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Leaving a Legacy with Hospice: My Choice to Give

Diane SamuelsonBy Diane Samuelson

My Dad was terrified of dying and wanted to be at home. He was born in 1908, and grew up during a time when nursing homes and hospitals were very different than the facilities of today. When his doctor told him the cancer had spread and very little was left to be done, he made my mother promise that he would never have to go back to the hospital or move to the nursing home. She promised.

As the days passed, she became worried about the reality of caring for him as his needs increased. A family friend told her about something called “hospice.” None of us had any idea what that meant, but Mom called and before long Hospice of the Red River Valley became part of our family. Over the next months, staff members, both volunteer and paid, helped us take care of Dad. At the end of May, as Mom was singing a lullaby, he took his last, peaceful breath. He was in his bedroom at home. The year was 1985.

In 2003, Mom started failing and we knew time was short. My sister made a phone call, and once again Hospice of the Red River Valley became a part of our family. The faces and names had changed over the years, but the care and support given to Mom and our family was just as remarkable and a blessing. After a few months of care, Mom died comfortably with family at her bedside.

To this day, I can’t explain the pull I felt then (and still feel) toward Hospice. For all Hospice has given to me and my family, I would have scrubbed the floors for them if that was the only way I could give back. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to scrub floors; I started volunteering in late summer of 2003, and was lucky enough to be hired in 2006.

Hospice has given so much to my family, and, I agree with Hospice of the Red River Valley’s philosophy that anyone who wants and needs hospice care should have it available to them. For these reasons, I became a member of Hospice of the Red River Valley’s Legacy Society.

Hospice of the Red River Valley’s Legacy Society is comprised of people who have chosen to financially support Hospice beyond their lifetime, through will bequests, designation on a life insurance policy or retirement account, and charitable gift annuities. To learn more about planned giving options, including those with matching opportunities, please visit our website or contact a member of our Development Department at (800)-237-4629.

How are donations to Hospice of the Red River Valley used?

Jean AndersonBy Jean Anderson

Do you get that same great feeling I do when you make a gift to one of your favorite charities? That’s probably because your gift goes out to help others and then comes right back at you!

In fact, a number of studies in the past decade reported this surprising conclusion: when you give, your brain chemistry produces endorphins, which is one reason charity leads to happiness. People who give often report feelings of euphoria, which psychologists have referred to as the “Helper’s High.”

So, how is your 2012 financial support to Hospice of the Red River Valley used?

  • With your generosity, we are able to hire additional patient care staff to provide the specialized hands-on care that is the hallmark of Hospice.
  • Our staff travelled more than 1 million miles in 2011 to attend to the Peg and Evelynmedical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and families. Through June of this year, 858 patients and families have received compassionate care. Your gifts ensure we are able to meet the needs of our patients, wherever they reside.
  • Special education for the community, Hospice staff and other health professionals is flourishing. Because of your donations, Hospice of the Red River Valley is proud to host seminars and events to educate people about end-of-life care issues throughout the year, including Lunch and Learns, the Confidence in Care webinar series, and Values Based Financial Planning, among others. Please check our website calendar frequently for upcoming educational opportunities. Or, sign up for our email list to be automatically notified of upcoming educational opportunities.
  • Thanks to your generosity, Hospice of the Red River Valley has bolstered its savings to provide a cushion for unexpected needs and potential future
    budget cutbacks.

Each day your financial gifts arrive at Hospice of the Red River Valley. They come online, in the mail, or you hand deliver them to us. And, without fail, we receive each and every donation with warm thanks. Because of your generosity, we are able to accept people’s invitation to come into their homes to provide compassionate end-of-life care as needed, day or night, far and wide through the countryside and towns of 29 counties in Minnesota and North Dakota. Thank you for your gifts!

If you have questions about giving to Hospice of the Red River Valley, please visit our website or contact a member of our development department:

Jean Anderson, Director of Development

Nicolle Aukland, Development Officer

Joy Crouch, Development Officer for Planned Giving

Deb Gemar, Development Officer

Jean Anderson is director of development at Hospice of the Red River Valley.

Make Your Wishes Known–Plan your future!

By Jean Anderson

I still remember the conversation, and I still have the paper napkin. On it my dad had written, “If the time comes that I need to be in a nursing home, I hereby give my whole-hearted consent.” And then in his sprawling loopy handwriting, he dated it and signed it, “Lynn E. Anderson, Papa.”

