List of Legal Documents You Need To Store

List-Of-Legal-Documents-You-Need-To-Store-Passare-2A common question people have after writing a Will, creating an Estate Plan, or establishing an Advanced Healthcare Directive (ADH), is, “Where should I store these critical documents?”

You must keep official documents like these, which are full of invaluable personal information, in a safe, secure storage space. Since these documents are the key to your daily life, and your loved ones’ inheritance, it is important to understand how to establish proper access privileges to keep your most important documents protected Digital assets include online account information, social media accounts, bank information, photographs and videos and more.

Important legal documents you should store include:

  • Will, including instructions for the executor, if indicated by your Will
  • Medical Power of Attorney
  • Fiduciary Power of Attorney
  • Advanced Healthcare Directive or Living Will (A H D)
  • Health Care Proxy Directive to Physician, such as the Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) document
  • Do Not Resuscitate (D N R), if applicable
  • Donor Registry, if applicable
  • Estate Plan
  • Life Insurance Trust
  • Cemetery Deed or Burial Plot Information
  • Supplemental Letter of Instructions

Important financial documents you should safely store include:

  • Bank Accounts, including name and location of bank(s) and account numbers
  • Retirement Accounts, including instrument name and address, and account numbers
  • Benefit Accounts, including Long Term Care (LTC), Insurance Agent(s) contact names and numbers
  • Safe Deposit Box information, including box number and location, and location of key
  • Vehicles, including title and loan information
  • Real Estate, including property description and mortgage information
  • Loans, including student, personal, and business
  • Contracts, both business and personal
  • Other Assets, including a list and the location of artwork, jewelry, silver, gold, plus any other

Other important End-of-Life life documents to keep safe include:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Driver’s License Social Security card
  • Passport
  • Military ID
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Divorce Papers
  • Adoption Papers, if applicable
  • Personal Contact List of friends, family, or business associates
  • Access instructions for your home and vehicles, if applicable
  • Care instructions for pets, including feeding and veterinarian information
  • Other personal Information, including journals or other written information

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Grief Support App Helps You Connect

Grief-Support-App-Helps-You-Connect-PassareThe new “Grief Support Network” app was launched by the online grief support non-profit My Grief Angels just in time for what can be one of the most difficult times of the year, the holidays. For many of the 10 million people in the United States and 250 million worldwide that will grieve alone this year, the memory of past celebrations with their loved ones can often trigger painful grief attacks. This new free app can help.

For anyone who doesn’t want to grieve alone, the “Grief Network Support” app lets you connect locally with other people who are grieving anytime, anywhere. Individuals, families, friends, co-workers or any group can create their own local community support networks and the app’s proximity-based live chat feature also lets users see who from their network is nearby and available to chat 24/7.

“After the service, everyone leaves, and we are left alone in our painful grief. I lost my brother unexpectedly the Friday after Thanksgiving, so this time of the year is a rough time for me,” writes Gelcy Capote of Miami, Florida on the Grief Support Network. “Through this app, just knowing people are there and seeing their lights in the app’s “Angels Near” map is comforting in itself, even without a word exchanged.”

The app’s “Angels Wall” lets users post messages seeking the support of others who have faced a similar loss. One of the first postings on the “Grief Support Network” was from a grieving daughter in Boston who reached out to others who had parents who were victims of early onset Alzheimer’s. In a national survey conducted by My Grief Angels, “Over 80% of the respondents did not feel prepared to deal with the death of their loved one” and the vast majority of responders also believe that more needs to be done to educate people on grief and the impact it can have on our health and our families.

That is why the new app includes a Grief Health feature that can help educate users by providing links to articles and information sources. The free app also provides users with access to selections of calming videos, photos and sounds. The “Grief Support Network” app is now available through Amazon Apps, Google Play Apps and soon in iTunes Apps. Read the story here.

Read more here.

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5 Ways to Make Your Funeral Anything but Ordinary

home-tribute.jpg.xhtml_In the past, every funeral followed pretty much the same formula. But if no two people are alike, why should their funerals be the same? A funeral can be as special and as memorable as the individual being honored. A unique celebration commemorates the deceased and helps bring comfort to loved ones during a time of grief. So, how can you plan a creative funeral service that stands out?

Here are five ideas for making a celebration of life truly unique and special for everyone involved.

