

To answer a few questions and make some comments:

@ Noah, no prior marriages nor children. The separate assets were for asset protection as we often worked in high risk/high liability jobs. Separate assets were no longer required by the time DH retired and the new unsigned estate plan would have merged our assets.

@ Old Limey, I'm sorry about your wife’s ordeal and glad to hear that she is going home soon. My mother had similar surgery 15 years ago and it went well for her.

@ Rick, the trust details still has some kinks in it, but I am working with a good estate lawyer (who unfortunately is very busy right now with other clients trying to avoid the fiscal estate tax cliff). We are still hashing about how to draw down the trust. I want to draw it down quickly as I've taken care of DH's family in my estate plan. And, you are absolutely correct about following my own advice; I hope to map out a travel plan in 2013.

@ Joe, I've been looking into this. Unfortunately, her current care facility doesn't take Medicaid. She likes it there and moving her almost seems cruel at this stage. But, perhaps it will be necessary in the near future.

Thanks again to all.... I hope my experience encourages everyone to reassess their overall financial plan and turn it into a life plan instead.


This is a great profile. I appreciate hearing from older folks.

I also notice a common thread here. Husband was an engineer. It always seems to be the engineers who have the money.


I'm still confused by this statement:

"I am now a fiduciary for the assets in the trust, responsible to the ultimate beneficiaries…DH’s family."

Does this mean you are handling his assets for your children or your husband's brothers/sisters? Do you have to manage the assets on a regular basis or only during tax times? Would it make sense to shift some of that responsibility to a 3rd party and pay a percentage to free up some of your time?

Sorry for the questions but I'm curious and am the trustee for my parents' estate if they were to both die suddenly.


I'm no expert and I'm still learning, but what I think is: I am the "trustee" of what is known as a "Family Trust". The FT exists to pay for my health and welfare for the rest of my life. When I die the assets go to the "beneficiaries", who are DH's siblings. I have legal obligations to the beneficiaries to keep the assets separately invested "prudently". Yes I can hire someone, but I'm an experienced investor and for the foreseeable future I can handle the investments myself. As I travel more, I may entrust the investing to an advisor.

The FT has its own tax ID and needs to file a tax return each year; financial reports must be given to the beneficiaries annually. I got a "tax guy" for the tax returns (form 1041), and the attorney says he should handle the financial reporting for my legal protection.

If our trusts were up to date with the current tax rules, this Family trust might not have been created.

Noah, again I'm not an expert, but I think if you are trustee for your parents' trust and the estate is paid out immediately you shouldn't have as many problems, although you will still be in a fiduciary role if there are other beneficiaries. If there are minors, that's a different story. Or if one parent dies and the survivor can't handle the trust administration, you might then be in a similar situation. Your parents' attorney should advise you in these matters, and you are wise to ask the questions now.

On a final note, IMO whoever says trusts make it easier for the survivors, tell only a half truth. While I didn't have to take the estate through probate, albeit a long process; I now have potentially a lifetime of annual reporting.


Great information! Thank you so much for taking the time to type that out.

@JL, thanks for sharing and sorry for your loss.
@Old Limey, thanks for sharing and good luck to you and your wife.

What advise would you give to a young(-ish) family (late-30s) on finding the right balance between saving and enjoying the fruits of your labor?

A couple of years ago, my wife was diagnosed with cancer, but by God's grace, it was detected and treated early. To this day though, there are times when I think we are not saving enough. Other times when I think we need buy the things we want, travel more abroad with the family while we are young.

Well written, and a really successful life. God had made plans also, just as you did, and DH is in a place watching you unfold all of the plans.

My strong suggestion to you is to look forward to your own plans and live a life that DH and you wanted to live. Find a sitter for a week or month and go off and do what you would have done with DH.

Also, continue to give such great advice to many since a LOT of readers are benefiting from your advice here, especially me.

Many of us are where you were 10-20-30 years ago, and focusing our efforts on building wealth, with the definition of 'fun' coming later in life. We all have the same vision that we will all live like our parents did, but God might have a different (and sometimes better) plan. I have achieved a lot with my wife, and we have moved our focus from money (already there) to health (almost there with a new life style) as we close out our chapter on corporate jobs within the next 10 years or so.

Also, you might unshackle yourself (if you are feeling so) from management of the funds yourself, to just have many more moments of true-living. Finding a good money manager is not easy (just interviewed another one today!).

I took care of my Dad in his 80's in my home with a full case of dementia and it was an experience that I will never forget, but it taught me so many things that I am living a much fuller life today than I would have, if I would not have done it all the way to his last day (when he passed away in my hands). It was tough doing a 24 hour duty in the last 8 months with my wife and kids (taking turns 7 days a week). Many things you are doing today for your mother will come back to you in a very positive way (as rewards). So, take her for a joy ride where you have never gone before, to the great beaches of California etc, and most importantly, create a 'moment' that "YOU" will always remember with a smile, since your Mom is going to forget it the next day/week. Celebrating her 90th birthday every year is something I would do, if I were you, since I never did any major celebration of my Dad's birthdays after 80.

Good luck to you, and hope your trust situation becomes simpler with the new taxation rules, but more importantly, you deal with it in a way that does not feel like a monkey on your back, since DH would have never wanted that for you.

Please take all of my comments with a smile, and in good spirits since I have nothing but the best wishes for you, your mom and your future.......