As odd as it might sound, the conversation surrounding the signing of the napkin was jovial. Perhaps our words were casual because my family and I discussed old age, health and dying many times over the years. In fact, the signature on the napkin came about because, during our conversation over a meal, Dad had made the statement about his willingness to be in a nursing home if he needed to be, and I’d retorted, “I’d like that in writing please!”

Luck in living comes in many forms and I’ve found myself with more than a few lucky stars. My parents lived long, active, relatively healthy lives, each nearly to 90 years of age. Over time, we learned to speak easily about the challenges of health and shared our thoughts about death and dying. And I was able to be with both of them when they passed on to a different world.

Dad never did end up in a nursing home; instead he died at home under Hospice care. But oh, those conversations we had over the years gave me great grounding and solace for decisions that would have to be made as my parents faced the end of their lives.

Now, as I hear stories of friends’ parents facing death, I think of the ease I discovered in those discussions with my family. And I wonder, what are we learning from our parents about living and dying? What conversations, attitudes and actions will we carry into our own older years that will be a gift to our families?

My Aunt Lois died rather suddenly of a stroke while traveling in Scotland. Dashing to my parents’ place, I found my mom, sitting on the sofa, with her fingers stroking the fabric of her dress, and saying, “There comes a time . . . there comes a time for all of us.” The stroking motion of her fingers on the cloth, her gaze into the distance and then to me, coupled with her words, brought me a strange comfort.

Seven years later, she would repeat those same words to me as she lay in intensive care after suffering a couple of strokes. The neurologist and internist were at her bedside discussing whether to initiate a clot busting drug that might or might not lessen the effects of the stroke. The quality of her future life was unknown. That night my mom could still give us some laughter when she slowly said with a slur, “I can barely talk and I haven’t even been drinking!”

As I held my mom’s hand, this time I was the one doing the stroking on the cloth of her gown. “You know,” I said, “we’ve talked about times like this. What are you thinking?” “Yes,” she nodded, and then again I heard her words, “There comes a time.”

“You are a remarkable family,” said the doctor, but I knew it was more a remarkable conversation than a remarkable family. It was my mom’s willingness to talk about death earlier in her life that made the end of her life so much better.

Conversations about living well and then dying well aren’t necessarily easy to have, but they are critical to the well-being of those we love. Because if we love them, finding a way around the awkward talk will bring a great comfort and a special grace to those left behind. This is the greatest gift of all.

Why not resolve to make your memories early and lasting? Make your final wishes known. Write your wishes down. Then talk with your family. Leave a dear memory and a great gift to your loved ones.

Jean Anderson is director of development at Hospice of the Red River Valley.

My Wish to Give + My Chosen Cause = A Winning Plan for the Future

By Joy Crouch

Most of us go into each day with a plan. If we are going to the grocery store, we take a list. If we are packing for a trip, we think through what we’re going to need. With gas prices at all-time highs, we map out the most efficient routes for our errands.

We plan all life long for those things that are important to us. We may be looking at purchasing a different car, or taking a vacation or redoing our kitchen. Maybe we’re thinking a little longer-term toward college or retirement.

Our planning can reach beyond the now and extend far into the future. It is refreshing to know we can plan to protect ourselves and our loved ones financially while at the same time providing support for a charity.

People of all walks of life and all income levels
can consider ways of giving that go beyond
the traditional reach into the wallet for cash.

Planned gifts are not checks we write today…these are thoughtful investments into the future. Warren Buffett said it best: “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone else planted a tree a long time ago.”

I have the joy of visiting each week with people who have experienced, first-hand, the incredible care and support of Hospice. I often hear, “I wish I could do more for Hospice or other causes I care about.” I’m always glad to tell people they can. And that it’s easy to do. Planned giving doesn’t have to be complex or complicated. It truly is just an extension of what we already do.