Ditch Traditional Dress Black has been the go-to for funeral attire for hundreds of years. In fact, the Victorian Era had a strict dress code for mourners depending on their relationship to the deceased. Our clothing has changed drastically since hoop skirts and top hats, so why shouldn’t the attire worn at funerals change too? Consider the personal style, hobbies, and interests of the person and incorporate them in a way that best reflects the life of the one being honored. For example, if you are planning ahead for your own funeral and you are an avid sports fan, you could request your guests to wear t-shirts or jerseys featuring your favorite team (this might be the only time you can get your Red Sox co-worker to put on a Yankees tee).  One family asked their friends and relatives to dress in superhero apparel at their five-year-old son’s funeral. The pallbearers were dressed up as Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Iron Man, The Hulk, and Thor in honor of the young boy’s favorite superheroes. Essentially, a funeral is an event to celebrate a special life. Whether that means it’s a black tie affair or a celebration of your favorite color, team, or movie is completely up to you.

Have A Comfort Companion

Make your funeral pawsome by adding a fuzzy friend to the guest list. Studies show spending time with animals can reduce stress hormones and boost oxytocin. Basically, animals make people feel happier. Ballard-Durand Funeral Home and Cremation Services in New York have found this fact to be true with their newest employee, Lulu, the golden-doodle. Lulu is a trained therapy dog who is always there to comfort, listen, and even pray with guests during their time of need. “I’ve had kids lie with her on the floor and put little flower buds in her hair to try to dress her up. I overheard one little girl, who was there for her grandfather’s service, say to Lulu that she missed her grandpa. She was just talking to the dog because she felt that Lulu’s purpose was to listen to her.” said Lulu’s “dad”/Funeral Director. If you’re interested in having a therapy dog at your next funeral event, ask your local funeral home if they offer such services or if they know of any therapy dogs in the area who can attend the visitation or family gathering. Groups like Therapy Dog International (TDI) may be able to connect your funeral home with a dog and handler. Guests of all ages can benefit from a little puppy love during an especially stressful and difficult time.

Make A Memorable Menu

shutterstock_260533109Food has been a part of wakes and funerals for as long as formal, black attire—but comfort food never goes out of style. Consider serving appetizers, refreshments, or a full meal to guests who attend the visitation or gathering. It can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. Harry Ewell, a man from Massachusetts, owned his own ice cream truck for years. His old truck led the funeral procession and his guests were treated to free ice cream and popsicles at the graveside. One mother celebrated her father’s death by having an ice cream bar after his service. “My father loved ice cream and enjoyed a large bowl before bed for most of his life.  In fact, growing up, we had a freezer just for ice cream in the garage.  My dad always said, “There’s always room for ice cream, it melts and fills in the cracks.” Though ice cream is clearly a favorite, you don’t have to limit yourself. Cosmetics queen, Estée Lauder, served marshmallows on trays at her funeral. Did you love grilling? Maybe your guests would like to hold a memorial cookout in your honor. No matter what type of food it is, guests will appreciate the option to grab a bite of comfort food during a difficult time.

Allow for Audience Participation

An important part of any ceremony is when those who are gathered are allowed to participate in some special way. Giving funeral attendees a role in the celebration of life helps loved ones process their emotions and share a special experience together. For example, a butterfly or dove release is a meaningful way to cope with grief at a funeral. These beautiful creatures are set free by guests at the service to symbolize letting go of sadness and embracing the hope of a new beginning. A balloon or paper lantern release is another way of encouraging guest participation. Guests can write a message on the balloon or lantern, or attach a note to the string of a balloon and release it during a special ceremony. A memory table can also be great for guests to contribute to. Guests could also bring photos, mementos, and treasured belongings that have significant meaning for the person who has passed away. All of these objects can be displayed on a table for others to view during the service. Guests can also be given the opportunity to write a condolence note or to share their favorite memory on a notecard or in memory book. Later, the family will be able to enjoy looking over and reading these memories—sometimes stories they have never heard before! As you plan a service, think about how you’d like your family and friends to participate in the event so that you can all share a meaningful memory together.

Give a Parting Gift to Guests

People give their time, emotional support, and sometimes even financial support when they attend a funeral. What a better way to say “thank you” than by giving them a little gift in appreciation for attending. People are celebrating you and what made you unique as a person. Your gift should signify something special about you so your guests can feel like they are taking a bit of who you are home with them. If you loved gardening, then send your friends home with a package of seeds or a small potted plant. Every time they see the beautiful plant sprout up they will think of the lovely life you lived. Maybe you were known for being a coffee drinker. Customize a mug that holds a package of your favorite blend inside. What better way to honor a loved one than to let their legacy live on through a parting gift to friends and family? As you can see, there are various elements that can be added to a service to help reflect the life of the one who died. Adding personal touches can turn a funeral into a celebration that brings special comfort and healing to the whole family.

