Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yvette Taylor-Hachoose's Life Lessons

Members of the CCRP (Caribbean Community of Retired Persons)were delighted to have been hosted by the US Embassy's Hanan Ghannoum, Deputy Public Affairs Officer and Emma Lewis, Public Affairs Specialist last Thursday September 22 for a brilliant presentation on Estate Planning by Yvette Taylor-Hachoose. The column below reflects on the importance of her presentation.
Getting our lives in order
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Jamaica Observer | MON 29 SEPT 2011

Before she went into her lecture on estate planning, US attorney Yvette Taylor-Hachoose shared some principles of wealth which we would do well to follow. These included:

(1) Love what you do. Once you enjoy what you are doing, the money will follow.
(2) Adhere to a spending plan. She urged us to have a budget and discipline ourselves to live within it. This includes paying credit card bills in full when they become due.
(3) Put your money to work for you. She cited the book, ‘The Millionaire Next Door’, to explain that some of the wealthiest folk are living humbly. They are investing their money, not throwing it around on a flashy lifestyle.
(4) Protect your resources. She wants us to be prudent and not react to hype, for example get-rich-quick schemes.
(5) Save for your retirement.

These are invaluable guidelines, for young people who are just starting their careers, as well as for parents who may believe that their children are making wrong career choices. In ‘Catch A Fire’, we learn that Bob Marley had been advised to stick with welding because some folks thought his obsession with music was not going to take him anywhere in life!

Yvette Taylor-Hachoose (pronounced Ha-choo-say) has a distinguished legal career as former VP with Prudential Insurance Company and Assistant General Counsel with both Prudential and CIGNA Corporation. She decided to go into private practice and focus on estate planning after seeing many cases of poor planning resulting in conflict and heartbreak. Here in Jamaica the phenomenon of ‘dead lef’’ has torn families asunder, and so this series of free lectures sponsored by the US Embassy, is well needed.

Mrs Taylor-Hachoose explained that estate planning did not mean simply writing a will to say who would get your belongings. She showed us the wisdom of establishing a trust which would ensure that funds and property left for a beneficiary are well managed. She urged us to write a ‘living will’, citing the case of Terri Schiavo, who was kept on life support for 15 years until the courts had to make a ruling. A living will states your wishes, should such a fate befall you.

Another important consideration is specifying whom you would entrust with the guardianship of your minor children. In her excellent book, Stop! What are you waiting for? Your step-by-step Guide to Estate Planning, Mrs Taylor-Hachoose shares the case of the former Playboy model celebrity Anna Nicole Smith’s five-month-old baby who became the subject of a custody battle.

“My advice is to take the time now to survey the list of potential guardians for your minor children,” she writes. “Make a decision regarding guardianship, and stay current by updating your will when necessary.”

Dr Taylor-Hachoose reminded us that proper estate planning saves money, ensures peace of mind, protects resources, establishes a legacy and addresses special concerns. She said that this legacy was not just physical property, as one of the most treasured possessions she and her siblings share, is a book written by her father about his life. She said they learned about his challenges as a young soldier in the Korean War and understood how he overcame his bout of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to become a fine educator and family man.

Dr Taylor-Hachoose paid tribute to her professor from her undergraduate years in Maryland, none other than US Ambassador to Jamaica Pamela Bridgewater, who invited this brilliant attorney to share her knowledge with us. Let us act on her important advice and get our lives in order, so we can give our families a worry-free legacy.

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