Sunday, August 31, 2014


I try so very hard to teach my students to not gossip.  They don't realize what gossip is and they also don't think about how it makes them look.

They hear something that may or may not be true and then they spread it on - as if they just can't wait to tell someone else even if they don't really know the facts.  Things are said and then spread around and around and everyone who hears it certainly believes it to be true because their friend or family member told them.

What they don't think about is that many people twist things they say to mean something they want them to mean rather than telling the truth.  So the lie is then spread to one, and then another, and another.  Soon many, many people are believing something that is far from the truth.  People are then hurt and they don't even know where it came from and who would have said something so untrue.

Gossip and lies are very dishonorable.  Twisting the truth is the same as lying.  Making excuses also does not change a lie.  Not only are you dishonoring yourself, and the person you are talking about, but you are dishonoring those around you because they are believing your words.

Don't share information you hear from someone else.  The person who is telling you may not know the truth even if they were part of what is being shared.  That person may be twisting the truth to their advantage - after all, who wants to look bad in the eyes of others?  They simply change the truth a little to make themselves look better.  Or they may be denying it completely because they know how bad the truth might make them appear to others.

I think everyone has been there at some time or another.  Something has come around to you that someone has said something about you that is a complete lie.  You then find out many people are telling this lie - people who don't even know you; people who have never been around you and have no idea what they are saying.

It is a sad state of affairs.  Don't gossip.  There is nothing good that will come from it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Death, Wills, Estates, Probate, Nebraska Law


I am writing this mostly for those women who are part of the ever growing population of second wives, and in particular, stepparents.  I am also addressing issues that are specifically found in the state of Nebraska but much of this information does pertain to anyone, including men who have lost their wives.

I want to first make it clear to anyone reading this that I AM NOT A LAWYER.  I do not have an education in this area - except through experience.  But that experience has opened my eyes to many legal problems for someone who loses their spouse.  The information I am sharing is a culmination of needs based on everything I had to go through after losing my husband.

Although we have all lost someone during our lifetime, there is no comparison to the grief you will be feeling after losing your spouse.  No one will understand except someone else who has lost a spouse.  No one.  Not his children; not his siblings; not even his parents if they are still living.  None of them had the closeness created by marriage and the day to day living with another person as half of who you are.  None of them had their entire future bound with him; none of them were dependent on him as you were to each other.  I cannot emphasize this enough - no one will understand what you are going through except someone else who has been through it. 

If you are already facing this tragedy, my first suggestion to you is to find someone who can understand.  It will be such a wonderful blessing to you if you have someone you can talk to and share the pain.  If you cannot find someone, consider seeing a counselor - a person trained to help you get through a major crisis in your life.  Because it is a MAJOR crisis!

I cannot emphasize this enough - get your wills written - NOW!  Having your wills written will save you so much suffering and heartache. 

Make your wills together so that each of you know exactly what your wishes are.  (In most states, a spouse cannot be disinherited.  In Nebraska a spouse can automatically claim half of the estate no matter what a will reads.)  If the wishes of one of you are to leave more than half to others, the spouse will have to agree to this arrangement.  

You will want to make sure each of you are cared for after one of you dies.  You don't want others coming in to take from your spouse what should be theirs.  This is particularly true for those women, and men, who have entered into a second marriage with children from the first marriage.  You obviously love each other and want to protect your surviving spouse so you would not want all of your worldly goods to be given to someone else.  Make your wills together to protect each other.

In many states, a wife inherits everything when the husband dies, but as I noted in the beginning, I am particularly addressing women in Nebraska.  The Probate Law in NE is different.  If your husband dies intestate - meaning without a will - the estate property is divided between wife, children and even parents.  (I will discuss "estate" property further down in this article.)

Make your wills now so that everything is clearly defined and there can be no argument about your wishes.

The Estate is the portion of your money and property that is not automatically turned over to someone when you die.
It can be any number of things and can be quite complicated if you have not designated heirs.

There are several ways you can make sure that your property ends up where you desire, aside from the will.  I will go through each area that I know of and explain the options.

If you and your spouse own real estate, you will want to make sure the deed reads as necessary for the state you live in.  Some states, like NE, have Laws and Statutes that negate your intent if it is not written correctly.   Make sure your deeds read both of your names followed by the words "Joint Tenancy WROS (With Right of Survivorship)".  In Nebraska this is a must.  It cannot be a simple husband and wife conveyance as ours was.  We both thought the way it was written meant one or the other would inherit - but it didn't mean that.   If it does not read in this way, Nebraska reads it as a Tenancy in Common in which each of you own only half of the property and the half owned by the deceased will be put into the Estate.

The same is true for vehicles.  Make sure all of your vehicles are titled with both names and WROS (With Right of Survivorship), which means if one of you dies, the other automatically takes ownership.

Another method for stipulating who you want to inherit are beneficiaries.  Generally, things like your LIfe Insurance, IRA, 401K, or other retirement accounts, will fall under this area.  Make sure you have completed the beneficiary and keep it up to date.

A newer method of transferring ownership is called Transfer on Death (TOD).  This method can be used on any of the above mentioned money or property.  If you go in this direction, I would verify with a lawyer that it will be accepted in your state, as I am not sure all states recognize this.  I believe Nebraska has only recently recognized this as acceptable terminology.

