Sam Bauman: The many legal ways to leave things behind



Last wills and testaments are the basic instruments to dispose of goods and funds on our deaths. Since death is inevitable it’s a good idea to compose a will as soon as one becomes a senior, usually at 65 or earlier.

The will spells out exactly who gets what, usually after discussing the goods part in detail. Personally, I have several works of art, mostly Asian in character which have a serious value. I discussed them with my son last time he was visiting me from Minneapolis, where he and his wife share an aging home where wall space is limited and already in use.

The idea of selling them on my death was no practical; selling art works on the spur of the moment rarely results in satisfaction. So we agreed that when I die he will become my executor and take the art back to his home and investigate selling what he does not need or can hang and display.

But each family is different and has different needs and wants. So a serious discussion of estates is a good idea.

The next legal documents are often confused because of their similar sounding names. While all three are important estate planning tools, each one serves a distinct purpose. Here are some of their key differences.

A Last Will is distributes property to beneficiaries, specify last wishes and name guardians for minor children. It is an important part of any estate plan. Without one, the courts will make these critical decisions for you.

A Living Trust is used to leave property to beneficiaries. But unlike a last will, a living trust is not required to be probated, sparing years and costs thousands in attorneys’ and court fees. A Legal Living Trust includes a free Last Will and Testament to name guardians for minor children and specify last wishes.

A Living Will lets you make healthcare decisions in advance, such as whether or not to remain on artificial life support.

A Legal Living Will includes a complimentary Health Care Power of Attorney that allows you to specify what kind of actions may or may no be taken when you are not able to make such decisions.

The question of using an attorney to draw up these documents is a personal one, often depending on the size of the estate. There are many Internet sites that offer services user-friendly and obviously a lot less expensive than a local attorney. It’s a personal decision, but I did it that way and later had my documents inspected by an attorney.

Gluten free?

It seems that about every decade seniors get some new mass health warning. Lately the buzz has been about gluten, and many now avoid foods with gluten in them.

Well, what is gluten? Here’s a definition: Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.

For those suffering from celiac disease gluten is a possible life-threating disease, or those with gluten sensitivity. That’s less then 7 percent of Americans.

Consumer Reports magazine recently ran a lengthy article about gluten. Here are some of its conclusions:

Gluten-free diets are not more nutritious and may even be less so. “If you go gluten free without guidance…you can develop deficiencies pretty quickly,” says Laure Moore,a dietitian in Houston. And giving up gluten means adding sugar and fat to make up for the sugar, fat from gluten.

There’s some evidence that gluten has positive effects on triglycerides and may help lower blood pressure.

On a gluten-free diet you may well increase your exposure to arsenic. The arsenic comes from the flours that are used in non-gluten products.

And you may gain weight with a gluten-free diet. In a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers wrote that a gluten-free diet “seems to increase risk of overweight obesity,” The study held that gluten-free foods have more calories, sugars and fats than their regular counterparts.

Another aspect of going gluten-free is the increased costs. The maker has to follow certifications and labeling regulations.

Before going on a gluten-free diet a person should be checked for celiac disease. This may lead to more tests and exams.

And finally you may be eating gluten anyway. A recent found that 5 percent of foods certified as gluten-free didn’t meet the FDA limit of 20 parts per million of gluten.

Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.


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