Signup to receive email updates

or follow our RSS feed

Blog Archives

551 Total Posts

follow our RSS feed

Blog Banner

Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
Estate Planning
University of Illinois Extension®

Estate Planning for the Perpetual Procrastinator

We all know that estate planning is important, but for many of us we put it off. We push estate planning off because it deals with the two most uncomfortable topics ever – death and money. For those of us who perpetually procrastinate, hopefully, these simple tips can help you get some of these important financial documents prepared. Updating Beneficiaries/Payable on Death Accou...

Read More >

Finding a new home can be difficult  It doesn t have to be

You Can't Take It With You... When You're Gone.

After the death of both of my parents, I came to this realization as we were left with all of their stuff! How do we cherish the items our loved ones cared about and left behind for us? What to do with all the stuff? One of the best things you, our readers, can do is decide how you'd like your personal items to be distributed after your death. An important step...

Read More >

Paying for a Funeral

Paying for a funeral – the options, costs and decisions you need to make.

Most people don't know this but I had to help plan, put together, and pay for both of my parent's funerals. I write this post to help you get ideas about what you'd like for your funeral/burial and to get you moving to get things planned for yourself. Now in the past we've covered some great estate planning topics such as...

Read More >

taxes-1015399 1920crop

How will the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 affect you? Inflation Adjustments, IRAs, 529 Plans, ABLE Accounts, Student Loans, & Estate Tax

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 affected so many different parts of the tax code that it's taken us three posts to cover them (see Part 1 – a line by line comparison for 1040 and Schedule A , and Part 2 – Tax Rates ). But that's OK because these rules don't affect the taxes you're filing now for 2017. They went into e...

Read More >


I Want it My Way: Power of Attorney Can Help

On a good day, I wonder if my family hears what I say or if all they hear is "blah, blah, blah!" However, when I talk about what I want to happen if I'm in an accident, hospitalized or die, I'm SURE some of my family completely blocks my words. That's why I think it's so important that I write down how I want my health and my property handled if I can't talk for myself. Luckily, we have...

Read More >

Venn diagram

Are there advantages to a trust compared to wills and beneficiary designations?

There are lots of different tools you can use for estate planning. (See the last part of my post from March for a list.) So it's not surprising that a lot of us don't know how they work together, or which ones we should use. Last month , I answered the first part of a reader's question, about whether you need a...

Read More >

Venn diagram

Do I need a will if I have named beneficiaries on most of my assets?

After my recent post about mistakes people make about naming beneficiaries – and the unintended outcomes that result – I received this question from a reader: If our beneficiaries are in place, is a will still important for transferal of things? In what areas and ways? Does it speed up the process or limit lawyer ent...

Read More >

Designation of Beneficiary v2

Naming Beneficiaries: Have you made any of these mistakes?

I bet you've named a beneficiary on something: maybe an IRA, a life insurance policy, or your 401(k). It's quick and easy to do. And being named as a beneficiary makes it quicker and easier for your heirs to receive what you've left to them, compared to the costs and delays of probate. But that doesn't mean beneficiaries are fool proof. Check out these stories. Have you made any of thes...

Read More >

Last  Will and testament

Who Gets Your Money When You Die? Maybe Not Who You Think

Who gets your IRA when you pass away – assuming there's still money in it? Who will get your house? Your life insurance payout? Your 401(k)? The answer could be different from what you think. An Example Your will says that your daughter gets all these things. That's how you want all your worldly good to be distributed, so you think everything is fine....

Read More >

Follow Up

Follow Up…Talking about Death over Dinner

Prior to Thanksgiving last year, I wrote this post: Talking about Death over [a dead] Turkey . What I didn't know was how timely this post would be in my family's life. You see, my husband's grandma came home from rehabilitation the day before Thanksgiving. The financial educator in me wanted to "practice what I preached." As we were getting r...

Read More >

PWRW blog Death over a dead turkey

Talking about Death over [a dead] Turkey

Thanksgiving is a time where families and friends come together to be thankful for all that they have. However, one conversation you should consider having around your family dinner table is about death. Did she just say "death"? That's right, I said death. As much as an uncomfortable topic as it is, it's one you should be having with almost every family member you have. Whether it's wi...

