Friday, November 30, 2012

What is the Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid?

As an attorney I spend a lot of my time educating clients and seminar attendees on the basics of wills, trusts and estates.  Translating law into plain English is a job requirement, and one I really enjoy.  As the work week comes to an end I offer the following post on the difference between Medicare and Medicaid.  While the words are similar, they are two very distinct programs.  And since Friday is my day out of the office, allowing me to focus on parenting my 4 and 2 year old children, this post was composed one an assistant of mine, Katherine Young, who is in her third and final year of law school at my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin.

I'l be back next week with more thoughts on illness, death and taxes for the middle class.  Thanks for reading, and remember a blog is not an attorney -- always seek counsel from an attorney licensed in your state.

Guest Post by,
Katherine Young,
3L Unv. of Wisconsin

During this past election year, the government programs Medicare and Medicaid have received a lot of attention. While most of the discussion focused on potential changes to the programs, it is important to understand how they function today. As people age, their health care needs and costs will inevitably increase. These two programs are designed to help with such health care costs, but accomplish that goal in very different ways. Both programs also have distinct eligibility requirements and coverage. 
Medicare is a federal health insurance program. It functions basically the same everywhere in the United States and is run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency of the federal government. Medical bills are paid from trust funds which those covered have paid into. The program primarily serves people over 65 years old, whatever their income; and also serves younger disabled people and dialysis patients. The specific part of the program a person enrolls in when eligible determines what services are covered. Part A covers hospitalization costs, Part B covers additional medical costs, and Part D provides prescription drug coverage. Additionally, people can chose to purchase a private supplemental insurance policy called “Medigap coverage” to help with some costs that would otherwise not be covered. Patients pay part of the costs of health care services through deductibles for hospital and other costs. Small monthly premiums are required for non-hospital coverage. To find out more information about Medicare, you can visit
Medicaid, however, is a joint federal and state assistance program. It varies from state to state and is run by state and local governments within federal guidelines. The program’s purpose is to provide for the health care costs of low-income people of every age. However, each state has strict eligibility requirements. The federal government mandates that certain health care costs, such as hospitalization and doctor services, are covered and each state then has the option of including additional benefits. Additionally, Medicaid is also often used to fund long-term care, which is not covered by Medicare or by most private health insurance policies. Medical bills are paid from federal, state and local tax funds. Patients usually pay no part of costs for covered medical expenses but a small co-payment is sometimes required. To find out more information about Wisconsin's Medicaid program, you can visit

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Intervention, by Richard Russo

It is not uncommon to find out an attorney is also a self-declared book worm.  A love of reading is almost a requirement to get one through three years of law school.  And most of us emerge from those three years with an even stronger desire to read, but to read things that are not about the law.  That was my case, but I have since resigned to the fact that my area of focus, illness, death and taxes creeps into the arts more often than not.

Case in point, while visiting the library recently I spied a slim novella on a shelf written by Richard Russo.  His earlier work, Empire Falls is a favorite of mine, so without thinking I dropped it in our check out bag and headed home.  Intervention is a total of 67 pages, , I thought to myself, wonderful -- a story I can get through in no time!  That turned out to be true (I finished it in two days), but by page 12 or so it was clear that the undercurrent to this story was a cancer diagnosis.  Entertainment?  Kind of, but it also reminded me of the emotional journey many of my clients and or their loved ones are taking.  Sadly it seems people are given a terminal diagnosis of cancer, and one of their immediate next steps is to call an attorney for a will.  While I am honored to serve them in a time of need, it weighs on a person.  So I try and leave office matters at the office, but that does not work all the time.  As it did while reading this story. Thankfully the focus in on personalities, a family feud, the difficult housing market, and not the medical drama.

No matter your reading preference, I highly recommend this book.  In the span of 67  pages Russo gives amazing life and depth to his characters.  And if I am correct, it is over the span of 24 to 36 hours.  Engaging, compelling, entertaining, and insightful.  Take the time and read this novella -- you won't regret it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wills and Non-Profit Name Changes

Image credit: - free image

Kudos to you if you have 1) completed a will, and 2) named a charity as either a primary or contingent beneficiary.  Welcome to a minority of Americans who have taken charge of what will happen to assets upon death and who will oversee the process.  However, there is one lingering question I would ask about those named charities -- does the language take into account the fact that non-profits routinely modify and change their name?  If not, it's time for a will update in my humble opinion.

