Four Must Have Legal Documents

There are four legal documents all adults, regardless of age, should have. They are a Last Will and Testament, a Durable Power of Attorney, a Living Will and a Health Care Proxy.

I have had these documents in place for years. However, when I reviewed them as part of the countdown to my 70th birthday, I found that they were woefully out of date. Several of my beneficiaries had died; non-profits that I wanted to support had gone out of business. Friends who were named as health care proxies were no longer in my life. The good news is that these documents can be changed multiple times in your life and are now readily available on several websites at a reasonable cost. August is Make a Will Month, so several sites have specials. I chose Legal Zoom’s estate plan bundle.

Last will

Last Will and Testament- This is where you decide how your assets and property will be divided upon your death, and who will handle that process. Generally, assets are left to a surviving spouse or children. I was the executrix of both my parents’ wills; my sister and I were the only beneficiaries. As a single, childless woman, I had to give serious thought to who I wanted my beneficiaries to be.Where would my money do the most good? Who would need it the most? Who would get my jewelry? My art work?


Durable Power of Attorney – You name someone who can step into your shoes, legally speaking, should you become incapacitated. You can authorize this person to do such things as sign checks and tax returns, enter into contracts, buy or sell real estate, deposit or withdraw funds, run a business, or anything else you do for yourself. Without a durable power of attorney, the courts would have to intervene if you are no longer capable of handling your affairs. For the decade I was my mother’s caregiver, I had her power of attorney. Two close friends have agreed to act as my agent. I hope I never need them to do so.

Living Will

LivingWill-A living will, also called a directive to physicians or advance directive, is a document that lets people state their wishes for end-of-life medical care, in case they become unable to communicate their decisions. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have no interest whatsoever in having my life prolonged by being on a respirator or a feeding tube. Often a Living Will is part of a Health Care Proxy, which is the case at Legal Zoom.

Health Care Proxy – This document puts your life in someone else’s hands. A health care proxy makes medical decisions on your behalf when you are not cable of doing so. Scary stuff! Without a health care proxy, you are at the mercy of the medical establish and the courts could intervene in your care. It is imperative that your health care proxy has a copy of your living will and agrees to follow your directives. I was my mother’s health care proxy and made endless medical decisions on her behalf. The two friends I have designated as my health care proxy fully understand and will abide by my directives

From now on, I will review these documents on a yearly basis to make sure the information is up to date and reflect my current wishes.

A Financial Check-up

As I countdown to my 70th birthday, I’ve been examining every facet of my life. I’ve got diet and exercise under control. Walking at least 10,000 steps a day has become a habit I plan to keep. I continue to take multiple yoga classes weekly. I’ve seen my primary care physician and had appointments for a bone density test and a mammogram. I’ve been to the dentist and had a full check-up and x-rays taken. I even consulted with a master of mystic sciences.

Next on my ‘to do’ list was a meeting with my financial advisor, Ronnie Blaufarb. What I like best about Ronnie is that he’s calm, patient and realistic. I spent the better part of a day with him and bombarded him with questions.  Do I have enough money to feel secure as I age? Are there any changes I need to make to my investment portfolio? Should I continue to pay the premium for my long-term care insurance?

It was reassuring to hear that my years of saving and investing had left me in a secure position. Thanks in no small part to my rent-stabilized New York City apartment, my monthly retirement income will continue to cover my living costs and leave me with enough money to travel and enjoy my life.

Having been a self-employed consultant, I had to create my own retirement accounts. I chose to put a large portion of my assets into annuities because I wanted the peace of mind of knowing that I would have a steady income despite the vagaries of the financial markets. There’s nothing quite as comforting as having those checks along with my social security deposited into my checking account month after month.

The big decision I had to make was whether or not I wanted to continue to pay the premium for my long-term care insurance policy or to let it go.

I had received a letter from Genworth Financial, my insurance carrier, that they would be raising the premium for my policy by 60% and most importantly, that I should expect additional increases in the future. Oh Really??

My policy is part of the New York State Partnership for Long-Term Care, which had been heavily promoted. The lure of the Partnership was that if  you used the benefits according to the conditions of the program, you could apply for Medicaid Extended Coverage, which would assist in paying for your on-going care but unlike regular Medicaid, would allow you to protect your assets.

It had sounded good, and I had budgeted for the premium in my financial plan. However, I did not anticipate gouging increases.