Read More >


Plan Well Retire Well Wins National Award

I'd like to take a minute to toot our own horn. The writing team behind the Plan Well Retire Well blog just won two awards for Internet Education Communications from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) at their annual conference held November 2-5, 2015 in White Sulfur Springs WV. We received first-place in the Central regi...

Read More >


Naming a Guardian for Your Young Child

Recently I had a conversation with my sister about her estate planning. She is expecting and I was curious to know what she had planned in the event that she and her husband were to pass away. Her response floored me: she told me "That's what godparents are for." Although godparents can definitely be a potential choice for a guardian, without documentation from a will to nominate a personal gua...

Read More >

April 15

Losing a Loved One: 1099s and Interest on Savings Bonds

It's been a year since Kathy Sweedler and I started our series of posts about losing someone close to us. For...

Read More >

thumbs up down

Health Savings Accounts: Ten Things to Do and Not Do

My husband is contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA), so of course I wanted to learn all the in's and out's of this relatively new animal. If this is new to you, check out the benefits and who qualifies in last month's post . If you take a few moments to learn the rules, you can reap significant benefits for y...

Read More >

Death Over Dinner

Two major events for me happened this month. One, my cousin was killed in a traffic accident involving him on a bicycle and a car. The car of course won in spite of Dook taking all the right precautions as he traveled on a course he had ridden hundreds of times. And while his death was sudden, tragic and unexpectedly early (he was only 65!), as a lawyer I am reasonably certain that he was prepa...

Read More >

Death and Taxes

Probably everyone has heard the saying, Nothing is certain but death and taxes. Based on my experience since the death of my father, I would say that income taxes are even more certain (or at least more persistent) than death. Why? Because income tax liabilities (and the responsibility to file) continue even after death. It just becomes someone else's responsibility. When my father pass...

Read More >

Inheriting an IRA When You Lose a Loved One

If there was one thing that I thought I understood thoroughly about managing someone's affairs after death, it was IRAs. I've taught about the rules for taking distrib...

Read More >

Bills, Surprises, and Quick Decisions when You Lose a Loved One

When our father, died, I think my sister and I both felt like we were wading through a sea of details. Individually, most of them weren't a big deal. But the volume and speed with which they had to be handled made it stressful. Depending on the situation of your loved one, these things might be different for you. But perhaps reading about our experience will help you think about the things you...

Read More >

Protect Your Loved One's Identity after Death

In Loved One's Documents Go Missing and Others Materialize Karen wrote about the challenges of tracking down documents after her father died. Sometimes when a close relativ...

Read More >

Loved One's Documents Go Missing and Others Materialize

Settling the affairs of a loved one involves a lot of forms and documents. With so many papers, I suppose it's inevitable that some things go missing. But some surprising ones may also turn up. When my sister and I (Karen Chan is our guest blogger today) made Daddy's funeral arrangements, we were asked if he was a veteran. And yes, h...

Read More >

Yes, Advance Directives Do Help

This is a continuation of a blog thread that Karen Chan began a couple of weeks ago. Karen and I both recently lost a loved one and th...

Read More >

Losing a Loved One

In the past few months, both of us – Kathy and Karen – have lost a close relative. We have been experiencing firsthand some of the challenges that, up until now, we have only heard and read about. We decided to share some of those experiences with you here on our blog. Neither of us is an attorney or an authority on estate planning, and these posts will NOT give any kind...

Read More >

Financially Savvy Ideas to Do for Love

Are you looking for a new way to express your love on Valentine's Day? You don't have to spend a lot of money to say "I love you." What low-cost creative ways have you used to express your feelings? Click on the comments link below to share your ideas. I'll post all g-rated ideas for readers to enjoy. Here's a few ideas to start with: Plan a romantic date with your part...

Read More >

Advance Directives Help Families during Difficult Times

On any one day most of us are juggling time, work, family, money, and more! But on some days, the demands of making decisions and juggling priorities become almost overwhelming. Caring for an older family member during an illness is one of these times. I'm dealing with this situation now and it's hard. However, I'm thankful that some planning and decision-making has already taken place....

Read More >