Earlier this week my local newspaper ran a story about how the non-profit Gilda's Club was changing its name to Cancer Support Community.  The reason, younger folks fighting cancer, the groups target audience, were born after Gilda Radner's death and do not know who she is.  Thus they do not make the connection to younger people fighting cancer.  I tested this on my law student working with me today, who was born in 1987, and sure enough she had never heard of Radner.

When non-profits change their name, and are named in a will or beneficiary form, the situation for confusion arises.  Can the personal representative track down the non-profit.  Might be be confused with one of a similar name, etc.  In my mind the gold standard is to list the full legal name of the non-profit (most have a Foundation or Inc. in their name), the federal tax ID number that is unique to that specific organization, and the phrase "or its legal successor organization".

Thanks for reading, and remember a blog is not an attorney nor does it constitute legal advice.  It opens the door to ideas and conversation, but it is essential for you to seek advice from an attorney in your home state.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Six Things to Consider When Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney

When it comes time to hire a lawyer to draft a will, opening up the phone book or running a Google search is usually not the best approach for those in need of an attorney's counsel.  Why?  When developing an estate plan to fit your needs you need to be able to share openly the ins and outs of your financial situation, family dynamic and other sensitive concerns.  Here are a few things you may want to consider when seeking out an attorney for your will, etc:

  1. Interview 3 or 4 different attorneys.  Remember you are hiring this person, so hire someone who is not only competent, but whom you like;
  2. Ask friends, family, and neighbors for referrals.  Chances are if they did not like an attorney who helped them they will tell you why, and if they liked the attorney they will give a great endorsement;
  3. Look for an educator.  Estate planning is full of technical terms and concepts.  Seek out an attorney who is willing to explain what they are creating for you and why.  A good attorney will know that a client who understands how to maintain an estate plan when the work is complete will not only be happy, but well served;
  4. Full disclosure.  Before signing on make sure you have in writing the fees and procedures for billing.  This prevents any surprises and or confusion; 
  5. An attorney who is willing to let go.  Current practice recommends that attorneys give clients the final papers when the drafting is done.  That gives the client, aka consumer, full control over who to hire when updates are needed.  A good attorney will trust their work and release the forms, trusting you will return if the client felt it was a good fit; and
  6. An attorney who focuses on illness, death and taxes.  Just as you would probably not want an allergy doctor to perform your c-section, why have a lawyer who dabbles in wills.  This is a complex area, and a specialist should know his or her stuff.
Did I miss something?  If so, please leave a comment.  And thanks for reading!

Monday, November 26, 2012

An Estate Planning Attorney Watches The Descendants

I'll be the firs to admit it, if a movie stars George Clooney I don't need anything else to put it on my must-see list.  Prior to having children, I would have seen the film in a theater.  Since having kids, my cinema days are on hold and it is only every few months that I have the time to settle down and watch a film on DVD with my computer.  And so that was the scenario a few weeks ago.  Snuggled under a blanket, kids tucked into bed, and nothing pressing for the following day, I popped in a George Clooney film.

There was a vague knowledge that The Descendants had something to do with Hawaii, death, and a trust.  Little did I know I was about to spend near two hours immersed in issues I routinely handle at work.  Granted, I do not have clients with 25,000 acres of pristine Hawaiian land in a trust.  But advance directives, the concept of livings wills, accidents out of the blue, family members waiting on an inheritance, and the messiness of relationships all parade through my door.  And my mind.

Curious about the author who wrote the book it film was based upon, I've requested it from the library.  Sure, I could Google his background, but I have client mattes to attend to.  So I'll wait and read the author profile once it arrives.  Attorney?  Journalist?  Therapist?  Talented, that is what I know for certain.

For those curious about terms associated with estate planning, I highly recommend viewing The Descendants.  Beautifully filmed and acted, it also delivers clear concise explanations of the terms that are common to me, but not the general public.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Remember #GivingTuesday

It's here, Black Friday.  Actually, did it start yesterday with the stores that were open on Thanksgiving?  Any way, I am here today to remind you that after Black Friday and Cyber Monday there is a movement....#GivingTuesday.  This year, on November 27th, people are urged to think about how they can give back at this holiday time.

