Podcast Episode - The Life Of Flowers


Family, Trust, Will


September 13, 2020

Listen to Podcast Episode:

In this episode, Suze shares a sad and heartfelt story about a friend who recently passed away. This person did not have the Must Have documents in place to help his loved ones figure out end of life.


Podcast Transcript:

Suze Orman’s Women and Money podcast is proudly sponsored by credit unions; a safe home for your money, rain or shine. September 13, 2020. Suze O. here and welcome to the Women and Money podcast as well as the men smart enough to listen, and I want to welcome all of our new podcast listeners. The numbers have been going up quite dramatically lately, so it dawns on me that maybe there are some of you out there that are listening for the very first time, and it's really your first introduction to Suze Orman, to me. And I just want you to know that this podcast is really different than any other financial podcast out there because I have this total belief that who you are and what you have is intimately connected. That money is made up of your self-worth, which then equates to your net worth. So, there are many podcasts that you will listen to that really, seemingly have nothing to do with money. On gratitude, on all kinds of things that I could talk about. But everything in life, in my opinion, anyway, has to do with money because money is just a reflection of who you are. It's a manifestation of who you are. So, this podcast deals with who you are and what you have. And I have a saying that you always have to go within to see why you are doing without, and that you can never fix a financial problem with money. So again, for those of you who are tuning in for the first time, welcome to the extraordinary and different podcast when it comes to money. Today's podcast is about the life of flowers, and I want to talk about this, really, because on September 10, a man by the name of William Summerlin died. He was about 71 years of age, and he spent maybe 35 possibly 40 years at the Boca Resort Hotel in Boca Raton, Florida creating the most extraordinary floral arrangements you would ever see in your life. And he was actually best friends with my sister in law, Lynn Stender, and it was really an amazing thing to know this man because the beauty that he could create out of flowers. He gave them an extended life beyond their own beauty. And I want to talk about this because Bill's life was an interesting one, so let me tell you why I say that. I spend a lot of time while I'm on the island now, which is where I live, everybody, on an island in the Bahamas. Have you ever noticed when you look at flowers that they're so incredibly beautiful? You cut them, you bring them in the house and you know, eventually, they die. And even when I see a flower on a bush and maybe I'll drive by it and I'll go, God, that's an incredible rose. God, that's an incredible, you know, jasmine plant or whatever it is. Sooner than later, they die. So, it's almost as if you know that the beauty that flowers bring into this life, you know that they are going to die. I find that fascinating because we know that the things around us, such as flowers, they're going to die. But when it comes to our own selves, we never can imagine that number one, we're going to get sick, and number two, that we are going to die. It was probably about, oh I want to say, 10 or 12 days ago now that Bill was found in his home on the floor, unconscious, where he had been for three days, and they found him in an unresponsive state. And he was brought to the hospital so he could not communicate on any level and nobody knew anything. Nobody in the hospital knew who to call. Did he have any paperwork? What were they supposed to do? And Lynn called up and said, please, can you tell me how he is? I'm not his relative, but I'm his best friend. And the nurse said, Oh, God, we'll talk to anybody. Do you know if he has any instructions, any directions? He's not doing well, we need paperwork, and the nurse herself is in a panic. And now they're going through his computer at work to try to find out who to call. Does he have anything on there that can give any clue as to what he would want to be done, medically speaking? And as they're going through his computer at work, they see downloads from Suze Orman. He downloaded almost every article I wrote. He documented everything that I would ever say, it was as if maybe he was one of my biggest fans. And they thought maybe, just maybe he did do my estate planning documents, and maybe I could check that out to see were there instructions? So, I went through our database where we have over, I don't know how many millions of people in there. And it turned out, no, he never did his Must Have documents, at least with me. And for those of you who don't know, the Must Have documents are a living revocable trust, a will, an advanced directive, and a durable power of attorney for healthcare. It was really the advanced directive and durable power of attorney for healthcare that they were looking for at that point in time. Did he leave a do not resuscitate order, which is if they find you and you're unresponsive, do they put you on life support or do they not? Do they resuscitate you, or do they not? And the hospital needed to know were there orders that he had? But no, I didn't have them in the database anywhere, and all I could have told them, by the way, was yes, he did the paperwork or he didn't. There was no way for me to recall what he did because we don't have access to your paperwork, just if you did it or not. And everybody just then went into this total frenzy trying to find something to help him at a time of need. It was interesting, because to me, Bill spent such time taking care of these meticulous flowers that he knew had a limited life span and in the same way I always say to you that you and your money are one, in Bill's life, he was one with flowers. It's like you looked at him and he was like this blossom, it was like he was always blooming with his enthusiasm for life and this connection that he had to flowers. It was a very strange thing, but Bill, why didn't you do these things? You knew that flowers have a limited lifespan, how could you not know that about yourself? Why didn't you take care of yourself as well as you took care of these flowers? Why is that? You know, it's almost like all of us want everybody else to enjoy the things that we do enjoy the things that we create. Love the artwork, love the flowers, love whatever it is. But yet we don't really think about ourselves and what we need to make sure that others don't really have to go through what a lot of people had to go through to try to help Bill. And now Bill has passed away. What sad also is there any paperwork saying where his assets or to go? What's