I am beginning to assemble this column on 25 Nov. for submission on 29 Nov.
We are at the age now when we should be frequently reviewing what we have done to make certain that our survivors will have at hand, easily available and easily understood all the information they will need to wrap up our affairs. At the Class luncheons the widows tell me and Betty how much paperwork was involved and how long it took them and their children to sort things out and complete the task. I suspect that most of you are like me, you have put together a package and review it at least once a year. I’m in that review process right now and offer these comments.
There are several associations that publish pamphlets aimed at helping us get material together for our survivors; Navy Mutual Aid, MOAA, USAA, Shift Colors and others. Randy King ’44 spent considerable time putting together some guidance which he titled “Personal Affairs Planning & Bereavement Assistance Notes.” It is a compilation of the various sources. He designed it for active duty and retired people aimed specifically at Academy Alumni and offered it to the Alumni Assoc. suggesting it be posted on USNA.com and kept up to date. That has not been done. Randy gave a copy to Phil Rogers 9th Co. who gave me a copy. We considered sending a copy to all the ’48 mailing addresses we have but it would be expensive and I suspect most of you have already done your homework. As you begin your next review I particularly recommend Navy Mutual Aid 1-800-628-6011, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and MOAA Survivor Assistance 1-800-234-6622; www.moaa.org
In reviewing my personal efforts so far I came across a column I had cut out of the Washington Post last year. I think it is good and it may be of use to you.
Money matters will outlast you. By Jonathan Kern Special to The Washington Post.
Of course a death doesn’t have to be sudden to create financial problems, even if you think you’re prepared.
When my father died in July, my brother and I had already taken over nearly all his finances. We knew about his stocks, bonds and bank accounts. We paid all his utilities and even wrote checks to the fellow who mowed his lawn and the couple who cleaned his house. Most important, we knew where his will was.
But there was a lot we needed to know that is never mentioned in a will. For example, we had no idea what life insurance policies he had or who the beneficiaries were. We didn’t have the deed to his house. And while there was no federal estate tax in 2010, the IRS doesn’t let beneficiaries off the hook entirely. We will still need to file a form to show how much my father’s assets increased in value since they were acquired.
To uncover that information we had to sift through six file cabinets crammed with 50 years’ worth of my dad’s papers, looking for any record of the purchase price of his house, the cost of improvements made over the years and what he paid for stocks in 1970’s.
So if, like me, you tend to be the main accountant in your household, take a few minutes to put in writing anything your family would need to know about money and investments if you were not there to tell them.
Start with the easy stuff. Write down where you keep your will or trust and whether the lawyer who drafted it maintains a copy, along with his or her name and address. That’s probably the first piece of paper everyone will look for.
List all the bills you pay each month and whether you pay them by check, online or have them deducted automatically from your bank account. If bills are sent only to your e-mail address, say so; people will need to look there until they can have the bills e-mailed elsewhere.
The same goes with your home loan, if you have one. Your family will need to know how to keep up the payments and whether you have been paying property tax directly or it is collected with your mortgage payment.
Where do you keep important papers, such as the deed to your house and the title to your car? If you have a safe deposit box, let people know where it is located—and where you keep the key! (It’s a good idea to have your spouse or another family member be the co-owner of the safe deposit box, so he or she can have immediate access to it.)
If you can point family members to other important papers-bills showing improvements you’ve made to your property, for example, or old tax returns-you’ll save them a huge amount of time and trouble in the future. Remember, the IRS has three years to audit a return, and it’s always possible you won’t be here to explain that deduction for home office furniture you took two years ago.
Then make a list of all of your family’s investments-bank and brokerage accounts, CDs, 401(k)s, IRA, everything. Include where you keep statements for each so that family members can easily find the account numbers and balances.
If you have life insurance, write down the name of the company it is with, where the policy (and policy number) can be found and its value. After all, your heirs can’t collect on a policy if no one knows it exists. If the beneficiaries aren’t the obvious ones –my father named his grandson as the beneficiary rather than his own children—this is a good place to identify them. And provide as much information as possible about other insurance you have-auto and home policies, health insurance even service contracts for major appliances.
Finally, if you’re the only one who knows the passwords to your online accounts—the ones for your banks, or brokerage, or utilities-let people know where they can find them.