For our family this is a natural fit.  Long ago we abandoned the long holiday lists.  Our small children receive a few simple gifts, and then we write checks to causes that meant a great deal to us in the year ahead.  This year we may add another, such as going to a blood drive or purchasing a meal for a family in need.  What might you be able to do?  Do you want to give back?  Let me know what you think?  I love the topic of middle class philanthropy and want to know what you are thinking.  Please share and let the discussion begin.

Thanks for reading, and I'll be back next week with more thoughts on illness, death and taxes for the middle class.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gobble, Gobble

Today our nation pauses to enjoy good food, spend time with loved ones, and celebrate Thanksgiving.  I am taking the day off to be with family and prepare a feast.  But here is a little saying, one our family says before each meal (when we remember, life with a 4 and 2 year old is a little hectic some days).  Enjoy your day everyone!

For trees so tall,
and skies so blue,
For family, friends, and food,
we thank you.

Image credit: - free image

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sustainable Caskets From Wisconsin

This past weekend a blurb in the Sunday Wisconsin State Journal caught my eye -- from honoring his grandfather with a homemade casket, man forms a business.  Oh I told my husband, make sure we hold on to this until I have a chance to read that article!  To which I received a slightly concerned and bewildered look -- my job is rather macabre.

And so I have had a chance to read the article.  It is a lovely profile of a man who has create an eco-friendly business right here in my home state of Wisconsin.  Northwoods Casket Co. creates eco-friendly caskets for affordable prices.  And apparently it is what the public wants, orders are up.

One fact that jumped out at me was in the introduction.  After his grandfather's death his family stood around, in grief, unable to decide what to do -- burial, cremation, ?  In the end the grandmother said yes to the grandson's offer to build a casket, similar to one from the movie Unforegiven (his Grandfather's favorite film).  As I read this my mind was screaming -- you need Wisconsin's Authorization for Final Disposition Form!!!!!  If you have wishes, put them in writing. Why?

First, it will save time and energy from your loved ones debating what you would want.  They'll know, and they'll know who is in charge.  And second, it requires those loved ones to do what you want.  If you have wishes, but them in writing.  If you don't, you are leaving it up to chance.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

5 Things About Your Estate Plan You Should Share

Image credit: - free image

The holidays are upon us, and with them come gatherings of relatives and family.  Often a time of joy, it is always an opportunity to make sure your loved ones have essential information.  As I type I can hear my husband now -- seriously Melinda, what a downer topic for a holiday meal.  Okay, yes, maybe not at the table, but during the course of a visit ask yourself, do these folks know what they need to know?  Here would be my top five:

  1. Location of my powers of attorney and will (assuming my husband cannot act);
  2. Name and number of someone willing to care for our cat's in the event of an accident or death;
  3. Location of a list of our assets (retirement accounts, life insurance, business bank accounts);
  4. Where to find information on what bills are on auto-pay with our credit card and or checking account; and
  5. How to find contact information for the people we've named as guardian of the children and their trust.
The people you share a holiday meal with are often the people you will turn to in crisis.  Life will be just a bit easier if this information is shared.  May it dampen the mood?  Yes, but follow-it up with a good comedy or nature walk.  That is how this estate planning lawyer would view the opportunity.

Monday, November 19, 2012

What If You Do Not Have A Will?

Image credit: - free image

Show of hands, who does not have a will?  This is a routine question I ask during the many seminars I offer on the basics of wills, trusts and probate.  Sheepishly hands are raised.  To which I offer -- Guess what, you actual DO have a will.  If you have not taken control of the situation and written one yourself, the State of Wisconsin has done one for you.  And it is located in State Statues.

Called intestacy, when a person dies without a will the distribution of his or her probate property (meaning assets that do not have a beneficiary form or other label), is governed by state law.  In many situations this distribution may be the sames as the person would have said if they had done a will.  And in many situations it is not the same.  For example, property may pass to your nearest living relative instead of the person you are spending your life with but are not legally married for some reason.  Or, if you and your spouse are killed in a car accident, your assets may go to your parents (assuming you have no living children) even though they don't need the money.

Doing a will is not a fun event.  Last week a during an initial meeting a client got up, grabbed the candy jar from the waiting area and brought it to the table saying "I need some brought me down".  Yes, I did, and that is my job.  These are hard questions, but important ones.  If you die, where do you want your property to go?  And if that person has died?  If you don't put it into a will, state statute controls.