to happen now? It's so sad to me, and I just want you to always remember that life is as precious as a flower in bloom, but it will never, ever last forever. So I just want to go briefly through the four documents that all of you really, really must-have. And this isn't a joke. This isn't something that some of you should have, some of you shouldn't have. Every single one of you if you are listening to this, you have to do this. You have to treat yourself as if you were the life of a flower, where you knew eventually it would die, it would get sick, it would start to wilt, that's going to happen one way or the other, and there's nothing you can do about it when it comes to who you are. So, the two documents that Bill really, really needed was the advanced directive and durable power of attorney for healthcare, and the advance directive is in advance of you getting sick. There are directions that you have left a doctor to say exactly what it is that you want to be done. Do you want to be resuscitated? Do you want this? Do you not want to be resuscitated? But it's very, very clear as to what you want. And it should always be left with people that you know, or out where somebody can find it or in your wallet, in your purse. You should actually carry it around with you. Because if they had had that document, it would have been so much easier on Bill to know exactly what to do and what not to do. Again, remember, Bill was found in his home, three days he had been on the floor, unconscious. He didn't know that it happened to him, he had no idea that he was sick or that was going to happen. And so you have to plan for that. The durable power of attorney for healthcare is you appoint who you want to make decisions for you when you cannot make them yourselves. So if Bill is on life support and Bill needs to be taken off life support, somebody's got to make that decision for him because he can't make it himself. And that is a really important thing for all of you to have in place. And not only do you need to have it in place, but you also need to make sure that the person that you have a pointed to make those decisions, those really hard decisions for you, wants that responsibility. So, this is not something that you just say, oh, so and so is going to be my durable power of attorney for healthcare. And then all of a sudden, they get a call one day and they go well, so and so says you're to make the decisions, you know, they're on life support, should we take them off or not? And you're like what? So this is a very important decision that you have to make with the person that you are appointing, and you also have to appoint another person in case the person that you appointed, maybe something happens to both of you at the same time. You never know, maybe you're in an accident together. So then you have an alternative of who would step in if that person wasn't able to. You know, recently, I was talking to my brother about this because he's older now. One of my brothers is seven years older than me. And I was saying to him, do you have everything in place, because when this happened to Bill, I went on this rampage with the people around me? Do you have this? Do you have this? I need to know. And with my older brother, I wanted to know because one would imagine if your little sister was Suze Orman, that she would be your trustee and she would be the one to take care of everything if something happened to you because I could do it more efficiently than anyone. And so I'm talking to him about this and I said, well, am I your person to make decisions? And he said, no, because you don't live in Chicago. And I said, but I could be there in three or four hours, I could be there. And he didn't write back, and it's something that he obviously does not want to deal with, and there's nothing I could do about it. I've kept writing to him and he says, it's all right, I'm taking care of it, don't worry, Suze, and he's a lawyer. And I'm like, I don't think so, I don't think he's taking care of it. I can kind of feel it that he says he is, but he's not. And for me, I would like to know, where are all your bank accounts? Where is your money? What do you have so that I could at least step in and make sure whoever it is, you want to get that money, it gets there. I'll still never forget that there's a friend of ours by the name of Steve, who is a very, very wealthy gentleman. Years ago, a multi-millionaire, all of a sudden died without a will without a trust, and to this day, nobody has been able to find where his millions and millions of dollars were put. So, I digress. Let me come back to the advance directive and durable power of attorney for healthcare. You need those documents. And not only do you need those documents, but I also have to tell you if you have children that are 18 years of age or older, do you know that you no longer have legal authority over them? They are now legal adults, so if they end up in the hospital and they have not given you their advanced directive and durable power of attorney for healthcare, which means they've given you the power to make decisions for them, good luck, Mom. Good luck, Dad. Because you don't have that right. So, as soon as one of your children turns 18, you best make sure that they have those documents as well, where they have given you the power to make decisions for them medically as well as financially speaking. All right. A will. A will is simply a document that says where your assets are to go upon your death. But it does it in the most inefficient way possible. First of all, it will cost you a lot of money, and second of all, it will take a lot of time. Most every single will has to go through probate. Probate is a court procedure, very simple, everybody. A court procedure, which simply says first, an attorney has to take it down to the court file for probate. Then it goes to the judge who has to first validate the will to make sure that the will that they're looking at is the last will and it is valid. And then, if you have any assets in your individual name, then the judge will sign those assets over for you since you're no longer alive to your beneficiaries. An example, in the state of California, you own a home for $200k, maybe $300k. Let's just say $300k. But in the state of California, probate fees are statutory, they are set by law. So my mother, if she were still alive, would be Ann Orman. She owns a house in the state of California, and its value is $300k even though maybe she has a $150k mortgage on it. OK? And it's held in her name, her name alone. And in her will, she's left me the house. My mom dies. My mother is not alive to sign the deed of the home over to me. The lawyer has to take the will down to court as I told you, the judge has to validate it, sign my mother's name on the deed