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A fisherman’s farewell

A fisherman’s farewell

Among the many benefits of planning ahead is the chance to create a meaningful experience that incorporates the things you hold dear and the people you shared them with.

In this blog, we share several creative ideas for making a funeral service more special and meaningful by incorporating your hobbies and interests, especially for those who enjoy fishing. Giving loved ones a way to feel connected to the memories you shared with them helps to ease the pain of loss and be a source of support as they move forward with their lives. It will also help them pass on the things that were important for you to their own children.

Creating Memorial Keepsakes

A memorial keepsake holds special meaning for loved ones and offers a physical connection to a cherished part of your life. If you’re an avid fisherman who shared your hobby with your children or loved to take family fishing trips, you could create memorial keepsakes for them by dividing the contents of your tackle box, or by having some of the smaller lures transformed into key chains for your family members.

These items can easily be handed out by the funeral home staff at the service as a reminder and celebration of the things that you enjoyed.

Personalizing the Service

Another way to give your family comfort is to have a photograph montage or video played during the service or reception. You may want to pick out your favorite photos from special events and write down the memories associated with them, such as, Billy’s first catch or Last fishing trip before Jess left for college. This ensures that your children understand their significance and can pass these stories on to their own children.

Having the service or reception at a significant location, for example a lakeside or favorite park, is another way to make it more personal and helps loved ones to focus on joyful memories as they comfort and encourage each other. A final personalizing touch might be using a boat in the procession.

Leaving a Legacy

Personalized funeral services are a way to provide for the comfort and care of our loved ones, even after we are gone. Having a time for reflection and including personal memories can help loved ones deal with grief in a meaningful and positive way. This is especially important when we leave behind children and grandchildren who are used to looking to us for support and guidance.

By planning to incorporate family traditions into the service, you help your loved ones cherish and celebrate the good memories that characterized your life together. You also give them a way to continue these activities with their own families, so that they can teach their children the same things they learned from you.

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Creative ideas for personalizing a funeral

Creative ideas for personalizing a funeral

Have you ever attended a funeral that left you feeling worse than when you arrived? Maybe the funeral was too impersonal and didn’t reflect the life of the one you loved so much. Often, the extent to which services are personalized for the individual directly affects the comfort, hope, and closure experienced by those who attend.

Because designing a unique ceremony can help friends and family begin the healing process following a loss, planning is important. If you are planning ahead for your own services or for someone you love, consider how you might include personal elements that are significant, meaningful, and comforting for loved ones.

The Ceremony

The funeral ceremony is an ideal time to bring in meaningful elements to help loved ones reflect and remember. Special music, including live music, selected readings, and shared memories are wonderful ways to bring personal touches to the service. Photo displays and tribute videos that highlight significant moments are also often used to share memories.

Another way to personalize a funeral service is to include significant items as part of the arrangement, or to place them in the reception or visitation areas. For example, someone who has worked as a rancher may have their saddle, boots, and riding equipment on display. A person who enjoyed collecting antiques could incorporate favorite pieces, as could someone who had a passion for photography, art or crafts.

Additionally, it is helpful to choose speakers who can share personal memories and reflections on the life that has been lived.

The Procession

The procession is often overlooked as an opportunity to personalize the service, but many different options may be available in your area. The procession may incorporate any number of elements that are significant to the family, from a motorcycle hearse or beloved fishing boat, to vintage cars, horse-drawn carriage, jazz musicians, and much more.


The location of a funeral or memorial service can also be a significant choice. Outdoor memorial services or graveside services can incorporate butterfly, balloon or dove releases, which help family and friends visualize releasing their loved one.

Anyone who enjoys the outdoors could be celebrated in a special place, such as an outdoor garden, a favorite golf course, the beach or lakeside, in a nature preserve, or favorite park. If weather permits, having the ceremony in a beautiful outdoor setting can be a healing reminder of the natural cycle of life and death and may give loved ones some comfort as they begin the healing process.

Reception & Gathering

Spending time with family and friends is important after a loss. A catered meal or pot-luck style gathering can be customized in a number of ways. Planning for specific food or arranging for a certain recipe to be prepared may remind loved ones of home and of special events or holidays.

Gatherings can also be organized around a specific theme and accompanied by photos, stories, and even a time for family traditions or activities.  Events in which loved ones can gather for support may also be an ideal occasion for acts of remembrance and closure, such as candle-lightings, symbolic releases, scattering ceremony, or the establishment of physical memorials.