Do you agree with the State's assumption.  Here is Wisconsin's intestacy distribution.

Thanks for reading, and remember a blog is not an attorney.   Please consult with a licensed attorney in your state for advice specific to your situation.

Friday, November 16, 2012

What's Going on With the Federal Estate Tax?

The good news is that those pesky political commercials are behind us now.  However, the focus has now been redirected to the "fiscal cliff".  Buried in there is a discussion on what to do with the federal estate tax.  If no action is taken, the federal exemption limit will fall to $1 million in 2013.  And it will resurrect the Wisconsin estate tax.  So, while we may want to look away from the ways of Washington, D.C., I cannot.

Image credit: - free image

I will be following the discussion (is that a generous choice of words) and wait, listen, and read.  What oh what will happen?  Time will tell, and sadly I think Congress and President will simply "kick the ball".  Meaning they'll come up with a short-term fix, good for a year or two.  Which means long-term planning is not really an option for folks flirting with the $1 million level.

Enjoy your weekend everyone, and I'll be back Monday with more on illness, death and taxes for the middle class.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Codicil, Issue, T.P.P -- Defined Here!

Image credit: - free image

All professions have a lingo all their own, and that is especially true in the practice of law.  Latin, German and French all contribute to an amazing list of terms that roll of the tongues of estate planning attorneys, but cause blank stares and confusion among everyday folks.  That is why my firm web site has a glossary of estate planning and probate terms; one role of lawyer is to educate.  The three that jump out at me are:

  1. Codicil -- a fancy word for amendment to a will.  Someone creates one of these when s/he already has a will, but wants to make a minor change.  For example, change the guardian named for children or the name of a charity.  Just like a will, a codicil must be executed to meet State law requirements;
  2. Issue -- as the mother of two young children, I feel this word has a double meaning.  Technically it refers to your offspring a.k.a. children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.  You can fill in the side I refer to as a double and the word issue!; and 
  3. T.P.P. -- these three letters refer to the phrase Tangible Personal Property.  Things like wedding rings, the family Bible, hunting rifles, Grandma's rocking chair, etc.  Instead of listing all that stuff, probate attorneys call it TPP.
I'm certain there are many more words out there that cause confusion, did I miss one for you?  If so, please leave a comment and I'll address it in a future post.  Thanks for reading, and remember, a blog is not a lawyer.  It is wise to consult an attorney for advice specific to your state and your situation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Four Things To Consider When Selecting An Agent for Your Power of Attorney for Health Care

Image Credit: - free image

Starting at a blank power of attorney for health care form and confused about who to name as your agent?  If this is you, pat yourself on the back for taking control of your life and addressing this issue.  As for who to name, consider the following, which I come to from personal experience.  I was my father's power of attorney for health care in 2009 while he was dying.

First -- who do you know and trust that is good speaking with doctors and nurses;

Second -- who in your circle of family and friends is comfortable with medical terminology;

Third -- who in your life has the emotional strength to keep it together if this document comes into play -- we are not facing a sprained ankle here, but a very severe condition; and

Fourth -- who has the time to be there?  My father spent the final month of his life in a hospital, that last week in palliative care.  At the time I had a 13 month old child and my own legal practice.  Being there was not always easy, but I made it work.

No one may fit every element perfectly.  But use these points to evaluate who is best suited for the job.  Remember, don't select your first born because of birth order or your sister because she'll nag you until the day you die if you don't name here.  Select the person who is right for the job.  Trust me, I write from experience.

Thanks for reading, and remember a blog is not an attorney.  I recommend you seek the advice of a licensed attorney in your state for information specific to your situation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Educate Yourself about Wills, Powers of Attorney, Probate and more in 2013

Somehow or other 2012 has nearly passed us by.  And once again I am looking forward to starting the new year with a variety of seminars on issues related to illness, death and taxes for the middle class.  From talks at a local church, to a small segment of a retirement workshop, to Money Week, you'll find me all around the Madison area educating folks on the basics of estate planning.  Check out my web site for specifics on dates and locations.  And if your organization is interested in setting up its own presentation, just let me know.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Three Ways to Avoid Probate Without a Living Trust

Image credit: - free image

If you are over a certain age you probably receive routine cards in the mail inviting you to the local hotel for a free chicken dinner and a seminar on how to avoid probate via a living trust.  These instruments are pushed, often by sales people who are not attorneys, mainly because they are lucrative.  Proceed with caution.

