Kids Are Grown,

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Transcript

Transcript – Episode 47 – How To Have An Organized After Life – With Jennifer Gumbel

Alice Agnello:                    

So, Hey Jen, thanks so much again for agreeing to be on the podcast. I really appreciate this.

Jennifer Gumbel:

Oh, definitely looking forward to it.

Alice Agnello:                    

So I'm really excited to dive into this topic because I love organizing things and being organized. But at the same time, sometimes the topic we're going to talk about tonight, I think a lot of people put off for a long time.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

They do.

Alice Agnello:                     

They just don't want to think about it at all. So what kind of types of things should we be thinking about organizing in midlife now that the kids are getting older and I have more time. I might have parents who are needing me too, but how can I set myself up to be successful and especially to help my kids out if anything happened to me?

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Yeah, so I do my day in and day out dealing with the legal issues that come up when people pass away or are unable to help themselves through a medical issue. Estate planning, is something that we don't really learn a lot about. We get thrown ideas that everyone needs a will or everyone needs a trust so they avoid probate and they get kind of these overarching messages that a document is a magic wand and that it just is going to solve all of your problems without you doing anything further. What I've found in over 10 years of doing death law is that documents are really important. It's really important that you get good documents but they're a tool.

If your financial, mostly your financial affairs, that's most of the legal issues that come up. But if your financial affairs aren't in order and they aren't organized and they don't coordinate with the plan that you have, things can happen a lot differently than you wanted it to because of a lack of understanding what you have and then understanding where it goes when you die.

Alice Agnello:                    

 I especially could see that with my mom and what she's had to deal with, with both sets of my grandparents. So one set was super organized, had a trust and were very communicative with my mom and my dad about what they wanted done or here's where you need to go, or here's all the documents that you need. Then my mom's mom was just wanting to avoid the subject, didn't want to talk about it. That really put my mom in a bind because she just didn't know what my grandmother's wishes were. Then once she passed away, there was so much more my mom had to do and deal with that she didn't have to do when dealing with my other grandmother. So it's been an education trial by fire for anything else.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Yes.

Alice Agnello:                    

 I think it's a big topic and as you said, there's really no education out there to really help you step one, step two, step three of what you need to do. So with that in mind, what's something like simple and easy that people can start doing, like even tomorrow, thinking about this huge topic?

Jennifer Gumbel:             

So kind of the easy things that someone can do without knowing a whole lot before even you go in to meet with an attorney is understanding what you have. So something that I've done is we have a binder that everyone knows if something happens to us, they'll find the binder. In that binder, I not only have our legal documents, but I have a copy of the deeds to our real estate. Because I know that the attorney that's going to help them through that if my husband and I get hit by a bus, the first thing they're going to ask is, “Okay, was there a real estate and how did they own that together?” I have the experience of dealing with a lot of families after someone dies. And almost inevitably the first thing that happens is they get out the will and they say, “Okay, what's supposed to happen?”      

I don't know at that point because the fundamental bit of understanding that should be common knowledge and people just aren't putting the information out there. My industry frustrates me a lot, but the fundamental thing about how this works is that there's two different types of assets. There's assets that move automatically and we don't even look at a Will for those. Prime example is life insurance. When you get the life insurance, your agent is going to ask you, “Where do you want us to write the check?” And they put that name on there and they don't really care what the will says unless they run out of people that you've named, then they want to know what the will says. But for anything that doesn't in and of itself say where it goes, if I have a car that's just in my name alone, that doesn't say where it's supposed to go.        

The car title doesn't say, “Okay, when this person dies, who comes in?” That's an asset that's stuck and by default that's what makes up your estate and your will says what happens to your estate. So a will isn't going to avoid probate, it doesn't make anything move on its own. It just tells us what to do with the things that don't tell us where they go. That's where we talk about bringing that will into court, making sure it's a valid will, getting someone appointed. Usually the will tells us who. But get someone appointed, who's responsible for doing that.

Alice Agnello:                     

So what you're talking about life insurance, so that's why it's so important to, as you said, tell it where it needs to go. So if you don't beneficiaries listed, primary contingent beneficiaries, that's a big step to make sure that the assets that you can automatically say where they're going to go, life insurance or even your bank accounts, put a transfer on death on the bank accounts. Because that's one I think people don't realize is if it's not a joint account and let's say you're a single parent, if you don't put something on those assets to say dictate to where they're going to go, then they do become a part of your estate. Then the will then hopefully, or probate will hopefully dictate where that's going to go next. I know that was happening again to my mom. Some things were loosey-goosey in that moving and some were not.