Planned giving can even provide answers to some of our common dilemmas:

  1. My CD rates have plummeted to less than 2%. Is there a way to earn more?
    Yes! A Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) with rates based on your age is an option. For example, a 75-year-old entering into a $5,000 CGA agreement would receive a 6.4% interest fixed payout annually, plus additional income tax deductions. (An 85-year-old would receive 8.1% interest).
  2. My mandatory IRA distributions each year trigger more taxes. Can I avoid this?
    Yes! Contact your IRA holder before your distribution is made and direct that charitable contributions be sent directly to them from the IRA. You are only taxed for monies that come into your hands. If you already make these contributions, or want to increase your giving, this is a great way to both support the charity and avoid extra taxes.
  3. I want to be sure that the important work of my chosen charity will continue long into the future, but I just don’t have the income or means to give now. Is there anything I can do?
    Yes! Many people make provisions in their wills for direct gifts to charities. However, other methods exist. For example, any charity can easily be added to the beneficiary list for your life insurance policy or retirement account. There are ways to include a charity for stocks, properties, mineral rights or other holdings. If your desire is to make this kind of gift, I, or someone at your favorite non-profit organization, can help with your situation.

Won’t you consider planning ahead for a gift? I would welcome the opportunity to help you accomplish your goals!

If you’d like, visit our website for more information on planned giving. For other helpful tips, read our blog archives for the three basic estate documents you can get in place now to prepare for the future.

Joy Crouch is a development officer for Hospice of the Red River Valley, specializing in planned giving. She is always happy to visit with people about their wishes for supporting Hospice and other organizations.

What are the Basic Elements of an Estate Plan—at Any Age?

Guest Blogger:  Mona Tedford, CFP®, CTFA
Vice President, Bremer Trust in Fargo

No matter what your age, it’s important for each of us to consider getting basic estate planning documents in place. Doing so can spare your loved ones undue stress in the event of your incapacity or death. The following three documents form the core of a good, basic estate plan. Below is a description of each document and some common misconceptions:

1) Last Will & Testament

  • Your Will governs the distribution of assets which are solely in your name, through the legal process known as probate. Having a Will does not avoid the probate process—but it ensures that your wishes are carried out (without a Will, state law determines which relatives will inherit your solely-owned assets).
  • If assets are titled with another person or entity (for example, as joint tenants with right of survivorship, transfer on death, in trust or with a designated beneficiary) they will pass per their titling, regardless of what your Will states.
  • In your Will, you not only indicate to whom your assets will pass, but you also name a guardian for any minor children and you nominate a personal representative (sometimes called Executor) to administer your Will. That person’s duties include:
    • Gathering assets
    • Paying final bills
    • Arranging for filing and payment of income and estate tax
    • Filing an inventory and accountings with the court
    • Communicating with the heirs
    • Distributing assets
  • Your Will, and the decisions you make within it, do not take effect until you die. People sometimes believe that the person they have named as personal representative in the Will could act on their behalf during life in event of incapacity (to pay their bills, etc), but this is not the case. This is why the Durable Power of Attorney is a crucial planning document.

2)   Durable Power of Attorney

  • A Durable (meaning it remains in effect in event of incapacity) Power of Attorney is a written document which you can use to empower another person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) to make decisions for you. This authority ends upon your death. It is wise to name contingent agents (e.g. name the spouse as agent; if he/she cannot serve, then Child A; if he/she cannot then Child B, etc).
  • A power can be a “general” power, giving the agent all powers held by you, or a “limited” power, which restricts the agent to performing only those actions specifically listed.
  • A Durable Power of Attorney may help avoid the more costly alternative of a conservatorship in the event of incapacity. A conservatorship, however, has the potential benefit of court supervision. It is best to seek legal advice for the drafting of the Will and Power of Attorney documents.

3)         Advance Health Care Directive

  • The term “Advance Health Care Directive” is commonly used to describe two key documents (sometimes combined into one) designed to address end-of-life decisions: the Living Will and the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.
    • The Living Will is a written statement of one’s wishes if he or she might become terminally ill, and may include directions as to when to provide or withhold artificial nutrition, hydration and other life support. People sometimes confuse the Living Will with the term Living Trust—the latter is a legal arrangement for the titling and management of assets.
    • In a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, you (the principal) appoint another person (the agent) to make health care decisions if you are incapable of doing so (it may or may not be related to a terminal illness situation).

It’s never too early to make sure you have your estate planning documents in place. Most importantly, be certain that your loved ones, and the other individuals involved, know where to locate your estate planning documents.

Mona Tedford has been working in the field of wealth management for more than 20 years. She is Vice President for Bremer Investment Management and Trust in Fargo, and holds the Certified Financial Planner ® and Certified Trust and Financial Advisor designations.