When I work with clients I use trusts only when the fit the situation and I feel the client has the sophistication to manage the inevitable tax issues that will develop.  Most people do not want the hassles associated with trusts, but want to avoid probate.  If so, our conversation centers around the use of:

  1. Transfer on Death Deed for real estate.  Not all states have this option, but we do in Wisconsin.  It is a label placed on a deed that states who should inherit the property upon the owners death.  Probate is avoided, and a small filing fee is paid to the register of deeds.  It does not fit all situations, but it appealing for many clients;
  2. Pay on Death Cards.  Available for bank or credit union accounts, it is a label you can put on bank accounts that gives the remaining funds to the person(s) upon your death.  Transfer can happen with a few deaths, and usually requires submission of a death certificate.  Again, because the asset had a label, it avoids probate.
  3. Beneficiary forms.  Associated with retirement accounts and life insurance, these forms direct the distribution of assets upon the death of the owner.  No probate is required.  Transfers happen very quickly, usually within a few weeks.
While these are appealing because they avoid probate, it is important that the owner make sure the labels they've put on property (as those discussed above) are always up to date.  Why?  If an ex-spouse, former boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. is listed, but a will directs property to another person, the label controls.  Not the will.  When there is a label, the label trumps the will.

Remember, a blog is not legal advice.  It is essential that you consult with an attorney in your state for advice on your specific situation.  Thanks for reading, and I hope this post has given you some good things to investigate.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fiduciary Tax Returns and the Personal Representative in Wisconsin

There is nothing certain about life except death and taxes.  And often the two go together.  Loosing a loved one is never easy, no matter how much time a family may have had to prepare.  Emotions run high, caregivers suffer exhaustion, paperwork swirls, life marches on, and some matters need to be addressed even though they are unpleasant.  I see this every day in my legal practice.  To the extent you can, do not overlook income tax matters for the loved one you have lost.

If a loved one has died and you are picking up the pieces and moving the paper work forward, there is one important thing many overlook -- income tax forms.  When empowered by a probate court in Wisconsin, the  Personal Representative has a duty to make sure a last income tax form is filed for the decedent.  And, of the decedent's estate earned more than $600 (current level, which may change in the future), then a fiduciary income tax return is likely due as well.  And that is why a CPA is a good friend to have.  When in doubt, seek advice from a licensed tax professional.  As I always say, it is less expensive to seek advice beforehand rather than pay an attorney to clean up a mess.

If you are struggling to get your mind around this issue, an example may help.

  • my father died on 9/18/2009;
  • in 2010 we had a responsibility to file a final individual income tax form for 1/1/09 - 9/18/09; and
  • had his estate generated more than $600 from 9/19/09 - 12/31/-09 OR in calendar year 2010, then a fiduciary income tax form for the estate would have been required.
Tax issues may linger, unnoticed for years.  But more likely than not, they will surface....along with penalties. To learn more about Wisconsin's requirements, try the Department of Revenue's web site.

Thanks for reading, and remember a blog post is not legal advice.  Please consult with an attorney in your state for information specific to your situation.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Moving Words by NPR's Aaron Freeman

Two weekends ago our church (Prairire UU in Madison, Wisconsin) took a service to recognize the Day of the Dead.  A traditional Latin American holiday, it is a moving tribute to loved ones who have left their earthly life.  Afterward, a staff member sent a link to a moving statement created by NPR's Aaron Freeman. I found a link on YouTube (the photos are bit off).  It is titled - Why You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral.  The words are moving, and I find it comforting to be reminded that one's energy never really leaves this Earth.

The work I do is rewarding, but also emotionally draining at times.  I am thankful for the insight of Aaron Freeman and others like him.  A positive outlook can be such a spirit lifter, especially on those days you learned of a client's passing.

Take care, be healthy, and enjoy every minute you can!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Certified Mail vs. Regular Mail?