These are just a few suggestions for personalizing a funeral or memorial ceremony. Like the individuals they honor, no two events will look alike or carry the same meaning for those in attendance. The important thing is to plan a service that reflects the life that has been lived and allows family and friends to the opportunity to say goodbye.

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Which end of life planning financial resources are right for you?

Are you wondering how you’ll manage the costs associated with yours or a loved one’s End of Life? This important life passage deserves a well-considered financial plan.

Paying for final care and services may be easier than you think. There are several financial resources available to help you pay for final costs and reduce the financial burden on your loved ones as you near End of Life and after you pass away.

Most people use a combination of these three main financial resources:

  • Personal funds
  • Insurance policies
  • Government programs
Personal Funds

You may need to use personal savings to pay for your End of Life costs. We suggest that you review your financial resources including your personal savings and any income you receive from investments, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, 401ks, pension or other retirement funds. You may also be able to leverage the value of your home through a reverse mortgage to help you pay for End of Life costs.

Insurance Policies

Insurance policies can help you pay for End of Life care and final services and help support your loved ones after you pass away.

We suggest that you review all of your insurance coverage, including:

  • Health insurance – typically covers long-term care services for short-term only or medically necessary care under specific conditions
  • Long-term care insurance – is private insurance that you or an employer may purchase to cover nursing home-only or both home and facility care
  • Life insurance – replaces the loss of income that your loved ones would experience in the event that you pass away. You may be able to use some life insurance policies to pay for long-term care services.
  • Funeral insurance – also called burial, final expense or pre-need insurance, includes financial products and services to pay for final arrangements.


Government Programs

Government insurance programs that provide End-of-Life financial resources include:

  • Medicare – is a federal insurance program for people age 65 and older and younger people with certain disabilities. For more information about Medicare coverage for End of Life care visit:
  • Medicaid – is a federal and state insurance program and the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with limited income and resources. Medicaid covers many End of Life services including personal care, home health care and nursing home care. Eligibility and specific End of Life service coverage varies by state. For more information about Medicaid coverage in your state
  • Social Security – is a federal insurance program that provides benefits to retired people and those who are unemployed or disabled. For general informationon End of Life benefits visit: or call 800.772.1213.
  • Veterans Administration – The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides US Military Servicemembers, Veterans and their families with many End of Life benefits and services including final care, pension, life insurance and burial benefits. Call 800-222-8387 or visit: for more information.

Please visit: for more information and expert resources on managing End of Life financial matters and many other End of Life Management topics.

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Honoring America’s Caregiving Heroes


Caregiving is on the rise in America. We’d like to share inspirational stories honoring just a few of the remarkable people who put their lives on hold everyday to care for elderly, ill family members. We hope their stories inspire you as they’ve inspired us.

Charles Gray, 88, is a caregiver for his wife Grace, who has dementia. Charles is an accomplished artist who has given up his craft to provide 100 percent daily care for his wife. “I do it out of love, because we’ve been married for 67 years. It’s what I want to do,” says Charles. “She said today, ‘Where is my husband?’ so I sat down and put my arm around her and tried to explain that he’s right here and he’s been here for years. My life turned out to be a caregiver, but I’m not a remarkable person. I’m just a person who does it, that’s all.”

Larry Bocchiere, 63, was a full-time caregiver for his wife Deborah, who died of emphysema in 2013. “Spousal caregivers lose a lot. They lose their best friend, their lover, half of the team that raises the kids and keeps up the house income,” says Larry. “When we first got the diagnosis, it was real tough. But you learn to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. I look back now, and say, ‘How did I ever do it?’ I don’t know. You do what you have to do, especially when you’re dedicated to someone. I don’t say that caregivers are superheroes, but they go above and beyond what normal people do.”

Larry learned that taking care of himself was vital when he was caring for his wife 24 hours a day, every day. “I’ve learned that I’m human. You need to take care of yourself while you’re taking care of someone else and maintain a life. You can’t be involved in only caregiving or when the caregiving ends, you’ll be in a lot of trouble. Reach out and get a support group. Nobody can do it alone.”

Bonnie Little, 60, is a caregiver for her husband Harry, who has Parkinson’s disease. Bonnie was a licensed real estate broker who left her job to care for her husband full-time. “We’ve been married 30 years. He’s a Vietnam vet so he has health conditions related to Agent Orange exposure. It started a few years back when his driving wasn’t right. That’s when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Now I do all the work he used to do and take a care of him too. But you deal with what you have in front of you and you make the best of everyday. I’m still happy to just have him.”

Read more about remarkable caregivers here.

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