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 However, when I reviewed them as part of the countdown to my 70th birthday, I found that they were woefully out of date.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?

POA

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??

My Home Away From Home – The Sports Club New York

Fitness experts advise people that when choosing a health club, convenience should be their number one priority. So, when it was announced that the 47 story building that was being constructed directly across the street from my apartment would include a health club, I joined before it opened. The Sports Club New York, first owned by Reebok now by Equinox, has been my home away from home for more than 20 years.

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While I have used all the facilities of the Club at different times, it is the mind/body classes that are the core of my workout routine. The yoga studio is my dream come true. Big windows allow light to pour into the room, and the view of the Manhattan skyline is the antidote to my closed-in apartment.

Yoga studio at Equinox Sports Club New York
Yoga studio at Equinox Sports Club New York

Though I had taken many a yoga class before I joined the Club, I had not been exposed to Iyengar Yoga. It turned out to be just the right form of yoga practice for me. It is slower; poses are held longer, and props are used to help students achieve proper alignment. Depending on my schedule, I take 3-5 Iyengar classes a week. I also throw in a couple of gentle yoga classes for good measure. I have been taking the same classes, with many of the same students for 20 years. We are a community. During the decade that I was my mother’s caregiver, my yoga classes kept me sane.

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In the last couple of years, I’ve added two additional techniques to my weekly list of classes. The first is Melt, which helps to rehydrate the connective tissue, rebalance the nervous system, and restore space to compressed joints. The other is  Floor-Barre, which helps with alignment, correct muscle usage, and strengthening joints. I’m such a floor-barre fan that for my summer pre-70th birthday shape-up, I’m taking a Wednesday evening class that my instructor teaches at another studio.

I want to take this moment to thank all the teachers past and present who have helped to keep me flexible and grounded. They are Carol Foster, Cheryl Malter, Michelle Hill, Eve Holbrook, Robin Simmonds, Kavi Patel, Whitney Chapman, Jeanene Garro, Suzanne Taylor and Jodi Moccia

Related Post: Milestone Birthdays

In addition to the yoga studio, I am grateful for the outdoor track at the Sports Club where I have logged thousands of steps the last couple of weeks to meet my daily goal.

The track at the Equinox Sports Club New York
The track at the Equinox Sports Club New York

It is hard for me to imagine my life without the Sports Club New York.

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

Nearly 70 and Still Looking for Mr. Right

Marian Rivman at two years old
Marian Rivman at two years old

My mother told me that by the age of two, I was an expert at the Match Game. She would name one-half of a married couple, and I’d supply the name of the spouse. Marcie… and Murray. Evelyn… and Ira. Schendel… and Abram. Ruthie… and Manny. Corinne… and Aaron. Selma… and Nat. There was no fooling me. Ingrained at that very early age was the belief that adults lived their lives two-by-two.

The core couples in Marian Rivman's life. Front row: Marcy and Murray Jameson; Back row: Ira and Evelyn Shear, Nat and Julia Rivman
Front row: Marcy and Murray Jameson; Back row: Ira and Evelyn Shear, Nat and Julia Rivman

Growing up, I thought a crucial element on the ‘to do’ list for my life was finding the Frick to my Frack, the Salt to my Pepper. It never occurred to me that I would live most of my life alone

When puberty hit I was at an all-girls junior high school, so there were no boys around; the search for Mr. Right was on hold. Though popular in high school and college, I was never one of the girls who had lots of boyfriends or dates.

Senior year in college, a crop of new engagement rings would appear on the fingers of friends after a holiday break. I hadn’t found my Mr. Right but I was sure he was out there somewhere. In the meantime, I’d go about the business of my life.

During my two years of service in the Peace Corps right after college, my focus was on my assignment, traveling, and learning about Filipino culture. I managed to find a couple of Mr. Wrongs that were fun to be with but offered nothing in terms of a future. Not to worry. I had time.

No pressure, right? Wrong! It would hit when I’d least expect it.

My parents came to see me while I was living in the Philippines. They spent two weeks visiting my assignment, meeting my friends and witnessing first hand how I had adjusted to life on the other side of the planet. We were saying our good-byes at the Manila airport when my mother leaned over and whispered to me, “I’m so proud that you’re doing so well as a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) but I can’t wait until you’re an MRS”. Would someone please shoot me!

Over the decades, there have been Mr.Wrongs, Mr. Okay for Nows and a Mr. Almost, who was in and out of my life for a dozen years. There was a time when I secretly suspected that the authors of the book Smart Women/Foolish Choices did their research while hiding in one of my closets.

I got used to being the third, fifth, seventh, etc. during gatherings as more and more of my single friends found  Mr./Ms. Rights. My coffers would be in much better shape if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard: “You’re not married? How could that be”? “I wish I knew someone I could introduce you to.” “You must want to stay single or you would have found someone.” “Do you think maybe you’re too fussy”?

