Don’t Let Another Year Pass Without Naming Guardians For Your Kids!
If you’re making New Years resolutions this year and still have minor children at home, don't forget to add naming legal guardians to the list!
Statistics show that 69% of parents do not have legal guardians named who can raise their kids if something tragic happens to them. Many assume a family member would step in, or that they can simply “tell” someone about their guardianship wishes, but unfortunately, our legal system does not work that way.
Instead, if you don't legally document your choice of guardians, a judge (who does not know you or your wishes!) will have to step in and make this decision on your behalf. That means your kids could be placed with someone you would NEVER choose if something happened to you.
I’m often reminded of the Barber family car accident in 1996. Mel and Casey Barber were killed in a horrific crash, while their 3 small boys survived. If that’s not terrible enough, the boys were forced into foster care because their parents did not have documents in place that would allow them to stay with another family member. A lengthy court battle ensued, and eventually a judge (who didn’t know Mel or Casey Barber) made the decision as to who would care for the boys. Was this the same person the Barbers would have chosen? We’ll never know because they didn’t put their wishes in writing.
But here’s the thing—naming legal guardians to care for your minor children is EASY! There is no reason to go another day, week or year without them! Here are simple 4 steps to help you get started with the process:
1. Sit down and brainstorm all the people who could possibly raise your kids if you were killed or incapacitated in an accident. Don’t limit your choices to family either. Think outside the box and write down everyone who even remotely fits the bill.
2. Determine who you would NEVER want to raise your kids in your absence. You’ll need to tell the courts who you DON’T want raising your kids in the event that individual contests your wishes and seeks custody anyway (This can be kept private and only revealed if the need arises).
3. Weigh your values. Make another column and write down what is important to you and/or your spouse. Do you value education? Religious or spiritual training? The ability to live in a certain community? Being raised in a two-parent family? Whatever your values may be, be honest about them, write them down, prioritize them and eventually rank the top three.
The next step is to match your top guardian choices to your top values. This will give you a clear picture of who you can trust to raise your children with the values you hold near and dear to your heart.
Finally, get with your estate planning attorney and legally document your choice of guardians so there’s no question as to who you want to raise your kids if something happens to you! It’s the only way to guarantee your kids will be physically and financially protected in your absence.
Talking to the Boss About Your Caregiving Role
Caring for a sick family member, or one with limitations, can cause job conflicts but experts are calling for increased accommodation at work for caregivers.
The Families and Work Institute reports that 42 percent of U.S. workers in the last five years have had elder care responsibilities, and 49 percent expect to care for an older family member.
New statistics from a 2009 AARP study show that at any given time, 42.1 million people were caring for an adult with limitations, and 61.6 were providing care to relatives or friends at some time during the year.
Experts say many caregivers hesitate to let their bosses know what's going on in their lives and why it's possible that they will need a few hours off on occasion, just as parents do.
Others feel that if they tell about their caregiving, they won't get a raise, won't be considered for projects or selected for training, and they be passed over for promotions.
Sociologists offer this advice:
* Share your situation and explain that you can do your job while caring for your family in the evenings.
* Point out that your caregiving requires about the same amount of time used by parents of children.
* Say you want to be honest about your situation and that you are committed to your job.
* If the boss seems open to it, discuss options such as sometimes working from home, leaving early and making up the time, or taking paid or unpaid leave if that will be required. Invite your boss to discuss options.
If your present company devalues or stigmatizes caregivers, sociologists at the University of California, San Diego, suggest looking for a new job.
Let the new employer know from the start that you are a part-time caregiver. Chances are good that you will be hired anyway and that you will have a more-satisfying work life.
More Young Adults Covered by Parents Insurance
More young adults appear to be covered by their parents' health insurance, but prices are rising.
New data from the government's National Center for Health Statistics show that a million young adults, age 18 to 25, are newly insured. Although there is no firm link, most observers think this is because young people can now be covered by their parents' health insurance to age 26.
While the slow economy has made it difficult for young people to get jobs, under the Affordable Care Act, fewer have to go without health care.
Surveys by Mercer, the benefits consulting firm, found a two percentage-point increase in workplace health costs as a result of extending coverage to young adults.
But, critics say, as insurance becomes mandated in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will force young people to pay part of the insurance costs for older people and sick people. Before the Affordable Care Act, young people's insurance costs were low because as an age group, they need less health care. But as insurance costs are redistributed, costs will rise up to 17 percent and that will increase over time, according to the Cato Institute.
Research to Negotiate the Best Deal on a Vehicle Loan
Car buyers seem to be skillful in comparing prices and models of new cars in order to get the best deal.
When it comes to financing, however, they are likely to take the easy way and sign on the dotted line at the dealership. That's what 80 percent of car buyers do.
Most consumers don't realize that dealers get wholesale interest rates on loans from banks, which are often marked up for the car buyer. The interest rate first offered by a dealership's loan officer may not be the lowest one available, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
To determine the best rate, research offers from other sources. It's also a good idea to get pre-approved at a bank or credit union so you can negotiate with confidence.
Dealers are required to spell out their loan terms in disclosure forms that buyers can take home and review, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. So there's no need to rush when making a deal. You may have chosen the car, but you don't have to sign a contract the same day.
When checking the loan disclosure form, be sure it includes the interest rate, total financing charges and the estimated monthly payment.