When you were talking about like cars, that's why whenever my husband and I would go and purchase a car, usually he was the one who was doing the wheeling and dealing to get the car. But like for his work truck, I said, “No, I want to be on that title.” Because I knew in the future if anything happened to him and I wasn't listed, it's not an automatic, it's now going to become mine. It would just be kind of up in the air.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Right. People can have a will that says everything goes to my spouse. In fact, that's what we normally see. If you don't have a will, then the state says, “Well, we're going to guess what you wanted to do based on if you're married, if you have kids, all that stuff.” So usually those things would go to a spouse, but you have to have a probate. And usually it's the spouse that gets appointed as executor. Up here in Minnesota, we call it personal representative, but they get appointed by the court to then transfer it to themselves. So in those cases, the probate was a very unnecessary process. Other situations can be different. If you're a single parent with young kids, there's going to be a court process anyway because they have to figure out who's going to care for the kids. So you would want to see your assets not immediately go to young children.

That doesn't make any sense. That's kind going to create its own legal nightmare. So really is an individual by individual thing and it sometimes can be a state by state thing. Some States are awful and some states aren't very bad at all. My state is not very bad at all.

Alice Agnello:                     

So when we're going back to like the binder idea. So put like the ownership of your house, should you put copies of like… or the actual originals of like your titles to your cars. And if they're in one person's name or the other, should you try and possibly add a spouse, add another person to that asset?

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Yeah, absolutely. So kind of what you want to go through the process of, is kind of listing out what you own. So you kind of have a handle on, “Okay, these are my retirement accounts. This is my life insurance policy.” If you have a business, you're thinking, “Okay, what kind of entity is that? Do I own things or do I own pieces of a company?” And you go through that thought process of what do I have? Then when you do your estate planning, that's a really good time to be able to pick an attorney's head. And you go through those assets and you say, “Okay, what should I do for my business stuff? Based on the plan that we're creating, if we're creating a trust, do I have this owned by the trust? Do I direct us to go to the trust?” And depending on the asset, the answer can be different.         

That's why working with an attorney is kind of really worth the expense because there's a lot of options to not have the expense. But you really get a game plan together to say, “Okay, an IRA, that's not going to work well directing that to a trust because that's going to have some tax consequences. So okay, let's have this go a different way. I have minor children and so I don't want to put minor children on a life insurance policy, so what should I really say on that?” And all of those different kinds of things that are really, it's part of that financial organization, but it's part of the things that people kind of have to keep up on their own and is really the part that people have to DIY that can be kind of hard and the and get missed a lot.

Alice Agnello:                    

Yeah. I also think that sometimes when you talk about lawyers and trust, it is completely intimidating. And again, because of my experience with my parents, I know my, one set of grandparents had it and then my parents have it and now my husband and I have one too. Because when we created our trust, we did it about five or six years ago. So both of my kids were still minors and I knew that they were getting older and eventually I'll probably change what our trust says because right now everything's going to go to my parents I believe that way then they could take care of the kids.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Someone's going to control it for them. Yeah.

Alice Agnello:                     

Exactly. Because I remember my father-in-law set up UTMA accounts for my kids when they were really tiny and those automatically go to the kids when they're 18. I said, “Well, could we make it when they're 21?” And he's like, “No, it's already set up.” I said, “Okay they're three and one right now and thank God my kids are great at three years old and one years old, but I don't know what's going to happen when they're 18 or 16. They could be going and drugs, being crazy, I don't know what they're going to be like.”

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Or just don't have their head screwed on straight. They're like, “Great, I can buy a brand new car and blow all this money on a brand new car,” when really maybe they should have used that for tuition or saved it for a house.

Alice Agnello:                     

Exactly.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Or something different with it.

Alice Agnello:                     

Yeah. Every time it was mentioned, I just kept saying, that's your college fund. That's your college fund. So that it was just drilled in their head that's what it was going to be for them. Then luckily again, my kids turned out okay and that's what they use but you just never know at that point-

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Yeah. You hold your breath.

