What Does Human Behavior Tells Us About Estate Planning?

Evolutionary psychologists think there’s an innate reason for people not wanting to discuss death and estate planning. They say our brains haven’t evolved much past a Stone Age mentality, where survival was our main concern. As a result, it makes sense that we would avoid any threatening situations and defend our existence.

Insurance News Net’s recent article, “What Human Behavior Tells Us About Estate Planning,” says that when people think of estate planning, they think about death, which is the ultimate threat. Because we’re programmed to secure our survival, thinking about our demise is counterintuitive. With this in mind, you can begin to see why more than half of Americans don’t have essential estate documents in place.

Some say that we have to be able to see and identify it, be motivated to act by pain or some negative stimulus and believe we can do something about it without feeling dumb in the process. However, estate planning hasn’t met any of these criteria. The need for estate planning feels remote, and, therefore, it isn’t visible or painful. Sometimes estate planning can be complicated and overwhelming, which can leave people feeling incapable and inept. The need to create an estate plan also feels chronic—a nagging problem people don’t want to address and want to avoid.

However, in the digital age, estate planning has become about more than just the systematic disposition of assets upon one’s death. With bank and email accounts, social media and other digital assets scattered throughout cyberspace, it has become necessary to find a way to connect our assets to us. There’s an immediate upside to spending time on organizing our financial lives: the peace of mind of knowing everything we have is accounted for. It’s intrinsically satisfying when we can bring our assets together under one virtual roof.

With comprehensive planning, we can benefit from being able to monitor every account with ease, giving us a full financial picture at a glance.

In addition, today we can capture stories and memories to create a living, breathing legacy. Remember, your legacy is about more than the money left behind—it’s also about sharing the values and valuables with the right people at the right time.

When we think about legacy planning as part of our lives, we change the narrative and estate planning becomes visible, solvable and non-chronic. It becomes something people embrace rather than avoid. Therefore, think of estate planning that way and speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to be certain your plan is comprehensive and up to date.

Reference: Insurance News Net (May 9, 2019) “What Human Behavior Tells Us About Estate Planning”


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How to Avoid Getting Sepsis in the Hospital or Nursing Home

Even though you do not hear much about sepsis, the complication can kill a person in a matter of days. Many cases of the illness develop from infections, with hospitals and nursing homes being primary places to contract this disease. Because one person every two minutes dies from sepsis (270,000 Americans a year), you need to know how to avoid getting sepsis in the hospital or nursing home.

Around 1.7 million Americans a year get sepsis. Out of all the reasons people in hospitals can possibly die, one-third of all hospital deaths are from sepsis. While you might count yourself lucky if you manage to survive a bout of sepsis, you could face these bleak consequences:

  • Decreased quality of life
  • Chronic pain and fatigue
  • Amputations
  • Organ dysfunction
  • Cognitive and functional impairments
  • A greater likelihood of additional hospitalizations and dependence on caregivers

Sepsis – the Silent Killer

Despite how lethal and widespread this disease is, more than one-third of Americans say they have not even heard of sepsis. You cannot take steps to avoid something, you do not know exists.

Sepsis happens when your body goes into high gear trying to fight an infection. Your immune system will release chemicals into your bloodstream to attack the infection. When your body over-reacts, you can have a chain reaction that leads to dangerous inflammation throughout your body. It is as if your immune system used a sledgehammer to kill a mosquito.

When the over-reaction rages, you can go into septic shock. Your blood pressure can plummet, which can cause stroke, heart failure, respiratory failure, or the shutdown of other organs. It is essential to get medical intervention immediately, since sepsis is a firestorm throughout the body.

Who Is at Risk for Sepsis?

Over half of all cases of sepsis are in people over the age of 65. You can get sepsis from any type of infection, and older adults are more prone to infection, since their immune systems become less effective over time. Many of the medications that mature adults take suppress the immune system, increasing the risk of infection.

Lower levels of physical activity increase the risk of pneumonia and other infections. People with mobility issues or who use catheters, tend to have higher instances of urinary tract infections. Pneumonia and UTIs are the two most common infections that precede sepsis.

Avoiding Sepsis

The CDC considers hospitals (especially intensive care units) and nursing homes to be breeding grounds for sepsis. People who are bedridden in any setting, including at home, are vulnerable to this disease. To prevent sepsis, you have to prevent infections.

You should insist that anyone caring for you, whether in the hospital, nursing home, or in your home, washes their hands properly before administering any services to you. The failure to wash hands properly or at all is the number one reason people get infections in the hospital. Health care workers should wear gloves and change them between every patient.

Catheters, breathing tubes and other invasive devices cause many cases of sepsis, so make sure that these items are sterilized. Pressure sores lead to many instances of the disease, so caregivers must follow the protocols for preventing these painful conditions.


AARP. “Protect Yourself from Sepsis.” (accessed May 2, 2019) https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/sepsis-prevention-tips.html


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Does Your Bumper Sticker Read ‘We’re Spending Our Children’s Inheritance’?

Once you get to retirement, it’s important to identify what your goals are for your nest egg. Do you intend to spend it down enjoying your golden years, pursuing passions and activities that bring you and your spouse joy, or do you want to leave an inheritance to loved ones? The question is posed in the article “Will You Spend Your Retirement Savings or Leave It Behind? The Answer May Surprise You,” from the Warwick Advertiser.

For many people, the goal of retirement is to do all the things that had to be put off while working. That might include a hobby that requires time and resources, travelling, purchasing a vacation home, or fulfilling a dream of going back to school. If that’s your retirement dream, bear in mind that these dreams all come with costs. Spending in the early stages of retirement often goes up, as retirees are still healthy enough to do everything on their bucket lists.

Given the reality of longer life expectancies, it’s important for retirees to understand that they may be living from their retirement investments for three or more decades. That means that you’ll need to have enough money to cover routine expenses plus health care and most likely, long-term health care services. Make sure your financial planning takes these factors into account.

Once you know how much money you’ll need for your costs of living and health care, plus inflation, then what’s left behind is your retirement fun money.

Knowing how to work within the constraints of a budget, is actually more important during retirement. You can’t just go back to work for a few decades, if you find yourself running short. You still may need to pick up a part-time gig on the side. However, that income is quite lower than a full-time position at the peak of your earning career.

What if leaving a legacy is more important to you than buying a second home? Just like the plan for retirement fun, you’ll need to do some financial planning to make this goal come to fruition. Remember that your legacy will include whatever is left at the time of your death, as well as what you may give while you are living.

Giving your children or grandchildren their inheritance while you are alive, is a way to enjoy the gift twice — once when you give and a second time when you see what they do with your gift. You might want to help the family reach their own financial milestone, like covering the cost of a college degree, helping with a deposit on a home or helping to pay off a mortgage.

Charitable giving may also be part of your legacy. If there is a charity, foundation, or alma mater that aligns with your values, you may choose to set aside a portion of your estate for a donation.

Regardless of whether you are planning on spending everything, giving away your assets to family members, or to a preferred charity, an estate plan is necessary to ensure that your wishes will be followed.

Your estate plan needs to include written instructions on how you want your assets to be distributed. That usually happens through a will, and trusts are often part of an estate plan. Make sure that you know what your beneficiary designations are—these are the people who are named in your insurance policies, investment accounts, IRAs, 401(k), or other retirement accounts. They will receive the assets as noted in the beneficiary designations, regardless of what your will says.

Reference: Warwick Advertiser (April 18, 2019) “Will You Spend Your Retirement Savings or Leave It Behind? The Answer May Surprise You”


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