My lack of a Mr. Right did not stop me from living a rich and full life. I was not one of those sleeping beauties who was waiting around for a prince to come before I started living.

May 2015 - Marian Rivman in Rome
May 2015 – Marian Rivman in Rome
Marian Rivman at BlogHer15
Marian Rivman at BlogHer15

Yet, here I am at nearly 70 thinking it would be nice to have a Mr. Right in my life, which is a pretty tall order for a woman who hasn’t had a date in ten years. But hey, I’m ever the optimist. In the spirit of  ‘God helps those who help themselves’, I joined Match dot com where I’ve been resoundingly unsuccessful.

So, should you happen to know an age-appropriate, healthy, financially secure, single man with loving children and grandchildren (Why not go for the whole enchilada??) who is affectionate, kind and generous; whose politics are left of center and who possesses both a great sense of humor and of adventure – do me a favor – send him my way.

A Walk Across the Hudson River

In designing the plan for my pre-70th birthday summer shape-up, I knew that I had to move more. I was becoming sedentary and isolated; I needed to nip those behaviors before they became more entrenched.

For years, I had followed the American Heart Association’s recommendation that everyone should aim for 10,000 steps a day for overall health and to decrease the risk of heart disease. This summer seemed like a good time to reintroduce the 10,000 Steps habit back in my life.

New York is a great walking city, and I’ve enjoyed logging steps in Central Park and along the Hudson River. But, I could do more than walk the streets of New York. Logging 10,000 steps a day was an opportunity to have mini adventures and reconnect with friends.

I did just that last week when I took the train to Poughkeepsie, New York and walked across the Hudson River.

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The Walkway over the Hudson is the longest (1.28 miles), elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. Since opening as a state park in October 2009, millions of visitors have enjoyed the unparalleled views from this bridge that was built for freight trains after the Civil War.

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The Mid-Hudson Bridge and the beautiful Hudson Valley

My companion for this adventure was my old friend Didi Barrett, who is now a member of the New York State Assembly representing parts of Duchess and  Columbia Counties.

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New York State Assemblymember Didi Barrett and Marian Rivman

Didi and I met years ago when I was starting out in public relations, and she was a staff writer for US magazine. Our business relationship quickly turned into a friendship. While raising her two children, Didi was a community activist and a leader of not-for-profit organizations. At an age when most people are afraid to take on new challenges, Didi was elected to the New York State Assembly in a special election in March 2012 and re-elected to a full term in November 2012.

She is a passionate advocate for her constituents. We were stopped by people several times as we walked back and forth across the river. They wanted to ask about the latest legislation or to discuss problems in their towns. I watched with pride as my old friend gave each of them her full attention.

I’m looking forward to more adventures with more friends as I Countdown to 70…and Life Beyond. Marian Rivman

Me and My FitBit

Marian Rivman always wears her FitBit and her WORD Inspire
Marian Rivman always wears her FitBit and her Intent Project word INSPIRE

As my 70th birthday loomed large in the September horizon, my intention for this summer was to devote my time and energy to getting my body, mind and spirit in shape for that milestone. I intended to walk more, eat less, drink plenty of water, have check-ups with my doctor, dentist, financial consultant and spiritual advisors. In short, I was going to get my shit together.

Ah, but we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Would I keep the commitments I made with myself??

There were good days and not so good days. People may think of me as a human road runner, but my couch potato, ice cream and carbohydrate loving self-lurks just below the surface.

Several friends suggested that I get a FitBit to help me keep track of my steps, food intake, calorie output and water consumption. They said the device was helpful and kept you ‘honest’. I resisted until one of my FitBit using friends was hit by a car as she was crossing the street. She went flying through the air and spent the next ten hours in a hospital emergency room where she was checked head to toe. She was badly bruised, but nothing was broken.

When I spoke to her the next morning, I assumed she would take to her bed for a couple of days to recover. Wrong!! She had her FitBit on and was going out to run errands and log steps. She did 10,000 steps a day, every day. No excuses, no exceptions.  Now that was the commitment and motivation I craved. I ordered a FitBit the minute I hung up the phone.

It’s now been 30 days since I strapped on my FitBit; it has become my BFF. I wear it all the time. Unfailingly, I’ve met or surpassed my daily goals. I’ve lost weight, increased my stamina, and am looking more toned. I’ve been feeling so self-empowered that I even started this blog.

There’s a whole community of ‘FitBitters.’ It’s commonplace to have people point to mine as I pass them on the street and have them give me a thumbs-up or a high-five, and I return the gesture. My new fun activity is planning when and where I’m going to log my 10,000 steps.

For the record, I have ZERO connection with FitBit. I’m just in love with mine.

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