The Loss Of A Loved One…

Loss and making decisions about your estate is never easy.

At our last estate sale, someone asked “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for a new post on Valetta’s corner.” I remarked that I had just been too busy, which was the truth, but not the whole truth. The truth is, I kind of dropped off the face of the earth, at least it felt like that. You see, last December I lost my best friend of thirty years. It was sudden, and I was completely and utterly devastated.

Caring for my friend became my one, and only priority. I literally stopped doing anything else.

Steven asked me to take on the responsibility for seeing to his wishes, and for making sure that his health care decisions were followed. He did this by executing an Advance Health Care Directive. I was honored, and I respectfully accepted. This document is extremely important. One, that each and everyone of us should have… like yesterday.

This document allows you to name a family member or trusted person to make health care decisions for you; should you be unable to make them for yourself. In other words, you are legally enabling this person to be your advocate.

My suggestion is that you specify your wishes as clearly as you can in this document.

Your number one goal is to ensure that your wishes are legally made known to various institutions by this person – which gives your wishes the greatest chance to be honored. The Advance Health Care Directive form is easy to understand, simple to fill out, and puts your future health in the hands of a person you trust. The consequences of not having a document such as this, are too numerous to mention.

Without it, your advocate will have no authority. Take this action as soon as it is possible on behalf of those you love, and this includes yourself. Why Leave it in the hands of the courts? For more information visit Nolo Press.

Here is a great site to help you develop a Critical Action Plan.

At the time that Steven first got sick he did not have a living trust, or will. He and I had spoken for many years about the importance of him having a living trust, but like a lot of people, he said, “Who wants to plan for dying, when we’re so busy just living.” However, he also knew that his health was deteriorating, so the  importance of forming and finalizing his plans became evident.

It became extremely important for Steven to have his affairs in order.

Steven quickly chose a trust attorney, and within days he had his living trust and will prepared. Steven was one of the lucky ones, he had enough time to complete his living trustnot everyone does. The consequences of dying without a Living Trust, Will or an Advance Health Care Directive are dramatic, stressful and complicated.

Steven felt comforted by the knowledge that someone he trusted would be there to carry out his final wishes.

These documents are about:

  1. Your Authority To Direct Your Affairs.
  2. Making Your Wishes Legally Known.
  3. Having Your Voice Carry On After You Have Departed Or Become Incapacitated.

The most important question to ask yourself, the one that will put you well on your way is – Who do you want and trust to be your advocate – to make these important life, and after life decisions for you?

Steven had a wonderful sense of humor. One day he said to me “It’s a good thing you’re an estate liquidator, because I’m going to need one.” We laughed, and joked some more about the incredibly diverse world of estate liquidation.

Although I had worked with executors in liquidating many estates, I had never realized just how important and rare the conversation I was having with Steven was. Here I was on the other side of the fence, looking at the whole process through a different set of eyes. It gave me a new found respect, and a deeper understanding and appreciation for what an executor goes through, especially if it’s the estate of a loved one. It is an extremely emotional roller coaster ride – a ride you don’t want to take alone.

I wrote this story about my friend Steven with the hope that more of you will realize the importance of having your affairs in order. It not only honors you and your wishes, it also empowers your loved ones with all the necessary documents and tools to carry out your final wishes.

I dedicate this post to my best friend, Steven Richard Beck, who was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 15, 1939, and died in San Francisco, with me by his side, on December 20, 2007

My name is Valetta Ciarla and I am an estate liquidator who will always love her job.

I leave you with this Sarah McLaughlin song “In The Arms Of An Angel”

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