After running the numbers with Ronnie, and realizing how much the policy would cost me over time and which I might never actually use, I have decided to let the policy lapse.

The truth is, I have zero interest in being cared for on a long-term basis. I never want to see the inside of a nursing home, and I suspect that a good percentage of my generation feels exactly the way I do. My plan now is to come up with an exit strategy. Pills anyone??

Astrology, Palmistry and Tarot – My Consultation with a Master of Mystic Sciences

In addition to committing to 10,000 steps a day, taking multiple classes a week and following a healthy diet, my pre-70th birthday shape-up  includes appointments with my dentist, doctor, financial advisor, spiritual teachers and… a reading from a master of the mystical sciences.

Ellen Goldberg, Master of the Mystic Sciences of Palmistry, Tarot and Astrology
Ellen Goldberg, Master of the Mystic Sciences of Palmistry, Tarot and Astrology

Through the social media magic of Facebook, I recently reconnected with a friend I had lost contact with close to 30 years ago. Ellen Goldberg is both a psychotherapist and a master of the mystic sciences of Palmistry, Tarot and Astrology. These ancient tools can show us the tendencies, challenges and gifts we were born with. Using them together,  you can get a comprehensive picture of yourself and your current situation.

It had been decades since I had a full reading, and this summer seemed like the perfect time.

We’ve all heard the expression “It was written in the stars.” A person’s astrological chart is a reflection of what was written. “You were born to spread ideas. That’s what you do best,” says Ellen as she points to the 3rd House of my chart that has to do with Communications and is laden with planets. No wonder why I took to public relations like a duck to water. Could my lack of a mate and children have something to do with the fact that my 7th House, Relationships, is empty? Hmm?? So much of my life, including my independent nature and ability to manage money, made sense as Ellen explained other areas in my natal chart.”You were given a lot of free will in this life.” So true.

Marian Rivman's astologicl chart
Marian Rivman’s astrological chart

The lines in our hands are as unique as our fingerprints. A palmist looks at both of your hands. The non-dominant hand, in my case my left hand, shows the qualities you were born with and doesn’t change much over time. The lines of the dominant hand, in my case my right, can change as we make choices in our life.

Marian Rivman's right palm
Marian Rivman’s right palm

“You’ve always been your own person – even when you were a little girl.” “Your lifeline and your headline have a very healthy separation. You’re an independent thinker.” I’m relieved to hear that my lifeline is long and strong. The round pink patch at the base of my palm below my pinky is called a ‘psychic blush’ and is an indication that I have a highly developed intuition, which accounts for my relying on gut reactions. My palm and my chart told parallel stories.

To complete my reading, Ellen brought out her Tarot cards. You ask the cards a general question. Mine was, “What should I know about my future?” After mixing the cards around, I chose ten and gave them to Ellen who arranged them on the table.

Marian Rivman's Tarot card reading
Marian Rivman’s Tarot card reading

What was most significant was the card in the middle of the arrangement that represents the present. The Wheel of Fortune signifies positive changes. Yes!!! As I enter this next phase of my life, I am indeed ready for positive changes.

I hope you will continue to follow me on my Countdown to 70. Marian Rivman

To Blog or Not to Blog, That is the Question

Marian Rivman with Davida Earnold at BlogHer15
Marian Rivman with Davida Earnold at BlogHer15

I was a freshly minted blogger when I arrived at the BlogHer15 conference at the New York Hilton this past weekend. The first post, Milestone Birthdays, for my new blog Countdown to 70…and Life Beyond had hit the blogosphere just days earlier.

Looking around during the introductory Keynote, I realized that aside from the waiters who hovered near the tables, I was one of a handful of gray-haired people in the crowded ballroom. It was conceivable that I was the oldest person in the audience. What a thought!!

The impetus for my blog was my impending 70th birthday that is on September 12, 2015. Having spent my 60s caregiving for my now deceased mother, I am devoting this summer to getting my body, mind and spirit in top shape for the rest of my life. I thought it would be interesting to chronical that process, and share some of the stories of my life; a blog seemed to be the way to do it.

Mine has been a life of the road less traveled. It is my hope that sharing my stories will inspire others to live their lives to fullest which is what I’ve always tried to do with mine. Now seemed like the right time.