You don’t need to include the actual passwords on the letter; you can just point in the right direction. You can even do so cryptically to protect against the passwords falling into the wrong hand-for instance,
“The passwords are in the piece of furniture that Jacob broke his tooth on when he was a baby.” Then follow up to ensure your family knows what you’re talking about. If you’re really concerned about privacy there are programs available that will encrypt your passwords so you can safely store them on your computer.
When you’re all done, hand a copy of the letter to your spouse and, as a precaution, to another trustworthy family member. Once a year, look it over to see whether anything has changed.
With any luck, you’ll need to update it dozens of times.
Since our last column I have learned of the passing of eight of our ’48 family friends. A few died some time back but I have only just now found out about it.
4 th Co. Sherwood, J.N. 12/27/10
17th Co. Blough, Arthur K. 8/1/11
14th Co. Buck, Beau 8/22/11
19th Co. Kern, J.S. 10/7/11
1st Co. Ricker, R.G. 11/8/11
Hoffman, Mary Lou in 2001, 1st wife of Dick Hoffman (deceased) 10th. Co.
Dorsey, Coline 10/7/11 wife of Laurens Dorsey 23rd. Co.
Chipman, Marie 10/19/11 wife of Bill Chipman 2nd Co.
To offset some of these losses, back in Aug. the following new arrival was reported: Judy and Bob Flood 18th Co. sent me an email saying< “we are pleased to announce the birth of Moira Elizabeth, our sixth grandchild. We are in Prague visiting with her for the first time. She has a full head of red curly hair, blue eyes and is a bundle of joy for us.”
From John Fry 21st Co. on Oct. 24th regarding Homecoming this year. Reminiscent of those wonderful, long-gone, Friday night homecoming parties in Dahlgren Hall, and afterwards in Alumni Hall, this year our class organized a homecoming blue and gold gala at ginger Cove with champagne reception and five-star dinner for over 100 guest, mainly from the classes 1943-1950. Representing ’48 were Bill Bass 20th Co. and Carol Manganaro, Marion and Don Buhrer 5th Co., Fay Barnes, Amante and Roger Carlquist 19th Co., Patty and Tony Duncan 4th Co., John and Toni Fry Rhona and Chuck Gorder 12th Co. , Marguerite and Charlie Heid 17th Co., Elizabeth and Bill Reed 18th Co., and Patsy and Phil Rogers.
I have previously mentioned that the Class has a scholarship fund and with few exceptions we have had a scholar each year. For the Class of 2015 our scholar is Alec Eiber, a graduate from the dual curriculum program at Solomon Schechter High School of Long Island in Glen Cove NY. Alex was a member of the varsity basketball team and captain of the varsity cross country team. He was the logistics coordinator of the Student Action for Environment (SAFE) club and an active member of the chess, community service and drama clubs He was the recipient of the Dan Trant Memorial Award for dedication and leadership awarded by the Long Island Lightening AAU Basketball Club. Alec attended Naval Academy Summer Seminar in his junior year and became certified in advanced scuba diving and sailing and received his certification as a waterfront lifeguard. He enrolled and attended high school in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he took a full schedule of advanced high school courses in Spanish for two months. He also participated in a three-week educational seminar in Israel. Under foundation sponsorship this year, Alec attended The Hun School of Princeton, Princeton, NJ where he was a member of the swim team.
And finally, a note from Roger Carlquist on the 65th:
The 65th reunion is taking shape with 81 classmates, 67 spouses, 13 widows (scribe note: the last time I mentioned widows I mistyped 53) and four family members intending to be in Annapolis from 4 through 6 June 2013. Planning will not be completed for several months but there will probably be a reception Tuesday evening; memorial service, class meeting, picnic, self-guided walking tours and dinner in town Wednesday; Annapolis tours and talks, YP cruises and banquet in the hotel Thursday; breakfast in the hotel before departure Friday.
We hope to include an updated class roster in registration packages using data from the cards. Nearly half the cards have yet to be returned. It would be very helpful if the 45% not heard from would complete and return the cards even if you won’t attend the reunion. Use block letters or parochial school cursive for e-mail address where legibility is critical. Don’t hold back saying you will attend if your only concern is that you might need to cancel. That could be said by nearly all of us. Plenty of rooms are available. Cancellation without penalty should pose no problem within perhaps a couple of days before arrival.
Roger’s committee is comprised of : Roger, his right hand man Don Buhrer, Phil Rogers, Charlie Heid, Warren Graham and your scribe keeps notes and produces minutes.
By the time you read this Christmas and other holiday celebrations will have come and gone. Betty and I pray that it was a blessed and wonderful period for each of you.