Alice Agnello:                    

… what's going to happen. Also I think doing some planning also helps if there's issues, let's say with maybe you're estranged from one child and the other one and you want to have one in charge of your trust as your trustee or as your power of attorney or medical power of directive. I know that's kind of important too. So it can get intimidating but once you're gone, you want to basically set this up so it makes it easier for those that you've left behind.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Exactly.

Alice Agnello:                     

So when you are putting this binder together, let's just say that the trust is just a little intimidating or doing anything like that [inaudible 00:12:46] too much. What else could you just put in there? I'm thinking like a binder with like clear plastic sleeves and like copies of my bank statements, life insurance, trust. Just anything that's an asset. Basically you want to put some sort of document in there. Then I'm assuming you want to kind of share that information or tell whoever that person is, that's going to be in charge like where it is.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Right? So you have a way, number one that you understand what you have and you're able to keep track of it. Then you asked that second question of, “Okay, here's how I own it. What happens when I die? If you're married, what happens when both of us die?” And you think through that question and some states you may not be able to answer that question easily. With real estate, you'll probably have to ask a lawyer. With bank accounts, you're going to have to ask the bank, “Okay, what happens if one of us dies? What do we need to do?” But you start thinking through those questions and then the important back-end of it is communicating that information to whoever is stuck dealing with it.          

Whoever's got the short straw and usually it's the person that's going through the most grieving. It's the spouse that's left behind. It's the kid that you were closest to or… I hate to say that because a lot of people read that into who's appointed, it's the kid that they were the closest to, and that's not always true and never assume that please.

Alice Agnello:                     

For my family, it's the one I'm the more responsible and the more level headed one.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Or the one that maybe they're not the closest to because they know that the closest one couldn't handle it because they're grieving too much.

Alice Agnello:                     

No, exactly. My dad's been very specific with things and again, because my family is very open with us, we will discuss it and everyone knows what's going on, that way there's no surprises. I know where things are located in my parents' house and my dad's like, “If anything happens to your mom…” Then it was a big pause and I said, “No, I know I'm in charge.” He's like, “Not exactly what I meant, but yeah, that's right.”

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Even if I'm here, you might be as far.

Alice Agnello:                     

Yeah. Because my dad is very computer technology illiterate and so I just basically told them, “Well, things are going to change, like if anything happens to mom.” And he's like, “No, I don't think so.” But he grumbles and then and then takes it. So for someone who is thinking about a trust or I should say, why is the trust sometimes a better option? I do know that different States have different rules and things like that. So definitely you want to go and consult someone in your state who is knowledgeable, but like what usually is the reasons why someone would seek out a trust and have it created?

Jennifer Gumbel:             

That's a word that we hear a lot, but we very rarely get a definition of like what makes a trust a trust? So a trust is just a way to own property that's a little bit different than how most of us own the things that we own. Usually we get to control what we own, we make decisions about it. If I'm going to drive my car, I'm going to drive it. If I'm going to lend it to my kid, I'm going to lend to my kid. If I want to sell it, I sell it. Then I get to keep the benefits off of it. I get the use. If I sell it, I get to keep the money. What a trust does is it separates out the benefit and the control. So for people who've created living trust, those are trusts that you create during your lifetime. And you usually put assets in during your lifetime. You don't always have to, but usually you do. Some States require that. So the things that are in that trust are controlled by the trustee and then the benefit of it goes out to the beneficiary.          

Sometimes that can be the same person and people who have living trust will usually be the trustee and the beneficiary during their lifetime. But that can separate and that's where we see, “Okay. When would you use a trust?” Well, it's one that separation is helpful somehow. So for example, I don't have a living trust because I'm in Minnesota. And I'll talk a little bit about how there's an interplay with probate, but in my state, probates aren't the worst thing in the world. They're actually quite doable and because I have young children, we would have a probate anyway. So I'm not gung-ho about avoiding probate. I'm certainly gung-ho if my husband dies or if I die and my husband's left. Definitely want to avoid that, a probate of one of us. But if both of us go, there'll be a probate. So we have a trust that's in our will that says if both of us go and the kids are under a certain age, we want someone to control it, a trustee, an adult who's going to control it and use it for the benefit of the kids.          