Ever wonder if you should bother using certified mail instead of regular mail?  As an attorney I prefer to err on the side of caution, and would likely opt for certified.  While attending a recent tax law seminar update one update related to mailings to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. general, a petition is considered timely filed only if it is actually received by the Commission (Tax Appeals Commission) on or before the due date, with one exception.  The exception....Wis. Stat. section 73.01(5)(a), a petition is considered timely filed when it is mailed by certified mail in a properly addressed envelope, with postage duly prepaid, with the envelope postmarked before midnight of the last day for filing.  The use of regular mail is untimely.  Priority mail is untimely.  Sliding it under the door of the office after it is closed is untimely.  Details matter in the area of law.
While this is a narrow section of Wisconsin law, the principal is a good one.  If timing is key -- use certified mail, and check the statutes or administrative rules for these types of requirements.

Thanks for reading, and please remember that a blog post is not a legal opinion nor a substitute for legal advice.  Please consult an attorney for advice specific to your situation.

Image credit: - free image

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Salute Democracy

Every four years our country allows its adult citizens to come forward and have a say who which person shall lead our nation.  Whether you love or despise government, I encourage you to exercise your right to vote.

Image credit: - free image

Four years ago my husband and I walked to our polling place, pushing our infant son in his stroller.  Today he is four years old and has a two year old sister.  As a child I remember accompanying my mother to the voting booth.  It is simply something we do, just like brushing our teeth.  And I look forward to many more elections, especially the ones where my children will be old enough to case a vote themselves.

Enjoy democracy today, it is a precious gift.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Where to Mail A Gift Tax Return

If you are "do-it-yourself" type person, there is a chance you'll be processing a 2012 gift tax return for yourself or a loved one who died in 2012.  If so, I recently came across a nice nugget of information...the mailing address for the form.  Unlike other IRS forms, there is one mailing address for all gift tax forms.  Whether you live in Maine or California, the address you should use is:
Department of Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Cincinnati, OH  45999
Forms are due by April 15, 2013.  Disclaimer -- life is change, so please note this blog post was written in November 2012.  Please double check with the IRS to make sure the agency has not made any changes after this posted.  And as I always say, a blog is not a lawyer.  Please call one for advice specific to your situation.

Image credit: - free image

Friday, November 2, 2012

Proposal May End the Use of ILITs

Legal lingo is full of acronyms, including ILIT which stands for irrevocable life insurance trust. It is a fairly advanced estate planning tool used by higher net worth families to minimize the possible impact of federal estate taxes upon death; especially attractive to business owners who have a lot of wealth on paper, but not so much in the liquid sense.  ILITs allow someone to set up a trust, and gift money to that trust.  The trust purchases a life insurance policy on the person.  Upon his or her death, the insurance pays into the trust and now there is liquid cash available to pay an estate tax, but it is outside of his or her estate.  It is a way to prevent dipping into a business or farm's equity.  And it may become a thing of the past.

The President's FY2013 Green Book, or fiscal proposals, calls for ending ILITs.  No longer would the assets be excluded from the decedent's estate nor would distributions during the grantor's life not be subject to the gift tax.  The proposal does not makes this change retroactive, but rather applies to trusts created on or after the date of enactment.

My legal practice focuses on issues of illness, death and taxes for the middle class.  With a federal tax exemption level of $5 million (currently), nearly none of my clients are concerned with the tax of ILITs.  However, some touch on the fringes of this number, especially those building businesses.  As changes to the federal exemption level develop, and a possible extinction of the ILIT, it is an issue I will monitor and post as needed.

Thanks for reading, and remember a blog post is not your lawyer.  Please consult with an attorney for advice on the specifics of your situation.  And a special thanks to my law clerk, Sarah Wood, for her research on this topic.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day of the Dead - Remembering Departed Loved Ones

The 1st of November is the Day of the Dead, a traditional Mexican holiday that has spread across the globe.    Grief from the loss of a loved one can be crippling, however, November 1st gives one a great reason focus on the greatness that once was and less on what was lost.

Image credit: - free image

Personally I find this to be a great way to share the life of my father, who died in 2009 when my son was a year old and before my daughter was born.  My children will only know their maternal grandfather through me, and today is a day I can:

  • cook one of his favorite meals;
  • watch a favorite TV show or movie;
  • look at photo albums from my youth;
  • tell one of his favorite jokes; or
  • scatter some bird seed on his grave (he so loved feeding the birds).
How about you?  What things do you do to celebrate a loved one who has parted?  Thanks for reading, and I'll be back tomorrow with more thoughts on the topic of illness, death and taxes for the middle class.