I wondered how the blogging community that I had self-selected to join would respond to this newbie blogger who was pushing 70. I need not have had a moment’s trepidation. Never have I been with a group of people who were friendlier, more supportive, creative or downright fun than those I met last weekend. They embraced me literally and figuratively. I could not have felt more welcome.

Marian Rivman at BlogHer15 with Juliette Acker, Camille Acker, and DeDe Brown, the clever and creative masterminds of
Marian Rivman at BlogHer15 with Juliette Acker, Camille Acker, and DeDe Brown, the masterminds of

Count me in!! I had found my peeps.

Bloggers, who are predominantly women, come in all shapes, sizes, religions, ethnic origins, sexual orientations and locations.They write about family, food, finances, fashion, politics, parenting, painting, travel. The list is endless.

Bloggers are a powerful force in the current media landscape. Time and again over the weekend I met women who were fierce agents of change, and I wanted to join their ranks.

What most people don’t know is how hard bloggers work. Writing a post is the least of it. Once written, it has to be marketed over a variety of social media platforms. Hours are spent on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest trying to attract both followers and sponsors.

I can’t say I wasn’t warned. When I first thought of starting a blog, I met with my old friend Debbie Mitchell of Deborah Mitchel Media Associates who did her best to give me the lay of the land.

Carolyn Sonnek, WordPress and my mentor, Debbie Mitchell of Deborah Mitchell Media Associates
Carolyn Sonnek, a WordPress goddess and my mentor, Debbie Mitchell of Deborah Mitchell Media Associates at BlogHer15

However, after attending several of the workshops offered at the conference, and listening to bloggers I met, I wondered if I was cut out to be a blogger. I had just spent a decade with my life on a short leash because of my caregiving responsibilities. I was rejoicing in my new-found freedom. Did I want to tether myself again; this time to the care and feeding of a blog?? It was an opportunity to examine my priorities and boundaries.

The reception my blog and I received at BlogHer was personally empowering. I even got more comfortable having my picture taken.

Marian Rivman  Photo: Prudential
Marian Rivman Photo: GoDaddy
Marian Rivman  Photo:

After much deliberation, I’ve decided I’ll continue to blog. But, I’m going to do it on my terms, and I’ll probably break some “this is how it’s done” rules. My days won’t be spent tethered to my desk, computer, iPad or phone. Facebook is my friend, so I’ll continue to post there. I can’t promise that I’ll ever be adept at Twitter. Living my life, rather than writing or tweeting about it, is my priority.

I hope you will continue to follow me on my Countdown to 70 and my life beyond.  Marian Rivman

This Lady Tells Her Age

In 1995, I was hired as a consultant to the Secretariat of the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women. My assignment was to partner with the in-house Senior Media Advisor, Patsy Robertson.

When I first met the dignified, impeccably groomed ‘Lady’ Robertson (my nickname for this remarkable woman), I told her how excited I was that my 50th birthday would occur when we were all  in Beijing. Patsy looked directly into my eyes, put her hands on my shoulders and said, “My dear, a lady NEVER tells her age.”

She said it was acceptable for a woman to tell people when her birthday was, but it was nobody’s business how old she was going to be. I chose not to take her words to heart and continued to plan for a 50th birthday bash in Beijing. Gertrude Mongela, the Secretary-General of the Conference, heard of my plans and whispered in my ear one day that her 50th birthday was going to be the day after mine.

'Lady' Robertson and Gertrude Mongela, Secretary General of the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women, whose 50th birthday was the day after mine.
(l)’Lady’ Patsy Robertson. Senior Media Advisor and (c)Gertrude Mongela, Secretary-General of the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women and (r) Marian Rivman 1995 Photo: PechterPhoto
Dancing down the steps of the Great Hall of the People the night of my 50th birthday party.
Marian Rivman on the steps of the Great Hall of the People the night of her 50th birthday party. 1995

For ‘Lady’ Robertson age was something you did not discuss. For large numbers of women AND men, age was something you lied about. Thanks to Google, that option doesn’t exist anymore. With a couple of clicks, your date of birth is available for all to see.

One’s chronological age is fast becoming just a number. Pervasive stereotypes of how one should look, act, and feel at any given age need to fall by the wayside. Baby Boomers are reinventing aging.