The kids are the beneficiary and that separates that out. So that's a prime example of the use of a trust. In States where probates are really, really bad. So the little bit that I know about California and Florida, which is not enough to be trusted, but there are some States where probates can be very expensive, very time consuming. The administration is also expensive. Then that starts to make the use of a trust and trying to use it to avoid probate make a little bit more sense. But the trick is the trust doesn't just govern everything by its nature. It's rules that only apply to things that say they're going to be governed by those rules and so there has to be, like I was saying, there are some document that says where it goes, while there's some document that has to say that this asset is controlled by those rules. So if you have a house and you set up a living trust thinking, “Okay, I'm going to avoid probate,” but the house is in your name alone, you're going to have a probate anyway.            

So that's why up here in Minnesota, we use trust for a lot of different reasons. Cabin trusts are really big with us because you have a family using a cabin, well, we want to have some rules in place. We want to know, okay, who is going to decide if someone's going to put a roof on a house. Well, it'd be nice to have a control person who does that. What happens if we need money pitched in? How are we going to deal with that and how do we deal with the benefits? That's where a trust really makes sense. But up here in Minnesota, because probates aren't terrible and because people can set up trust and miss an asset that would trigger the need for a probate. For the most part we say, “Look, we'll use a trust when it's been particularly beneficial.

But we're not going to use it just to avoid probate because probates aren't nearly as bad for us as it is in other places.” Where it is and you use a trust to avoid a very bad, nasty, expensive probate, then you have to be extremely organized about your finances. This is part of where my emphasis on financial organization comes in because we just see too many times where people set up a trust to avoid the probate and then they have an asset that's not controlled by the trust. Then we're stuck doing a probate anyway. And everyone's looking around saying, “Well, there's a trust. Why are we having to do a probate?” So when you use it for that purpose, you have to be extremely organized and really have a handle on, “Okay, this is what I own and here's the documentation showing yes, it's controlled by these rules.”

So how does a trust avoid the probate? Because a trust will tell us, usually a good one will. Will say, “Well, if this person isn't able to control it, if they get knocked off, here's a backup person. And if someone who's getting the benefit isn't here, okay, here's the person who gets the benefit after them.” So because of those rules, we're not asking the question, where does this go? The trust tells us. That's how assets that are controlled by the trust and will avoid the probate.

Alice Agnello:                     

So like for an example, so like if my house is in the name of my trust and let's say both my husband and I pass away and we've designated in our trust that we want my mother to now control the trust and all the assets in it. So it would be up to her unless we put something very in our trust and maybe our beneficiaries, like she's going to control the assets, but my kids are going to be the ones who are going to benefit. She would be the one to decide whether or not they should sell the house or to keep the house. Then she would be directing that information. So she could decide, let's sell it. Then she's going to give the money from the sale of that house to the kids, as part of their inheritance because it's part of the trust and you can distribute it that way.                   

So my other question was avoiding probate, what's the biggest thing? You're basically trying to avoid paying taxes. I mean, that's what usually I hear most people say, is that's the whole point but I'm not sure if that's the right definition.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Okay, so let me break this down. So probate and taxes are two different things. In Minnesota, we are well known that we have some of the worst. What we have is estate taxes. Some States have inheritance taxes, but basically something's going to get tagged because someone died. We're well known as one of the worst States for taxes. In the past 10 to 15 years, we've really had nationally just complete changes in the law and here locally in Minnesota that even though we're still one of the worst States, very few people are affected by taxes, federally even, everyone in the US technically has estate taxes, but everyone gets an exemption. So the federal government's on that end of it says, “When you die, we're going to tax your estate, but you get, and right now for one person it's over $11 million.”

Alice Agnello:                     

That's right. It was a big number.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

It's a huge number. It's a massive number. So very very few people have a federal estate tax problem. In Minnesota, we have a much smaller exemption. And for many years up until 2012 our number was $1 million. That not only includes the things that are going through probate and it includes things that are not going through probate. So that includes your life insurance. That's a big catch for people. You get a good policy in place and someone dies during it and you add in the house and retirement and other things. And it's pretty easy to get to a million, even though you weren't really a millionaire during your lifetime. So that was catching a lot of people. But our exemptions increased to 3 million. So every once in a while I'll work with people who have a tax problem, but it's few and far between. It's the vast minority.           

So what probate is, is where we're dealing with those stuck assets, if depending on the law in your state, they'll have different levels and different triggers. But something about your assets triggered the need for a court to say, okay, we need to have some formal appointment of a person responsible for moving it which is an executor, here we call it personal representative. That's what a probate does. If you happen to have a will, then they'll also determine, “Okay, this will is valid. It's okay and we're going to follow it.” So for example, in my state, if our stuck assets include any form of real estate, you have a probate, they need a personal representative to move that property that's stuck.