What is the point in having all of the assets that this profiler has if you are worried to death about your finances? Part of the point of having a large asset base is to live like no one else and not be worried about your day-to-day expenses. You must also carpe diem. I enjoy reading these profiles, but this one had special relevance because it proves that we must carpe diem, that we must not constantly push off into the future things that need to be done now, and we can't go through life constantly worried about money (especially those of us who have significant assets accrued from being responsible with money).

This is the one of the best reader profiles you've had. THANK YOU for sharing your story and reminding all of us what is so important this holiday season!

Great profile with many interesting post. Thanks to all.
Like everyone else, I wish the best for you JL. You seem like a very wise lady.

@CW - Good luck to you and your wife, I think you learned a good lesson early and it is so nice that your wife is recovered. In thinking about your question and how to answer, I think it is truly a balance.

In our earlier years DH & I worked hard during the week and and often 1 weekend day, then we played hard the 7th day. It didn't have to be expensive, a hike in a park, a canoe ride on a lake, horseback riding by the ocean. My work allowed us to travel to many of the 50 states, with DH traveling to be with me over an extended weekend, where we paid personally for the extra costs.

As for things we bought, we did not deny ourselves what we needed, we just tempered what we wanted. New cars every 10 years was fine; but we bought it loaded with what we wanted. Electronic gadgets were not the latest or greatest, but were often built from scratch and did what we needed. We were the millionaires next door, and nobody had a clue. We liked it that way.

We were happy. My regret was getting too laid back as we got older; we forgot to play hard on the 7th day.

@ Wollefs, you are so right. The problem for us was that we had no children who might look after us as we aged. Wealth was our only insurance that we wouldn't end up in the street, what we thought was the worst case scenario. Time proved that there was a worse, worst case.

to all... I'm so very glad my profile was well received. Consider it my holiday gift to you; use it wisely. Thanks again for your great comments. Good luck to you all.


@Kenny, Good advice and taken with a smile. I could feel the love. Thanks.

Sorry that I can't thank everyone separately, but please know that I was comforted by all the comments.

JL: Sorry for your loss.

Give us a few examples of the things you missed out that you wanted to do with DH. Curious to see what that bucket list looks like?

@ RichUncle EL

Without going into much detail, it was a three part plan…(1) Build a home on 20-acres we bought some years ago in South Carolina for our summers. (2) A sailboat for winters - far as we needed go to get warm. And (3) a long annual vacation. Mostly domestic and some foreign, we really enjoyed discovering the USA.

We were both healthy and fit, so thought that would last at least 10-15 years. Our later years would have most likely been in North Carolina year round. Although that was tbd; our needs would have dictated the location.

I feel very fortunate. My wife is almost back to normal. On Friday the surgeon discontinued the use of the "Wound Vac" device which was an enormous relief to us both. It's no fun being tethered, night and day to an electronic device that is with you everywhere you go. This particular device does its job very well but like any complicated machine (i.e. your computer) it often spits out error messages and beeps for attention, as well as needing a nurse to visit the home 3 times/week to replace the complicated wound dressing, a procedure that takes about an hour. Now I am the nurse and I change a much simpler dressing twice/day that takes me about 5 minutes at the most. It's nice to be back in one's routine after surgery and a lengthy hospital stay, this afternoon we watched our home team, the 49'ers beat the Falcons to get into the Super Bowl.

Our situation is quite different from JL, I take care of almost everything except the shopping and the meal preparation which we share, I also take car of all the financial matters, since my wife has never used a computer. I am also the driver these days since she gave it up a few months ago because of her peripheral vision. Money is no issue whatsoever and we have no aging relatives to take care of. However if something bad happened to me my wife would need help in dealing with our financial matters. Our paperwork is up-to-date and our 52 year old daughter is the designated executor of our estate and I am already training her to manage her investments as well as our own (if it comes to that). We are very lucky to have such a great relationship with our daughter, she is also very comfortable financially and lives just a few miles away in a huge home with her boyfriend - she finally got it right after an incompatible marriage and her 8 year old daughter's death from a brain tumor some years ago. She will probably get married four years from now when her alimony runs out and will have a pre-nup for sure.

We emptied our Bucket List in 2010 and managed to visit everywhere that we wanted. Now at 78 and 79 we are enjoying life in the slow lane. I'm very healthy and take care of the house and the landscaping. I just finished pruning all of the Japanese maple trees. We have been a team all of our life and have complementary skills that enable us to take care of everything, however I realize this could all change in an instant if one of us were to die.

@ Old Limey,

I'm glad things are looking up for your wife.

Go 49ers!


My daughter's boyfriend's best friend has a wife that started showing signs of Alzheimers at age 49. Over the last year it has become steadily worse. The husband is used to (by my standards) a fairly lavish lifestyle and has a very talented daughter that goes to an Ivy League college and then wants to go to Harvard to pursue a law degree. He has an untrained woman come to the home while he is at work to look after her. Recently his wife has shown quite a few fits of anger and violence, the latest, among many, was picking up a laptop and hurling it at her caregiver. The woman's mother died quite young from Alzheimers, as did her mother's siblings and her father. The husband is a partner in a small software company but is not in a position to be able to afford anything like $4,000/month to place her in a suitable care home. His priority seems to be his daughter's education for which he has been going into significant debt. If I were his daughter I would be worried sick about my future health because of the genetic factors on her mother's side.

This illness is indeed a scourge these days with people living much longer than prior generations. You have my sympathy and I sincerely hope that everything works out well for you.

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