You need to also know that many of these methods will negate a will.  What that means, for example, if your house is in Joint Tenancy WROS, or set up with a TOD, you cannot change who inherits through your will. 

A possible case in point:  You have remarried and moved into a house already owned by your husband.  He had set up a TOD to his grown children when he was divorced so that if something happened to him the property would be transferred to them.  He is now married to you and written in his will that all of his possessions, including the house, would go to you if he died.  If he did not change the TOD on the Deed, it would stand as is.  Even though he wanted you to have the house, it would go to his children.

Another possible case:  You have remarried but you did not change the beneficiary on your LIfe Insurance from your children to your spouse.  Even if you specifically said in your will that you want your Life Insurance to go to your spouse, it will automatically be given to the beneficiary.

Again, all of the methods for ownership I have listed above - Joint Tenancy WROS, WROS, TOD, Beneficiary - will stand as is after your death and you cannot change them just by writing a will.  You must go back and change each if your wishes have changed.

Probate (in Nebraska)
Probate is when the courts decide who inherits an estate. You have to go through Probate if someone dies without a will.  Probate is based on law and is different in each state. Nebraska divides property in a very specific manner.

In Nebraska, a surviving spouse will automatically receive 1/2 of the estate.  The remaining 1/2 is then divided between the spouse (1/2) and other surviving heirs (1/2).  These include children and parents.  Although there is some help in place for the spouse with special deductions, it is still cut and dried as to who inherits the remaining portion.  You cannot fight Nebraska Probate Law.

There are always a lot of variables to anything, including Estates and Probate.  If you find yourself in this situation with no will, find a lawyer to help you sort through everything.  Don't try to take care of it on your own.

If you absolutely do not want to make a will, then at least make sure everything you have has been specifically notated  (conveyed) in one of the methods listed above so that you know it has been given to the person or persons you want to inherit.  Don't assume everything has been written properly.  Make a list and check everything you have then make changes as necessary.

I need to also make a point of stating this is a very short list of possibilities concerning this topic.  There could be any number of other problems associated with this that I did not touch on.  If your situation is much more complicated, I would suggest you see an Estate Lawyer who can guide you through the process of planning for your death.  You may want to do this anyway, even if your estate is small.

I will say once again - and again, and again - make a WILL!  Now!  You don't need the stress and pain of dealing with Probate on top of the immense suffering you are already going through.

I state once more that I am not a lawyer.  All of the information in this article is based on my own experiences, having gone through Probate in Nebraska.  I am writing this only to help other women so they do not have to go through what I have been through.  If I can change things for even one person, it will have been worth my time to write about it.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


I haven't been on in such a long time - life goes through changes; some that are great, such as my last post, and some that pull you into the darkness and won't seem to let go.

I lost my husband in August last year.  It has been a downward spiral since.  Not only did I lose my "life" partner but two weeks later I also lost my father. 

I have been trying to pull myself up and out of the depressions and stress that has followed and it has been a real struggle.  But, just today, I had a sweet note from a lady wishing me a beautiful Spring and wondering if I had posted anything lately!  I needed this.  She does not really even know me but here she is thinking of me and letting me know!  Thank you, Diane, from Lavender Dreams.

So I am going to post in my Marberry Willower Brae blog some new additions.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Just something to think about......

I do get on Pinterest - rather often - it gives me something to do to keep my mind occupied when I am home alone.  (Eventually I will get back into my art to stay busy but for now I just need my time to grieve.) 

Today I found a pin that provided information about pricing your hand made crafts or art.  I went to the website and I liked this blogger's assessment of how to $$$  mark your handmade goods.  I have many students who ask me how to price their artwork if they decided to sell it.  This was an interesting formula.  I have even thought of opening my own Etsy and this gave me something to think about when I determine my own prices.

But then, as I continued reading, the language I found at the bottom of the post I would never even repeat it was so bad.  This person felt the need to knock people who wouldn't be willing to pay your price.  This included fellow artists and craftsmen for looking at things and thinking they could make the same thing and, also, badmouthing Walmart for their low prices and some other negative comments. It kind of followed the "say something bad about someone else so you can feel good about yourself (your prices)" analogy.

I guess I see it this way - yes, I am an artist and a craft person and  I am one of those people who quite often see something and decide if I really like it, I would make it myself.  Why wouldn't I?  I'm not suggesting they aren't worth the asking price, but first, I love doing it, and second, it would make it my own.  I could make little changes to be exactly what I want.

I also happen to fall into the category of someone who could not really afford to pay the high prices of the great things I see on Pinterest or Etsy.  There are many, many low income families in our country and they couldn't even begin to pay the prices crafters and artists should get for their work. I think it's great they have somewhere they can go to buy something "similar" at a much lower price to enjoy in their lives.   Aside from that, I even see many crafters who buy that "cheap" crap (as she called it) at Walmart and make it into something they then sell on Etsy!

For those who read this through this post, please don't think I must have an interest in Walmart - I don't.  I don't work for them, I don't have any family members who work for them, etc.  I would make the same comment about all of the supercenters or "big box" stores, Dollar Trees, etc.   There is a place for all of us in our society.

I can't say that I have never fallen into the category of doing this very thing - I'm a sinner just like everyone else.  But after reading and thinking about this, I hope I will now stop and think. . . .