Alice Agnello:                     

Especially if it was in my mom's name and there's nobody really… and then it's myself and my sister, let's just say. So basically the house assets have to go through probate Because basically the court has to say, “Okay well this house now belongs to…” Let's just say they'll say 50, 50 to my sister and I. Especially if there wasn't a will or anything dictating where that house was supposed to go.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Yeah. And so the court is going to say, “Here's the person responsible to get it where it needs to go. There's no will so then whatever's left over after paying expenses and funeral and all those good things, whatever's left over then would get split according to what the law is going to guess she would've wanted, split between her two kids.”

Alice Agnello:                     

So when you're dealing with this type of a situation, you do want to consult a lawyer in some shape or form. I mean you really just can't willy-nilly do this all by herself. I mean it's just at that point, yes. Just go get, find somebody, get a referral for someone who has gone through the same thing because you definitely want that hand-holding to make sure you're not going to forget something. Because it could take a year to settle. It could take two years to settle. It could take six months to settle it all out. But you want that hand-holding to make sure you're not going to mess something up in the whole entire process.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Right. The important thing with probates is that there's, as far as I know, which I would have to say when I say there's no state in the country, because I'm not licensed in every state. But as far as I know, there's no state in the country where you can inherit debt just by being a relative. But if you're the personal representative and you screw up who gets paid and there isn't enough to go around, guess who makes up the difference? And it's not because you're a relative, it's because you screwed up. There's a lot of things you can do on your own with the court. Deciding to be the executor and fulfilling that role, you really shouldn't do alone. Because ultimately you want to get your job done and you want to get things finished, however it looks. There's a lot of times where there's not enough to go around and that's okay.             

But if you do it the right way, then it's not a big deal. When you do it the right way, then you can rest easy. If a creditor comes out later that was… then you know, okay we dealt with things and you're out of luck. If there wasn't enough to go around, you can deal with that. Or if you're distributing assets, if somebody wants a thing instead of money, you know that you dealt with that the right way and that everyone's settled up in how they're supposed to be in the end.

Alice Agnello:                     

In your experience, why do you think people avoid this whole subject?

Jennifer Gumbel:             

They don't like talking about death.

Alice Agnello:                    

I mean, and that's what I assumed you were going to say, but I wanted to know like with your experience in dealing with clients or just talking to other people in different situations. Because I'm sure like when you go to a party and they find out you're a death attorney, they're like, “Ooh, I got to ask all my questions that I possibly can ask while she's here.” So I was curious to know, I mean, yeah, no one wants to talk about the inevitable thing that is going to happen, is that at some point you are going to pass away. And really your decision now is how organized should I be and how can I set this up for the people who are going to have to take care of this after I go?

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Exactly. I think there's kind of a cultural thing of, “Well, I'll take care of this once I've accepted the fact that I'm going to die.” That's really unlikely to happen at any point. If you rely on that, then when you're going to be dealing with it, if you're lucky enough to get the chance to, is when you have way more important things to deal with. When you're confronted with a diagnosis, not just the diagnosis but literally you know that you're not going to recover. If you're in that place you have way more important things to deal with than meet with me and have these, help you sign, like show you where to sign on the dotted line.

The people who take care of it when they haven't necessarily wrap their heads around the fact they're going to die, when they haven't accepted that they have all the time in the world, then when they're confronted with that, they don't need to deal with this stuff. It's already taken care of. They know they're good to go, then they don't have to mess around with it and they can focus in on the important things.

Alice Agnello:                     

Which is taking care of themselves in that situation rather than worrying about whether or not everything is signed, dotted and beneficiaries are set up in the right way. What do you see is the biggest thing that possibly gets missed when people are trying to put all things together in one place?

Jennifer Gumbel:             

It's definitely the financial organization of it. So here a really good example is if I'm dealing with a couple or if I'm dealing with a situation where maybe people did wills on their own or they did wills and that's kind of all they were told or understood that they had to do. Then I'm reviewing stuff and what I always like to do with spouses is that I like to review the deeds. If I know that in their situation they want the survivor to have the whole thing, vast majority of cases. The first I had to do, was I pulled the deed to their real estate to see if that's what's going to happen. If not, then I want to have them sign a new deed that gets it to be that way. That's kind of a primary example and that's one of those things that they'll do with me because lawyers are really good at deeds and dealing with real estate deeds.

