Two Easy Ways to Simplify Your Will I Learned on the Train

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A few months back I learned I was accepted to speak at the Association of Death Educators and Counsellors conference in Portland, Oregon. Since I had an open schedule around the conference, I jumped on the opportunity to check off an item that has been on my bucket list for 30 years. I’m on the Empire Builder train! The tracks begin in Chicago, head north to Minneapolis/Saint Paul, reach further north into North Dakota, continue along our northern national border, though Glacier National Park, the panhandle of Idaho, eastern Washington and onto Seattle. While the view right now is of the flat lands of North Dakota, I’m in eager anticipation of the Rocky Mountain passage.

On the first day just north of the Wisconsin Dells, I headed to the dining car to join other travelers for dinner. A wealthy butcher and his wife were seated across from me. Both from New South Wales in Australia. The gentleman seated next to me, serendipitously, was an estate planner and wealth manager on his way to his aunt’s funeral.

Yes, this is my life.

He has a big day ahead of him. Just five hours after he arrives at 4a the family will have a viewing, funeral, burial, and a discussion of the will. After he completes the reading of the will, he will get back on the train that night. Yep, all in one single day.

****Read below to learn what he thinks are 2 easy ways to simplify your will***********

Never one to miss an opportunity to learn from professionals, I asked the estate planner/wealth manager, “What mistake do you find your clients most often make when it comes to their will and estate?” He happily replied that there were two main issues he frequently finds.

$ vs %

Too many people when writing a will designate how much beneficiaries get with a dollar amount. He noted that our investment’s value changes frequently and a dollar amount designation can make distribution more challenging. He strongly encourages his clients to make designations using a percentage instead.

Power of Trust(s)

Not enough people understand what a trust is and its value in financial planning. A trust allows faster access to funds (often in around 4 days), designated usage (for example, for my daughter’s education) and privacy of distribution (nobody will know who got what). Wills, in contrast, must go through probate, which can be a lengthy process, they simply designate amounts and can’t always enforce how it is used. Also, a will is a public document so if you didn’t want strangers to know that your 7-year-old daughter just inherited most of the grandma’s estate – then a trust is a way to go.

The topics evolved over dinner to the frustration of arranging local tours from across the globe, the perks and annoyances of a variety of US cities, motorcycle helmet laws, the trade skills of a “true butcher”, and well wishes from all that our travels would be joyful.

And the cheesecake was fabulous. TRUST me, I had 100 PERCENT of mine.

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Kel McBride, MLS, CEOLS, also known as the Lively Death Lady is a death and dying educator. She supports people in making informed decisions about their death that are in sync with their values. From health care to legacy, McBride makes the morbid intriguing and light-hearted, with amusing examples and details of lesser-known options. Her clients get their documents in order, have quality conversations about their wishes with friends and family – and also find a new focus on LIVING. She primarily works with people who are younger & healthy, people who believe their death is in the distant future. For more information or to be added to her EXPIRATIONS INSPIRATIONS blog email or visit

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By | 2019-10-20T18:28:44+00:00 May 5th, 2017|0 Comments

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