over to me. Done. Now, how long did that process take in? The state of California will take you one to two years for that process, number one. Number two, statutory probate fees for the executor as well as the lawyer would be around $20k, probably more. What if I didn't have $20k? The house could be sold to pay those fees. Probate fees are based on the fair market value of the house, not on the equity that you have in the house. So, the house is $300k, you're going to pay probate fees on $300k even though all you have is $150k of equity in that house. What could my mother have done? If my mother was smart, she would have created what's known as a living revocable trust. You do it while you are alive. Revocable, you can change it anytime you want. Trust is the name of the document, and while she is alive, she transfers the title of the home from her name into the title of the trust. So it would be the Ann Orman living revokable trust. She would be the trustor, the person who created the trust, and she would be the trustee, the person who makes all the decisions about the trust. She would also be the beneficiary of the trust so everything in the trust is held for her benefit. I would be the successor beneficiary. OK, mom dies. Now, the home is already held in the trust. It was held for her benefit while she was alive, mine when she died. Two weeks later, I get the house. Done. No probate fees, nothing. Maybe it would cost me $800 in transfer fees for the title, but no lawyer, nothing. Nothing, everybody. So the less money you have, the more, in my opinion, you need a living revocable trust. But there are more reasons that you need a trust. Let's go back to Bill for a second. Let's say Bill had gotten through this, but Bill during this time would have become incapacitated. His brain really wasn't functioning, he didn't die, let's just say, because that is possible, anything is possible in life. Who would have taken care of Bill's money for him while he was incapacitated? Who would have written the checks or sent the automatic payments or whatever it was, who would have done all of that? In a good living revocable trust, there is an incapacity clause and that already says who is going to step in for you, financially speaking, when you can't make those decisions yourself and allows that person to sign for you. It makes life so much easier, I cannot even tell you. So, there are all other reasons that you should have a living revocable trust. Also, minor children cannot inherit money, so you would never want to leave them money via a will because it will go in a blocked account until they're 18 and somebody's going to have to petition the court to get that money out. So, you have got to really understand that this beautiful life of flowers that we all experience around us needs to be your life as well, where you have this life of documents and your own life that you've really protected, and you've protected others as well from having to deal with the chaos that you will create if you do not do these documents. It is really just that simple. And I could go on and on and on about this. Obviously, you can learn more in previous podcasts that I've done on this. There's information on all this on the Women and Money app, which you should all be downloading, by the way, and you download it by going to Apple Apps or Google Play, search for Suze, S-U-Z-E, Orman and just look around there for everything. But the Must Have documents are something that all of you must have. Do you understand that? And so as this was all happening and all of you have heard me speak about Colombia, who lives with us here on the island, and we feel like he's our son. I don't know how he feels about that. KT sits there with him, like this morning, we were, you know, outside and she was examining how he cut his mustache. I'm like KT, don't you think that's going a little far? But anyway, he seems to love it, and I hope that's true. But he said to us because he saw what was going on with Bill and the chaos that was created around that and he said, listen, I do not want to be cremated, I want to go back to Colombia and I want a little plot of land and I want to be on a grassy hill and I want to be buried there so people can come sit and talk to me. And I'm like, really Colombia? And he said yes, that's what I want. Now, I never would have known that. I, myself, and KT are going to be cremated, that's just what we want. But it's important that you let people know what you want just because otherwise maybe they'll do what they think you would have wanted. Like we would have cremated Colombia because that's what we want, but it's not what he wants.So I want all of you to be able to live the life that you have to the fullest, knowing that in the end, you've really taken care of all the business that needs to be taken care of, the business of life. You really know that you have everything in order so that you don't create chaos at the end of a beautiful life. Bill, I hope you had an easy transition. To say you're going to be missed is putting it mildly because nobody will ever be able to create the floral arrangements with such love and dignity that you did and just know that you will be missed by all. And hopefully, all that listen to this podcast will really start to understand to live their life like the life of a flower. Hi, I'm Sarah, and I'm Robert, and we're back here to tell you that Alloya's member credit unions are so proud to have brought you this episode. You know, Robert, credit unions live by a people helping people philosophy. Absolutely, Sarah. And that means when you bank with a credit union, you can trust that they have your best interest at heart. The fact is, regardless of circumstance, a credit union will have your back and keep your money safe, that's the credit union promise. Go to www.MyCreditUnion.gov to find a credit union that fits your needs. That's MyCreditUnion.gov. In providing answers neither Suze Orman Media nor Suze Orman is acting as a Certified Financial Planner, advisor, a Certified Financial Analyst, an economist, CPA, accountant, or lawyer. Neither Suze Orman Media nor Suze Orman makes any recommendations as to any specific securities or investments. All content is for informational and general purposes only and does not constitute financial, accounting or legal advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and financial advisors regarding your particular situation. Neither Suze Orman Media nor Suze Orman accepts any responsibility for any loss, which may arise from accessing or reliance on the information in this podcast and to the fullest extent permitted by law, we exclude all liability for loss or damages, direct or indirect, arising from use of the information.


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