Similarly, the car titles and going to the bank and saying okay maybe if you're a couple that doesn't own everything together then you say, “Okay, this is my bank account but I want it to be payable on death to my spouse and we can have it separate for now but I want to make sure that that's not a hurdle to my spouse later.” That is something that almost no one talks about. Almost no one in my industry talks enough about so that people understand that they have to do that in conjunction with getting really good documents.

Alice Agnello:                     

Because I think in our generation there was more coming together of assets and I sense that with my kids there is definitely more separation of assets. Like I have my bank account, we might be married and living together, but we're each going to like pay the mortgage separately or one person pays the other person and then… So you definitely want to make sure that you've got those transfer on deaths, pass it all in place. What I've also noticed is that people are surprised sometimes when I used to work for a financial firm and they would bring us documents that would have old spouses as the beneficiaries and they were shocked at that. So I always tell people, make sure… I mean I was just having my son fill out a beneficiary form for his 401k at work.

Alice Agnello:                     

I said, “I don't care if you do it all to your brother, to your dad, me, just makes sure you've got something in place that it'll easily be transferred if something was to happen to you and get it all set up in the beginning.” I was just thinking the little bit of effort that you put in now is going to make it so much more successful and easier for whomever you leave behind. That why wouldn't you just put that little tiny bit effort and I know it's intimidating, but just do that little bit.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Right, exactly. Then if he gets married then pull that back out, meet with his retirement, his benefits manager and say, “Oh I need to check my beneficiary designations, I'm married now and I need to change all that over.”

Alice Agnello:                     

Right. I think I am not 100% in State of Virginia, so don't quote me anybody out there. But it's also very important because I know that sometimes if there are bank accounts that go over a certain dollar limit, then it's automatic probate, especially if those assets aren't… like the bank account is not in the name of the trust. So we were always encouraging our clients just to be careful with how much money you have at the bank because it may or may not have to go through probate, especially if you don't have a trust. And especially we noticed how many people when they didn't have transfer on deaths at the bank account, that the assets were stuck.              

So if it was only in your mom's name and there was no transfer on death, then the daughter or the son who had to pay bills and were trying to use that account to pay bills, were now totally 100% stuck until they were able to prove that that's where the assets needed to move was to one of the beneficiaries. So I've seen how it can happen. That's why I wanted to have you on, because I know the subject is boring to some people, but I know you and I kind of geek out on this stuff because we just want to learn and know as much as possible. Even when I'm talking to different people, I'll be on, I'm like, “Well, did you put this? Did you do this? Did you do this?”                 

Even my parents moved here from California. I told my mom, “Makes sure that you've got something on that bank account that lists myself or my sister on there as transfer on death. Because at any time if you guys are moving large amounts of money in and out selling houses or cars or whatever. We just want to make sure that if it's not in the name of the trust, we've got it, so it's going to easily move to somebody in the family type of situation.”

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Yeah. And for a lot of people, those automatic transfers are the best thing especially between spouses and sometimes they're not. That's where if you're working with a lawyer, you can lay out, “Hey, I want this bank account or I want my assets to go to my three kids. And I love them all dearly but by God if one says the sky is blue, the other is going to say it's purple.” That's a situation that those automatic transfers in and of themselves can create massive legal problems. So for us in Minnesota, because probates aren't terrible, then that's a family where I say, “Hey, let's let it run through probate. Somebody will be the executor and someone will be answerable and have to show their work and make sure that everyone equally benefited.” In other States the answer would be, “Okay, we're going to do a trust and we need to also make darn sure that everything is governed by the terms of the trust.”

Alice Agnello:                     

Exactly. No, I completely 100% agree. So what would be like your biggest tip for someone who's just starting out in this situation? They're kind of overwhelmed. What's one tiny little thing that they could do to feel like they're moving forward in some way?

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Again, the easiest thing to DIY, the most important to do yourself is to have that financial organization. On my website, I have a downloadable asset checklist to help people do that. Where they can say, “Okay, this is where I bank and here's my savings account and here's my checking account and here's how it's owned. My husband and I own that together, or it's payable on death to X, Y, Z.” Now this isn't at all a legal document. It doesn't do anything legally, but it helps with the organization and that's where you can start out and say, “Okay, the first step I'm going to do is get a handle on my finances and maybe start looking for an attorney.” Start poking around and see, poking around the Internet, talking to people, ask who they used and try and locate an attorney that's a geek about this.            