Medical advances will make it possible for us to live longer. We’re more aware of the importance of exercise and nutrition. We want full, meaningful and vibrant lives. That’s exactly the kind of life I intend to have as I start my Golden Years.

Me at 69. (My first Selfie)
Marian Rivman at 69. (Her first Selfie) 2015

This lady does tell her age. I’m going to be 70. It’s fun seeing the shocked expression on people’s faces and hearing their exclamations of surprise when they hear how old I am. “No way!” “You’re kidding, right?” “Really? Show me your driver’s license.” My favorite is “Shut up!!! You look younger than my mother.”


Camera Shy in a Selfie World

I’ve been camera shy my whole life. Whenever I saw a camera pointed in my direction, I’d do my best to get out of the shot. I marveled at people who started vogueing the minute they saw a lens.

Paradoxically, one of my jobs as a public relations consultant was to get my clients in front of the media. I would tell photographers and cameramen I didn’t want to be in any shots and stayed purposely out of camera range. When my family and friends found out I’d been with someone famous, they always asked “Did you get a picture with him/her?” Nine times out of ten the answer was no. Then they’d chide me for being an idiot for missing the opportunity. There were those times when a  photographer would pull me into a shot and take me out of my comfort zone.

In Kyoto with Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev and Raffi
A photographer insisted I HAD to have my picture taken with Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev and Raffi.

When I decided to start blogging, I realized that finding photos to go with some of my posts could be a challenge. There are whole chapters of my life that I have no visual record of because I wouldn’t let anyone take my picture. And, in many of the photos I do have, I look like a deer in a headlight.

However, there were two photographers who were exempt from my ‘Don’t shoot me’ rule. Mort and Alese Pechter were the official photographers for my client DEMA (the trade association for the scuba industry), and they traveled with me wherever I went. Given that I was the spokesperson for the association, I couldn’t shy away from their cameras. The Pechters made it painless, and luckily for me, graciously agreed to photograph events I was producing for other clients. I’m grateful for the beautiful pictures they took of me over the years.

In the Caribbean on a press trip for DEMA @PechterPhoto
In the Caribbean on a press trip for DEMA @PechterPhoto
With my client Phil Ramone who I adored @PechterPhoto
With my client, legendary music producer Phil Ramone who I adored @PechterPhoto
With Kevin Kline  @PechterPhoto
With Kevin Kline who brought his son Owen to see Raffi on Broadway @PechterPhoto

It has been many years since the Pechters shadowed me with their cameras. In those years, thanks to the global proliferation of people who have cellphones with built-in picture-taking capabilities, the world has become a minefield for the camera shy like me. There is no hiding. The time has come for me to get over my phobia. I’m going to bite the bullet and say “cheese.” This weekend will be an initiation by fire. I’m going to attend the BlogHer conference in New York. There’ll be thousands of trigger happy bloggers snapping away, and I’ll be one of them. I even bought a selfie stick.

Milestone Birthdays

On September 12, 2015, I will be 70 years old. The number astounds me. As I countdown to 70, I’ve been reflecting on other Milestone Birthdays, remembering where my life was at the time and how I’d spent the summer before each.

Twenty-One: The summer of 1966 was spent training for my assignment as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines; I was going to teach science in an elementary school. My first ever plane ride was from New York to Boston.

There were 42 in my training group. We spent ten weeks living in dorms on the Radcliffe Quad while taking intensive language and cultural studies classes. We rented bikes that we rode around Cambridge. I felt like an Ivy League co-ed. It was a far cry from the experience I had living at home with my parents in the Bronx and walking to Hunter College.

We flew to Manila on September 12th, my 21st birthday. There were champagne toasts as we crossed the Pacific. What a way to start my life as an adult!!

Thirty: The summer of 1975 was dedicated to job-hunting; I had been unemployed for more than a year. The situation was dire; my unemployment benefits were about to expire. Reorganization of New York City’s Addiction Services Agency where I had been working as a manpower development specialist had left me jobless in a very depressed employment market.

What was particularly frustrating was that I was supposed to be a job-finding expert. While at the agency, I had found jobs for hundreds of our clients and a booklet I wrote, “Help Wanted-A Job Hunter’s Guide” had been widely distributed.

A reporter at the Daily News, who thought my unemployment was a great human-interest story, wrote a piece “Job Expert Can’t Find One” that appeared in the paper on August 7, 1975. My phone started ringing the minute the paper hit the stands. The callers weren’t employers with job offers; they were producers and reporters asking for interviews. I did dozens hoping one would lead to a job.