That does this type of law primarily and it's really going to look at you as an individual. They don't just say that everyone needs X, Y, Z. They're good that they're going to take a look at your situation. They're going to check your deeds. They're going to make sure that if you have a trust that they make sure that that real estate's in the trust and all of the things that it takes to have things move as efficiently as they can.

Alice Agnello:                     

No, I like that. I'll make sure to link that up in the show notes for sure. So I always ask all of my people that I interview three questions at the end just to kind of get to know you a little bit better. So tell me something that not a lot of people know about you.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Okay. This is a really hard question for me because I'm a little bit of an open book. I talk a lot about religion and politics and sports on… I talk about uncomfortable stuff because… I talk about death, so like why not everything else, right? So like I'm an open book on Twitter, but I have kind of a hidden talent. It's a very odd hidden talent. I get it from my mom. My mom is the same way. If we go to a coffee shop, we can tell if they haven't cleaned the coffee pot recently or the coffee machine because we just sneeze uncontrollably. It's like we could work for the health department if they haven't cleaned it the day before, it's lights out and we know exactly what's going on. So that's my hidden superpower.

Alice Agnello:                     

That is so cool. I've never heard of that before, but I think that is so cool. So when you drink it, do you know or is it even before you walk in or how?

Jennifer Gumbel:             

After drinking it.

Alice Agnello:                     

Interesting.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Yeah. It's kind of cool. It's very strange.

Alice Agnello:                     

You would make a killing at being a health inspector.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Any local governments, please give me a call.

Alice Agnello:                     

So name three things that you can't live without, other than your friends and your family.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

All right, well I really need my music and I have young children and I think my eight year old knows this. She better know this. When I go into a nursing home, she's sending my iPhone or whatever we're dealing with then, she's sending that with me because I will go insane otherwise, and this is how to keep me docile. So I need music, probably a Bible just because that's the go to. When I read stuff I just like, it never ceases, anytime I read it, I read new things into it. So it's like the never ending source of reading material. Third thing I really like sour watermelon gummies. I probably don't need that but I would enjoy that. So I'll put that as third on my list.

Alice Agnello:                     

Yeah, I think that'd be on my husband's list. Just gummies in general of some sort too.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

For any listener who maybe has smaller children and finds themselves in an Ikea, our Ikea has a gummy candy wall that you can see from the checkouts, which are always like hellacious. That's how we get four small children through Ikea, is that candy wall. God bless them, I'm so glad they have that there.

Alice Agnello:                     

I know exactly what you're talking about the candy wall and when we went there, just about a couple of months ago, my husband was like, “Oh, they have gummies.” Then I think we bought-

Jennifer Gumbel:             

It's a whole lot of gummies.

Alice Agnello:                     

I think we bought one of everything just so that we could taste each kind and then we divided them up myself, my husband, and then we saved some for my son. Then somehow my son ate more and my husband was not happy about that.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

No.

Alice Agnello:                     

And if you could choose one song to play every time you entered a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Jennifer Gumbel:             

This was not hard at all because I have very strong opinions on this. So it's not my favorite song. I've had the same favorite song since I was four years old and my favorite song is Jack and Diane. That is not the song. My walk-up song, like if I was hitting third for the Minnesota Twins, right behind Max Kepler, my walk up song would be Mysterious Ways by U2.

Alice Agnello:                    

 Oh, I love that song. Yes. Thank you so much Jen, again for joining me. I really appreciate it.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

That was a pleasure.

Alice Agnello:                    

 If anyone wants to get in touch with you, just to kind of… and of course I'll link up the checklists that you had mentioned, but if anyone wants to talk to you directly or anything like that, what's the best way to get a hold of you?

Jennifer Gumbel:             

So the best thing is go to the website and there's all sorts of information and all my social media accounts. If you're in Minnesota and you're looking for an estate planning attorney to work with, find out how to contact me there.

Alice Agnello:                     

Awesome. Thank you, Jen. Really appreciate it.

Jennifer Gumbel:             

Thank you.

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→ Understand that taking care of yourself is the most important person in your life and to release the guilt.

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