On September 12, 1975, my 30th birthday, I appeared on the TV show Midday Live with Bill Boggs. One of the other guests was Stanley Tannenbaum, an executive at Kenyon & Eckhardt, an advertising agency. In the green room, Stanley told me he thought I was one smart cookie who should be in his business. He offered to send my resume to all the ad agencies in the city. I landed a job as an assistant account executive at Benton & Bowles.

Forty: By the summer of 1985, my foray into the advertising industry was long behind me having left B&B after a year. The Madmen life had not been for me. After a half-hearted job search, I decided to start my own business. Quality Respondents recruited subjects for consumer research groups. A New York Times article about QR, “A ‘Central Casting’ for Consumer Research”, prompted an avalanche of people to volunteer to be subjects.

By 1982, I had recruited thousands of people for hundreds of groups. I was ready for a change. That year, I fell in love with an Israeli underwater photographer who owned a travel company that specialized in exotic scuba trips. I became his de facto public relations consultant. My efforts were so successful that after two years, the executive director of the scuba diving trade association (DEMA) asked if I would be interested in promoting the whole industry. It was goodbye Quality Respondents – hello Marian Rivman Communication Consultants (MRCC). DEMA was my first client, and I represented the association for more than eight years.

With 40 fast approaching, the summer of 1985 was spent getting myself in shape for the globe-trotting life I was starting to live. I took multiple aerobics classes and treated myself to workouts with a personal trainer. I was fit and toned at the birthday party I threw for myself.

Me at 40
Marian Rivman at 40 scuba diving in the Caribbean 1985  Photo:PechterPhoto

Fifty: I had found my calling in Public Relations. By 1995, in addition to DEMA, MRCC had represented an eclectic roster of clients including: UN agencies, programmes and world conferences; beloved children’s singer Raffi; legendary music producer Phil Ramone and global non-profits like the Amazon Conservation Team.

In the summer of 1995, I was working at the UN. This time as a communications consultant for the Secretariat of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women that was being held in Beijing September 4-15. Since it was pre-birthday cleanup time, before heading to the office each day, I’d go to the sports club across the street from my apartment to run on the track and workout on machines

On September 12th, 1995, I celebrated my 50th birthday in Beijing. It was an incredible start to my 50s, which were filled with interesting work, travel, and a few romances.

Beijing Birthday with Helvi Sipila, Secretary General of 1975 UN World Conference for Women
Marian Rivman’s 1995 Beijing Birthday with Helvi Sipila, Secretary General of the 1975 UN World Conference on Women

Sixty: My life was in a VERY different place as I approached my 60th birthday in the summer of 2005. My father had died in January 2004, and I had become my invalid mother’s caregiver. I had moved her to New York from Florida, and she was living in an apartment across the street from mine; she had home health aids 24/7. I was running a nursing home for one.

My pre-birthday summer cleanup included multiple yoga classes weekly, an extended juice fast, and numerous hours with a masseuse. Having stopped jogging years before due to a knee injury, I bought a pedometer and started logging 10,000 steps a day.

On September 12th, 2005 I celebrated my 60th birthday with close friends at a neighborhood restaurant. My future was cloudy; I had no idea how long my mom would live and I would be caring for her.

With my mom, Julia Rivman
Marian Rivman with her mom, Julia Rivman 2005

Seventy: It is now the summer before my 70th birthday. I am no longer a caregiver. My mother died in my arms on April 16, 2014, three months shy of her 97th birthday. My dad had died when he was 90. I have some serious longevity genes.

This summer’s birthday cleanup is a crusade to get my mind, body and spirit in condition for the rest of my life. I’m devoting full-time to the effort. My FitBit (electronic activity tracker) has become my BFF and I’m fanatical about meeting my daily goals, and it’s working. My friends are getting used to my suggesting that we take a walk instead of going out to eat. The neighborhood Equinox Sports Club is my go-to place for yoga and other classes. Trader Joe’s makes it easy to eat healthfully. I am having a blast!

My 60s were spent caregiving. It is my intention to spend the rest of my life at “full throttle.” My Bucket List still has many items that I want to check off.

I hope you will follow me as I countdown to the big 7-0 and as I start my life as a septuagenarian.